A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 649: Birthday Dinner

it's very small and cylindrical on a large white plate with a tiny candle standing next to it
My Alo birthday cake

Sunday, May 7th: Judging the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Ontario Wines at IWEG’s offices. Taking the 22 top scoring wines from the Ontario Wine Awards and having them judged by Igor Ryjenkov MW, Eugene Mlynczyk MW, Bruce Wallner MS, Jennifer Huether MS, Magdalena Kaiser, Astrid Brummer and myself. Finally settled on 11 as worthy of the distinction of an LG Award.

Monday, May 8th: Wrote up my 680 NEWS wine reviews – 8 of them (four weeks’ worth) since I’m leading a group to Italy on May 18th for 11 days. Prepared a dinner party for our friends Arlene and Michael. Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs to start with smoked salmon and nuts; then Deborah’s exotic fruit and vegetable salad with Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet Grandes Ruchottes 2009. Main course: Ontario lamb chops on the BBQ with over baked potatoes with rosemary and green beans, with Cos d’Estournel 1982. Cheese course with Vincent Paris Cornas “La Geynale”2011. Dessert: chocolate cheesecake with Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez.

Tuesday, May 9th: Wrote up the tasting notes for the winning wines in the Lieutenant Governors’ Awards and then got down to some tasting.

  • Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand, $17.15): very pale, almost water white with a faint lime tint; grassy, minerally, green peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours, fresh and zesty with good length. (88.5)
  • Kacaba Susan’s Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Niagara Peninsula – $15.95): almost water white with a green tint; minerally, reductive nose of grapefruit rind; medium-bodied, dry, mouth-filling, citrus, kiwi and green apple flavours. (87)
  • Kacaba Jennifer’s Pinot Gris 2016 (Niagara Peninsula – $17.95): pale straw colour with a pink note; minerally, peach blossom and white peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, peach pit flavor. (86)
  • Kacaba Rebecca Rosé 2016 (Niagara Peninsula -$17.95): pale pink colour; floral, banana and strawberry nose; medium-bodied, just off-dry with banana and watermelon flavours. (87)
  • Kacaba Cabernet Syrah 2015 (Niagara Escarpment): deep purple colour; cedary, herbal nose of black fruits; medium-bodied, floral, blackcurrant and blueberry flavours; beautifully balanced, sweet and savoury flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry with herbal notes carried on lively acidity. (90)
  • Oak Ridge Winery Old Zin Vines 2015 (Lodi, California, with 4% Petite Sirah – $21.95): deep ruby-purple colour; spicy, plum, tobacco and leather on the nose; full-bodied, sweet plum, milk chocolate and leather flavours with balancing acidity. A crowd-pleaser. (88.5)
  • Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay Oldfield Reserve 2015 (Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan – $34.99): straw-coloured, a nose of apple, hay and butter with a floral top note; full-bodied, rich and full in the mouth, spicy apple pie flavour with great length and a butternut finish. (90)
  • Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2015 (Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan – $15.99): light golden straw colour; spicy, lychee and ginger nose; medium-bodied, rich mid-palate lychee and rose water flavour with a touch of sweetness and enough acidity for balance. (88)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Rosé 2016 (Okanagan Valley – Cabernet Franc: $19.99): very pale pink (Provence style); minerally, wild strawberry and watermelon nose; medium-bodied, mouth-filling flavours of redcurrant and cranberry with just a touch of residual sugar to round off the palate. (88)
  • Château de Fontenelles Renaissance 2013 (Corbières – Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre): dense purple colour; lovely floral blackberry nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, perfumed, black raspberry flavour with well-integrated oak. Lovely mouth-feel. (91)

Wednesday, May 10th: Should have gone to a speed dating tasting with New Zealand winemakers but was feeling awful. Stayed home and tried to sleep.

Thursday, May 11th: A Winerytohome tasting at Doug Towers’s with David Lawrason. The traditional pizza for lunch. A quick nap before heading down to Rosedale for a Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser called France Uncorked. It was held in a private house that accommodated over 200 people, with a tent in the garden. A great evening with lots of wine, oysters, cognac cocktails, cheeses, charcuterie, baby lamb chops.

Château Angludet Margaux 2011; Château Léoube Blanc de Léoube; Châtea Argadens Sauvignon-Semillon 2016; Champagne Hentriot Brut Souverain
Wines served at Grapes for Humanity’s France Uncorked

Friday, May 12th: My birthday. Deborah bought me a Hermès tie which I shall wear tonight when we dine at Alo. But first a Vintages release tasting and then a nap.

We decided to spoil ourselves with the tasting menu at the counter overlooking the kitchen, an amuse bouche followed by 14 courses with 12 wines. An amazing meal!

Sea Urchin / Raventos i Blanc 'de Nit' Rosé Cada 2014, Spain | Shima Aji / Dom. Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2015, Austria | Toro / Camillo Montori 'Fonte Cupa' Pecorino 2015, Italy | Terrine / Künstler Riesling Trocken 2015, Germany | Olive Oil Custard / Gonzalez Byass 'Cristina' Olorosa Sherry, Spain | King Crab / Suertes del Marques 'Vidonia' 2016 Canary Islands, Spain | French White Asparagus / PearcePredhomme Pinot Gris 2015, USA | Squab / Burlotto Langhe Nebbiolo 2015, Italy | Venison Saddle / Frederique Brouca 'Clos Sauveplane' Faugeres 2013, France ≈ Bloor Orange | Roasted Dark Chocolate / Quinta Seara d'Ordens 10yr Tawny Port, Portugal | Pineapple / Barbosa Moscatel de Setubal 2013, Portugal ≈ Canelé · Cinnamon Donut | 05.12.17 | alo
Alo’s tasting menu

Alo’s amuse bouche

Alo’s butter

a small piece with some purées and garnishes and so forth
King Crab

Burlotto Langhe Nebbiolo 2015
The wine for squab

a nice piece with skin, with associated vegetables mostly under it with sauce

it's a very bubbly piece on what looks like a bed of Graham crumbs
Roasted Dark Chocolate

Saturday, May 13th: Sent off my Lexpert column on this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. A Guatemala reunion dinner at Liz and David’s house with Adrienne and Myra, George and Anne. We had all been in Guatemala for the opening of a school funded by Grapes for Humanity.


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