A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 594: Hola Dinner

Monday, April 18th: A beautiful day today with a high of 24°C. Spent much of the day putting the panels together for the Ontario Wine Awards. This year the tasting will be on one day (May 7th) instead of two days. It will take place at George Brown College with six panels of four judges and two invited student guests.

Watched a little of a rare morning baseball game – the Jays beat the Yankees in a nail-biter. In the evening got down to some tasting:

  • Joie Farm Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2015 (Okanagan Valley – $22.90): pale straw colour; Golden Delicious apple nose with apple blossom and leesy notes; medium-bodied, dry, fresh with great texture. Beautifully balanced. (90)
  • Joie Farm Pinot Blanc 2015 ($22.90): pale straw with a peach pit nose, light floral notes and some effervescence; medium-bodied, peachy-melon flavour with a thread of minerality; good mid-palate fruit with a touch of sweetness. (89.5)
  • Joie Farm Yellow Muscat 2015 ($22.90): pale straw colour; aromatic, cardamom and orange blossom nose; beautifully balanced, medium-bodied, lovely mouth-feel with a rose water and honeyed orange flavour. (91 points; I would have given more if there was a touch more acidity.)
  • Joie Farm A Noble Blend 2015 ($23.90): A blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Schoenberger. Light straw colour, aromatic spicy, cardamom, orange blossom nose with a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry, rosewater, lychee, grapefruit and melon flavours. (90)
  • Joie Farm Re-Think Pink! Rosé 2015 (Pinot Noir and Gamay – $20.90): deep pink colour; strawberry and raspberry nose with a leafy note; light-bodied dry and fruity with a good spine of acidity. Lovely mouth-feel. (89)

Tuesday, April 19th: Down to the LCBO to taste wines from next month’s Vintages release that I had missed on Friday. Spent the rest of the day working on Ontario Wine Awards business. Before dinner got down to some more tasting:

  • Closson Chase Pinot Gris K. J. Watson Vineyard 2015 (Prince Edward County): very pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; light to medium-bodied, herb-tinged, green peach flavour with citrus acidity. (87.5)
  • Closson Chase The Brock Chardonnay 2014: straw colour; winter apple and undergrowth nose; sweet apple flavour, judiciously oaked, medium-bodied, buttery-apple flavour, seamless on the palate with a long finish. (89)
  • Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2014: straw colour; smoky, spicy, toasty nose; medium-bodied, light on the palate with apple, orange and clove flavours; new oak flavours to the fore. Needs a little time to meld. (88 – 90).
  • Closson Chase Pinot Noir K. J. Watson Vineyard 2014: palest ruby colour, rather like a deeply-coloured rosé; lifted, delicate nose of strawberries and undergrowth; light to medium-bodied, somewhat dilute and restrained*, very delicate and lacy. (86)
  • Uggiano Falconeri Cabernet Sauvignon di Toscana 2008 ($41.75): Dense ruby-black colour; cedary, spicy plum bouquet; high-toned, richly extracted flavours, high alcohol. Licorice and plum flavours with a volatile note and lively acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of Sangiovese.

For dinner with chicken stir-fry, Mark West Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2012 ($24.95): deep ruby colour; a floral nose of vanilla oak and black raspberry; medium to full-bodied, dry, plum and black raspberry flavours. Lovely mouth-feel and well-balanced with ripe tannins. (91)

Wednesday, April 20th: Spent much of the day working on the Ontario Wine Awards. In the evening to a private house to conduct a fun tasting for a charity group. They had to answer the following questions about two wines on four tables served blind:

Table 1 (Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc):
1. What is the grape variety of each wine?
2. Which wine comes from Chile – A or B?
3. Which wine is the costlier – A or B?

  1. Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Les Clous Meursault 2013 ($44.95; Vintages #661322)
  2. Miguel Torres Santa Digna Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile – $14.95; Vintages #177444)

Table 2 (Two Cabernet Sauvignon wines):
1. Which wine is Old World and which is New World?
2. What region or country does each wine come from?
3. Which is the costlier – A or B?

  1. Trapiche Fincas Las Palmas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina – $16.95; Vintages #143206)
  2. Château L’Argenteyre 2010 (Médoc, Bordeaux – $22.95; Vintages #441246)

Table 3 (Two Pinot Noir wines):
1. Which wine comes from Ontario – A or B?
2. Which wine is older – A or B?
3. Which is costlier – A or B?

  1. Norman Hardie Unfiltered Niagara Pinot Noir 2010 ($39; Vintages #208702)
  2. Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2013 (Chile – $10.95; LCBO #341602)

Table 4 (Syrah and Shiraz):
1. What is the grape variety common to these two wines?
2. Which wine is from the Rhone Valley?
3. Which is the costlier – A or B?

  1. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2012 (Northern Rhône – $28.95; Vintages #704908)
  2. Penny’s Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2013 (McLaren Vale, South Australia – $21.95; Vintages #396473)

Thursday, April 21st: A winerytohome tasting at Doug Towers’s.

Friday, April 22nd: A desk-clearing day before I depart for London to judge in the Decanter World Wine Awards competition. Also worked on the novel, which was a pleasure.

Deborah and I went for dinner to Hola Tapas Bar (1298 Queen Street West). This is a gem of a tiny restaurant – elBulli writ small. Cesar Penalver doesn’t call himself a chef but he makes the most interesting and inventive menu I have had in Toronto for years.

Cesar Penalver

We put ourselves in his hands and we had a series of his small plates:

Aceitunas liquidas: Liquid olives (marinated in olive oil and fresh rosemary)

Liquid olives (inspired by Ferran Adrià)

Bombones de alcachofa y trufas: Artichokes and truffles (artichoke bites served over Brie cheese sauce and topped with truffle salsa, caviar and oil)

Artichokes and truffles

Capresa reconstruida: Hola Caprese salad (dehydrated tomatoes with fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil dust)

Hola Caprese salad (eaten like a hamburger)

Terrina de pato y trucha ahumada: Duck and smoked trout terrine (duck breast and smoked trout pate served with red and black caviar, rosemary mustard and green apple gel)

Duck and smoked trout terrine

Sopa fria y caliente de ajo porro con galleta de papa: Cold and hot leek soup (with house made potato chip)

Cold and hot leek soup (top half cold, bottom half hot)

Bocadillos de pollo: Three ways chicken canapés (chicken Chicharron, ginger butter chicken, chicken velouté, aïoli, green onions, ginger caviar and seaweed)

Jamón, datiles y melon: Prosciutto-wrapped dates, served warm over house-made melon caviar and gel

We finished with an amazing dessert, Cesar’s take on crème brûlée: Espuma de crema Catalana (airy foam made of infused milk with orange, lime zest and cinnamon) served with a glass of sweet sherry.

Espuma de crema Catalana

An amazing meal.


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