A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 672: Spanish Medal

Monday, October 30th: The kitchen has been dismantled awaiting the installation of the new cabinetry. Which means we’re camping out – using the microwave and the toaster oven that sit on the floor in the living room. And eating out a lot.

No cooking in this kitchen

Tuesday, October 31st (Halloween): We were concerned that our two large bags of candy would not be enough to treat the neighbourhood kids, but as it turned out we had a heap left over which we gave to the workmen. Watched the sixth game of the world series at John Nadeau’s house. John’s wife Laurie returned from a party in her Halloween costume – dressed as Elvis. Brought over a forgotten bottle that was amazingly fresh.

Laurie Nadeau as Elvis

Trinity Hill by John Hancock, Hawkes Bay Gimblett Road Syrah 2002

Received a photo from my daughter of my grandson Declan in his Halloween costume. He says he wants to be a fireman but he looks great in as a chef.

My grandson Declan in his Halloween costume

Waiting for the kids to ring the doorbell, we opened a bottle of Luigi Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (dense ruby colour; cedary, spicy nose of plums and blackcurrants with a floral top note; medium-bodied, dry, evident oak and lively acidity; firmly structured and well-balanced black plum flavour with chalky tannins on the finish (89)).

Wednesday, November 1st: Deborah and I were invited to the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce annual business awards – at the Glen Frewin Theatre. Our hosts, Niagara Airbus, were up for an award as “Business of the Year.” Before the presentations there was a magic act – lots of live doves making an appearance and even a tiger who didn’t seem to be too happy to be manifested in a box in place of a scantily clad brunette. Our table ordered from the wine list a Megalomaniac Merlot and a Trius Sauvignon Blanc. The waitress arrived with a bottle of Reif Merlot which she proceeded to unscrew. When we pointed that this was the wrong wine she said that’s the only Merlot they had. When we asked where was the Trius Sauvignon Blanc, she told us we could have the Reif. Turns out they only had Reif wines. We settled for a bottle of Reif The Magician 2013 which seemed fitting, given the entertainment. Unfortunately, out hosts didn’t get the award this year. At the earlier reception I got to taste two wines from a new Niagara winery, Lundy Manor.

Lundy Manor Wine Cellars Proprietor's Blend 2013

Thursday, November 2nd: Began writing my Quench commentary on sparkling wine in Canada. Dinner at David and Deborah Bergen’s, our neighbours a few streets over in Port Dalhousie. Pinot was also invited and disgraced herself by immediately peeing on the rug by the door to the deck. She was obviously marking her territory, as the Bergens have a magnificent black English Water Dog named Higgins.

The Bergens’ English Water Dog, Higgins

Pinot in disgrace

David, who bakes his own bread, made a sensational Italian meal. I brought over a bottle of Villa Saletta Borgo Saletta 2004, a Bordeaux-style blend from Tuscany. We also demolished 16 Mile Civility Chardonnay 2013, Bersano Gavi 2016 and Vallana Gattinara 2007.

Dinner party wines

Friday, November 3rd: Up at 6 am to leave with Michael Pinkus for Toronto by GO train for the Vintages release tasting. Attended a lunch tasting of Culmina wines from the southern Okanagan, hosted by Sara Triggs at Bisha Hotel on Blue Jays Way.

Culmina’s Sara Triggs

  • Culmina Decora Riesling 2016 ($29): straw colour with a spicy, grapefruit nose lifted by a afloral note; fresh and lively on the palate with lemony acidity (89).
  • Culmina Unicus Grűner Veltiner 2016 ($42.60): pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; medum-bodied, firmly structured, grapefruit and green pepper flavours with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88)
  • Culmina Dilemma Chardonnay 2015 ($46.50): golden straw colour; spicy, dry, full-bodied with richly etxratced green pear and citrus flavours. (89)
  • Culmina R & D Rosé Blend 2016 ($27.60): a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Malbec. Orange-amber in colour; minerally, redcurrant bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted banana and cherry flavours with a firm finish. (88.5)
  • Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($58.00): dense purple colour; cedary, plum nose with vanilla ok; full-bodied, dry, concentrated black plum and cherry flavours with a bitter chocolate note. (90)
  • Culmina Merlot 2014 ($56.00): dense purple-black in colour (“No wall-flowers in the red camp here,” was Sara’s note); savoury, cedary, plum with a herbal note on the nose; fll-bodied, dry, firmly structured, blueberry flavour with a tannic lift on the finish. (91)
  • Culmina Hypothesis 2013 ($46.50): Bordeaux-style blend; dense purple colour; spicy, cedary, plum nose; medium-bodied, dry somewhat austere and closed at the moment; bitter chocolate and black fruit flavours with a little greenness. Needs time.
  • Culmina R & D Blend 2015 ($37.00): All five Bordeaux varieties. Dense purple colour; cedary, black fruits on the nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury-herbal flavours of black plum and currants; firmly structured with ripe tannins. (90)

Culmina R & D Blend 2015; label includes a photograph of the Triggs twins as boys
The Triggs twins – Donald is on the left

After the tasting I made my way to Billy Bishop Airport to fly to Ottawa. Tomorrow I am to receive a medal from the Spanish government, presented by the Spanish ambassador, Ruiz Molero. Checked into the ByWard Blue Inn in the market district and dined with my old friend and wine writer colleague Rod Phillips at Play. Had a glass of Pfeffingen Weissburgunder 2015 with my grilled calamari, followed by steak tartare.

Pfeffingen Weissburgunder 2015

Saturday, November 4th: Taxied over to the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Rockliffe Park for the presentation ceremony of Spain’s Order of Civil Merit. My old friend Miguel Torres was there and also Debbie Trenholm of Savvy Company. Following a wine reception, Ambassador Ruiz Molero presented me with the medal and citation scroll before sitting down to a delicious lunch.

The medal in its case
Honoured and proud to receive Spain’s Order of Civil Merit

Miguel Torres (left), me and my medal, the Spanish ambassador Ruiz Molero

Lunch menu

Debbie kindly dropped me at the airport for the Porter flight back to Toronto. Took the GO train to Burlington, where Deborah picked me up. A very exciting day.


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