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Saturday, February 7, 2009

DINNER: Niagara Cafe and Trefethen Vineyards Wine, Jan 18/09

 The Time and Date: Sunday, January 18, 7 PM- 11 PM
The Event: tasting dinner with Loren Trefethen of Trefethen Vineyards
Winery in Napa and his Ontario agent, Nick Hirons of The Merchant
The Venue: Niagara Street Café.
The Target Audience: wine media and sommeliers.
The Availability/Catalogue: two wines are just being released as ISDs,
and we had a chance to taste 6 other wines not yet in the Ontario
The Quote/Background: the winery was bought in 1968, complete with a
"ghost winery" (an abandoned house). They believe in sustainable
farming, and currently they are certified "Napa Green", which is
probably as close as one can get to organic.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
- Trefethen Estate Chardonnay 2005 Napa, $45.95 as LCBO ISD, 75 cases
in Ontario. There are about 34 different chardonnays here, and then
blended. 14.1% ABV. Top notes of some marmalade, but Burgundian style
all the way. The 1976 vintage won "Best Chardonnay in the World" at the
French Wine Olympics.
- Trefethen Library Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, $123: nicely aged, some
mint on the nose, extractive, softer finish, older feel of spices and
cinnamon. My fave of the evening.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
- Trefethen Double T Napa Red 2006, $33: Named after the trellising
system. Made with juice that does not make it into the Estate program.
Bordeaux blend, a second label. 13% ABV. Promising entry, juicy finish,
soft, extra Merlot tones. We sipped it as an aperitif.
- Trefethen Estate Dry Riesling 2007 Napa, $35: 13% ABV. Somewhat
Alsatian in style, upfront body on the mouthfeel, excellent length.
- Trefethen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Napa, $69.95 at LCBO ISD, 75
cases in Ontario. 92% Cabernet with balance being other Bordeaux
varietals. 14% ABV. Rich jammy nose, almost overpowering,  understated
elegance, long finish, needs cellaring. Gold medalist.
- Trefethen HaLo 2003, $254: named after the two Trefethen kids, Hailey
and Loren, this wine is an absolute delight. 14.1% ABV. Aromatic,
minty, powerful flavour, but hot finish. Almost total pleasure, marred
only by the price. The package has a fantasy label over a very heavy
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
- Trefethen Estate Merlot 2005, $54: 14.1% ABV. soft velvet, even
softer with cheese. Needs cellaring to develop more character.
- Trefethen Estate Late Harvest Riesling 2007, $76 for 375 mL: not
quite a Vendange Tardif, but close. Nevertheless, it is way overpriced
for this market in Ontario. 
The Food: Anton Potvin of Niagara St Café took care of us very well. We
had small portions of pork hock two ways (one as a crispy sweet and
sour, the other as a pressed terrine complete with "rind") with a
sesame dressed Nappa cabbage slaw between them (and Riesling). This was
followed by two wild BC salmons (one cured, one hot smoked) with
caramelized fennel and maitake mushrooms (Chardonnay). Up next was
grilled Ontario lamb saddle with saffron couscous and Moroccan eggplant
caviar and poached quince (plus two Cabernets). Artisanal cheeses
followed (a Chevre Noir cheddar was one of them) with toast and walnuts
(Merlot). And finally, a panna cotta with lemon curds (LH Riesling).
The Downside: personally, I had to tear myself away from a couple of
NFL playoff games.
The Upside: a chance to match excellent wines with food, and do a
criss-cross comparison of the dishes with both Riesling and Chardonnay,
and the Cabernets with the Merlot.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.

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