Feb 21: Australian Wine Society Shiraz Tasting, 416/207-9976, www.aws.ca
Feb 27: Splendido, fund-raising dinner for Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre Nursery School, 416/929-7788.
Mar 3-5: Cuvée, the Oscars of the Ontario industry, has 50 wineries pouring at Niagara-on-the-Lake's White Oaks Resort and Spa, with food from eight chefs, followed by Cuvée En Route, special tastings along the Wine Route, www.cuvee.ca or 905/684-8688.
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
*Oyster (n): a person who sprinkles conversations with Yiddish expressions.
Wine, Wildlife and Song
A portion of French Rabbit sales plus a $160,000 donation to the LCBO's Natural Heritage Fund will help a breed & release program. WPC was founded by the late author and naturalist Gerald Durrell. To learn more, contact Elaine Williams, 519/836-9314.
We can expect to see the LCBO getting much more publicly involved with the ecology and wildlife conservation in its future new wine releases. Which brings us to...
Enjoy solo, over oysters, in canapes, with blini, or on hot or cold mains like pasta or salads, $24.95/120 grams vs $225 for caviar. Great with a sparkler like a vibrant Prosecco. From Pusateri, Mike's at St Lawrence Market, and Brunello Imports (416/631-9773).
*Esplanade (v): to attempt an explanation while drunk.
The '80 Vintage
Not bad for a wine from the '80s, but this was a 1780 Madeira Bual -- 225 years old! -- a 'time machine' experience for the Estufarians, Madeira aficionados who "warmed up" for the 1780 with three superb 1905s, two Sercials and a Verdelho.
The Bual, the Borges Family Reserve, was bought in cask, bottled in 1989: there's now one left in the world and it's in Norway.
Enough To Float a Battleship
Bordeaux exports to Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan posted increases of 34%-50%. Exports to Japan rose by 7%. These, however, are not the main markets.
By 2008, South Africa will overtake Germany, Portugal and Chile as a producer. It will be producing 35% more wine while global production will have increased by 6.4%, says the International Wine & Spirits Record.
The study predicts that the global wine surplus will return to 2000 levels. The surplus rose sharply in 2004, and by 2008 will represent 11.3% of world production.
Frosted In B.C.
Tony Stewart of Quails Gate in the Okanagan says spring frost shrank the 2005 crop. "Quality was excellent but there'll be a real shortage for 2006."
B.C. consumers buy 95% of production but B.C. wines are still outsold by imports from Australia. That's unlikely to change since Aussie wineries have a billion litres of unsold wine, two-thirds of the '05 vintage, in stock and a huge 2006 vintage coming in from now until May.
Prices are dropping, with Margaret River bulk Shiraz selling for 80c a litre. Hardy Wine's David Woods says most wineries have 10 to 12 months of stock in storage.
That should keep consumer prices nicely competitive!
*Phonesia: dialing a number and forgetting who you're calling just as they answer.
Visit www.cheeseculture.ca/news.html or call Julia at 416/466-0309 or 416/944-0500.
Kudos to a Pioneer
The 5th generation wine grower with roots in Alsace defied the Labrusca grape-growing inertia of the 'seventies to plant the first commercial all-Vinifera vineyard, establish the 'estate vineyard' model and the ideal of terroir in Canada.
While naysayers expected our winters to destroy his efforts, Paul helped lay the groundwork for today's world-class wine industry in this country. His wines have won more than 500 awards and medals. Bravo!
If you're quick you can find some of Paul's Brut Methode Traditionelle sparkling, Gewürztraminer '03, Cabernet Franc '03, and Riesling Icewine Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard '01 in Vintages.
Axa owns Quinta do Noval, Hungary's Disznokov, and Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Petit-Village, Cantenac-Brown and Suduiraut in Bordeaux. Seely, co-author of Great Bordeaux Wines will be pulling out great examples. See www.deerhurstresort.com/wine. A charity auction Saturday will aid the Canadian Wildlife Fund. To learn more about Deerhurst, call 1-800/461-4393.
Goat breeder-gourmet cheese maker Charles Back has already sparked a Rhône renaissance in South Africa (and ticked off France's Côtes-du-Rhône vignerons!) while having fun with the labels.
Bored Doe is a red Bordeaux blend and Goat Door is a lightly oaked Chardonnay (Burgundy's Côte d'Or, of course!).
My own entry would be Coots-du Rhône, a wine for seniors!
The programs include visits to wine estates, tasting 100+ wines, meeting winemakers and principals, regional cuisine and the landscape of the wine regions. Cost is €1350 (approx $1,900), including hotel, local travel, meals, tastings, and visits.