Monday, December 18th: Spent a lot of time deciding where to hang pictures. Pride of place goes to the Chagall print that we bought as a moving-in present for ourselves. Tasted Naso Contadino Rosso, a non-vintage blend of Sangiovese and Negroamaro from Puglia. The name translates as “Peasant’s Nose” (deep purple colour; oaky, plum nose; medium-bodied, dry, spicy-earthy plum flavour with a firm tannic finish). (86.5)
Tuesday, December 19th: Went over to Two Sisters Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a tasting with winemaker Adam Pearce and the winery’s marketing manager, Vladimir Skok.
- Two Sisters Vineyards Lush Rosé Brut (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc for colour – $54): raspberry colour with a nose of cherries; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, nicely balanced cherry and red berry flavours with a light floral note. (88)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($34): pale straw, grassy, green plum nose; medium-bodied, grapefruit and lemon flavours; crisply dry. (88.5)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Chardonnay Unoaked ($39): pale straw colour; pear and white blossoms on the nose; medium-bodied spicy, leesy, richly extracted with a lovely mouth-feel; apple and pear flavours. (91)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2016 (Danny Lenko vineyard; 40% new French oak – $54): pale straw colour; spicy apple nose with a light mushroom note; medium-bodied, oak spice, apple and orange flavours with evident oak on the finish. Needs a year or two in bottle to integrate the oak. (90)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Riesling 2016 ($35): pale straw colour; minerally, honeyed grapefruit nose with a floral top note; light-bodied, honeyed grapefruit flavour; just off-dry with a touch of grapefruit peel bitterness on the finish to add character. Well balanced with good tension between sweetness and acidity. (90)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Rosé 2016 (68% Merlot with equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon – $29): pale pink colour; cherry and cherry pit bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and cranberry flavours; well-balanced, clean and true with a finish of red apple skin. (89)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Eleventh Post Red 2013 (38% Cabernet Franc, equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – $42): deep ruby colour; cedary, vanilla, blueberry and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, richly extracted, creamy blackcurrant and red plum flavours with well-integrated oak finishing on firm but ripe tannins. Very St. Emilion in style. (91)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon – $64): deep ruby colour; cedary, slightly vegetal, high-toned red and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, richly extracted red and blackcurrant flavours with dark chocolate and pencil lead notes ending on cocoa powder tannins. Hold 4–5 years. (90–92)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013 ($49): deep ruby colour; cedary, vanilla oak, slightly feral nose of plum and currants. Medium to full-bodied, well-structured, ripe fruit, great mouth-feel, chunky on the palate. A seamless wine. (93)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2013: deep ruby colour; cedary, vanilla oak nose, fruit somewhat masked at the moment by 38 months in oak; rich, full-bodied, firmly structured, richly ageing. (91–93)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2016 (barrel sample): elegant, Bourgueuil style. Augurs well when bottled.
- Two Sisters Vineyards Stone Eagle 2012 ($130): 62% Cabernet Sauvignon with equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Deep ruby in colour; cedary, vanilla, plum and pencil lead nose; medium-bodied, dry, richly extracted, firmly structured, plum and black currant flavours with a firm tannic finish. (92)
- Two Sisters Vineyards Senza Cabernet Franc Wild Ferment 2013 ($58): dense purple colour; high-toned, funky, reductive nose with vanilla oak notes; full-bodied, dry, rich and plummy with earthy notes. Italianate in style. (91)
Wednesday, December 20th: Wrote up my Wines of the Week. Began snowing, which delighted Pinot, so long walks today for her. For dinner with baked salmon, Clos du Bois Calcaire Chardonnay 2014 (Russian River, Sonoma – $29.95): straw colour; toasty, smoky, apple; full-bodied, oak-driven pear and lemon flavours with vanilla oak notes. (88)
Thursday, December 21st: Did some Christmas shopping in Fairview Mall. Picked up a batch of kid’s toys for Isla at Walmart and a variety of books, etc. at Chapters – including Deborah’s Christmas present for me, which I paid for! (Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci – can’t wait to read it. A huge tome. I find the older I get the more interested I am in reading biographies of outstanding people.)
Friday, December 22nd: Deborah was meant to drive to Toronto for a lunch at our old condo but the snow was heavy so she stayed home and we wrapped Christmas presents.
Saturday, December 23rd: Shovelled snow and took Pinot to Henley Island to meet her doggie friends. In the evening to my wine writer buddy Rick Vansickle’s house nearby for drinks. Rick had opened a slew of wines, including a 1965 Château Beychevelle to compare with a 1989 Beychevelle.
Sunday, December 24th: Deborah and I drove into Toronto as the snow storm was starting – to attend the annual Christmas Eve party at the Willises’, the first in their new condominium. For the children they had hired a Santa and an Elf in addition to the customary carol singsong with Bernie at the piano. Pretty hair-raising trip back to Port Dalhousie in the snow.
It takes a brave man to drink cold sober a Beychevelle 65 without flinching! Craig McDonald is such a man!
Was the ’63 even more abominable? The discussion is still going on.