A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 610: Fishing NWT

Wednesday, August 10th: Up at 5 am to get to the airport, picking up Art and Jeff on the way. We link up with Steve and Harald at Pearson Airport and will meet Harald’s brother Robert in Calgary. We’re going for a week’s fishing to Peterson’s Point Lake Lodge, 200 miles north of Yellowknife.

Margaret Peterson and her daughter Amanda greet us at Yellowknife Airport. En route to the Explorer Hotel we stop at a local store to pick up a bottle of Atemms Pinot Grigio 2014, King Estate Pinot Gris 2014, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Chapoutier Rasteau 2013. (We have already shipped forty plus bottles with us on the flight.) We dine in the hotel restaurant. I order Caesar Salad and Rib Eye steak with twice-baked potato. The wine: Jim Barry Wood McRae Shiraz 2010.

Thursday, August 11th: Up early to find Yellowknife locked in with fog. Margaret drives us to the Tindi Air base for our traditional breakfast of strawberries, bannock cakes and jam and Pol Roger Champagne.

Champagne breakfast prior to take-off

We have to wait for the fog to lift before our Twin Otter takes off for the one-hour-and-twenty-minute flight to the lodge, due north of Yellowknife. It’s raining when we arrive and settle into our cabins. I’m sharing with Harald and Robert. There is a group of six guys from Florida here as well.


After a lunch of spicy fish soup and toasted cheese sandwiches prepared by the lodge’s cook, Norma, we take to the lake. I’m fishing with Steve and John is our guide. I’m skunked that afternoon but Steve catches a 21 lb lake trout, which means he gets on the board. (20 lb fish and above are recorded nightly on the board in the communal lounge and dining room.) Dinner: Smoked meat sandwiches, cole slaw and pickles followed by blueberry cheesecake. The wines: The Lucky County Shiraz 2013 and two bottles of Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz 2011. Heavy rain this evening.

Norma and her cheesecake

Friday, August 12th: Fishing with Robert today with Jeff as our guide. In the morning I caught a 17-pounder, a 12 and a 4 lb trout. Steve, who cooks all the shore lunches, prepared beer-battered fish on an open fire. The wines: Redstone Winery Viognier 2013, McMichael Group of Seven Chardonnay 2014 and Te Pā Sauvignon Blanc 2015. In the afternoon I caught eight fish, none bigger than 8 lbs. Robert got a 24-pounder, which put him on the board. A bone-rattling ride back to camp as the wind whipped up the lake.

Two-decker outhouse. Top for management. Lower for Point Lake Union of Guides.

Dinner: steak. The wines: Roumier Chambolle-Musigny 2009, Amiot Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 2012, Fonseca Guimaraens Vintage Port 1986 with a selection of cheeses Harald brought including a delicious Stevenson Stilton. Rhubarb crumble for dessert.

Roumier Chambolle-Musigny 2009, Amiot Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 2012

Saturday, August 13th: A beautiful sunny day. Breakfast: blueberry pancakes and bacon.

Sunrise at Point Lake

Fishing with Jeff, and Didier is our guide today. In the morning I caught 13 lb, 11 lb and 14 lb, but nothing for the board. For shore lunch Steve cooked blackened fish with dirty rice. The wines: Pascal Jolivet Indigené Pouilly-Fuissé 2007, 13th Street Gamay Noir 2009 and Donnachiara Greco di Tufo 2014. Four small fish in the afternoon. Still not on the board. Dinner: Turkey pot pie with Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2014, Tawse Tintern Road Pinot Noir 2013 and Domaine de Montille Beaune Les Perrières 2005. Dessert: fresh fruit cheesecake pizza.


Sunday, August 14th: Awoke to a thick fog on the lake. A breakfast of French toast and baked oatmeal with bacon. The fog cleared very quickly. I caught one small fish all morning. Steve’s recipe today: trout glazed with Dijon grainy mustard, maple syrup and French shallots. The wines: Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Sparkling Rosé, Tempier Bandol Rosé, Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Clos du Roi 2014.

Fillets of trout ready for the fry pan

In the afternoon I caught three fish, not very big. (Beginning to get antsy about making the board.) Dinner: ceviche, wild game lasagna, salad and lemon cake. The wines: Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2011, Tre Brancaia Rosso Tuscana 2011 and Seghesio Zinfandel 2013.

TO DO LIST: FISH • eat • sleep • REPEAT

Monday, August 15th: Breakfast: Frittata and croissants. Fishing with Art. Caught a 20-pounder this morning, much to my relief, as well as a 14 lb and four small ones.

My board fish – 20lbs. Now back in the lake.

For lunch Steve cooked trout alla puttanseca with which we happily consumed Te Pā Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Donnachiara Greco di Tufo 2014 and 13th Street Premier Cuvée Sparkling 2008. In the afternoon I caught a 14-pounder that had swallowed a white fish; the tail was sticking out of the trout’s mouth!

Rainbow over Point Lake

Dinner: chicken breast stuffed with seafood, accompanied by rice and salad. Dessert: apple spice cake with toffee sauce. The wines: Inniskillin Shiraz Cabernet 2010, Domaine de Montille Corton les Pougets 2005, Domaine Taupenot-Merme Corton Rognet 2010. This afternoon, Greg, one of the Floridians, caught six fish over 20 pounds, the largest 39 pounds. But these guys eat sandwiches for lunch in the boat.

Tuesday, August 16th: Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes and beef sausages. Four fish this morning, a 12-pounder and three small ones. At the Outpost where we broke for shore lunch we were greeted by a caribou. Steve’s plat du jour was wasabi-crusted trout with shrimp chow mein.

Shrimp chow mein

The wines: Joie A Noble Blend 2014 and two bottles of Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2004. One fish in the afternoon and then at 4:30 pm the sky went dark grey and a sudden storm blew up. We raced back to the lodge but the waves were rising to four feet, threatening to swamp the boats, so we took shelter on an island until the storm passed, feeding on wild blueberries. Arrived back at the lodge in blazing sunshine. For dinner: an appetizer of smoked fish nachos, then moose roast, mashed potatoes, minted peas, carrot, orange and cashew salad, followed by rice pudding. The wines: Clos de los Siete 2011, Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2013 and Fonseca 1997 with a selection of cheeses.


Wednesday, August 17th: My anniversary – made arrangements to Skype Deborah this evening. Breakfast: French toast and sausages. Caught three fish this morning. Lunch at Pigpen – a cabin on the shore above the river that’s been abandoned. Inside is like a museum with stocks of salad dressing, herbs, toilet paper for an army, clothes and sleeping bags. There are also boats and motors. On the sandy shore there were grizzly bear prints but no evidence of the bear itself.

Steve’s bouillabaisse

The last lunch has been traditionally Steve’s bouillabaisse – a meal we all look forward to. Steve prepares the fish broth and the roux at home and brings it up with the mussels, shrimp, scallops and tinned lobster. The wines to accompany this special dish: Pol Roger Réserve Champagne, Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 2010 and Michel Bouzereau et Fils Meursault 2011. A spectacular lunch. In the afternoon I caught six trout including a 12-pounder. But at least I made the board; in fact, we all did. Dinner: chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and basil, baked carrots and parsnips, rice and salad. The wines: Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla 2013, Château Batailley 2000, Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1990 and Marcarini Barolo La Serra 2004. A birthday cake was presented to Steve and we all received lodge mugs.

Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1990, Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla 2013, Château Batailley 2000, Marcarini Barolo La Serra 2004
Last supper wines

Steve’s birthday cake

Thursday, August 18th: Awoke to learn that I’m a grandfather again! Sasha, Guy’s wife, delivered a baby girl in the early hours of this morning. Her name is Isla and although she didn’t make the board, she weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs 11 oz.

Breakfast: grilled cheese sandwiches. Packed up and flew back to Yellowknife. Then to Calgary and back to Toronto. A thoroughly enjoyable fishing trip.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 609: Guy Champagne

Monday, August 1st: Pinot’s ruptured cyst if healing well but we have to keep her collar on to stop her trying to lick it. She is also on antibiotics.

Got the news today that they are dropping my monthly column from Post City Magazines but they want me to write some features on wine so I’ll still appear in the magazine. That’s the life of a freelance. You never know when editorial directions will change.

Spent much of the day writing the novel. In the evening, opened a bottle of Mount Eden Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from New Zealand (pale straw colour with a green tint; grassy, grapefruit nose with green passionfruit notes; medium-bodied, crisply dry with green plum and gooseberry flavours (90)).

Tuesday, August 2nd: Deborah and I went over to dinner to Guy and Sasha’s. Sasha is expecting a little girl any day now. Sasha made a chicken stir-fry and I opened a bottle of Frei Brothers Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2014 (dense purple colour; leather, plum and vanilla oak on the nose; full-bodied, fruity-earthy blackberry and plum flavours with a suggestion of tannin to give the wine structure and a warm alcoholic finish (88)). Deborah made strawberry shortcake that was demolished in no time flat.

Wednesday, August 3rd: Deborah left with a girlfriend to spend the night in Picton so I stunk up the kitchen by making a chicken curry. Opened a bottle of Graffigna Malbec Reserve 2014 (purple-ruby colour; cedary, plum and tobacco nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, fruity with a lively spine of acidity (88)).

Thursday, August 4th: A very hot day today. The carpet cleaners came to pick up three Persian carpets for cleaning. The guy showed me evidence of moths and suggested we spray the place before they bring them back. Under the carpets were black moth eggs. Traumatized, I opened a bottle of Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2014 from South Australia (deep purple-ruby colour; herbal, blackberry nose with an light floral and oak nose; full-bodied, spicy blackberry flavour, good fruit in mid-palate with lively acidity and a licorice note on the finish (89)).

Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2014

Friday, August 5th: A Vintages release tasting today. Will have to pick up a bottle of Guy Champagne to celebrate the baby’s arrival. I scored it 92. It’s released on August 20th.

Guy Charlemagne Champagne
Best wine at the Vintages release tasting

For dinner with steak a bottle of Clossson Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 (Prince Edward County – ruby colour; minerally, raspberry nose with a light barnyard note; light to medium-bodied, dry, Volnay style with a lovely mouth-feel; raspberry flavour with the fragrance of violets. Judicious use of oak. The best Pinot I’ve tasted from this winery (92)).


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 608: Dandylion Dinner

Dandylion’s berry dessert

Monday, July 25th: Spent the morning writing up my 680 NEWS wine reviews. Pinot had a 3 pm appointment with the vet to take care of a ruptured cyst. Not a pretty sight. She has to wear a collar (rather than the “Cone of Shame” lampshade) to stop her licking the wound. Had to duct tape the pad covering it. In the late afternoon got down to some tasting.

  • Henry of Pelham Riesling 2015 (Niagara Peninsula – $14.95): pale straw colour; minerally, lime and grapefruit nose with floral and honey notes; light-bodied, off-dry, grapefruit and honey flavours; well-balanced with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88)
  • Les Jumelles Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Pays d’Oc – $13.95; LCBO Sept.): very pale colour; spicy, grassy, green plum and spearmint nose; light-bodied, crisply dry, gooseberry and green plum flavours. Good value. (87.5)
  • Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (California – $19.95; LCBO Sept.): very pale colour; grassy, kiwi nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, with well-extracted elderberry and green fig flavours; full in the mouth. (88)
  • Columbia Crest Chardonnay 2013 (Washington): deep straw colour; spicy, oaky, apple nose already showing traces of undergrowth; full-bodied, dry, pineapple and candy apple flavours with toasty-vanilla oak notes. Good length. (88.5)
  • La Cadierenne Grand Tradition Bandol Rosé 2015 (Provence – $20.95): Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvédre blend; very pale pink in colour; red licorice and red plum nose backed by wood spice; full-bodied, dry, mouth-filling and unctuous on the palate, cherry and plum flavours. (88)
  • Château Teyssier Montagne Saint-Emilion 2012 ($24.95): dense ruby colour; cedary, blackcurrant nose and licorice nose with a floral note; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, redcurrant and cranberry flavours with ripe, grainy tannins. Lively acidity on the finish. (88.5)
  • Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot 2010 (Short Hills Bench, Ontario – $39.95): deep ruby colour with a mature rim; cedary, blackcurrant nose with well-integrated oak and a floral grace note; medium-bodied, dry, claret-style; elegant and well –balanced. (90)
  • Chapoutier Marius Grenache Syrah 2015 (Rhône – $12.95): deep ruby colour; savoury-herbal blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, blackberry flavour with well-integrated oak finishing with soft, grainy tannins. Good value. (88.5)
  • Château Rigaud 2012 (Faugères – $16.95): Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache – deep ruby colour; spicy, cedary nose of black fruits with pencil lead and herbal notes; medium-bodied, dry, inky, black raspberry flavour with firm tannins. (88)
  • Les Vignerons du Castelas Côtes du Rhône Villages Vieilles Vignes 2013 (Grenache, Syrah, Carignan; $17.95): deep ruby colour; savoury nose of black raspberry, oak with a herbal-floral note; medium-bodied, lean and sinewy with expressive mid-palate fruit and lively acidity. (89)
  • Torres Cos Perpetual 2013 (Priorat – Garnacha and Cariñena 80 – 100 years old): dense purple colour; creamy blackberry nose with vanilla oak; full-bodied, rich plum and raisin flavours with balancing acidity; firmly structured and lingering with a coffee bean note on the finish. Chunky mouth-feel. (90)

For dinner, chicken stir-fry with a bottle of Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay Don Miguel Vineyard 2014 (Russian River, $34.95): straw colour; earthy-leafy, undergrowth nose of tropical fruit; full-bodied, sweetish ripe pineapple and green nut flavours, Great length and lovely mouth-feel. (90)

Tuesday, July 26th: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews and then down to the LCBO for a tasting that I missed on Friday, as I was at I4C in Niagara. In the evening Pete, my techy friend, came over to set up my new Dell XPS 13. With a hamburger dinner opened a bottle of Tini Romagna Sangiovese 2014 (Emilia-Romagna: $7.75): medium ruby colour; sweet cherry nose with a dusty note; medium to light-bodied, dry and savoury; sour cherry and plum flavours with lively acidity. (87)

Wednesday, July 27th: Spent the day working on the novel and then met up with the four guys for our annual dinner. We met at Dandylion at 1198 Queen West, a 30-seat vegetable-centric restaurant. We ordered every dish on the menu and the chef Jay Carter prepared plates for us. We started with Raveneau Chablis Blanchot 2002 followed by Domaine Robert Arnoux Échezeaux 2001, Château Beychevelle 2004, Quinta do Vale Meāo 2004 (which I brought) and with dessert, Château Suduiraut 2011. An amazing meal.

Domaine Robert Arnoux Échezeaux 2001 and Château Beychevelle 2004

Quinta do Vale Meão 2004

Château Suduiraut 2011

Thursday, July 28th: I wanted to download Spider Solitaire from the internet on my new computer. Suddenly a screen came up with a virus warning and a loud siren sound. The message said I had a virus and gave me a 1-866 number to call. I was not to shut the computer down otherwise I would lose files. My computer had been held for ransom. Even when I did close down the computer to stop the annoying siren it started up a again when I rebooted. I called my webmaster James, who talked me through how to get rid of it. Subsequently, when I told the story on Facebook, a pal Jamie sent me a website on how to deal with the problem (if it happens to you, Google Remove Ransomware).

Mightily relieved, I got down to some tasting:

  • Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Western Cape, South Africa – $9.95): very pale, almost water white in colour; grassy, gooseberry nose; medium-bodied, sweetish gooseberry and grapefruit flavours. Easy drinking with a touch of bitterness on the finish and good value. (87.5)
  • Two Oceans Moscato 2015 (Western Cape, South Africa – $8.95 until August 14 then $9.95): pale straw colour; aromatic, oily, orange blossom nose; light-bodied, sweet and grapey. Like biting into a Muscat grape. A touch of bitterness on the finish. (86)
  • Tinhorn Creek 2 Bench White 2015 (Okanagan – 29% Chardonnay, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Viognier, 12% Semillon, 5% Muscat): Pale straw colour with a lime tint; rhubarb and peach aromas with a light floral note; the nose belies the palate which is richly extracted and full in the mouth with off-dry flavours of peach and sweet apple. (88.5)
  • Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2014 (Okanagan): deep ruby colour; cedary, blueberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted sweet blueberry and chocolate flavours with well-integrated oak, finishing on a licorice note with ripe tannins. (89)
  • Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2013 (Okanagan): ruby colour with a tawny hue; raspberry and cranberry nose; light to medium-bodied, cedary, red berry flavours, somewhat lean with gripping tannins on the finish. (87)
  • Tinhorn Creek Syrah 2013 (Okanagan): deep ruby colour; earthy, cherry with spicy oak and a light floral bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, savoury-herbal flavour of blackberries and cherries. Lively acidity on the finish. (89)
  • Columbia Crest Merlot 2013 (Washington – $17.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, smoky plum nose; medium to full-bodied, sweet blackberry and mocha flavours with smoky-tarry notes and a suggestion of tannin on the finish. (88)
  • Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Washington – $17.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, peppery, black fruits on the nose; full-bodied, richly extracted, plum and currant flavours with mocha chocolate notes, creamy mouth-feel, well-balanced and easy drinking. (89)
  • Quinta de Curvos Prova Cega 2013 (Douro – $13.95): A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Sousāo. Dense ruby colour; spicy blackberry, licorice nose with a note of baked plums; full-bodied, richly extracted, sweet plum and blackberry flavours with grainy tannins. Good value. (88.5)

Friday, July 29th: A meeting at Oakdale Golf Club, where I’m conducting a dinner tasting for club members on August 24th. For dinner with brisket, Best’s Great Western Shiraz Bin No. 1 2013 (Victoria, Australia): Deep purple colour; herbal blackberry nose with an earthy, oaky note; full-bodied, dry, savoury, blackberry flavour with bitter chocolate notes. More Northern Rhône in style than your typical Aussie Shiraz. (88.5)


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 607: I4C 201

I4C poster

Monday, July 18th: A dental appointment this morning, never a good way to start the week. In the afternoon wrote up my wine reviews for Quench magazine. For dinner with salmon, Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay 2013: bright straw colour; Burgundian nose of apple, spicy oak with a forest floor note; medium-bodied, dry, great balance with apple and pear flavours lifted with spicy oak. (89)

Tuesday, July 19th: A conference call with Hans Gerhardt and Donald Ziraldo to discuss a possible wine event for 2017. Lindsay Groves came over for a drink. I opened a bottle of Tarquino Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from Mendoza: pale straw colour; lemony, grapefruit nose with a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry, fresh, green plum flavour with a grassy note. (88)

Wednesday, July 20th: Wrote my Quench column on rosés. Dinner with our friends Gordon and Esther at Mistura. Great bottle of Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2014 from Maremma.

Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2014

Thursday, July 21st: Picked up at noon to drive down to Niagara for this year’s International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa. After settling into my room I crossed the road to the outlet mall to visit Bass Pro, where I bought some lures and a packet of leaders for my fishing trip next month. Outside the mall they have a rack of barrels celebrating Niagara wineries. Nice touch.

Outlet mall barrels
Outlet mall barrels

Then on to the Directors’ dinner at Stratus. All the visiting winemakers and their Ontario peers were there. My first wine of the event was Josef Chromy Sparkling Chardonnay from last year’s I4C.

Friday, July 22nd: Up early for the I4C keynote speaker is Ian D’Agata. The First Session: “To Pick or Not to Pick… Harvest timing and implications.” Moderator John Szabo: “One third sunlight is all you need (to ripen grapes).” “19 degrees is sufficient to ripen Chardonnay.” Greg Stach, Landmark Vineyards, Sonoma: “There are two Chardonnays: fine wine Chardonnay and Chardonnay as a commodity.”

Blind tasting of six wines – have they been picked at optimum ripeness – early, peak or late?

  1. Champy Bourgogne Signature Chardonnay 2013: Tart, green apple and sour cream flavours; Chablis style.
  2. Landmark Vineyards Overlook Vineyards 2013: Elegant, oaked, nicely balanced with good acidity.
  3. Norman Hardie County Chardonnay Unfiltered 2014: Lean, tart, light-bodied, fresh acidity.
  4. Norman Hardie Niagara Chardonnay 2013: Fresh, lively, green apple, fresh and lively.
  5. Viña Tabalí Talinay Chardonnay 2014: Well-balanced green apple and lemony.
  6. Dog Point Vineyard Chardonnay Marlborough 2014: Smoky, toasty, green apple, good length, tart finish.

Session 2: The 4 C’s… Cellaring Cool Climate Chardonnay. Factors that allow Chardonnay to age: Acidity/pH; SO2, Residual Sugar, Alcohol Level, Phenolics, Dissolved CO2, Oxygen ingress, Malolactic Fermentation, Partial MLF, Filtration, use of Oak, Aromatics; Storage conditions (light, temperature humidity), Wine environment – vessel type, bottle colour, closure type.

Two wines from the same winery, different vintages;

  • Benjamin Bridge Methode Classique 2011 and Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004
  • Blue Mountain Chardonnay Reserve 2013 and 2005
  • Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaudeveys 2014 and Les Blanchots 2009
  • Foxes Island Belsham Awatere Estate Chardonnay 2011 (Auckland) and 2008
  • Cave Spring Cellars CSV Beamsville Bench Chardonnay 2013 and 2007


Sessions Three: Skins and Stems – Whole Cluster Winemaking (or not). Belinda Kemp from the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University. “Chardonnay is a quite neutral grape.”

  • Domain Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur 2014
  • Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay 2015
  • Planeta Chardonnay 2014 (Sicily)

(Which of the following Pinots had whole-cluster fermentation?)

  • Malivoire Wine Mottiar Pinot Noir 2013
  • Malivoire Wine Mottiar Pinot Noir 2014
  • Malivoire Wine Mottiar Small Lot Pinot Noir 2014
  • Flat Rock Cellars Estate Pinot Noir 2013
  • Flat Rock Cellars Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Then upstairs to the press room to taste wines that will be served at I4C.

Media room wines (159 in all)

At 7 pm took a shuttle bus to the Niagara District Airport for a tasting of Chardonnays set up at booths inside the huge hangar. At the food stations you paid with cork (1 to 3 pieces, depending on the dish). Best dish was the deep-fried zucchini blossoms with aioli.

Saturday, July 23rd: After breakfast, into the Media Tasting Room for more tasting, then at 10:30 am Kurtis Kolt and I were driven to Redstone Winery for lunch. Before the al fresco lunch (on one of the hottest days of the year) we did some tasting at the bar:

  • Redstone Sparkling 2013 (60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Gris): pale straw colour; minerally, peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, white peach and citrus flavours with a firm somewhat bitter finish. (87.5)
  • Redstone Chardonnay 2012 (a blend of three vineyards): straw colour; minerally, apple nose with vanilla oak and an undergrowth note; medium-bodied dry with good varietal character. (88)
  • Redstone Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 (60% Sauvignon, 40% Semillon): pale straw colour; herbaceous, crab apple bouquet; medium-bodied, crisply dry with an apple peel flavour; slightly hard on the finish. (86)
  • Redstone Reserve Chardonnay 2012: pale straw colour; high-toned nose of apples; medium-bodied, sweetish peach and apple flavours. (88)
  • Redstone Syrah 2012: deep ruby colour; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, spicy blackberry flavour; firmly structured with a vanilla oak and sandalwood finish. (88)
  • Redstone Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012: deep ruby colour; leady, blackcurrant nose with vanilla oak and a floral note; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with evident tannins. (88)
  • Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: deep ruby colour; cedary, redcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, redcurrant and cranberry flavours with a firm tannic finish. (88)

Then we sat down to lunch on the patio. It was so hot the butter melted to a pool within minutes. The menu:

The Restaurant at Red Stone • i4C+ International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration July 22-24, 2016 • From Field To Table • Saturday, July 23, 2016 • Marinated Albacore Tuna: Cucumber, Dill, Buttermilk; Paired with 2012 Redstone Chardonnay • Whole Roasted Beef Striploin: Black Garlic, Tomato, Charred Snap Peas, Watercress; Paired with 2012 Redstone Reserve Cab Franc • Goat's Milk Panna Cotta: Summer Berry, Almond; Paired with 2013 Tawse Chardonnay Icewine

Table set with bread and butter in small cast-iron pans; the butter is a round, solid cake

The same pan; the butter is now thoroughly melted, as though it had been on a stove
…four minutes later

A view from above of a small glass bowl of what, from this angle, looks as much like potpourri as anything
Redstone dessert

The back to the hotel and more tasting in the Media Room before departing by shuttle bus for Ridley College for the Cool Chardonnay World Tour Grand Tasting & Al Fresco Dinner. All the participating wineries poured their wines in the college ground – over 100 wines from the best cool-climate wine regions from across the globe. The biggest line-up was at Imant Malins’ Fat Chance Cold Smoked Salmon Company’s booth, where he handed out generous samples of his magnificent smoked salmon.

i4C+ International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration July 22-24, 2016 • Cool Chardonnay World Tour Grand Dinner • Presented by VQA Wines of Ontario and the LCBO | VINTAGES • MENU • Chilled Vineyard Wood Fired Pork Loin with NC House Soppressata, Campus Pickles & James – Chef Craig Youdale, Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College • Dressed Tigchellar Strawberries & Queen Scallop with Green Strawberry, Almond, Radish, Buttermilk & Dill – Chef David Sider, The Restaurant at Redstone • Niagara Organic Greens with Cave Spring Ice Wine & Sherry Vinaigrette – Chef Jason Williams, Inn on the Twenty Restaurant • Salt-Baked Wild Salmon with Pearl Couscous Tabouleh, Stevensville Organic Heirloom Tomatoes & Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette – Chef Erik Peacock, Wellington Court Restaurant • Fregola Salad with Estate Harvested Tomatoes, Peas, House-Made Ricotta, Adamo Estate Chardonnay Saba – Chef Roberto Fracchioni, Cabin at Hockley Valley Resort • Epp Family Farms Heirloom Carrots with Chardonnay, Caraway & Thyme Dressing; Sorrel Smoked Mini Potatoes with Burnt Onion and Horseradish Crème Fraiche – Chef Jason Parsons, Peller Estates Winery Restaurant • Pastrami Spiced Ontario Beef Striploin with Smoked Bacon Sauerkraut & Dijon Mustard – Chef Frank Dodd, Trius Winery Restaurant
Saturday dinner menu

At 9:30pm the Après Chardonnay Bar opened, featuring Ontario red wines.

Bachelder Oregon Johnson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
My top red at I4C

Domain Laroche Chablis Premier Cru 'Les Vaudevey' 2014
My top white at I4C

Sunday, July 24th: After breakfast, back to the media room to taste another ten wines before taking the shuttle bus to Ravine Vineyard for a Moveable Feast – Brunch. The Chardonnays were set out under a tent.

It's a buffet in an open-sided tent
Lunch at Ravine Vineyard

After lunch a bunch of us repaired down to the cellar to taste some Ravine vineyard wines.

  • Ravine Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015: straw colour; spicy, Bordeaux-style nose with a note of oak; medium-bodied, dry, grassy, grapefruit and green plum flavours; elegant with great length. (90)
  • Ravine Vineyard Pinot Gris 2015: pink gold colour; spicy, peach pit nose with an oak note; medium-bodied, dry, white peach and citrus flavours with good length. (89)
  • Ravine Vineyard Cabernet Rosé 2015 (100% Cabernet Franc): salmon colour; minerally, strawberry and rhubarb on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, wild strawberry puree and lemon flavours with good length. (88.5)
  • Ravine Vineyard Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2014: deep ruby-purple colour; colour; cedary, spicy, green tobacco and redcurrant flavours; medium-bodied, dry, black and redcurrant flavours; well-balanced and fresh on the palate. (89.5)
  • Ravine Vineyard Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2013: deep ruby-purple colour; cedary, spicy, tobacco and vanilla oak spice bouquet; full-bodied, dry. ripe fruit – plum and prune flavours. (88.5)
  • Ravine Vineyard Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2012: deep ruby-purple colour; high-toned, vanilla oak, redcurrant nose with a floral note; medium to full-bodied, dry and firmly structured. (89).

Ravine Vineyard Lonna's Block Cabernet Franc 2012, 2013, 2014
A vertical of Ravine Vineyard Cabernet Franc

A car took me back home. A very enjoyable experience all around.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 606: 2017 Wine Tour

Monday, July 11th: Wrote my Lexpert column about Vinexpo 1989. Then did some tasting:

  • Spier Merlot 2014 (Stellenbosch): light ruby colour with a tawny hue; smoky, earthy, cherry nose; full-bodied, richly extracted plum flavour with lively acidity. (88)
  • 16 Mile Cellar Rebel Pinot Noir 2011 (Niagara – $22.95): pale ruby in colour with an orange rim; raspberry nose with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, red berry flavours in Burgundian style, with a dry finish; the greenness on the end palate suggests young vines but the wine augurs well for future vintages. (88.5)
  • Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc 2013 (Niagara – $14.95): solid ruby colour; leafy, minty, redcurrant nose with a cedary note; medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and cranberry fleshed out with vanilla oak flavours. (87.5)
  • Miguel Torres Las Mulas Reserva Merlot 2015 (Chile – $12.95): ruby-purple colour; cedary, spicy, blueberry nose with a pencil lead note; medium-bodied, dry, blackcurrant flavour, well-extracted fruit with nicely integrated oak and a dry, savoury finish. (88)
  • E. & J. Gallo Ghost Pines Merlot 2013 (86% Sonoma/14% Napa – $18.95): deep purple-ruby colour; plum, black cherry and mocha chocolate on the nose; full-bodied, mouth-filling flavours of black plum and cherry with chocolate notes; grainy tannins on the finish. (88.5)
  • Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2011 (Tuscany – $47.95): mature ruby colour; spicy, cedary cherry bouquet with a note of tobacco and dried flowers; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry with oak notes, savoury with a long dry finish. Old-style Chianti, beautifully balanced and a joy to drink. (91)
  • Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Speck Family Reserve 2014 (Ontario – $24.95): deep purple colour; cedary, blackberry nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, creamy black berry and plum flavours with fresh acidity, well-balanced and lively on the palate with surprising elegance and length for a hybrid. Lovely mouth-feel. (89)

Tuesday, July 12th: Wrote my On the Go column and tasted a couple of Ontario wines:

  • Jackson-Triggs Delaine Fumé Blanc 2012 ($24.95): straw-coloured with a spicy, grassy, lanolin and vanilla oak nose; very white Bordeaux in style – beautifully balanced and elegant, medium to full-bodied, peachy, grapefruit flavour with a spicy oak finish. Great length. (90)
  • Inniskillin Chardonnay Montague Vineyard 2013 ($24.95): medium straw colour with a lime tint; minerally, apple, pear nose with well integrated oak; medium-bodied, pineapple and pear flavours with spicy, toasty oak on the finish. (89)

Wednesday, July, 13th: Lunched with Steve Pauwels to discuss next year’s wine tour. We are thinking of Veneto and Friuli. Happy to be going back to Verona, my favourite city. In the evening our friends Ladka, Jerry and Barb came over for drinks. I opened up two delicious sparkling wines: Bouvet Crémant de Loire Excellence Brut and Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut 2015. A huge storm at 1 am. Pinot is afraid of thunder and lightning. We put the thunder shirt on her to calm her but she was trembling all night and kept us up.

Thursday, July 14th: Walked around like a wet dish rag most of the day from lack of sleep. We were meant to go to the iYellow Summer Wine Jam at Airship 37 this evening but we were just too exhausted to make it.

Friday, July 15th: A Winerytohome tasting at Doug Towers’s, after which Judy prepared the annual dinner. Deborah joined us and we ate al fresco.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 605: Men in Pink

Men in Pink

Monday, July 4th: Wrote my 680 NEWS wine reviews and my Post City magazines column. Then got down to some tasting:

  • Watercloof Circle of Life 2012 (Stellenbosch, $19.95): A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon. Straw colour with a greenish tint; concentrated nose of mango and pineapple; medium-bodied, dry, grapefruit and peach flavours with a grassy note with mouth-watering acidity; well-balanced. (89.5)
  • Alamos Mendoza Selección Malbec 2013 (Argentina – $16.95): Deep purple colour; cedary, spicy, smoky nose of blackberries; full-bodied, mouth-filling flavours of sweet plums and blackberries with a soft tannic finish. (88.5)
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Escudo Rojo 2013 (Chile – $18.95. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Syrah and Cabernet Franc): Dense purple colour; smoky, cedary, black fruit nose; medium-bodied, dry, and savoury flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry with a lovely mouth-feel and a coffee bean note on the finish.(89)

For dinner, pasta with Frattoria di Piazzano Blend 2 2013: a blend of equal parts Colornino, Sangiovese and Malvasia Nero. Dense ruby-purple colour; cedary, plum and cherry nose; light to medium-bodied, high-toned, sour cherry and plum flavours. (87)

Tuesday, July 5th: Recorded my 680 NEWS reviews. Ann Sperling and Pete Gamble came to the condo for a tasting of their wines (Versado, Southbrook and Sperling Vineyards). We were joined for dinner by Michael Vaughan and Rosie.

Southbrook Moon Harvest Barrel Chardonnay 2013

  • Sperling Vineyards Chardonnay 2014 (Okanagan – $30): pale straw with a lime tint; spicy pear nose with a light floral note on the nose; medium-bodied, fresh, apple pear and lemon flavours, lovely mouth-feel and a lively citrus acidic finish. Great length. (91)
  • Sperling Vineyards Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2014 ($30): pink-gold colour; wild strawberry nose with a light oak note; full-bodied, wild strawberry and peach flavours carried on lively acidity; full on the palate, fleshy and well-balanced with a mineral thread. (89)
  • Sperling Vineyards Brut Reserve 2010 (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay – $50): white gold colour; high-toned, apple and toast on the nose with a chalky-mineral note; lemony, green apple, fresh, lemony, minerally flavour with great length. A touch rustic and yeasty but absolutely delicious. (91)
  • Southbrook Moon Harvest Barrel Chardonnay 2013 (Four Mile Creek – $40): old gold colour; caramel, baked apple nose with a spicy oak note; richly extracted, full in the mouth, spicy, peach and apple flavour augmented by oak; fleshy but well balanced with a long, fresh finish. Great length. (92)
  • Southbrook Moon Harvest Barrel Cabernet Franc 2013 (7% Cabernet Sauvignon: Four Mile Creek – $40): deep-ruby-plum colour; cedary, spicy, minty, redcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, Bourgueil-style, fresh red and blackcurrant flavours, beautifully balanced with well-integrated oak. (90)
  • Southbrook Witness Block Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2013 (51% CS/49% CF – $40): deep ruby colour; cedary, blackcurrant with a spicy, coffee bean nose; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted currant flavour; firmly structured and well balanced. (89.5)
  • Versado Malbec 2013 (Argentina – $25.95): deep ruby colour; floral, spicy, blackberry and blackcurrant nose with cedary and vanilla oak notes; full-bodied, roasted note, fleshy black fruit flavours with a savoury , licorice note. (91)
  • Versado Old Vine Malbec 2012 ($40): dense ruby colour; cedar, minerally, black plum nose; richly extracted, savoury black fruit flavours, beautifully balanced, firmly structured, rich and full on the palate, ripe tannins, with coffee bean and plum flavours. More Cahors in style than Argentina. (92)
  • Versado Reserva Malbec 2012 ($60): dense ruby colour; spicy, floral, blackberry nose with vanilla and cedar notes; medium to full-bodied, dry, ripe blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with a mineral thread and a lively spine of acidity; silky mouth-feel finishing firmly with a chocolate note. (93)
  • Sperling Vineyards Gewurztraminer Icewine 2014: ($50, 375 mL): Old gold colour; spicy, peach and honey nose; full-bodied, rich and sweet, well balanced flavours of tropical fruit, barley sugar and cinnamon. (92)

Versado Reserva Malbec 2012, Versado Old Vine Malbec 2012, Versado Malbec 2013

Wednesday, July 6th: Today is the annual Men in Pink event at Allen’s restaurant on the Danforth. This is the 8th year and John Maxwell must have a direct line to God because the weather for the event has been phenomenal apart for one year when it had to be held indoors. Ontario winemakers bring their rosés and the all-male attendees have to come dressed in pink. John’s chef prepared an all-pink meal: Buttermilk beet and radish soup, barbecued smoked salmon, barbecued steak (served pink) and strawberry panacotta with fresh strawberries and orange sauce for dessert. Always a fun occasion.

Pink soup

Billy Munnelly and John Maxwell in the pink

Thursday, July 7th: Gurth Pretty came to the condo for a meeting to discuss a wine and cheese concept. For dinner, flank steak with Fisticuffs Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Napa Valley – $49.95): Dense purple colour; minty blackcurrant nose with a note of leather; richly extracted fruit with vanilla oak; full-bodied with a chunky mouth-feel; ripe plum flavour with soft tannins. (89)

Friday, July 8th: A Vintages release tasting, after which Michael and I joined Rosie at the outdoor art gallery in Nathan Philips Square. I bought a metal sculpture – a carved handsaw. Brought it home. Deborah was not impressed. She said I shouldn’t be buying art after a big tasting. Maybe she’s got a point.

The controversial saw


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 604: Muskoka Rose

Muskoka Rose

Sunday, June 26th: Deborah and I drove up to Gravenhurst with Pinot T. Wonderdog to spend a couple of days with David and Elaine at their B&B on Pike Lake. Pinot, who usually barks the whole journey in the car, only did so intermittently, thank heaven. The B&B, named Muskoka Rose, has been voted the best in Mukoka. Pinot loves the water and was first in the lake.

Pinot T. at Muskoka Rose

I had brought up some wines for tasting:

  • Saint-Aix Rosé 2015 (Coteaux d’Aix en Provence – $22.95): pale pink colour; a nose of yellow cherries; medium to full-bodied, dry and fruity with rhubarb and strawberry flavours. (88)
  • Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir 2012 (Okanagan – $25): ruby colour; high-toned raspberry nose with earthy, charred oak notes; medium-bodied, spicy, sweet cherry flavour, broad and firm on the palate. (90)
  • Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir 2013 (Okanagan – $25): a shade lighter ruby colour than the 2012; cedary, cherry nose; richly extracted, medium-bodied, dry and more in Burgundian style; medium-bodied, beautifully balanced, dry with a lovely mouth-feel and very elegant. (92)

Martin’s Lane Pinots

Monday, June 26th: An idyllic day, hot, blue sky. Tried fishing but only got one bite. Went into Gravenhurst and looked around antique shops. Had an ice cream, then back for dinner. Opened a bottle of Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (New Zealand – $24.95): pale straw colour; a nose of grapefruit and cut grass with passionfruit notes; medium-bodied, dry with richly extracted flavours of passionfruit and elderberries carried on lively lemony acidity. Great length. (91)

Muskoka chairs and lake

Tuesday, June 27th: Left the B&B after breakfast. Pinot was not as considerate on the way home, barking much of the way. Pasta for dinner with a bottle of Azienda Uggiano Prestige Chianti Classico 2015 (Tuscany – $16.95): purple colour; spicy plum, blackcurrant and cherry bouquet with oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, high-toned, old Chianti syle, beautifully balanced black fruit flavours with a floral grace note. Great value. (90)

Wednesday, June 28th: Catching up on emails this morning, then a 2 pm meeting with Sandy Kurbis to go over the Ontario Wine Awards presentation ceremony at Niagara College and the trade and consumer tasting at George Brown College. For dinner with chicken kebabs, Bodegas Piqueras Castillo de Almansa 2010 (Spain – $16.95): dense ruby-purple colour; earthy plum and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, and well balanced. (89)

Thursday, June 29th: A meeting with Angela Aiello and the iYellow group for a post-mortem on the Ontario Wine Awards event and planning for next year. Then down to the Rogers Centre with my friend Frank to watch the Cleveland Indians win over the Blue Jays. Came home and to commiserate I opened a bottle of Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina – $19.95): dense purple colour; earthy, spicy, black fruit nose with a cedary note; medium to full-bodied, dry and savoury with well integrated oak and balancing acidity. (89)

Friday, July 1st: Canada Day. Watched the marathon 19-inning Jays v. Cleveland Indians. Emotionally exhausted. There is a circle of hell reserved for the home plate umpire whose strike zone when Cleveland was pitching was as wide as the city. Did some tasting to calm down.

  • Argento Pinot Grigio 2015 (Argentina): pale straw colour; spicy, vanilla oak masking fruit; medium-bodied, dry, white peach and lemon flavour; medium-bodied, crisply dry, white peach and lemon flavours with a minerally finish. Good length. (88.5)
  • Château des Charmes Riesling 2012 (Ontario): very pale straw colour; spicy, lime and petrol with a honeyed note; light-bodied, off-dry, honey, grapefruit and lime flavours; good length with a mineral note. (90)
  •  Argento Chardonnay 2015 (Argentina): medium straw colour; spicy, apple with a forest floor note on the nose; medium to full-bodied, sweet yellow apple and oak flavours with a lemony finish. Moderate length. (88)
  • Chatelain Pouilly-Fumé Les Vignes 2014 (Loire): pale straw colour; fresh, grassy, green pepper and grapefruit nose; medium-bodied, dry, fresh and lively with elderberry and green fig flavours, beautifully balanced with great length. (91)
  • Kim Crawford Small Parcels Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand) – $24.95): pale straw colour; grassy, gooseberry and grapefruit rind nose; full-bodied, dry, rich mid-palate fruit – passionfruit and grapefruit flavours, finishing crisply with great length. (91)
  • Château Haut Philippon 2014 (Entre Deux Mers): straw colour; white peach, citrus rind with a suggestion of oak on the nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry, grapefruit and gooseberry flavours with a light smoky note; good length. (89)
  • Château des Charmes Chardonnay 2012 (Ontario): straw colour; apple, vanilla oak nose with a barnyard note; medium-bodied, dry, caramel, apple and citrus flavours with good length. (89)
  • Santa Julia Chardonnay 2014 (Argentina): medium straw colour; spicy, apple with a barnyard note; medium-bodied, apple and pear flavours with a touch of oak; full-bodied, nicely balanced, sweetish apple with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88)
  • Ghost Pines Chardonnay 2014 (Monterey, Napa, Sonoma): straw colour; smoky, oaky, spicy, apple nose with a touch of barnyard; full-bodied, sweetish, smoky apple flavour. (88)
  • Tom Gore Vineyards Chardonnay 2014 (California): straw colour; toasty, spicy, ripe apple and vanilla oak with a note of forest floor on the nose; medium to full-bodied, creamy, toasty, red apple flavour, quite intense and spicy. (89)
  • Charles Baker Riesling 2015 (Ontario – $27): very pale colour; minerally, citrus and, pear nose with a honeyed note; light-bodied, off-dry, minerally, apple, pear and citrus flavours, beautifully balanced. Lovely mouth-feel with a lime and honey finish. The best Charles Baker yet. (91.5)
  • Stratus Wildass Rosé 2015 (Ontario): pink with a blue tint; watermelon nose; medium-bodied, dry, watermelon and yellow cherry flavours, some sweetness in mid-palate; touch of bitterness to give the wine interest, with a fresh acidic finish. (88.5)

Top-scoring wines on Canada Day

Chatelain Pouilly-Fumé Les Vignes 2014

Charles Baker Riesling 2015


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