Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yalumba Wine Seminar, Thursday, Oct 2, 2008


The Time and Date: Thursday October 2, 2008  2:30PM to 4 PM

The Event: Yalumba wine seminar with Jane Ferrari

The Venue: Biff's, Front Street

The Target Audience: wine media

The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines are available or will be.

The Quote: "Yalumba imports oak staves from France and America, and then air-dries this oak for a few Barossan summers and winters to leach sappy-bitter characteristics from the wood".

The Wines: the seminar had seven wines --


1. Yalumba Barossa Viognier Eden Valley 2006 (+954644, $22.95) – stored for a short time in third year oak (previously inhabited with chardonnay). Stone fruit, rich and intense.

2. Yalumba Barossa Wild Ferment Chardonnay Eden Valley 200 (+528406, $19.95) – slightly off-dry, toasty wood tones, more stone fruit.

3. Yalumba Barossa Bush Vine Grenache Eden Valley 2006 (+531228, $20) –

begins tart, opens up to become more a food wine with some Euro character, generous red fruit.

4. Yalumba Barossa Shiraz & Viognier Eden Valley 2005 (+524926, $19.95) – prominent mocha tones, peppery, red and black fruits, long finish.

5. Yalumba Barossa Patchwork Shiraz Eden Valley 2006 (+98392, $19.95) – from the valley floor, where the overview looks at a patchwork design of vineyards. Deep, dark and delicious, broad fruit, powerful but not aggressive, needs time.

6. Yalumba Barossa Hand Picked Shiraz & Viognier 2004 (+631028, $41.95) – more mocha, mouthfilling, soft and fruity and aromatic. Red fruits. Could be ready now.

7. Yalumba Barossa The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2006 (+449017, $109.95) – concentrated and stylish elegance, from seven vineyards; long, long engaging finish. Smokey chocolate, thick. Could use more time.


The Food: breads and water

The Downside: it was slightly rushed, and I felt that we needed a full two hours.

The Upside: a chance to actually talk to the winemaker.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Le Clos Jordanne range, Oct 14, 2008

 The Time and Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2008   10 AM to 9 PM

The Event: tasting of Clos Jordanne wines, with Jay Wright (Vincor CEO), Jean-Charles Boisset (Boisset VP), Thomas Bachelder (winemaker) and Sebastien Jaquey (assistant winemaker). There was constant talk from the head table for about two hours, most of it enlightening as Bachelder reviewed all of the previous vintages.

The Venue: Currie Hall at the National Ballet School.

The Target Audience: in the morning and for lunch, the wine media. In the afternoon, the trade, and at night, private customers.

The Availability/Catalogue: everything is, or will be, available.

The Quote: "2006 was a difficult year".

The Wines: all wines are 2006 vintage, and all wines are sold by the six pack case.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2006, 130 cases, $65, Classics November 8:  apple, vanillin, oak, more minerals. Coats the palate.  My fave of the tasting, both red and white.

-Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, 120 cases, $40, Classics March 25, 2009: toast, vanilla, orange marmalade, minerals. Mouthfilling and long finish.

-La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, 300 cases, $40, Classics March 25, 2009: raspberry, pumpkin spices, cinnamon, elegant.

-Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2006, 190  cases, $70, Classics November 8, 2008: spicy cherries, some MVC for pinot noir, longer finish.


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2006, 90 cases, $40, Classics March 25, 2009: apple, peach, oak, toast. Midweight palate Burgundian style.

-Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2006, 230 cases, $40, Classics March 25, 2009: black raspberry, earthy, spicy, cranberries, intense,

-Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, 275 cases, $40, Classics March 25, 2009: raspberry, earthy, soft, very sophisticated. Cranberries.


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Village Reserve Chardonnay 2006, 721 cases, $30, available December 6: apples with light vanillin, some green notes, Hautes Cotes style.

-Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, 2000 cases, $30, available Dec 6: plum, cherry and raisins, some stone fruit.


The Food: lunch was family style, with communal tables. We were served almost as much as we wanted of organic mesclun and a tomato-mozzarella salad, mashed potatoes and roasted root veggies, and brussels sprouts and beans provencal (although none of the greens made it down to my end of the table). The mains were beef bourguignon, halibut, and duck leg confit. Desserts were crème brulees and poached pears. The two Village wines were served.

The Downside: the transit directions were wrong, with the wrong street indicated.

The Upside: fabulous luncheon and a chance to taste with Vincor personnel.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008


...are one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant. Many of the recipes in these books
actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally,
there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for
items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to
the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American,
they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes
there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not.
I'll try to point this out. The usual schtick is "favourite recipes
made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying
ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic
phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell
such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers
that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't
seem to work, but how could that be? They all claim to be kitchen
tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by
name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well
as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos
abound, usually of the chef bounding about. But of course there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
23. TODAY'S SPECIAL; a new take on bistro food (Quadrille Books, 2008;
distr. Ten Speed Press, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-8440-614, $39.95 CAD,
hard covers) is by Anthony Demetre, co-owner and chef at the award-
winning Arbutus and Wild Honey restos in London. Indeed, these recipes
all come from those two restaurants, and it doesn't hurt to have Gordon
Ramsay as a log roller. This is basic bistro fare for weekdays and
casual entertaining on the weekend, but with contemporary viewpoints.
There are main courses intended as an entire meal without sides.
Chapters are by main food, such as fish, poultry, beef, lamb,
vegetables and pork, with wraparounds dealing with soups and desserts.
He uses "local", "seasonal" and cheaper cuts to produce the dishes.
Most of the intro matter and recipes listings are unreadable since they
are black type on dark coloured paper. But there is an index, and the
book starts out terrifically with chilled cucumber soup with smoked
salmon, mutton broth, roast saddle of rabbit with shoulder and leg
cottage pie, slow-cooked shin of veal with roast bone marrow, roast
peaches with lemon thyme and vanilla. Both avoirdupois and metric
measurements are used. Quality/Price rating: 85.

24. A16 FOOD + WINE (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 278 pages, ISBN 978-1-
58008-907-4, $35 US hard covers) is by Nate Applebaum (executive chef
of A16 and SPQR in San Francisco) and Shelley Lindgren (wine director
at A16 and SPQR). Kate Leahy, an editor at "Restaurants & Institutions"
magazine, provides writing clarity. Logrolling is especially heavy
here, with six endorsements from major wine and food people such as
Matt Kramer, Joe Bastianich, and Paul Bertolli. This award-winning
resto specializes in Southern Italian food, especially the flavours of
Campania. "A16" is the name of the highway that cuts across southern
Italy. Wines are from Southern Italy, and they are covered in the first
60 pages, with pairings for the food with the food recipe. The food
covers pizza from Naples, zuppa, pasta, seafood, poultry, beef,
veggies, and a separate chapter labeled "The Pig". There's a
bibliography and website listing for the wines, but the food resources
list is all US. Preps are all expressed in avoirdupois, but with no
metric equivalent table. Try summer vegetable cianfotta soup, borlotti
bean and mussel soup, coppa di testa headcheese, pork loin spiedino,
braised pork shoulder. Quality/Price rating: 87.

25. BRITISH SEASONAL FOOD (Quadrille, 2008, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-
84400-622-9, $49.95 CAD hard covers) is by Mark Hix, who headed the
consortium that owned Le Caprice and other restos in trendy London, UK.
He has just opened Hix Oyster and Chophouse in the Smithfield market.
He's also a celebrated food writer ("The Independent") and cookbook
author, garnering several major awards for his latest book "British
Regional Food". Here he takes on seasonality, helped along by over 200
colour photos. This is a British book, so everything here is also local
in terms of the islands. The book is a month-by-month arrangement of
seasonal best foods, January to December. For January, there is mallard
game and Cornish cauliflowers, along with pennywort and Judas ear
fungus. February is gurnard. March is wild garlic leaves (not the whole
ramp, which kills the plant of course). April brings St. George's
Mushrooms, June has elderflowers, August has laver and sea trout,
October introduces a lot of fungus (puffball, beefsteak, hedgehog), and
December closes out with quince and salsify. Terrific recipes (using
both avoirdupois and metric measurements) but arcane. Quality/Price
rating: 85 (but higher if you are British).

26. ARTISANAL COCKTAILS; drinks inspired by the seasons from the bar at
Cyrus (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 150 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-921-0, $24.95
US hard covers) is by Scott Beattie, who had worked at many San
Francisco bars before shaping the cocktail program at Cyrus in that
city. This is a unique book in that the 50 recipes use a variety of
organic or sustainable produce, handcrafted ingredients, and local
artisanal spirits. The recipes are also seasonal, with local fruits,
vegetables, herbs, flowers and spices as the calendar rolls along.
Beattie also has profiles of local Bay Area distillers and wine country
farmers. Advice includes proper juicing, spiced simple syrups, foams,
salted and sugared rims, pickling liquid, ice cubes, ginger beer,
verjus, tomato water, and dehydrating fruit. Try his take on lemoncello
with a variety of citrus fruit, gin kimchi, frondsong with pickled
fennel, rhubarbarella, or plum dandy. One drawback: the book is
extremely local (great for sales at the resto) and thus the ingredients
are virtually impossible for us to get in Canada – or anywhere else
outside California. But we can modify locally. Quality/Price rating:
27. MY FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS (Quadrille, 2008, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-
84400-621-2, $49.95 CDN hard covers) is by Skye Gyngell, head chef at
Petersham Nurseries Café in the UK, and a food writer for the
Independent and for Vogue. Her first book in 2006 ("A Year in My
Kitchen") was named The Guild of Food Writers Cookery Book of the Year
in 2007. Here she presents about 100 recipes to take advantage of the
seasonal best produce in the UK. What does she favour? Try fish,
shellfish, cheese, nuts, pulses and grains, plus asparagus, cherries
and tomatoes. The orientation is distinctly British, and the price may
seem high because book originated in the UK. Metric measurements, of
course. Quality/Price rating: 84.

28. THINGS COOKS LOVE: implements, ingredients, recipes (Andrews
McMeel, 2008; distr. Simon & Schuster, 342 pages, ISBN 978-0-7407-6976-
4, $35 US) is from the gourmet mail-order firm in Seattle, Sur La
Table, which began in 1972. It now has 60 stores in the US. Food writer
Marie Simmons has pulled it all together. Notable log rollers include
Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, and Jamie Oliver. It is a highly visual
book, with many photos of implements and ingredients. There are 100
recipes and 100 descriptions of kitchen implements. Emphasis seems to
be on Asian, Mexican, and Western Mediterranean foods and techniques.
Each recipe clearly shows equipment needs, as well as prep times,
cooking times, and serving portions. Substitutions for both ingredients
and equipment are spelled out. This book is just the first in a
promising series, and should sell well through its stores and website.
Try sausage-stuffed roasted artichokes, roasted boneless leg of lamb
with orange gremolata, Chinese five spice-smoked pork tenderloin, mango
and chipotle chile guacamole, oven-braised duck legs with toasted
pumpkin seed sauce. Quality/Price rating: 88.
29. ORGANIC MARIN; recipes from land to table (Andrews McMeel, 2008;
distr. Simon & Schuster, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-7407-7314-3, $29.99 US
hard covers) is by Tim Porter, a photographer and writer, and Farina
Wong Kingsley, a San Francisco culinary consultant and teacher. A third
partner is "Marin Magazine" which serves the community of Marin County.
Notable log rollers include Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. This is a
regional organic book, with 16 organic farms telling their story, and
presenting 50 recipes from 25 of the San Francisco Bay Area's organic
restaurants. Proceeds from the book will support Marin Organic's school
lunch program, which serves over 12,000 lunches a week with food grown
in Marin County. Great photos throughout. The recipes are arranged by
season, beginning with Spring. Try (using your own local organic
ingredients) fava bean bruschetta, panna cotta with fresh strawberries,
chicken fra diavolo with fennel and dandelion salad, roasted butternut
squash soup, halibut with shrimp. Quality/Price rating: 86.

30. TAMALES (Gibbs Smith, 2008, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0319-1,
$19.99 US hard covers) is by cooking personality Daniel Hoyer, an all-
round Southwestern US cuisine consultant and teacher at the Santa Fe
School of Cooking. Here he explores the single product "tamale" in 50
preparations. There are many styles of masas, fillings, sauces and
accompanying salsas. There are many, many possible flavour combos here.
The hardest part, for me, has always been finding banana leaves or corn
husks. The rest is a snap, since you can order masa by mail if your
town does not have any. Most natural food stores have masa. Hoyer has
pix illustrating assembly techniques and wrapping. Fillings include
pollo asado, machaca (shredded beef), al pastor (pork), pierno de cerdo
adobada (pork leg), red chile and pork tamales, and some dessert
tamales. Avoirdupois measurements are used, but there are conversion
charts. Quality/Price rating: 90.

world famous spa (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 2008, 206 pages, ISBN 978-
1584797098, $35 US hard covers) is by the two Deborahs, Szekely and
Schneider, along with Chef Jesus Gonzalez of a local cooking school, La
Cocina Que Canta. The ranch is a spa in Baja California. All the preps
are lightish in fats and carbos, but all are tasty. Szekely is a
pioneer of the resort spa, and Schneider is a chef and food writer.
Still, log rolling is needed from Alice Waters, Deborah Madison, and
Joan Nathan. The 120 preps are organized as a series of 19 seasonal
menus, from spring through winter. There's a lobster paella party, a
tecate sunshine event, New Year's Eve, a Solstice celebration, and Tres
Estrellas brunch – something for everyone. Informative sidebars and a
ten page spread on the spa itself complete the package. While
avoirdupois weights and measures are used in the recipes, there are no
conversion charts. Try a pink menu: sangria La Puerta, watermelon and
roasted beet salad, grilled yellowtail tuna, guava crème brule.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

32. GREAT CHEFS COOK VEGAN (Gibbs Smith, 2008; distr. Raincoast, 272
pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0153-1, $35 US hard covers) has been pulled
together by Linda Long, who has been a vegan for the past 30 years. She
writes on food and nutritional topics. Log rolling comes from Charlie
Trotter, which is surprising since he is one of the contributing chefs.
This is a collection of recipes from 25 chefs, who also include Cat
Cora (Iron Chef), Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Thomas Keller, and
Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Vegan food, such as whole grains,
vegetables, fruits and beans, are low in fat, contain no cholesterol,
and are rich in fibre and nutrients. Here, each chef has contributed a
menu of three or four courses. The book is arranged by chef's first
name, which is standard in many restos: you have Chef Alex, Chef Floyd,
Chef Suzanne, etc. Just about all of these chefs are NOT totally vegan;
they also cook meats and dairy. But the conception is useful for
selling the book, and the preps are indeed tasty. Each chef gets about
n10 pages. There is a pix, a textual description of the chef's life,
and then the recipes. For Chef Anne (Quatrano), we learn that she is at
a top Atlanta resto, Baccanalia. She contributes a bruschetta  with
avocado and tomato, crispy fried okra and chiles, summer vegetable
pilaf, and cantaloupe truffle bar. This book can also be used by non-
vegans looking for something that is light and delicious. Avoirdupois
measurements are listed, but there are also conversion tables.
Quality/Price rating: 87.

33. THE ART & SOUL OF BAKING (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008; distr.
Simon & Schuster, 454 pages, ISBN 978-0-7407-7334-1, $40 US hard
covers) is by Cindy Mushet, a pastry chef, baking instructor, and
cookbook author. This is another in the Sur La Table series, sponsored
by that gourmet retail store with sixty locations. The book weighs in
at 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilos). It's a quite hefty collection of some 275
recipes, as well as information on 100 popular baking ingredients and
about 50 baking implements (all available through Sur La Table). The
gamut is everything, from yeast breads through layered pastries, quick
breads, pies, tarts, cookies, cakes, custards, soufflés, and their
derivatives. There are some sidebars of useful data. The weights and
measures are all avoirdupois with NO metric conversion charts; at
least, in true baker style, all the ingredients are also scaled by
weight. Try chocolate napoleons with port-braised pears, cream cheese
pie dough, olive and thyme bread, braided Danish coffee cake, and
almond chocolate spritz cookies with orange blossom water.
Quality/Price rating: 86.

34. ALINEA (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 400 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-928-9,
$50 US hard covers) is by Grant Achatz, who opened Alinea in 2005.
Before that, he was sous chef at The French Laundry and executive chef
at Trio in Chicago. Along the way he's picked up a three Beards,
including his latest in 2008 for Outstanding Chef in the US. Certainly,
this is the heaviest book I've reviewed this year: a whopping three
kilos (6.6 pounds). Achatz is at the front of the "molecular
gastronomy" movement, and here some of his secrets are revealed. This
book is not for the faint of heart or the weak (never mind the weight
of the book). There is some heavy duty construction here. The cookbook
features about 100 dishes, totaling some 600 recipes. And 400 colour
photos. There are essays about the restaurant by Michael Ruhlman and
Jeffrey Steingarten, plus one by Mark McClusky about the role of
technology in the kitchen – it goes beyond stainless steel surfaces.
Gourmet Magazine has called Alinea "the best in the country". I'm not
even going to tell you what preps to try: read the book. Buyers will
receive access to a website with video demos, interviews, and
interaction with the resto team. Quality/Price rating: 89.

35. CHEF JEFF COOKS; in the kitchen with America's inspirational new
culinary star (Scribner, 2008, 264 pages, ISBN 978-1-4165-7710-2, $30
US hard covers) is by Jeff Henderson, who eventually became Chef de
Cuisine at Caesars Palace and later executive chef at Café Bellagio.
This book rides on his Food Network show, "The Chef Jeff Project", a
reality series. Additional log rolling has been furnished by Paula
Deen. All courses are covered, with an emphasis on soul food and deep
south cooking. Every prep (of 150 recipes) comes with a story or
anecdote from his life (on the streets, in the prison kitchen,
motivational speaker) and how the food works in both that context and
currently. There's a short bibliography, and the index has a huge
typeface (great for easier retrieval). All weights and measures are in
avoirdupois, unfortunately with no metric conversion charts. Try
roasted Portobello sandwich, king crab gumbo, Sunday morning cinnamon
rolls, molasses braised beef short ribs, and sautéed striped sea bass.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

36. IL VIAGGIO DI VETRI; a culinary journey (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 289
pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-888-6, $40 US hard covers) is by Mark Vetri,
chef-owner of the eponymous Philadelphia resto. He also owns Osteria in
that same city. He has won awards from Beard, Food & Wine, and Gourmet
magazines. Log rolling comes from Mario Batali, Patricia Wells, and
Alan Richman. Here are 120 or so recipes plus 100 colour photos, done
up for Northern Italian cuisines. There are accompanying wine notes by
sommelier Jeff Benjamin, and some memoirish material by Vetri on his
Italian cooking career. As with most books of this nature, there are
far too many cute pix  of Vetri mugging. This eats up space. The other
photos are of plated dishes and instructional techniques. All courses
are covered, but there are separate chapters for cold and hot
appetizers. This is actually a perfect book for marketing at his two
restos: there are pix and the current staff are described. Try crostini
di fegatini di pollo, wild boar salami, mortadella-stuffed squid with
spring peas and pancetta, cialzon di frutta secca con salsa di foie
gras, smoked capon cannelloni, torrone semifreddo cannoli. Most of the
wine recommendations are Italian, although there are a few from the
rest of Europe. The book ends with a source list, which is all
American. All weights and measures are in avoirdupois, unfortunately
with no metric conversion charts. Quality/Price rating: 86.

37. OSTERIA; hearty Italian fare from Rick Tramonto's kitchen (Broadway
Books, 2008, 277 pages, ISBN 978-0-7679-2771-0, $35 US hard covers) is
by Tramonto, who owns and operates several restos in the Chicago area.
He opened Osteria di Tramonto in 2006. Log rolling on the book has been
provided by Emeril Lagasse, Alfred Portale, and Cat Cora, although I am
not sure why he needs them since he has written six other successful
cookbooks. Maybe they need him. These are all family style meals from
Italian experiences, and include breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. 150
recipes, all with avoirdupois measurements but no metric conversion
charts. There is a sources list for hard-to-find ingredients and
equipment, but it is all US. Typical dishes include ricotta pie,
peaches in red wine, frittatas, panini, faro salad with pork cheeks and
dates, pecorino cheese custard, tuna siciliana. Quality/Price rating:

38. DUCASSE MADE SIMPLE BY SOPHIE (Les Editions Alain Ducasse, 2008;
distr. Canadian Manda Group, 203 pages, ISBN 978-2-84844042-2 $35US
hard covers) is a collection of 100 recipes by Alain Ducasse, as
simplified for the home cook by Sophie Dudemaine, a best selling French
language chef and cookbook writer. Linda Dannenberg, a freelancer and
translator specializing in French cuisine, has adapted the recipes for
the North American market. The preps come from Ducasse's encyclopedic
"Grand Livre du Cuisine". Ducasse owns four renowned restos in Monaco,
in Paris, New York, and Tokyo. According to the publisher, the wide
range here covers classic French (but why bother?) to international
favourites (but again, why bother?). There's a listing of US sources
for food and kitchenware, plus some websites. Avoirdupois weights and
measures are used, but there are no metric conversion tables.
Arrangement is by course, and the layout is terrific with good clean
graphics and no gastroporn. Instead of the "classics" or
"international", try such rarities as chestnut bouillon, fried pumpkin
purses, herbed duck ravioli, fresh anchovy tart, and caramelized orange
tartlets. Quality/Price rating: 85.

Monday, October 20, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Porfolio of Profile Wine Group, Liberty Grand, Sept. 30, 2008

The Time and Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2008   1 PM to 9 PM
The Event: annual tasting of Profile Wine Group wines.
The Venue: Liberty Grand, Exhibition Place
The Target Audience: wine press, restaurants, LCBO, private clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available via LCBO,
consignment, or private order.
The Quote: "The event has gotten larger and more sophisticated every
The Wines:  I did not taste all the wines as there were 19 suppliers
from Italy, 18 from the US, 5 from Australia, 2 from Chile, 2 from
Argentina, 4 from France, 3 from Spain, 1 each from Ontario, Quebec,
New Zealand, and South Africa. Something for everybody in all price
ranges and colours and styles.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Merryvale Chardonnay Carneros 2006 ($39)
-Cormons Pinot Grigio Sparkling NV Friuli ($36.95)
-Marguet Pere et Fils Champagne Grand Cru 2000 ($56, Vintages)
-Martin Ray Russian River Chardonnay 2006 ($29.95)
-Truchard Chardonnay 2006 ($43.95, Vintages)
-Aurelio Settimo Barolo Rocche Riserva 1999 ($98.95)
-Maverick Twins Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($32.95)
-Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Brioso 2005 ($39)
-L'Ecole No. 41 Pepper Bridge Apogee 2005 ($62.95)
-Conn Creek Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($31.95)
-Domaine Antolino Brongo Cryomalus Ice Cider 2007 ($38.95, 375 mL)
-Chateau Ste Michelle Ethos Merlot 2005 ($45.95)
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Merryvale Starmont Chardonnay Napa 2006 ($27.95)
-Cormons Chardonnay 2006 Friuli ($17.95)
-Marguet Pere et Fils Champagne ($42.95, Vintages)
-J. Lohr Chardonnay Riverstone 2006 ($17.85, LCBO)
-Oakville Ranch Napa Chardonnay 2007 ($44.95)
-Miner Family Napa Chardonnay 2006 ($40.95)
-Wakefield Chardonnay 2007 South Australia ($18.95)
-Penmara Semillon Reserve 2007 Hunter Valley ($18.95)
-Amity Pinot Blanc 2006 Oregon ($21.95)
-J. Bouchon Sauvignon Blanc Chile Reserva 2007 ($18.95)
-L'Ecole No. 41 Semillon Washington 2007 ($21.95)
-J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon Hilltop 2005 ($38.95)
-Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2005 ($32.95)
-Peter Franus Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 California ($60.95)
-Peter Franus Brandlin Zinfandel 2005 ($42.95)
-Martin Ray Tri-County Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($29.95)
-Signorello Edge Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 California ($29.95)
-Oakville Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and 2005 [2 different
-Truchard Cabernet Franc 2004 ($29.95)
-Miner Oracle Napa Red 2005 ($99.95)
-Le Dome St. Emilion Grand Cru 2004 ($250)
-Colonial Estate Explorateur Old Vine Shiraz 2006 Australia ($33.95,
Vintages, Feb 2009)
-Colonial Estate Émigré 2006 ($94.95)
-Penmara Shiraz Marawarpina 2005 ($37.95)
-Fuedi di San Marzano Passito Aleatico 2006 ($32.95)
-Amity Pinot Noir Sunnyside Oregon ($49.95)
-Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer 2007 ($15.85, LCBO)
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Merryvale Sauvignon Blanc Napa 2007 ($31)
-Castellunio Lunaria Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($22.95)
-Marquis de Perlada Brut Sparkling
-Sparr Cremant Brut Rose NV ($22.95)
-Painter Bridge Chardonnay California 2006 ($15.95)
-Stonehedge Chardonnay 2007 California ($17.95)
-Miner Family Viognier Simpson Vyd Napa 2007 ($28.95)
-Pares Balta Cava Brut NV ($18.95)
-Maverick Barossa Twins Eden Valley 2007 Chardonnay ($32.95)
-Chateau Ste. Michelle Washington Chardonnay 2006 ($17.95, Vintages)
-J. Bouchon Sauvignon Blanc Chile 2008 ($8.50)
-Argento Chardonnay 2007 Argentina ($9.50, LCBO)
-Stag's Leap Cellars Napa Chardonnay Karia 2007 ($70.95)
-Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2006 ($21.95)
The Food: bread was from the delightful St. John Bakery, Monforte Dairy
sheep cheese (Toscano, Paradiso, and Don's Blue), B Espresso Bar,
Niagara Food Specialties (pingue prosciutti), and a dozen olive oils
from wineries repped at the show.
The Downside: there was no catalogue, just a lined booklet. This meant
that we had to write down ALL of the information. My shorthand may not
have been exact.
The Upside: lots of time to taste and schmooze, especially since the
press was invited to attend an hour early.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

TRADE DINNER: Tasting of 2008 Stoneleigh/Montana wins from New Zealand, Sept. 29, 2008

 The Time and Date: Monday, September 29, 2008  6:30 PM to 10 PM
The Event: a tasting of recent Marlborough Stoneleigh and Montana New
Zealand wines, with Jim Robertson, Global Business Relations Manager
for Pernod Ricard New Zealand.
The Venue: Ki, BCE Place
The Target Audience: wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines are coming onto the
marketplace; these are the latest vintage (2008 for whites, 2007 for
The Quote:
The Wines: PRNZ makes about 40,000 cases of Pinot Noir. 76% of their
exports are Sauvignon Blanc wine. This is the 30th vintage of Sauvignon
Blanc for the Montana range. Other wines were also poured.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Stoneleigh Chardonnay 2007 – 30% aged in oak ($16.95 GL)
-Montana Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 Central Otago ($29.95, Vintages April 11/09)
-Montana Letter Series T (Terraces) Pinot Noir 2007 ($39.95)
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($14.95 GL)
-Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Sauvignon Blanc 2008  ($2595)
-Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir 2007 ($29.95)
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($14.95 GL)
-Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($16.95 GL)
-Brancott Montana South Island Pinot Grigio 2008 ($14.95)
-Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Gris 2008 ($16.95)
The Food: we had the private function menu, which consisted of endless
streams of Asiatic food, beginning with a salad (seaweed salad) or a
soup (miso cream chowder with seafood and truffle oil; I found the oil
to be overwhelming). This was followed by makimonos of yellowfin,
tempura butterfish, and beef maki. Next up were cold plates of
yellowfin belly, tuna and salmon, ika, and a Toro tower. Veggies at
this point were white and sweet potatoes, asparagus, enoki and
shiitake. Then came the heavy guns of rack of Ontario lamb, beef
tenderloin, black cod, and spiced shrimp. Desserts were decadent green
tea cheesecake and several different crème brulees. Everything went
well with the wines, although the Pinot Noirs shone with the meats. It
was difficult to compare and contrast the wines and the foods since
there were so many samples of food (we only had a mouthful or two of
each) and wine to co-ordinate.
The Downside: the Sauvignon Blancs were served just under room
temperature; they needed to be chilled more in order to being out the
acid. Also, the food came out more quickly than I would have liked,
reducing my time in wine-food pairing.
The Upside: a really interesting situation in trying to assess wine-
food pairing, with so many possibilities.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade):  88.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


.....all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback
reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher
a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will
reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will
rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text
while keeping the focus tight. Here are some recent "re-editions"...

17. WHAT EINSTEIN TOLD HIS COOK; kitchen science explained (W.W.
Norton, 2008, 368 pages, ISBN 978-0-393-32942-1, $15.95 US paperback)
is a reissue of a 2002 book by Robert L. Wolke, a consulting editor for
"Cook's Illustrated". He also wrote "Food 101" for the Washington Post.
In real life, he is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University
of Pittsburgh. His wife Marlene Parrish contributes about three dozen
recipes. The book is in Q and A style, based on queries sent in from
his readers in the Washington Post. As a food reference book, it has to
go up against the Harold McGee juggernaut, but the format is certainly
engaging. Typical sections: why is red meat red? How do they
decaffeinate coffee? In 2005 there was a sequel (What Einstein Told His
cook 2). Quality/Price rating: 89.

18. THE RIVER COTTAGE FAMILY COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2005, 2008, 416
pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-925-8, $32.50US hard covers) is by Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr of the River Cottage cookbook
series fame. Since the later books seemed to have sold well, they have
resurrected and updated this one from 2005. This is an educational
primer aimed at the whole family, being written by a father of three
and a mother of five. There are more than 100 recipes here that can be
made by children. There are kitchen projects, such as churning butter,
curing bacon, doing a kitchen garden. This is a true "family cookbook",
with a distinct British orientation despite the Americanization of
ingredients and weights and measures. Try fragrant rice and bacon
sandwich. Quality/Price rating: 86.

19. THE MARTHA'S VINEYARD COOKBOOK. 4th ed. (Three Forks, 2008; distr.
Canada Manda Group, 306 pages, ISBN 978-0-7627-4724-5, $19.95US paper
covers) is by the late Louise Tate King and Jean Stewart Wexler; Wexler
is a local journalist. It was originally published in 1971, and revised
in 1993 and 2000. This is also its first paperback edition. There are
250 recipes here, reflecting the area's heritage (Wampanoag aborigines,
UK whalers, Portuguese fishers, and newer Brazilian and African-
American residents. Indeed, there are 20 or so brand-new recipes
reflecting the recent heritage. There are a variety of preps here,
covering all courses. Try fried cheese pancakes, orange kiss-me cake,
English lemon cake, and cranberry pudding. Quality/Price rating: 87.

20. WINE COUNTRY COOKING (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 232 pages, ISBN 978-1-
58008-938-8, $22.50 US paper covers) is by Joanne Weir, who has written
17 other cookbooks. Despite her acclaim in multi-media and award-
gathering, she still needs log rolling by Andrea Robinson, Gina Gallo,
and Lidia Bastianich. These are basically Mediterranean-influenced
recipes from California wine country; it was first published in 1999 as
"Weir Cooking" by Time-Life. But it has been revised and updated. She
has 150 preps with wine recommendations and pairings, emphasizing the
casual lifestyle (which only happens if YOU are the recipient and not
the cook). All courses are covered. The book is now seasonal, and there
are different wines given for the pairings. Conversion charts are
included for weights and measures. Typical dishes include golden
gazpacho, warm squid salad, wild mushroom and blue cheese crostini,
chicken breasts, salmon fillets, chocolate tarts. Quality/Price rating:

21. QUICK & HEALTHY RECIPES AND IDEAS. 3rd ed. (Small Steps Press, 2008;
distr. McGraw-Hill, 334 pages, ISBN 9780981600109, $18.95 US spiral
bound) is by Brenda J. Ponichtera, an RD specializing in weight loss,
diabetes and heart disease. It was originally published in 1991, and
seems to have sold over a half million copies since that date. This
latest edition reflects changes since 2005. There are 200 or so easy
recipes, 20 weeks of dinner menus with grocery lists, listings of
recipes and what to add to complete a meal, quick meals without a
recipe, ideas and tips, nutritional analyses for each recipe. Many
recipes call for prepared food products from a can but that's okay so
long as you don't overdo it. Speed is of the essence. Quality/Price
ratio: 84.

22. GRAPE MAN OF TEXAS; Thomas Volney Munson & the origins of American
viticulture. New revised edition. (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2004, 2008,
335 pages, ISBN 978-1-934259-04-7, $39.95 hard covers) is by Sherrie S.
McLeRoy and Roy E. Renfro, Jr. It garnered an award as "Best Wine
History Book in the World for 2004"; this revision updates the story.
As Pierre Galet of Montpellier said, "The great merit of Munson is that
he was a great hybridizer, a scholarly, systematic botanist, extremely
prolific."  The authors' work was complicated by the fact that much of
Munson's personal archives (including his field notes) were destroyed
after his death. Nevertheless, they were able to piece together the
story of his life and achievements. He was dominant during the 1875-
1925 period. This revision updates and clarifies his life and
achievements. It also signals a new publisher, not the original Eakin
Press. It is a straight forward biography which does lend some insight
into how he became an important horticulturalist. It is also nicely
illustrated with historical photos and reproductions, all in black and
white (although the borders can get a bit twee at times). The appendix
lists his published works (articles and books) and papers presented.
There is also a huge section on grape varieties created by Munson, and
whether they were used or discarded: there must be about 450 of these
varieties. And then there is yet a separate section on the new grape
varieties created from Munson hybrids. There are also extensive end
notes, a bibliography of sources (including websites), and a
comprehensive index. This book should be of interest to Ontario vine
researchers. Quality/Price rating: 85.

23. NAPA WINE; a history from mission days to present. 2d ed. (Wine
Appreciation Guild, 2008, 490 pages, ISBN 978-1-891267-07-9, $45US hard
covers) is by Charles L. Sullivan, who has written seven books on wine
and viticulture history. He has taught California history at DeAnza
College for more than 15 years. It was originally published in 1994. It
has been updated, with the addition of a new chapter to cover the 1994
– 2007 era. Similarly, the appendices have been recast to allow for
updated statistics. Thus, there are the historical tables plus the
modern ones for comparison (Napa Valley wineries in 2007, grape acreage
from 1856-2006, wine grape production 1856-2006). In general, this is a
solid factual history of the wineries in Napa, from 1769 with the
Missions up to the modern day of cult wines. Admittedly, there is short
coverage of the beginning, 1769-1836 through only a dozen pages. And
sadly, Robert Mondavi has passed on. Structurally, the biggest changes
in Napa came after 1990. After saying that there was no more room for
grapevines in Napa in the early 1990s, the industry went on to not only
somehow increase from 33,000 acres to over 45,000 acres but also to
tear out and replant more than half of the established vineyards
because of phylloxera. In 1990, Napa was white wine country, about
5,000 tons ahead of red. Chardonnay was 15,000 tons ahead of Cabernet
Sauvignon. Now, Napa is red wine country, with Merlot the leader,
followed by the other Bordeaux varieties. Red grapes in Napa have twice
the coverage of white grapes. In just about every aspect of vinous
improvement in California, Napa has led the way, with Mondavi most
often at the forefront. Sullivan engagingly tells the story.  The book
has plenty of historical photos and reproductions, mostly in sepia
tones.  This is an important work, well-recommended. Quality/Price
rating: 87.

24. SANTA FE KITCHENS; delicious recipes from the southwest (Ancient
City Press, 2005; distr. Raincoast, 247 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0018-3,
$40US) is from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. It's a fund raiser,
along the lines of community cookbooks. But it is simply the most
gorgeous one I have seen, resplendent with reproductions of paintings
held in the local Museum of Fine Arts, crafts in the Palace of the
Governors, and other items from the4Museum of Internatio9nal Folk Art
and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. The Foundation is a non-
profit organization dedicated to these four museums, as a sort of
"Friends of…" group. There are also photos of members' dining rooms and
kitchens (without people, thank God). Recipes are contributed by
restaurants, chefs and the locals – even the Governor sent in some.
While there are a lot of New Mexican type recipes using chiles and
corn, pork sausages, tortillas, etc., there are still many non-local
food preps such as bruschetta, most of the shrimp, and many desserts.
And this is a common failing of many such books. Try instead southwest
pasta, Texas cream pie, green chile con queso, or roasted squash soup.
Quality/Price rating: 85.

25. SAVEUR COOKS AUTHENTIC ITALIAN; savoring the recipes and traditions
of the world's favorite cuisine (Chronicle Books, 2001, 2008; distr.
Raincoast, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6574-6, $25.95US soft covers) is
by the team at Saveur magazine. This is a reprint of the original book
of 120 recipes, out in 2001 as a hardback. The arrangement is by
course, antipasti proceeding to desserts. In typical Saveur style,
there is deep background on many Italian food products such as
Parmigiano Reggiano, wine, vinegar, pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, and
prosciuto – even road food. Typical Italian preps include pomodori a
riso, crostini, pasta verde, cuttlefish stewed in its ink, Sicilian
veal rolls. Lots of pictures illustrating techniques and food products;
indeed, over 400 of them. There is also a table of equivalents for the
weights and measures. Quality/Price rating: 88.

26. DINNER A DAY; 365 delicious meals you can make in minutes (Adams
Media, 2008; distr. Canadian Manda Group, 394 pages, ISBN 978-1-59869-
615-8, $16.95US spiral bound) is by Lynette Rohrer Shirk. It contains
some material and recipes by Shirk and others previously available in
Adams Media's "Everything" aeries. The arrangement is by course, from
soup to holiday classics. These are main courses, which can be fleshed
out by a simple salad and bought dessert. Deli-style food, sandwiches
(wraps, burgers), seafood, poultry, meat, vegetarian, pizzas and pasta
are included, and finished off by casserole one-dish meals. Preps
include pot pie, cottage pie, tortilla lasagna, tamale pie, fish in red
sauce, summer vegetable spaghetti – one for each day of the year.
Holiday classics embrace venison medallions and Yorkshire pudding.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

27. THE COMPLETE MEDITERRANEAN COOKBOOK (Tuttle Publishing, 2008, 304
pages, ISBN 978-0-8048-4003-3, $29.95US soft covers) is by Tess Mallos,
author of several cookbooks including "The Complete Middle East
Cookbook". There is no indication that this book is a reprint, but I
did find a "previously published ISBN". A search of the book's
bibliography showed no mention of any book published after 1995, so I'm
guessing that this current book is at least 10 years old. Not that
there are many changes in Mediterranean cooking – but there are many
book in the field. There is nothing much here beyond the classics, so
you will find paella, couscous, pastas, tzatziki, baba ghannouj,
tapenade, cipollata, albondigas, pissaladiere, mezze, and the like.
There are even spin-offs, such as Northern France's "coquilles St.
Jacques" but given here as "a la provencale". The sardalya sarmasi
(sardines in grape leaves) from Turkey are both easy and appealing;
there is a charming photo of the little things on p.107. Arrangement is
by course, service is for four, and volume/weight/metric measurements
are given in each recipe, obviating the need for a conversion table.
But a teeny tiny index typeface. Quality/Price rating: 85.

28. HEALTHY AND SIMPLE ASIAN RECIPES, for delicious everyday meals
(Periplus Editions, 2008; distr. Ten Speed Press, 96 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7946-0510-0, $12.95YS spiral bound) is a collection of decent recipes
from the publisher of well-known SEA cookbooks. Although the recipes
are not sourced, there are 10 names of cooks and chefs listed on the
same page as the metric conversion charts. Its previous title was "LTC
Asian Cooking for Health". There are 50 preps here, covering all
courses save desserts and beverages. Try cucumber daikon salad with
sweet mirin dressing, fish soup with fennel, Chinese red date soup, and
rice with clams and sake. Quality/Price rating: 84.

29. IN PURSUIT OF THE COMMON GOOD; 25 years of improving the world, one
bottle of salad dressing at a time (Broadway Books, 2003, 2008, 250
pages, ISBN 978-0-7679-2997-4, $14.95 US soft covers) is by Paul Newman
and A.E. Hotchner, creators of the Newman's Own lines. It was
originally published in 2003, and here is reissued as a trade
paperback. The only real change has been in the title (it was formerly
known as "Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good"), and
it was written to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Now it is 25 years;
hence the change in subtitle. This is the story of their pursuit of
offering processed foods filled with only natural ingredients. Of
course, they have succeeded, and over $150 million in profits in the
first 20 years have been disbursed to charities. It is still a good
read, and there are even some recipes. Quality/Price rating: 87.

30. BISTRO; French country recipes for home cooks (Ryland, Peters &
Small, 2003, 2008; distr. T. Allen, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84597-694-1,
$19.95 US paper covers) is by Laura Washburn, who currently translates
French cookbooks into English. It was originally published in hard
covers in 2003. New to this reissue is the metric conversion chart.
Here are 63 classic recipes for French onion soup, tians from Provence,
soupe au pistou, goat cheese tart, Belgian endive salad, pork in cider,
cassoulet, and the like. Good sharp photography, as always from Ryland.
The mail order list of suppliers is all US. Quality/Price rating: 86.

31. CLASSICAL SOUTHERN COOKING. First revised edition (Gibbs Smith,
2008, 416 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0225-5, $30 US soft covers) is by
Damon Lee Fowler, who has written six books on Southern cooking
("Savannah Cookbook", "New Southern Baking", "Fried Chicken", etc.).
This revision returns to print a minor classic in itself, There are
more than 200 recipes here, and each is carefully explained. This is
upscale food, for the most part, with catfish stew, sweet turnip
sallet, game turkeys, peach cobbler, and pork recipes. There's a
chapter called "The Southern Way with Vegetables", and a separate
chapter for grits, rice and noodles. Lard is the fat of choice, of
course, but good lard has to be made at home as he suggests. There is
no recipe for chess pie. But there are metric conversion tables. I do
worry about the "perfect" binding, wondering how long it will last.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

32. FRESH FROM THE FARMERS' MARKET; year-round recipes from the pick of
the crop (Chronicle Books, 2008, 207 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6590-6,
$19.95 US paper covers) is by Janet Fletcher, a multiple award-winning
food writer and book author who once put in time at Chez Panisse. It
was originally issued in 1997, and Fletcher has updated portions of it
while still retaining the original photography. There are 75 preps
here, for all courses, using in-season produce of course. The
arrangement begins in the spring and carries through to winter. While
the resources list has been updated to include websites, the
bibliography has not been updated, and comes to a halt in 1996. There
are also two pages of metric equivalent tables. She opens with a whole
section on shopping at markets, and this is very informative for the
uninitiated. But I did not like the all-caps listings for the
ingredients, especially since the typeface was very light. I found it
hard to read and identify the products. For the preps, try Spanish
tortilla with spring veggies, pesto pizza, turnip and turnip greens
soup, spaghettini with red and gold cherry tomatoes, potato soup with
savoy cabbage, warm frisee and fava bean salad. Quality/Price rating:

33. HOME COOKING WITH CHARLIE TROTTER (Ten Speed Press, 2000, 2008, 218
pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-934-0, $25 US paper covers) is a paperback
reissue of the 2000 hard bound book. The book has been newly designed
and photographed. It was originally titled, "Charlie Trotter Cooks at
Home", so if you have that book, then you'll not need this one. There
is a 2008 copyright date assigned to Trotter, so presumably there are
some changes, but not necessarily to the recipes. He covers the basics,
and then roams through starters, entrees, and desserts, in much the
same way his resto would. There are some menus and a pretty good index.
The book is value priced. Try chilled asparagus and basil soup with
goat cheese, cantaloupe and mango and Asian pear salad, olive oil
poached cod, red-wine braised short ribs, chilled peach soup.
Quality/Price rating: 88.

34. SAUCES; classical and contemporary sauce making. 3rd edition. (John
Wiley and Sons, 2008, 612 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-19496-6 $49.95 US hard
covers) is by James Peterson. It was the James Beard Cookbook of the
Year after it was first published in 1991. It is a comprehensive survey
of the field, and has sold over 200,000 copies in its first two
editions. Peterson, the author of 13 cookbooks (most of which have gone
on to win awards), has overhauled the book to bring it into the 21st
century. He's simplified a few things, lightened the sauces, replaced
repetitive instructions with easy charts, standardized terms for the
consistency of sauces, dispensed with some of the old French names, and
added a new 16-pager insert of colour photos. There are about 440
recipes, and they also cover salad sauces, vinaigrettes, salsas and
relishes, and jellies. Both avoirdupois and metric measurements for the
ingredients are embedded in all recipes. Quality/Price rating: 87.


Friday, October 10, 2008

TRADE LUNCH: Vertical tasting of "Il Carbonaione" at Grano, September 29, 2008.

The Time and Date: Monday, September 29, 2008  Noon to 2:30 PM

The Event: a tasting of Podere Poggio Scalette's "Il Carbonaione" with the owener Vittorio Fiore. The wine agency is Profile Wine Group.

The Venue: Grano

The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers and restaurateurs

The Availability/Catalogue: there is a Vintages Internet release of 10 cases (60 bottles) of the 2004, about $64 for licensees.

The Quote: The property is in Greve (Chianti Classico) and the majority of vines are 70 years old. The grapes are Sangiovese di Lamole, an original clone. Fiore's top wine is Il Carbonaione, with its first vintage in 1992. He consistently used French (90%) and US (10%) oak, with the latter used for promoting aromatics.

The Wines: malolactic fermentation is used. The clone does not exhibit any sour cherries, just cherry notes. We went from 2004 through 1992.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Il Carbonaione 2001: slightly mature nose and colour, ripe flavours keep on coming, good long finish a bit tannic. Only bottles left in the cellar are magnums. My fave wine with the food.

-Il Carbonaione 1999: eucalyptus on the nose, but dissipates with a touch of brett returning. Generous mouthfeel, some mocha tones and a fruity mid-palate.

-Il Carbonaione 1994: burnt nose, good aging, still vibrant, bright, slight hint of mint, medium-bodied, a bit light on the finish, may be beginning to fade?


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Il Carbonaione 2004: dense but fresh nose, somewhat closed, minty, textured ripe cherries, hot finish, chewy at times, soft ML.

-Il Carbonaione 1992: incredible Bordeaux character, principally from the leafy tones, some underbrush, soft on mid-palate, excellent finish.


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Il Carbonaione 1996: old nose, old mouthfeel and finish. A bit tired? Flat, lean, did not evolve and died in the glass, turning shrill an hour later. It has been described as "lean and compact", and initially went well with food.


The Food: following foccacia breads, we had an assortment of salamis, prosciuttos, and sausages with tomatoes and basil and mozzarella. The pasta was with rabbit, tomatoes and garlic. The main was pistachio crusted lamb chops. We were able to try the wines against the food, and vice versa. It was a stunning and enjoyable lunch, since we had all six verticals to try.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Benjamin Bridge and Ravine Vineyard Estate wines, Sept. 26, 2008

The Time and Date: Friday, September 26, 2008  10:30 AM to 1 PM

The Event: Wine Writer's Circle of Canada tasting with Peter Gamble, initial winemaker for Nova Scotia's Benjamin Bridge and Niagara's Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery.

The Venue: LCBO Event Kitchen, Scrivener Square.

The Target Audience: wine writers

The Availability/Catalogue: the Ravines are being released now, the Benjamin Bridges will be along in a few months to a few years.

The Quote: "Peter Gamble seems to be a one-man road show for the Bridges, and now he is building over a Ravine".

The Wines: Peter provided us with a comprehensive commentary on all of the wines. 23 wines were shown. And certainly one could tell the 2007 wines from the rest, especially in the reds.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Chardonnay 2007, $24

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Reserve 2007, $38

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Redcoat 2007 [cabernets, merlot], $19

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc 2007, $32

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Merlot 2007, $34

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Merlot Reserve 2007, $55 (90%M/10%CS) – the finest red wine of the tasting, very Euro. Ravine also makes a Reserve Red (a super Bordeaux).

-Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve Sparkling 2004 (57%PN/22%C/15%Vidal/6%L'Acadie), to be released in 2011. 225 cases. One of the finest MC sparklers ever made in Canada. We also tasted an Experimental Brut from 2003, a Chardonnay Blend from 2002, and a Blanc de Noirs from 2002. All were excellent, but all were not to be available.

-Benjamin Bridge Marechal Foch 2004, $25 in September 2009? From Anne Sperling's recipe.

-Benjamin Bridge Sauvignon Blanc 2005, was a pur laine style from the Loire. Not available, unfortunately.


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Gewurztraminer 2007, $22

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Meritage 2007, $24

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc 2006, $34

-Benjamin Bridge Marechal Foch 2005, for Sept 2010 release.

-Benjamin Bridge Marechal Foch Reserve 2006, for Sept 2011 release.

-Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2007 Sparkling Muscat [muscats, perle of csaba, et al], $23, a moscato d'asti type wine, now sold out at $23 in Nova Scotia.



The Food: only water.

The Downside: we were also skedded to taste some 38 Nova Scotia wines with Larry Patterson, but we ran out of time. That tasting will now occur in October.

The Upside: Peter Gamble is a very easy guy to question, no PR bluff here.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 95.