Monday, July 17th: A winerytohome.com tasting at Doug Towers’s house, with David Lawrason. For dinner with steak, Tinhorn Creek Syrah 2014 (dense purple-ruby colour; cedary, herbal, blackberry nose; full-bodied, dry and savoury with fresh acidity and powdery tannins. 88.5).
Tuesday, July 18th: Drove up to Marc Russell’s second wine storage facility in Rexdale to interview him for an article about wine storage for Quench magazine. Had to clear out of the condo as we had two prospective buyers coming to see it. Which meant taking Pinot out for a couple of hours. Wrote up my wine reviews for the next issue of Quench and opened a bottle of Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2014 (straw coloured with a nose of apple and undergrowth and well-integrated oak; medium to full-bodied, spicy, apple and peach flavours; well-balanced, creamy on the palate with a nutty finish (89)).
Wednesday, July 19th: Down to the Shangri-La Hotel for a blending lesson/competition. Rick Sayre, Rodney Strong’s winemaker, divided the group into four teams each of us had to come up with a blend for Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage 2013. We were given half bottles of each of the five components – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot – as well as a pipette and measuring column. ‘We want a big, rich Cabernet wine,’ said Sayre. Our table didn’t win but it was a fun exercise. The actual blend Sayre made was 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 4% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot.
Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage components
Two more showings of the condo this evening. Very boring to have to vacate all the time. Can’t wait for it to sell. For dinner, with pasta, Cecchi Chianti 2015 (deep purple-ruby colour; high toned, cedary, cherry bouquet with a herbal note; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with a touch of bitterness on the finish and a firm tannic end).
Thursday, July 20th: Did some research on Argentina and Chile for a tasting I’m doing next week at the Oakdale Golf Club. Then we got a call from our real estate agent telling us that we have an offer on the condo – which we gratefully accepted. Deborah and I toasted the occasion with a bottle of Chevalier Monopole Brut Rosé (pale salmon pink in colour with tiny bubbles; sweetish strawberry nose; medium-bodied, just off-dry with strawberry and cranberry flavours. Great value at $16.95. 88 points). For dinner, lamb chops with a half bottle of Château La Sergue 2000 (Lalande de Pomerol) which I found in my cellar tucked away. Glad I didn’t wait any longer.
Celebration wines on selling the condo
Friday, July 21st: Up early to drive down to Niagara for the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration at White Oaks. Picked up Zoltan Szabo and Michael Vaughan on the way down. Traffic was terrible. We missed the opening address by Karen MacNeil, author of the Wine Bible. Over the three days 159 wines will be on offer in 22 events, featuring 59 winemakers from 9 countries.
The first session of “The School of Cool” was titled “Soil Smackdown… Which soil type is best for Chardonnay? What flavour and taste aspects, if any, are attributable to differences in soil type?” Unfortunately, arriving late because of traffic we missed Dr. Paul Anamosa’s opening remarks. But he takes the palm for the best line of the day – on the bus to the evening tasting at Niagara Airport: “One swallow doesn’t make a sommelier.” Wines tasted during this session:
- Lightfoot and Wolfville Ancienne Chardonnay 2014
- Malivoire Mottiar Chardonnay 2014
- Esterhazy Leithaberg Chardonnay 2015 (Austria)
- Creekside Queenston Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2015
- Manoir de Mercy Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune “Clos des Dames” 2015
- Adamo Oaked Chardonnay Willms Vineyard 2014
- Cremaschi Furlotti Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 (Chile)
- Bachelder Chardonnay Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard 2013
- Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay 2013
- Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014
Session Two: “Chardonnay: I Do It My Way.” Ten winemakers explained what decision they make in treating their grapes with each vintage.
- Heidi Noble: Joie Farm Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2016
- Norm Hardie: Norman Hardie Chardonnay Sans Soufre 2015
- Grégory Viennois: Domaine Laroche Chablis Vaudevey 2014
- Mark Boardman: Invivo Wines Gisbourne Chardonnay 2016 (New Zealand)
- Adam Mariani: Scribe Chardonnay Carneros 2014
- François Morissette: Pearl Morissette Cuvée Dix-Neuvième 2014
- Miguel Torres Jr.: Miguel Torres Milmanda 2014
- Martin Werner: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Chardonnay 2014
- Fintan du Fresne: Chamisal Vineyard Chamise Chardonnay 2014
Session Three: “The Sugar Trials.” How much sugar, if any, should be added as the dosage to sparkling wine? We were poured four glasses of Trius Brut with varying amounts of dosage – zero dosage, 3 grams/litre, 6 grams and 9 grams. We were asked to identify them and which we preferred. Then a tasting of six bubblies with the winemakers explaining their use of dosage.
- Sperling Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature
- Champagne Drappier Blanc de Blancs NV
- Château des Charmes Blanc de Blancs Sparkling 2014
- Marcel Cabelier Crémant du Jura Organic 2014
- Maison Pierre Sparr Crémant Brut Clos Sainte-Odile Chardonnay NV
- Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Blanc de Blanc “Carte Blanche” 2012
After a buffet lunch, there was a walkaround trade and media tasting of the wines at I4C. Then Michael and I checked into the Pillar and Post. At 6:45 we assembled for the bus that would take us to Niagara District Airport for the “Flights of Chardonnay” kick-off event in an aircraft hangar. Again, all the wines were there as well as food stations. Best dish: lobster agnolotti accompanied by Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Chardonnay 2015.
Lobster agnolotti at I4C
Saturday, July 22nd: Drove back to Toronto for a family event with my granddaughter, Isla.
Sunday, July 23rd: At 6 pm down to Lifford for a Pinot Noir event – a fundraiser for CAPS, the sommelier association. Some twenty Pinots available for tasting, including Drappier Blanc de Noirs Champagne.
Drappier Blanc de Noirs
My top scoring wine was Invivo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016 (91) and the three magnums of Close Jordanne 2004 – Claystone, Clos and Grand Clos.
Three magnums of Clos Jordanne