A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 633: Birthday Dinner

Monday, January 16th: Started inviting judges for the 23rd annual Ontario Wine Awards in April. We need 24 in all for the dry wines (six panels), and eight for the sweet wines (two panels). A conference call in the afternoon to discuss plans with Angela Aiello and the IYellow Wine Club for a consumer tasting of the medal-winning wines. For dinner, steak with a bottle of Lavau Vacqueras 2014 ($24.95 – deep purple with a violet rim; floral nose of violets, blackberries and dried herbs; full-bodied, elegant and firmly structured with a savoury blackberry flavour (90)).

Tuesday, January 17th: A 9 am meeting with Cathy Martin at Terroni to discuss a Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser in May. Worked on the novel and in the late afternoon back to the Appleton Sleep Clinic for a report on my night’s sleep there, wired up on December 28th like a Frankenstein experiment. It appears that I need a sleep pack. Dr. Appleton says it will help my snoring (improve the timbre? Make it more musical? Or eradicate it totally?). Deborah will be pleased – and so will Pinot T. Wonderdog, who has been known to leap off the bed in alarm on nights when I’ve had a big Vintages tasting.

Wednesday, January 18th: Wrote up my Wines of the Week for posting tomorrow. Started approaching wineries in Veneto, Alto Adige and Lombardy regarding visits for my Pauwels Travel tour to those regions in May. In the afternoon Deborah and I went to Appliance Canada to buy a new dishwasher.

Thursday. January 19th: A meeting with Andrew Menceles to discuss a new Ontario wine brand. Took Deborah for a belated birthday dinner to Scaramouche, where they were having a Lobsterlicious event. Deborah started with six Gigas oysters from Ireland (with a glass of Forrest Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from New Zealand) and I had lobster bisque with a glass of Lustau Amontillado Sherry. Deborah had the lobster in butter sauce and I the grilled lobster.

My grilled lobster

We shared a half bottle of Bel Colle Roero Arneis 2014 from Piemonte. For dessert, apple streusel. I finished off with a Nonino Amaro. Great meal and wonderful service at Scaramouche, as usual.

Bel Colle Roero Arneis 2014
Scaramouche dinner wine

Friday, January 20th: A Vintages release tasting for February 4th – 116 products. Tasted 61 and will do the rest on Tuesday. French fries on the way home.

Saturday, January 21st: After shopping at Costco, Deborah and I dropped in to Pusateri – talk about going from the ridiculous to the sublime. We marvelled at the meat counter with steaks at engagement ring prices and bought a couple of crab cakes that we will have for lunch tomorrow. For dinner, grilled salmon with a delicious bottle of Kim Crawford Small Parcels Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (pale straw colour; grassy, grapefruit and greengage nose; medium-bodied, dry, intense and beautifully balanced green fruit flavours; fresh and lively on the palate with great length (90)). This is the best Kim Crawford wine I’ve had since Kim Crawford owned the winery.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 632: Icewine Festival

Niagara Icewine Festival ice sculpture

Monday, January 9th: A 10:30 am dentist appointment. My dentist has moved offices, which is always disconcerting. Then lunch with an old university friend, David Alexandor. For dinner, with chicken cacciatore, Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 (pale straw colour; minerally, apple and lemon nose with light undergrowth notes; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted flavours of apple, pear and pineapple and a good mouth-feel (89)).

Tuesday, January 10th: Down to the LCBO lab to taste the rest of the January 21st Vintages’ release. Dinner – lamb chops with a bottle of Veedha Douro Red 2013 (deep ruby colour; dusty, earthy nose of blackberries with an oak note; full-bodied, savoury flavour of plum and mulberry with oak spice and supple tannins (88)).

Wednesday, January 11th: A winerytohome.com tasting at Doug Towers’s with a customary pizza for lunch. Dinner: grilled salmon with Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (golden straw colour; buttery, sweet melon with a forest floor note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple and melon flavours tempered by lemony acidity, spicy oak and a touch of bitterness on the finish (88)).

Thursday, January 12th: Deborah’s birthday. Tried to get into Alo restaurant but no dice. So we went over to Deborah’s sister Suzanne and had dinner there.

Friday, January 13th: Picked up in a car to Join Tim Appelt and Michael Vaughan for the drive to Niagara Falls to attend the Xerox Icewine Gala at the Niagara Falls Hilton. But first we stopped in at Trius, where winemakers Craig McDonald (Trius), Emma Garner (Thirty Bench) and Katie Dickieson (Peller Estates) led us through a series of their wines.

  • Truis Brut Rosé (70% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, with equal parts Gamay and Pinot Meunier): amber-pink in colour; raspberry, red apple skin nose with a light floral note; light to medium-bodied, dry, strawberry flavour, clean and fresh with good length and a mineral lift on the finish. (89) ($29.95)
  • Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2015: very pale in colour; grassy, gooseberry nose with a touch of oak; medium-bodied, dry and crisp, green plum flavour, good acidity. Well-structured with an oak component. (87.5) ($14.95)
  • Trius Riesling 2015: pale straw colour; lime, apple with a honeyed note; light-bodied, lime and grapefruit flavours with a touch of honey and a little bitterness on the finish. (87.5) ($15)
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot “Wild Cask” Riesling 2015: very pale straw; mouth-watering, grapefruit and lime nose with a light floral top note; light-bodied, crisply dry, lime and green apple flavours; elegant with great length with a pine needle note on the finish. Good tension between citrus acidity and residual sugar. (90) ($30)
  • Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Chardonnay 2015 (10% Chardonnay Musqué; 15–20% new oak): straw colour with a green tint; spicy, apple, apple blossom and citrus nose with a light toasty oak note; medium-bodied, apple and peach flavours, nicely balanced, good acidity. (89.5) (<$20) Good value.
  • Trius Viognier 2015 (three-year-old vines, barrel-fermented): light straw colour; peachy-apricot, citrus, minerally, floral nose; medium-bodied, dry, well-balanced with a long finish. (88.5) (under $20)
  • Peller Private Reserve Gamay Noir 2015: ruby colour; ripe plum and cherry nose with a graphite notes; light to medium-bodied, fruity and fresh red plum flavour with lively acidity. Well-made, fresh finish. (89)
  • Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Double Noir 2015 (60% Gamay/40% Pinot Noir): ruby colour; spicy, pencil lead, cherry nose with vanilla oak notes; sour cherry with lively acidity and a firm finish. (89) (<$20)
  • Peller Estates Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2015: ruby colour; earthy, raspberry candy and cherry pit nose with a light white pepper note; medium-bodied, dry, well balanced and delicate but firm. Good length. (90) ($24.95)
  • Trius Showcase Clark Farm Pinot Noir 2014: ruby colour; cherry nose developing barnyard notes with vanilla oak and rose petal notes; medium-bodied, dry, raspberry and cherry flavours. Côte de Nuits style with a firm finish. (91) ($36)
  • Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2014 (French oak): cedary, blackcurrant with a leafy-red pepper and vanilla oaks; medium-bodied, dry, full in the mouth, great mouth-feel with lively acidity, firm with good length. (90) ($42)
  • Peller Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: deep ruby with a mature rim; cedar, blackcurrant and plum nose; medium-bodied, elegant, dry, firmly structured, well-balanced, very Bordelais in style. (91)
  • Trius Shiraz 2015 (with a little Viognier): Dense purple, cedary, tobacco leaf, peppery, violets, blueberry, blackberry, vanilla oak nose with a floral note; dry, medium-full-bodied, elegant, St. Joseph style. (90) (~$19.95)

Trius Shiraz 2015

After the tasting we had lunch in Trius’ dining room before checking into the hotel in Niagara Falls. Changed into suits and ties for the gala downstairs in the ballroom. For tasting purposes, Michael, Tim and I had divided up the Icewines in the room. Michael took red Icewines, Tim Rieslings and I, Vidals.

Michael’s top red Icewines (20 tasted):

  • Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc 2015 (94)
  • Trius Showcase Cabernet Franc 2013 (92)
  • Kacaba Cabernet Franc 2013 (92)
  • Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc 2014 (91)

Tim’s top Riesling Icewines (11 tasted):

  • Chateau des Charmes Riesling Icewine, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard 2014 (94)
  • Colaneri Estate Winery Riesling 2013 (93)
  • Riverview Cellars Winery Riesling Icewine 2015 (93)

My top Vidal Icewines (22 tasted):

  • Colaneri Vidal 2014 (92)
  • Sue Ann Staff Winery Vidal Icewine 2012 (92)
  • Strewn Estate 2014 Vidal Icewine (91)
  • Jackson Triggs Vidal Icewine 2015 (91)
  • Vieni Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2014 (90)

Thirty-eight wineries poured their wines, each paired with a local restaurant (great food this year – and a spectacular display of desserts). Finished the evening in my room on the 31st floor watching a firework display.

Icewine Festival desserts

Saturday, January 14th: After breakfast in the hotel, Michael, Tim and I were driven to Jordan Village for Winterfest – a series of open-air tents in the parking lot next to the Inn on the Twenty. Twenty-three wineries, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery and the Bench Brewing Company were teamed up with local restaurants. Michael picked up the butter tarts we had both ordered from the 13th Street Bakery (best butter tarts in the world!).

Winterfest tents

Before touring the tents we kept warm (it was freezing outside) by having a tasting of Cave Spring Cellars wines in their shop and tasting bar, conducted by Len Pennacetti.

Len Pennacetti

  • Cave Spring Riesling 2014: pale straw colour; minerally, grapefruit and apple nose already developing petrol notes; light to medium-bodied, just off-dry, grapefruit with a touch of honey. Lovely texture and a bargain at the price – $15.95. (89)
  • Cave Spring Dolomite Riesling 2015: pale straw colour; minerally, apple and citrus nose; broader on the palate than the 2014 but elegant. (89)
  • Cave Spring Estate Reserve 2014: very pale in colour; petrol, honey and lime on the nose; light-bodied, green apple flavour with brisk acidity. (90)
  • Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2014: pale straw colour; minerally, petrol, honey, grapefruit and lime flavours; spicy and beautifully balanced. (91)
  • Cave Spring Adam Steps 2015 (wild ferment): pale straw; a nose of sweet grapefruit with a lovely floral note. Light on the palate with great length. (89)
  • Cave Spring Riesling Dry 2014: pale straw colour; minerally, crisp, lemony nose; light-bodied, mouth-fresheningly dry with green apple and lemon flavours. Another bargain at $15.45.
  • Cave Spring Pinot Noir 2014: ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with a firm tannic finish. (88)
  • Cave Spring Dolomite Pinot Noir 2015: ruby colour; minerally, cherry bouquet with an earthy note; medium-bodied. Dry cherry and cranberry flavours, firmly structured. (89)


Watched an outdoor fashion show featuring, among others, winemaker Sue-Ann Staff and celebrity chef David Rocco, parading clothes from local stores.

Sue-Ann Staff modelling

David Rocco modelling

Toured the winery tents and devoured chili, pizza and Icewine donuts before the car came at 2:45 pm to drive us back to Toronto. A great event; everybody seemed to be having an enjoyable time, in spite of the cold.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 631: Blind Tasting Award

Monday, January 2nd: Wrote up wine recommendation for my friend Cesar Penalver’s new restaurant, El Tenedor (Spanish for “fork”), which opens this week. Otherwise a quiet day after the vinous excesses two nights ago. Opened a bottle of Riverview Cellars Bianco Riesling Gewurztraminer 2015 (straw colour; aromatic, spicy, grapefruit and lychee aromas; medium-bodied, dry, fruity, grapefruit and lychee flavour well-balanced with a touch of sweetness. The Gewurz sings through. (88)).

Tuesday, January 3rd: Prepared the wines for my blind tasting award to be held on Thursday evening at the Fine Wine Reserve. This will be the 18th year.

  1. Trius Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling 2014 (Ontario)
  2. Babich Sauvignon Blanc Black Label 2015 (Marlborough, New Zealand)
  3. Bouchard Père & Fils Maçon-Lugny Saint-Pierre 2015 (Burgundy)
  4. Villa Maria Pinot Noir 2014 (Marlborough, New Zealand)
  5. Creekside Broken Press Syrah Reserve 2012 (Ontario)
  6. Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2015 (Swartland, South Africa)

Drove to Costco to pick up a case of bottled water for the event and some cookies. Then wrote up my 680 NEWS wine reviews. For dinner with steak, a bottle of Otazu Premium Cuvée Vino Tinto 2012 (Navarra – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot: deep ruby colour, cedary-sandalwood nose; spicy, black cherry nose with a vanilla note; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, cherry and plum flavours with a firm tannic finish. (88.5)).

Wednesday, January 4th: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews and spent the rest of the day working on the novel.

Thursday, January 5th: Prepared the paperwork for the blind tasting competition. Eight intrepid souls from the Ontario wine trade have entered. One no-show. The eventual winner was Eugene Mlynczyk MW of Constellation. This is his third win, which means that he has to retire (as did Scott Montgomery, who also won three times). Past winners:

2015: Joanna Steele
2014: Greg Dunlop
2013: David Beauroy
2012: Marc Laverdiere
2011: Andrew von Teichman
2010: Eugene Mlynczyk
2009: Frank Rey
2008: Andrew von Teichman
2007: Eugene Mlynczyk
2006: Aaron Shaw
2005: Bruce McLean
2004: Scott Montgomery
2003: Scott Montgomery
2002: Rob Jull
2001: Paul Lato
2000: Scott Montgomery
1999: Bruce McLean

Friday, January 6th: A Vintages release tasting for January 21st – 97 wines. I tasted 55 and will be back next Tuesday to taste the rest.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 630: Sleep Apnea

Monday, December 26th: This week between Christmas and New Year is usually a lost week, no deadlines, so I got to concentrate on the book. Went over to Michael Vaughan’s to do a wine tasting exercise – tasting the same series of wines from six different glasses. I’m writing an article about this for Grapevine magazine.

Tuesday, December 27th: Worked on the book. Dinner at Steve Elphick’s photographic studio with Lindsay Groves. Oysters, smoked salmon, lobster bisque, filet steak, cheeses and dessert. The wines:

  • Henry of Pelham Rosé Sparkling
  • Malivoire Moira Vineyard Chardonnay 1999
  • Malivoire Viognier 2015
  • Tarragona Aveno de Muller 1954
  • Gascon Barbadillo 15 yr old Palo Cortado Obispo
  • Faustino 1 Rioja 2004
  • Vina Ardanza Rioja 2007
  • JM Boillot Pommard Jarollieres 1996
  • M&C Lapierre Morgon 2013

Wednesday, December 28th: Went to the LCBO to pick up a case of KWV Cathedral Cellars Blanc de Blancs 2010 – best bargain all year: $16.95 a bottle. Went to the sleep clinic for a sleep apnea test. They asked me to arrive at 9 pm. I wasn’t wired up till 11:45 pm. My room was like a 1950s Best Western. Had difficulty falling asleep and called to the nurse at 3 am that I needed to pee. This meant detaching me from the complex of wires. Same thing happened at 5 am only the nurse when I called out went to the wrong room and woke up the poor fellow next to me. By 5:45 am I gave up on the idea of sleep and made my way home in a snow storm. An experience I never want to repeat.

Thursday, December 29th: Slept for a couple of hours in my own bed. Deborah and I went to the Rogers store to buy me an iPhone 6S with thumbprint identification. Looking forward to meeting Siri.

Friday, December 30th: Spent the day writing but found I hadn’t saved the two short chapters I had written yesterday so I had to recreate them from memory. It’s called “instant rewriting” and I’m sure it’s better than the original version, having marinated in the subconscious for twenty-four hours.

Saturday, December 31st: Deborah and I spent New Year’s Eve at Michael Vaughan’s house with Rosie and the Elphicks. We took the TTC there and back (it’s free tonight). Smoked salmon, pâtés, shrimps with a 1987 Grüner Veltliner which was remarkably alive. We started with lobster bisque, followed by Michael’s roast turkey stuffing and Steve’s roast beef and Deborah’s tourtière, accompanied by roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrot and sweet potato mash and gravy. Desssert: Dufflet chocolate bomb.

The wines:

  • KWV Cathedral Cellars Blanc de Blancs 2010
  • Henry of Pelham Sparkling Rosé
  • Culmina Decora Riesling 2014
  • Bouchard Père et Fils Santenay 1989
  • Château de Pez 1966
  • Van Zeller Vintage Port 1980


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 629: Christmas Week

Monday, December 19th: Wrote my Quench column on Friuli red wines and a prediction that the Next Big Thing will be Ribolla Gialla, made either from 100% of this native variety or blended with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and/or Pinot Nero. For dinner, with lamb chops, Joel Gott Merlot 2014: deep ruby colour; cedary nose of black fruits; full-bodied, dry, with herbal flavours of plum and mulberry full on the palate with a creamy mouth-feel.

Tuesday, December 20th: Spent the day working on the novel. Deborah thinks I’m dragging it out because I don’t want to finish it as I’m enjoying it too much. For dinner, pasta with Frescobaldi Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina 2012 (deep ruby colour; cedary, pencil lead and cherry nose with notes of leather and vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity and ripe tannins (88.5).

Wednesday, December 21st: Back on the novel. For dinner, grilled lamb chops with 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from Washington State: dark ruby colour; cedary, blackcurrant and smoke on the nose; full-bodied, savoury plum and blackcurrant flavours with ripe tannins and a spicy vanilla oak vanish (89).

Thursday, December 22nd: Another day on the novel (what a pleasure it is just to sit back and write fiction – maybe I need to win the lottery!). Dinner at Gordon and Carole Stimmell, Deborah learned down to shuck oysters as we started with Oysters Rockefeller.

Friday, December 23rd: Spent most of the day preparing for a dinner party this evening. The guests are James and Aina, Sheila and Marilyn. James brought along a copy of his new book, “The Asshole’s Guide to Cooking, Volume 1” which made for lively conversation at the table.

cookbook: The Asshole's Guide to Cooking, Volume 1

The menu: smoked salmon, standing rib roast, roast potatoes, peas and green beans (Deborah wouldn’t allow me to make Yorkshire pudding for some reason – maybe because she hates it), cheeses followed by meringues with cream and raspberries. The wines:

Villa Conchi Brut Seleccion Cava

Louis Bouillot Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé

Trius Ghost Creek Riesling 2014

Château des Charmes Riesling 2007

14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Pillitteri Vidal Icewine 2014.

December 24th: Took Pinot for a long walk in the park before settling down to taste the wines I’m taking up to Caledon for Christmas dinner at Deborah’s niece’s house.

Trail Estate Foxcroft Vineyard Oak-Aged Riesling 2015 (Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario): pale straw colour with a greenish tint; lemony-grapefruit nose with a mineral note; crisply dry, lemony, green plum flavour with mouth-freshening acidity and little oak influence. (88)

Trail Estate Unfiltered Chardonnay 2015 (Niagara Peninsula): pale straw with a greenish tint; apple, citrus nose with a light barnyard note; medium-bodied, dry, green apple and toasty oak. Very Burgundian in style. (90)

Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $19.95): very pale lime in colour; grassy. Gooseberry and green fig nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry, gooseberry, grapefruit and elderberry flavours with lively acidity giving the wine great length. (92)

Trail Estate Baco Nouveau 2016 (Ontario): deep purple-ruby colour; spicy, Christmas cake nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity. (86.5)

Luis Cañas Rioja Crianza 2014 (Rioja – $17.00): deep purple-ruby colour; sandalwood and cherries on the nose; medium-bodied dry, fresh and lively on the palate with a hint of oak. Well-made and well-priced.  (89)

Bolla Valpolicella  Ripasso Clasico Superiore 2014 (Veneto – $19.95): ruby colour with a tawny note at the rim; earthy, dried cherry and raisin nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with spicy oak on the finish. Ripe tannins. (88.5)

Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot 2014 (Columbia Valley, Washington – $20.95): deep ruby-plum colour; cedary, plum, blueberry and tobacco nose with a vanilla oak note; full-bodied, dry, fruity, plum and tobacco flavours. Supple tannins. (89)

Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2014 (Washington – $25.95): deep dark ruby colour; blueberry pie nose with cedary-vanilla oak notes; full-bodied, dry, richly extracted with black cherry and coconut flavours. Creamy mouth-fell with evident tannins on the finish. Hold 3 years. (88.5)

In the evening, a party at the Willis’ – their annual carol festival dinner with lots of young kids.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 628: Bench 1775

Monday, December 12th: Wrote up my 680 News wine reviews and prepared my financial report for our Grapes for Humanity AGM this evening. After the meeting, came home and opened a bottle of Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc 2015 from Alsace (straw colour; peachy-citrus nose with a mineral thread; medium-bodied, dry, peach flavour with a honeyed note and balancing acidity (88.5))

Tuesday, December 13th: Wrote my Lexpert column for the April issue on Friuli which took much of the day. Then got down to some tasting.

  • S.X.E. Bianca Calabria 2014: ($10.90) pale lemon colour; spicy peachy-melon nose light to medium-bodied, dry, lemony, grassy flavour. (86)
  • Flat Rock Twisted 2015: (Ontario – $17.15): pale straw colour; aromatic, lychee and peach nose with a citrus note; just off-dry with a grapefruit and lychee flavour; nicely balanced with good length. (88.5)
  • Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2015: (Okanagan Valley – $22.95) pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit and lemon skin nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry, white peach and lemon flavours with a lively acidic finish. (89)
  • Bench 1775 Groove 2014: (Okanagan Valley – $22): deep ruby colour; earthy, plum and cherry nose; medium-bodied, fruity, cherry flavour with a dark chocolate note. (87.5)
  • Bench 1775 Malbec 2014 (Okanagan Valley – $30): deep ruby colour; spicy blueberry and blackberry nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, elegant with a floral note and a firm finish of mocha chocolate (88.5)
  • Bench 1775 Pinot Noir 2014 (Okanagan Valley – $25.90): ruby colour; candied raspberry nose;  medium-bodied, dry, drier on the palate than the nose suggests with a sour cherry flavour; firmly structured. (89)
  • Bench 1775 Cabernet Franc 2013 (Okanagan Valley – $27.90): deep ruby colour; cedary, red and blackcurrant aromas with a minty note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, Loire-style Cabernet Franc. Well-made with good length and nicely integrated oak. (90)
  • Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 (Okanagan Valley – $29.90): deep ruby colour; cedary, tobacco and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, plum and blackcurrant flavours with graphite notes; well-balanced with ripe tannins. A well-made wine. (90)

For dinner pork loin with a bottle of Cintra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 ($7.95 – deep purple-ruby colour; earthy, creamy cherry nose with herbal notes; light to medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour  finishing on bitter chocolate and graphite notes and some bitterness (86)).

Wednesday, December 14th: Recorded my 680 wine reviews and stopped by the Rogers store to enquire about purchasing an iPhone. Will wait till they go on sale before Christmas or Boxing Day. At 5pm, down to Queens Park for the Lieutenant Governor’s Christmas party. Back home, opened a bottle that I carried back from Sicily in 2010 – Valle Dell’Acate Il Frappato 2010 (absolutely delicious and ready).

Thursday, December 15th: Deborah is decorating the condo for Christmas and Hanukkah. Pinot is fascinated. Tonight is the condo Christmas party, a potluck affair. Deborah made a Boeuf Bourguignon which was the hit of the evening. I brought down to the party room all the opened bottles I tasted earlier in the week which I keep under gas.

Friday, December 16th: Robert Ketchin dropped by and I opened a bottle of Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne Grand Cuvée Brut (pale straw colour, active mousse; apple blossom and orchard fruit nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, elegant and fresh on the palate with a minerally finish. (89)). Deborah’s sister Suzanne and her husband Richard, newly arrived from Paris, came to dinner. Started with a bottle Huff Estates Cuvée Janine Sparkling Rosé before sitting down to grilled salmon with fingerling potatoes and roasted golden beets with balsamic vinegar served with Stratus White 2013. With the cheese course, Arboleda Carmenère 2014 from Chile’s Aconcagua Valley ($19.95- dense purple colour; cedary, blackcurrant nose with graphite and herbal notes; full-bodied, richly extracted, medium to full-bodied, dry blackcurrant flavour(89)).


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 627: Laser Surgery

Monday, December 5th: A meeting with Steven Campbell at his Lifford office on Jarvis to discuss a Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser tasting: a vertical of Château Latour going back to 1945 and conducted by the president of Latour, Frederic Engerer in late October 2017. There will also be an auction; one item is a bottle of 1900 Latour. The event will be held in Vancouver.

The rest of the day I worked on my book which is about 15–20,000 words off finishing. Opened a bottle of Quails’ Gate Cailleteau Gamay Nouveau 2016 (medium ruby colour; cherry nose with a vanilla note; light to medium-bodied, fresh and lively on the palate, fruity with a touch of sweetness and easy drinking. More fun than all the Beaujolais Nouveaux I tasted from Burgundy or the Italian Novelli (88.5)).

Tuesday, December 6th: An 8:30 am appointment at Sunnybrook. My ophthalmologist discovered a tear in the retina of my right eye during a routine eye examination and referred me to a specialist, who performed laser surgery. An impressively quick in-and-out procedure. My eye turned beet red but the doctor says it will go back to normal in a few days.

Deborah requested I make a cheese soufflé for dinner. For the first time I used whole wheat flour, as we had no white flour. Concerned that it would not rise properly – but it did. Opened a bottle of Mascota Vineyards OPI Chardonnay 2015 from Argentina (straw colour; minerally, earthy, apple and citrus nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, herbal, apple, pineapple and yellow plum flavours (89)).

Wednesday, December 7th: A meeting with Tim Lilleyman of the Royal Winter Fair, John Switzer and Paul Miles of IWEG to discuss the Fair’s wine competition. Got lost in the Enercare Centre and couldn’t find the Royal Winter Fair offices. All the doors were locked and there was no information booth to direct me. Ended up half an hour late for the meeting. And had to pay $14 for parking for 45 minutes. Then I couldn’t find the car in the parking lot.

Thursday, December 8th: Worked on the book and then lunched at Nota Bene with Deborah and Angela Aiello to discuss next year’s Ontario Wine Awards. Ordered a bottle of Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2015 for my burger. Dinner: moules marinères with a bottle of Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from BC (bright straw colour; grassy, green plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, grapefruit and green plum flavours with lively acidity (88)).

Friday, December 9th: Worked on the book and then to my doctor for a flu shot. Last year, I got the shot then I got the flu. Hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.


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