Summer 2004:

• August 15: S. African Wine Society Dinner, 905/762-9161,
August 29: Australian Wine Society of Toronto BBQ, 416/944-1597.
Sept. 3: Cakebread Cellars Vintage Weekend at Deerhurst Resort, led
   by Karen Cakebread,
Sept. 10-12: Niagara Wine & Food Classic, Queen Victoria Park,
Sept. 12: Feast of Fields, Glen Rouge Park, Toronto, 416/422-1944,
Sept. 22: German Wine Tasting, Thomson Hall, 905/815-1581,
Taste Australia, Royal Ontario Museum,,
Sept. 28: 25th Anniversary Old Gold and Cellar Treasures, 519/884-7600,
Oct. 4: Sonoma Tasting, Royal Ontario Museum, 905/336-8932.
Oct 6: Spain: Old Vines, New Wines, Vinos de España, Hart House,
   University of Toronto,
Oct 16-17: LCBO Vintages auction, Ritchies, Toronto, 416/364-1864,
Oct 29: Spirit of Toronto, Thomson Hall, malts, bourbons, etc., 613/729-7042
Nov. 25-8: Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, Convention Centre, 416/410-0405.

Gourgazaud Easy To Like
To match grilled or BBQ lamb, try Château de Gourgazaud Réserve 2000 from the tiny La Livinière sub-appellation of Minervois in France. Dark, almost black, it has smoky blackberry-blackcurrant aromas dusted with black pepper, coriander and cinnamon. Full bodied with soft tannins and hints of cherry, cocoa and mocha, it goes well with robust Mediterranean dishes, 986083, $16.95.

Château du Taillan
Château du Taillan, pride and joy of its owners, five Bordeaux sisters, is a proud new Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois Supérieur.

Whassat? The Cru Bourgeois classification has been (re)born and 490 chateaux applied to (re)join. Their credentials had not been reviewed since 1932. When the smoke cleared last June, only 247 were allowed Cru Bourgeois: 9 Exceptionnel; 87 Supérieur and 151 Cru Bourgeois (151).

Since then, the screaming hasn’t stopped, and Château Preuillac, for example, has just been readmitted after a court ruling.

Taillan’s wines are pretty and getting better in the skilled hands of enologist/manager Armelle Falcy Cruse, who’s bringing a finesse of old vines Cabernet Franc and Merlot into the mix.

Viva Maria!
Maria Martínez, winemaker at Montecillo and slightly taller than a Rioja bottle, is passionate about her ‘babies’, the firstborn being the ’75, still vibrant and exciting. Her reds are Canada’s best-selling Riojas, made only in good years. They range between 12.5% -13% alcohol, food-friendly and elegant,

Maria’s new baby is Solaz (launched last year), an 80/20 Tempranillo-Cabernet blend that shows ripe cherry, plum and game-leather notes and value for money at $9.45 on the General List.

The Rioja Crianza ’00, all Tempranillo, is smoky, berry-bramble with a kiss of untoasted French oak and food friendly, $13.95. Also on the GL from Montecillo’s parent Osborne, you’ll find excellent Duff Gordon Brandy and Santa Maria Cream Sherry.

*"Strategy is buying fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it." - Frank Muir

Budding Tasters in ‘Cot’ du Rhône
Tesco has a new tasting team -- ‘super-sensitive’ moms to be. Under Operation Cot du Rhône, the UK supermarket wants them to sample its wines. Wine boss Helen McGinn believes taste/smell are enhanced by pregnancy. “Every pregnant woman will tell you her sense of taste heightens. This is a chance to recruit super-sensitive taste buds.” The embryonic operation begins in September.

*There is nothing like good food, good wine, and a bad girl – fortune cookie

Think Big!
Big can be beautiful, too. The largest grower of Chablis is also one of the best: La Chablisienne is a co-op of 250 quality-driven growers who make one in every 3 bottles of Chablis. The best labels are the two single-vineyard Grand Crus Les Preuses and Grenouille but the best value may be La Chablisienne 2000 Chablis Les Vieilles Vignes, $22.95, Vintages Essentials (91). Made from 50-year-old vines, aged two years in barrel (essential for the typical mineral grip and lemon-green apple note), it’s a classic vintage. Food match: sea bass, oysters, roasted guinea hen. The bubbly Bailly-La Pierre Brut Réserve Crémant de Bourgogne, $17.95, from the same stable, is creamy and delicious (88) in an apple-straw-hay mode, dry and fresh (v).

*"The wine seems closed-in and to have entered a dumb stage. Sort of a Marcel Meursault." – Paul Winalski

Affordable Claret
If you want to feel supérieur, try Château de Terrefort-Quancard, a mouthful in itself! This new $15.45 General List Bordeaux shows the success of the 2001 Merlot in a 70/28/2 blend with the two Cabs, Sauv and Franc. Soft, silky, with lush red and black berry fruit, a hint of oak, easy drinking yet stylish (89). There’s a new GL Entre-Deux-Mers white, Cuvée Clémence ’02, $12.95, Semillon/Sauvignon/Muscadelle, with hints of toasty new oak and bags of apple, grapefruit and vanilla (87).

*"No nation was ever drunk when wine was cheap." – Thomas Jefferson

High Hopes!
Three Brits were recently busted for trafficking ecstasy in wine bottles via Sydney airport. The drug was dissolved in the wine.

*"Conversation is the enemy of good wine and food." – Alfred Hitchcock

It’s Official!
The 2004 Official Guide to Ontario Wineries, covering 62 estates plus touring and tasting tips, events and festival listings, is free at 1-800/263-2988. Also click on Ontario wines sales rose 6.5% last year, while VQA wines hit 11%. Exports were up 20% in value and 37% in volume in 2003, although only 2% of production was exported. KPMG calculates that every bottle of Ontario wine sold adds $3.88 in value to the Ontario economy, while each import adds only 46 cents.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s thirst helped the LCBO generate $3.3 billion in sales, another record, and a $1.04 billion profit for Queen’s Park, thanks to "solid growth in wines over $10 and higher-end spirits and premium beers." Wines $10-$12 grew 16.7% and $12-$15 rose 12.4%. By contrast, wines under $10 only grew 4.6%, cent, although they account for 57% per cent of wine sales. Vintages sales grew 14%. Premium spirits increased 13%, craft beer and non-U.S. imported suds rose 18.6% and 14.7% respectively, while red wines outpaced white with 12.4% growth 5.3%.

*"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." – Frank Sinatra

Red, China?
Chinese wine imports increased by nearly half last year, to almost €26 million, thanks to lower tariffs and changing tastes. Most come from Chile, then France, Australia, the US, Argentina, Italy and Spain, although many people still drink it on-the-rocks or with cola. In 2002, counterfeiters In China relabelled $200 wines as 1982 Château Lafite (which can sell for $5,700) and sold them for $1100. Customs seized 700 bottles. In Hong Kong 12,000 bottles were falsely labeled 1995 Mouton Cadet in a supermarket.

*"When I read about the evils of drinking, I quit reading." – Henny Youngman

To Die For!
Dishes to Die For...Again, recipes from and info on Canada’s best mystery authors, is shooting for the top of best sellers. Take a stab at a recipe yourself! Learn all the dark secrets of your favorite authors. At only $14.99 a copy, it's a steal! Available at bookstores or via Crime Writers of Canada website: or email,

*"The greatest invention in history is wine. The wheel was also a fine invention but it doesn’t go nearly as well with pizza." – Dave Barry

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