Monday, May 9th: Wrote my On the Go column. Then Winemaker Jean-Edouard de Rochebouet from Bodega Atamisque came by the condo with samples of his wines. The labels of his wines have attractive drawings of indigenous Argentinian trees.
- Bodega Atamisque Serbal Malbec 2014 (Tupungato, Argentina – Sept. 17 Vintages, $16.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, leather, black cherry nose with a spicy-floral top note; medium-bodied, dry and savoury with well-extracted plum and black cherry flavours with a refreshing spine of acidity. (88.5)
- Bodega Atamisque Catalpa Malbec 2013 (Oct. 1 Vintages, $19.95): dense purple colour; black fruit nose with dark chocolate, vanilla oak and new leather notes; full-bodied, mouth-filling, dry, fleshy, black cherry flavour with fine powdery tannins. Good mouth-feel. (90)
In the evening I conducted a tasting for a company at The Corktown Kitchen, 364 King Street East: Tabali Reserva Especial 2011 (Chile), Paolo Conterno Barbera d’Alba 2014 (Piemonte) and Hidden Bench Pinot Noir 2013 (Ontario). For the dinner I ordered off the restaurant’s list Sandhill Pinot Gris 2013 from BC and Mandolin Pinot Noir 2013 from California.
Corktown Kitchen tasting
Tuesday, May 10th: Wrote up 30 wine reviews for Quench and then down to the Austrian Trade Commission for a tasting of Austrian wines from a tasting I had missed last month. The Grüner Veltliners are always a pleasure – very impressed by Leopold Grüner Veltliner Klassik 2015 (pale straw, floral, white pepper and white peach nose; elegant and dry with a lovely mouth-feel (90)) and Steiniger Grüner Veltliner Reserve Grand Cru 2014 (pale straw colour; minerally, white pepper and white peach nose; rich mid-palate peachy-melon fruit, well balanced with great length (90)). Also enjoyed Malat Höhlgraben Grüner Veltliner 2014 (light straw colour with a greenish tint; dry, grapefruit and white pepper flavour with a green plum finish (90)). Malat Steinbühel Riesling 2014 was also delicious (golden colour; oily, botrytis nose of honeyed grapefruit; off-dry, rich and full on the palate (90)).
A bargain-priced Grüner at the LCBO
But the real surprise was the quality of the red wines now being produced in Austria – Wieninger Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 (ruby colour; spicy, cherry and plum nose back by vanilla oak; full-bodied elegant and firm with soft tannins (91)); Esterházy Reserve “Tesoro” 2011 (dense purple-black colour; black fruit nose with a floral grace note; rich and full on the palate with a chunky mouth-feel, lively acidity and a firm finish (90)); Johanneshof Reinisch St. Laurent 2012 (deep purple ruby; spicy plum nose, elegant and beautifully balanced (90)) – their GV 2015 was very tasty too (minerally, spicy, green peach and crabapple flavours (89)). Bründlmayer Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 was also delicious (deep ruby colour with an undergrowth nose of dried cherries and firmly structured (89.5)). The wine of the tasting, though, was Tschida Angerhof BA Seewinkel (N/V): amazingly structured dessert wine with honeyed peach and tropical fruit flavours (95).
My top Austrian Pinot Noir
Esterhazy Reserve “Tesoro” 2011
A fantastic dessert wine
For dinner: Quadrus 2011 – a Douro blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Souzao made by Carm (dense purple colour with a spicy, earthy nose of leather, pencil lead and blackberries; medium to full-bodied, dry and savoury with cherry and plum flavours carried on lively acidity. More intense than the 2010 vintage (90)).
Wednesday, May 11th: A meeting with Angela Aiello and the iYellow team to discuss Winetario, the trade/press and consumer tastings at George Brown on June 17th. Then on to the ROM for a seminar on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Seventeen wines in all. My top picks: Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 (smoky, struck flint nose of green plum with toasty oak and grapefruit notes (91)); Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (very pale straw colour; white pepper, grassy, grapefruit and lime nose with green bean and peapod notes; fresh and lively on the palate with a thread of minerality and a lovely mouth-feel (90)); and Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon Waipara Valley 2013 (pale straw colour; grassy, green herbs and lanolin nose – very Bordeaux in style; medium-bodied, elegant, peach and grapefruit flavours; rich mouth-feel (90)). Then downstairs to the main tasting room where I concentrated on New Zealand Pinot Noirs. My top wines: Wither Hills Pinot Noir Marlborough 2012 (90), Sacred Hill Orange Label Pinot Noir Marlborough 2014 (90), Forrest Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013 (90).
A flight of Zealand Sauvignons
Thursday, May 12th: My birthday. David Beauroy dropped by with four Mark Herold wines he’s representing for me to taste.
- Mark Herold Flux 2012 (Napa – 84% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre – $55): plum colour; vanilla oak, savoury black fruit nose, full-bodied, sweet black raspberry, firmly structured with an earthy finish. (89)
- Mark Herold Collide 2012 (30% Carignan, 27% Petite Sirah, 24% Tempranillo, 19% Graciano – $60): dense purple colour; spicy, blackberry and blackcurrant nose with herbal, savoury notes; ripe and fleshy, full-bodied black fruits and bitter chocolate flavours and a tannic up-lift on the finish. Very Priorat in style. (91)
- Mark Herold Brown Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon – $162 Classic Catalogue): dense purple colour; spicy vanilla oak, mocha chocolate and black plum nose; full-bodied, dry, richly extracted juicy, plum and blackcurrant fruit with dark chocolate notes and evident but resolved tannins. (92)
- Mark Herold White Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon – $299 Classics Catalogue): dense purple black colour; intense coffee bean and blackcurrant nose with creamy oak; full-bodied, beautifully balanced and seamless with ripe blackberry, blackcurrant and chocolate flavours enhanced by lively acidity and a tannic lift on the finish. Great mouth-feel. (94)
Deborah’s present to me was a bottle of Big Guy Red Wine 2014, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend from California. It has a Wheaten Terrier on the label that looks like Pinot T. Wonderdog. She had our friend Pooch bring it with him from Sacramento. Coincidentally, my son Guy saw the identical wine in Maui and bought a bottle for me too!
My birthday wine
In the evening I opened and tasted two Syrahs from Le Vieux Pin in the Okanagan.
- Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2014 (Okanagan – $44.99): Dense purple colour; smoky, savoury-herbal blackberry nose with a light floral top note; full-bodied, dry, well-extracted black fruit flavours carried on lively acidity with ripe tannins and good length. (89.5)
- Le Vieux Pin Syrah Equinox 2013 (Okanagan – $79.99): dense purple colour; savoury-herbal, black fruits on the nose with a smoky note; full-bodied, dry and fruity with lively acidity. Beautifully balanced with blackberry and dark chocolate flavours enhanced by a floral note; fresh finish. (93)
Friday, May 13th: A weird day – there was a bomb scare at the school 100 yards from our condo which messed up traffic and a workman fell from a platform on a nearby building and was taken away by ambulance. Down to the LCBO for a Vintages release tasting. Stopped on the way home for French fries. Took a nap before going over to a neighbour’s for drinks. Watched the Jays shut out the Texas Rangers 5–0. Very satisfying.