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Monday, December 28, 2009

Nov 25/09 - Trade Tasting - Alvaro Palacios

The Time and Date:  Wednesday, November 25, 2009  1 PM to 3:30 PM
The Event: a standup tasting of 9 wines with Spain's Alvaro Palacios,
with agent Woodman Wines & Spirits.
The Venue: Spoke Club, King Street
The Target Audience: wine press, sommeliers, private clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: mostly upcoming Vintages, but also some
private orders.
The Quote/Background: After training in Bordeaux under Jean-Pierre
Moueix at Chateau Petrus, Alvaro Palacios returned to Spain where he
helped to found "The New Spain". His wines have won him cult status
(especially L'Ermita) and he has been named "Winemaker of the Year" by
at least one wine publication. Wines today come from all three of his
properties in Priorat, Rioja, and Bierzo.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
--Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo 2006 Moncerbal (single vineyard),
$107 +154443 Classics February 2010
--Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo 2006 Las Lamas (single vineyard),
$107 +154427 Classics February 2010
-Alvaro Palacios Priorat 2007 Finca Dofi, $92 Private/Consignment
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Bodegas Palacios Remondo Rioja 2006 La Montesa, $20 +674572 Vintages
-Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo 2007 Petalos, $24 +675207 Vintages
-Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo 2006 Villa de Corullon, $56
+154435 Classics February 2010
-Alvaro Palacios Priorat 2007 Les Terrasses, $43 Private/Consignment
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Bodegas Palacios Remondo Rioja 2008 La Vendimia, $16 +674564 Vintages
-Alvaro Palacios Priorat 2007 Camins del Priorat, $26
The Food: mushroom tartlets, red pepper crostini, cheeses, dried fruit,
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Food and Wine Books Stocking Stuffers (Holiday Gifts)

Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's Holiday gift list: something
affordable (under $10, up to $20) that can also double as a host gift,
something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks.
And of course they can stuff an adult stocking. Typical for food are:
FIELD GUIDE TO CANDY; how to identify and make virtually every candy
imaginable (Quirk Books, 2009, 318 pages, $19.95 CAD paper covers) is
by Anita Chu, and it must be at the top of everybody's gift list. It's
in a handbook format, and is one of a series of others devoted to
cookies, cocktails, herbs and spices. The book is arranged by type, so
all of the largely chocolate, nuts and fruits are together. Here are
100 recipes and variations (international in scope) covering caramel
apples, lollipops, Turkish delight, French pralines, and more. Each
product gets a general description, a history, and storage dos and

CHOP, SIZZLE & STIR (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009, 64 pages, $17.95
hardcover) is Nadia Arumugam, who had trained with the legendary
Mosimann. She serves up 35 fresh and fast stir-fries, plus variations.
All meats and vegetables are included, and of course, a wok is

PESTOS, TAPENADES AND SPREADS (Chronicle Books, 2009, 96 pages, $16.95
USD soft covers) is by Stacey Printz. She has 12 different pestos and
14 tapenades, plus some spreads. The idea is to increase flavour by
adding just one teaspoon or so of pesto, etc. to almost any dish. I'm
all for that, although it would add to the salt component. Some recipes
here are nut-free and gluten-free. Try some edamame hummus, or some
balsamic fig with caramelized onion and dried cherry.

CAFFE ITALIA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009, 64 pages, $17.95 hardcover)
is by Liz Franklin, a one time finalist in the BBC Masterchef
competition. Here she presents over 30 (plus variations) preps for
cookies, cakes, savoury panini, and the like – to accompany the Italian
coffee culture. There's some quick info on how to brew coffee, but
otherwise this is a fine short collection of food to go with coffee.

GUIDE TO HEALTHY FAST FOOD EATING, 2nd ed (McGraw Hill Canada, 2009, 294
pages, $12.95 paper covers) is by Hope Warshaw, a medical expert who
has written several books for the American Diabetes Association. Here
she gives nutrition info for 13 of the most popular US fast food
franchises, and most are in Canada, such as Baskin Robbins, Subway,
Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald, and Wendy. A great way to control
your weight when you eat in those joints: she gives healthy and light
choices, and suggests skills and strategies to create healthy meals at
these places. It's a jungle out there; you'll need all the help you can

I'M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS (Chronicle Books, 2009, 180 pages,
$24.95 US soft covers) is above my price range, but it is the only book
I've seen this year to promote gifts, decorations, and recipes that
"use less" and "mean more". It has been endorsed by a few environmental
activists, and printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. It's
been written by activist Anna Getty. She carefully explains how to
reduce your carbon footprint, minimize waste, and creatively reuse.
There are tips on nesting at home, entertaining, trimming the tree,
giving donations.

100 SOUPS FOR $5 OR LESS (Gibbs Smith, 2009, $12.99 US paper covers) is
by Gayle Pierce. It is an open and shut book with easy recipes (one per
page plus variations). She emphasizes new things to do with veggies.
Each prep has lists of calories and fats per serving, and comes with
shopping tips, planning advice, and cooking tips. The arrangement is by
theme: light soups, bean soups, cream soups, fruit soups, meat-poultry-
seafood soups.

100 DESSERTS FOR $5 OR LESS (Gibbs Smith, 2009, 144 pages, $12.95 US
paper covers) is by Angel Shannon. It is set up the same way as the
Soup book above: easy recipes, one prep per page plus variations, and
covers cakes, candy, cookies, frozen deserts, pies, tarts, sauces and

Other little books, for beverages, include:

PARKER'S WINE BARGAINS; the world's best wine values under $25 (Simon &
Schuster, 2009, 498 pages, $24 CAD soft cover) is by Robert Parker,
Jr., the world's most recognizable wine writer. This has been an
eagerly awaited book, since it would be a first for Parker. Previously,
he had issued from time to time a listing of his best bargains as he
wrote them in his "The Wine Advocate". But this is the first full-blown
attempt to list bargains. And, of course, it exceeds my $20 retail
limit on gift book purchases. But you can get it for $17.52 through
Amazon. It is organized by country, with 1500 producers and over 3000
wines. He uses his contributor team of Jay Miller, Antonio Galloni,
Mark Squires and others for notes, but he made the ultimate selection
of labels. The downside is that no vintage years are given. Now, while
the hallmark of a bargain wine is its consistency year in and year out,
a $25 US wine will show flavour variation from year to year, and some
vintages are better than others are. And the lack of dating keeps the
book fresher on the shelf. Parker has a food and wine pairing guide, a
vintage chart, and numerous top twenty lists. There are generic
regional tasting notes and American details about importers and stores.
Since we have the LCBO, this shouldn't concern us. A terrific book for
the Christmas season, and watch for more of these imports listed here
to show up at the LCBO.

SPICE & ICE (Chronicle Books, 2009, 160 pages, $16.95 US soft covers)
is by Kara Newman, who writes the "High Spirits" column for Chile
Pepper magazine. Here are 60 tongue-tingling cocktails, made with some
component of fresh chile peppers, or ginger or horseradish. There are
both fruity and savoury here, including the likes of "Wasabi-tinis" and
"Jumpin' Juleps". Excellent photos, and as the man says, "put a little
spice into your life".

CHEERS! An intemperate history of Beer in Canada (Collins, 2009, 321
pages, $19.99 CAD soft covers) is by the irrepressible Nicholas
Pashley, the celebrated writer of "Notes on a Beermat". He's written
scads of humour material in columns, for Dave Broadfoot, and three
governors general. Here he takes a light look at Canadian beer history.
It's a wide-ranging book, but it is a history written with a deft hand.
It even has an annotated bibliography and an index! I love the double-
blurring of the Mountie on the front cover and a double-blurred Pashley
himself (complete with red eye) on the back – beer doppelgangers all.

HOT DRINKS; indulgent hot chocolates, great coffees, soothing teas,
spiced punches, and other warming treats for cold days (Ryland, Peters
& Small, 2009 reissue, 96 pages, $16.95 US hard covers) is by Louise
Pickford, an experienced cookbook writer from the UK now living in
Australia. We'll need these hot drinks in the coming cold months of
2010. 75 recipes include Swedish glogg, hot rum and cider punch, and a
variety of milk drinks.

TEA WISDOM; inspirational quotes and quips about the world's most
celebrated beverage (Tuttle Publishing, 2009, 240 pages, $18.95 CAD
paper covers) has been collated by Aaron Fisher, who has written
extensively about tea ("The Art of Tea" magazine). This is a rock solid
collection of quotes and glosses from different time periods and
different regions of the world. I think the idea is to savour a cuppa
while reading parts of this book everyday. It should calm your nerves
over this rushed and argumentative season.

Still other smallish books include:
THE LOCAVORE WAY (Storey Publishing, 2009; distr. T. Allen, 247 pages,
$12.95 US soft covers) is a carry-along guide to shopping locally,
authored by Amy Cotler, founding director of Berkshire Grown, a
regional food initiative. She's also a cookbook author and a major
contributor to the revised "Joy of Cooking". In broad outlines, the
book tells us how to buy, to cook, and to eat close to home. She has
hints, lists, tips, tricks, and strategies for doing all this. Luckily,
there are not too many US references, just some specifics to expand on
the general. Check out

I LOVE MACARONS (Chronicle Books, 2009, 80 pages, $14.95 US soft
covers) is by Hisako Ogita, and it was originally published in Japanese
in 2006. This is its first release in English. Macarons are almond
paste and sugar, baked into a cookie that is crisp and a little chewy,
and then sandwiched with (usually) cream fillings. There are full
instructions on how to make petit macaron pastries, plus combining
various puffs and creams (and decorating them). There is a whole
section on making the batter, another section on making the creams, and
a third section on putting them all together. Oh yes, there is also a
fourth section on using up the surplus egg yolks (that's not a problem,
with crème caramel, Bavarian creams, ice cream, and more). There are
several hundred pix here in this very entertaining book.

A non-book entry is the party kit. I have three – there's the CHEESE
TASTING PARTY KIT, subtitled "everything you need to host your own
cheese-tasting party" [except the cheese, of course] from Chronicle
Books, 2009, $16.95 US. There are 50 cheese profile cards for common
cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Tomme, Camembert, Stilton,
Cheddar, Manchego, and the like. The cards describe the milk used, some
background, and wine matches. There are also 50 ID cards with
toothpicks. And a fold-out informational card with a glossary and data
on buying, storing, and pairing. Janet Fletcher wrote this part.
For games at parties, you could do no worse than get WINE WARS; a
trivia game for wine geeks and wannabes (Chronicle Books, 2009, $19.95
US). It promises to be challenging to all and entertaining. Although it
is American based (e.g. "which country leads in wine exports to US?"),
it does cover common ground such as growing grapes, making wine, world
production, selecting and storing wine, and wine tasting. There are
also food matches to identify. 150 cards, 750 questions, 6 game boards,
1 die, and regional maps of the wine world. Watch out for the
comparable FOODIE FIGHT; a trivia game for serious food lovers
(Chronicle Books, 2009, $19.95 US). It's similarly setup with Q & A on
cards, but it is also more vicious.

Other non-book items include MOLLIE KATZEN'S RECIPES: DESSERTS (Ten
Speed Press, 2009, 120 pages, $16.95 CAD) in an easel edition. This is
a spiral version of a cook book, and it is a collection of 50 dessert
recipes. Preps come from her "Moosewood Cookbook" and "Enchanted
Broccoli Forest", but five of them are new. Another easel book (which
are great, by the way, since they open up rather well on your kitchen
counter) is CINDY PAWLYN'S APPETIZERS (Ten Speed Press, 2009, $17.95
CAD) which only has 40 recipes. Thirty of them come from her "Mustards
Grill Napa Valley Cookbook" and "Big Small Plates" book, but there are
10 newer ones.

Yet another non-book is the virtually-blank journal. EAT ME; the
journal (Chronicle Books, 2009, $16.95 US) is meant for the food-
obsessed. It is a book of pages to record your life in food, such as
food pleasures and restaurant dining experiences. There are sidebars
and lists. Specific blank chapters cover foods from our childhood, our
current family foods, top restaurants, top books read on food, dining
disasters, kitchen equipment, and wine and cocktails. Useful for
creating a track record.
There is a category of foodbooks called "little cookbooks"; these are
usually placed at POS (point-of-sales) spots. I've located a very good
collection of quick and easy, from Ryland Peters and Small, all
published in 2009. They are 64 or 96 pages each, and sell for $15.95
US, but they are also hard covers, so they look a bit more posh --
especially with the photography and the metric conversion charts. There
are about 50 recipes in each. One is COOKING WITH PUMPKINS AND SQUASH
(50 recipes) which is also timely since these are still locally
available through the winter. Brian Glover is the author; he covers all
courses and desserts. Try zucchini and ricotta fritters, roasted squash
with leek and barley pilaf, chicken and butternut squash tagine, and
spiced pumpkin and apple pie. Another of Glover's books is COOKING WITH
LEMONS & LIMES (29 recipes) which contains mostly classical
Mediterranean dishes (pasta with clams, shrimp and lemons; grilled
zucchini and feta salad; roast lemon chicken) plus Key Lime pie, lemon
curd, and preserved lemons. COOKING WITH APPLES & PEARS (33 recipes) is
by Laura Washburn, and includes both sweets and savouries. There are
more apple than pear recipes, which reflects popularity levels.
Surprisingly, there is only one recipe which includes both apples and
pears: a ginger-apple-pear chutney. But, as in Europe, one can always
substitute pears for almost every apple dish. LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS (50
recipes) is a guide to feeding your friends and family for next to
nothing. It is quite timely. 18 authors from the Ryland stable
contributed such preps as cauliflower cheese, fruit crumble, banana
bread, and a host of meat dishes. ITALIAN BREADS (28 recipes) is by
Maxine Clark, and includes large loaves, ciabatta rolls, flatbreads,
focaccia, grissini, pizza dough, and sweet breads.

There's another collection from BBC Books (2009), all on the theme of
101 recipes from British magazines. They are 216 pages each, and retail
for $12.95 CAD at a very convenient 5 inch by 6 inch size. Each recipe
has a pix of the finished plate, and the style is quick and easy. By
Janine Ratcliff there is OLIVE: 101 BRILLIANT BAKING IDEAS, from Olive
Magazine in the UK, "classic dishes from around the world". OLIVE: 101
STYLISH SUPPERS is hyped as a stay-in supper book for foodies in the
credit crunch. Jane Hornby wrote 101 MORE ONE-POT DISHES from Good Food
Magazine in the UK, as well as 101 SPEEDY SUPPERS. Sarah Cook did 101
CURRIES for the same Good Food Magazine. A good bargain series.

Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated,
both the wall and the desk type. The best of the desk are the three
"page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from Workman. THE WINE LOVER'S CALENDAR
2010 (Workman, 2009, $16.99 CAD) has been put together by Karen
MacNeil, author of "The Wine Bible", with Brooke Cheshier. Saturday and
Sunday have been combined on one page. There is a new varietal
highlighted each month, tips galore for pouring and tasting, food and
wine matching, bargains, pop quizzes, etc. etc. And 100 "must try"
wines are highlighted (many can be found in Canada). 365 BOTTLES OF
BEER FOR THE YEAR 2010 (Workman, 2009, $16.99 CAD) is by Bob Klein,
author of "The Beer Lover's Rating Guide". It too has a combined
Saturday and Sunday page. Most of the beers appear as imports in
Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights,
lagers, ales, porters, stouts, and lambrics – they're all here. Other
material in the PAD includes beer festivals, beer facts, label lore and
vocabulary. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online
to the website and pick up other stuff, usually free at For wall calendars, there is GO VEGAN! 2010 Calendar
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009, $14.95 CAD) which has full-colours
throughout and is the same size as an LP (remember those?). Susan
Kramer has authored many vegan books for this publisher. She appears
here in many re-creations of advertisements and movie posters, as an
iconic image of the 1940s and 1950s, reworked for modern vegan
audiences. There are facts, dates and trivia here. For example, you can
celebrate World Vegan Day on November 1. The Vegan Society was started
in Great Britain in 1944 (that's the year they ran out of every food

On to the wine annuals. The two leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE
BOOK 2010 (Mitchell Beazley, 2009, 320 pages, $19.99 CAD hard bound)
and OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2010 (Sterling Books, 2009, 352
pages, $19.50 CAD hardbound). Both are guides to wines from all around
the world, not just to the "best" wines. Similarities: Johnson claims
more than 6000 wines are listed, while Clarke says more than 7000, but
then recommends 4000 producers. News, vintage charts and data,
glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in both books.
The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer – this is his 33rd
edition -- and has more respect from erudite readers for his exactitude
and scholarliness. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in
dictionary, A – Z form (about 1600 main entries). It is really six of
one, or half a dozen of another which one to use. Johnson's entry for
Canada is 1.2 pages (big deal). Oz has only one paragraph apiece on
Inniskillin, Okanagan (recommending just red wines), and Niagara
(recommending just icewines). Both books have notes on the 2008
vintage, along with a closer look at the 2007. It is fun to look at
both books and find out where they diverge. As a sidelight, Johnson and
Oz are moving into food: there is a 16 page section on food and wine
matching in the former, while Oz has 6 pages. Johnson also has a
listing of his personal 200 fave wines. Both books could profit from
online accessibility or a CD-ROM production.
Other wine annuals – mostly paperbacks -- deal with "recommended"
wines, not all of the wines in the world. They can afford the space for
more in-depth tasting notes (TNs) of what they actually do cover
(usually just wines available in their local marketplace).
Thus, HAD A GLASS; top 100 wines for 2010 under $20, $25, and $30
(Whitecap, 2009, 168 pages, $19.95 CAD paper covers) is by Kenji
Hodgson and James Nevison, the authors of 2003's "Have a Glass; a
modern guide to wine". They are the British Columbia Had a Glass (now in its fifth edition) showcases
top inexpensive wines available primarily in BC, although those labels
with national distribution will also be found in other provinces. They
try to pick wines available to match any occasion, and along the way
they provide tips on food and wine pairing and stemware. The first
fifty pages present all the basics, including food recipes. I am not
sure why it is here since the book is really about the top 100 wines.
Most readers/buyers will head straight for the listings which follow,
one per page, for whites, roses, reds, aperitifs, dessert wines and
sparklers. This year, in view of rising prices, they have enlarged
their scope to cover wines at $25 and $30. Unfortunately, for Ontario,
this is just at the very time that the LCBO is concentrating on the $15
to $19.95 spread, with few wines above $20. There are indexes by
countries, by wine, and by food. Tasting notes are pretty bare bones,
but each wine does have a label, a price, and some food matches.

THE WINE TRIALS 2010 (Fearless Critic, 2009; distr. T.Allen, 225 pages,
$14.95 US soft covers) is by Robin Goldstein, with
Alexis Nerschkowitsch. Both have food and wine credentials, in addition
to authoring restaurant review books and travel books. They have been
assisted by 13 named contributing writers and 500 named blind tasters.
The object of the book is to come up with hidden wine values. The cover
proclaims brown-bag blind tastings for wine values under $15. That's
$15 US, of course, and does not allow for discounts and sales so
prevalent in the US marketplace. For example, top rated Segura Viudas
Brut Reserva is $8 US national retail. It can be cheaper. In Ontario,
it is $14.65, a firm price. So it is possible that a top rated US wine
at $20, going on sale for under $15, could be well over $30 in Ontario.
Most of the wines sold in Ontario are under $25 – the trick is to find
the best ones. This book should give some guidance. They list 150 wines
under $15 US that outscored $50 to $150 bottles, using hundreds of
blind tasters who filled in a simple form. The authors have lots of
material justifying their choices, and there are copious notes for each
of the 150 wines. Only about half the wines are available in Ontario,
and many are not value priced because of the exchange rate,
the LCBO mark-up policy and lack of sales/discounts.

THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO 2010 (Whitecap, 2009, 248 pages,
$19.95 CAD paper back) takes a more determined run at the wines at the
LCBO. This third edition, by Rod Phillips, has wines arranged by wine
colour and then by region/country with price and CSPC number. Each
value wine gets a rating (the basic is three stars out of five), with
an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most
people will just look through it for the 5 star selections and leave it
at that. Turnover in Ontario must be enormous because this update
claims over 200 new wines for a book that deals with just 500. Coverage
is limited to LCBO General Purchase wines and LCBO Vintages Essentials,
the wines that are available (if only by special order) in every LCBO

BILLY'S BEST BOTTLES; wines for 2010 (McArthur & Company, 2010, 240
pages, $19.95 CAD soft covers) by Billy Munnelly is back for another
round (20th ed), creating more emphasis on wine and food pairing, party
planning, and some social manners. There's some info about country
trends and frequently-asked questions about wine. Plus data on Ontario
winery tours. His whole concept of wine is organized by Mood, with
sections on wine colour and style/weight, and the wines are usually
those available at the LCBO. Most should be available across the
country. He has over 200 best international wine buys, with most under
$20 and many under $12. And there is a wine index at the back where
wines are listed by region. Check out

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nov 21/09 - WWCC Tasting - Ports

 The Time and Date: Friday, November 20, 2009
The Event: Wine Writers Circle of Canada Port Tasting
The Venue: LCBO Scrivener Square
The Target Audience: wine writer members of WWCC
The Wines:  about 30 ports were tasted.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Taylor Fladgate  10 Year Old Tawny Port  20%  Vintages Essentials 
#121749  $34.95
-Taylor Fladgate  20 Year Old Tawny  Vintages Essentials  #149047 
-Graham's 20 Year Old Tawny Port  20% alc  CSPC 620641  500ml  $36.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Warre's Otima  10 year Old Tawny Port  20% alc  #566174  500ml  $22.95
-Taylor's LBV  2003  20% alc   #46946  $17.95  December sale $16.95
-Ferreira  Dona Antonia Reserva NV  20% alc  #157586  $18.70
-Graham's LBV 2003  20%  #191239  $17.45
-Graham's 10 year Old Tawny Port  20% alc  CSPC 206508  $27.95
-Quinta de Ventozelo 10 Year Old Tawny Port  19.5% alc Vintages 0141044
-Sandeman VAU Vintage  2000  20% alc Vintages #973768  $29.95
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Six Grapes Reserve   NV  20% alc  Vintages 208405  $22.95
-Taylor's First Estate  NV   20% alc    #309401  $15.95
-Royal Oporto 10 Year Old, +661223 Vintages, $12.95 for 200 mL
-Qunita de Ventozelo Porto Reserva  NV    20% alc #0141028  $17.95
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nov 19/09 - Trade Event - Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

The Time and Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009 5PM to 10PM
The Event: the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, VIP night
The Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The Target Audience: wine press, wine trade, private insiders.
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available, especially with an
onsite LCBO store which carried most of the offerings.
The Quote/Background: I use the show to catch up with New York wines,
and some select suppliers who do not have a portfolio tasting, and the
theme country (this year, Portugal). I find that I can just barely get
though the evening…there are so many wines, and so little time.
The Quote/Background:
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Ch. Wantz Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kirchberg 1999 Alsace, $49.65 
-Ch. Wantz Gewurztraminer 2005 Alsace, $38.15 Nokhrin
-Guicciardini Strozzi Bolgheri Superiore 2004 Tuscany, $49 Le Sommelier
-Deltetto Spumante de Qualidad Extra Brut Rose NV Piedmont, $49 Le
-Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barolo Vigna Croera 2004 Piedmont, $250 Le
-Ulithorne Frux Frugis Shiraz 2004 McLaren Vale, $60 Le Sommelier
-Peninsula Ridge Chardonnay Reserve 2007 Niagara, $24.95  Churchill
-Peninsula Ridge Cabernet 2004 Niagara, (50/50 cabernet sauvignon and
franc) $12.75 +598748 – a BEST BUY steal
-Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2007 A. J. Lepp Vineyard, $18.95
Vintages +78543
-Five Stones Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2008 Margaret River, +108001,
$18.95 Vintages
-Finca Allende Red 2005 Spain, +954560, $34.95 Vintages
-Domaine Courbis Cornas Les Eygats 2004, +719385, $64.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Ch. Wantz Muscat M Collection Personelle 2007 Alsace, $29.90 Nokhrin
-Tapena Garnacha 2007 Spain, +72553 LCBO $13.75
-Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay 2008, +175430 LCBO $16.25
-Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, +301507, $16.75
-Casa de Santa Vitoria Tinto 2005 Portugal, $15
-J.P. Vinhos Tinto da Anfora Portugal $13
-Quinta Da Giesta Dao 2005 Portugal, $15.95
-Esporao Reserva Red 2007 Portugal
-Fanti Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Tuscany, $75 Le Sommelier
-Fita Preta 2005 Portugal, $55 Le Sommelier
-Hermanos Pecina Reserva 2001 Rioja, $54 Le Sommelier
-Roagna Barbaresco Paje Riserva 1998 Piedmont, $115 Le Sommelier
-Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Niagara, +53678 LCBO, $14.75
-Peninsula Ridge Cabernet Franc Beal Vineyard 2007 Niagara, $15.95 
-Alvento Winery VIO Viognier 2007 Niagara Bench, $25.95 Winery
-Chateau Calissanne Clos Victoire 2004 Aix-en-Provence, +982207, $39
-Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2006 Finger Lakes, $29.95, +90332
-Heron Hill Riesling 2006 Finger Lakes, $21.99  Tannin Fine Wines
-Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay 2007 Finger Lakes, $23.40 MCO
-Bedell Cellars First Crush White 2008 Long Island, $25.70 Edward's
-Raphael Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Long Island, $25.70 John Hanna & Sons
-Osprey's Dominion Vineyards Meritage 2005 Long Island, $53.40, Robert
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Ch. Wantz Riesling Grand Cru Wiebelsberg 2001, $40.55 Nokhrin
-Alamos Seleccion Malbec 2007 Argentina, +198670, $18.95
-Alamos Pinot Noir 2008 Argentina, $17.95
-Cortes de Cima Chamine 2006 Portugal, $16.95
-Quinta do Crasto Douro Red 2007 Portugal
-Fox Run Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 Finger Lakes, $14.75 Lorac Wine
-Donatella Cinelli Colombini Il Drago e Le Sette Colombe 2004 Tuscany,
$34 Le Sommelier
-Brotherhood Pinto Noir 2006 Hudson River, +79939 Vintages, $18.25
-Raphael Merlot 2001 Long Island, +82388, $29.95 Vintages
-Piero Busso Barbaresco San Stefanetto 2004 Piedmont, $79 Le Sommelier
-Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2006 Finger Lakes, $20.25, +70631
-Altano Douro 2007 Portugal, +579862 Vintages $11.75
-Peninsula Ridge Merlot 2007 Niagara, $14.75 +61101 LCBO
-Martin Codax Salterio Albarino Rias Baixas 2008, +2774, $16.95
-Domaine Bonnard Sancerre White 2008, +140525, $22.95 Vintages
-Laurent Mabileau St. Nicolas de Bourgueil 2007 Loire, +61192, $15.95
-Martin Codax Cuatro Pasos Mencia Bierzo Spain, +39313, $16.95 Vintages
-Five Stones Shiraz 2008 Margaret River, +111120, $22.95 Vintages
The Food: mostly Saputo cheeses, breads and crackers, plus shrimp from
Acqua Star at Churchill Cellars which had a private showing of their
wines. Most of the food vendors are too busy selling their products.
The Downside: it got crowded quickly, people know what to do now.
The Upside: a good event to catch up with country wines such as New
York State.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nov 19/09 - Trade Tasting - Daniel Vollenweider

The Time and Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009  Noon to 3 PM
The Event: a tasting with Daniel Vollenweider of Traben-Trarbach
(Mosel), specializing in Riesling (Kabinett to TBA)
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve.
The Target Audience: clients of John Hanna & Sons
The Availability/Catalogue:
The Quote/Background: all the wines came from a single vineyard, Wolfer
Goldrube, from ungrafted Riesling vines.
The Wines: A great range of wines, a dozen in all, at all sweetness
levels, from a single Mosel vineyard, and reflecting a purity of style
with consistent minerality tones. Very decent prices for the drier
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Spatlese 2002 Wolfer Goldrube  sold out
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Auslese 2005 Wolfer Goldrube  $53.95
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Auslese Long Gold Kapsule 2007 Wolfer
Goldrube  $111.25 for 375mL
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2006 Wolfer Goldrube 
$364 for 375mL
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling 2008 Wolfer Goldrube  $24.05
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Kabinett Dry 2008 Wolfer Goldrube  $27.60
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Spatlese 2004 Wolfer Goldrube  sold out
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Spatlese Gold Kapsule 2008 Wolfer
Goldrube  $49.95
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Beerenauslese 2007 Wolfer Goldrube 
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Kabinett 2008 Wolfer Goldrube  $27.60
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Spatlese 2004 Wolfer Goldrube  $36.80
-Daniel Vollenweider Riesling Spatlese 2004 Wolfer Goldrube  $36.80
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nov 17/09 - Trade Tasting - La Chablisienne at Biff's

The Time and Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2009  Noon to 2:30 PM
The Event: a luncheon to taste La Chablisienne wines in the Ontario
The Venue: Biff's Bistro
The Target Audience: wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: we sampled four wines from listings at the
LCBO. We also had a reception wine, Cremant de Bourgogne Reserve NV
from Bailly-Lapierre ($19.95 Vintages), a partner of La Chablisienne.
The Quote/Background: La Chablisienne is represented by Vinexx;
Christoph Cardona, the Export Manager for the Americas, was on hand to
lead the tasting and to answer any questions. The co-op has 300
grapegrowers who supply must to the team of winemakers. The co-op has
about 25% of all Chablis vineyards. They make a range of 30 different
special wines (including classed crus of 13 Premiers and 6 Grands)
right down to basic Chablis and Petit Chablis. At the top is Chateau
Grenouilles, made with 35 year old vines from a single estate in
Grenouilles. Next May 2010 the Classics catalogue will feature more
Chablis from this producer.
The Wines: it was very good to taste a range of Chablis against food.
Chablis is the classic food wine, with its crisp tartness.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-La Chablisienne Chateau Grenouilles Chablis Grand Cru 2005, $89 +82974
Classics Catalogue
-La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2005, $65 +581686 Classics
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Bailly-Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne Reserve NV, $19.95
-La Chablisienne Chablis Les Venerables Vielles Vignes 2006, $24.95
Vintages Essentials +942243 – made from 35 year old vines. Half of the
production is allocated to the LCBO.

*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorents 2006, $31.80 +111666
The Food: we began with appetizers, with the Cremant: cured salmon
wraps, quiche, chicken with mustard sauce, chevre on toasts. Most of us
then had the smoked salmon, although some had the beet soup. We all
chose the seared arctic char with remoulade, green beans, and a toasted
almond vinaigrette. The cheese platter had a triple crème, a blue, and
a firm cheese (all unidentified, but then, nobody asked the service). A
classic vanilla bean creme brulee came for dessert, with espresso and
Vieux Marc du Chateau Grenouilles (400 bottles a year, not for sale,
but valued at $250 a bottle).
The Downside: we were originally to have Damien Leclerc, Directeur
Generale of La Chablisienne, but he had to cancel his whole North
American tour at the last moment.
The Upside: quality wine with quality food.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nov 12/09 - Trade Tasting - Champagne Fleury

The Time and Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009  2 Pm to 5 PM
The Event: A tasting of Champagne Fleury, the only biodynamic winery in
the Champagne district.
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve, King and Spadina
The Target Audience: clients and wine writers
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available now, in six packs
The Quote/Background: Fleury, founded in 1895, is in the Cotes des Bar,
south end of Champagne. Jean-Pierre Fleury began biodynamic techniques
in 1989, beginni9ng with just 3 hectares. By 1992, all 15 hectares were
in process of being biodynamic. Before that time, Fleury had been
"sustainable" with manual tilling and composting. His daughter Morgane
was in town to promote the wines via a dinner at The Black Hoof. 90% of
their estate grapes is Pinot Noir. Annuals sales: 200,000 bottles
(stock on hand is 1 million). 60% of the wine is exported.
The Wines: Five wines were sampled --
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Fleury Millesime 1995, $89.95 – bargain priced for this quality
-Robert Fleury 2000 (1/3 pinot blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay), $79.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Fleury Carte Rouge Brut NV, $56.95 (ten years old)
-Fleury Fleur de L'Europe Brut NV, $56.95 (eight years old)
-Rose de Saignee Brut NV, $67.95
The Food: quality cheeses and pate, breads.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nov 11/09: Trade Tasing - Kosher Wines

The Time and Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009  7:30 PM to 10 PM
The Event: Kosher wine tasting from the portfolio of Mazel wines.
The Venue: Baycrest Centre
The Target Audience: wine writers and clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines were available for purchase, some
by private order.
The Quote/Background: the wines and food matches were presented by Irv
Wolkoff and Sheila Swerling-Puritt, both Toronto-based wine and food
writers. Rabbi Tzvi Heber from Kashruth Council of Canada explained
kosher and mevushal wines. Flash pasteurization to 185 degrees
Fahrenheit is used. Some principals in attendance included Julius
Hafner (Hafner Winery) and Amotz Teperberg (Teperberg Winery).
The Wines:  we tasted some wines BEFORE and AFTER a sitdown tasting, so
I'll put them all together. Sheila had arranged for some complementary
food to go with each of the sitdown wines. There was a short intro on
why North American wines were made only from Concord grapes.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Cantina Gabriele Moscato Italy, 6% ABV, $16.15
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hafner Pinot Noir Reserve Austria, 13% ABV, $26.40
-Cantina G. Montepulciano Italy, $16.95
-Cantina Gabriele Chianti Tuscany 2007, $18.35
-Efrat Israeli Merlot 2007, 13%, $16.05
-Cantina Gabriele Pinot Grigio 2007 Italy, 12%, $18.35
-Teperberg Silver Late Harvest White Riesling Israel, $20.65 half-
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hafner Zweigelt Austria, $13.95
-Collage Chardonnay Semillion Israel, $14.25
-Efrat Israeli Chardonnay, 13%, $17
-Hafner Late Harvest Muscat Ottonel Austria, $16.45
The Food: with a Hafner Gruner Veltliner, we had beets. Tuna
accompanied Efrat Israeli Chardonnay. The Cantina Gabriele Chianti came
with bruschetta. A salmon accompanied Hafner Pinot Noir Reserve. Before
and after the sitdown, we had a mélange of appetizers, mainly chips and
dips (tortilla chips, pita breads, crackers, toasts, couscous,
tapenade, salsa, baba ghanoush, and hummus). Fresh fruit and cookies
plus coffee were served at the end.
The Downside: we unofficially milled about for over a half hour, and I
was not sure if the tasting session was supposed to be open. Certainly,
it was not announced, and I expected to be tasting these wines after
the main event.
The Upside: there was a marvelous exhibit of rare old wines dating back
to the late 1920s. These were accompanied by notes assembled as
handouts to take home.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.

Monday, December 14, 2009


 NIAGARA'S WINE VISIONARIES; profiles of the pioneering winemakers
(Lorimer, 2009, 224 pages, ISBN 978—1-55277-429-8, $29.95 Canadian hard
covers) is by Linda Bramble, an Ontario wine writer who is also a
certified sommelier. She's taught in the wine program at Brock
University, contributed to the Oxford Companion to Wine, and has
written four previous books about Niagara and its wines. Here she tells
the story of the emerging Ontario wine economy in terms of its far-
sighted winery pioneers. After the opening chapter on what Niagara wine
is all about, she begins with pioneer Harry Hatch (Brights), moving on
to Don Ziraldo (Inniskillin) who picked up Ontario's first winery
license in decades (1974), Len Pennachetti (Cave Spring Cellars), Paul
Bosc (Chateau des Charmes), Paul Speck (Henry of Pelham) and more.
Actually, each biographical chapter provides a framework for the
advancement of wine knowledge and history in Ontario. At the back,
there are acknowledgments for source materials, and you can dig out a
respectable bibliography by reading these pages.
Audience and level of use: Ontario wine lovers, wine schools,
Some interesting or unusual facts: some names are not mentioned, but I
can read between the lines and I have some insider knowledge.
The downside to this book: there are only two references to "Cellared
in Canada" wine, and I wish that there had been more explication since
CIC wines represent about half of the grape crop in Ontario.
The upside to this book: a great review of the political process and
the ins and outs of wine democracy, and how and why it failed and how
and why it succeeded.
Quality/Price Rating: 91 – a must read.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dec 8, 2009: TOUR of Vintage One (V1) Wines

The Time and Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2009  2PM to 4PM
The Event: Tour of Vintage One (V1) Wines
The Venue: on site cellar winery, 4896 Dundas St. West, in Etobicoke
The Target Audience: wine media, on a limited basis.
The Availability/Catalogue: This is a big U-Vint: a 10,000 square foot
winery in the inner suburbs. There are 80 stainless steel fermenting
tanks from Italy. These range in size from 100 to 300 to 500 litres. 
There is an impressive grape-crushing area (maceration occurs five
times a day). Through a glass wall with glass doors there are over 50
oak aging barrels from France, Hungary, and the US. There are five
levels of wine quality available. It might be best to visit the website
to check out what each is and the various price levels. But the first
level is "Blends", running about $90 and up for 20 Litres (two cases of
wine plus 2 bottles). Blends come from different countries, sort of
like a Cellared in Canada wine without the stretch water component. The
next level, "Cortes", is country specific, with Merlot and Chardonnay
from Chile, and Muscat Ottonel from Argentina. There is also a Norman-
style sparkling apple cider, about $108 for 9 litres (one case), with
Ontario fruit. The "Estates" and "Select" levels move into the valleys
of Argentina, Chile, and Italy, ranging from $260 to $470 per 20
litres. There is also a pre-order "Domain" level, with local estates'
best production being determined each harvest. This is by the barrel
only, usually 108 litre barrels (133 bottles) made of French, Hungarian
or American oak. Or in 225 litre barrels (300 bottles). The variable
prices here start at $2800 per barrel.
The Quote/Background: Vintage One Wines, as a U-Vint, offers a wide
selection of grape varieties, including some from Ontario and
California. Customers can be as involved as they want to be with the
winemaking team during the entire process. There is a money back
guarantee included when the wine is bottled on the premises.
The Wines: Alejandra De Miguel is the Founder (her brother Jeronimo is
in charge of Business Development). She's the latest generation of a
family of Argentine winemakers, and she greeted us in her fashionable
winemaker suspenders. As she says, "There is no better way to learn
about wine than by being a part of the creative journey." She's worked
with her winemaker father, Alejandro, in Argentina, and has apprenticed
in Spain, Chile, and Argentina. She will soon complete a degree in
viticulture and oenology from UC Davis – at the age of 27. She's been
eight years in the winemaking end, and even managed to get to McGill
University. Her father acts as primary winemaking consultant to V1,
which uses frozen grapes and refrigerated juice (no concentrates). The
juices are mainly for white wines, while the whole grapes add
complexity to the red wines. Imports are totally based on demand. The
whole winemaking process should be six to eight weeks, with the whites
being faster. Anything in barrels is for three months and more, with
additional storage fees. Of interest is the fact that Nero d'Avola
grapes and juice is brought in from Sicily. Currently, V1 is also
making wines for the restaurant located above it, and it could be
branching out as a winemaker/consultant for other startup micro-
wineries in Ontario.
We couldn't taste any wines since the operation is not allowed to have
bottles on premises, and the wines in the tanks were not their
The Food: I had an espresso.
The Downside: no sampling, which was a disappointment since I wanted to
taste for quality.
The Upside: the winery is open Tuesday through Saturday, and by
The Contact Person:

December 2/09 TRADE TASTING: Mailly Champagne, Boillot, LeMoine, Hendry

 The Time and Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009  3 PM to 4:40 PM
The Event: trade tasting of Mailly Champagne, Hendry (Napa), Henri
Boillot and Lucien LeMoine wines, represented by Artisanal Wine
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve, King and Spadina
The Target Audience: wine trade.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines were available but quantities
were limited.
The Quote/Background: Mailly, now being introduced into Canada, is one
of 17 grand cru villages, producing 500,000 bottles a year.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rose NV, $74.95 90PN/10Ch
-Mailly Champagne Grand Cru L'Air Millesime Brut 2005, $104.95
-Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Les Echansons Millesime Brut 1999, $117.95
-H. Boillot Savigny Les Beaune Blanc 2004 Vergelesse, $65.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Reserve NV, $58.95 75PN/25Ch
-Mailly Champagne Grand Cru L'Air Millesime Brut 2005, $89.95 75PN/25Ch
-H. Boillot Volnay Les Chevrets 2004, $79.95
-Lucien LeMoine Bourgogne Blanc 2005, $49.95 – oaked
-Lucien LeMoine Gevrey Chambertin Lavaut St Jacques 2006, $125
-Lucien LeMoine Clos de Vougeot 2006, $275
-Hendry Pinot Noir 2006 Napa, $49.95
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Hendry Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa, $78.95
The Food: none at the trade tasting.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 86.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nov 10/09 Trade Tasting: Argentine Wines

. The Time and Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009  1 PM to 5:30 PM
The Event: "Celebrate the Great Wines from Argentina"
The Venue: Design Exchange, Trading Floor
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Availability/Catalogue: there were 26 Argentine wineries, which
included 5 seeking representation.
The Quote/Background: in the first half of 2009, Canada became the
number 2 (after the USA) export destination, both by value and by
volume. Wine exports to Ontario rose by 84.5% in June 2008 – June 2009.
Mendoza had over 221 organic producers.
The Wines: about 150 wines were shown, not all in this marketplace yet.
Retail prices and other data where known. The best winery seeking
representation was Xumek with their chardonnay and viognier.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Andeluna Grad Reserve Pasionado 2004, $45.99 Stem Wine Group
-Zuccardi Zeta 2006, $49.95 Dionysus
-Cristobal Oak Reserve Malbec 2007 Ruby
-Cristobal Oak Reserve Merlot 2007, +663096 Vintages Feb 2010
-Sophrenia Synthesis The Blend 2007, $57.20 Whitehall [Bordeaux blend]
-Pascual Toso Alta Reserva Syrah 2007, $33.95 Eurovintage
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Andeluna Limited Reserve Malbec, $54.99 Stem
-Andeluna Reserve Chardonnay 2006, $22.99 Stem
-La Chamiza Polo Professional Shiraz 2008, $13.99
-Zuccardi Q Malbec 2007, $18.95 +723478
-Schroeder Extra Brut, $16.95 Connexion Oenophilia
-Schroeder Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $70 Connexion Oenophilia
-Chakana Yaguarete Bonarda 2009, $13.95 March 2010 Vintages
-Gamela Rserva Malbec 2007, $26.95 Whitehall
-Finca Sophrenia Reserve Malbec 2008, +68837 $19.30
-Rutini Malbec 2006, $22 Profile
-Pascual Toso Malbec Reserva 2008, $19.95 Eurovintage
-Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut Rose NV, $14.95 Eurovintage February 2010
-Norton Privada 2006, +148155, $21.95 PMA
-Graffigna Grand Reserve Malbec 2006, $19.99  Corby
-Navarro Correas Alegoria Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, +28936, $19.95
-Finca Flichman Dedicado 2006, $34.95  Charton Hobbs
-Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Malbec 2007, $19.95 Cipelli
-Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Chardonnay-Viognier 2008, $16.95 Cipelli
-Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Malbec 2007, $19.95 Cipelli
-Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor Bonarda Limited Edition 2007, $30 Cipelli
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Andeluna Malbec 2008, $15.99 Stem
-La Chamiza Legend of Polo Malbec 2007, $19.95 Select
-La Chamiza Sparkling Polo Brut 2009, $12.99
-Cristobal 1492 Sparkling Wine NV, $18.95 Ruby
-Schroeder Saurus Malbec 2007, $13.95 Connexion Oenophilia
-Gamela Reserva Torrontes 2009, $26.95 Whitehall
-Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut NV, $14.95 Eurovintage
-Los Clop Reserva Syrah 2007, $16.95 Churchill
-Los Clop Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $16.95 Churchill
The Food: from Daniel & Daniel, we had sandwiches, salads, dried fruits
and cheeses. There was a service of skewered meats, chicken on puff
paste, filet on toast, spicy shrimp with dip, empanadas, and chorizo
pizzettes. There was a carbonada stew as well. Chocolates came out at
the end.
The Downside: the fluorescent lights made everyone –- and the wines --
look jaundiced.
The Upside: a wisely-chosen crowd, fairly knowledgeable and interested
in the wines.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nov 6/09 Trade Event: Canadian Culinary Book Awards

The Time and Date: Friday, November 6, 2009   12 noon to 4 PM
The Event: Announcement of the winners of the 2009 Canadian Culinary
Book Awards (hosted by Cuisine Canada and University of Guelph)
The Venue: Direct Energy Centre Building, adjacent to the Royal
Agricultural Winter Fair.
The Target Audience: contenders, their guests and the media. A large
number of people turned up, which is always a good sign.
The Quote/Background: More than 50 cookbooks published in Canada in
2008 were assessed since April, 2009. These are the 12th annual
presentations, the second at the Royal Winter Fair.
The Wines: we had three wines, all from Niagara College Teaching
Winery. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc 2008, which caught me by
surprise since it was straw and golden in colour, and did not have the
initial zest of a sauvignon blanc. It was an atypical wine, served with
the appetizers (crab and cucumber, asparagus and Balderson cheese with
toast) prepared by Rootham Gourmet Preserves, using some of their
preserves. With the reception food, we had a Cabernet Franc 2006
(nicely maturing, even throwing a deposit) and a Barrel Fermented
Chardonnay 2007 from the Ziraldo Vineyard in St. David. The chardonnay
was excellent, redolent with lanolin unctuousness and oak tones, and
the same colour as the Sauvignon Blanc.
And the award goes to…: it took a while to get through the bilingual
introductions. The awards were for both French and English language
books. The winner of the Canadian Culinary Landmarks Hall of Fame (a
new category reserved for Hall of Fame type books) was "Culinary
Landmarks; a bibliography of Canadian cookbooks, 1825-1949" by
Elizabeth Driver (UTPress). The Gold winner in the English Cookbook
Category was "Small plates for Sharing" edited by Laurie Stempfle
(Company's Coming Publishing). The Gold in the English Special Interest
Category was "Beyond the Great Wall; recipes and travels in the other
China" (Random House Canada) by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. And
the Gold for the English Canadian Food Culture Category was "Anita
Stewart's Canada" (HarperCollins). For other winners and French
language winners, check
The Food: At the closing reception for the winners, we enjoyed a range
of dishes prepared by Jeff Crump of Ancaster Old Mill (risotto with
cauliflower and mushrooms), Jim Loat of Borealis Grille in Guelph
(smoked elk ragout on red fife tagliatelle), David Garcelon of the
Fairmont Royal York Hotel (pork loin from Willowgrove Hill Farm with
cabbages), baking and pastry students from George Brown Chef School
(cookies, apple-cheddar savoury muffins with prosciutto slices,
butternut squash bisque), and Wanda Beaver from Wanda's Pie in the Sky
(pecan pies, cookies, etc.)
The Website: will have further details on these
awards plus more.
The Downside: all the food service lines were packed into one corner
which made for a really bad traffic jam. The other end of the room was
free, and George Brown and Wanda could have been located there.
The Upside: food was terrific, and matched rather well with the wines.
With the long lines it was impossible NOT to talk to others around you.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.


 WORLD CHEESE BOOK (DK, 2009, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5442-9, $25
US hard covers) has been edited by Juliet Harbutt (cheese expert since
opening Jeroboams Wine and Cheese Shop in 1984, now an industry
consultant-judge) with an international list of 20 contributors,
generally one per country or region. Thus, we have our very own Gurth
Pretty ( covering Canada. Hat being said, he
gives 24 cheeses, three per page, on p312 through p319. He tries for
regional representation, but still, most cheese are from Quebec – and
rightly so. There's even a generic "cheddar curds" from all over the
country. My Canadian fave is the black waxed ball of Dragon's Breath
Blue from Nova Scotia, which changes over time. And it is a ball, not a
cylinder as Gurth says. The book has 750 cheeses, photographed as you
would buy them AND in close-ups so you can see the cleanly sliced
version and check for colour, holes and texture of the paste. These
are, of course, the cheese to begin with. Most should be available at
the larger urban cheese store. Some can come via post from producers or
cheese shops. There is a basic primer on cheeses, well-illustrated over
two dozen pages. Then there is a country-by-country arrangement
beginning, of course, with France, plowing through the rest of Europe,
the Americas, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand (you'd think that
with all those sheep down there there'd be more ewe cheeses, but no).
For each cheese, there is a description, tasting notes on the paste and
rind, how best to enjoy it, its age, weight and shape, size, type of
milk (not broken down by time of day), classification, producers. A
first rate job.
Audience and level of use: cheese lovers, cheese clubs, hospitality
schools, libraries.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: lots of menu suggestions for
accompaniments, with some wine notes, use in cooking, and cheeseboard
ideas and possibilities.
The downside to this book: I'd go up to 1,000 cheeses in the next
edition. Cheese is hot, and will remain so for awhile.
The upside to this book: I love those close-up pix of the pastes and
Quality/Price Rating: 95.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nov 2/09 Trade Tasting: Italian Wines

 The Time and Date: Monday, November 2, 2009  10AM to 6 PM
The Event: 14th edition of the Tasting of Wines from Italy, sponsored by
the Italian Trade Commission.
The Venue: Lobby, Roy Thomson Hall.
The Target Audience: wine trade.
The Availability/Catalogue: as usual, ICE gave us the entire catalogue
for the whole run of the trade show tour, which also included
Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax. This resulted in a
210 page book of heavy paper. It was very hard to carry around and
write on it, plus handle a glass and spit, and talk to others. I
managed, but only barely. As usual, the listings gave us the
composition of the blended wines.
The Quote/Background: There were 98 wineries, including 18 from Sicily.
So there were about 500 wines to sip through. Choices had to be made.
The 10AM seminar, remarkably enough, began reasonably close to the
starting time. Attilio Scienza from Italy and Dave Lawrason from
Belleville led us through a variety of new white and red wines from
Sicily; this was an informative seminar. Canada is the 5th largest
destination for Italian wine exports, now at $323 million, making Italy
the second largest supplier of wines to Canada. By October 2009, Italy
was the largest supplier of wine to Ontario ($147 million).
The Wines: I tasted every single wine…just kidding. In actuality, I
used the serendipity approach to tasting: wine is where you find
it…Prices were spotty.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Abraxas Sicilia Passito di Pantelleria Scirafi 2007, 12 Euros FOB
-Abraxas Sicilia IGT Kuddia del Gallo 2008 (zibibbo and viognier)
-Ascheri Piedmont Moscato d'Asti Cristina Ascheri 2008
-Badia a Coltibuono Tuscany Chianti Classico Cultus Boni 2004
-Badia a Coltibuono Tuscany Chianti Classico Vin Santo 2003
-Casa di Grazia Sicilia IGT Emiryam 2007 (syrah) 7 Euros FOB
-Donnafugata Sicilia Contessa Entellina Mille e Una Notte 2006
-Donnafugata Sicilia Passito Di Pantelleria Ben Rye 2007
-Feduo Disisa Sicilia IGT Tornamira 2006 (cab, merlot, syrah)  10 Euros
-Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro 2005
-Villa S.Andrea Tuscany Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico Riserva 2001
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Abraxas Sicilia IGT Kuddia Delle Ginestre 2007 (zibibbo)
-Argentiera Tuscany Bolgheri Superiore 2005
-Badia a Coltibuono Tuscany Chianti Classico 2006
-Batasiolo Piedmont Barolo Briccolina 2004
-Guido Berlucchi Tuscany Bolgheri Cuvee Imperiale Brut NV
-Guido Berlucchi Tuscany Bolgheri Cuvee Imperiale Max Rose Brut NV
-Guido Berlucchi Tuscany Bolgheri Caccia Al Piano 1868 Ruit Hora 2006
-Guido Berlucchi Tuscany Bolgheri Superiore Caccia Al Piano 1868 Levia
Gravia 2005
-Bersano Vini Piedmont Moscato D'Asti San Michele 2008
-Ca' Dei Mandorli Brut Rosato 2008
-Ca' Dei Mandorli Moscato D'Asti Dei Giari 2008
-Casa Girelli Sicilia IGT Virtuoso Syrah 2007
-Castello di Neive Piedmont Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano 2004
-Cusumano Sicilia IGT Angimbe 2008 (insolia, chardonnay)  5.1 Euros FOB
-Demarie Giovanni di Demarie Aldo Piedmont Roero Arneis 2008 $18.95
-Demarie Giovanni di Demarie Aldo Piedmont Nebbiolo d'Alba 2006 $29 Ex-
-Demarie Giovanni di Demarie Aldo Piedmont Roero 2005 $35 Ex-Cellars
-Donnafugata Sicilia Contessa Entellina Tancredi 2006
-Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga D'Alba 2005
-Galarin Moscato D'Asti 2008
-Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cannubi 2004
-Marchesi di Barolo Barolo 2004
-Monte del Fra Bardolino 2008
-Patria Sicilia Etna Rosso Torrepalino Riserva 1996
-Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia 2004
-Produttori Del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pora 2004 $70 Rogers & Co
-San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio 2005 +716266 Vintages
-San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso 2004 $59.95 J. Hanna
-San Felice Vigorello Toscana 2004 $59.95 J. Hanna
-Sella & Mosca Sardegna Moscato D'Asti 2008
-Sella & Mosca Sardegna Carignano Del Sulcis Terrerare Riserva 2003
-Sella & Mosca Sardegna Cannonau Di Sardegna Riserva 2006
-Sella & Mosca Sardegna Alghero Marchese Di Villamarina 2003
-Tasca D'Almerita Sicilia Contea Di Sclafani Rosso Del Conte 2005
-Tenuta Olim Bauda Moscato D'Asti Centive 2008
-Tenuta S. Antonio Di Castagnedi Amarone Della Valpolicella Campo Dei
Gigli 2004
-Tormaresca Puglia IGT Bocca Di Lupo 2004 $35 Mark Anthony
-Viticola Toscana Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi Castello di
Meleto 2005 $29.95 J. Hanna
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Argentiera Tuscany Bolgheri Villa Donoratico 2006
-Cecchi Tuscany Chianti Classico Villa Cerna Riserva 2005
-Gerardo Cesari Amarone Della Valpolicella Bosan 2001
-Dell'Alto Belice Sicilia Trerre Catarratto 2007 4.6 Euros FOB
-Fazio Sicilia IGT Muller-Thurgau 2008
-Feudo di Santa Tresa Sicilia Cerasulo Di Vittoria Santa Tressa 2005 
(nero d'avola, frappato)  6 Euros FOB
-Fontanafredda Barolo 2005
-Patria Sicilia Etna Rosso 2006
-Planeta Sicilia Cometa 2008 (fiano)  10 Euros FOB
-Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncaglie 2005
-Rocca delle Macie Toscana IGT Roccato 2004
-Santa Barbara Puglia Primitivo Di Manduria Rosso 2005
-Savaia Sicilia Zefiro 2008 (insolia)   3.89 Euros FOB
-Streda Belvedere Toscano IGT Toiano Merlot Streda 2005
-Tormaresca Puglia IGT Paiara Bianco 2008
-Trapani Sicilia IGT Vento Del Sud Grillo 2008  4.5 Euros FOB

The Food: buffet style delivery of penne rigate puttanesca, seafood
salad, grilled veggies, salmon, roast beef, prosciutto, gorgonzola,
Parmigiano Reggiano, and a half dozen other cheeses. Marc Thuet catered
it all. But there was none of his bread for us to sample.
The Downside: too many wines to try, but as this has been the case for
years, it must obviously work well for the trade and wineries.
The Upside: a chance to try some really good wines, after sifting
through the catalogue. Of value this time was that every table had the
catalogue page number prominently displayed, making it a breeze to find
the list of wines.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Recent Cookbooks in Review

MEDITERRANEAN CLAY POT COOKING (John Wiley and Sons, 2009, 334 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7645-7633-1, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Paula Wolfert, the
expert on Mediterranean food and author of seven other cookbooks. She's
won just about every cookbook award going, plus a Lifetime Achievement
in France and a Beard induction into the Cookbook Hall of Game. So why
a clay pot book? It turns out that she has been collecting clay pots
for 50 years. To her, these vessels refer to all earthenware,
stoneware, and flameware. They come in different shapes: tall, small,
flat, round, covered, etc. Here are the Moroccan tagine, the Spanish
cazuela, the Chinese sandpot, the terra cotta Romertopf, and others
made from clay and miraceous clay. She has a primer, and then it is off
to soups through desserts. She indicates which clay pot is preferred
for a particular dish. 150 traditional and modern recipes are included,
although portions of the book have appeared in different form in four
magazines (Saveur, Pleasures of Cooking, et al). The appendix lists
sources of food, clay pot sources, and a bibliography for further
reading. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Wolfert lovers, clay pot lovers,
Mediterranean food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cazuela quail with red
peppers and pine nut picada; chard stuffed with toasted corn and
hazelnuts; zucchini musakka with tomatoes and chickpeas; a range of
oven-baked breads; clay pot tianu with lamb, potatoes and onions; slow-
roasted glazed lamb shoulder with spring vegetables.
The downside to this book: I'd just reviewed a couple of slow cooker
books, and now this "clay pot" book hits my desk – is there a revival
afoot for one-pot meals?
The upside to this book: carefully crafted and well-thought out.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

4. IN SEARCH OF BACCHUS; wanderings in the wonderful world of wine
tourism (Scribner, 2009, 294 pages, ISBN 978-1-4165-6243-6, $30 US hard
covers) is by George Taber, author of "Judgment of Paris" and "To Cork
or Not to Cork". Both books had won major awards. And Taber is well on
his way to winning another major award for this current book. The
concept is simple: travel to twelve fascinating wine-producing regions
around the globe. Taber gives us notes on the land, the people, the
culture, the architecture, the grapes, the wines, the winemakers, the
meals. Wine tourism is big business. But it is also not very deep.
Taber points to more relevant materials and descriptions, making his
book a first stop. He took six months off to travel (am I jealous?)
through these places and evaluate what there is to see: Mendoza, Napa,
Stellenbosch, Colchagua, Margaret River, Central Otago, Rioja, Douro,
Tuscany, Bordeaux, Rheingau, and Georgia. There is an appendix for the
armchair traveler which lists relevant wines for sampling, a
bibliography for further reading (and pictures), currency notes, and an
index. This is a good solid introduction and memoir, minus the photos
and specific travel recommendations.
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, people who have already
been to a wine destination.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Napa Valley attracts more than five
million visitors each year, making it California's second most popular
destination after Disneyland.
The downside to this book: in Tuscany, he took a cooking class for four
days. Do we have to hear about it? I now know more people who have
taken classes in Tuscany than people who have not. It's too common to
even mention anymore, and certainly is not part of wine tourism.
The upside to this book: an engaging and accessible memoir of wine and
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5. BASIC JAPANESE COOKING (Whitecap, 2009, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-55285-
971-1, $19.95 US paper covers) AND
6. BASIC THAI COOKING (Whitecap, 2009, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-55285-970-
4, $19.95 US paper covers) are both by Jody Vassallo, who writes
cookbooks about South East Asian foods. Both books are similarly set-
up, except, of course, for the theme. The Japanese book covers sushi,
sashimi and yakitori, ranging from soups to desserts. She has 60 preps
here, with clear instructions. Most recipes are quick and easy, so long
as you have the ingredients on hand. For that you'll need some kind of
larder. This is covered at the beginning with photographs of basic
ingredients. The Thai book is the same, except there are 80 preps.
Again, you'll need a larder of ingredients (all explained). You can
suffer a shortage of shelf space if you have too many pantries or
larders beyond the basic Euro or Mediterranean setup. The photography
is stunning, with close-ups of just about everything you'd need. Of
course, these are just the basics: you'll need other books to get deep
into a country's cuisine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
 Audience and level of use: beginners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: yakitori chicken; shitake
mushroom salad; minced pepper pork ramen; masaman beef curry; spicy
tofu and peanut satay salad; pad siewe; Japanese hamburgers.
The downside to this book: given that there is one recipe per page and
that recipe only covers half the page, I think that the typeface needs
to be made larger. This would be useful if you are a few feet away from
the book.
The upside to this book: nifty, useful collections.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

7. EATING; a memoir (Knopf, 2009, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4000-4296-8,
$25 US hard covers) is by renowned bookman Jason Epstein (co-founder of
the New York Review of Books, editor of Mailer, Nabokov, Vidal,
Doctorow, Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Maida Heatter, and others). For
many years, he was editorial director of Random House. It's a slight
book, covering many bases in his life: childhood summers in Maine,
restaurants of postwar Paris, New York's Chinatown, the Ile de France,
21 Restaurant. For him it is all about food, and he thrives on cooking
as storytelling. Hence, there are more than 40 basic recipes here, in
san serif typeface and with a beige-tan ink colour. Everything is
indexed: the text and the recipes. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
equivalents. But it is hard to believe that he needed log rolling from
five people (Ray Sokolov, Larry McMurtry, James Salter, Scott Peacock,
and Maida Heatter). You might want to look at tarte tatin, fettuccine
with clams or scallops, warm bass salad, or even egg foo yung.
Audience and level of use: memoir lovers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: the book is based on material
originally published in the New York Times.
The downside to this book: it is a slight book – I would have
appreciated more material from his life.
The upside to this book: some of us have been waiting all year for this
book, and our anticipation levels have been satiated.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
8. RICE PASTA COUSCOUS; the heart of the Mediterranean kitchen
(Chronicle Books, 2009, 223 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6297-4, $29.95 US
hard covers) is by Jeff Koehler, a food writer specializing in Med
cooking for major food magazines and larger newspapers. Here, he
concentrates on the starch of the Mediterranean, with preps from
Lebanon, Turkey, Tunisia, Greece, Syria, Italy, Malta, Egypt, Croatia,
France, Algeria, Morocco, and Spain. The book is divided by starch.
With rice, there is a primer on paella (Spain), risotto (Italy), pilaf,
and stuffing. This is followed by recipes for 60 pages. For pasta,
there is a primer on matching pastas with sauces, the ideas of shapes,
cheeses, and making your own fresh pastas (including fresh egg pasta).
Again, 60 pages of pasta preps. The couscous section has a primer on
regional differences, a couscoussier for making the dish, and harissa.
Only 40 pages are given over to recipes here. Recipes are sourced by
region within a country, and are titled in both English and native
languages. He concludes with a discourse on herbs and spices, sources
of supply and equipment (all U.S.), and a bibliography for further
reading. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate levels of experience.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fusilli in cream sauce with
sausage and fennel seeds (Abruzzo, Italy); Catalan two-course Christmas
soup; gandia-style fideua (Valencia, Spain); couscous with chicken,
caramelized onions and raisins (Morocco); berkoukes with chicken
(Algeria); risotto with porcini mushrooms and scallops (Northern
Italy); lentils and rice with fried onions (Lebanon).
The downside to this book: too many generic product photos. We need
more of the finished plates.
The upside to this book: good useful concept.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
9. GOOD FOOD FOR ALL; seasonal recipes from a community garden (The
Stop, 2009; distr. Simon & Schuster Canada, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4391-
7041-0, $19.99 Canadian paper covers) comes from The Stop, a Toronto
Community Food Centre. I must declare a minor conflict-of-interest
since my wife financially supports The Stop. The preps here were
developed in their own community kitchen by Joshna Maharaj, and use
local items from their own garden. The recipes are tied into the "good
food revolution" which emphasizes sustainability, naturalness, low
carbon footprints, knowledge of origin, and how the food system works.
There are almost 80 basic recipes (arranged by season), with lots of
technique tips and cook's notes on how to maximize affordable meals on
a budget. More details can be found at In addition to
community kitchens serving over 150 needy each day, there are gardens,
cooking classes, drop-in meals, peri-natal support, a food bank,
outdoor bake ovens, food markets and community advocacy. In 2009, The
Stop opened The Green Barn, a sustainable food production and education
centre with a 3,000 square foot greenhouse, commercial kitchen,
classroom, sheltered garden and composting facility. The Stop also
offers school visits and an after-school program. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no
metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginning cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: peach salsa; za'atar; fish
tacos; sticky sesame chicken wings; roasted veggie burritos; green
tomato ketchup; jerk chicken.
The upside to this book: this is a useful fundraiser.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

10. GET COOKING; 150 simple recipes to get you started in the kitchen
(HarperStudio, 2009, 268 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-173243-0, $24.99 US paper
covers) is by Mollie Katzen, once associated with the Moosewood
restaurant co-operative in Ithaca, NY. She created "The Moosewood
Cookbook" and "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest", as well as other
cookbooks. In fact, she is beginning the Get Cooking series of books,
tied in to her website at This is yet another
"good food, simple recipes, and quick preparations" book. But it is
also one of the more stylish ones. It is also her first cookbook for
omnivores (aka meat-eaters), with recipes using chicken, fish, and
meats. The book has chapters from soups to desserts. In the preface,
she wants us all to get cooking, no matter what our level of
experience. She feels that if you can get to cook, then you will
appreciate food better, and stay away from the bad stuff (i.e. pre-
purchased foods and takeout deliveries). Certainly, you can control the
salt levels at home. Equipment is mandatory (she explains it all), and
prep work must be exact. Simple preps call for grilling and frying, and
the accompanying photos are tasteful. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners and others.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cream of spinach and
broccoli soup; Caesar salad with a from-scratch salad dressing; acorn
squash stuffed with apple-almond-cherry basmati pilaf; turkey burgers.
The downside to this book: menus could have been presented – these are
always useful for cooks at all levels.
The upside to this book: there is something here for everyone.
Quality/Price Rating: 86,

11. CULINARY VIETNAM (Gibbs Smith, 2009, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-
0320-7, $35 US hard covers) is by Daniel Hoyer, who once worked as a
sous chef at Coyote Café in Santa Fe, NM. He is currently a restaurant
consultant and culinary travel guide ( He had
previously authored "Culinary Mexico", a combination food and travel
book. The Vietnam book is similar in structure, with detail about the
land and people. Here he begins with the dipping sauces and condiments,
moving on to appetizers and beverages, through salads, soups, noodles,
beef, pork, poultry, seafood, rice and banh dishes, and veggies.
Recipes are laid out nicely, and the typeface is usefully large.
Indigenous names are also listed for the preps. The photos are a
mixture of travel shots, food shots, and plated dish shots.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a metric table of equivalents. Sources of supply are
indicated, but they are all U.S.
Audience: armchair travelers and those interested in Vietnamese foods.
Some interesting recipes: Vietnamese coffee; shrimp, pork and cabbage
salad; chicken and glass noodle soup; grilled five-spice pork chops;
chicken, lemongrass, and chile stir-fry; grilled fish fillets with
ginger sauce.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nov 27/09 - Hotel Dinner - Eight Wine Bar, with Zoltan Szabo

The Time and Date: Friday, November 27, 2009   7 PM to 11 PM
The Event: The French Connection tasting of wines and food pairings.
The Venue: Eight Wine Bar, Cosmopolitan Hotel
The Target Audience: paid customers, wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are available in the LCBO system or
at the winery, certainly at Eight Wine Bar.
The Quote/Background: Zoltan Szabo chose the wines to be paired with
the food. We had three wines with each plate of three small servings.
In most cases, the pairing worked from left to right, but of course, we
could cross-compare, and even save our wines for later dishes. The
pours were about 2 ounces each, so we had to carefully conserve our
drinking if we wanted to do cross-comparisons. Zoltan led a seminar in
tasting principles and tried to show how the wines worked.
The Wines: The wines were chosen to complement the food, or maybe it
was the other way around. It was an eclectic selection, based on French
varietal grapes in Canada (Ontario and BC). WE WERE SERVED THE WINES
BLIND: we only knew that they were either Canada or France.
-NV Prosecco Brut, Frattina, Lison Primaggiore, Veneto – reception wine
-2006 Fume Blanc, Peninsula Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
-2007 Semillon, Legends Estates, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula,
-2007 Chateau Le Bonnat, Graves, Bordeaux
-with these three whites, we had beet cured Ontario trout, citrus
fennel salad with a caper tarragon vinaigrette; a smoked salmon mousse
with dill crème fraiche and salmon caviar; and a lobster salad with
avocado, mango  and cilantro.
-this was the most straight-forward part of the tasting. The wines went
best in order with the dish, i.e., the fume with the trout, the
Semillon with the salmon, the Graves with the lobster. The wines were
easy to identify as to types: I quickly identified type and regions of
the fume, the Semillon, and the white Bordeaux, but I did not know the
producers. I suspected Peninsula Ridge for the fume.
-2005 Petales d'Osoyoos, Osoyoos Larose, Okanagan Valley, British
-2006 Merlot Reserve, Peninsula Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
-2001 Cabernet Merlot, Viewpointe Estates, Lake Erie North Shore,
-with these three reds, we had braised rabbit with a grain mustard and
ale cream; a duck confit with a wild blueberry sauce; and a pan-seared
squab with a chili chocolate sauce. Again, the wines seemed to go best
with the three dishes in order, although I felt the LENS wine was also
good with the rabbit. These dishes were all grouped as "Right Bank", so
I suspected merlot as the grape and Canada as the region for all three.
After that, I was lost.

-2005 Le Grand Vin, Osoyoos Larose, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
-2006 Merlot, Stratus, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
-2005 Chateau Franc-Cardinal, Cotes de Francs, Bordeaux
-with these three reds, we had samplings of pan-seared kangaroo loin
with a sour cherry reduction; citrus and mint crusted lamb loin with an
herb port reduction; and maple and ginger marinated venison with bacon
foam. There was much discussion as to what wines went with what foods.
I settled on the Stratus for the kangaroo, both the Osoyoos and the
Franc-Cardinal for the lamb, and the Franc-Cardinal with the venison. I
pegged the first red as Canada and the last two as France.
-2004 Chateau Crabitan Bellevue, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Sauternes
-2006 Small Lots Syrah, Phantom Creek Vineyard, Sandhill, Okanagan
Valley, British Columbia
-2004 Chateau des Jaubertes, Graves, France
 -with these wines, we were served the cheese course (a selection of
local Ontario cheeses). I did not get their names, but we did need
bigger serving portions if we were to attempt cross-comparisons.
The Food: excellent (see above), portions just right – small samplings.
The Downside: we needed more cheese and bread.
The Upside: Zoltan Szabo gave a first-rate commentary.
The Contact Person:  Zoltan Szabo <>
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 95.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oct 26/09 Event: Taste Napa Valley Canada 2009, trade show

 The Time and Date: Monday, October 26, 2009   2:30 PM to 5 PM
The Event: Taste Napa Valley Canada 2009, trade show
The Venue: Royal Ontario Museum
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines were available through the
various distribution channels, or by private order. The LCBO had an on-
site ordering system for most of the wines being shown.
The Wines: I did not have the opportunity to try every wine, but here
were my faves:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Barlow Vineyards Barrouge Bordeaux Blend 2005, $49
-Beaulieu Georges de Latour Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $109
-Blackbird Illustration Bordeaux Blend 2006, $99
-Chappellet Winery Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
-Heitz Wine Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
-Heitz Wine Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford
-John Anthony Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $59
-Pahlmeyer Chardonnay 2007, $89
-Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Bordeaux Blend 2005, $149
-Peju Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $59
-Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2006,
$85.95 Vintages Dec 5/09
-Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1987 Rare Wine Selection,
-St. Supery Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $24
-Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
-Tres Sabores Zinfandel Rutherford 2006, $39
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Blackbird Arise Bordeaux Blend 2007, $55
-Cain Concept The Benchland Red Table Wine 2005, $59.95 from Rogers &
-Chappellet Winery Mountain Cuvee Meritage 2007
-Chimney Rock Elevage Bordeaux Blend Stags Leap District 2005, $69.95
from Mark Anthony
-Cliff Lede Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, $199
-Cuvaison Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder 2006
-Folie a Deux Lewelling Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
-Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $79.95 Vintages
-Napa Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
-Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2006
-Pine Ridge Dijon Clones Chardonnay Los Carneros 2007
-Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $59
-Rutherford Hill Chardonnay 2007, $26.95 from Mark Anthony
-Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District
2005, $69
-Spring Mountain Elivette Bordeaux Blend Spring Mountain District 2004,
-Stag's Leap Wine Cellars FAY Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Stags Leap
District, $99
-Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 [2005 at Vintages, $49.95]
-Stags' Leap Winery Merlot 2006 Vintages $44.95
-Tres Sabores Por Que No? Red Table Wine Rutherford 2007 (2/3
zinfandel), $29
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Blackbird Contrarian Bordeaux Blend 2006
-Boeschen Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena 2006
-Boeschen Vineyards Carrera Bordeaux Blend St Helena 2006
-Cain Cuvee NV
-Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $69
-Clos du Val Zinfandel 2007
-Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2005
-Darioush Signature Viognier 2008
-Frias Family Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District 2006, $75
-Grgich Hills Merlot 2005
-Shafer Merlot 2006
-Signorello Vieilles Vignes Estate Chardonnay 2007, $48
-Signorello Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $64
-Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $64
The Food: pates and cheeses, breads, dried fruit, bottled water.

Oct 29/09 Event: Halpern Enterprises Portfolio Wine Tasting.

The Time and Date: Thursday, October 29, 2009  2:30PM to 7 PM
The Event: Halpern Enterprises Portfolio Wine Tasting.
The Venue: Allstream Centre (Automotive Building, CNE)
The Target Audience: clients, wine trade, guests.
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines are available through a
variety of distribution channels. The catalogue was a model: arranged
alphabetically by producer, with names of representatives and
winemakers attending the show, a brief history of the winery, and full
tasting notes on the wines, along with prices.
The Quote/Background: Halpern puts on a biennial portfolio wine tasting
in support of its Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival (
which ran from October 29 through 31 this year. The Festival is in
support of The Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation.
The Wines: of course, I did not try every wine.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Antinori Bramito Chardonnay 2008, $22.50 – bargain priced Umbrian wine
-Antinori Badia a Passignano 2005, $43.85
-Castello di Ama L'Apparita [merlot] 2006 Tuscany, $233.25
-M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2004, $68.25
-Champagne Drappier Grande Sendree 2002, $83.35
-Champagne Gosset Grand Rose Brut NV, $86.80
-Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles 2007, $148.40
-Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2007 Alsace, $60.85
-Hugel Pinot Gris Jubilee 2005 Alsace, $49.25
-P. Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 2005, $268.20
-L'Aventure Cote a Cote 2007 Paso Robles, $102.55
-L'Aventure Optimus 2007 Paso Robles, $70
-Vega Sicilia Valbuena 2004 Ribera del Duero, $187.45
-Winesmith Surly Chenin Blanc 2005, $13 – "best buy"
-Winesmith Planet Pluto Meritage 2005, $21.95 – "best buy red"
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Aldo Conterno Chardonnay Bussia d'Or 2005, $58.75
-Aldo Conterno Barolo 2004, $120.90
-Antinori Tignanello 2006, $99.95
-Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino 2004, $170.90
-Burge Family G3 Shiraz/Mourvedre/Grenache 2007 Barossa, $49
-M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2003, $60.95
-Ch. D'Esclans Rose 2007, $43.10
-Cliff Lede Poetry 2006 Napa, $193.60
-Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Stags Leap, $69.50
-Domaine Carneros Vintage 2005 Brut, $32.70
-Domaine Carneros Cuvee de la Pompadour Rose NV, $45.80
-Domaine de Montille Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Meursault Villages
2006, $70.75
-Champagne Drappier Carte d'Or Brut, $46.95
-Domaine Dujac Vosne Romanee Les Malconsorts 2007, $164.15
-Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetieres 2007, $88.90
-Faiveley Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Porets St. Georges, $83.45
-Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Rennina, $98.75
-Gaja Ca'Marcanda Magari IGT, $76
-Champagne Gosset Excellence Brut NV, $56.25
-Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchere 2007,
-P. Jaboulet Hermitage Chevalier de Sterimberg 2006, $109.15
-Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Sonoma, $67.95
-Silver Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2005, $88.60
-Silver Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005, $141.20
-Tenuta di Biserno Biserno 2007 Tuscany, $166.60
-Tenuta di Biserno Il Pino di Biserno 2006 Tuscany, $68.90
-Tenuta di Biserno Coronato 2006 Tuscany, $63.40
-Tenuta di Trinoro Cupole di Trinoro Tuscany IGT 2007, $48.55
-Terredora Taurasi Campore 2003 Campania, $45.65
-Vega Sicilia Pintia 2006 Ribera del Duero, $66.15
-Vega Sicilia Alion 2005 Ribera del Duero, $80.80
-Weingut Heitlinger Spicy Stone Pinot Gris Dry 2008 Baden, $16.15
-Winesmith Crucible Meritage 2004 Napa, $129.40
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Poggio Salvi Rosso di Montalcino 2007, $35.35
-Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino 2004, $76.95
-Castello di Ama Al Poggio Chardonnay 2008 Tuscany, $40.75
-Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2006 Sonoma, $39.35
-Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $49.65
-Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2004, $74.05
-Fumanelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2005, $72.35
-Isole e Olena Uvaggio Coste della Sesia Rosso Piedmont, $43.65
-P. Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalbert 2006, $52.75
-Jordan Chardonnay 2006 Sonoma, $43
-Planeta Chardonnay 2007 Sicily, $44.10
-Planeta Santa Cecilia 2006 Sicily, $44.10
-Remoissenet Beaune 1er Cru Greves 2007, $59.75
-Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno 2006, $76.60
-Tenuta Sette Ponti Orma 2006, $71.65
-Winesmith Cheapskate Meritage NV, $15
-Winesmith Second Fiddle 2005, $70
The Food: quality imported and local cheeses, breads, bottled water.
The Downside: the time flew by, and I was unable to taste all the wines
I wanted to.
The Upside: there were a lot of expensive and quality wines to sample.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 91.