A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 644: California Wine Fair

Monday, April 3rd: The annual California Wine Fair at the Royal York. This is the 24th year, an event I always look forward to. The guest speaker was Leslie Sbrocco, who showed off her tattoo on her right calf. She said an older woman told her when she’s eighty it would look like a cognac snifter.

It's a champagne flute filled with rosé champagne on a swirly bubbly blue background, covering the lower half of the back of her right calf
Leslie Sbrocco’s tattoo

After the lunch I headed to the press room where I could taste sitting down in peace. I concentrated on the Pinot Noirs first:

  • Patz & Hall Pinot Noir 2014 (91)
  • Schug Pinot Noir 2015 (91)
  • Artesa Pinot Noir 2014 (90)
  • Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega 2014 (89.5)
  • Marimar Estate La Masia Pinot Noir 2013 (89)
  • Reata Rosellina’s Vineyard 2014 (89)

Patz & Hall Pinot Noir 2014
A great California Pinot

Then into other reds. My top scoring wines:

  • Daou Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (94)
  • Etude Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (94)
  • C.G. Di Arie Syrah 2012 (92)
  • Duckhorn Merlot 2013 (92)
  • Signorello Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92)
  • Twomey Cellars Merlot 2013 (92)
  • Groth Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (91)

Daou Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
My top scoring wine at the California tasting

In the evening, down to Bent Restaurant for Sopexa’s National final “of a friendly competition between three top sommeliers from Quebec, Ontario and BC who will have to create the best food and wine pairing with Chablis based on a single menu.” Participants taste the wines blind and vote on the best pairing after each course to elect “Best Sommelier Chablis.”

PURE CHABLIS NATIONAL FINAL | Monday, April 3rd, 2017 | Bent Restaurant | MENU | Amuse Bouche: Mexican Goats Cheese Tart, Roasted Peppers, Chinese Eggplant, Black Olive, Tomatillo | First Course: Gravlax & Spicy Salmon Tartare, Avocado, Egg, Lemon Crème Fraîche, Pickled Onion, Capers | Second Course: Korean Crispy Shrimp, Shoestring Potato, Shimegi & Enoki Mushrooms, Nori, Hong Kong Xo Sauce, Sweet and Sour Chili Glaze | Third Course: Wild Mushrooms Chicken Pot, Chestnut, Parsnip, Carrot, Pease, Tarragon, Beurre Blanc | Cheeses: Selection of Cheeses
Bent menu for Chablis competition

The compere was Louis Moreau; the somms, Joshua Corea of Archive 909, Nicolas Charron-Boucher of Planvin and Roger Maniwa of Mak N Ming. After tasting three courses each matched with three Chablis, the winner was Nicolas Charron-Boucher.

he's holding a big 'boarding pass' for a Canada-Chablis flight; it's labelled PURE CHABILS PRIZE
And the winner is… Nicolas Charron-Boucher

My best matches were Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 2014 with salmon tartare and smoked salmon; Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Côtes de Lechet Chablis 2003 with crispy Koeran shrimp; and Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin Chablis Valmur Grand Cru 2015 with the chicken pot pie.

Tuesday, April 4th: After a doctor’s appointment (all well!), down to the LCBO lab to finish tasting the rest of the April 15th release. For dinner with spicy chicken, I opened a bottle of Tom Gore Chardonnay 2014 from California ($19.95): straw coloured with a creamy, vanilla, pineapple and clove nose; full-bodied, rich and mouth-filling with tropical fruit flavours. A boisterous, over-the-top California Chardonnay. (89)

Wednesday, April 5th: A meeting with Doris Miculan Braddley at George Brown to discuss wines for a Grapes for Humanity event we’ll be holding there on June 26th called “Corks & Forks.” Then on to a meeting with Angela Aiello and her team about Winetario – the consumer event that follows the Ontario Wine Awards.

Thursday, April 6th: Wrote my Wines of the Week and then went to a Prince Edward County tasting at a de-sanctified church on Queen Street East. Impressed by Trail Estate wines, especially the Unfiltered Chardonnay 2015 (90) and one of the best Gewurztraminers I’ve tasted from Ontario soil (91). My other top scoring wines were Karlo Pinot Noir 2015 (89), Huff Estates Pinot Noir Reserve 2014 (89), Closson Chase The Brock Chardonnay 2015 (89), Closson Chase Pinot Gris Watson Vineyard 2016 (89), Keint-He Chardonnay Greer Road 2014 (89). A revelation for me was Michael Waterston’s Kinsip House of Fine Spirits. He distils stunning vodka and gin.

Friday, April 7th: A Vintages release tasting for April 29th – 132 products. Tasted 62, which means the rest next Tuesday. A treadmill for the palate.

Oreno Toscana 2013
Best wine at Friday’s Vintages tasting

Saturday, April 8th: Conducted a charity tasting at a private home in Etobicoke – the winner of an auction at an Amani House fund-raiser. Took along the following wines from my cellar:

  • Konzelmann Estate Pinot Grigio 2013
  • Mike Weir Riesling 2008
  • Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2013
  • Tawse Gamay Noir 2015
  • Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc 2007
  • Trius Red The Icon 2014
  • Kacaba Reserve Syrah 2012
  • Inniskillin Vidal icewine 2014

The Jackson-Triggs Cab Franc stole the show.


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