A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 634: El Tenedor

Monday, January 23rd: Wrote my 680 NEWS wine reviews and began selecting judges for the Ontario Wine Awards – the sweet wine panels. For dinner, steak with a bottle of Konzelmann Heritage Reserve 2012 (Ontario – $21.75): Deep ruby colour; cedary-savoury nose of blackcurrants with a herbal note; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with grainy tannins. (88)

Tuesday, January 24th: A 9:30 am appointment to pick up a sleep pack machine. Apprehensive about learning to fall asleep with this apparatus strapped under my nostrils, pushing in air. The doctor prescribed some sleeping pills to help but I am still nervous.

At noon down to the LCBO to taste the rest of the wines from last Friday’s Vintages release. At 8 pm a telephone interview with Scott Radley of a radio show (900 CHML in Hamilton) about detecting flavours in wine. For dinner, fillet of sole with a bottle of Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2015 (Napa Valley – $22.95): olden straw colour; grassy, green plum nose with a touch of oak; medium to full-bodied, dry, rich mid-palate flavours of guava and grapefruit. Good length. (89)

Wednesday, January 25th: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews and then Doris Miculan-Bradley, the President of Grapes for Humanity, picked me up to drive to the Hunt Club for lunch with the General Manager of The Toronto Hunt, Marcel Bregstein, to discuss holding a fund-raiser event there later this year.

Thursday, January 26th: Spent the day writing the novel. Dinner with Deborah at El Tenedor, 909 Yonge Street. I consulted on their wine list, and chef/owner Cesar Penalver wanted us to taste his menu (inspired by Ferran Adria of El Bullí).

Terrina de Foie y Jerez – Foie gras terrine, caviar and onion marmalade served on top of crostini and paired with a glass of sherry

Foie gras terrine tapas

Cartas de Pap – Pumpkin seeds, Dutch Beemster cheese and tomato wrapped in potato envelopes

Cordero – 26-hours-cooked lamb leg, served with potato and hot sherry jelly

Bullabesa – Fish of the day Bouillabaisse


Lomito de Res – Mignon topped with truffle-honey and ginger emulsion, served with potato and spinach

Postre de chocolate y Pimento – Dark chocolate ganache and red pepper sorbet (to die for)

This was one of the best meals I’ve had in Toronto!

Friday, January 27th: Deborah is off to her ladies’ book club weekend so Pinot and I are baching it. Got down to some tasting.

  • Norton Barrel Select Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Mendoza, Argentina – $12.95): medium straw colour; minerally, grassy, green plum and grapefruit zest nose; medium-bodied, dry, tart green plum and gooseberry flavours with crisp acidity and a green pepper and cut-grass finish. (88)
  • Château des Charmes Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2015 (Niagara-on-the-Lake – $14.95): bright straw colour; a nose of hay and apples with a nutty-oak note; medium-bodied, spicy, richly extracted apple, melon and toast flavours finishing on a nutty note. Good value. (89)
  • Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2015 (Pays d’Oc; Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir – $16.95): straw colour with a faint trace of pink; minerally, peachy-melon nose; medium-bodied, dry, white peach flavour with a note of dried herbs. (87)
  • Kim Crawford Rosé 2016 (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand – $17.95) (formerly known as “Pansy” – Merlot): deep salmon colour; minerally, cranberry and pomegranate bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, watermelon and raspberry flavours. (87.5)
  • Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Speck Family Reserve 2015 (Ontario): dense ruby-purple colour; cedary, new leather, blackberry nose; medium to full-bodied, juicy, creamy blackberry flavour with lively acidity; comes on like a Zinfandel. Nicely balanced oak. (89.5)
  • Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2012 (Short Hills Bench, Ontario – $24.95): deep ruby colour; oaky, cherry and plum nose; medium-bodied, dry, richly extracted plum and currant flavours with a note of violets in mid-palate; well-balanced with good length and a firm finish. (90)
  • Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc 2015 (Niagara-on-the-Lake): solid ruby colour; cedary, black raspberry and currants on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury-herbal red berry flavours with grainy tannins. (86.5)
  • Ravenswood Dickerson Zinfandel 2013 (Napa Valley – $39.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, plum nose with a note of leather; full-bodied, dry, juicy plum flavour with lively acidity and a long finish. (89)


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