Thursday, February 25, 2010

Report from … 75 Estate Wines by the Foster’s Group – February 18, 2010

Foster’s came to town with a whole bunch of wine from some pretty reputable houses – producers like Mutua (New Zealand), Rosemount, Wold Blass and Penfolds (Australia), Stags’ Leap, Beringer and Chateau St. Jean (USA) – these and 11 more filled the Fermentation Cellar in Toronto’s Distillery District to pour 75 wines.  I picked out my top ten … here they are in no particular order.

Matua (New Zealand) 2008 Shingle Peak Pinot Noir ($29.95) – nice earthy raspberry and sour cherry notes … supple and tasty with a hint of earthiness on the finish. (****½)

Rosemount Estate (Australia) 2006 Show Reserve GSM ($34.95) – GSM is Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, and this is a good one: vanilla and cherry take the lead with hints of mocha and spiced pepper on the finish. (****)

Rosemount Estate (Australia) 2005 Show Reserve ‘Traditional’ ($34.95) – Traditional to Rosemount means Cabernet Sauvigon, Merlot and Petit Verdot; this one’s all blackberry, chocolate, blueberry and white pepper – delicious. (****½)

Saltram (Australia) 2006 No. 1 Shiraz ($49.95) – not your typical big fruit bomb from Aussie-land; this one shows some elegant sippability with smooth blackberry, black cherry and luscious chocolate notes.  The only thing typical here is the high Aussie alcohol – 14.5%. (****½)

Wolf Blass (Australia) 2006 Gold Label Shiraz-Viognier ($27.95) – violets and pepper take over the nose, while white pepper, black fruit and pretty violet notes take over the palate – lovely. (****)

Stags’ Leap Winery (USA) 2006 Petite Syrah ($44.95) – of 21 wineries in this California AVA only the Stag makes Petite Syrah, this wine has a silky elegance that would be hard to match; it also has a little Viognier (white) along with Carignane and Grenache (red) mixed into the blend – quite peppery with elegant black fruit and spiced-up finish.  (****)

TAZ (USA) 2007 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara ($30.00) – this was one terrific Pinot at a very down to earth price – for Cali-Pinot that is.  Nice red fruit, cherry and cranberry with a goodly spiced nuance, there’s also a hint of vanilla and a bit of earthiness.  The tannins and acidity, found mid-palate and on the finish, brought the wine together in one deliciously complete package. (****½)

Cellar No.8 (USA) 2007 Zinfandel ($15.95) – this might have been the best value wine at the show.  A classically styled Zin with vanilla, plum and cherry-cola flavours, not earth shattering but very tasty, a real crowd pleaser for those summer BBQs to come. (****)

Meridian Vineyards (USA) 2007 California Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.95) – another good value Cali-wine, this one won’t set the world on fire either, but it’ll win you over with blue and black berries, sweet cherries and its easy drinkability.  Another favourite for around the campfire (re: BBQ).  (****)

Beringer Vineyards (USA) 2005 Napa Valley Merlot ($29.95) – supple and easy drinking, this really is the essence of California Merlot, nice black cherry and chocolate, lip smackingly good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Report from … Seeing Red at Fielding – February 20, 2010

Now, the title alone would make you think I was angry with Fielding, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact is that Fielding was putting on a tasting of their mammoth 2007 reds (5 in total) and man are they something to be tasted.

After attending the Experts Tasting at Brock, I made my way over to Fielding Estate Winery to sample five of their newest reds from the monster ’07 vintage.  Monster is an apt name for the wines on display today – each one seemed bigger, brawnier and bolder than the next.

Fielding was fresh off their Best Syrah win at Cuvee the night before, they were pretty pumped about their most recent victory, they seem to know they have something special in these wines, a few have already begun getting awards and accolades from the wine community.  These are wines to age, so there is absolutely no rush for Fielding to get these wine onto their shelves, in fact, had the Syrah not won it probably wouldn’t have been for sale either (winning wines from Cuvee have to be on sale for those coming in on the weekend).  So now if you are looking for any of these wines you are going to have to beg and plead to get someone to grab you one (or more) from the back.

I was very impressed with the entire line of five wines, nothing received less than four stars (very good).  Below I have reviewed my top two, with the other three reviewed in full on my website.

The 5-Star wines of Fielding …
My favourite two were both blends, one traditional, the other slightly non-traditional.  The traditional wine is the usual Meritage (2007) a blend of 62% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and only 4% Cabernet Franc (strange for these parts – where Franc is usually one of the more dominant grapes).  Delicious blackberry, cassis, pepper, cinammon, spice, black cherry, chocolate and vanilla.  There’s definitely more that will emerge over the next few years, as long as you have the patience to lie this one down. (*****)

My other favourite was a wine the Fielding folks are calling Chosen FEW (2007), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, with only about 150 cases made.  The nose and palate proved to be very complex giving layer upon layer of aromas and flavours: blackberry, smoky notes with smoked meat spice and hints of violets … the deeper you go into this wine the more you’ll find.  Another cellar candidate for sure, give it 3-5 years before opening – or, for now enjoyment, be sure to decant. (*****)

The Fielding Other Three …
2007 Merlot (****) --- 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (****½) --- 2007 Syrah (****½)

Report from … The Experts Tasting – February 20, 2010

One of my favourite things to be called is “an expert”, it makes me smile, simply because when it comes to wine, it’s hard to be called “an expert” because the wine world is always changing. You can be knowledgeable, you can be up-to-date, you can be in-the-know, but expert, that’s hard to be. Calling someone an expert implies they know all – and the one thing for sure about the world of wine, there’s no such thing as “knowing it all”; every year, every vintage, Mother Nature pushes the reset button and everything you know can go right out the window – your quest for knowledge starts all over again.

I approach the Experts Tasting at Brock University, which is held every year on the Saturday after Cuvee, with the empty-cup-fill-me-up approach. Winemakers, writers, educators, sommelier, restaurateurs and others get together to taste thru that year’s tasting seminar program. Last year it was sparkling wine, this year it’s about terroir: showing the sub-appellations of Niagara. For those who read my blog postings about the sub-ap tour through Niagara this past fall, know my opinion on the sub-appellations: we are still a young wine region in our naissance, when it comes to sub-aps we are attempting to run before we can crawl; and we really are in our crawling phase here. But the panel for our four flights (of 7 wines each) did their best to highlight some of the best wines of the Niagara appellations.

Chris Water, the man behind Vines Magazine, talked about his first love, Riesling, of the seven wines, 4 were excellent, but the most compelling was the Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Riesling – still fresh and lively three years from vintage date, with none of the premature petrol smells that seem to plague hot year Rieslings.

Next up, Rob Power of Creekside, spoke of Chardonnay. Rob seemed a little nervous, his love and passion for wine were definitely on display, but when it came to going off script he seemed to mess up his stories: like the Judgment of Paris (1976) and the Judgment of Montreal (2009) – I’m sure he knows the difference between these two (Paris was the US vs France; while Montreal was US vs France with a Canadian ringer thrown in), but it didn’t come out that way. As for the Chardonnay, two stood out above the rest and both from the ripe 2007 vintage: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Estate Chardonnay and Malivoire 2007 Moira Vineyard Chardonnay.

Norman Hardie stood at the podium and gave his piece on Pinot (Noir). Norm toils in Prince Edward County, but he also uses Niagara fruit in some of his wines, and he has a real passion for Pinot. He refers to the grape as ‘Capricious and Fickle’, telling us about tasting the same barrels in the cellar on two concurrent days and finding them different on each day. Another 7 wines, with another 2 stand outs: Le Clos Jordanne 2007 Petite Colline and Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Gravity Pinot Noir.

Finally, Darryl Brooker, winemaker for Hillebrand, took the microphone to speak about Cabernet and Merlot. This was a flight in which Flat Rock could not dominate because they do not make wine from these grape varieties. Another flight of 7 and two more good examples of appellation wines from Niagara: Henry of Pelham 2007 Speck Family Reserve and Hillebrand 2007 Showcase Cabernet Sauvignon Clark Farm.

I always enjoy the experts tasting, especially this year (more on that in a minute), but I do question its timing – just after Cuvee. Yes it’s educational and fun to attend, but you have all these writers, sommeliers, and restaurateurs in the neighbourhood (Niagara region), would some of their time best be served touring around the region and trying wines at the various wineries and not sitting around for 4+ hours? Something that always strikes me as odd is that they put us in a room from 10 till well past 2 and then people wonder why they don’t feel like going out and exploring wineries. By the time it’s thru, people just want to get back home. Only the truly dedicated get out their and visit. To prove my point I visited Cave Spring, Fielding and Thirty Bench before trekking back to Toronto. Keep in mind that some of these folks only get out to Niagara once a year (Cuvee time) and it would be nice for them to be able to get out and explore. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying. It’s all part of being a promoter of our industry – which brings me to my exciting news ...

My Highlight of the Experts Tasting …
As of February 20, 2010, at the Experts Tasting, I, Michael Pinkus, being of relatively sound mind (at times) am now an Award Winning Writer. I was given the Promoting the Promoters award in the media category. I would like to thank the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (for no other reason than I watch a lot of movies), my parents for not being alcoholics (thus keeping wine in the house), to my loyal readers, like yourself, for enjoying what I do, for reading my rants and observations and taking action when you deem it necessary. I promise that I will not let this go to my head, I’ll still be the same outspoken promoter and sh*t disturber I’ve always been … just now I have been awarded and recognized by my peers. Thanks to all of you.

A Little Grumbling and a Little Pettiness…
I will have to admit to you that I was not surprised by the pettiness shown by the LCBO representative at the event. Host Nina Hofer introduced all who were coming to the podium. On the second awards presentation, the one for media, she announced that we were running late and that Charles Baker, the presenter, had to keep it to 4 minutes instead of the customary 5 … it was interesting to note that this was the only presentation she made that announcement for, allowed plenty of other presenters to go over their allotted time and even allowed an impromptu speech from another award recipient on the afternoon. But again, what did I really expect, this is the LCBO after all … so for those that did not get a chance to see why the LCBO and I seem to be on opposing sides of the fence, I will direct your attention (once again) to this Ottawa Life Article, published January 2010, written by yours truly: LCBO Monopoly.

Best Wine of the Tasting …
You’ve read about the in-flight wines – now it’s time to tell you about the Best Wine of the Tasting – the one that caused me to run out to the winery and buy a few bottles. It happened during the fifth and final flight, which is a fun little quiz that is suppose to lighten the mood of the room and also show you what you have learned. The first wine poured (in the flight of five) was a 2008 Gewurztraminer from Cave Spring Cellars, which proved to be utterly delightful and refreshing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Report from ... Cuvee 2010 - The Winners - February 19, 2010

Red Wine: Inniskillin 2007 Reserve Series Cabernet Franc
Limited Edition Red: Niagara College Teaching Winery 2007 Dean’s List Pinot Noir Canadian Oak Project
White Wine: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Reserve Chardonnay
Limited Edition White: Creekside Estate Winery 2008 Reserve Viognier
General List Red: Jackson-Triggs Niagara 2007 Proprietors’ Reserve Meritage
General List White: Creekside Estate Winery 2008 Pinot Grigio
Sparkling Wine: Hillebrand NV Trius Rosé Brut and Maleta Estate 2007 VIEW Old Vines Dry Sparkling Riesling
Sweet Wine: Konzelmann Estate 2007 Vidal Icewine
Limited Edition Sweet Wine: Mountain Road Wine Company 2004 Vidal Icewine
Meritage: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2007 Small Lot Benchmark Red
Cabernet Sauvignon: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc: Inniskillin 2007 Reserve Series Cabernet Franc
Merlot: Peller Estates 2007 Signature Series Merlot
Syrah/Shiraz: Fielding Estate 2007 Syrah and Jackson-Triggs Niagara 2007 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Syrah
Red Assemblage: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2007 Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet
Riesling: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2008 Small Lot Riesling “Steel Post Vineyard”
Sauvignon Blanc: Creekside Estate Winery 2007 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 Reserve Chardonnay
White Assemblage: Legends Estates 2008 Diva (Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc)
Gewurztraminer: Rosewood Estates 2008 Gewurztraminer
Viognier: Creekside Estate 2008 Reserve
Pinot Noir: Tawse Winery 2007 17th Street Pinot Noir
Gamay Noir: 13th Street Winery 2007 Sandstone Vineyard Old Vines Gamay Noir

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Report from … A Couple of Glasses with Eleanor Cosman of Bokke Wines – February 10, 2010

This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting up with Eleanor Cosman of Bokke Wines at the Monkey Bar (3353 Yonge Street) for a tasting of a few wines she is thinking of bringing into Ontario. Knowing Eleanor’s specialty I would have assumed we would be trying South African wines, but instead she lured me into the invite with something even more intriguing, Spanish wines, a wine region she does not currently have in her portfolio and a void she is looking to fill.

She kicked off the tasting with a Cava (Spanish sparkling) that was absolutely to die for, La Cruss Et D’or Brut Reserva – non-vintage Premium Limited Edition. The wine had fruity smells of fresh lemon and citrus along with sweet apple and a lovely finish – crisp, toasty and bready through the mid-palate ending with crisp mac apple squeezed with a hint of lemon on the finish (****½). She had yet to find out the price, but this will be a killer buy if it comes to our shores between $12 and $15 … though the words “Premium Limited Edition” scare me.

After such an illustrious start I would have to say it would have been hard to top it, and as expected the next four wines (all reds) did not measure up to that incredible starter. The best of which was a Bernat Oller 2006 Merlot with its violets, black and red fruit mix along with a touch of vanilla – it was a nice Merlot, and kind of a curiosity because you don’t see a lot of straight Merlot from Spain – but this one won’t set the world on fire, especially at it’s price (somewhere north of $25). I looked over at my glass of Cava, which was still happily bubbling away; I washed the reds down with what was left in the glass, still tasty.

I put my coat on ready to leave when Eleanor brought out a surprise wine, she asked if I minded giving my opinion on a new South African winery she was considering representing (she is, after all, the queen of South African wines, so I should have known I was not going to get away without tasting at least one). I never say no to sip on something new, so of course I said yes. Out came a bottle of Cape Dreams 2007 Pinotage, I shuttered – Pinotage is not a favourite, but I had already committed to giving it a try, and I was already not to like it. Which is why this wine came as such a surprise. The nose, upon first whiff, was loaded with pencil shavings; then with a little aeration it moved into chocolate, mocha and black raspberry. Palate-wise it was even better, showing none of the usually tarry-leather dominant flavours this type of wine exhibits; instead it was clean with coffee, mocha, black raspberry fruit, just the merest hint of leather and lots of pretty red berries mid-palate to the finish … elegant, lovely and very impressive – this is how Pinotage should be made (****½).

With the surprise of the Pinotage still lingering in our mouths Eleanor opened one more bottle, same winery but this time it was their 2008 Cabernet. Nice, smooth and quaffable, but not nearly as impressive as that Pinotage. Another wine I await to hear the price on to find out just how ‘really impressive’ it is.

Thanks to Eleanor for inviting me to this interesting tasting.

Report from … Days of Wine and Chocolate (NOTL) – February 6, 2010

It was mother/son bonding day in Niagara-on-the-Lake as we toured along the wine trail during the annual Days of Wine and Chocolate event: a month-long touring program that pairs two great loves. Like Romeo and Juliet, Wine and Chocolate just seem to be a match made for all eternity. Usually I rank the wines, the food and the pairing – but for this event it would be hard to rank the food; you see chocolate is about personal taste (ie: what you like it filled with) but if you are like me (and many are) chocolate is its own food group and thus to say one chocolate is better than another is like talking about the refreshingness of water on a hot day. But there was a little bit of trouble at this year’s event: over the course of our tour (we visited 15 of 22 wineries), we discovered something wasn’t so sweet about this chocolate, and by winery 10 we began to discuss it with fellow patrons and employees alike. Here’s what we discovered: the dark chocolate was just way too hard, they were like hockey pucks ready for a game (for those of you who don’t know, they freeze pucks before a game so they move faster on the ice). Mom didn’t finish many of her treats because she was afraid of chipping a tooth, and we met a couple on our tour who had experience my mom’s worst fear, he had indeed had the misfortune of chipping a tooth while trying to chew on the chocolate. I do not feel you should have to risk you teeth’s well being to bite or chew chocolate. The ones that proved the best tasting and paired perfectly were the softer chocolates, those that you didn’t have to struggle to get through, those that had a shell of chocolate on the outside and a soft center inside … in other words, chocolate that did not have you fearing for your dental health.

Besides this major concern, which by the way, was not because the chocolate had been left in the fridge – the 3pm chocolates (which had been sitting on the counter all day) was just as hard as the 10am chocolate fresh from the fridge. But the other concern was the inconsistency of the pieces: on my “black currant chocolate” I had three mini-black currants doting the top of my rock of dark chocolate; my “raisin” had no raisins inside and my apricot was a slog to chew, mostly due to the thick layer of the coating. I fully understand that Willow Pastry – the maker of these chocolates – has many to make (think 400 per winery per weekend – 400 x 22 x 4) and you can see the place would just be a madhouse to be working in trying to get them ready all week … but there has to be a better solution. One suggestion would be for thinner, wafer-like chocolate topped with the main ingredient – not the most appealing way to accomplish the goal but one that would save the embarrassment of no fruit in your fruit filled chocolate and would probably save a few pair of chompers in the process; or look into more soft0centered chocolates, that way they taste like chocolate an something, not just mini-blocks of chocolate with decorative fruit on top.

The Best Pairings …
As mentioned, we visited 15 of 22 wineries, so not all wineries are accounted for in our findings. Many that were not visited were personal choices that anyone would make. I’m not a fan of orange and chocolate, cinnamon and chocolate or coffee (mocha) and chocolate – hence those three were written off our visiting itinerary. I don’t do chilies, hence the spicy chocolate and Syrah pairing also went by the wayside. That said, we found that the best pairings of the day were those who offered a soft centered chocolate which allowed us to take a bite with out teeth intact; and had the recognizable flavour of their interior:

Niagara College Teaching Winery’s 2006 Cabernet Franc with the Dark Chocolate Coconut was a great match – melding flavours together and leaving you with chewy coconut on the finish. The chocolate was done in a truffle style.

Chateau des Charmes’ 2007 Cabernet Franc Icewine went very well with the ooey-gooey good Milk Chocolate Caramel, fusing the sweet strawberry flavour of the wine with the dark caramel inside the milk chocolate shell. You often hear that milk chocolate and wine don’t go together but it was the abundance of dark caramel that made this one work. The chocolate was a milk shell over a ball of soft flowing caramel.

Konzelmann’s 2006 Select Late Harvest Vidal paired exquisitely with a white chocolate cranberry concocted chocolate. Now, everyone knows that white chocolate isn’t “real” chocolate at all, but this was still a delicious pairing. The chocolate was a white chocolate shell with a white cream and cranberry piece ganache middle.

Southbrook’s Framboise (raspberry dessert wine) with White Chocolate Raspberry, what’s not to like hear; the pairing of raspberry on raspberry with the sweetness of white chocolate thrown into the mix; its intensely raspberry through and through. This decadence could be construed as almost over indulgent and sickeningly sweet for some – as in diabetic shock sweet - so be warned. The chocolate was a shell of white chocolate with raspberry truffle interior.

Best Wine of the Day …
I wasn’t going to pull out a best wine award, but then I tried the Strewn 2008 Cabernet Select Late Harvest … forget the pairing, this wine was a beauty from first sip to last gulp, I even asked for seconds … and the price was incredibly reasonable. Check the review by clicking the link above.

Offering More Than Just a Pairing …
Finally, Konzelman pulled out all the stops, not just offering up their awesome Day of Chocolate pairing but also a second chocolate treat and an idea for summer sipping. There was the Eskimo Kiss Cup – a 60% edible dark chocolate mini-cup filled with 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine and liberally topped with a spoonful of 40% Milk Chocolate Brix Chocolate shavings; a pop in your mouth pleasure. Those looking forward to the hotter weather should give Jeremy Miron a call or send him an email to get the recipe for his Jazz-Mopolitan cocktail: a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine, cranberry juice and Riesling Sparkling wine topped with a frozen grape or cranberry (to keep it cold). Here’s looking forward to summer.

All-in-All, when not worrying about our teeth, this was a great touring event, the concept is bang on for the month of Valentine’s Day, and who can resist beating the February blahs with these two treats (wine and chocolate) … there is just a need for minor tweeks to bring it to the level of the other Niagara-on-the-Lake touring programs like Wine & Herb (May) and Taste the Season (November). Considering this is the Days of Wine and Chocolate’s second year the changes they make going forward will only improve it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Report from ... Pierre Andre (Burgundy) Tasting – February 3, 2010

After the pre-Cuvee tasting, I headed to Le Select Bistro on Wellington for a tasting of 9 Burgundian wines (4 Chardonnays and 5 Pinot Noirs) by Pierre Andre Wines, below is a selection of my top 4 wines: 2 whites and 2 red.

Chardonnays of Note …

Rully 2008 ($33.00 – Private Order) – this one’s fresh and lively with peach, apple and mineral notes, there’s even a little hint of lemon freshness. (****)

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Pucelles” 2007 ($132.00 – Private Order) – this wine showed some real complexity on both the nose and palate. Toasted apple, peach, a touch of buttery with hints of spice and good minerality. The acidity was palate cleansing and had a nice medium-long finish. This wine could easily rest in the cellar for 5+ years. (****½)

Pinot Noirs of Note …

Volnay “Santenots” 2007 ($75.00 – Private Order) – lovely cherry and raspberry smells and flavours; minerality really comes through on the palate where’s you’ll also find a good expressions of red fruit and nice tannin structure. (****½)

Corton Grand Cru “Renardes” 2007 ($122.00 – Private Order) – this wine is best described as ‘very pretty’, with lovely cherry, cranberry and sour raspberry; big acidity and a truly lovely tannins balance on the palate … this one’s a real pleasure to sip on and show good ageability over the next decade. (****½)

Report from ... Cuvee Media Preview Tasting – February 3, 2010

Two tastings today … the first was the Cuvee preview tasting; for those who do not know what Cuvee is it’s lovingly referred to as the Oscars of the Ontario wine industry: the winemakers taste and give out the awards to their peers (this would make the Ontario Wine Awards the Golden Globes – because those awards are handed out by the press - if you are looking for a comparison). Anyway, the preview tasting consisted of 56 wines – the top score getter from each of the wineries entered … the only complaint I have ever heard about this competition is that it is very Niagara-centric; but aside from some sour-grapes it’s a fun night for all involved. Details can be found at and reviews of the wines I felt were truly the best will appear in my newsletter and on the Weekly Wine Note blog and podcast over the next few months … so be sure to check those out. Sign up for the OntarioWineReview newsletter here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Report from ... Wine Writers Circle of Canada Annual Dinner (Sette Mezzo) - February 1, 2010

Each year the Wine Writers Circle of Canada gets together for their annual holiday dinner. Granted it’s usually after the holidays, but it’s still considered our Christmas/Holiday Dinner.

Now at a wine writers dinner what more important: the food, the wine or the combination of both. Well that’s a personal choice. I’m always intrigued by what the writers bring out in public and what statement they are trying to make, if any. Fot the record I brought a bottle of Southbrook 1999 Triomphe Merlot … it took a while to open up, but when it did it turned out to be a nice wine. My tablemate brought two wines, a badly corked Spanish wine and a delicious Marsala (Italian Port-style wine) for dessert (which I subsequently went out and bought a few bottles of the next day). Past President Sheila, hearing of our table’s dilemma, rescued our dry palates by parading over a bottle of Dados 2007 Reserva, a plumy, fruity, spicy red form Portugal. Speaking of spicy, another writer brought over a small tasting of a California 2005 Syrah from Bernat in the Santa Inez Valley … this was a high alcohol monster, loaded with spice and pepper on the nose; the palate produced much of the same, loaded with spiced blackened fruit that exploded in the mouth – lovely.

Another bottle that was brought around was a magnum of Summerhill 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Okanagan Valley (BC). The bringer has a lovely story to tell about how she had come to acquire such a beautiful bottle of wine, and it was beautiful on the outside, alas what was inside was corked and not very palatable – no wonder she was parading and passing it around.

The Dinner …

Sette Mezzo (936 Eglinton Avenue West – Toronto) was a wonderful location and a very welcoming host to our party, they closed down the place on the Monday night so our group of 30 were the only ones in the joint.

As a good Italian place should, they started u off with some nice Prosecco and thin crust pizzas – the Margherita version was a favourite of mine. Southbrook’s 2007 Poetica Chardonnay also made an appearance as an appetizer wine. Then came the 4-course dinner:

Antipasto with cheese, prosciutto, grilled eggplant, zucchini and roasted peppers and plenty more on the plate to catch the eye and tempt the taste buds.

Pasta was a mix of Risotto with wild mushrooms and truffle oil alongside a Penne Gnocchi in rosé sauce and pepper with mini-shrimp (would that mean they are shrimpy shrimp?).

Main, the choice was chicken, fish or veal – of which the veal seemed to be the most popular; it was served in a Madeira sauce with soft polenta on the side.

Finally, dessert was a fantastic chocolate Crème Brulee – I think they also offered Tirmisu, but who could resist chocolate crème brulee – to my shock some did. Diner was so good I forgot to take pictures, maybe I’ll remember next year.