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Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 2008 Wines from Vintages for BYOW at a Restaurant....

1. Daniel Lenko Signature Chardonnay 2005 VQA (+75671 $39.95 retail,
suggested $55 on wine card) is only produced during the better
vintages. Nicely balanced, and affordable for a BYOW.
2. Franciscan Chardonnay 2006 Napa Valley (+496125 $24.95 retail,
suggested $39 on wine card) is a restaurant wine decent coconut tones.
3. Pierre Sparr Mambourg Riesling 2003 Alsace Grand Cru (+686006 $26.95
retail, suggested $39 on wine card) is intense and ridiculously priced
low for a Grand Cru from an aromatic year.
4. Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 2006 (+51383 $64.95 retail,
suggested $79 on wine card) is elegance personified.
5. Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (+25221 $24.95 retail,
suggested $39 on wine card) is a Bordeaux blend, ripe and ready now for
the resto trade.
6. Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Coonawarra (+590471 $29.95
retail, suggested $45 on wine card) is smooth and ready now.
7. Campo Al Sorbo Chianti Rufina Riserva 1997 (+551507 $33.95 retail,
suggested $48 on wine card) is fairly well-layered, a good aged
chianti. Buy a lot of it at this price.
8. Torres Salmos Tinto 2005 Priorat (+60772 $32.95 retail, suggested
$48 on wine card) good blend of garnacha-syrah-carinena-cabernet in new
French oak.
1. Casa Marin Cipress Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 San Antonio Valley
Chile (+72678 $29.95 retail, suggested $44 on wine card) is a big wine
with huge SB flavours.
2. Coyote's Run Reserve Chardonnay 2006 VQA Niagara (+49775 $20.95
retail, suggested $35 on wine card) has great balance of flavours and
oak. Twist top.
3. Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Four Mile Creek
(+79228 $23.95 retail, suggested $38 on wine card) tastes older but
very Burgundian in style.
4. Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Napa (+91058 $28.95 retail,
suggested $43 on wine card) is restaurant-ready now.
5. Freemark Abbey Merlot 2002 Rutherford Napa (+1602 $31.95 retail,
suggested $47 on wine card) shows good aging, finish.
 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2006 St. Helena (+34546 $41.95 retail,
suggested $56 on wine card) oaky tasty, cream, great for patio.
2. Marc Bredif Vouvray 2006 (+685362 $20.95 retail, suggested $35 on
wine card) is a great vaklue wine for restaurants.
3. Lailey Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Niagara River (+591370 $24.95 retail,
suggested $39 on wine card) is a resto wine with fruit and wood nicely
in balance.
4. Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 McLaren Vale (+730374 $23.95
retail, suggested $39 on wine card) a dynamite wine dripping with power
fruit and wood tones.
5. Black Rock Red 2006 Swartland (+68502 $23.95 retail, suggested $39
on wine card) a Euro-style Rhone mix, like a Gigondas.
6. Vergenoegd Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Stellenbosch (+68445 $23.95
retail, suggested $39 on wine card) is rich and fruity, ready to roll.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Resto/Celebrity Cookbooks for August 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 –

17. OLAF'S KITCHEN; a master chef shares his passion (John Wiley &
Sons, 2008, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-15565-3, $28.95 soft covers) is
by Olaf Mertens, who studied culinary work in Germany. Subsequently, he
spent several years at Rogues Restaurant, and now is head chef and
partner at three Mississauga restaurants (On the Curve, Ten Restaurant
& Wine Bar, and West50 Pourhouse and Grille. This is another book about
a chef writing for home cooks who want flair in their approaches to
dinner. Low fat but flavourful dishes can be approached by using herbs
instead of fats. Throughout the book, there is a sense of German
influences (chocolate sauerkraut cake, spaetzle, herbal schnapps-cured
salmon, scalloped kohlrabi, strudel, soured beef short ribs, et al)
with a lighter touch. As with most current books, there is the S-L-O
approach (seasonal, local, organic if possible) too. There is a nice
section on "faster-cooking" foods, so you can quickly entertain or have
a mid-week meal. Beer is the prep liquid of choice for cooking. While
the book does emphasize low fat, there are some exciting cheese dishes
including a goat cheese brule cake. Of note are nice pictures of the
unidentified staff – which makes the book an easy sell at his restos.
Quality/Price rating: 86.

18. FOOD 2.0 (Dorling Kindersley, 2008, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-
3358-5, $25 US hard covers) is by Charlie Ayers, one-time cook for
Google in 1999 when they only had 40 employees. The book is "with Karen
Alexander and Carolyn Humphries". Log rollers include Iron Chef Cat
Cora. His mission was to get the workers all back to their respective
computer screens in the afternoon pumped with energy. He left in 2005,
and by that time, he was feeding 1500 a day. He now has an earth-
friendly fast food resto (Calafia) in Palo Alta. His shopping
principles are SLO: seasonal, local and organic. His backup drive is
always a fully loaded pantry. His 100 recipes try to promote
concentration in the brain, starting with brekkies and moving through
to the pick me ups at the end of the day. Try an apricot multi-grain
breakfast, or a cranberry-orange bread, dragon breath noodles, khmer
spring rolls, turkey-avocado-carrot wrap, or snapper in a yogurt coat.
More details at Quality/Price rating: 87.

19. BREAKFAST AT THE WOLSELEY (Quadrille, 2008; distr. Ten Speed Press,
128 pages, ISBN 978-1-84400444-7, $29.95US hard covers) is by the
quirky A.A. Gill, a restaurant critic for the Sunday Times and a
freelance food writer. He has written many books, including two on
London restaurants The Ivy and Le Caprice, also owned by the owners of
The Wolseley. Coincidence? I think not…. Here he gives a behind-the-
scenes look at breakfast served in a tony Piccadilly resto which bills
itself as a cross between a café and a brasserie (maybe a brashcafe?).
He details the front of house activities and the kitchen scenes. While
Gill did the essays, there was a photographer and a recipe team (Julian
O'Neill and Lewis Esson). Breakfast – also known as brekkies – might be
the most important meal of the day, but it seems a lot easier to re3ad
about it rather than make it. Would you like to cook, before 7 AM,
brioche, haggis and duck egg, lamb kidneys with Madeira, compote of
prune and elderflower? I didn't think so, but invite me over if you do.
Gill's essay is good basic history of the European breakfast.
Quality/Price rating: 86.

128 pages, ISBN 878-0-470-22939-2, $19.95 US hard covers) is by Larry
Flax and Rick Rosenfield, co-founders of the California Pizza Kitchen,
which opened first in 1985 and now is a chain of 230 restos in 30 US
states and eight countries. The group has also come up with "The
California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook" (1996, and with sales of over
250,000) and "California Pizza Kitchen Pasta, Salads, Soups and Sides".
More about the restos are at The book is useful for sales
at the restaurants, for obviously there are many fans. Here, the
concentration is on preps the whole family can both make and enjoy,
including all the signature dishes which bear no relation to Italian
pizza whatsoever except for the dough. Jerk Chicken? S'mores? Chipotle
chicken? And other non-pizzas like mac and cheese, salads, panini,
piccatas, Fifty recipes here, largely developed by Brian Sullivan,
Senior Vice President of Culinary Development. Quality/Price rating:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review: BEYOND THE GREAT WALL; recipes and travels in the other China

BEYOND THE GREAT WALL; recipes and travels in the other China
(Random House Canada, 2008, 376 pages, ISBN 978-0-679-31466-6, $70 CAD
hard covers) is by the team of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who
have authored many cookbooks (which double as travel books) about the
Far East: "Mangoes and Curry Leaves" (IACP Best International Cookbook
winner), "Hot Sour Salty Sweet", "Seductions of Rice". Plus two books
on bread and home baking. But it is hard to believe that, given their
elevated status as cookbook authors, they still need log rolling
endorsements from John Thorne (who seems to do nothing else but these
days) and Claudia Roden. Anyway, the book is out in time to cash in on
the Chinese popularity of the Beijing Olympics. And, of course, the
book includes Tibet, which at this writing is a contentious issue.
Other areas are Inner Mongolia, Guizhou and Yunnan, and parts of the
Silk Road. The book weighs in at 4.7 pounds, a hefty disadvantage for
the kitchen. My usual advice still stands: for recipes, make a fair use
photocopy to absorb the usual splattering and for ease of handling in
the kitchen. As with their other books, here is a mixture of stunning
photographs, compelling stories and history, and plenty of home
cooking. We've seen most of the recipes before in other cookbooks, for
these are classic peasant dishes that can be found in Tibetan, et al,
recipe books. The value is in the culturally distinct regions' approach
to food. The authors have been in the region many times over the past
25 years (they met there). Sources include families, street vendors,
local markets, and small restaurants: shaping noodles, making soups,
stir-fries, kebabs, teas, and flour and a few rice-derived desserts.
Photos are keyed to recipe pages. Avoirdupois weights and measures are
used for the ingredients, but there are conversion tables for
American/Imperial/Metric forms. There is a glossary, a bibliography,
and sources in North America for food and equipment.
Audience and level of use: arm chair travelers, dedicated cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: grasslands herb salsa;
Tibetan tsampa soup; tomato-lamb noodle soup; beef-sauced hot lettuce
salad; ginger and carrot stir fry; ear lobe noodles; lhasa beef and
potato stew.
The downside to this book: lovely to look at, but unwieldy to use.
The upside to this book: a bright, well-defined travel book.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

July Reviews of "Bring Your Own Wines" from Vintages releases

1. Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2006 Twenty Mile
Bench (+1552 $24.95 retail, suggested $39 on wine card) is a
twist topped understated wine in a numbered bottle. Cachet,
2. Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2005 Napa (+346304 $58.95 retail,
suggested $72 on wine card) is 14.3% in classic California
chardonnay style.
3. St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Napa (+339663 $24.95 retail,
suggested $39 on wine card) deals with intense flavours but
finishes off-dry.
4. Devil's Lair Chardonnay 2005 Margaret River (+543447 $39.95
retail, suggested $55 on wine card) is Euro style, good
integration with oak.
5. Pillitteri Estates Family Reserve Merlot 2002 Niagara (+71753
$39.95 retail, suggested $53 on wine card) good oaking,
restaurant-ready now.
6. Rodney Strong Merlot 2004 Sonoma (+497933 $24.95 retail,
suggested $39 on wine card) is extremely popular, with over two
years of oak aging.
7. Devil's Lair Red 2003 Margaret River (+543454 $49.95 retail,
suggested $64 on wine card) is Euro-style, Bordeaux-blend, needs
food, ready now.
8. Argiano Non Confunditur 2005 Toscana (+72397 $26.95 retail,
suggested $40 on wine card) a supertuscan big wine with cabernet,
sangiovese, merlot and syrah.
9. Giuseppe Campagnola Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2005
(+76653 $46.95 retail, suggested $60 on wine card) is full of
fruit and brimming with chocolate.
1. Balnaves Chardonnay 2005 Coonawarra (+70458, $36.95 retail,
suggested $52 on wine card) twist top, balanced minerals and oak.
2. Sandalford Chardonnay 2005 Margaret River (+75978, $28.95 retail,
suggested $43 on wine card) twist top, pale gold colour, a year in
French oak.
3. Raymond Reserve Merlot 2005 Napa (+38059 $23.95 retail, suggested
$38 on wine card) has prominent oak but is resto ready.
4. Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel 2005 Sonoma (+363358 $24.95
retail, suggested $39 on wine card) is another restaurant wine, ready
5. Tapestry Merlot 2005 McLaren Vale (+64063 $26.95 retail, suggested
$41 on wine card) aging well, and some pruniness.
6. Baron De Ley Gran Reserva 1998 Rioja (+642496, $32.95 retail,
suggested $47 on wine card) is 13.5% and is a great older wine, stock
up for celebrations of 1998.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nova Scotia wines: L'Acadie, Benjamin Bridge, Port Bistro and The Tempest, July 11, 2008

The Time and Date:  Friday, July 11, 2008  11AM to 8 PM
The Event: a day in Nova Scotia with Chef Michael Howell from The
Tempest, including visits to Gaspereau Valley's L'Acadie Vineyards and
Benjamin Bridge, and for food, to Port Bistro in Port Williams and The
Tempest in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
The Venue: two wineries and two restos.
The Target Audience: me
The Availability/Catalogue: only one wine from Benjamin Bridge, the
Nova 7 was released the day I arrived in Nova Scotia. L'Acadie has
plenty of wine, but currently you'll have to go to Nova Scotia to get
The Quote:
The Wines: Bruce Ewert is the owner of L'Acadie Vineyards; he's been
here since 2004. Before that, he was a sparkling winemaker in BC,
notably with Pyramid and Steve Cipes. He makes five different styles
using the l'acadie hybrid. One of the styles is sparkling. He uses the
traditional method of riddling, and has crafted L'Acadie Brut 2005
which has aged in the bottle for three years ($37.28). Fine bubbles,
yeasty complexity. His plans call for more sparklers, such as an
affordable Charmat Method version. He also makes an organic cider 2007
under cork, $18.07, which has a strong component of apple peel (Golden
Russet, Northern Spy, Cox Orange Pippin, and Rhode Island Greening).
Currently he makes 2,000 cases, but has capacity for 5,000. Ten per
cent of his space is devoted to organic cider. His vineyard holdings
were certified organic in 2007, and his newer wines are now organic.
Some grapes are brought in, but eventually he hopes to be 100% organic.
Peter Gamble, who seems to start more winemaking operations than Vincor
has wineries, made the first batches at Benjamin Bridge, the new high-
flying winery in the Gaspereau owned by Gerry McConnell and Dara
Gordon. It sits on a 60-acre property once called Benjamin Bridge. The
profile of the area is definitely Champagne-like, so they went at it
that way, using organic grapes. And the services of Champagne expert
Raphael Brisbois. Indeed, the 2003 Brut I tasted was spectacular, made
from Chardonnay, L'acadie, Vidal, Pinot noir, and Seyval Blanc. The
2002, equally good with more time in the bottle, came from 70%
chardonnay. Definitely in the RD style. They won't be released until
2011 and 2012, to coincide with the opening of their new winery. 10,000
cases seem to be the capacity, and $15 million is going into the
operation. Both sparklers will probably retail at $60 plus. The current
full-time winemaker is Montreal-born Jean-Benoit Deslauriers. The only
wine available right now (exclusively through the NS liquor stores) is
Nova 7, a vintaged version of Asti spumante, selling for about $22.75.
Both wineries have aggressively priced their wines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Brut MC 2002
-Benjamin Bridge Brut MC 2003
-Benjamin Bridge Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – Loire style, extractive
mouthfeel, about $35.
-L'Acadie Star 2007 – very good component, high viscosity, big fat
wine, longer finish, $19.20.
-L'Acadie Brut Traditional Style Sparkling Wine 2005 - $37.28
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Marechal Foch 2004 – Ann Sperling's recipe, good oak.
-Benjamin Bridge Marechal Foch Reserve 2005 – more fruit and less oak.
-L'Acadie Organic 2007 - $21.46, very minerally.
-L'Acadie Alchemy 2006 – Amarone-styled wine, full bodies, 16 months in
oak. $42.93.
-L'Acadie Eclipse 2006 – Ripasso-style red, using the grapes from
Alchemy. $27.11.
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2007 – will next year be Nova 8? Just peachy.
-L'Acadie 2007 - $16.94, 11.4% ABV, peach side.

The Food: we had lunch at Port Bistro, which is billed as a gastropub.
Howell is the menu consultant. He aims for good value food for people
in the area who know his values but do not an expensive night out. It
was one of the few places around that offered fried local clams with
bellies (most are just imported necks), only $12.95 a generous serving.
There was a crab dip with artichokes, crab and cream cheese. The
microbrewery that operates in the resto is Sea Level Brewing. They
offer a tasting sampler, as all such microbreweries should (but often
don't), of 2.5 ounce servings. There was a Moondance organic lager
(naturally cloudy), a Rojo Mojo Red Ale, an IPA style, a Porter style,
and a light brew for summer. The décor is more in the line of a resto
and not a pub. Good food, good wine. At dinner, we went to The Tempest
for the tasting menu. My wife had a lobster risotto and bay scallops
with gonads, and a crab-stuffed haddock crusted with a potato basket
and fried. Local wines were served by the glass. My tasting menu, which
seemed to go on forever, comprised small servings of pickled cipolini
with goat cheese and red pepper, smoked salmon and oka cheese, cod
cheeks on greens, BBQ shrimp and mango sauce with ketaifa, passion
fruit sorbet, morels in a cream sauce, halibut on a bed of new
potatoes, grassfed beef, and house smoked applewood pork and polenta. I
settled for a small strawberry and rhubarb sorbet for dessert.
The Downside: I had no room for more dessert and I was also desperate
for a trou Normand back in my room.
The Upside: great wines and great foods all day.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90 for the wines; the chef is my

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nederburg Wine Tasting at Veritas, Toronto, June 12, 2008

The Time and Date: Thursday, June 12, 2008     7Pm to 10PM
The Event: Nederburg wine tasting dinner.
The Venue: Veritas Restaurant, King Street
The Target Audience: wine press (Michael Pinkus and myself)
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines are available from time to time
in Vintages (see below). Linley Schultz, the chief winemaker for
Distell (the mother company) and Deveron Wilcock, the Distell brands
manager in Canada were eating with us, and answering questions. Dana
Lee Harris was flown in from out west to co-ordinate and moderate all
of us.
The Quote: "Nederburg regularly collects Veritas awards in South Africa
– and here we are eating at Veritas. Coincidence?"
The Wines: Distell produces over 20 million cases annually, most
selling for under $50. They are the largest in South Africa, and they
also do brandy and apple cider (they are the second biggest producer of
apple cider in the world). Nederburg has 800K cases a year, and
regularly picks up awards because of its high value/low pricing
policies. The Manor House label is reserved for the "best of the best".
Like many large wineries, the company has a tiered system. To night we
tried some of tier two (Winemaker's Reserve) and some of tier three
(Manor House) – six in all. Most of the Manor House production was for
export. We did them in pairs:
-Winemaker's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007 - $11.75, 750,000 litres
made, their basic good SB with zest.
-Manor House Sauvignon Blanc 2007 - $16.95, 27K litres made, more
length in the finish, from three "single blocks", all of them cool
climate type for that sprightly greenness.
-Winemaker's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - $11.75, herbal
complexity but also a New World softness.
-Manor House Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - $16.95, hand-picked and hand-
sorted. 10 year old vines from Paarl vineyards. Some herbal
complexities as well as a Bordeaux feel. Supple tannins for early
development. Vintages on August 23.
-Winemaker's Reserve Shiraz 2006 - $11.75, 400K litres made. Soft,
mocha tones.
-Manor House Shiraz 2006 - $16.95, 50K litres made, using chips and
staves and brandy barrels for 18 months. Medal winner. And the 2005 won
a Rosemount Trophy plus other Golds in other competitions. Tons of
black fruit on the nose, spicy finish. Low yielding vineyard blocks.
Vintages on August 23.
The Food: we tasted the wines, and then we ate dinner, cross-tasting
the wines and foods. The food was off the menu; we shared oysters. We
decided to have samples of everything (God knows what it cost the
agent): mini versions of mushroom and vegetable cannelloni, vegetarian
cassoulet, Cornish hen, Ontario pickerel, pork loin, trout, striploin,
duck breast – everything as local and seasonal as possible. In true
style, all the wines went well with everything because they were
designed that way.
The Downside: the gathering was small.
The Upside: all questions were answered.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 93.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The 2008 Riesling Experience, Brock University, July 17, 2008

The Time and Date: Thursday July 17, 2008  9AM to 4PM
The Event: The 2008 Riesling Experience, an international celebration
of style, structure and purity.
The Venue: Brock University
The Target Audience: Ontario winemakers, the wine media.
The Availability/Catalogue: we had rare wines in a seminar plus a
tasting after lunch of VQA wines (older releases, new releases)
The Quote: "
The Wines: Angelo Pavan from Cave Spring Cellars and Chair of the
Riesling Experience moderated the panel. The keynote speaker was
Olivier Humbrecht from Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace. He reported on
his and the Alsatian approach to Riesling, with comments on his 2005
vintage Riesling wines (we tasted four of them). He noted the impact of
global warming, which can be a serious issue (pick earlier? accelerate
ripening?) along with soil compaction. There was a panel with Ulrich
Fischer from Germany who pointed out that 61% of Riesling worldwide
comes from Germany and 10% comes from Alsace. He clearly showed that
sensory charts of terroirs illuminate the similarities in the Riesling
aromatics of apple, rhubarb, lemon, peach, tropical fruit, honey, green
bean, and bitter. David Peterson from Swedish Hill in New York told us
what New York was doing. Most Riesling has only been planted since
1980, and mostly on lakeside slopes. Clone 239 produces peach and
tropical aromatics, while clones 90 and 198 have minerals and citric
tones. Jim Willwerth from Brock covered both consistency and diversity,
concentrating on Niagara sub-appellation characteristics. The Lakeshore
(cooler, more drainage, low water) produces astringency of citric and
minerals, while the Bench (low yields, high water) have more floral and
fruit and honey character. The Plains, with poor drainage, have traces
of peaches and petrol. Chacun a son gout…The trade show comprised the
wines NOT chosen for the lunch food-wine pairings. Full tasting notes
were given out for all wines. Because of the time element, I passed on
the opportunity to try the Icewines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Turckheim 2005 – long depth, some
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Hauserer 2005 – single vineyard,
32 year old vines.
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2005 – bone
dry, 43 year old vines.
-Henry of Pelham Reserve Riesling 1999 – higher acid levels and body
allow for longer cellaring and improvement.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Gueberschwihr 2005 – basic village
level, 31 year old vines.
-Lucashof Pfalz Riesling QbA 2006
-Angels Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2007
-Chateau des Charmes Estate Bottled Riesling 2006
-Featherstone Estate Old Vines Riesling 2007
-Featherstone Estate Black Sheep Riesling 2007
-Foreign Affairs Appasimento Riesling 2007
-Trius Riesling 2007
-Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Grand Reserve Riesling 2006 Niagara
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-St. Urbans-HOF Mosel Riesling QbA 2007
-Swedish Hill Dry Riesling 2006
-Swedish Hill Dry Riesling 2007
-Angels Gate Riesling 2006
-Cave Spring Riesling CSV 2004
-Creekside Close Plant Reserve Riesling 2007
-Fielding Riesling 2007
-Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2004
-Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Riesling 2006
-Thirty Bench Riesling 2007
-Thirteenth Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2006
-Vineland Estates Elevation Riesling 2007
The Food: lunch was created by Chef Jason Parsons of Peller Estates
Winery restaurant. The centerpiece on each table was a bunch of
Riesling grapes. With the foie gras terrine we had a Henry of Pelham
Proprietor's Reserve Riesling 1991, which had aged remarkably well. It
was a treat. A roasted scallop, barely cooked, came with a OWA Gold
Medal Cattail Creek Riesling Reserve 2006 (sold out). With the icewine
suckling pig there was a semi-dry Cave Spring Cellars CSV Riesling 2003
which cut through the richness. One of the highlights was the "Peller
Estates Blue Ice" (remember their adverts from the 1950s when you could
not advertise alcohol? Nudge nudge, wink wink). It was a wheel of Blue
Benedictine cheese from PQ drenched with two bottles of Peller Riesling
Icewine 2006. Dessert was a series of coco nib icewine marshmallows,
which even my sugar-addicted granddaughter thought was too sweet.
The Downside: it was a long day, and the lunch (which started on time)
dragged on between courses. This cut into our VQA Riesling trade show
tasting time by an hour.
The Upside: it was good to see Olivier, whom I had talked with before
several times.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 96.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Taste of the Danforth, Aug 6 launch party

I had the pleasure of going to Mr. Greek, one of the main sponsors of this year's Taste of the Danforth, for the launch party, courtesy of
As with most such launches, there were speeches from those involved with the Taste, such as the Chair (John Maniatakos), Krinos, George Raios the President of Mr. Greek, and from Turtle Island.
Food was delicious: typical Greek fare with skewers of well-spiced chicken and pork. Wines were basic red and white bar pours, but some sambuco and ouzo came out later, as did coffee. It was on their patio, and the weather was gorgeous for a change. Some of us stayed well past the 7:30 closing time of the party -- I didn't get home until 9:30. And, of course, the Taste of the Danforth, now in its 15th annual version, was a spectacular success. Kudos all round...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kawarau Estate (NZ) organic wine tasting, July 4, 2008

The Time and Date: Friday, July 4, 2008   1 PM to 5 PM
The Event: Informal drop in event to taste Kawarau Estate Vineyard
organic wines from New Zealand.
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve's tasting room.
The Target Audience: media, private customers.
The Availability/Catalogue: Depending on the wine, all wines are
available through the LCBO or consignment or private order via The
Living Vine <>
The Quote: "We're doing 50 tons now, and probably 90 tons by 2011 – all
The Wines: Winery owner Charles Finny was on hand to discuss his wines,
which are all certified "organic". Kawarau Estate is in Central Otago;
The Living Vine deals exclusively with wineries that produce organic or
biodynamic or sustainable wines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kawarau Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 - $38.95. The previous SEVEN
consecutive vintages have produced Gold medals. This one, just
released, will also get Gold. Wild yeast used. Aged 10 months in French
oak, complex but too young for drinking now. Tried against creamy
cheeses. The LCBO has some 2006 slated for February 2009 release at
$38.9, but also watch for the 2007.
-Kawarau Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2007 – 13.5%, $29.95, 600 cases
available. BF and BA in French oak for 10 months, wild yeasts, treated
in the same way as the Reserve Pinot Noir, a consistent Gold winner.
Plush mouthfeel but a long finish, can stand up to foods, and will last
a long time if correctly cellared.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kawarau Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – the 2008 will be $20 by
consignment. Very good herbs, Euro style, long length, tried against
-Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir 2007 – the 2006 tasted was $29.95, made from
younger vines and aged 10 months in older French barrels. Very
different from the Reserve but wild yeast is still used. More exuberant
and youthful.
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Kawarau Estate Pinot Gris 2007 - $21.95, five cases left, 2008 on the
way, tried against smoked kielbasa, but I found the meat overwhelmed
the wine which was clean and minerally.
The Food: local cheeses from a variety of milks, some sausages too.
The Contact Person: Mark Cuff <>
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Foods that Fight Disease (by L. Beck)

FOODS THAT FIGHT DISEASE; a nutrition guide to staying healthy for
life (Penguin Canada, 2008, 442 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-305657-7, $24 CAD
soft covers) is by Registered Dietician Leslie Beck who has authored
seven other nutrition books. She appears regularly on TV and radio, and
in newspapers ( Recipe development and nutritional
analysis is by Michelle Gelok. This is a guide to what to eat to help
prevent the big seven from happening: cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes,
high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, osteoporosis, and heart
disease. Research clearly links certain diets and foods to disease
prevention. Thus, you should eat all the right foods and avoid all the
worst foods. This should be AS EASY AS PIE to do – but only if you want
to live. Her book is a list of valuable foods, oils and beverages,
along with how to buy and store and prepare. There are nutritional
advisories on carbos, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins and
phytochemicals. The 100 recipes are followed by appendices with a power
foods checklist, herbs and spices, plus a guide to reading nutrition
labels. Her power foods do not mention meat, and fish/seafood is twice
a week only. There are end notes but no bibliography.
Audience and level of use: this is a good reference book.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: blueberry and roasted walnut
spinach salad, whole grain millet waffles with orange and raspberries,
blueberry banana smoothie, garlic roasted Brussels sprouts, kasha
cabbage rolls, and cashew mango trail mix.
The downside to this book: my copy of this paperback book is already
The upside to this book: there is a general index and a separate recipe
Quality/Price Rating: 90.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tasting with Clark Smith of Grapecraft, June 16, 2008

The Time and Date: Monday, June 16, 2008  2:30 – 4:30 PM
The Event: Tasting with Clark Smith of California's Grapecraft Cellars,
emphasizing "Ageing Gracefully" an exploration of techniques for
building proper structure for cellaring.
The Venue: LCBO Summerhill Scrivener Square Demonstration Kitchen
The Target Audience: wine media.
The Availability/Catalogue: wine are available through the Ontario
agent, H.H. D. Imports, right now on a private order basis.
The Quote: Clark Smith is perhaps the most talked about figure in
winemaking today. His perspectives are sought after by wine schools at
UC Davis, Cal State Fresno and Napa Valley College. He consults
regularly with wineries in Niagara Peninsula. Ten competitions use him
as a wine judge. His po-mo views on wines are at,
which he explains through a calendar mandala and glossary. He is an
advocate of dealcoholizing wines, micro-oxygenation and removing
tannins. He says: I'm not a technology proponent. I'm in favour of
winemaking as a culinary art, not a science. Winegrowing is a type of
specialized cooking, slow food type. Wine is liquid music. The brain
processes them the same way."
The Wines:
-2003 Napa "Faux Chablis' Chardonnay Student Vineyard Napa Valley College.
$27. Dealcoholized to 12.9% ABV by reverse osmosis, citric acidity and yet custardy
-2005 Surly Chenin Blanc Clarksburg. $15. Austere minerals, typical quince nose;
crisp and orange peels.
-N/V Skinflint California Dry Rosé. $14. Dry, pronounced strawberry nose, unctuous,
cherry flavour, relatively hard.
-2005 Cheapskate California "Miser" Meritage. $15. 13.5% ABV. God balance,
good cabby flavours for the price: cedar, blackcurrant, black olives, herbs, violets.
-2005 Winesmith California Cabernet Sauvignon. $23. Heavy and firm plumminess
with a clean and long finish: flowers, graphite, cinnamon, pepper, red berry and dark
-2005 Winesmith California Cabernet Franc. $23. Earthy, generous but grainy:
coffee bean, green pepper, cherry. Softish finish.
-2004 Winesmith Crucible Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. $99. Quite a step up in
quality, and more so in price. Full, ripe and generous at 14% ABV: earthy, blueberry,
cedar, red berry, chocolate and vanilla.
-2005 Winesmith Second Fiddle Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Fiddlestix Vyd. $55.
13.8% ABV. Dijon clone 115 and Clone 667: austere, cherry, damp earth and mocha .
Burgundian and needs time.
The Food: cheese platter with breads.
The Downside: it is hard to agree and disagree with him since he has
done all the research and we have not.
The Upside: making a connection between wine and music.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.