A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 646: Luce della Vita

Monday, April 17th (Easter Monday): A quiet day walking Pinot and getting ready for the Decanter World Wine Awards judging next week in London. Dinner – pasta with meat sauce and a bottle of Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2013 (Veneto – $24.95): Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese blend (deep ruby colour; cedary, tobacco and cherry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry and savoury, concentrated cherry, plum and blackcurrant flavours with balancing acidity and a firm finish (89)).

Tuesday, April 18th: A meeting at the Fine Wine Reserve in Rexdale, where the wines for the Ontario Wine Awards are being put into flights. The purpose is to choose 9 or 10 labels for the Best Label Award, which will be voted on by the public on our Ontario Wine Awards website. Then down to the LCBO for a meeting about a new Ontario Wine brand.

a woman standing in a large room surrounded by portable tables each of which has dozens of bottles of wine on it
Sadie Darby flighting wines for the Ontario Wine Awards

Wednesday, April 19th: Spent much of the day on Ontario Wine Award business, emailing the 24 judges with final instructions and sending them ballots for the Winemaker of the Year Award. In the evening, Deborah and I went down to El Tenedor restaurant, where I conducted a dinner tasting of Spanish wines with Chef Cesar Penalver’s menu.

el tenedor restaurant wine bar presents WINES OF SPAIN | Menu created by Cesar Penalver | Wines paired by Tony Aspler | MENU | ENSALADA DE HUERTO; WINE PAIRED: HIDALGO LA GITANA MANZANILLA. Vintages LCBO: 745448. A garden Salad to welcome the spring; Apple dressing, vegetable earth, pea sprouts, sweet peas, carrots, broccoli, shiitake and enoki mushrooms | CHARCUTERIA MARINA; WINE PAIRED: MARQUES DE RISCAL WHITE. RUEDA. LCBO: 36822. Seafood charcuterie: experimental dish to make Albacore jamon, salmon chorizo and scallops-lobster butifarra | PASTA CON CABRA BORRACHA; WINE PAIRED: PACO Y LOLA ALBARINO. VINTAGES LCBO: 350041. (drunken goat) pasta filled with Albariño and goat confit, pear-Albariño-rosemary sauce and black truffle dressing | BACALAO NEGRO CON AJILLO AMONTILLADO; WINE PAIRED: LUSTAU ESCUADRILLA RARE AMONTILLADO SHERRY. VINTAGES 660324. Black cod served with garlic-amontillado and apple sauce. Parsley-garlic-red pepper aliolis | HELADOS DEL OLOR DEL VINO MENCIA; WINE PAIRED: ABAD DON BUENO CRIANZA 2006, BIERZO. VINTAGES LCBO: 244699. What is the flavour of the wine's aroma? Popsicles of: Strawberry-blacberry-cherry, tobacco and earth. Vanilla and Mencia gels

Thursday, April 20th: Drove to Niagara in the rain with Andrew Menceles to discuss a wine project with four Ontario wineries. In the evening, a dinner tasting at Toca in the Ritz Carlton Hotel with Lamberto Frescobaldi and Luce winemaker Stefano Ruini to taste a horizontal flight of Luce delle Vita. The wine was originally created as a co-production with Tim Mondavi in 1993 – and is historically a 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot in Montalcino.

  • Luce delle Vita 1997 (Merlot vineyard planted in 1976): mature ruby colour; a nose of tobacco, cherry, blackcurrant and orange peel with spicy, vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry and beginning to dry out; firmly structured, ripe cherry and chocolate flavours carried on lively acidity. (92)
  • Luce delle Vita 1999: deep ruby-purple colour; creamy, spicy, cherry and vanilla oak nose with a floral note; rich and full on the palate. Beautifully balanced, sweet cherry flavour with cocoa powder tannins. Very elegant. A gorgeous wine. (94)
  • Luce delle Vita 2006: dense purple colour; cedary, vanilla oak, blackcurrant, plum and cherry bouquet; medium to full-bodied, firmly structured with cherry and dark chocolate flavours and grainy tannins. (92)
  • Luce delle Vita 2008: dense purple colour; spicy blackberry and pencil lead nose; rich and full on the palate with the characteristic cherry and chocolate flavours with grainy tannins. Still youthful – hold for five years. (91–93)
  • Luce delle Vita 2010: dense purple colour; cedary, spicy, biscuit nose of cherries, licorice, smoke and toasty oak; full-bodied, dry, creamy but firm with evident tannins. (92)
  • Luce delle Vita 2012: dense purple-ruby colour; more Sangiovese-like on the nose; full-bodied, dry, black cherry flavour with ripe, pliant tannins. More savoury than previous vintages, firmly structured with lively acidity. (92–94)

menu: TOCA, TORONTO, CANADA | First Course: Signature Ravioli 'Capresi' – Homemade ravioli stuffed with caciotta cheese, marjoram, tomato sauce | Second Course: A selection of the following: Rack of Lamb, Gnocchi alla romana – Gratin Roman gnocchi, butter, sage; Tagliata di Fiorentia – Fiorentina steak; Market Vegetables – a selection of vegetables | Third Course: Tortino ti gianduia – Gianduia ganache, hazelnut, milk chocolate mousse, maple gelato
Toca menu

Luce | First Course: Lucente IGT Toscana 2014 | Second Course: Luce IGT Toscana 2014 | Third Course: Luce Brunello di Montalcino2012
…and accompanying wines

6 wine glasses, each containing 1 ounce of red wine, in a semicircle around a closed menu
Luce Della Vita flight

Luce winemaker Stefano Ruini

Friday, April 21st: A visit to the Sleep Clinic with a Cpap machine to see Dr. Appleton and complain that it’s like a cat sleeping on my face. In the evening I conducted a fund-raiser tasting at St. Joseph’s School on Leslie Street (very near my son and daughter-in-laws’ house, so I could drop in to see my granddaughter Isla for a while). The event at the school was called “Silent Soirée” and parents of the students and teachers attended. The wines I chose to present were:

  • Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2014 (Clare Valley, South Australia)
  • M. Chapoutier Tournon Mathilda 2014 (Victoria, Australia)
  • Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016 (Marlborough, New Zealand)
  • Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva Carmenere 2013 (Chile)
  • Château La Verrière 2014 (Bordeaux Supérieur)
  • Feudi San Pio Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2014 (Veneto)
  • Jaspi Negre 2013 (Montsant, Spain)

Saturday, April 22nd: Packing to fly to London as a Regional Judge in the Decanter World Wine Awards. My cheap flight stops in Ottawa.


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