Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

Profile - BW

Here we go again.

Didn't we go through this last year? 2008 was pretty awful, and 2009 was no better. Still optimistic about 2010? Good for you. Good for you, my friend, because you're the only one.

It's times like these that I thank God for wine. Happy New Year, mes amis.

DF

In a haze

Romeo y Julieta

I like cigars, it's about time I indulged. Romeo y Julieta, Romeo No. 3. I have no idea where I got this from, but I want to smoke it. Storage has been mediocre, it's pretty dry. Lights up evenly, draws smoothly. A whiff of richness develops, quickly enveloping the room.

The wankers who suck on these things like cigarettes? Posers. A true cigar smoker demands quiet contemplation and patience......a beautiful, uninterrupted moment. Parallel to a few other things, no?

DF

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Walking in the fields, 2009

In the vines

A highlight of this year was our many trips to Niagara. ROKChoi never fails me, and with camera in hand, we traipsed through rain, mud, ice, and snow to see firsthand the vineyards of the Escarpment and the Peninsula. We were very fortunate to meet many of the producers and engage in dialogue about the vineyards, viticulture, wine philosophy, and of course, the wines. Much appreciation a tous, and we hope to continue our search for the truth and beauty of Niagara in 2010!

Please take a look at our trips we took this year:

March, 2009
October, 2009
December, 2009

Of course, walking the vineyards of Le Clos Jordanne during harvest was eye-opening, and one of the highlights of my wine-drinking career. Our first time seeing the grapes so close to picking, as well as seeing first hand how the grapes are sorted. Exceptional.

I always look forward to tasting the wines of Lailey. A producer with a clear idea of what true taste in wine is, and is a firm proponent of wines which are clearly indicative of what Niagara stands for. After following these wines for a few vintages now, I can honestly say that this is one of the few truly great producers of pinot noir in North America.

Lots of others. Tasting rieslings at Thirty Bench, pinot noir at Flat Rock. One project I'm very excited about is Charles Baker's single vineyard riesling. I can't wait to see where this wine is going.

Before the year is done, I'll raise a glass to the true wines of Niagara, and the people who bring them to us.

DF

A Year of Wine, 2009

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This year's been an interesting one, vinously. I got a chance to taste and gain a certain level of understanding for several new wine regions, in particular the rieslings of the Mosel and Rheingau, and white Burgundy. It was also a year where I had the absolute privilege of meeting a lot of people in Niagara, and tasting their wines. Above all, it was a year of great dinners with friends, where we all had a chance to share some great food and wine.

Click on the red links to read the original posts. DF presents, in chronological order, a year in wine...

2005 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Montmains, AC Chablis Premier Cru - The wine that proved the beauty of white Burgundy. Tense, mineral, but with a density from the vintage that left me speechless and awestruck.

2005 Couly-Dutheil La Baronnie Madeleine, AC Chinon - A concentrated, powerful wine, with a long life ahead, yet that still contains all the complexities of fine cabernet franc.

2002 R. Lopez de Heredia Vîna Cubillo Crianza, DOC Rioja Alta - How rare is it to find a wine that stays true to both place and time? All the fine complexities of Rioja, but with the lean, tart edge of 2002.

2006 Domaine Fallenc Sainte Marie, AC Corbieres - I hate talking about wine prices here, but this wine far exceeded in expectation, relative to what I paid for it. Rustic and rich, getting better and better with time.

2007 Cusumano Insolia, IGT Sicilia - My first white wine from Sicilia. Rich, round, but with a balance and bitterness that made it perfect for seafood.

2003 Geltz-Zilliken Riesling Kabinett Saarburgur Rausch, QmP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer - Ahh, Zilliken. The source of some of the purest, most ethereal expressions of riesling you'll ever find.

2005 Château La Fleur Jonquet, AC Graves - Again, my first white Bordeaux. A blast of green, but with a concentration of the vintage. Definitely caught my attention. A wine that needs some age.

1986 Balthasar Ress Riesling Spätlese Hochheimer Mirchenstück, Rheingau - Wine of your birth year is always special. Even more so when this is showing perfect maturity, with all the petrol fumes of great Rheingau.

1986 Dow's Colheita Port, Oporto - I fell in love with Colheita Port, hard and fast. Dense, round, and lasts forever.

1994 Schloss Schönborn Riesling, QbA Rheingau - This was a great tasting of two old rieslings from the same estate. Lots of vibrancy, with sharp acidity.

1982 Schloss Schönborn Riesling Spätlese, QmP Rheingau - Mature, honeyed, rich. Who says riesling doesn't age?

2008 Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench - The wine that reaffirmed why I fell in love with this producer in the first place. The greatest success for them yet - floral, intense, and just incredible.

2004 Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Hauts de Julien, AC Côtes du Rhone Villages - I overpaid, but damn, this is delicious. Velvet and silk, all around.

2004 Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir, Central Otago - I was beginning to lose faith in New Zealand, when I came across this. Certainly not inexpensive, but balanced and finally, a wine that shows off what Central Otago can achieve in the right hands.

1995 P.S. Bäumler Becker-Erben Riesling Auslese, QmP Wehlener Sonnenuhr - Oh Mosel, how I love thee. Old, approaching maturity, but showing so much freshness and personality. Transparent minerality, all slate and wet rocks. Delicious, and clearly, in the top three best wines I've ever tasted.

2005 Königschaffhausen Steingrüble Pinot Noir Trocken, QbA Baden - German pinot noir can be tricky, but this was smashing. Warm, but showing great varietal character. Balanced, high-tinged acidity. All love, drunk twice.

2007 Francis Blanchet Cuvée Calcite, AC Pouilly-Fumé - The third wine of our great Oyster dinner, hosted by ROKChoi. Just stunning in the harmony it achieved with our Kumamoto oysters. Rich and creamy, matching the oysters perfectly.

2006 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir, VQA Twenty Mile Bench - Drunk with a friend, which always makes wine better. Floral, bright fruit, showing beautifully now, but can age for a bit more.

2001 Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula - I love this wine. A surprise find for the winemaker as well. Ripe fruit, fine texture - still young. Surprised?

1982 Balthasar Ress Riesling Kabinett Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Rheingau - The second wine of Dinner of the Harvest. Full maturity, with a rusticity and grip that was spine-tingling.

1983 Balthasar Ress Riesling Kabinett Winkler Jesuitgarten, Rheingau - The third wine of Dinner of the Harvest. Less rich, but doesn't lack any of the character of old rieslings. Subtle, but with intensity.

1995 Balthasar Ress Riesling Kabinett Hallgartener Jungfer, Rheingau - Delicious. That's all you need to know.

NV J. Lassalle Brut Premier Cru Chigny-Les-Roses, AC Champagne - Aged 18 months, this shows so fresh, with lively ripe fruit. Good length, texture - confirmed the merits of aging Champagne, even nonvintage.

2000 Ferreira Late Bottled Vintage Porto, DOC Douro - Young LBV is just all love. Rich, concentrated, but with impeccable balance. Tannins coat the palate just perfectly. Can I say arousingly good?

2004 Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula - This vineyard always shows well. Browning a bit, but still showing lively pinot noir character. This is the model for what the Niagara Peninsula can achieve.

2006 Remoissenet Père & Fils Chambolle-Musigny, AC Chambolle-Musigny - A Burgundy to compare alongside the aforementioned Inniskillin, for our Dinner in the Winter. Gamey, subtle, structured - all the hallmarks of a good, young red Burgundy.

2007 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula - Jammy a bit, but certainly shows the balance that this producer can achieve, even in this kind of vintage. Lots of potential for aging.

2005 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny, AC Chambolle-Musigny - Game, smoke, fresh red fruits. Great wine. Opened 15 years too young, but already it shows why you have to pay for Burgundy.

DF

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looted and booted

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I went over to Bayview Village today, to pick up a few wines. And cheese. A friend is taking me out to dinner, I shouldn't go empty-handed. And look...the store shelves are literally empty. Top photo shows the Champagne shelves, bottom shows Southwest France. Empty all around, as in California, Italy, and Australia. At least someone's having a good Christmas.

Having some friends over for hotpot tonight. I don't like hotpot, but it's an excuse to open a few bottles of Shaoxing wine. More on the wines, later. Cold outside, no?

DF

Let's clear something up

Blind tasting

Ok, so let's clear something up right now. I don't want my readers thinking that I sit around all day, drinking and weeping. Two nights ago, I was up to nearly 5am. I had been blind tasting three wines - 2 Niagara pinot noirs, and a Chambolle-Musigny. One of the Niagara wines was instantly identifiable. I had trouble distinguishing between the other two wines. I had just opened the bottles, and over the 3 or 4 hours that I was drinking them, it became harder and harder to tell which was which. More on the wines tasted, later.

Is blind tasting the proper way to evaluate a wine? Perhaps, but it certainly is no way to enjoy a wine. Knowing what the wine is gives you the correct mindset with which to approach it, and brings context to the experience. So yes, I did find the wines delicious, but I would have enjoyed it much more if I knew the identities. Which I correctly identified, the next day.

So no, I wasn't actually crying. Just being theatrical because otherwise, this would be a very boring space, no?

DF

Monday, December 28, 2009

Shut it down!

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You see, Christmas has passed by, nearly New Years, but still I haven't found any time to relax. Always something going on. This can't be healthy. I haven't even found the proper time to sit down and have a proper pot of Pu'er. And on top of it all, I've just been so lethargic, I can't even fully engage in conversation with my friends. I basically sleep-walked and yawned through dinner last night. This is a problem. So I'm taking today for myself. Shutting off the computer, phone.

I think I'm going to read. No one's home right now, which is perfect. I need to read and contemplate about why wine matters and what to do with my life. Tea pairing suggestions?

DF

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Late night

It's late. I don't remember staying up this late since my days served in university. I'm watching episodes of The Office. Watching Jim and Pam together is making me tear up like a girl. Maybe it's because it's the holidays. Maybe it's because I'm so emotionally invested in these characters. But they're good tears. Not evil ones.

I've been drinking. Heavily. At least it's all pinot noir. Chambolle-Musigny and Le Clos Jordanne will make you happy like that.

DF

Just amazing

Drink by candlelight

Drinking by candlelight must be one of the greatest circumstances to experience wine in. A quiet, sensual moment, to contemplate everything in, and out, the glass.

DF

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2007 Niagara Escarpment

2007 Malivoire

2007 Malivoire Estate Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Escarpment

I picked up this bottle at the winery, as I wrote about earlier this month. Of the three chardonnays produced here, this showed as the least oaky. This bottle proved otherwise. Just a complete fall off the cliff, after tasting the aforementioned 1996 Baron-Fuenté.

Pale colour, which was a surprise, but the nose shows all the heavy-handedness that is plaguing New World wines. Of course, 2007 was a scorching, powerhouse vintage, but even then, the wine is struggling to prop up all the oak. Just an overbearing creamy, buttery, vanilla-laden slap across the face. Showing no subtlety, no nuance. The fruit begins to emerge with some time, but the oak is covering everything like a layer of sludge.

My palate is delicate - I hesitated to taste it after the nose. Perhaps this is when I should begin being more diplomatic. There's a layer of thick, creamy, almost syrupy oak, with just a bit of citrus and apple showing. So sweet and almost cloying in its sweetness. It's shocking that this is supposed to be a dry table wine. Sweet chardonnay, from oak of all things, is not pleasant, nor representative of a terroir wine. There's almost a filmy layer of extract on the finish.

Just not a success for this producer, which is disappointing. I like Malivoire chardonnay - I remember being quite surprised at the quality of the 2006. With such a hot vintage in 2007, there needs to be balance, and this wine lacks the drinkability and terroir-signature of fine chardonnay. This shows as a clumsy wine, meant to satisfy pool-side drinking tastes of neophyte yuppies. Which is a shame. And I remember this bottling to be the least oak-influenced. I shudder to imagine the wood splinters you have to pick out from your teeth after drinking Moira and Mottiar.

DF

Close to the chest

DF

I hope everyone's having a great holiday so far. I don't know what to make of mine so far. It's been full of obligations. Church, family, this, that. I need some time to settle down a bit, preferably with a glass or five, and just chill.

Today's been alright. I didn't go shopping. The streak is still on - I've never, and don't intend on ever participating in the bloodfest that is Boxing Day. Spent the day at home, drinking and tasting my way through three wonderful wines. Two Niagara pinot noirs of the highest quality, and a Burgundy.

There's a few things that I'm planning on investing in, in the new year. Laptop, flashlight(s), body grip, stems. So keeping my wallet close to the chest, for now at least. At least the wine is still flowing (somewhat) freely.

As always, photo courtesy of ROKChoi.

DF

1996 Champagne

1996 Baron-Fuente

1996 Baron-Fuenté Grand Millésime Brut, AC Champagne

We kicked off the holidays with a few bottles on the 23rd. First of the night, a vintage Champagne from one of the greatest recent vintages. I do my best to drink as much Champagne as I can comfortably afford, and it's always a treat to drink the 1996's.

I decanted. I'll tell you why - the bubbles in Champagne should be the least interesting aspect, as the sweetness is the least interesting aspect of a great Sauternes. It is an element, yes, but certainly not the focus. The mousse brings a textural component to the wine. What you see, in the form of carbonation, is only important for the hacks who want others to see that they're drinking a Champagne.

Still quite a young vintage, which is why I wanted to aerate it fully. It shows a lot of autolytic properties, not a surprise. Fruit lurks underneath, but is quite muted. It does begin developing a creaminess, and an intensity that's quite pleasing. Minerals begin showing as well. There's a beautiful weight in the mouth, clearly a wine with presence. High-strung acidity. A delicious wine with our fish as well as our rabbit stew.

DF

Which side?

I don't know whether I should be happy or a bit....unhappy right now. Elated because I'm tasting through 3 stunning wines. Or a bit down because I'm drinking alone.

At least.......no, there is no upside. At least I'm getting a bit hammered. And when that happens, all the shit about sharing wine with your beloved goes out the window.

DF

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dress Code

Attire

Proper attire for Christmas Eve. Paul Stuart checked 3/2 roll wool jacket, Ralph Lauren contrast collar shirt.

I would have left the top 2 buttons unbuttoned, but that's just me.

DF

I pass

There's nothing like a card game to bring out the vicious trash talker in even the mildest of personalities.

Cards

Cards

Cards

Cards

DF

Christmas Eve

Christmas

I had an interesting Christmas Eve. Trying to be a bit diplomatic about things, for once. For the first time, I participated in a Christian Christmas Eve church service. My mother is very involved, and I was volunteered to participate. Good thing I have a broadcaster's voice. We got up on stage to recite a few bible passages. I was booming. Don't care if I agree with what I was saying, I was all in. I gave those verses everything I had. I can't help but notice that no one dresses appropriately for church anymore. The men look like they're wearing borrowed suits, and the women......I highly doubt that knee high leather boots and short skirts are suitable in front of Christ. Come on...it's Christmas, show a little decorum and respect.

Dinner as usual, at a family friend's place. There were cops everywhere - I didn't have a drop of alcohol. Perrier all night. I'll put up some video later. And some photos. There was a raucous card game going on after dinner. I won't lie - there really is no reason for me to be at these things. There really is nothing for me to do there.

My goodness...I'm turning into an alcoholic loner. Merry Christmas, mes amis.

DF

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Heading out to a friend's place. I sincerely wish everyone a happy and safe holidays. Merry Christmas, dear friends. Looks like we'll be getting a white one this year.

DF

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gasp...you're drinking what?

This must be sacrilege - I'm watching Mondovino whilst drinking a bottle of heavily, heavily oaked Niagara chardonnay. At the very least, I'll be heading straight for vinous purgatory. This is a problem. But then again, I am pretty wasted. Things are looking up!

DF

NV Champagne

NV Bonville

NV Bonville Prestige Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, Avize

A grower Champagne of Avize, blanc de blancs. I'm beginning to really appreciate these wines. 100% chardonnay gives the creaminess to the Champagne that often creates the balance you need. So many people are going for zero dosage, as if the mere mention of sugar in Champagne is a sin against taste. Nonsense. You need residual sugar in Champagne to balance the often shocking amount of acidity. Whether or not there's too much is another matter.

Fine, frothy mousse, with quite an energetic stream of bubbles. This wine is delicious, with a citrus and ripe tangerine nose, with a creaminess and weight in texture that shows a lot of elegance. There's a minerality as well - this is a serious wine. But at a price.

Paired with lobster - just delicious. Still figuring out how to properly present a lobster dish, but we'll get there. In the meantime, more lobster and Champagne dinner trials will have to be conducted...

NV Bonville

DF

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ten Thousand

10000 views

Maybe insignificant, but this is a big moment for me. I reached 10,000 page views today, as of January 2, 2009. A big moment for me. I never thought this blog would go on as far as it has. At best, I though I'd see maybe 3000-4000 hits for the year.

I'm truly thankful for my readers, for everyone who's offered words of encouragement and support. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole blogging thing.

DF

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mmmmmm

Got a haircut this Sunday. I think I moaned a little when the nice lady was kneading my head and the back of my neck. All the tension just fluttered away, into a sudsy, stirring contentment.

When I get stinkin' rich, I'm hiring a woman who's sole responsibility will be to massage my head and neck every day with shampoo and scented oils.

DF

Sell it!

Ernie Eves says LCBO sale won't be easy. Take a look, from the Toronto Star today.

So apparently, the province wants to sell the LCBO. Why hasn't it? Get a move on, boys. Drop this incredibly inefficient system, that's doing a horrible disservice to Ontario taxpayers. I don't get the reason though - the idiots in charge have racked up the largest deficit in history ($24.7 billion) and they want to explore ways to bring in some cash. Are they seriously considering selling one of the most profitable assets they have? $1.4 billion in profit, $400 million in liquor sales taxes a year. Doesn't make sense.

But I've always been a proponent of the privatization of liquor in Ontario. Yes, I want to buy wine from a privately owned retailer. We need competitive prices, better selection, and much, much better customer service. LCBO's prices are a joke, especially on Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. Selection? I'm tired of hearing the fabulous Chinon, Mosel, grower Champagne, and fine Burgundy that the Americans have access to, while we have to do with row upon row of non-descript junk. Don't get me started on the utter lack of fine Niagara wines - you have to support all the wonderful wines in our own province, who are suffering because they can't afford to sell through the LCBO. And as for service? Well, if you wear a badge that says "Vintages Consultant" on it, then you sure as hell better act like a consultant.

The LCBO? Sell that shit!

DF

Dinner in the winter - In photos

Some photos from dinner. As always, photos are courtesy of ROKChoi. Thanks for coming to dinner, mes amis.

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DF

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dinner in the winter - Vintage port

1989 Cruz Vintage Port

1989 Cruz Vintage Port, Porto

Tasted this earlier this year. With cheese, nothing is better than a vintage port. With 20 years of age, this should be showing well.

Dark colour, lots of concentration. Dried fruits, spiciness, but the brandy is a bit disturbing. Alcohol definitely rears it's head - I've tasted much younger late bottled vintage ports that show more alcohol integration. A bit harsh.

But with cheese, just stunning. A revelation. It's the bittersweet things, in food/wine, and in life, that are the most extraordinary.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Balsamic

Balsamic vinegar

I never knew there was vintage-dated balsamic vinegar. Although I shouldn't be surprised - all balsamic vinegar constitutes is spoiled wine, no? This is 1980 Toro Albalá Castillo de Poley Balsamic Vinegar.

Made with the pedro ximénez grape, and started life as a fino sherry. With bread, just amazing. High strung acidity, lots of savoury, syrupy flavours. For dessert, the mango pudding was extraordinary. Not too sweet, wonderful consistency. And of course, a hunk of surface ripened cheese, a firm brie.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Burgundy

2006 Remoissenet

2006 Remoissenet Père et Fils, AC Chambolle-Musigny

With a grand dish, a grand wine. We've been seeing a few wines from this producer be released, and how could you ever say no to a Chambolle-Musigny?

Light colour, which is always a great sign. On the nose, much more reticent. I like to think that wine is a reflection of the people who make them, and this certainly applies here. It takes an hour to really begin unravelling. Red fruits show, with a lot of sour cherry and cranberry. A really distinct gaminess develops as well. Minerality, with an almost iron quality. The meatiness in the bouquet really starts booming around the third hour.

Silky texture in the mouth, with a lovely bright red fruit character. Begins showing a lot of sweetness in the fruit, as well as a spicy note. Incredible. This wine clearly shows its pedigree, compared with the previous Niagara pinot noir we drank. Long finish, balanced, with an austerity from both its fine tannins and acidity. A complete wine.

With the rabbit, just beautiful. The gaminess and spiciness of both pair well. The acidity just cuts through the richness of the rabbit. A dish, and wine, perfect for the weather outside.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Rabbit

Rabbit

Now, the main attraction. A rabbit fricassée with wild mushrooms, leeks, and celery. Gamy, earthy flavours are the focus - this is a country dish, and I wanted to show it as such. Nothing fancy. I love eating mushroom is big chunks. The rabbit we find here has a richness to it, as well as a gaminess that it quite unlike anything else. A few of my friends had never eaten rabbit before - it's always a treat for me as well.

Rabbit innards

After the meat, the liver, heart, and kidneys were lightly seared in butter. Nothing to waste. The liver was just delicious. Kidneys, much richer and creamier than you'd expect. The heart - bloody and a bit chewy. You respect the animal for what it's given you, and leave none of it to waste.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Pinot noir

2004 Inniskillin

2004 Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula

I love this wine. Always loved it. Normally, I shy away from these wines made by these big producers, but this site is special. Montague Vineyard produces very fine, earthy wines with a distinct personality.

A bbq going on in the aroma. Lots of smoked, charred meat, with bright cherry flavours. Some minerality beginning to show. The colour is beginning to brown, but I think it's an oxidative property from improper storage. There's a fine texture - not so much a structure, but the acidity keeps it austere and in balance. Lovely red fruits in the mouth, with a pronounced minerality. Linear, with an earthiness and brightness that's quite special - this really straddles Old/New World pinot noir styles.

With the spaghetti, the acidity works wonders. Matches with the tomato perfectly, and the smoky note goes well with the meatballs. Great wine.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Spaghetti

Spaghetti

Spaghetti and meatballs. Only the meatballs were made from ground beef from local, organically raised cows. The most tender, intensely beefy ground beef I've ever tasted. Wonderful. Rich marinara sauce is perfect in the winter, and of course, spaghetti cooked al dente. Simple, rustic food.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Chardonnay

2007 Lailey Vineyards

2007 Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay, VQA Niagara River

This wine is very close to me - we tasted this last year, when it was still in barrel. It shows all the richness and concentration of the vintage, but with a freshness that is characteristic of this producer. There's quite a bit of creamy oak, with substantial vanilla, but this wine has shown to age beautifully. We're drinking it a bit young, but it is well-suited to drinking in cold weather. Lots of citrus in the mouth, but a slightly bitter finish.

I paired this bottle with our fish. It's the weighty texture that makes the marriage work. Good balance and acidity in the wine cleanses the palate. A delicious chardonnay, with a long life ahead of it.

DF

Dinner in the winter - Fish

Fish

I cooked dinner for my friends last night. It's winter, it's almost Christmas....it's time to get together and celebrate a bit. Which just is another excuse to drink many, many wines, and indulge to excess.

It's been getting cold in Toronto. So we started with a soup, to warm everyone up. A beautifully rich chicken broth which was to be the base for many of the sauces later on. Once warmed up, we moved onto fish.

Striped bass, which I filleted. I really need a proper knife for this kind of work. My chef's knife just isn't designed for such an intricate operation - I sliced my left thumb quite deeply, as a result. You'll see later on. I can never get through a dinner without having at least one finger plastered and Polysporin-ed up.

Seasoned, then seared in olive oil. Roasted in the oven. As it cooks, diced Ontario beets into a pan. Simmered with chicken broth. Thickened with a bit of butter. You lay it on the centre of the plate - the intense purple colour is a nice complement to the fish. The sweetness pairs wonderfully with the savoury quality of a good piece of fish.

DF

Day after

I'm waiting for my toast. Crawled out of bed with a slight hangover, but I feel awesome. Nothing some breakfast tea can't fix. I need to hire a maid to wash the dishes after these dinners. I managed to clean everything except my stems and decanters. Who was it that said that after you've been drinking, the wine glasses begin appearing very large, while the sink begins to shrink?

Usually when I talk wine with people, I get blank stares. That look that just says, 'I'm gonna be polite and hear you out, but as soon as you finish, I'm out'. But my friends are enlightened drinkers. There's that moment when what you're saying corresponds to what they smell and taste - that's the moment when eyes get really wide, and there's the, 'Oh, I get it!!' Yeah, that's when it's all worth it.

DF

There you go

I try not to be sentimental, but tonight's one of those nights. I love my food and I love wine with all my heart, but I think I love my friends more.

DF

Friday, December 18, 2009

All love

My goodness, I can't even describe how much I love Burgundy. Chambolle-Musigny touches my heart like nothing else. Wonderful. Four bottles and many, many glasses later, I can't even begin describing what I'm feeling right now. The most amazing wine experience I've had in a long time. I'm Chinese through and through, but my heart belongs to the French.

DF

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2006 Finger Lakes

2006 Shalestone Vineyards

2006 Shalestone Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes

This is one of those wines that you buy out of curiosity, but after drinking, are glad that it's out of the cellar. A wine of Finger Lakes, from a producer that I quite like. Rob Thomas is passionate about what he's doing, and very humble about his wines. I really like him. Which is why I'm disappointed that the two wines I bought from him, a merlot, and this cabernet franc were so underwhelming.

Light colour once decanted, which was quite promising. I'm so tired of these inky wines, bearing more resemblance to balsamic vinegar than wine. The nose was quite restrained, with good sweet fruit, and some brambles. Good. This is a cabernet franc, after all. And I remember quite liking this wine when I tasted it at the winery. It's in the mouth and after a few hours that this wine begins to show some issues. It's sweet. Barely any structure, sweet texture, some jamminess developing - an American wine all around. Devolves quite rapidly. Sickly sweet almost. At least the alcohol's under control.

Should I have been expecting something different? This is clearly a wine that the American palate would love. I opened it 12 months too late. Where's that structure and density I tasted last July?

I don't know what to think. I really like Rob, and I think he has the right philosophy with regards to the fruit he purchases. Just not impressed with this wine.

DF

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Needs

I need to move out. Hot damn, I can't live with my parents anymore. What good is it living with your parents if you know how to cook, clean, and can manage basic plumbing and electrical issues? And really, what good is it if you don't even have a decent place to store your wines in their house?? Huh??? Answer that.

On a completely separate and unrelated note, I bought some beautiful Chambolle-Musigny's today, for Saturday's dinner and to drink over Christmas. I thought I was done buying wine for this year, but I thought about it, and dammit, I want to drink red Burgundy! Even though it cost me dearly, and the wines have been sitting on shelves for a few months, this is an itch that I must scratch.

My friends are in for a great wine experience.

DF

The only one

Everyone needs to be the guy in their social circle, no? I mean, in terms of expertise, everyone needs to be the one and only source of knowledge and advice. Straight up, if someone comes in claiming to be a wine guy, I will feel threatened. To my core.

Why is that?

Isn't it the point of a hobby to share with people, to engage in dialogue? What fun is there if it's just one-sided? Certainly, I'm flattered when people seem interested when I talk wine. Then why is it that I can't hold anyone else's palate in high esteem except my own (or Broadbent's, or Asimov's, or Jefford's, or Robinson's, or Spurrier's)? I just can't take anyone else seriously - this dude, this chick, can't possibly know what they're talking about.

Don't laugh, don't smirk. You're every bit as insecure. You know how BMW drivers instantly tense up when someone else talks about their new Porsche? Or when the model's face turns sour when another pretty girl walks into the room? Yeah. Same thing.

I am the Wino. There's never been anyone like me. The true wine lovers, I'm cut from their cloth. I'm invincible, I'm unstoppable, I'm just ferocious.

DF

NV Vouvray

NV Domaine de Vaugondy

NV Domaine de Vaugondy Brut, AC Vouvray

I love Vouvray. If I could find more of Huet here, I'd load up. Sparkling chenin blanc is a wonderful thing. This is such an interesting wine. Immediately more rich, with that yeastiness that reminds you of Champagne, but showing a lot more sweet fruit. Oily, creamy fruit. Becomes very sweet on the palate. This is where things start becoming strange. Dosage is a bit of an issue. Very, very sweet.

Good, warm sparkling wine - reminds me that I should be drinking these kinds of wines more often.

DF

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the spirit?

Not feeling the Christmas spirit. No, this isn't about consumerism - I don't want to receive any gifts, because I'm seriously considering not buying any. I wrote about this last year.

No, just not feeling it. Maybe we need to have a few more dinners, maybe I just haven't been drinking enough. You think it's because I've been working pretty much non-stop since last November? You do think that. Yeah, last weekend was a good start. More dinners, and more wine to follow. As always, 5 hour dinners are life's greatest pleasures.

I want a bottle. Right now.

DF

2004 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

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2004 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Kabinett, QmP Graacher Domprobst, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

The third wine of Oyster Dinner.

We've been talking a lot about Mosel rieslings, so I had to find one in my cellar to drink alongside. A bit of age, not as much as I'd like to wait, but most of my wines are kept at a friend's place. Much darker than the Niagara wines, due to age, certainly, but also a difference in terroir. I'm not sure Niagara rieslings will ever achieve this kind of deep, golden hue, but we'll see. We'll see.

I've never drank a wine that smelled and tasted so wholly and purely of grapefruit. All the beautiful fragrance of grapefruit, with that distinct bitterness and tang. Residual sugar is very prominent in the mouth, and although the acidity cleans it up somewhat, it just doesn't have the tingly tension of the two Niagara rieslings. Lacking a bit of complexity outside the fruit. Certainly not what I was expecting, but we'll have to drink more wines from this terroir to get a better sense of Graacher Domprobst.

Too much residual sugar to pair with the oysters. But let's be honest, at this point of the dinner, I was beyond the point of being picky with pairings.

DF

VQA Beamsville Bench

2008 Thirty Bench

2008 Thirty Bench Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench

The second wine of Oyster Dinner.

From a different terroir of Niagara Escarpment. This is just their estate level riesling, but again, a fantastic value. Much denser, muskier minerality. Citrus, as if often a characteric of young Niagara riesling. Acidity shows as much higher, tighter. Lingering finish.

This is a much better pair for the oysters. It's the acidity and more overt minerality, I'm convinced.

DF

2008 Twenty Mile Bench

2008 Flat Rock Cellars

2008 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja's Vineyard Riesling, VQA Twenty Mile Bench

The first wine of Oyster Dinner.

This is always a favourite, value wine for me. Balanced, tingly, with all the beautiful fruit you want from a riesling. Beginning to show a lanolin minerality. Acidity shows brilliantly, with just the perfect amount of residual sugar to give a nice bit of extract and richness. Nice.

With the oysters - maybe a bit too lean. But this wine is just so drinkable. Easy on the palate.

DF

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gojira

2009 Infiniti G37x

This past Saturday, December 12, we picked up our new car. I hustled out of bed at 8am. On a Saturday. That's just unheard of. Really, the only other reason I'll get out of bed so early, with enthusiasm, is for wine. But 8 am on Saturday is still pushing it, even for wine.

We had to drop off Accord first. The breakup felt like it was long overdue. You say you'll stay friends with her, but that never happens. This was the car I smashed up pretty good, to the tune of $9700. So there were some unpleasant memories. Including the leaky window seals, the suspect tires, and the ill-fitting body panels. Was there a pang of sadness? Not really. The greasy salesman we were dealing with, in the cheap synthetic fibre blend suit and a misguided fob notion of cool, certainly made the divorce easy.

What a contrast it makes, when you actually have a positive business relationship with someone. The meeting at Infiniti took about 45 minutes longer than it had to, but we signed and got our keys. And here we are. A 3.7 litres, 328 hp, 7 speed auto, black self-healing clearcoat painted beast, just tingling with fire-breathing fury.

DF presents Gojira.

2009 Infiniti G37x

DF

Dry

How is it that in the last 3 months, I've bought 110 bottles of wine, spent more than half my take-home pay, and only 4 bottles are for immediate consumption? That's a 3.6% wines bought that I can actually drink. That's a problem. So what am I going to drink for the holidays?

I think I need to raid my friend's house, to pillage some of my wines. Clearly, I'm not drinking enough. Who wants to help?

DF

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oyster Dinner

Oysters

Oysters, shucked

Dinner at ROKChoi's this weekend. Oyster season in full bloom, so we feasted on Kumamoto all night. Delicious. Briny, fresh, with a beautifully delicate texture. Ate fresh salmon alongside, filleted from a whole fish. Incredible colour, tender, and sweetly flavoured. Cold B.C. crab, a Cantonese dish - steamed crab, cooled in the fridge, and dipped in vinegar and ginger slices.

Delicious meal. ROKChoi is our seafood man. More later, on the wines we drank alongside.

Riesling galore

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Bottom two photos, courtesy of ROKChoi.

DF