Monday, April 11th: A seminar on California Pinot Noir this morning at 11 am in the Royal York’s Ontario Room, conducted by Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. We tasted 13 Pinots. My favourite was Au Bon Climat “Alexander Knox” Pinot Noir 2012. This was a prelude to the sparkling wine reception and traditional lunch (with the traditional menu of braised and grilled beef). Karen MacNeil gave the address and presented each table with a copy of her book for the person whose birthday was nearest today’s date.
My Pinot of choice
After lunch, the annual California tasting in the ballroom. Mercifully, there was a quiet room for the wine press to taste as there is always a mob scene at this event. Two stand-out Napa Cabernets were Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 and Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. After all that California wine, for dinner I opened a bottle of Masi Costasera Amarone 2011 (ruby colour; a nose of dried cherries and cedar with a barnyard note; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury cherry flavour with lively acidity and a lovely, velvety mouth-feel (91)).
Tuesday, April 12th: Wrote my On the Go magazine column and tasted a couple of wines:
- Schloss Vollrads Riesling Qualitätswein 2012: happily not in the winery’s Trocken style – a beautifully poised Riesling with flavours of honeyed grapefruit and lime, perfectly balanced and more towards Spätlese than QbA. (92)
- Joie Farm Muscat 2015 (Okanagan): pale straw colour; aromatic, cardamom and orange blossom nose; beautifully balanced, medium-bodied, lovely mouth-feel with a rose water and honeyed orange flavour. Their best yet. (91points –I would have given more if there was a touch more acidity)
- EastDell Black Label Cabernet Merlot 2013 (Ontario): purple-ruby colour with a cedary nose of plums and currants; medium-bodied, dry, savoury plum flavour with good acidity. (87.5)
Wednesday, April 13th: Drove Deborah and her friend Sally to the airport. They’re off to Mexico for a week.
At 3 pm down to the Distillery District to meet Benoit Gouez, the cellar master for Moet et Chandon, to taste their newest champagne concept, MC III.
But first Gouez led us through a component tasting of the base wines before secondary fermentation – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the 2013 vintages, then the vintage champagnes that go into the blend. The composition of the final blend is as complex as the wine tastes! The primary component or “tier” is the still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wine (50/50) aged in stainless steel. The second tier are the still reserve wines of 1 to 5 years old. The third tier are great vintages of champagnes that are 5 to 10 years old. Benoit Gouez calls them “the three universes” – stainless steel, wood barrel and glass bottle. The primary tier is made up of wines from the 2003 vintage; the second-tier vintages are 1998, 2000 and 2002. The third tier is a blend of vintages 1993, 1998 and 1999. The finished wine was ten years in the making. And after all that, what does it taste like? Golden straw in colour, it has an expressive nose of white flowers, citrus, white peach with a nutty note; elegant and full on the palate with a creamy texture and great balance. (98)
Thursday, April 14th: Wrote my Post City column. In the late afternoon drove up to the Franklin Fishing Club to conduct a tasting, comparing New World and Old World wines of the same varietal:
30 Bench Triangle Vineyard Riesling 2013 (Ontario)
2013 Pierre Sparr Lieu Dit Altenbourg Riesling 2013 (Alsace)
William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis (Burgundy)
Beringer Founder’s Estate Chardonnay 2013 (Napa)
Latour Pinot Noir (Burgundy)
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir (Chile)
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône (Rhone)
Are You Game Shiraz (Victoria, Australia)
Friday, April 15th: A Vintages release tasting today. Really needed those French fries on the way home. Watched the Jays lose to the Red Sox. Don’t have a good feeling about this series.