A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 673: Roberto Martella Dinner

Monday, November 6th: Wrote up my wine reviews for Quench magazine and then took the train in Toronto to attend the Roberto Martella Tribute Dinner at Villa Colombo. Two hundred and ninety people sat down to dinner. Jazz pianist Gene Dinovi performed and so did my former squash partner, David Hetherington and his Amici Chamber Ensemble. Mayor John Tory spoke movingly of Roberto’s impact on the city. Several wineries donated wine for the evening and a host of chefs prepared reception dishes. Slept the night at my sister-in-law’s as I had a meeting and an event to attend in Toronto tomorrow. Continue reading

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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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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 671: Halpern Tasting

Monday, October 23rd: Wrote my Lexpert column on how to become a hobbyist wine importer. For dinner with roast chicken, Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2013 (59% Cab/41% Shiraz – $23.95, Vintages release Nov. 25th): dense purple colour; savoury, spicy, blackberry and eucalyptus nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, herb-tinge blackberry flavour with lively acidity and well-integrated oak. (89)

Tuesday, October 24th: Spent most of the day inputting wine review notes for the upcoming Vintages release. Deborah is in Toronto today for the condo board meeting and staying over at the condo’s guest suite.

Wednesday, October 25th: The 500-bottle wine cabinet I bought is full and I have a lot of wine yet to accommodate. It seems that the garage will suffice for the time being as it’s certainly cool enough there. Will have to get a wine fridge for the kitchen.

At 3:30 pm I was picked up by Brian and Mary, part of our wine group tour, for the reunion dinner at the Wine Academy on Richmond Street. Great to see the old gang. Next year’s destination in May is the Loire Valley so we started with oysters and Muscadet. Drove home with Deborah as DD.

Thursday, October 26th: Took the GO train in to Toronto to record my 680 NEWS wine reviews and then TTC’ed over to the Beanfield Centre for the Halpern Portfolio Wine Tasting. Seventy wineries all pouring their wines, many by the principals – including old friends, Paolo di Marchi from Isole e Olena, Marchesi Fumanelli and Alessia Antinori (who introduced me to her new wine Fiorano from Lazio, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend).

Alessia Antinori

Lots of great wines there but my favourites of those I tasted were Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans 2015, Vincent Girardin Santenay 2015, Egon Müller Scharzhof Scharzhofberger Spätlese Riesling 2016, Domaine d’Eugenie Vosne-Romanée 2010 and Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 2015. Best value in the room (of those I tasted): Michel Gassier A Cappella Blanc 2016 (licensee price: $18.67; a blend of Colombard and Viognier).

Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans 2015

Vincent Girardin Santenay 2015

Egon Müller Scharzhof Scharzhofberger Spätlese Riesling 2016
Egon Müller’s great Riesling

Domaine d'Eugenie Vosne-Romanée 2010

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 2015

Poster for Coravin at Halpern tasting

Following the tasting, I taxied over to Lula Lounge for a fund-raiser dinner for Access Education Guatemala, a charity that Grapes for Humanity has supported for some years. I donated two wine tastings for the silent auction – one at Domaine Queylus and one at 13th Street Winery (home of the World’s Best Butter Tarts – trust me on that one!). Drove back home with Deborah.

Friday, October 27th: Drove into Toronto at 2 pm to beat the traffic to set up a home tasting of a silent auction at a fund-raiser for the Barbara Schlifer Home. En route I stopped in at the LCBO and picked up a case of Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir 2014. Tasted the following wines accompanied by finer food prepared by the Spice Sisters:

  • Stoney Ridge Pinot Gris 2011
  • Thirty Bench Riesling 2013
  • Konzelmann Gewurztraminer 2011
  • Angels Gate Pinot Noir 2010
  • Pelee Island Baco Noir Reserve 2013
  • Trius Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Magnotta Riesling Icewine 2013
  • Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine 2014

After the tasting (I spat all evening), I drove over to my son Guy’s house in Leslieville to spend the night. We opened a bottle of the Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir which was delicious. Deborah called to say that UPS had delivered the Chagall print I bought on board the Azamara cruise in August as a moving in present for our new home. Can’t wait to see it.

A print of Marc Chagall's 'The Couple of the Eiffel Tower' or 'Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower', also known as 'Bride and Groom and the Rooster'
Chagall print still wrapped in cellophane and waiting to be hung

Saturday, October 28th: Fuelled by a croissant and a tall Starbucks, black no sugar, I drove over to Michael Vaughan’s to taste a few wines:

  • Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2016: bright straw in colour; spicy, smoky, graphite nose of apple with an oaky note; medium-bodied, dry, apple and pear flavours; well-balanced, fresh, with good length. (88.5)
  • Il Viziato Vino Rosso (NV): 80% Sangiovese & 20% Nero d’Avola. Medium ruby colour; sweetish, raspberry candy nose with a note of cedar; medium-bodied, off-dry, earthy with bitter tannins. Commercial. (85)
  • Doña Paula Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (Mendoza, $16.95): ruby-plum in colour; cedary, spicy, plum and redcurrant nose with light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, fragrant, redcurrant and orange peel flavours; firmly structured with evident but ripe tannins. (87)
  • Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2015 ($16.95): medium ruby colour; spicy-cedary nose of plum with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry, fruity and floral but firm on the palate with red plum and blackcurrant flavours and chalky tannins on the finish. (88)
  • Beronia Reserva 2013 (Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo – $20.95): deep ruby in colour; sandalwood, coconut nose masking fruit at the moment; medium-bodied, dry, strawberry puree and coconut flavours with a tannic lift on the finish. (88)
  • Allegrini di Fumane Veneto Ross 2015 (Corvina, Rondinella): deep ruby colour; cedary-spicy, plum and cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, fresh, with nicely integrated oak, lively acidity, flavours of sour cherry and red plum with a firm tannic finish. (88.5)

Got home in time to meet our friend Pooch, who took us to lunch at Pier 61 in Port Dalhousie. Pooch represents McManis wines in Canada – so we ordered a bottle of McManis Chardonnay 2016, which I drank with pleasure and chicken pie. For dinner, I made a cheese soufflé and served it with a bottle of Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir 2014 (looks like I’m going to go through that case of Pinot Noir in no time).


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 670: Domaine Queylus

signpost showing distances and directions to seven Beamsville Bench wineries

Monday, October 16th: Spent most of the day emptying boxes and setting up the office. Couldn’t find the paper tray for the printer so it looks a if we’ll have to buy a new one. Opened a bottle of Château des Charmes Pinot Noir 2015 (solid ruby colour; high toned nose of sour cherries; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour, somewhat short on finish (87)).

Tuesday, October 17th: Wrote up my 680 NEWS wine reviews, which I’ll record next week. Otherwise, occupied with the boxes. Trip to IKEA and Solutions to buy stuff for the house.

Wednesday, October 18th: The pond guys came over to clean out the pond. It seems we have to replace the filter. In the spring we’ll put in some koi. But we’ll have to protect them from the blue heron and raccoons by stringing fishing lines above the surface on the water. Watched the Yankees vs Astros game at Kelsey’s with John Nadeau and then we dined with our wives at Backhouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Brought along a bottle of Black Hill Syrah 2015 from the Okanagan (dense purple colour; blackberry nose with pepper and iodine notes and nicely integrated oak; full-bodied, dry and savoury, well-balanced with herb-tinged, spicy black cherry and blackberry flavours (91)).

Black Hill Syrah 2015

Thursday, October 19th: The IKEA guy came over to set up the wardrobe in our bedroom (which means we can take our clothes out of boxes). Naturally, some pieces were missing so he’ll have to come back next week. Deborah and I drove Pinot over to Bourgogne Woods off-leash dog park. A Papillion peed on both Deborah’s and my legs. Some welcome to the neighbourhood.

Friday, October 20th: More shopping for the house. In the evening Deborah and I went out for fish and chips at The Fryin’ Guys on Lake Street, St. Catharines. Came home and opened a bottle of Black Hills Viognier 2016 (straw colour; peachy, floral nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, peachy, apple and lemon flavours, well-balanced, great length with a peach pit finish (90)).

Saturday, October 21st: Drove over to Domaine Queylus for a tasting of their 2015 wines and barrel and tank samples of 2016 and ’17 conducted by winemakers Thomas Bachelder and Kelly Mason.

Thomas Bachelder pouring

  • Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Tradition 2015: straw colour; a nose of apple, oak spice and light barnyard note; medium-bodied, dry, apple flavour with well-integrated oak and lively, lemony acidity. (90)
  • Domaine Queylus Chardonnay Réserve 2015: more focused and structured an the ‘Tradition’ 2015, tighter and a little more evidence of oak. (91)
  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Tradition 2015: ruby colour with nose of violets, rust and black cherries with a light oak expression; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, Volnay style; firm tannins, minerally, red plum flavour with a lovely mouth-feel. (90)
  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Réserve 2015: ruby colour; spicy, black raspberry nose with pencil shaving notes; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with evident tannins and lively acidity. (91)
  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir La Grande Réserve 2015: ruby colour; spicy, oaky with discreet fruit aromas at the moment; medium-bodied, dry, tight, plum flavour with grainy tannins; Chambertin style with lively acidity. Hold 5 years. (91–93)
  • Domaine Queylus Merlot 2015 (with 10% Cabernet Franc): deep ruby in colour; vanilla oak, cassis and blackberry on the nose; petit château style; firmly structured with ripe tannins; medium-bodied, dry, needs at least three years, (89)
  • Domaine Queylus Réserve Cabernet Franc 2015: deep ruby colour; spicy, blackcurrant nose with a green pepper note; medium-bodied, dry, red and blackcurrant flavours; firmly structured and well-balanced with ripe tannins. Hold 3–5 years.
  • Domaine Queylus Merlot La Grande Réserve 2015: deep ruby colour; spicy, blackcurrant, rose petal nose with a mineral thread; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, elegant, plum and blackcurrant flavours ending on a cinnamon note. Hold 5 years. (92)

Then down to the cellar for a tasting of 2016 Chardonnay and Pinot from the barrel and 2017 Pinot from tank. The 2017 is a monster vintage in volume and flavour.

Deborah and I drove into Toronto to attend our friend (and my webmaster) James Harbeck’s 50th birthday celebration. For dinner with beef ribs, I opened a bottle that was lost in my cellar: Babich Winemaker’s Reserve Merlot 2002 from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand (still very much alive).

Sunday, October 22nd: Brilliantly sunny day. Drove over to Hidden Bench to say hello to Harald Thiel. He greeted us with a glass of Hidden Bench Brut Natur Zero Dosage 2012 (active mousse, tiny bubble; straw colour; apple and minerally nose; medium-bodied, dry, nicely balanced with a strong spine of acidity (89)). Bought a Winery Dog 2018 calendar there and a dozen eggs before heading to Upper Canada Cheese.

Hidden Bench Brut Natur Zero Dosage 2012
Hidden Bench bubbly


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 669: OWA Sponsor Tour

Whisky school desks

Monday, October 9th: Spent Thanksgiving Day opening boxes and filling my new 500-bottle cabinet with wine. Found all kinds of hidden treasures which I will drink before they get over the hill. Tonight, with grilled salmon, Babich Pinot Noir 2004 from New Zealand (still very much alive).

Tuesday, October 10th: Worked on my Quench magazine article, about screw caps. For dinner, Moon Curser Tempranillo 2010 from the Okanagan.

Wednesday, October 11th: After unpacking more boxes, got down to writing an article for Lexpert Magazine on becoming a wine importing agent – as an amateur. In the evening, a conference call with the Board of Directors of Grapes for Humanity in Toronto to discuss next year’s program of events. For dinner, with grilled Salmon, Eral Bravo YBS 2005 (Mendoza, Argentina – Year’s Best Barrels: 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah). Delicious.

Thursday, October 12th: More unpacking. It’s like the myth of Sisyphus – the more boxes we empty, the more appear. Still can’t find the kitchen radio and the paper tray of the printer. Received a copy of my friend Raymond Blake’s new book in the mail: Côtes d’Or – The wines and winemakers of the heart of Burgundy. Raymond is a leading wine writer in Ireland who has bought a house in the Côtes d’Or (lucky fellow). Am looking forward to reading it – once I can find a chair to sit down in.

Friday, October 13th: My wine writer colleague who lives in the ‘hood picked me up at 6:30 am to get to the Vintages tasting at the LCBO. We drove to the Burlington GO station and took the train into Union. Committed a faux pas by laughing out loud in the Quiet Zone on the upper level – so we moved to the basement after I was chided by another passenger. Didn’t realise it was a serious business, riding the GO. After the tasting of a 158-product release for November 11th, Michael and I dropped into TNT grocery store before returning to his house in High Park. Ros, Michael and I went for dinner at their favourite Chinese restaurant on Spadina, New Ho King. Slept over at Michael’s house.

restaurant window with NEW HO KING FINE CHINESE CUISINE neon sign in the window and diners behind

Saturday, October 14th: Today is the sponsor tour of Niagara. Up at 7:30 am to take the subway to Yorkdale, where the Niagara Air Black Bus will meet us. I have to pick up coffee and muffins and croissants for ten at Starbucks, plus bottles of water.

Wooden wall of building: No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates

We leave at 9:30 am. Our first stop is No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates, where Peller Estates head winemaker Craig MacDonald (whose birthday it was) tours us around the winery and the distillery. We are greeted with a glass of Magnotta Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay sparkling wine before touring the operation with its amazing collection of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia and videos of his hockey triumphs.

Magnotta Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay
A sparkling greeting

Much taken by the spirits classroom with rustic desks that open up to reveal sample glasses. Craig tells us the two biggest sellers here are Wayne Gretzky Baco Noir ($15.95) and Wayne Gretzky Cream Whisky ($34.95). A tasting of Pinot Grigio 2016, Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2015 and Vidal Icewine 2016, followed by samples of Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask and Ice Cask Whisky. Then the Cream Whisky that tastes rather like Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Gretzky eaux de vie

Wayne’s World of Spirits

Our group of 12 walks next door to Trius for lunch. The accompanying wines: Trius Barrel 12050 Chardonnay 2013, Trius Showcase Clark Farm Pinot 2014, Trius Showcase Clean Slate Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2015. Emma Garner, “Ontario’s Riesling Queen,” joins us briefly at lunch and the staff pours her delicious Trius Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling 2016.

Trius winery

Welcome to Trius Winery Restaurant. Creamed Butternut Squash Soup: Carrot Muffin, Squash, Candied Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds. Manitoulin Island Trout: Celeriac Slaw, Chardonnay Shrimp, Crab Croquettes, Fingerling Potato, Green Beans, Icewine Beets, Pea Shoots and Lemon Curd
Sponsor tour menu at Trius

Manitoulin Island Trout

Trius Showcase Ghost Creek Riesling 2016

Our final stop: 13th Street, where they make THE BEST BUTTER TARTS IN THE WORLD. We tour the winery and the impressive sculpture garden with the elevated mound before settling in for a tasting of 13th Street Brut, Chardonnay 2015, Gamay 2016, Pinot Noir Essence 2011 (I bought two bottles on the way out) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

standing display banner with picture and text: PROUD TO BE THE 2017 GRAPE KING [picture] Doug Whitty, 13th Street Winery
Doug Whitty, owner of 13th Street and this year’s Ontario Grape King

13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé Brut
Welcoming sparkling rosé

Barrel room art at 13th Street

Also picked up a dozen butter tarts and six to the people returning to Toronto on the bus. Deborah had joined us for lunch at Trius and drove me home.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 668: Unpacking, Unpacking, Unpacking

It's an IKEA Antilop, as seen in the store
Buying a high chair for granddaughter Isla’s first visit

Monday, October 2nd: Today is the closing day for the sale of our Toronto condo. We are living out of boxes, hundreds of them, unwilling to unpack too much of the kitchen stuff because the cupboards are being redesigned. Discovered a rank smell emanating from the floor of the sunroom at the back of the kitchen that leads to the garden. On investigation it turns out there there’s a huge wasp nest on the underside of the floorboards. Contacted the exterminators to have it removed. Pinot loves the garden and has made a spot under a tree among vegetation her own.

Tuesday, October 3rd: Had to come into Toronto for a medical appointment at 10 am – GO bus from Fairview Mall in St. Catharines to Burlington, from where I take the GO train to Union Station. Following my medical appointment, a tasting at the LCBO (the next Vintages release). Then back on the GO train. While I was in Toronto a 500-bottle wine cabinet was being construced in the hall leading to our bedroom. Now I can unpack the wines that have been sitting in the garage.

Wednesday, October 4th: Another day of emptying boxes. Walked Pinot along the water at Martindale Pond.

a path through trees in a park
Fall comes to Port Dalhousie

Thursday, October 5th: Into Toronto again for a winerytohome.com tasting at Doug Towers’s with David Lawrason. Deborah drove me, as she is picking up her sister Suzanne to come and stay for the weekend. After the tasting, made my way over to Michael Vaughan’s in High Park. He, Rosie and I drove to the Distillery District to see the farce Picture This. The traffic was horrible and instead of eating onion soup at Cluny’s we had to settle for a hurried pick-up pizza in the car – I had had pizza for lunch at Doug Towers’s! Slept the night at Michael’s.

Friday, October 6th: Michael and I went over to the LCBO for a Vintages tasting of the October 28th release. (Don’t miss the Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir 2014 from Baden ($18.95). Amazing value for a Burgundian style Pinot.)

Kilian Hunn Pinot Noir 2014
Terrific Baden Pinot 2014

My daughter Annabel, her husband Ian and their boy Declan are visiting from Vancouver. And my son Guy, his wife Sasha and their daughter Isla are also coming to stay. So we have a full house. Deborah is working the show at Balls Falls for the next three days.

Annabel with an armful of our grandchildren

Saturday, October 7th: Suzanne and I went shopping at the covered market in St. Catharines. Picked up a shoulder of pork, which Ian roasted for dinner. Opened up a double magnum of Stratus Red 2004, which was delicious.

Sunday, October 8th: Dinner at John and Laurie Nadeau’s, who are near neighbours – turkey and all the trimmings with lots of Domaine Queylus Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot.


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A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 667: Moving House

Martindale Pond, Port Dalhousie

Monday, September 25th: Wrote up a month’s worth of wine reviews for my 680 NEWS spot. Began packing up my office for the big move to St. Catharines on Saturday. In the afternoon went downtown to meet Iris Di Cicco, US Brand Manager for Cesari winery in Veneto. Tasted the following wines:

  • Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso 2014: Dense purple colour; spicy, peppery, plum nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, firm, high-toned, plum flavour with lively acidity and grainy tannins. (88)
  • Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso 2015: Deep ruby colour; cherry bouquet with dusty note; medium-bodied, dry, fresher than the 2014, light and lively on the palate. (88.5)
  • Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso “Bosan” 2013: Deep ruby colour; pencil lead, black cherry nose with a herbaceous note; medium to full-bodied, fresh and lively, sour cherry flavour with an herbaceous note, lively acidity and well-integrated oak. (89)
  • Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella 2012: Deep ruby colour; herbal, black cherry, raisiny nose; full-bodied, richly extracted, dry, velvety mouth-feel; firmly structured with grainy tannins. (89)
  • Cesari “Il Bosco” Amarone 2010: Deep ruby colour; earthy, rose petal and cherry bouquet with graphite and herbal notes; full-bodied, rich and full on the palate with flavours of cherry and dark chocolate; ripe tannins. (90)
  • Cesari “Bosan” Amarone Classico Riserva 2008: Deep ruby colour; high-toned, raisiny, dried cherries and licorice nose; full-bodied, rich, well-balanced, spicy, dark chocolate, cherry and plum flavour with a firm tannic finish. (91)

Tuesday, September 26th: Recorded my 680 NEWS reviews. My producer, Stewart Hammill showed me the new studios where I’ll be recording next month. For dinner, with steak, Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch 2015: Dense purple colour; cedary, vanilla oak and spicy blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, herbal-floral blackberry and sandalwood flavours; creamy mouth-feel with lively acidity and a bitter chocolate note on the finish. (89)

Wednesday, September 27th: Finally got around to tasting a series of Joie Farm wines.

  • Joie Farm Gamay 2015 (Naramata Bench, BC – $25.90): ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, spicy cherry and red plum flavours backed by lively acidity. Fresh and fruity. (89)
  • Joie Farm PTG 2015 (Naramata Bench, BC – $25.90; 70% Pinot Noir/30% Gamay): ruby colour; cherry pit nose with a candied raspberry note; medium-bodied, dry, lovely mouth-feel; cherry, red plum with a licorice note and a floral grace note. (90)
  • Joie Farm Pinot Noir 2015 (Naramata Bench, BC – $25.90): medium ruby colour; savoury raspberry nose with an oak note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, plum and cherry flavours with ripe tannins. (88.5)
  • Joie Farm “En Famille” Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 (Plein de Vie Vineyard, Naramata Bench, BC – $39.90): medium ruby colour; earthy, cherry with oak spice on the nose, tobacco and floral top notes; medium to full-bodied, dry, cherry and currant flavours; velvety mouth-feel, richly extracted, firmly structured and well-balanced with resolved tannins. (92)
  • Joie Farm “En Famille” Reserve Chardonnay 2015 (Con Vida Vineyard, Skaha Bluff, Penticton, BC – $29.90): bright straw colour; minerally, apple with a forest floor note on the nose, well integrated oak; full-bodied, ripe pear and apple flavours backed by spicy oak, buttery but dry and well-balanced with vanilla oak notes. Lovely mouth-feel with a long, Meyer lemon finish and a note of toasty oak. (91)
  • Joie Farm “En Famille” Riesling 2015 (Old Block St. Hubertus Vineyard, Kelowna, BC – $27.90): bright, pale straw colour; minerally, lime and grapefruit nose; medium-bodied, off-dry, honey, lime and grapefruit flavours that linger on the palate; nicely balanced. (89)
  • Joie Farm Reserve Gewürztraminer “En Famille” 2015 (Naramata, BC – $28.90): bright, medium straw colour; rose water and lychee nose; full-bodied, just off-dry, opulent, exotic cardamom, Turkish Delight flavour, well-balanced, elegant and lingering. The best Gewurz I’ve tasted from BC. (93)
  • Joie Farm Brut “Quotidien” 2016 (Okanagan Valley – Riesling and Chardonnay – Charmat process): white gold colour; biscuit, apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple, ginger flavour; good length. (89)
  • Joie Farm Plein de Vie Brut 2016 (Okanagan Valley – 45% Pinot Meunier/36% Chardonnay/18% Pinot Noir): deep pink colour; candied raspberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, fruity, raspberry and red plum flavours; easy drinking. (88.5)

Thursday, September 28th: A meeting with the lawyer to hand over keys of the condo and pick up house keys and garage door remote for the new house. A day of packing. Three guys from the movers arrived with boxes. When they left there was still much to be done. Broke for dinner with a bottle of Vivanco Crianza 2012 (Rioja): Deep ruby in colour; a nose of sandalwood, spicy red licorice with cedary notes; sweet plum and currant flavours; ripe and well-balanced. (90)

Friday, September 29th: A day of packing, packing, packing.

Our last Toronto condo sunset

Saturday, September 30th: Moving day. Drove Deborah and Pinot the Wonderdog down to St. Catharines to move in to our new house. Pinot was very confused, wanting to get back into the car to drive back to Toronto. A period of adjustment for all of us.


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