Monday, December 19th: Wrote my Quench column on Friuli red wines and a prediction that the Next Big Thing will be Ribolla Gialla, made either from 100% of this native variety or blended with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and/or Pinot Nero. For dinner, with lamb chops, Joel Gott Merlot 2014: deep ruby colour; cedary nose of black fruits; full-bodied, dry, with herbal flavours of plum and mulberry full on the palate with a creamy mouth-feel.
Tuesday, December 20th: Spent the day working on the novel. Deborah thinks I’m dragging it out because I don’t want to finish it as I’m enjoying it too much. For dinner, pasta with Frescobaldi Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina 2012 (deep ruby colour; cedary, pencil lead and cherry nose with notes of leather and vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity and ripe tannins (88.5).
Wednesday, December 21st: Back on the novel. For dinner, grilled lamb chops with 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from Washington State: dark ruby colour; cedary, blackcurrant and smoke on the nose; full-bodied, savoury plum and blackcurrant flavours with ripe tannins and a spicy vanilla oak vanish (89).
Thursday, December 22nd: Another day on the novel (what a pleasure it is just to sit back and write fiction – maybe I need to win the lottery!). Dinner at Gordon and Carole Stimmell, Deborah learned down to shuck oysters as we started with Oysters Rockefeller.
Friday, December 23rd: Spent most of the day preparing for a dinner party this evening. The guests are James and Aina, Sheila and Marilyn. James brought along a copy of his new book, “The Asshole’s Guide to Cooking, Volume 1” which made for lively conversation at the table.
The menu: smoked salmon, standing rib roast, roast potatoes, peas and green beans (Deborah wouldn’t allow me to make Yorkshire pudding for some reason – maybe because she hates it), cheeses followed by meringues with cream and raspberries. The wines:
Villa Conchi Brut Seleccion Cava
Louis Bouillot Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé
Trius Ghost Creek Riesling 2014
Château des Charmes Riesling 2007
14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Pillitteri Vidal Icewine 2014.
December 24th: Took Pinot for a long walk in the park before settling down to taste the wines I’m taking up to Caledon for Christmas dinner at Deborah’s niece’s house.
Trail Estate Foxcroft Vineyard Oak-Aged Riesling 2015 (Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario): pale straw colour with a greenish tint; lemony-grapefruit nose with a mineral note; crisply dry, lemony, green plum flavour with mouth-freshening acidity and little oak influence. (88)
Trail Estate Unfiltered Chardonnay 2015 (Niagara Peninsula): pale straw with a greenish tint; apple, citrus nose with a light barnyard note; medium-bodied, dry, green apple and toasty oak. Very Burgundian in style. (90)
Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $19.95): very pale lime in colour; grassy. Gooseberry and green fig nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry, gooseberry, grapefruit and elderberry flavours with lively acidity giving the wine great length. (92)
Trail Estate Baco Nouveau 2016 (Ontario): deep purple-ruby colour; spicy, Christmas cake nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity. (86.5)
Luis Cañas Rioja Crianza 2014 (Rioja – $17.00): deep purple-ruby colour; sandalwood and cherries on the nose; medium-bodied dry, fresh and lively on the palate with a hint of oak. Well-made and well-priced. (89)
Bolla Valpolicella Ripasso Clasico Superiore 2014 (Veneto – $19.95): ruby colour with a tawny note at the rim; earthy, dried cherry and raisin nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with spicy oak on the finish. Ripe tannins. (88.5)
Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot 2014 (Columbia Valley, Washington – $20.95): deep ruby-plum colour; cedary, plum, blueberry and tobacco nose with a vanilla oak note; full-bodied, dry, fruity, plum and tobacco flavours. Supple tannins. (89)
Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2014 (Washington – $25.95): deep dark ruby colour; blueberry pie nose with cedary-vanilla oak notes; full-bodied, dry, richly extracted with black cherry and coconut flavours. Creamy mouth-fell with evident tannins on the finish. Hold 3 years. (88.5)
In the evening, a party at the Willis’ – their annual carol festival dinner with lots of young kids.