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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Vineland Estate Portfolio, Nov 10, 2008

The Time and Date: Monday, November 10, 2008   2 PM to 6 PM
The Event: Vineland Estate Winery portfolio tasting, in association
with Halpern Enterprises.
The Venue: Capitol Event Theatre.
The Target Audience: wine media, private customers and clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: current selections and some Library
offerings were featured.
The Quote: "The Library wines are fabulous – the one drawback for the
current red wines is that you must lay them down".
The Wines: all prices are for licensees --
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chardonnay Reserve 2002, $48.97
-Riesling Semi-Dry 1993, $36.73
-Merlot 2002, $36.73
-Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, $36.73
-Cabernet Franc 2007, $10.41 – outstanding
-Cabernet Merlot 2006, $12.24
-Brut Reserve 2007, $22.85
-Riesling St. Urban 2007, $16.32
-Sauvignon Blanc Neufeld Vineyard 2006, $16.32
-Cabernet Franc Reserve 2005, $32.65
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chenin 2002, $20.41
-Gewurztraminer 1998, $20.41
-Riesling Semi-Dry 1995, $32.65
-Elevation Chardonnay 2007, $20.41
-Elevation Riesling 2007, $20.41
-Sauvignon Blanc Smith Vineyard 2006, $16.32
-Sauvignon Blanc Wismer Vineyard 2006, $16.32
-Syrah Reserve 2006, $32.65
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Gewurztraminer 1995, $20.41
-Riesling Semi-Dry 1998, $26.12
-Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2000, $61.22
-Pinot Noir Reserve 2002, $53.05
-Elevation Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $20.41
-Dry Riesling 2007, $11.22
-Semi-Dry Riesling, 2007, $11.22
-Chardonnay 2007, $10.33
-Pinot Blanc 1=2006, $12.04
-Chenin Blanc 2006, $12.04
-Gamay Noir 2006, $12.20
-Merlot 2006, $12.24
-Elevation Cabernet 2007, $20.41
-Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2005, $39.99
-Pinot Meunier Rose 2006, $10.57
The Food: samples were prepared by Vineland's Executive Chef Jan-Willem
Stulp, to be paired with the wines. He had created squash bisque
shooters with ample essence, fresh wild salmon cakes with remoulade,
seared gnocchi with mushroom confit, pan-roasted Ontario lamb
The Downside: it was lightly attended.
The Upside: terrific food.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 82.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Argentine Wines, Nov 6, 2008

 The Time and Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008   1:30 PM to 6 PM
The Event: trade tasting of Argentine wines, sponsored by the Consulate
General of Argentina.
The Venue: Design Exchange
The Target Audience: wine trade, although it seemed to be lightly
attended. There was a consumer show in the evening.
The Availability/Catalogue: the catalogue was explicit about suppliers
and agents, names of wines, varietals, regions and vintages, but fell
down on the prices. Many were out of whack with reality. Many prices
did not exist at all. I had to ask each agent for prices.
The Quote: "There are 950 wineries in the Argentine, with 685 in the
Mendoza. Canada has the third highest exported figures, after the UK
and the US. Sales to Canada last year were up 49.2%. Malbec represents
33% of sales, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The Wines: 174 wines were offered, but I did not taste them all.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Bodega Del Fin Del Mondo Pinot Noir Reserva 2007 Patagonia - $19.95
-Luigi Bosca Gala 2 2006 Mendoza [Bordeaux-style blend] – Pacific Wines
and Spirits
-Familia Schroeder Pinot Noir Malbec 2004 Patagonia - $39 Connexion
-Catena Zapata Chardonnay 2006 Mendoza - Calibrium
-Pascual Toso Pedregal Single Vineyard 2006 - $39 - Eurovintage
-Las Moras Reserve Chardonnay 2007 San Juan - $11.99 – Diamond Estates
-Trivento Golden Reserve Syrah 2006 Mendoza - $24.95 – Select Wines
-Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2007 Mendoza - $23.95 – Select
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Dante Robino Sua Sparkling Blackberry 2007 Mendoza - $12.95
-Pascual Toso Malbec Reserva 2007 Mendoza - $19.95 – Eurovintage
-Chakana Reserve Malbec 2006 - $17.95 – Connexion Oenophilia
-Saurus Patagonia Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - $16.95 – Connexion
-Saurus Patagonia Select Malbec 2006 - $16.95 – Connexion Oenophilia
-Graffigna Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - $18.95 - Corby
-Las Moras Mora Negra Malbec-Bonarda 2006 San Juan - $35 – Diamond
-Trapiche Finca Las Palmas Malbec 1006 Mendoza - $19.95 – Philippe
-Trivento Coleccion Fincas No. 1 Malbec 2006 Mendoza - $24.95 – Select
-Lagarde Malbec DOC 2006 Mendoza - $20.81 – The Case for Wine
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Dante Robino Sparkling Extra Brut 2007 Mendoza - Eurovintage
-Luigi Bosca Finca La Linda Extra Brut 2007 Mendoza – Pacific Wines and
-Las Moras Gran Shiraz 2005 San Juan - $27.99 – Diamond Estates
-Cristobal 1494 Torrontes 2008 Mendoza - $15 - Ruby
-Fam. Zuccardi Fuzion Alta Malbec-Tempranillo 2008 - $10.95 - Dionysus
-Fam. Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2006 Mendoza - $18.95 – Vintages March
-Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Mendoza - $19 – Profile Wine Group
-Dominio Del Plata Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes 2008 - $13.95 –
Profile Wine Group
-Lagarde Altas Cumbres Sparkling 2007 Mendoza - $12.65 – The Case for
-Lagarde Chardonnay 2007 Mendoza - $16.04 – The Case for Wine
The Food: waitstaff offered empanadas and other two-bite goodies.
The Downside: the seminar was way too general, as if we did not know
anything about Argentine wines.
The Upside: there was an informative seminar about Argentine wines,
although it went on past the time limit because it had to cover so much
ground. We tasted four Malbecs. Best was Reserva del Fin del Mundo,
which had showed aging.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 86.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Maxxium Portfolio, Nov 4, 2008

The Time and Date: Tuesday, November 4, 2008  4 PM to 9 PM
The Event: The President's Tasting: Maxxium Canada
The Venue: McLean House, Vaughan Estates
The Target Audience: wine trade, clients, press
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available or will be. The
catalogue, as in the past, was spread over a series of rooms, beginning
with the patio sparklers, the whites and reds of the conservatory, the
robust reds of the mahogany room, leading to ports back on the patio
and serious drinks in the library. The coach house had the party
drinks. Suppliers were Beam Global, Donnafugata, Henkell, Kobrand,
Louis Latour, Masi, Oyster Bay, Poderi Colla, Quinta da Aveleda, and
the Edrington Group.
The Quote: "This seminar is going on too long". [allow more time next
The Wines: there were 96 wines, plus fortifieds and rare spirits and
mixed drinks. I only tasted wine, but not all 96.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Masi Amarone Riserva di Costasera 2003, $59.95 private order
-Poderi Colla Barolo Brolo Bussia 2004, $57.95, Vintages  +596890
-J&F Lurton Chacayes Mendoza 2004 - $77.95, Vintages pending
-J&F Lurton Rueda Cuesta de Oro 2006 Rueda Spain - $26.95, private
-KWV Paarl Mentors Chenin Blanc 2006 - $24.95, private order
-Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne 2005 - $179.95, Vintages Classics May
26, 2009 (2006)
-Sileni Estate The Lodge Chardonnay 2007 New Zealand - $16.95, private
-Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2005 – $35.95 Vintages
Classics Jan 7 2009
-Simonnet-Febvre Cremont de Bourgogne Rose NV - $19.95 private order
-Vina Sena Arboleda Carmenere 2007 - $16.95 private order
-A. Lurton Divinus de Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2007 - $34.95 private order
-A. Lurton Divinus de Chateau Bonnet Rouge 2003 - $34.95 private order
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Donnafugata Mille e una Notte 2005, $75.95 private order
-Poderi Colla Nebbiolo d'Alba 2006, $25.95 private order
-Cono Sur 20 Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $24.95, Vintages July 4,
-Oyster Bay Chardonnay 2007, $18.95 Vintages Essential +326728
-J&F Lurton El Albar Excelencia 2005 Toro Spain - $51.95, Vintages Jan
7, 2009 +108720
-KWV Paarl Perold Shiraz 2003 - $89.95, Vintages Feb 4, 2009 +993261
-Louis Latour Corton Grancey 2005 - $100, Vintages Classics (2003)
-Vina Sena Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - $19.95 Vintages +606764
-Vina Sena 2006 - $79 Vintages Classics May 26, 2009
-Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006 - $37.95 Vintages +74237
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Adam Henkell Chardonnay 2005, $26.95 Private order
-Donnafugata Tancredi 2005, $32.95 consignment
-Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncoglie 2005, $48.95 Vintages +715763 (2004)
-Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2007, $27.95 Vintages June 2, 2009
-J&F Lurton Gran Lurton Corte Friulano 2006 Argentina - $19.95,
Vintages +66829
-J&F Lurton Gran Lurton Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Argentina - $20.95,
Vintages +980334
-Louis Latour Mersault Chateau de Blagny 2005 - $72.45, Vintages
-Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2006 – $69.70 private order
-Tyrrell's Vat 8 Shiraz Hunter Valley 2006 - $49.95 private order
-Chateau La Louviere Rouge 2006 Pessac-Leognan - $41.95 private order
The Food: one of the best annual spreads: oysters, artisanal cheeses,
charcuterie, salmon, steak, roast beef and pork, fish, glorious
desserts, and the like.
The Downside: we all lamented the lack of Alsace and Champagne, but
c'est la vie.
The Upside: seminars were useful. I attended the Italian wines of
Piedmonte and Sicily, and had some interesting samples.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

DECEMBER Restaurant Ready or BYOW Values at the LCBO

December --
Restaurants should consider offering these wines at a $10 markup over
retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers could buy at
the LCBO and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1.Malivoire Gewurztraminer 2006 Beamsville Bench, +542522, $26.
2.Berenger Private Reserve Chardonnay 2006 Napa, +26682, $49.95.
3.Berenger Sbragia Limited Release Chardonnay 2006 Napa, +79178,
4.Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay 2006 Napa, +1537, $59.95.
5.Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2006, +655464, $69.95
6.Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau 2006, +88716, $44.95.
7.Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Stags Leap District Napa, +14217,
8.Schafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Stags Leap District
Napa, +45476, $77.95.
9.Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa, +111880, $50.95.
10.Conchya y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, +315176, $61.95.
11.Taltarni Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Pyrenees Victoria, +940692, $24.95.
12.Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent 2005, +700187, $33.95.
13.Paolo Conterno Barolo Ginestra 2004, +734293, $62.95.
14.Collazzi 2005 Toscana, +656538, $46.95.
15.Monte Zovo Amarone Della Valpolicella Riserva 2003, +651554, $53.95.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Food and wine books for the holiday gift period -- part 4


What's a holiday without humour or a novel to curl up with? We seem to
have another bumper crop this year…

DO TRAVEL WRITERS GO TO HELL? (Three Rivers Press, 2008, 272 pages,
$13.95 paper covers) is by Thomas Kohnstamm. There are 12 great
chapters here detailing high adventures, questionable ethics, and
professional hedonism amongst travel and wine writers. He exposes the
sins, the pitfalls, and the excesses of the travel-writing industry,
sharing his own trips through Brazil with sex and pills. He was hired
in 2004 to contribute to the "Lonely Planet Brazil" guidebook. He soon
learned that reality was different from his expectations. An exciting,
humourous book.
GOURMET SMARTS: feed your mind (Smartsco, 2008, $16.95) is a set of
cards, actually 60 questions and answers cards. Together they form a
gourmet tips guide, complete with dos and don'ts. There is even a score
pad. This fun game has been pulled together by Manny Howard, food
writer for New York Times, Food & Wine, and others). There are three
topics: lingo, cuisines, and ingredients. It can be addictive, and if
you are as smart as I am, you'll clean up against your friends…

THE WINE SNOB'S DICTIONARY; an essential lexicon of oenological
knowledge (Broadway Books, 2008, 111 pages, $12.95 paper covers) is a
follow-up to last year's remarkable "The Food Snob's Dictionary". David
Kamp is back, assisted by David Lynch, once a wine director at Babbo's
Ristorante in NYC. While much of this is funny, they have no idea what
"claret" is, nor what "cigar box" is. They also miss the boat on
spoofing barrels and treatments. There are no entries for types
(French, US) or aging (barrel fermentation, barrel aging). In fact,
there is a whole range to satirize here. The true wine snob goes on ad
nauseum about barrel character. Most of the parodies are on American
wines, French wines, supertuscans, and labels. Still, a good effort
that could have been better.

THE QUILTER'S KITCHEN; an "Elm Creek Quilts" novel with recipes (Simon
and Schuster, 2008, 214 pages, $19.95 hard cover) is by Jennifer
Chiaverini. The story is about quilters eager to preserve their
culinary heritage. Chef Anna, one of the newest members of the circle
of quilters, is to write the official cookbook. It is an elaboration of
previously established fictional characters. There is even a metric
equivalents page for the avoirdupois ingredients. The 100 basic recipes
were created by Sally Sampson, and there is even a recipe index.

TURNING TABLES (Dial Press, 2008, 352 pages, $24 hard covers) is by
sisters Rose and Heather MacDowell. They are former waiters, so of
course much of the book is based on their own experiences. It is a tell
all story disguised as a novel, part of the "chick lit" genre. A
corporate worker has lost her job, and must survive. She waits tables.
Of course, there is a notorious celebrity chef, the restaurant owner's
wife, difficult diners, undercover food critics – life is hell. Can she
escape? Of course, but read it first.

HIGH TEA (Pocket Books, 2008, 259 pages, $14 US paper covers) is a
first novel by Sandra Harper, who has written a cooking column. She
also wrote a play, "Maggie's Tearoom" which enjoyed a run in Los
Angeles. So it becomes a spinoff from the play. The characters are warm
and informative: a chef, a British expat owner, the waitstaff, and a
restaurant critic from the UK. It's a little like herding cats, but
great fun. Recipes are included at the back (unindexed) and there are
many tea menus.
Okay, this is the hard part since we must pay for our sins of
overeating during the December period. It is January 1, and the start
of a New Year (2009) means new resolutions to keep or break. If you are
really comfortable with your friends, you could give them health books
for the holiday. At least, you might be able to use them yourself!

DIABETES & HEART HEALTHY MEALS FOR TWO; over 150 tasty recipes with
half the work (American Diabetes Association, 2008, 226 pages, $18.95
paper covers) is also issued by the American Heart Association. But
never let the word "diabetes" put you off. We should be living this
diet anyway, even if we are totally healthy. Heart healthy recipes are
best of all for diabetics (as studies show). This is a follow-up to the
successful 2006 book, "Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook". But this
time, it is 150 recipes for two servings. Leftovers are kept to a

THE GLYCEMIC-LOAD DIET COOKBOOK; 150 recipes to help you lose weight
and reverse insulin resistance (McGraw-Hill, 2008, 288 pages, $16.95
paper covers) is a follow-up to the 2006 "Glycemic-Load Diet". Rob
Thompson, MD is back, with new preps co-created with cookbook author
Dana Carpender. Here's a good opportunity to lose weight, cut cravings,
speed up metabolism, and manage insulin resistance. The book has many
tables of GI foods.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MEDIA LUNCH: Niagara VQA 13th Winery Wine Launch at Vertical, December 15, 2008

The Time and Date:   Monday, December 15, 2008  Noon to 3 PM
The Event: a lunch-launch of new 13th Winery releases, with Doug Whitty
(President), Herb Jacobson (Winemaker), and Peter Bodnar Rod
The Venue: Vertical, 1st Canadian Place
The Target Audience: wine writers, nine in attendance.
The Availability: all the wines we tried were newly released, and are
available at or through the winery
The Background: Founded in 1998, the winery celebrated its tenth
anniversary this year by being sold. The original four partners
included Herb Jacobson, the continuing winemaker, who is still with the
winery. On Sept 1, the Mann and Whitty families of Niagara purchased
the firm, with a commitment to continue the handcrafted wines.
Currently, there is capacity for 4500 cases. Eventually, with a new
facility, there will be a max of 10,000 cases. They have eight
scattered vineyards, totaling 60 acres, with handshake contracts for
more grapes as needed. For example, they buy in all their syrah.
The Wine and Food: Peter and Herb led the tasting. We started with a
sparkler, and then moved to two rieslings, two chardonnays and then a
Meritage. There were also other wines to sample, nearly their entire
portfolio. Here are some notes:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-13th Winery Premier Cuvee 2004 $28: MC, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, no
MF, first-rate sparkler with the biscuity complexity, with smoked
Ontario trout atop king oyster mushroom salad, a sunschoke chip and a
brioche slice.
-13th Winery Funk's Vineyard Riesling 2007 $24: Alsatian mode, minerals,
best with food, with fresh goat cheese (lacked tang), frisee, hazelnut
-13th Winery Sandstone Old Vines Chardonnay 2006 $28: cork finish,
barrel selection, full bodied, 13.2% ABV yet hot finish, lovely length.
Tried with warm calamari salad and arugula. First rate match.
-13th Winery Syrah Wismer Vineyard 2006 $24: Rhone all the way, but
needs cellar time.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-13th Winery June's Vineyard Riesling 2007 $17: rich, ripe body,
aromatic and off-dry, with scallop and chorizo.
-13th Winery Sandstone Estate Chardonnay 2006 $18: full, firm but juicy,
twist top, with pan seared Branzino filet.
-13th Winery Meritage 2006 $24: tight, dusty nose, medium finish. Euro-
style. Tried with roasted Ontario lamb atop a multiple bean ragout.
-13th Winery Gamay Sandstone Old Vines 2006 $25: juicy, young and fresh,
cherries and wood, depth and body. Tried with the lamb.
-13th Winery Chardonnay Musque 2007 $18: great aromas and finish,
succulent, tried with biscotti.
-13th Winery Et Ceteras Red 2006 $19: 46%syrah, 10%sangiovese, merlot
and cabernet sauvignon also in the blend. Off-dry complexity, very Euro
in style.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 94.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Nov 7, 2008 --
Restaurants should consider offering these wines at a $10 markup; the
wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers could buy at the LCBO and
bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Chalone Vineyard Chardonnay 2005, +80226, $36.95.
2. Chateau de Rochemorin Blanc 2006 Pessac-Leognan, +91371, $29.95.
3. Alain Gras Saint-Romain Blanc 2006, +91074, $36.95.
4. Antonin Rodet Puligny-Montrachet 2006, +84541, $53.95.
5. Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc 2007 Cotes du Rhone, +48892, $33.95.
6. Arrowood Le Beau Melange Syrah 2002 Sonoma, +64550, $29.95.
7. Duckhorn Decoy 2006 Napa, +41343, $36.95.
8. Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa, +4366, $30.95.
9. Torbreck The Steading GMS 2005 Barossa, +723890, $48.95.
10. Rustenberg John X Merriman 2005 Simonsberg, +707323, $27.95.
11. Chateau Franc-Maillet 2000 Pomerol, $72322, $51.95.
12. Chateau La Papeterie 2000 Montagne St. Emilion, +87759, $29.95.
13. Antonin Rodet Gevrey-Chambnertin 2005, +84558, $42.95.
14. Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2006 Cotes de Rhone, +48884, $30.95.
15. Domaine Chante Cigale Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005, +43026, $41.95.
16. Terre da Vino Barolo Essenze 2003, +92460, $44.95.
Nov 22, 2008 --
1. Stratus White 2006 Niagara, +660704, $44.
2. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Marlborough, +304469, $33.95
3. Bouchard Pere & Fils Meursault Les Clous 2006, +66132, $52.95
4. Domaine de la Mandeliere Chablis 1er Cru Mont-de-Milieu 2006,
+87403, $33.95.
5. Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, +268235, $50.95.
6. Altair Red 2004 Cachapoal Valley Chile, +38430, $64.95.
7. Duvergey-Taboureau Nuits-Saint-Georges 2005, +84442, $41.95.
8. Gennatoio Chianti Classico Riserva 2003, +704205, $31.95.
9. Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2003, +512384, $35.95.
10. Hermanos Pecina Senorio De P. Pecina Gran Reserva 1998, +82164,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

TRADE TASTING: ICE Italian wines Nov 3, 2008

 The Time and Date: Monday, November 3, 2008   10 AM to 6 PM
The Event: A tasting of wines from Italy, 13th edition, organized by
The Venue: Roy Thomson Hall
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Availability/Catalogue: most of the wines are available in Ontario
via the LCBO or consignment or private orders. Some wineries were
seeking agents. The Catalogue was the usual monster size, making it
uncomfortable to carry about: a book detailing all the wines, their
terms of availability, their grape compositions, and so forth.
Everything but the price. As in previous years, I had to ask the agent
for the prices. And as in previous years, many did not seem to know –
which I find incredible at a function where the object is to sell
wines! There was a seminar at 10 AM, but it started 30 minutes late,
and this was followed by a luncheon which also started late.
The Quote: "Too many wines  -- I don't even have the time to taste the
ones I really want to taste!"
The Wines: I did not try all the wines – who could? What follows is an
eclectic selection based on my own perambulations and others'
suggestions. There were about 110 wineries, most with five wines each
(some more, some less).
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Banfi Toscana IGT Centine 2006  -- $17.95 Charton Hobbs
-Fatt. Dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 -- $49.95 Noble Estates
-Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo --
$150  Symposium Imports
-Castello di Neve Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano 2003 - $59 Brunello
-Feudi di San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria Sessantanni 2005 - $35
Barrique Wine Imports
-Marchesi Antinori Bolgheri Il Bruciato 2006 - $27.95 Halpern
-Santa Barbara Salento IGT Barbaglio 2002 Puglia - $16.95 Vergina
-Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Villa Calcinaia Riserva 2005 - $33
Frati Estates

***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Banfi Sant'Antimo Excelsus 2004 -- Charton Hobbs
-Fatt. Dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Fiore 2003 -- $84.95
Noble Estates
-Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Villa Poggio Salvi -- $60
Symposium Imports
-Fatt. Di Casalbosco Toscana IGT Orchidea 2006 – 15 Euros FOB
-Castello di Neve Barbaresco 2005 - $22.95  Vintages Jan 2009
-Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d'Alba 2004 - $38.95 Jan Vintages
Noble Estates
-Fontanafredda Barbaresco Coste Rubin 2005 - $48.90
-Marchesi Antinori Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso 2005 - $89
-Marchesi Fumanelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2004 - $64
-Marchesi Fumanelli Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Riserva
Octavius 2003 - $125 Halpern
-Tenuta S.Antonio Valpolicella Monti Garbi Ripasso 2005 - $21.95
Prevedello & Mathews
-Tenuta S.Antonio Valpolicella Amarone Campo dei Gigli 2004 - $21.95
Prevedello & Mathews
-Cant. Tudernum Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004 - $43 Connexion
-Viticola Toscana Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi Castello di
Meleto 2005 - $33 J. Hanna
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Batasiolo Barolo 2004 -- $31 Majestic Wine Cellars
-Marca Trevigiana Prosecco Extra Dry 2007 -- $18.95 Majestic Wine
-Ca'dei Mandorli Piemonte Spumante Brut Rosato 2007 - $16.95 
-Castello di Neve Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2005 - $45  Brunello Imports
-Castello di Verduna Barbaresco "Rabaja" 2003 - $52.50 30.50 Imports
-Marchesi Antinori Umbria IGT Ramito del Cervo Chardonnay 2007 - $27
-Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico Peppolo 2006 - $21.95 Halpern
-Marchesi Mazzei Toscana IGT Poggio alla Badiola 2006 - $15 Vintages
-Marchesi Mazzei Sicilia IGT Zisola 2007 Nero d'avola - $21.95 Vintages
-Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Spumante Prosecco Rive di San Floriano Brut
2007 - $30 Rogers & Co
-Roncolato Antonio Amarone Valpolicella 2005 - $43.85 Vintages
-Ruffino Toscana IGT Il Ducale 2005 - $19.80 +27797
-San Felice Chianti Classico San Felice 2006 - $21 J Hanna
-San Felice Toscana Vigorello 2003 - $60 J Hanna
-Cant. Tudernum Umbria IGT Rojano 2005 - $25.95 Connexion Oenophilia
-Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Villa Calcinaia Casara 2004 - $37.95
Frati Estates
-Viticola Toscana Chianti Classico Riserva Pieve di Spaltenna 2004 -
$25 J. Hanna
The Food: buffet style, roast beef, salmon, pasta, cheeses, canolli.
The Downside: it was a huge show, with a lot of people, which made it
hard to get through to the wines I wanted. Also, the seminar started 30
minutes late; I used the time to peruse the catalogue.
The Upside: the seminar was on the Sagrantino di Montefalco grape which
was resurrected from oblivion (less than 5 hectares) thirty years ago.
Profile of blueberry, blackberry, and anise tones. Priced at 9 to 18
Euros FOB. There were six wines in the seminar, and another six in the
wider tasting.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 84.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cookbooks as Holiday Stocking Stuffers -- part two

A non-book entry is the collection of 50 recipe cards, often called
recipe decks. This year there is THE TEA DECK (Chronicle Books, 2008,
50 cards, $14.95) with cards on how to prepare, serve and enjoy tea.
There are tasting notes, tips, and recipes for accompaniments such as
buttermilk scones, almond cakes, et al. Next, THE TAGINE DECK
(Chronicle Nooks, 2008, 25 single-fold cards, $14.95) has double cards
on Moroccan cooking. There are 25 preps here, classic Moroccan and from
other regions: pork stew and mole, chicken with pomegranate and
walnuts, fish with chick peas and peppers. And THE PICNICS DECK
(Clarkson Potter, 2008, 50 cards, $14.95) with tips on planning and
cleanup, emphasizing salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Portable recipe
cards for portable foods. MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT SOUPS & STEW DECK
(Clarkson Potter, 2008, 50 cards, $14.95) emphasizes vegetarian fare,
while GREAT COOKIES DECK (Clarkson Potter, 2008, 50 cards, $14.95) by
Carole Walter delves into the classics of oatmeal raisin, chocolate
chip, and toffee nut squares – one per card with a pix and baking
Other non-book items include MOLLIE KTZEN'S RECIPES: SALADS (Ten Speed
Press, 2008, 120 pages, $14.95 US) in an easel edition. This is a
spiral version of a card deck (see Moosewood above), and it is a
collection of 50 salad recipes – which can be added to soups and stews
(above). And there is a new CD this season: I LOVE PIE; an opinionated
hands-on how-to for making pie crust, biscuit dough, and more, written
and narrated by Ann Tudor (Molten Gold, 2008, 65 minutes, $13 includes
shipping). This will tell you all you need to know about pie dough. For
ordering details, email

Yet another non-book is the virtually-blank journal. I have two for
food and three for wine. One food journal is RECIPE FILE (Ryland,
Peters & Small, 2008, 144 pages with 8 card pockets, $19.95 spiral
binding). You can keep all your loose recipes in one place (unless you
have hundreds of them). There are many lined pages for making notes or
indexing recipes from books. Space is also available for shopping
lists, website directory, and a journal. And there are metric
conversion charts for the 52 recipes. There is a quality elastic
closure band. Another food book is RECIPE SCRAPBOOK (Duncan Baird,
2008, 75 colour pages, $24.95) somewhat pricier, but featuring lots of
room with 16 pockets and printed recipes in a scrapbook format. It also
has 80 recipes, good for all courses and beverages. It too comes with a
quality elastic closure band for keeping it all together.
For an almost blank wine book, try WINE JOURNAL (Ryland, Peters &
Small, 2008, 144 pages, $19.95), a reissue of the 2002 book. It has
details on planning a cellar, grapes and styles, storing and serving,
and room for tasting notes and cellar notes. Advice comes from UK wine
writers. There is plenty of space to add your own comments, and pocket
dividers are here to add your own notes. This is a spiral binding, with
an elastic closure. The similarly named WINE JOURNAL; a companion for
wine lovers (Chronicle Books, 2008, 192 page, $30 US paper covers) is
by Brian St. Pierre, the author of numerous books on wine. It is a
leather-bound guide to the usual primer information about wine, with
ample room for jotting down your own notes on all aspects (colour,
aroma, flavour, etc.), food and wine pairings and visits to wineries.
There is also a bound-in pocket for keeping labels. There is also
POCKET PADS FOR WINE LOVERS (Clarkson Potter, 2008, $9.95 for 4 books)
a set of four tasting journals, about 3 by 5 inches, stitched. These
are portable, to take to the vineyard or to restaurants, to slip into
your purse or pocket. The really are good for jotting tasting notes.
There are ruled lines for names, vintages, vineyard or restaurant, and

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 2008. They are 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
recipes) by Linda Collister, with preps such as triple chocolate
cookies and lacy brandy snaps (didn't I go to school with Lacy
Brandy?). Iced star cookies are always a treat. PARTY BITES (50
recipes) by Lydia France, has lots of small food. There are preps for
dips, finger foods, tartlets, toasts, skewered food, biscuits, breads
and some sweet treats. France also throws in some party planning menus
and shortcuts. CURRY (51 recipes) by Sunil Vijayakar covers Indian,
Thai and Vietnamese versions, from madras to masala and side dishes.
Chicken is the most popular, followed by fish. There are also preps for
rice, breads, chutneys, kacumber and raita. COOKING WITH PUMPKINS AND
SQUASH (50 recipes) 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.

There's another collection from BBC Books, all on the theme of 101
recipes from British magazines. They are 216 pages each, and retail for
$12.95 Canadian. And 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 GLOBAL DISHES, from Olive
Magazine in the UK, "classic dishes from around the world". She also
wrote OLIVE 101 QUICK-FIX DISHES, about no-fuss 30 minutes or less
authored by Lulu Grimes. The smart suppers have slick ideas for week
nights, while the seasons revolve about locally available food. From
Angela Nilsen, there is GOOD FOOD 101 MEDITERRANEAN DISHES, from the
BBC's Good Food magazine. Standard classics from both ends of the Sea,
emphasizing midweek suppers. All courses are here. Jeni Wright's GOOD
FOOD 101 BEST EVER CHICKEN RECIPES pushes chicken as a perfect
convenience food (it cooks quickly): kebabs, risotto, curry, and the
Annuals --
There is a sub-category of stocking stuffers that is really appreciated
by wine and food lovers: the ANNUAL…Most of these books are pocket
guides, at least the wine ones are. The food books are regular-sized.
But you can wedge them into a stocking -- somehow.

BEST OF THE BEST, v11; the best recipes from the 25 best cookbooks of
the year [i.e. 2007] (American Express, 2008, 288 pages, $32.95) has
more than 100 recipes, about four from each book, all re-tested.
Cookbooks include "Cooking with Jamie" (Jamie Oliver), "Bobby Flay's
Mesa Grill Cookbook", "The Art of Simple Food" (Alice Waters), and "The
Deen Bros. Cookbook". The books are pretty well divided between
Mediterranean, Asian, US South and Southwest, and baking. Twenty brand
new "exclusive" recipes have been contributed by these cookbook
authors. In addition, there are interviews, quotes, extra reading, and
ingredient and technique advice. Websites are listed for even more
recipes. This is a great formula annual, with all of the recipes being
regularized for format and re-tested.

FOOD & WINE ANNUAL COOKBOOK 2008 (American Express, 2008, 408 pages,
$29.95) delivers good value in its more than 600 recipes: and then why
bother to subscribe to the magazine? There are no adverts here in this
book. There are accompanying wine recommendations for just about every
prep. The major arrangement is by season.  Some categories have been
rearranged to allow for a section on fast foods, healthy foods, comfort
foods, and "chef recipes for home use". There is a plethora of advice
(50 new ones this year, plus a glossary of accessible wines).
Unfortunately, the year covered is 2007, so the book will always be a
year behind.

On to the wine annuals. The two leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE
BOOK 2009 (Sterling, 2008, 320 pages, $15.95 hard bound) and OZ
CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2009 (Harcourt Books, 2008, 344 pages, $15
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 32rd 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 2007 vintage, along with a
closer look at the 2006. It is fun to look at both books and find out
where they diverge. As a sidelight, Johnson and Oz are now moving into
food: there is a 16 page section on food and wine matching in the
former, while Oz has 6 pages. 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. Thus, 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). FOOD &
WINE's WINE GUIDE 2009 (American Express Publishing, 2008, 320 pages,
$12.95 paper covers) offers notes on 1000 wines from all over the
globe; there are plenty of European wines here. Sections cover the
elements of tasting, a Bargain Wine Finder (a listing of 50 rated wines
that offer the best value for the price: thankfully, no chardonnays are
listed). Also here are food pairing guides, wine country trend reports
and the year in wine. Canada is listed along with Mexico and Uruguay.
Glossaries, guides, tips, wine and food pairing charts, best of lists –
it goes on and on, and his top star producers are highlighted. Many of
the wines can also be found in Canada.
HAD A GLASS; top 100 wines for 2009 under $20 (Whitecap, 2008, 160
pages, $19.95 Canadian 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 fourth 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 forty 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. There are indexes
by countries, by wine, and by food. Tasting notes are pretty bare
bones, but each wine has a label, a price, and some food matches.

BILLY'S BEST BOTTLES wines for 2009 (McArthur & Company, 2008, 185
pages, $21.95 CAD spiral bound) is back for another round (19th 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. The whole thing is organized by
wine colour and style/weight, and the wines are usually those available
at the LCBO. Most should be available across the country.

THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO 2009 (Whitecap, 2009, 256 pages,
$19.95 CAD paper back) takes a more determined run at the wines at the
LCBO. This second edition, this time by Rod Phillips, is arranged by
colour and then by region/country. 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. Coverage is limited to
General Purchase wines and Vintages Essentials only.

FOOD & WINE COCKTAILS 2008 (American Express Publishing, 2008, 232
pages, $18.95 paper covers) is a spirits companion to the wine guide.
It keeps tabs on the trendiest nightlife and drinks. These are the top
150 drinks that bartenders get asked for again and again. The
arrangement is by type of spirit, and there are plenty of anecdotes.
KEVIN ZRALY'S AMERICAN WINE GUIDE 2009 (Sterling, 2008, 246 pages,
$16.95 paper covers) tries to cover all 50 United States. It is by the
author of the best selling "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course".
Not all wines in his book are derived from grapes; some come from other
fruit such as pineapple, rhubarb, pears, apples, and the like. He has
maps for each state, with grape-growing areas clearly presented as well
as illustrations of noble labels. The accompanying fact box highlights
state wine production, the number of wineries producing what types of
wines, and the key varietals. There are also wine trails and guides,
vineyard tours too. Zraly also has a recap on wine tasting and wine
history in the US. Most of the detail is on big state producers, which
are (in order of volume) California, Washington, New York, and Oregon.
Websites of well-known wineries are also listed. The back of the book
has lists of his hot picks and best values under $50.

More next time...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best trade show wines tasted in October 2008

Here are SOME of the best wines I tasted in October 2008, all at trade shows or producer
presentations in non-lab situations:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Concha y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere Block 17 2005  $29.95 Select
-Vina Caliterra Carmenere Tributo 2006, $16.95 consignment (Calibrium).
-Vina Caliterra Carmenere/Malbec Tributo 2006, $24.95 consignment
-Vina Valdivieso Malbec Reserva 2006, $22.45 consignment (Carriage
-Vina Haras de Pirque Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Syrah Haras
Elegance 2004, +640672 Vintages, $33.75.
-Vina Santa Rita Carmenere 95/Cabernet Sauvignon5 Pehuen 2004 Apalta
$48.50 Vintages
-Vina Amayna Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented 2006 Leyda $31.95
-Vina Miguel Torres Carmenere Reserva 2007 $24.10 Pacific Wine and
-Vina O. Fournier Carignan/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Centauri Blend
2007 Maule $29.95 Ex-Cellars
-Vina San Estaban Blend In Situ Laguna del Inca 2007 Aconcagua $23.95 
-Two Hands Shiraz Angels Share McLaren Vale 2007, screwcap, $27.95, May
2009 +9480
-Two Hands Shiraz/Grenache Brave Faces Barossa Valley 2007, screwcap,
$35, March 2009, +660035
-Grosset Bordeaux Blend Gaia Clare Valley 2005, %52, here now, +73064
-Glaymond Shiraz Distinction Barossa Valley 2004, $126, here now,
-Two Hands Shiraz Coach House Block Single Vineyard Seppeltsfield Road
Barossa Valley 2006, $46, January 2009, +9563
-Two Hands Shiraz Ares Barossa Valley 2005, $100, here now, +64816
-Tommasi Lugana Le Fornaci 2007, $17.95, +13284
-  "  Merlot Le Prunee 2005 IGT, $17.95, +24505
-  "  Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2006, $19.95, +910430
-  "  Amarone Classico 2000 (not available)
-  "  Ca Florian Amarone Classico 2000, $75 (great price) – 25 cases only.
-  "  Amarone Classico 2004, $52.50, +356220 (will be available in many
sizes: 375 mL, 750 mL, and 1.5 Litres)
-Henriques & Henriques Sercial Madeira 10 Year Old (Cavima Enterprises)
-Henriques & Henriques Bual 1980
-Blandy's 10 Year Old Sercial Madeira (Symington Family Brands)
-Blandy's Bual 1977
-Justino's Madeira Colheita 1995 (RKW Wine Imports)
-Pewsey Vale The Contours Eden Valley Riesling 2002
-Penley Estate Chertsey Cabernet Sauvignon57, Cabernet Franc15,
Merlot28 Coonawarra 2005 ($50?)
-Elderton Wines Command Shiraz 2004 Barossa Valley – 100 year old vines
-Rhinofields 2007 Chardonnay - $16.00 (not at the LCBO), 50/50 wood/stainless, no ML, exhibits
a bit of orange mold which I adored.
-Rhinofields 2006 Merlot - $16.00 (not at the LCBO) – cool climate but soft
-Sena 2005 -- blackcurrant nose, sweet fruit and soft tannins.
-Montes Alpha M 2005,  $82 +91450 - (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc,
5% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot) , spicy, rich, cedar, red  fruit
-Montes Folly Syrah 2005, $82 +62356 - blackberry, spices, olives
-Montes Purple Angel 2005, $51 +62364 - (46% Carmenere from Colchagua, 46% from
Apalta, 8% Petit Verdot),  cassis and spices, black cherry.
-Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay Cuvee Alexandre 2005, $35 – creamy with a toasty
-Clos Apalta 2005 - (42% Carmenere, 26% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit
Verdot), cassis nose, extractive, balanced, Euro sensibility.
-Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2005 - (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5%
Petit Verdot, 3% Shiraz) ripe but also young with some rawish oak tones.
-Vinedo Chadwick 2005 , $180 – 200 - (all Cabernet Sauvignon), tight and closed, but
will probably mature well enough.
-Weingut Skoff Sauvignon Blanc Trockenbeerenauslese 2006 11% ABV $45
375 mL
-Bodegas Vina Vilano Crianza 2004 $20.95
-Mate Il Podere Falconaia di Ferenc Merlot Mantus 2004 $27.95 Vintages
-Cantine due Palme Ettamiano Primitivo del Salento 2004 Puglia $19.95
-Tenuta Sant' Isidoro Corithus IGT 2004 Lazio $16.95 (best value wine)
-Domaine de Grand Vallat [biodynamic] Merlot 2005 Cotes de Ventoux
-Giant Steps Chardonnay 2006 Yarra Valley $35
-Domaine Tour Saint Michel Chateauneuf du Pape Tour de Lion Prestige
2003 $45
-Chateau Vignol Entre-deux-Mers 2007 $16.95
-Champagne Louis de Sacy Brut Rose Grand Cru NV $71
-Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2006, 130 cases, $65, Classics November 8: 
apple, vanillin, oak, more minerals. Coats the palate.  My fave of the
tasting, both red and white.
-Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, 120 cases, $40, Classics
March 25, 2009: toast, vanilla, orange marmalade, minerals.
Mouthfilling and long finish.
-La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, 300 cases, $40, Classics March 25,
2009: raspberry, pumpkin spices, cinnamon, elegant.
-Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2006, 190  cases, $70, Classics November 8,
2008: spicy cherries, some MVC for pinot noir, longer finish.
-Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Teurons 2006, $53.95, +653675
-Henriot Brut Souverain NV, $59.95 retail, +959643 Dec. 6 Vintages
-Henriot Cuvee Enchanteleurs 1995, $195, +83774, Classics Catalogue
-Jost Nova Scotia 2005 Trilogy 12% $17.99 750 [Baco, Leon Millot, Foch]
-Domaine de Grand Pre Nova Scotia 2007 Castel 13%
-Domaine de Grand Pre Nova Scotia 2006 Vidal Blanc 11.5%
-Jost Nova Scotia 2005 Muscat Icewine 10% $29.98 200 mL
-Gaspereau Nova Scotia 2007 Seyval Blanc 11.2% semisweet $16.99
-Gaspereau Nova Scotia 2007 New York Muscat 12.2% $19.99
-Terre di Vinu Nielluccio 2007 Corse [red]
-Jean de Meyrac Bouquet des Garrigues 2007 Cathare
-La Giraudiere Saumur Vieilles Vignes 2007
-I Muvrini Muscat 2007 Ile de Beaute
-Jean-Paul Mauler Pinot Gris 2007 Alsace
-Vinphonie Etcetera Riesling 2007 Alsace
-Vinphonie Etcetera Gewurztraminer 2007 Alsace
-Vina Carmen Reserve Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $16.85 +439166
GL – formerly known as Grand Vidure, and a personal fave of mine. 60%
Carmenere and 40% cabernet sauvignon, vinified separately.
-Nativa Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $19.95 Vintages – soon to be
spun off into its own organic wines winery
-Vina Carmen Gold Reserve 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon – n/a, from single
vineyard vines planted in 1957.
-Vina Carmen Gold Reserve 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon – $49.95, very Euro
-Tenuta Monteti Maremma Toscana 2005 - $59.99
-Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2005 Umbria - $124.99
-Az. Agr. Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma 2003 - $79.99
-Boroli Barolo Villero Riserva 1998 - $125.99
-Maison Camille Giroud Chambertin Grand Cru 2003 - $249 +76620 Classics
-Cantine Giovanni Viberti Barolo Buon Padre 2001 - $56.99
-Zyme Amarone della Velpolicella 2001 - $200 – one of my faves in this
-Az. Agr. Collemattoni Adone IGT Tuscany [sang/merlot] - $19.95
-Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2003 - $140
-Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2003 - $109.99
-Cantine Delibori Villabella Fracastoro Amarone 2001 ORGANIC - $65.95
-Oculus 2004 +965789 $70
-Oculus 2005 +220029 $60
-Oculus 2006 not yet released
-Quatrain 2005 +220045 $47.95 (M57/Syrah28/CF10/CS5: this meant that
there was no SLC Syrah bottling in 2005)
-Select Lot Collection Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2006 +220060
Consignment $26.95
-Select Lot Collection Chardonnay 2006 +220078  $26.95
-Reserve Chardonnay 2006 +545004  $21.95 Vintages Essentials

Saturday, December 6, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Mission Hill Family Estate Portfolio tasting, Oct 29, 2008

The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008  11:30 AM to 5 PM
The Event: an all day session with Mission Hill Family Estate: the
Oculus Vintage Affair. We had a luncheon with Anthony von Mandl
(Proprietor) and Ingo Grady (Director of Wine Education). Both spoke
about the wines, the new release of Oculus 2005 and the inaugural
releases of Perpetua (a new single vineyard chardonnay) and the premium
red blend Quatrain. This was followed by Grady's masterclass, which
added the unreleased Oculus 2006 for a vertical tasting.
The Venue: Spoke Club, King Street West
The Target Audience: wine press, sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines are available via LCBO,
Consignment, or Private Order.
The Quote: "This is our first ever Eastern Canada launch". During the
masterclass, Grady's presentation was augmented by an extensive
handbook. While Oculus has the same four grapes (M/CS/CF/PV), the
proportions vary from year to year, the French oak aging time varies,
the use of new oak varies, etc.
The Wines: we tasted a variety of VQA wines at the luncheon, the
seminar, and the open portfolio tasting. I did not have time to taste
the non-VQA wines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Oculus 2004 +965789 $70
-Oculus 2005 +220029 $60
-Oculus 2006 not yet released
-Quatrain 2005 +220045 $47.95 (M57/Syrah28/CF10/CS5: this meant that
there was no SLC Syrah bottling in 2005)
-Select Lot Collection Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2006 +220060
Consignment $26.95
-Select Lot Collection Chardonnay 2006 +220078  $26.95
-Reserve Chardonnay 2006 +545004  $21.95 Vintages Essentials
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Perpetua 2006 +220052  $32.95 – Burgundian style, sur lies
-Select Lot Collection Merlot 2004 +144187 Consignment
-Select Lot Collection Riesling Icewine 2005   +965797  $79.95 375 mL
-Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006  +57430  $21.95 Vintages
-Reserve Merlot 2006  +218379  $22.95  Consignment
-Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006  +553321   $24.95  Vintages Essentials
-Prospect Winery Spotted Lake Sauvignon Blanc 2007  +214725  $14.95
-Prospect Winery Census Count Chardonnay 2006  +220102  $14.95  LCBO
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Select Lot Collection Syrah +144179  $36.95
-Reserve Pinot Gris 2007  +220011  $19.95  Consignment
-Prospect Winery Ogopogo's Lair Pinot Grigio 2007  +220136 $14.95
-Prospect Winery Red Willow Shiraz 2006  +220144  $15.95 Consignment
The Food: nothing at the portfolio tasting nor the masterclass, but the
wine press had a luncheon with baked tomato and olive tart, lobster
ravioli (good with SLC Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon), seared scallops, elk
chop (Oculus and Quatrain), and crème brulee (SLC Riesling Icewine
The Downside: we started later than usual, and thus the luncheon ran
into the masterclass time. Then we had to wait for the portfolio setup.
The Upside: the vertical Oculus tasting.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cookbooks as Holiday Stocking Stuffers, part one

Stuffers --
Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something
affordable (under $10 - $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:
BRITTLES, BARKS & BONBONS; delicious recipes for quick and easy candy
(Chronicle Books, 2008, 96 pages, $16.95 US hard covers) has 40 recipes
and an index. These are for every occasion, ranging from gifts to
kiddies and family events. Truffles are here, as well as chocolate-
dipped fruit. A useful collation, all together.
TAPAS (Hamlyn, 2008, 128 pages, $16.95 CAD hard covers) is by Joanna
Farrow, a UK cookbook author for Hamlyn and a free-lance food stylist.
These are 80 classic and contemporary recipes, with about 200 photos
illustrating techniques and the plated dish. Actually, these dishes are
more than just "Spanish" – they are little plates, arranged here by all
the savoury courses from apps to mains to side dishes. Try duck with
saffron and pine nuts or beetroot and potato cakes with anchovies.

PUFF; 50 flaky, crunchy, delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts
made with puff pastry (Chronicle Books, 2008, 144 pages, $19.95 US
paper covers) is by Martha Holmberg, a food editor and publisher. Her
range is from flaky and crispy apps (13) to desserts (21), with some
mains (14). You can either use pre-made puff pastry from a bakery or
supermarket, or make your own from her recipe. She also provides a
"rough puff" demi-feuilletee for those cooks short on time. Try martini
straws, arugula-feta-cilantro triangles, smoky sweet chorizo pockets,
and avocado spiced chicken and almond pie.
CRÈME BRULEE; more than 50 decadent recipes (Whitecap, 2008, 128 pages,
ISBN 978-1-55285-943-8, $19.95 Canadian soft covers) is by Dominique
and Cindy Duby, owners of DC Duby a chocolate atelier, food
consultants, an frequent guests on Food Network Canada. They have  a
basic recipe (but at the back of the book on p.118) plus fifty or so
more such as Yukon gold and goat cheese brulee, morels and asparagus
with Stilton brulee, apricot saffron brulee, and chocolate orange and
candied ginger brulee. There are some wine pairing notes too, mostly
ice wines or botrytis wines. Of great interest is chapter eight where
the authors help you to design your own crème brulee, offering a list
of potential ingredients and their quantities.

Other little books, for beverages, include:
HOT DRINKS; indulgent hot chocolates, great coffees, soothing teas,
spiced punches, and other warming treats for cold days (Ryland, Peters
& Small, 2008, 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 2009. 75
recipes include Swedish glogg, hot rum and cider punch, and a variety
of milk drinks.
TINY BUBBLES (Chronicle Books, 2008, 104 pages, $14.95 US) is by Kate
Simon, an editor at "Imbibe" magazine. She covers fizzy cocktails for
every occasion, using Champagne, Prosecco, cava and other sparkling
wines. There are 40 recipes, including the ubiquitous mimosa and
"mocktails" made with fizzy water.

COFFEE DRINKS (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 128 pages, $14.95 US), by
restaurateur Michael Turback, explore the range of custom-crafted
possibilities (hot, icy cold, milky, foaming, sweet, spiked, et al). He
has 50 preps, many contributed by coffee purveyors and baristas.

RED WINE and WHITE WINE (both Ryland, Peters & Small, 2008, 64 pages,
$9.95 US) are by Jonathan Ray. Their subtitle is "discovering,
exploring, enjoying". After the usual basic primer material about
wines, Ray gives a grape by grape analysis for all the important
varieties. These are terrific gifts for that wine fiend who hates
either red or white wine: just give the book for the colour that is
appreciated. Unless you want to make a joke…

Still other smallish books include:
THE GREAT CHILES RELLENOS BOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 144 pages,
$16.95 US) is by Janos Wilder, once named best Chef in the Southwest by
James Beard Foundation. Here are 30 recipes, mostly Mexican, for
rellenos, from easy style to complicated. He also has some contemporary
versions which he uses in his two Arizona restaurants.
50 GREAT APPETIZERS (Simon & Schuster, 2008, 112 pages, $14.99 US) is a
collection of starters, amuses-bouches, antipasti, hors d'oeuvre,
mezes, antojitos, dim sum, tapas, canapés, and just plain finger food.
Cookbook writer and school instructor Pamela Sheldon Johns has pulled
it all together. There is party planning advice, and 10 themed menus
for the Middle East, Mexican, vegetarian, and the like.

THE GREAT WINGS BOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 144 pages, $16.95 US) is
by Hugh Carpenter, a Napa Valley cooking school owner. There are 40
preps here for party-ready chicken wings, plus some recipes for sauces,
rubs, marinades, and accompaniment. Flavours embrace pan-Asian, pan-
Latin, and US BBQ. Many are hot, some are hotter, but at least you can
adjust your own seasoning by doing it yourself -- and save money too.
This book helps to fulfill the American fantasy of males gnawing on
bones (ribs are another one).

VEGAN A GO-GO (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008, 96 pages, $17.95 CAD) is by
Sarah Kramer, whose first three vegan books have sold over 150,000
copies. This book is for vegan travelers who are daunted by looking for
relevant food in diners or motel preps. There are 150 recipes here,
some adapted from her earlier books. The rest of the material contains
information and advice on traveling. There is even a section on "How to
Say 'I Am Vegan'" in numerous languages. The book is small enough to
slip into a purse or pocket, with a reinforced cover. And, of course,
it is also useful to vegetarians.

PASTA and PANINI (both Ten Speed Press, 2008, 112 pages, $14.95 US) are
by Carlo Middione, a cooking instructor specializing in writing about
southern Italy (he has a Child and a Beard). These two books cover one
course each. In PASTA, there are 50 traditional preps and sauces, such
as cannelloni in salsa al pomodori, pasta e fagioli, and some
contemporary ones he developed for his restaurant. The setup is the
same for PANINI, with grilled, not-grilled and open-faced sandwiches
using a variety of cheeses, cured and uncured meats, poultry and
seafood. You can certainly make a meal with one course of each. About
thirty full-colour photos complete the package.

Then there is the charming THE RITZ LONDON BOOK OF CHRISTMAS (Ebury
Press, 2007, 64 pages, $19.95) which is a reprint of the 1989 classic.
It is by Jennie Reekie, and concerns the art and traditions of an
Edwardian Christmas. This illustrated collection of some 50 recipes is
an elegant celebration of traditional mince meat pies, roast turkey
with chestnut and sausage meat stuffing, punches, and the like. The
book also forms a mini-history of the British customs at Christmas
time. Lots of potted meats and baked goods here.
More next time...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Stem Wine Group Gala Portfolio tasting, Oct 28, 2008

The Time and Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2008  3PM to 10 PM
The Event: 3rd annual Family of Wines Gala from Stem Wine Group Inc.
The Venue: Eglinton Grand Event
The Target Audience: private customers, restaurateurs, wine press
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is here or will be via
consignment and private orders. The catalogue was a model of
efficiency, with a quick section on how to use the guide. All prices
were given, as well as the terms. The wines were listed by region and
producer, in table order. Helpful cards were placed at each table, with
more details about each wine. This really saved me a lot of time, and I
am sure the patrons appreciated it.
The Quote: "Ah, the sweet refrains of engaging smooth jazz." There was
a live quintet performing.
The Wines: in no real order beyond rating levels. Most of Stem's
principals are Italian. Prices are retail.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Tenuta Monteti Maremma Toscana 2005 - $59.99
-Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2005 Umbria - $124.99
-Az. Agr. Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma 2003 - $79.99
-Boroli Barolo Villero Riserva 1998 - $125.99
-Maison Camille Giroud Chambertin Grand Cru 2003 - $249 +76620 Classics
-Cantine Giovanni Viberti Barolo Buon Padre 2001 - $56.99
-Zyme Amarone della Velpolicella 2001 - $200 – one of my faves in this
-Az. Agr. Collemattoni Adone IGT Tuscany [sang/merlot] - $19.95
-Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2003 - $140
-Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2003 - $109.99
-Cantine Delibori Villabella Fracastoro Amarone 2001 ORGANIC - $65.95
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Az. Agr. Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2006 - $49.99
-Ktima Lantides Icon Roditis 2005 Greece - $17.99
-Boroli Barolo Villero Riserva 1999 - $119.99
-Malenchini Bruzzico IGT Tuscany 2003 [sang/cabsauv] - $37.95 +658427
-Az. Agr. Forchir Pinot Grigio Rosadis 2007 Friuli - $15.99
-Merry Edwards Pinot Noir 2006 Meredith Estate - $89.99
-Coup de Foudre Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley - $200
-Andeluna Cellars Winemaker's Selection Torrontes Mendoza - $15.99
-Bodegas Darien Reserva 2002 Rioja - $26.99
-Vinicola Tombaco Terre Nuove Syrah 2007 Sicilia - $12.99
-Bishop's Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Paso Robles - $27.99
-David Franz Lehmann Georgie's Walk Cabernet 2003 Barossa Valley -
-La Fattoria di Magliano Perenzo Syrah 2006 IGT Tuscany - $64.99
-Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2007 Umbria -
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Boroli Barolo Cerequio 2003 - $109.99
-Az. Agr. Ca' del Baio Moscato d'Asti 2006 - $23.99
-Az. Agr. Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino 2003 - $59.99
-Az. Agr. Buglioni Amarone della Valpolicella 2003 - $64.99
-Jax Vineyards Chardonnay 2006 Napa Valley - $33.95 +67264 Vintages
-La Fattoria di Magliano Heba Morellino di Scansano 2006 Tuscany -
-Grayson Cellars Chardonnay 2007 Central Coast - $18.99
-Cantine Delibori Merlot 2006 IGT Veneto - $10.99
-Cantine Delibori Amarone della Valpolicella 2004 - $34.99
The Food: first rate porchetta, truffled mushroom risotto, various
crostini and bruschetta, a Parmigiano Reggiano half-wheel, and
The Downside: I had to run off to two other wine tasting events in the
early evening, so I could not taste all the wines here.
The Upside: great food, great company, fantastic catalogue layout.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 96,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TRADE TASTING: Vina Carmen, Chile, October 27, 2008

The Time and Date:  Monday, October 27, 2008  2Pm to 3:30 PM
The Event: a tasting of Vina Carmen wines (Chile) with senior winemaker
Sebastian Labbe who was in town for a few days. He spoke on the Chilean
wine scene in general, and then moved on to his own company. Vina
Carmen wines regularly get 88 to 93 points in diverse publications.
"Wine and Spirits" magazine had named them winery of the year for 2007.
The agent is Authentic Wine and Spirits Merchants,
The Venue: LCBO Scrivener Square, Private Tasting Room
The Target Audience: wine media.
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines are here or will be.
The Quote: "The Carmen newer plantings are in Limari and Pumanque, and
there we will be using new ripeness assessment concepts."
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vina Carmen Reserve Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $16.85 +439166
GL – formerly known as Grand Vidure, and a personal fave of mine. 60%
Carmenere and 40% cabernet sauvignon, vinified separately.
-Nativa Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $19.95 Vintages – soon to be
spun off into its own organic wines winery
-Vina Carmen Gold Reserve 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon – n/a, from single
vineyard vines planted in 1957.
-Vina Carmen Gold Reserve 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon – $49.95, very Euro
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vina Carmen Reserve Chardonnay 2006 Casablanca, $18.95 – 45% BF
-Vina Carmen Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $10.95 +789890 GL – 10%
syrah added.
-Vina Carmen Reserve Petit Syrah 2004, $18.95 – woody nose
-Vina Carmen Late Harvest Muscatel 2007 - $15 half-bottle, 15%
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vina Carmen Classic Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca, $9.70 +235663 GL
The Food: bread and water
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.