Late Autumn and Winter 2005:
Jan10: Cool Climate Pinot Noirs, Ontario Club, Toronto wines from New Zealand, Oregon, France and Ontario and guest speaker Derek Barnett of Lailey Vineyards, Toronto Vintners Club, 416/209-1442, email@example.com.
Jan 16: Canada vs. Bordeaux, Ontario Club, Toronto, Ontario Wine Society, 416/921-9798.
Jan19-22: Winter Icewine Festival, Okanagan, B.C., 250/861-6654, info@TheWineFestivals.com.
Jan 23: Louis de Sacy Champagne Dinner (Il Mulino Ristorante, Toronto, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan 24: LCBO Vintages Union des Grands Crus 2003 Bordeaux, Four Seasons, Toronto, 416/365-5767.
Jan 26: Australia Day Dinner, Albany Club, Toronto, Australian Wine Society, 416/207-9976, www.aws.ca.
Feb 1: Scotch Tasting of the World’s Finest Brands, Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, Companions of the Quaich, 905/468-0802, email@example.com.
Feb 19-21: Food & Beverage Show, International Centre, Road, Mississauga; 670 booths showcasing food and beverage, 416/923-8416, www.crfa.ca.
Feb 20: Vintages/Woodman Wines & Spirits Winemaker’s Dinner, George Restaurant, Toronto with Alvaro Palacios, 416/365-5767, 1-800/266-4764.
Feb 21: Australian Wine Society Shiraz Tasting 416/207-9976, www.aws.ca.
Mar 3-5: Canadian Women’s Expo, International Centre, Mississauga, 300 exhibitors, wine, spirit and beer pavilion, 416/781-0909, 1-800/787-9328, www.canadianwomensexpo.com.
Mar 7: South African Tasting, Wines of South Africa, 416/698-8112, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 21: Australian Wine Society “Spring Cleaning”, 416/207-9976, www.aws.ca.
Mar 23-25: Food & Drink Fest 2006, Hamilton Convention Centre, 905/524-3689, www.foodanddrinkfest.com.
Mar 24-26: Toronto Wine and Cheese Show, International Centre, Mississauga, 416/234-0013, email@example.com.
For Ann, heart and hearth are inseparable in these personal essays. And she delivers a skillful blend of gentle storytelling, lucid commentary and fond nostalgia to fire your imagination, stoke your appetite and re-awaken forgotten food memories.
The 74-minute disc (paced by superb instrumental sketches) also has the bonus of recipes that relate to the stories: guacamole, pea salad, eggs mimosa, etc., and it’s $17.50 via www.anntudor.ca or firstname.lastname@example.org (98).
You’ll find out what muffins used to be like, and how to make them, before they became cupcakes! And how to make eggs mimosa with just two ingredients. You’ll never look at corn, tomatoes or fresh figs the same way again.
Garrison Keillor, eat your heart out!
Nicely opinionated and richly informative, Konrad Ejbich’s mini-tome, $22.99, McClelland & Stewart, is meticulously organized along the lines of the seminal Hugh Johnson Pocket Encyclopedia of Wine.
Since the late ’80s, Ontario has emerged as a leading fine wine region, a kind of Napa North, mirroring California’s spectacular growth in quality, prestige, infrastructure as a tourist destination and increasing economic importance.
Ejbich is strong in documenting the Ontario winery profiles with sharply etched snapshots that convey a precise sense of their personae, terroirs, evolution and wine styles. Here’s a writer who knows his stuff.
The candid, clear and fearlessly honest tasting notes are helpfully interspersed with technical definitions, such as malolactic fermentation, Asian lady beetle, veraison and verjus, for example, all alphabetically placed.
There’s a browsable section on all the grape varieties (with all their many aliases) that are authorized for planting in Ontario, their characteristics, vices and virtues.
The full-page VQA vintage chart with its dozens of arrows looks like a page from an Argos’ play book, but the info is on the money and difficult to obtain elsewhere. That goes for the whole publication. It’s the most comprehensive reference book on Ontario wines ever published.
Two thumbs up!
Pep It Way Up!
From Murcia, Spain’s capital of pimentón unsmoked paprika you can now obtain the world’s freshest sun-dried sweet red peppers, El Ruiseñor and La Odalisca.
Ideal for everyday cooking in stews, on eggs or potato and “discovered” by Canadian foodie Gerry Shikatani, these products are $6.50-$7.95 from Bonnie Stern, Scheffler’s at St. Lawrence Market, La Salumería, Yonge St., the Cheese Boutique, Ripley Ave., and Magnolia on College. Buen provecho! Call Gerry: 705/745-3200.
Good News, Bad News
Henry of Pelham at St Catharines began its Sauvignon Blanc and Baco Noir grapes Sept 8 and the harvest continues until late October. The expectation is a small crop thanks to a very cold winter but one of remarkable quality.
“Growing conditions have been fantastic this year,” says Matt Speck, VP of Pelham. “A warm, dry July/August and a sunny September have delivered very ripe, flavorful grapes. The crop is 50% of normal but the low yields should produce character and depth to rival the 2002 and 1998, particularly for reds.”
“The record heat has created grapes of real substance for full-bodied reds that are age-worthy and have real finesse” said Paul Speck, President of Pelham. Harvest resumes again in December for Icewine. Previous vintages: 2002 42,000 tonnes; 2003 25,000 tonnes; 2004 39,000 tonnes; 2005 26,000 tonnes est.
In Europe, the summer has been kind and excellent crops are expected throughout France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy. In Burgundy, for example, the picking started early, a good sign, around Sept. 10, with dry, sunny days and cool nights. Perfect! Growers are making comparisons with the wonderful ’90 and ’99...
New element discovered!
This has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving an atomic mass of 312. These are held together by forces called morons, surrounded by vast numbers of lepton-like particles called peons.
Governmentium, with no electrons, is inert, but can be detected because it impedes all reactions. A minute amount causes reactions to take days when they should take milliseconds.
Governmentium has a half-life of 3 years; it doesn’t decay but undergoes a reorganization in which the asst. neutrons and dep. neutrons exchange places.
Governmentium's mass increases over time, since each reorg causes some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This moron-promotion leads to speculation that Governmentium is formed when morons reach Critical Morass.
“Wine’s meant to be enjoyed,” says Branson. “The pomp and ceremony just gets in the way.” The wine is marketed by Brown-Forman as “full-bodied Shiraz desires hookup. No commitments, baggage or corkscrew...”
The Tetras Are Here
Color them Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. $12.95/litre.
Factoid: it takes only two semis to truck 1 million litres worth of cartons vs 52 trailers to tote the equivalent bottles. In Canada, the paper/plastic/foil cartons are recycled into household tissues.
In The Zone
Neighboring Barolo is three times as big, but the hilly Barbaresco zone (the villages of Barbaresco, Neive, Treiso, and part of Alba), holds its own on quality. In the small producer vs co-op debate, “wine lovers talk (iconic winemaker Angelo) Gaja, but they drink Produttori,” suggests export manager Aldo Vacca.
Cantina del Pino '98 Barbaresco Ovello, $46, aged in Slovenian and French barriques, with tarry aromas, shows good sour cherry and sun-dried tomato fruitiness; quite astringent and youthful (88). The 2000 and 2001 are a little more restrained and elegant, with lower alcohol (13.5%).
The ’99 and ’00 Langhe Nebbiolo, at $22.35, really a “baby Barolo” at an attractive price, shows good fruit and fleshy tannins with hints of licorice (87). This is pizza-pasta perfect!
The Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva ’00 (from one of the zone’s 9 single estates, which age their wines three years in very large casks) costs $230 for a six-pack of numbered bottles and is tightly wound, with leather, sour cherry and fresh road tar notes (90). The ’95, no longer available, is even more closed than the 2000.
Serve ’em all with risotto, white or red meat, salami, ham, game and tangy cheeses. Call Craig McKay, 905/853-8929, for availability.
Napa wines go for closer to $40 than $4 because Napa grapes cost $4,000 a ton vs $600 elsewhere. However...“people want to buy things at a reasonable price that are good value,” says Franzia, boss of Bronco Wine Co. “It's not new. It’s America. We challenge anyone to have a blind tasting and see where our wines come out,” Franzia boasts. “There's no wine worth more than 10 bucks a bottle.”