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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Cookbooks and Winebooks for Gifting, Part One...

[stocking stuffers will be part two]


By Dean Tudor, Ryerson Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic Epicures Writing, (World Wine Watch Newsletter).




There are so many new food and wine books out there and people have such picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED, and probably can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca or Chapters.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $39). Price Alert: because of US dollar fluctuations with Canada, all prices may vary. I have used CAD wherever I know it.





Art/travel books might be the best books to give a loved one (or yourself, since you are your own best loved one), because most may cost you an arm and a leg. But try for a discount. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And don't let the prices daunt you. Most such art books are available at a discount from Amazon.Ca. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released last year, and book reviewers were cut off from foreign imports and expensive books. I found four such books that were good, and one other -



THE COUNTRY COOKING OF IRELAND (Chronicle Books, 2009, 392 pages, $60 CAD, hard covers) is by well-known food and travel writer Colman Andrews, with photos by Chris Hirsheimer. Log rolling endorsements come from Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters, Ruth Rogers, and Terence Conran, but why? I dunno, the book clearly speaks for itself with an acclaimed author. Unless the publisher got nervous about issuing a book at $50US. The book weighs over five pounds. Andrews talks about the people, the countryside, and the food. He gives us 250 classic recipes, accompanied by 100 touristy pix of pubs and countryside and people. Andrews also give us a lot of anecdotes, with some song, folklore and poetry. A great gift for your Irish friend, or a good gift for others.



WHY ITALIANS LOVE TO TALK ABOUT FOOD (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, 449 pages, $44 CAD hard covers) is by Elena Kostioukovitch, a Ukrainian living in Milan. It was first published in Italy in 2006, and was a best seller in both Italy and Russia, picking up a few awards. This is a travelogue journey through Italy's regional cuisines, from the Alps to Sicily. As a newcomer to Italy, the author immediately noticed the differences of taste, language, and attitude in the ways that Italians talked about food. Local pride comes to mind. This memoir is loaded with illustrations, maps, menus, and explanations. No recipes but many prep indications and cook's notes sidebars.



MASTERING THE ART OF CHINESE COOKING (Chronicle Books, 2009, 384 pages, $60 CAD hard covers) is by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who has written 11 other cookbooks on Chinese cuisine. Susie Cushner provides travel photos and food photos of the finished plates. There are step-by-step brush drawings to illustrate the Chinese cooking methods. This is a skills book, with a series of lessons for the home cook. Step-by-step notes cover the techniques, ingredients and equipment needed. Lo gives us 100 classic recipes in this five pound book. This is a useful book for the experienced home cook or one who wants to upgrade Oriental cooking skills. Or simply for the armchair traveler.



AD HOC AT HOME; family-style recipes (Artisan, 2009, 368 pages, $68.95 CAD hard covers) is by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Bouchon. Apparently, he only writes expensive and heavy (weight) art-like cookbooks. His last was about sous-vide, and it retailed for $104 CAD. This time, promoted as "the book every home cook has been waiting for", Keller visits American comfort foods closest to his heart. Do we really need an expensive book for this, when there are still Betty Crocker books for under $10? Well, if you want a gift book for an upper m idle-class host who wishes to scale down (but doesn't know how), then this is the book. He has more than 200 recipes for family-style meals, embracing such concepts as potato hash with bacon and melted onions, grilled-cheese sandwiches, and heartier fare. To top it off, there are actually full-color photographs for step-by-step lessons in kitchen basics. Truly a gift book, for the host who doesn't know how to cook and doesn't know how to express it. Chacun a son gout.



EATING INDIA; exploring the food and culture of the land of spices (Bloomsbury UK, 2009, reprinted from 2007, 265 pages, $19 US paper covers) is by Chitrita Banerji, who presents a memoir of Indian food by covering the waves of newcomers who brought innovative new ways to combine the Indian subcontinent's rich native spices. She concentrates on vegetables, fish, grains and pulses, and of course the spices themselves. Lavishly illustrated.



VENEZIA; food & dreams (Whitecap, 2009, 290 pages, $45 CAD hard covers) is another five pound book – in weight. It's by Tessa Kiros, once a peripatetic chef and cook. She found her husband in Italy and now lives in Tuscany. This is her fifth cookbook, and it just screams "gift". It is a posh production, complete with a ribbon bookmark, gold edging, and a gold ink for the fancy typeface. The photos are a mix of tourism travel and finished plates. The book was originally published in Australia last year, and this marks its first Canadian appearance. She covers the Venetian scene, commenting on why it is so important in Italian culinary history, with Prosecco and polenta and bussolai. She moves from cicchetti (small bites) to antipasti, zuppa, pasta, risotto, secondi, contorni (sides), and then dolci. Most of the preps come from local restaurants.




For the more literate person, there are the "memoirs" of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", suffering from embellishments and gilding. And also suffering from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from last year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…


A top pick for me is the reissued THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE, or meditations on transcendental gastronomy (Everyman's Library Classic, 2009, 446 pages, $29.95 CAD hard covers) by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. This is the M.F.K. Fisher translation of the 1825 work, and it comes with a new introduction by Bill Burford. This culinary classic has been defined by the phrase "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are". It's a philosophical collection of recipes, anecdotes, musings, taste, and gastronomy. It comes with a ribbon bookmark. Unfortunately, in today's society, with over-regulation, entitlement, and problems with the food chain, the new message is more "Tell me what you are, and I will tell you what you eat."



COOKING DIRTY; a story of life, sex, love and death in the kitchen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, 355 pages, $32.50 CAD hard covers) is supposed to be an account of life "on the kitchen line" by Jason Sheehan, the food writer for Westworld in Denver. He won a Beard in 2003. Here he recounts all the mean jobs that he has held since the age of 15: scraping trays at a pizzeria, and at an all-night diner, a crab shack, a French colonial, a fusion resto, and others. He says that cooking is a series of personal challenges, and the kitchen is a place where people from the margins find their community. Nifty writing, in the vein of early Anthony Bourdain.



TRAUMA FARM; a rebel history of rural life (Greystone Books, 2009, 373 pages, $35 CAD hard covers) is a memoir by a farmer who's a published poet, book author, and monthly columnist: Brian Brett. Brett has been farming on Salt Spring Island for the past two decades. The publisher calls this an "entertaining meditation on small, mixed farming". Brett manages to be curmudgeonly as he talks about the terroir, criticizes agribusiness, abbatoirs, use and misuse of gates, globalization, and types of seeds. There's even a resource list of book references for further reading. The name of the farm says it all: Trauma Farm




THE GASTRONOMY OF MARRIAGE; a memoir of food and love (Random House, 2009, 237 pages, $18.95 CAD soft covers) is by Michelle Maisto, and it is the story of Michelle (Italian background) and Rich (Chinese background) living together before marriage – as they sort out their food likes and dislikes. Each background has traditions and rituals, and each has its own comfort foods. The couple has differences, disagreements, and displeasures – they all need to be sorted out. The nightly ritual of dinner becomes a testing ground for sorting out both of their lives, and they do it with love.


CONFECTIONS OF A CLOSET MASTER BAKER (Broadway Books, 2009, 226 pages, $29.95 CAD hard covers) is by Gesine Bullock Prado, Sandra's sister and head of her production company. But she was unhappy and baked sugar/butter goods to assuage her misery. Eventually, she left Hollywood for Vermont, opening Gesine Confectionary. This memoir deals with her sugary childhood and her attempts to come to grips by cooking the stuff and confronting it. Her confections have been on national US television and in magazines. The book also covers basic baking processes and recipes. One for the host/hostess suffering from the sugar blues.



FAT OF THE LAND; adventures of a 21st century forager (Skipstone, 2009, 222 pages, $26.95 US) is by Langdon Cook, a freelance wilderness writer who explores the Pacific Northwest in food, natural history, and oddball characters. Wild edibles are free food, as he never lets us forget. The book is arranged by season, Winter to Fall, with 15 recipes. It is nicely written, with great style, but apparently still needed some log rolling from Molly Wizenberg and Betty Fussell.



HUNGRY MONKEY; a food-loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009, 260 pages, $30 CAD hard covers) is by Matthew Amster-Burton, a former restaurant critic and food writer who is now a stay-at-home dad. This book is really about feeding difficult kids, and he has dozens of recipes listed in the table of contents. He writes about the highs and lows of teaching a child about food. The memoir is engaging, especially since it covers the joys of food and parenting. Good to read, and good to learn from.


Things are a little slow in the memoir world of wines. I saw only a handful. One was CORKED (Wiley, 2009, 237 pages, $29.95 hard covers) by Kathryn Borel, a former wine writer with Eye newspaper (some of this book was previously published there), and involved with Fresh Air (CBC). She wants to bond with her father, a chef-hotelier (Phillipe Borel), by accompanying him to France for a two-week trip through various wine regions (Alsace, Burgundy, Rhone, Languedoc). We learn about wine, which she had pretended to know a bit about but actually knew little, and then we also learn about her father and herself, and the father-daughter relationship. It's a tough love in some places, but eminently readable for this time of the year when family relationships are usually examined.



Another was the more practical TONY ASPLER'S CELLAR BOOK; how to design, build, stock and manage your wine cellar wherever you live (Random House Canada, 2009, 340 pages, $32.95 CAD hard covers) by Canada's most well-known wine writer and Member of the Order of Canada. It comes complete with printed wine stains, an interesting innovation. I contributed to this book, so I am not allowed to be overly-excited by it (conflict of interest rules). But Tony does have a memoir-ish style since most chapters are expressed in the form of his journeys through life. His book is about guidelines without boundaries for modest to expensive wine safekeeping, whether in a professional cellar or temporarily in a kitchen. Of importance is his chapter on condos (he recently bought a condo and had to make a wine cellar work). He has recommendations for what wines should be in a wine cellar, to accommodate most budgets and expenses. There are plenty of charts and tables for wine names, grape comparisons, regions, and wine styles, plus food and wine matches (and wine and food matches) and "dream" cellars. Other sections include a wine vocabulary.


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


LAMBRUSCO (Anchor Books, 2009, 352 pages, $16.95 CAD soft cover reprint) was published last year, but it reappears in Canada as an affordable paperback reprint. Ellen Cooney has chosen to write about a comic journey that embraces wine, restaurants, and 1943 wartime Italy. It is focused on Aldo's Ristorante on the Adriatic coast, and the Lucia Fantini (the heroine) sings opera too. Her son is involved with the Resistance, but then disappears. An entertaining read.



THE VINTAGE CAPER (Knopf, 2009, 223 pages, $29.95 hard covers) is by Peter Mayle of "Year in Provence" fame. He's written about four other novels. This one is a mystery: a Los Angeles wine connoisseur has had his wine cellar go missing. Sam Levitt, wine aficionado working for an insurance company, must solve the multimillion dollar claim. Of course, he follows his leads through Bordeaux and thence to Provence, where Mayle can show off his food and wine expertise. The frame does work somewhat in showing off gastronomic toys, but it is a good thing that Mayle is an engaging writer.


A LITTLE DISTILLERY IN NOWGONG (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009, 456 pages, $27.95 CAD hard covers) is by Ashok Mathur. It's his third novel, and all have been published by Arsenal. His previous "The Short, Happy Life of Harry Kumar" was short listed for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. This is both a fantasy and an historical novel, tracing the lives of three generations of a Parsi family in India from 1899 to the present. It's the story of leaving village life for the urban life in turbulent pre- and post-independence, moving on to the UK and Canada. Jamshed, the protagonist, is obsessed with the concept of free will, and eventually decides to take on the management of the family distillery. He discovers the magical properties of its main product, a rum called Asha. The liquor becomes a leit-motif, reappearing throughout the novel as the family moves on to Atlantic Canada and Toronto. An engaging read.


THE SCHOOL OF ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2009, 240 pages, $27.50 CAD hard covers) is by Erica Bauermeister. It follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for a cooking class. The book shows every evidence of "chick lit" as each student seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. They all come to appreciate the sensitivity behind food and how it can help emotionally. There's the young mother, the recent immigrant, the grieving widower, and the chef herself. A good skilful weave of reflections on life. My wife thought it was a "sweet book". There are some recipes here, and the best one is on page 24: hot chocolate.



GONE WITH THE WINE; the wine cartoons of Doug Pike (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2009, 114 pages, $12.95 US paperback) is loaded with gags from the wine world. Pike is a regular feature on (Parker contributes a Foreword here). The 100 cartoons are arranged by topic (retail experience, waiters, winemakers, parties, etc.). My fave: a customer is asking a wine store clerk – "What have you got in the way of a Cabernet Sauvignon for people who like Zinfandel when they can't find Merlot?" Anybody know the answer? Please email me…


KITCHEN SCRAPS; a humourous illustrated cookbook (Whitecap Books, 2009, 198 pages, $29.95 CAD soft covers) is an overly large 8.5 by 11 paperback crafted by Pierre Lamielle who is obviously nuts – in a nice way. He is imaginative, both in the recipes and in the presentations. Chapters are divided into dishes you eat with a spoon, those you eat with a fork, those you eat with your hands, and those you eat with a forkenknife. It is eccentric in prose, but it all works. You just have to read the recipe directions very carefully to avoid any overthetop excesses. In other words, you need to know when he is just kidding. As we said in high school, "quelle fun".  Check out his blog at



Okay, this is now 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 (2010) means new resolutions and intentions to keep or break. If you are really comfortable with your friends, you could give them health books for the holiday. And, you might be able to use them for yourself! Here are two new ones –



WEIGHT WATCHER'S NEW COMPLETE COOKBOOK (J. Wiley, 2009, $29.95 CAD hard covers) is the Momentum Program edition, which includes point values and program recipes. There are 500 preps here, for all types of occasions. Plus 100 tips to help keep you satisfied between meals. New to this edition is the international holiday baking chapter. The book also has the usual nutritional information for each recipe, and as well, there are graphic icons attached to each prep to indicate whether the recipe is 25 minutes or less in cooking time, or whether it is spicy. Weight Watchers is one of the most consistent forms of weight reduction in North America.



THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION GUIDE TO HERBS & NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS; what you need to know from Aloe to Zinc (McGraw-Hill Canada, 2009, 191 pages, $20.95 CAD, paper covers). The book clearly explains terms and gives pertinent information about herbs and supplements. There is a complete rundown on 40 popular easily accessible botanicals and minerals and the like. As well, there are easy-to-use tables summarizing everything.

Part Two next week: stocking stuffers!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Role of Local Wine in the Ontario Restaurant Industry

From Maxim Voronov, Brock University --
"I invite you to participate in a research project, entitled "The Role of
Local Wine in the Ontario Restaurant Industry: Challenges and
Opportunities." This project aims to develop a better understanding of how
restaurants like yours can increase their success and reputation in the
market, as well as the role that Ontario wines might play in this process.

Some of the questions we hope to answer with this study are as follows:
What tools can we develop that might enable restaurants to compete more
effectively in their local markets? How can more effective relationships be
developed between restaurants and various stakeholders, such as wineries,
restaurant critics, or government agencies? What challenges and
opportunities relate to promoting VQA wines? By analyzing the insights
provided by you and other restaurant owners, managers, and sommeliers
across Ontario, we can achieve scientific bases for answering these

Would you please take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete the
questionnaire at your earliest convenience? You can fill out the survey at

Please rest assured that your individual responses will be kept completely
confidential. Our interest lies in the average responses of all
participants, so neither you nor your company will ever be identified in
any way in any written reports.

To express my sincere appreciation for your willingness to share your
valuable time and thoughts with us, I will be happy to send you a
personalized Executive Summary of the study's findings that compares your
responses with the average responses of the sample and thus can help you
understand how your organization measures up against other restaurants.
Completing the survey will automatically entitle you to a $10 gift
certificate, redeemable at any LCBO store. Each respondent also will be
part of a drawing for one of five $200 gift certificates to LCBO stores.

If you have any questions about this study or require further information,
please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for your
assistance. Your input will be instrumental to the success of this research.


Maxim Voronov

Maxim Voronov, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Strategic Management
Department of Marketing, International Business and Strategy
Faculty of Business
Brock University
500 Glenridge Ave.
St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1 Canada
Tel: (905) 688-5550, Ext. 5189
Fax: (905) 378-5716


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oct 28/09 Event: a tasting of Bordeaux wines priced under $30

 The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2009    1:30 PM – 5:30 PM
The Event: a tasting of Bordeaux wines priced under $30
The Venue: Polson Pier, Solarium.
The Target Audience: wine trade, writers, sommeliers.
The Availability/Catalogue: everything was available through the normal
distribution channels and consignment.
The Quote/Background: the wine press got top notch service in a
separate room, away from the crowds, where we could sit, relax and
examine our tastings more carefully without supplier pressure. The idea
of modestly priced Bordeaux was a terrific idea.
The Wines: There were about 45 wines, but the writers were only
presented with 27. So we still had to join the passing parade.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Dourthe La Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $15.95 +159640
-Ch. De Courteillac 2007, $11.95 +360552 (tip: get the 2007, much
better than 2008 now being rolled out)
-Ch. Castegens 2005 Cote de Castillon, $18.95 +125856
-Ch. Tourte des Graves 2005 Graves, $24.95, +117630
-Ch. Magnol 2007 Haut-Medoc, $30 Charton Hobbs Private Order
-Ch. Roquetaillade La Grange Vieilles Vignes 2005 Graves, $21.95
-Ch. La Croix Canon 2002 Canon Fronsac, $19.95 Rouge et Blanc Private
-Ch. Grand Bateau 2007, $19.95 Rouge et Blanc Private order
-Ch. Belle Vue Haut Medoc 2005, $29.90 Vintages
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Christian Moueix Merlot 2005, $15.95 +961227
-Ch. Grimont Prestige Premieres 2006, $18.95 +160416
-Calvet Reserve de L'Estey 2006 Medoc, $13.95 +38208
-Ch. St.Andre Corbin St. Georges St Emilion 2006, $22.85 +43810
-Christian Moueix St. Emilion 2005, $22.95 +979955
-Ch. Haut-Plaisance Montaigne St. Emilion 2003, $23.75 – "Best Buy"
(oldest wine here)
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Ch. La Croix de Queynac 2005, $15.20 +138636
-Ch. Puyfromage 2005, $15.40 +33605
-Ch. Pey La Tour Reserve 2006, $21.95 +925859
-Ch. Courreges 2005, $24.95 +117608
-Ch. La Grolet 2005, $24.95 +126615
-Ch. Cherchy-Desqueyroux 2005 Graves, $23.95 +125518
-Ch. Des Laurels Puisseguin St. Emilion 2006, $19.95 +371401
The Food: a variety of appetizer portions – steak au poivre, duck
confit, veggie rice roll wraps, chicken skewers, salmon tartare on
endive, bruschetta, deep fried meat spring rolls.
The Downside: it was at the end of nowhere, deep into Toronto Island. I
came by TTC, and returned to the subway via the organizer's free
shuttle (THANKS!!). I heard that parking was $15, and that people
abandoned their cars on the small street.
The Upside: this was a good idea, and I liked the separate press room.
The Contact Person: Ann Marie Koumettou
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 86.

Oct 28/09 Event: APVSA tasting

 The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2009  10AM to 5PM
The Event: APVSA tasting (Association pour la promotion des vins et
spiritueux en Amerique du Nord).
The Venue: Delta Chelsea Inn
The Target Audience: wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: no wines are currently available in
Ontario. The group is here to try to get some agents to agree to rep
the principal. Some of the wines are available in Quebec and Alberta.
Most of the wines were French, and there were sales staff available to
comment on the prices and production.
The Wines: The problem I had with the wines, and one that must be
acknowledged, is that they were no better than the wines that we
already have here in Ontario. There really did not seem to be any price
advantages, either. These 60 or so wines could be made available
through Vintages or Consignment. Here were my faves, regardless of
price (Bordeaux dominated):
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2000 Lalande de Pomerol
-Charles Sparr Gewurztraminer 2008 Alsace
-Les Vignerons de Coteaux de l'Alaric Cuvee Isabelle 2008 Pays D'Oc
-Chateau Puy Bardens 2004 Premiere Cotes de Bordeaux
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2002 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau de L'Eveche 2002 Lalande de Pomerol
-Charles Sparr Pinot d'Alsace 2008 Alsace
-Charles Sparr Pinot Gris Mambourg Alsace
-Charles Sparr Riesling Vendanges Tardives 2005 Alsace
-Jean Gleize Muscat Sec 2008 Pays D'Oc
-Domaine Chateau Allexant Les Cailloux Rully 2007
-Domaine de Grand-Pere Jules Cuvee Victor 2008 Cotes du Rhone [organic]
-Chateau Sansonnet 2004 St. Emilion Grand Cru
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2003 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau Moulin de Sales 2005 Lalande de Pomerol
-Chateau de L'Eveche 2005 Lalande de Pomerol
-Jean Gleize Sauvignon 2008 Pays D'Oc
-Domaine de la Garenne Sancerre 2008
-Domaine de la Garenne Sancerre Rose 2008
-Domaine Chateau Allexant Aux Fourneaux Savigny Les Beaunes 2007
-Domaine Chateau Allexant Cotes de Nuit-Villages 2007
-Chateau de Comigne La Reserve Corbieres 2006
-Chateau de Comigne La Reserve Minervois 2007
-Jean de Meyrac Bouquet de Garrigues 2008 V de P Cathare
The Food: none.
The Downside: usually there is not enough space to sprawl out and write
notes. No paper was furnished, so I used some 3 by 5 cards.
The Upside: a chance to taste some engaging wines not available here.
There is a listing of wines with prices, but it is complicated.
The Contact Person: for prices, etc., check with Pascal
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oct 27/09 Event: "Tasting Under the Stars" - a special celebration with Masi

The Time and Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2009  7PM to 10PM
The Event: "Tasting Under the Stars" – a special celebration with Dr.
Sandro Boscaini, President of Masi, on the release of the 2006 vintage.
The Venue: Royal Ontario Museum
The Target Audience: wine press and clients, other opinion-makers.
The Availability/Catalogue: varies, see ratings.
The Quote/Background: An internal assessment committee at Masi rates
its wines. In the past 50 years, only 7 vintages have been awarded a
self-classified "five star" rating. This celebration is for the latest,
2006, and the first since 1997. We tasted other five star wines from
1997, 1995, and 1990.
The Wines: the opening reception wine was the white Masi Masianco 2008.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Campofiorin 1995
-Costasera Amarone 1997, $115
-Amarone 1990, n/a
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Campofiorin 1997
-Amarone 1995, $140
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Campofiorin 2006, +155051 $17.45
-Costasera Amarone 2006, +317057, $37.35
The Food: foods were paired with the wines, but the differences were
very slight. One pairing was Parmigiano Reggiano with 50-year old
balsamic. Another was very juicy lamb sausage with mint chutney. A
third was veal shank (osso buco) with gorgonzola polenta. Tortellini
chanterelle and venison tenderloin (with prune puree) completed the
The Downside: I misled myself and assumed that it would be a sit-down
tasting with technical appraisals. Instead, it was a walk around, which
never gave me a chance to critically appraise the wines.
The Upside: a chance to catch up with old friends at Masi and chat with
others in the crowd.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 86.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oct 21/09 Event: a tasting of cavas and wines from Spain's Marti Serda

The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2009  3 Pm to 8 PM
The Event: a tasting of cavas and wines from Spain's Marti Serda
(Penedes) and from Mas de Les Vinyes (Priorat).
The Venue: Fine Wine Reserve, King and Spadina
The Target Audience: wine writers, clients of the agent, AMV-Whiz
Trading Ltd.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines were available for private order.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Marti Serda Chardonnay 2007, $19
-Marti Serda Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, $21
-Marti Serda Chardonnay Brut, $18
-Marti Serda Cuvee Real Sparkling, $32
-Raco D'Atans Crianza Red 2003, $31
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Marti Serda Blanc de Blanc 2007, $14.50
-Marti Serda Brut Nature, $17
-Marti Serda Gran Reserva Sparkling, $30
-Mas de Les Vinyes White 2006, $16
-Raco D'Atan Seleccio Crianza Red 2003, $49
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Marti Serda Merlot Rosato 2007, $15.50
-Marti Serda Brut Rose, $17
-Mas de Les Vinyes Red 2005, $18
-Mas de Les Vinyes Crianza Red 2004, $22.50
The Food: bread, cheese and water
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 82.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oct 20/09 Event: Tasting of Grupo dos Sete Portuguese wines in Toronto

 The Time and Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2009  10:30AM to 2 PM
The Event: Tasting of Grupo dos Sete Portuguese wines (Alianca,
Aveleda, Bacalhoa, Jose Maria da Fonseca, and Messias).
The Venue: LCBO Srivener Square, Tasting Room and Dining Event Room
The Target Audience: wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: wines are mainly for show, but some are in
this market now, or will be.
The Quote/Background: we had a seminar beforehand, whereby we tasted
versions of Portuguese indigenous varietals and terroir, such as
Touriga Nacional from Setubal, from Dao, and from the Douro, and
Alvarinho, Loureiro, Fernao Pires, Touriga Franca, and Aragonez. This
was followed by a presentation of two wines from each producer, and
then an inspired Italian luncheon to pair with the wines. This group
continues to tour in Montreal and Quebec City, but with French food and
Moroccan food for lunches.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha 2006, $35 – 40 (Diamond Estates)
-Bacalhoa Moscatel Roxo 1999, 18.5% ABV
-Alianca Particular Dao 2008, $13.95
-Bachaloa Tinto Da Anfora 2006, $14
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Aveleda Follies Alvarinho 2008, $12
-JM da Fonseca 2005, $40 -45 (Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tannat,
Syrah, and fractions of two other grapes)
-Quinta dos 4 Ventos Reserva 2006, $55 – 60 private order
-Messias Dados Douro Reserva 2007, $30 private order
-Aveleda Charamba Douro 2007, $9
-Alianca Vista Touriga Nacional Reserva 2007, $12.95
-JP Vinhos Tinto 2008, $9
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Aveleda Vinho Verde 2008
-JM da Fonseca Periquita 2006, $9.45
-Messias Quinta do Penedo Rouge 2005
-JM da Fonseca Quinta de Camarate 2007, $9.95
The Food: catering came from Trattoria Sotto Sotto. With seared
scallop, tuna and shrimp came Aveleda Follies Alvarinho 2008 ($12). The
Hexagon 2005 accompanied the ravioli id zucca. With the osso buco and
polenta came the Anfora Grande Escholha 2006, the 4 Ventos Reserva
2006, and the Dados Douro Reserva 2007 – almost too many to try against
the veal. The cannoli for dessert was a delight, with the Bacalhoa
Moscatel Roxo 1999.
The Downside: we were required to be there at 10:30 sharp, although
(because of wine delays) the proceedings did not begin until 11:02. And
then the LCD multimedia projector and computer interfaces did mot meld.
Some of us felt that bad luck comes thrice, and maybe lunch would be
The Upside: a chance to drink Portuguese wines against Italian cuisine.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LCBO Vintages Release Nov 21/09

By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing Creator of
Canada's leading wine satire site at  Always at since 1995. Also visit my "Wines, Beers and Spirits
of the Net Compendium", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS
feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits.
My tastings are based on MVC (Modal Varietal Character); ratings are
QPR (Quality-to-Price Ratio). Prices are LCBO retail. Only my top rated
wines are here. NOTE: The LCBO does NOT put out all of the wines of the
release for wine writers or product consultants. Also, some defective
or corked wines are not available for re-tasting.
TOP VALUE WHITE WINES under $20 or so.
1. Concha y Toro Winemaker's Lot 14 Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca Valley:
elegant and expressive of the Burgundian connection. +30940, $17.95,
QPR: 90.
2. Domaine Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc Touraine 2008: basic MVC for
sauvignon blanc, refreshingly youthful, a bit more fruit than others.
3. Terres Blanches Muscat Sec 2008 Pays d'Oc: excellent muscat upfront
aromatics, value. +653188, $13.95, QPR: 91.
4. Kurt Darting Riesling Kabinett 2007 Durkheimer Michelsburg Pfalz:
off-dry, delicious as a late course white wine, good concentration of
riesling. +950212, $16.95, QPR: 90.
TOP VALUE RED WINES under $20 or so.
1. Hahn Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Central Coast California:
fruity oak tones, vanilla, cloves especially. +57877, $17.95, QPR: 90.
2. Irony Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa: restaurant-ready wine with bags
of cabernet sauvignon character. +25106, $19.95, QPR: 90.
3. Lucas & Lewellen Queen of Hearts Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Santa
Barbara County: useful cabernet, ripe and accessible, appealing fruit.
It engaged me. +135368, $14.95, QPR: 90.
4. Dona Paula Estate Shiraz/Malbec 2007 Mendoza: excellent blend, with
each grape supporting the fruit of the other. +998492, $17.95, QPR: 90.
5. Luis Segundo Correas Las Acequias Malbec 2005 Mendoza: an oak-
infused red fruit wine with mocha. +138412, $14.95, QPR: 90.
6. Tabali Reserva Syrah 2007 Limari Valley Chile: syrah! Hot pure
Rhone. +662692, $16.95, QPR: 90.
Restaurants should consider offering these FINE VALUE wines at a $10
markup over retail; the wines are ready to enjoy right now. Consumers
could buy and bring to those restaurants with corkage programs.
1. Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Chardonnay 2007, +128280, $29.95
2. Craggy Range Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 Hawkes Bay NZ, +132043,
$41.95 retail.
3. Domaine Bernard Defaix Coye de Lechet Chablis 1er Cru 2007, +950667,
4. Domaine de la Rossignole L'Essentiel Sancerre 2007, +141143, $24.95.
5. Antinori Castello della Sala Cervaro Della Sala 2007 Umbria,
+512376, $54.95.
6. Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Napa, +711663,
7. Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Alexander Valley Sonoma, +943472,
8. Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa, +996405, $49.95.
9. Monte del Fra Lena di Mezzo Amarone Della Valpolicella 2006,
+134528, $44.95.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oct 19/09 Event: Discover Australia 2009, Toronto trade stop over

The Time and Date: Monday, October 19, 2009   2 PM to 6 PM
The Event: Discover Australia 2009, Toronto trade stop over
The Venue: Willard Room, Hotel Intercontinental
The Target Audience: wine agents, sommeliers, media
The Availability/Catalogue: some wineries already had agents in
Ontario, but most did not. Wines are variously available through
consignment or private order.
The Quote/Background: unlike previous editions of Discover Australia,
this show had only wine exhibitors – 17 of them.
The Wines: prices are variable, but in general I was quoted AUSD FOB
per case.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-BlackJack Cabernet Merlot 2004 Victoria, $125 AUSD per case FOB
-Blue Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $17 Vintages
-Downing Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Heathcote, $45 CAD
-Josef Chromy Sparkling Rose 2008 Tasmania, $170 AUSD FOB
-Plunkett Fowles Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2008 Strathbogie Ranges, $35
-Sandhurst Ridge Merlot 2006, $32 CAD
-Vin 888 Olsen Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $25 CAD
-Ngeringa Pinot Noir 2007 Adelaide Hills, $55.95 (Living Vine)
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-BlackJack Block Shiraz 2005 Victoria, $175 AUSD FOB
-Downing Estate Vineyards Shiraz 2004 Heathcote, $45 CAD
-Galli Estate Camelback Chardonnay 2008 Victoria, $120 AUSD FOB
-Gherardi Viognier 2008 Margaret River, $20 CAD
-Josef Chromy Vintage Sparkling 2005 Tasmania, $220 AUSD FOB
-Pfeiffer Wines Chardonnay/Marsanne 2009 Rutherglen, $15.70 CAD
-Sidewood Estate Pinot Gris 2009 Adelaide Hills, $93 AUSD FOB
-Sirromet First Step Cabernet Merlot 2005 Queensland, $17 CAD
-Vin 888 Olsen Big Fella Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2004, $20 CAD
-Ngeringa J.E. Chardonnay 2008 Adelaide Hills, $55.95 (Living Vine)
-Ngeringa J.E. Assemblage Red 2008 Adelaide Hills, $42.95 (Living Vine)
– syrah, pinot noir, sangiovese, Tempranillo, nebbiolo.
-Ngeringa Syrah 2006 Adelaide Hills, $78.95 (Living Vine)
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Galli Estate Camelback Shiraz 2007 Victoria, $105 AUSD FOB
-Mount Gisborne Wines Chardonnay 2005, $20 CAD
-Vin 888 Olsen Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Reserve, $65 CAD
-Warner Glen Estate Frog Belly Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Margaret River
-Ngeringa Viognier 2008 Adelaide Hills, $64.95 (Living Vine)
The Food: cheeses, grilled veggies, spring rolls, tartares, breads,
marinated mushrooms.
The Downside: a light attendance
The Upside: a highlight was my tasting the Ngeringa Vineyards of
Adelaide Hills, a biodynamic winery. Pricey, but so are all biodynamic
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Pleasures of Cooking for One (AA Knopf, 2009)

THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, 276 pages,
ISBN 978-0-307-27072-6, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Judith Jones, a
long time cookbook and food editor at Knopf; she is the winner of the
James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She's also written a
slew of cookbooks on her own and with her late husband, Evan Jones.
After he died in 1996, Jones had to cook for just herself, and out of
that daily experience comes this book. Cooking for one is invigorating
since we can all eat our failures and play around with our leftovers.
The hard part is rallying strength to march forth to the markets and
specialty shops, tempered by the fact that we only have ourselves to
buy for and to please. She has the basics that should always be on
hand, even if frozen, such as a marinara sauce, pesto, preserved lemons
or stock, and some menu planning principles. Her book has six chapters
on making meat and fish dishes (plus recycling), soups, egg and cheese
dishes, vegetables and salads, pasta and rice and legumes, and finally,
the sweets. The first and last chapters (meats and sweets) are the
largest, probably reflecting the greater variation of preps. The layout
and typeface, plus the few illustrations, are all excellent.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: anybody who cooks for one or two.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: calf's liver with shallot
and wine pan sauce; skirt steak; gratin or beef, mushrooms, and
breadcrumbs; pumpkin or winter squash soup; winter bean soup;
frittatas; cheese soufflé; wild rice pilaf; pear crisp; peanut butter
The downside to this book: some wine ideas or suggestions could have
been useful, plus some music or spoken word CDs or reading matter could
be noted.
The upside to this book: this is also a good book for beginner cooks,
students, and preps can be almost doubled to serve two or more diners.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oct 16/09 Event: Wine Writers' Circle of Canada tasting of 40 sparkling wines

The Time and Date: Friday, October 16, 2009  10:30 AM to 1 PM
The Event: a Wine Writers' Circle of Canada tasting of 40 sparkling
wines in the Ontario "Holiday" market place.
The Venue: LCBO Scrivener Square, Summerhill
The Target Audience: wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available through the LCBO,
although some will be coming in the near future.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-  Pol Roger Brut Reserve  12.5% alc  #51953  General List  $58.80 Epernay, France.
-  Taittinger  Brut Millesime  2002  12.5% alc    CSPC  989905  Vintages  $87.25 Reims, France.
-  G.H. Mumm  Carte Classique  NV   12% alc   #308064  $56.65   Reims, France.
-  Perrier-Jouet  Grand Brut  NV  12% alc  #50278 $64.45    Epernay, France.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms): --
-  Henry of Pelham  Cuvee Catharine   VQA  NV  12% alc  CSPC 616441  Vintages  $29.95   
Niagara Peninsula
-  Henry of Pelham  Cuvee Catharine Rose Brut  VQA NV  12% alc  CSPS 4051  $29.95  LCBO
-  Hungaria  Grande Cuvee Brut  NV   11.5% alc  LCBO 619288  $11.90  Budapest, Hungary
-G.H. Mumm  Brut  NV  12% Alc  #308056  $59.95  Reims, France.
-  Segura Viudas  Brut Reserva   Cava  NV  11.5% alc  General List  158493  $14.65  Spain
-  Pascual Toso  Malbec Rose Sparkling  Avail spring 2010 in clear bottle.$14.95
-  Bottega  Petalo 'Il Vino dell'Amore" Moscato Sparkling   NV  6.5% alc    General List #588780 
$12.95  (temporary price reduction until Jan 2/10  
-  Belcanto di Bellussi  Proseco XD  VSQPRD  11.5% alc   Vintages  #53215  $17.95  Italy.
-  Lanson Black Label Brut  NV  12.5% alc  CSPC 41889  $56.95  Reims, France.
-  Lanson  Rose Label  Rose Brut  NV  12.5% alc  CSPC 94458  $59.95  Reims, France.
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-  Remy Pannier Brut  NV   Chardonnay  12% alc  #341669  $11.65  France.
-  Bottega  Vino dei Poeti  Prosecco Brut  NV 11% alc  General List 897702  $14.30 Italy.
-  Col de' Salici  Prosecco  Spumante Extra Dry  NV  11.5% alc  Consignment  # 293471   $14.95
-  Deinhard  Lila  Brut  Riesling  12.5%  #160648  Vintages MARCH 6, 2010.  Germany   $13.95.
-  Piper-Heidseick  Cuvee Brut  NV   12% alc  +462432  $49.95    Reims, France.
-  Freixenet  Cordon Negro  Brut  D.O. Cava  12% alc  # 88591  $13.95/750ml   #167791 
$4.25/200ml  #180588  $24.95/l.5L  Spain
-  Santa Margherita  Brut Prosecco de Valdobbiadene   11.5% alc  #687582  Vintages  $18.95 
-  Mumm Napa   Brut Prestige  NV  13% alc  #265678    $27.95  Napa, CA
-  Freixenet  Carta Nevada Brut D.O. Cava  12% alc  #74757  $13.95   Spain
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 88.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oct 7/09 Event: Chilean Wine Festival trade tasting

The Time and Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2009   2PM to 4:30PM
The Event: Chilean Wine Festival trade tasting
The Venue: Fermenting Cellar, Distillery District
The Target Audience: wine trade
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines are here, or will be here.
The Quote/Background: the venue, as in other years, was dark. This
might be appropriate at night, but at the trade show, I want to see
what I taste.
The Wines: I had already tasted some 41 wines in September, and I list
the highlights here –
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Vina Sena Arboleda Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca, Vintages,
-Vina Emiliana Organico Novas Winemaker's Selection
Chardonnay/Viognier/Marsanne 2007 Casablanca, $18.95
Vintages +63909 March 2010
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price
Rating terms):
-Vina Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Leyda
Valley, +32060, $14.95
-Vina Veramonte Reserva Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca, +49443
Vintages, $14.95, Oct 24/09
-Vina Casa Tamaya Reserva Syrah 2007 Limari, +135418,
-Vina Nativa Gran Reserva Single Vineyard Cabernet
Sauvignon 2006 Maipo (organic), +975359, $19.99 Vintages
Dec 5, 2009.
At the trade show, then, these were my scores; I did not taste every
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Botalcura Cayao Icon Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2003 Rapel, $49.95 HHD
-Caliterra Cenit Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Petit Verdot 2006 Colchagua,
$67 +143917 Vintages
-Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $19.95
Vintages +337238
-Vina Maipo Limited Edition Syrah 2006 Maipo, $29.95 Select
-Perez Cruz Quelen Petit Verdot/Cot/Carmenere 2006 Maipo, $55 Charton
-Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 Apalta, $54.95 Mark Anthony
-Terra Andina Suyai Cabernet Franc/Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Colchagua, $29.95 Mark Anthony
-Undurraga Terroir Hunter Syrah 2007 Limari, $27.95 Azureau
-Valdivieso Caballo Loco no. 10 Bordeaux Blend Central Valley, +59147,
$44 Vintages
-Viu Manent Viu 1 Malbec/Petit Verdot 2007 Colchagua Valley, $86.25
Churchill Cellars.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Botalcura La Porfia Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $22.95 HHD
-Botalcura La Porfia Grand Reserve Carmenere 2006, $22.95 HHD Imports
-Caliterra Tributo Edicion Limitada Carmenere/Malbec 2006 Colchagua,
$24.95 +143487 Vintages
-Carta Vieja G7 Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2007 Maule, $17.95 Small
-Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva Malbec 2006 Maipo, $27.25 Vintages
-Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2007, +342857 $17.95
-Vina Maipo Gran Devocion Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2007, $18.95 Select
-Vina Montes Purple Angel Carmenere 2006 Colchagua, $49.95 +62364
-Valdivieso Reserva Chardonnay 2007, +981621 $17.95 Vintages
-Veramonte Primus Red Blend 2006 Colchagua, +712463 $24.95 Vintages
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Luis Felipe Edwards Dona Bernarda Red Blend 2006 Colchagua, $34.95
The Food: pulled pork appetizers, cured salmon on plaintain, cheeses
(including a creamy gorgonzola), both beef and chicken empanadas.
The Downside: the show was too short. I never finished, and that was
just tasting the wines I wanted to taste – never mind the others.
The Upside: the first hour and a half had light attendance, so I could
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009 Cuisine Canada Book Awards

The Time and Date: Friday, November 6, 2009   12 noon to 4 PM

The Event: Announcement of the winners of the 2009 Canadian Culinary Book Awards (hosted by Cuisine Canada and University of Guelph)

The Venue: Direct Energy Centre Building, adjacent to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The Target Audience: contenders, their guests and the media. A large number of people turned up, which is always a good sign.

The Quote/Background: More than 50 cookbooks published in Canada in 2008 were assessed since April, 2009. These are the 12th annual presentations, the second at the Royal Winter Fair.

The Wines: we had three wines, all from Niagara College Teaching Winery. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc 2008, which caught me by surprise since it was straw and golden in colour, and did not have the initial zest of a sauvignon blanc. It was an atypical wine, served with the appetizers (crab and cucumber, asparagus and Balderson cheese with toast) prepared by Rootham Gourmet Preserves, using some of their preserves. With the reception food, we had a Cabernet Franc 2006 (nicely maturing, even throwing a deposit) and a Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 from the Ziraldo Vineyard in St. David. The chardonnay was excellent, redolent with lanolin unctuousness and oak tones, and the same colour as the Sauvignon Blanc.

And the award goes to…: it took a while to get through the bilingual introductions. The awards were for both French and English language books. The winner of the Canadian Culinary Landmarks Hall of Fame (a new category reserved for Hall of Fame type books) was "Culinary Landmarks; a bibliography of Canadian cookbooks, 1825-1949" by Elizabeth Driver (UTPress). The Gold winner in the English Cookbook Category was "Small plates for Sharing" edited by Laurie Stempfle (Company's Coming Publishing). The Gold in the English Special Interest Category was "Beyond the Great Wall; recipes and travels in the other China" (Random House Canada) by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. And the Gold for the English Canadian Food Culture Category was "Anita Stewart's Canada" (HarperCollins). For other winners and French language winners, check

The Food: At the closing reception for the winners, we enjoyed a range of dishes prepared by Jeff Crump of Ancaster Old Mill (risotto with cauliflower and mushrooms), Jim Loat of Borealis Grille in Guelph (smoked elk ragout on red fife tagliatelle), David Garcelon of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel (pork loin from Willowgrove Hill Farm with cabbages), baking and pastry students from George Brown Chef School (cookies, apple-cheddar savoury muffins with prosciutto slices, butternut squash bisque), and Wanda Beaver from Wanda's Pie in the Sky (pecan pies, cookies, etc.)

The Website: will have further details on these awards plus more.

The Downside: all the food service lines were packed into one corner which made for a really bad traffic jam. The other end of the room was free, and George Brown and Wanda could have been located there.

The Upside: food was terrific, and matched rather well with the wines. With the long lines it was impossible NOT to talk to others around you.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


1. Passion of Portugal, +146449, $7.65, at entry level price for the
LCBO General List. One of the first of the new bread from Europe to
counteract Fuzion and similar wines. This one, imported by Majestic
Wine, comes from Lisboa region. It is a charming blend of Tinta Roriz,
Tinta Barroca, and Pinot Noir. It shows rich red fruit, like strawbs
and rasps, with some overtones of vanilla. Upfront and juicy.
Complemented by the softer tannins, this wine can be used with parties
or sippers rather than food. Not very Euro in style, more a New World
2. Stratus Gamay 2007 Niagara, $29 winery only: Ontario is doing some
fantastic things with longer aged gamay, a sort of over-the-top Morgon.
Stratus has its cooperage here set at 639 days in all French oak (43%
new), 14% ABV. A super-blast of red fruit density from the charming
2007 vintage, but needs keeping awhile. My bottle was opened and
savoured for a week.
3. Stratus Cabernet Franc 2007 Niagara, $38 winery only, with a small
amount in Vintages in 2010: Ontario makes superb Cabernet Franc (it
seems to be our signature grape), and this one has spent 630 days in
all new French oak. Expect toastiness and some red fruit tones, as well
as mocha and vanills. 2007 was a long hot growing season. Needs keeping
awhile. My bottle was opened and savoured for a week. The winery has
the cellar potential at 10+ years.
4. Frei Joao Bairrada Portugal 2006, +144469, $14.95 Vintages Nov
21/09, very much on the food wine side with early harvested Baga grapes
(40% of the cuvee). Also here: 30% Touriga Nacional, 15% Tinta Roriz,
and 15% Merlot to soften the finish. It can age well, will be drinking
better next year. Expect some fried figs, mocha, and light vanilla
tones from partial wood aging for 1 year. 13% ABV.
From Applewood Farm Winery (Stouffville), each fall brings new wines
from the fruit harvest. High on my list is the Mac Meade sparkler,
about 7% ABV with a sugar code of 3, priced at $12.95 retail at the
winery (all products are sold at the winery). This is a combo of
Macintosh apples and honey, sweet but also crisp in the finish. Good as
aperitif or with cheeses later in the meal. It is complemented to some
extent by the sparkling raspberry cider, termed Crazy Eight because of
its 8.8% ABV. The raspberry is available by the 341 mL "beer bottle"
format with a twist crown cap: expect mounds of raspberry flavour with
a finishing crispness. Refreshing on its own, or with food. $3 a
bottle, or on sale at $50 for a "two-four".

Applewood Farm Winery also has some heavy hitters for the end of the
dinner feast. There's an Iced Apple Cider 2007, a bit syrupy with sweet
caramel, only $14.95 for a 375mL bottle. It is good competition for
Quebec at 13% ABV with a sugar code of 18. It won a Silver Medal at the
All-Canada Wine Awards held earlier this year at Windsor. The 2008
version will be out next month; it is just being bottled, and it is
more over the top. My first impression was a syrup for a pancake
brunch, thick viscosity, heavy caramel and vanilla aromas. Apparently,
there are 46 apples used in every half-bottle of the 2008, which will
increase the price to just under $20. Also for dessert there is Black
Forest Cherry 2007 (13% ABV, $12.95, 375mL) with highly aromatic black
cherry scents and flavours following through with an added real 
chocolate component (hence the name: you supply your own whipped
And Applewood likes to experiment with port-style wines. There's a Pear
Port which I have enjoyed in the past; it is now joined by and intense
Black Currant Port (20% ABV, $19.95, 750 mL) and an amazing Small Cask
Buckwheat Honey 2005 (20% ABV, $19.95, 500 mL) redolent of buckwheat
tones and oaking, another pancake topper.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH: World Whiskey (DK, 2009)

WORLD WHISKEY (DK, 2009, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5443-6, $25 US,
hard covers) has been edited by Charles MacLean, author of ten books on
whiskey (including the definitive "Scotch Whisky" and "Malt Whisky").
The writers include Dave Broom, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, Ian Buxton, Peter
Mulryan, Hans Offringa, and Gavin D. Smith. While it does not appear
that articles are actually signed, each writer has a mini-biography of
credentials. The books very similar to the late Michael Jackson's
WHISKEY; the definitive world guide, published by DK in 2005 with 288
pages. This is another "tell all" book, international in scope. It is
comprehensive and somewhat authoritative, with 167 pages on Scotland,
34 for Irish, 12 on Canada, 50 on the USA, 25 for Japan, 13 for the
rest of Europe, and six for Australasia. The writers clearly show the
impact of climate, water, heather, sea breeze, barley, peat, malting
techniques, distillation processes, type of wood used for storage,
maturation periods. General sections cover aromas and flavours, peats
and bogs, regions, terroirs – with lots of illustrations and diagrams.
There are short sections on whiskey cocktails (with recipes), and food
and whiskey pairing. But this is principally a directory to some of the
finest distilled grain-based spirits in the world (over 700 of them,
with 1200 colour photos). After the first 20 pages of general
materials, the country-by-country arrangement begins with Scotland, of
course. The guide to the major producers of single-malt scotch, small
batch bourbons, and pure pot Irish includes contact details and
reproductions of bottles. Tasting notes are also included. There are
five whiskey tours through Speyside, Islay, Ireland, Kentucky, and
Audience and level of use: wine schools, whiskey lovers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: "Islay's constant wind carries a
mist of sweet, salt-laden air, the whiff of the sea, the coconut aroma
of hot gorse, a hint of peat smoke and bog myrtle, and the smell of a
just-spent fire on the beach. All the notes you pick up in its malts
are there, floating in the Atlantic wind".
What I don't like about this book: it is hard to fault, but maybe a
pronunciation guide could have been useful. More maps would also have
engaged me.
What I do like about this book: good thick paper. There are tasting
notes and good descriptions of vatted malts.
Quality/Price Ratio: 91.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oct 6/09 Event: annual portfolio tasting of the Profile Wine Group

The Time and Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2009  1PM to 8PM
The Event: annual portfolio tasting of the Profile Wine Group
The Venue: Liberty Grand
The Target Audience: wine trade, private clients – about 1300 in all!
The Availability/Catalogue: everything is available through LCBO
Vintages, Consignment or Private Order.
The Quote/Background: Profile Wine Group brings together Barrique, Vin
Vino and Du Chasses agencies. They are strong on Italian wines and
American wines. In recent years, they have added more from Portugal and
France, as well as Megalomaniac from Ontario and Domaine Antolino Brogo
Apple Ice Cider from Quebec.
The Wines: with over 300 wines, I only tasted a sampling – prices are
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Maverick Twins Chardonnay 2007 Australia, $27.95 Private Order
-Jip Jip Rocks Sparkling Shiraz 2008 Australia, $14.95 Private Order
-Dom Antolino Brogo Cryomalus Ice Cider 2007 Quebec $36.95 half-bottle
-L'Ecole #41 Columbia Valley Semillon 2007, $23.95 Private Order
-Oakville Ranch Chardonnay 2007, $45.95 Private Order
-Columbia Crest Chardonnay 2006, $17.95 Private order
-Champagne Marguet Cuvee Grand Cru 2002, $57.95 Private order
-Cellar Pinol Mather Teresina 2004/05 Red Spain, $49 LCBO Web
-Bodegas LAN Limitada 2005 Spain, $54.95 Cons
-Bodega LAN Culmen 2004, $79.95 Private Order
-Bodega LAN Rioja Gran Reserva 2001, $27.95 Vintages
-Signorello Estate Cabernet 2006 California, $71.95 Cons
-Miner Chardonnay 2007 Napa, $34.95 Cons
-Peter Franus Brandin Vineyard Zinfandel 2006, $47.95 Cons
-L'Ecole #41 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Merlot 2006, $42.95 Vintages
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Rutini Chardonnay 2007 Argentina, $21.95 Private Order
-Penmara Chardonnay Reserve 2006 Australia, $20.95 Private Order
-Wakefield Estate Chardonnay 2008 Australia, $19.95 Consignment
-Grevepesa Clemente VII Chianti Reserva 2006, $29.95 Cons
-Terreblanca Croce Chianti Riserva 2005, $32.95 Cons
-Bersano Gavi 2008, $17.95 Consignment
-Gordon Bros Kamiak Windust White 2008, $19.95 Private Order – blend of
chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and 10% gewurztraminer
-Columbia Crest Chardonnay 2008 Grand Estate, $20.95 Private order
-Villa Mt. Eden Bien Nacido Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2006, $24.95 Cons
-Martin Ray Angelina Sonoma Chardonnay 2007, $22.95 Private Order
-Martin Ray Russian River Chardonnay 2007, $31.95 Cons
-J. Lohr Riverstone Estate Chardonnay 2006, $19.95 LCBO General
-J. Lohr October Night Chardonnay 2006, $32.95 Private Order
-J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2006, $32.95 Private Order
-Merryvale Starmont Chardonnay 2006, $32.95 Cons
-M.Picard Montagny 2007, $42.30
-Champagne Marguet Cuvee Gran d Cru Rose 2003, $60.95 Private Order
-Pierre Sparr Riesling Reserve 2007, $16.95 LCBO Vintages
-Signorello Edge Cabernet 2007, $33.95 Cons
-Signorello Fuse Cabernet 2006, $38.95 Cons
-Amity Chardonnay Reserve 2007 Oregon, $32.95 Cons
-Keenan Chardonnay Spring Mountain District 2007, $41.95 Private Order
-Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $64.95 Private Order
-Miner Oracle Napa 2005 (bordeaux-blend), $79.95 Cons
-Chateau Teyssier St. Emilion Laforge Grand Cru, $89.95 Cons
-Chateau Teyssier St. Emilion, $41.95
-J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Paso Robles, $20.95
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Argento Chardonnay 2008 Argentina, $9.75 LCBO General List
-Crios Chardonnay 2009 Argentina, $16.95 Consignment
-Megalomaniac My Way Chardonnay 2008 Niagara, $24.75 Consignment.
-Falernia Pedro Ximenez 2009 Chile, $13.95 Private order – bone-dry
white, unusual.
-Chateau de Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2007, $17.95 Vintages
-Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay 2008, $22.95 Private
-Merryvale Starmont Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $29.95 Private Order
-Stonehedge Sauvignon Blanc 2007 California, $17.95 Cons
-Stonehedge Chardonnay 2007 California, $17.95 Cons
-Miner Viognier 2007 California, $19.95 Cons
The Food: we had cheeses from Thornloe Cheese in Ontario and Fifth Town
cheeses from Prince Edward County (Isabella, Petal Luma, Cape Vessey,
and Lighthall Tomme, all cave aged). Pingue Prosciutto was available,
as well as seven great olive oils with breads from St. John's Bakery.
The Downside: too many wines to sample in one day, but only ONE
Zinfandel in the entire California range.
The Upside: a good range of Chardonnays for every price point and every
The Contact Person: or
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 89.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oct 5/09 Event: a tasting of Chateau des Charmes wines, just released

Dean Tudor 
The Time and Date: Monday, October 5, 2009  4PM to 8PM
The Event: a tasting of Chateau des Charmes wines, just released and
featuring new labels.
The Venue: Chefs' House, George Brown College
The Target Audience: wine writers, trade, private clients.
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available through the winery,
and some
The Quote/Background: three of the wines are at Vintages Oct 24 as part
of the On Tour release. The new wine labels feature a QR Code (2D code)
which is useful for mobile tagging. Just run your phone over the label
tag, and you'll get updated info on the wine's features, direct from
the winery – provided you've installed the enabling software first.
The Wines:
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau des Charmes Brut Methode Traditionnelle, $22.95 +145409,
Recently Disgorged and all from one vintage. Underpriced.
-Chateau des Charmes Sauvignon Gris Estate Bottled 2008, $19.95 +122291
-Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc Estate Bottled 2007, $13.95
+277236. Underpriced.
-Chateau des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot "Old Vines" Estate Bottled 2005,
$19.95 +222372. Underpriced. Vintages Oct 24.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay St. David's Bench Vineyard 2006, $19.95
+430991, Vintages Oct 24.
-Chateau des Charmes Merlot St. David's Bench Vineyard 2007, $29.95
+453431. Vintages Oct 24.
-Chateau des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling Estate Bottled 2007, $19.95
half-bottle. +432930.
-Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc Icewine Estate Bottled 2007, $75.
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Chateau des Charmes Gewurztraminer St. David's Bench Vineyard 2007,
$19.95 +453472. Vintages Oct 24.
-Chateau des Charmes Rose Cuvee d'Andree Estate Bottled 2008, $13.95
The Food: superb cheeses from Quebec and Ontario, featuring Le
Rassembleau (raw cow), Tuscano, Niagara Gold, Operetta, and Cru des
Champlain (raw cow); lamb sliders; good pork bellies; smoked salmon;
and a variety of interesting charcuterie (four kinds including pork
shoulder), with in-house androuilletes and in-house game terrine
(caribou, rabbit, poultry) accompanied by diverse relishes and veggie
pickles. Great accompaniment for the wines.
The Downside: I had to leave early, my fault.
The Upside: a chance to speak with both Paul Boscs, who are just as
witty as ever, and the delightful organizer Michele Bosc.
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.