Monday, April 4th: Flew back from Seattle after a week of touring wineries and tasting at the wine show. For dinner with roast chicken, MacMurray Estate Vineyards Russian River Pinot Noir 2013 (deep purple-ruby colour; spicy, black cherry and cedar nose; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with well-integrated oak finishing on a cranberry note (90)).
Tuesday, April 5th: A make-up tasting for the Vintages release I missed. Then over to Michael Vaughan’s house to taste a range of Tesseron cognacs with Select Wines’ VP Dan Shorrocks and export manager Jacques Chastenet. The family, who also own Pontet Canet, only makes XO quality and above. Founded by Abel Tesseron in 1905, it was third generation owner Alfred Tesseron who launched their own brand in 2003.
- Tesseron XO Ovation Lot 90 (a blend of cognacs; the average age is 13 years; 100% Ugni Blanc from Grande Champagne, Petit Champagne and Fins Bois): Amber colour; spirit, vanilla, caramel and wood spice nose; rich and elegant, orange peel, caramel and toast flavours. Mellow on the palate with great length. (92.5)
- Tesseron XO Tradition Lot 76 (100% Ugni Blanc from Grande Champagne; the average age is 25 years): Deep amber colour; spicy, honey, dried fruits and caramel on the nose; nutty, dried stone fruit flavours; mouth-filling, rich, elegant and seamless . Great length. (94)
- Tesseron XO Perfection Lot 53 (100% Grande Champagne from 90% Ugni Blanc and 10% Colombard; the average age is 50 years): Deep amber colour; spicy, creamy, caramel, vanilla, butter and dried fruits on the nose; lovely mouth-feel that fills the palate with toasty, dried peach flavours. Seamless with great persistence. (96)
- Tesseron XO Lot 29 (the average age is 75 years; Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard from Grande Champagne): Deep amber colour; spicy, buttery, woody, vanilla rancio nose; rich and full on the palate; sweet and elegant, toasty orange and peach flavours with a creamy texture and amazing length. (97)
- Tesseron XO Extreme (from 10 Paradis demijohns dating from 1853–1906 in the Paradis, the average age is 100 years, distilled from pre-and post-phylloxera vines from Grande Champagne, only 300 special 1.75-litre bottles produced at $12,000 each): Deep orange amber colour; spirit, nutty, vanilla oak and dried fruits; intense, sweet and full on the palate with mouth-filling flavours of honey, toast, butter and Macadamia nuts. Velvety mouth-feel, full-bodied with great length finishing on a spicy, tangerine peel note.
This is the only spirit I’ve given 100 points to
For dinner, beef stew with Tempo Morellino di Scansano 2012 (deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, dusty nose of cherries and tobacco with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, black cherry flavour with lively acidity and a savoury, leather finish (89)).
Wednesday, April 6th: Wrote an article on Washington wines for Lexpert magazine. Dinner at Edulis with our friends Joe and Laurissa. We opted for the 5-course meal. Joe brought a Puligny-Montrachet Les Champs Gain 2006 and I brought along a bottle of Château Haut-Bailly 1989. Both wines behaved perfectly.
Thursday, April 7th: Spent the morning inputting tasting notes from Tuesday’s Vintages tasting. Wrote up my Wines of the Week. In the afternoon I was meant to have a video tasting with Ignacio Lopez, the head winemaker at Graffigna in San Jan, Argentina but I couldn’t make the internet connection; so we conducted the tasting of two Malbecs by phone! Sunday April 17th is International Malbec Day and this was a precursor.
- Graffigna Centenario Malbec Reserve 2014 (aged in French and 15% American oak, 100,000 cases): Dense purple colour showing a spicy, cedary, plum bouquet with dark chocolate and vanilla oak notes. Medium-bodied, dry, blackberry and plum flavours carried on lively acidity and contained in a firm tannic framework. A bargain at $13.95. (88)
- Graffigna Malbec Reserve 2012 (grown at high elevation, aged in French oak, 10,000 cases): Dense purple colour with a creamy, spicy nose of dark chocolate with a floral-cedary note; full-bodied and richly extracted flavours of blackberry and dark chocolate with grainy tannins. Carries its 14.5% alcohol well. (90)
Then down to Hola Tapas Bar to conduct a tasting of Argentinian wines with food.
Infused seafood (shrimps, mussels, baby scallops cooked in a vacuum siphon), paired with Catena Chardonnay 2014
Atun con tomate (albacore tuna on nori-seaweed-infused sunflower oil and tomato peach sauce) with Alamos Torrontes 2015
Pate de cordero (lamb pate, caramelized onions and spicy red pepper sauce) with Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Ravioles de cerdo con salsa de chimichurri (house-made egg pork ravioli with chimichurri butter sauce) with La Posta Armando Bonarda 2014
Carpaccio vegetal (watermelon carpaccio, Parrano Gouda cheese, fresh mint and capers) with Los Clop Reserva Malbec 2010.
Friday, April 8th: Down to the LCBO for a tasting of 14 newly listed wines. They also put out a few spirits, which I don’t normally taste, but I couldn’t resist trying the three Irish Whiskies from Redbreast – 12 Year Old Cask Strength, 15 Year Old and 21 Year Old. Too pricey for my budget, unfortunately.
Came home to find my computer has a virus which makes it impossible for me to see my Calendar or Contacts and I couldn’t read sent emails. Time for a new computer. Drowned my sorrows with a bottle of William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (deep ruby colour; cedar, plum and currants on the nose; medium-bodied, plummy and juicy with fresh acidity leading to a firm finish. (88)).