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Tran Bronstein
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#1 Post by Tran Bronstein » November 2nd, 2019, 9:39 pm


A number of board members here in Toronto attended the prestigious biennial Halpern Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival this past Friday. Halpern is one of the largest, if not THE flat out largest, wine agencies here in Toronto. This event is their prestigious charity portfolio wine tasting in support of both the Toronto General Hospital and the Toronto Western Hospital, both part of the University Health Network.

The event was held at the Beanfield Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto from 1:30 to 6:30 pm and took up the entire display floor which was riddled with tables and tables full of high end unicorn wines. The entire space was packed with happy attendees and I struck up many conversations with excited wine aficionados as I went from table to table. Many of them were manned by representatives from the wineries and distilleries themselves, many of whom traveled either from the United States or direct from their home countries. I made sure to thank those that traveled far in order to attend the show when I stopped by their tables.


First some words about the event itself and then on the wines. Everything was extremely well organized and attendance was massive. The sheer number of both attending wineries/distillers -- 82 in all -- and attending imbibers meant that fancy displays were out of the question. Tables were laid out in rows with each house having a table in front to serve and a table behind to hold their wines. The portfolio booklet was a large 200 page full size 8” by 11” booklet which made it easy to find producers and specific products. Unlike the California Wine Festival, plenty of time was allotted for everyone to get to almost everything they wanted to try.

Note that I said almost. Given the sheer size of the event and number of tables, it was impossible to get to every single producer and it was definitely impossible to get to every wine even with the generous time allotment. Once I realized this at the midway point, I took a break and went through the massive booklet to knock off specific producers and specific wines I wanted to get to within the remaining time.

Food and refreshment was wisely kept to a pair of lavish cheese and antipasto tables and fresh water. With the sheer quantity of wines to try, any more food would have been both time consuming and distracting. The sheer joy and energy traveling throughout the crowd made for a great event. People were excited to drink and learn and I both imparted and received wine knowledge from pros and attendees alike, literally from the walk up to the event onwards. Despite the many high-end unicorn wines, there was no pretentiousness at all and a good time was had by all. A definite thank you to Halpern for putting on the fantastic event and to those who traveled from far and wide to pour their wines and spirits.

Due to the sheer quantity of notes to go through, I will do things a bit differently and list each individual producer and a brief note on each wine of theirs I tasted as well as interesting conversations and imparted knowledge from each as I gathered it.


BARON DE ROTHSCHILD CHAMPAGNE: Great talk between a small crowd and I was with and the reps as we differed between those who love the “heavy” rich yeasty baked apple flavors and those like me who love the “light” or “lean” style with a lighter body, high acidity and more citrus/green apple/pineapple flavors. I do worship Cristal, after all. I’ve always known about that divide in Champagne styles personally but this is the first time I actively engaged in a group conversation about it. Even split among that preference.

NV BRUT ROSE – Refreshing and well-balanced between the cranberry and watermelon fruit. A very slight lean towards citrusy. Was very popular.

2008 BLANC DE BLANCS – Crisp, refreshing and laser-like lemon-lime flavor. Did somebody mention citrusy?


ROBERT BIALE VINEYARDS: I met owner Dave Pramuk who assured me they were OK from the wildfires. Great conversation on the love of Zinfandel and I complemented their ability to give Cali Zinfandel the lighter body of a Pinot Noir but the full flavor of a Zin, specifically noting the Rocky Ridge which is my favorite of theirs.

2017 PARTY LINE ZINFANDEL – Did I mention light Pinot like body from a flavorful Zinfandel? Here’s one, which they intended to be an easy drinking every day Zinfandel. They definitely found the formula. Reminded me of the Rocky Ridge immediately which is how the conversation above came about.

2017 BLACK CHICKEN – This is more of the Cali style of Zin most people know with rich red fruit, smooth tannins, strong aromas and a dense structure. This said, it is also restrained and does not overwhelm.

2017 ROYAL PUNISHERS PETITE SYRAH – Dave went into their love of Petite Syrah and poured this for me. I’m not sure he’d like to read this but… boy did this make me fall out of love with the Black Chicken but fast, this was so good. Ridiciously smooth in texture, rich and full of blueberry and cassis flavor. I’m sure Dave could tell I was blown away because a big smile crossed his face as he saw me drink it. I’m not sure which one of was happier in that moment.


EGON MULLER: Extremely popular table. The reps told me they feel that their QBA Riesling is meant to be drunk on its own and their Prädikatswein line to be taken with food. I can see their point after this tasting.

2018 SCHARZHOF QBA RIESLING – Crisp, dry, laser like acidity, fresh lemon-lime flavor. Extremely refreshing. Fantastic wine.

2018 SCHARZHOFBERGER KABINETT – A touch of sweetness, high acidity, fresh lemon-lime, but everything is somewhat muted by a surprising touch of leesy brioche. I actually preferred the QBA above.

2018 SCHARZHOFBERGER SPATLESE – A stunning perfectly balanced Spatlese. Fruit sweetness, high acidity, fresh lemon-lime and pineapple flavor, waffles perfectly between sweet and dry on the palate. Surpasses even Donhoff and J.J. Prum.

2018 WILTINGER BRAUNE KUPP AUSLESE – Extremely elegant Auslese, the sweetness and lemon-lime evaporate in the palate and the finish goes on forever. Easily the single best Auslese I have ever had.



2015 AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO – This beautiful Amarone is full of rich red fruit, smoke, cocoa, a touch of green pepper, and a very light touch of sweetness on the finish. Still a bit tannic. Definitely needs food.



2018 CHABLIS 1ER CRU FOURCHAUME – Classic Chablis, crisp and steely with lots of fresh green apple and clean acidity.


FAMILLE HUGEL: I had a great conversation with their rep on a question that’s always bothered me and which I once posted to the board itself. Alsace makes the finest white wines in the world, so why aren’t they making the finest red wines in the world with the finest red grape a.k.a. Pinot Noir. In fact they do, but right now Pinot Noir comprises a mere 4% of Alsace plantings but he confidently predicted that it would rise up to 20% in the future. The two main issues Alsace faces with Pinot Noir is that Burgundy has a 2000 year head start on Alsace but, more importantly, planting more Pinot Noir requires ripping up current vines and no Alsacian producer will rip out any Pinot Gris to make room as it is their top seller. Now that last big was interesting info to me, particularly as a Pinot Gris lover. I’d always assumed Gewurztraminer is Alsace’s top seller but this is not the case per the Hugel rep.

2017 RIESLING CLASSIC – Crisp and dense for Riesling with decent acidity. Good but could not possibly to hope to follow in the Egon Muller’s QBA footsteps.

2013 RIESLING GROSSI LAUE – Single vineyard Riesling. High acidity, very lean and mineral. Places priority on structure over the fruit.

2016 GEWURTRAMINER CLASSIC – Full of rose petals and ginger spice, light bodied and extremely floral. I noted this out loud which started another conversation with Hugel’s rep, who informed me that Hugel strives to make their Gewurz restrained, as it is a grape that can turn into a heavy wine but quick. They want theirs to be light and floral.

2010 GEWURZTRAMINER VENDANGE TARDIVE – Boy am I glad I have a couple of bottles of their 2008 vintage of this. Intense fruit sweetness balanced out by a light body and great floral aromatics. Exceptional and delicious.

2012 PINOT NOIR GROSSI LAUE – And speaking of Alsacian Pinot Noir… redolent with bright red and sour cherry flavor just like a Burgundy but with one exceptional difference – the texture. Not a tannin in sight, light bodied and smooth on the palate. Very similar to a California Pinot Noir from a top maker like Adam Siduri or Jaime Kutch in that regard. Completely justifies my theory that Alsace should grown and make more Pinot Noir. If more of this were available, I honestly would never touch Burgundy and only drink Alsacian and California Pinot Noir. Damn near perfect but with one important caveat: I’m not sure this has the stuffings to age as well as a Burgundy and I’d be more inclined to drink sooner rather than later simply due to the lack of tannin which acts somewhat as a preservative in wine.



2017 WHERE DREAMS HAVE NO END – A very fragrant and tropical Chardonnay with lots of fruit on the palate and nose. Reminds me of a classic French fruit salad with vanilla syrup dressing. I rarely think of Chardonnay as a tropical wine but this pulls it off with gusto.



2016 PALAOTTO CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Rich smoke and tannin on this wine currently dominate the fruit. Needs some time in the cellar.

2016 FRATTA – Perfect emulation of the French Bordeaux style. Rich red fruit, substantial structure and tannin with a touch of tobacco.

2015 TORCOLATO – A Passito from native Vespaiola grapes. Delicious candied lemon with a touch of smoke and a touch of caramel.



2018 COLLIO SAUVIGNON – This Italian Sauvignon Blanc has deep grassy flavors and warm tropical grapefruit flavors. Reminiscent of Cali SB, actually. Good though I personally prefer the New Zealand style.

2016 COLLIO COL DISORE – This complex and delicious white blend of Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Fruilano and Ribolla Gialla is full of tropical white fruit and shifts back and forth between tropical and steely, dry and sweet. Grapefruit and dragon fruit flavor with a touch of cream and almond milk and salinity.


POL ROGER: One of my top favorite Champagne producers alongside Louis Roederer. I told the rep that I Had been advised previously by sommeliers to forgo NV Champagne for exclusive vintage Champagne in my own collection and that I actually got both the 08 Vintage Brut and 08 Vintage Brut from the LCBO. His feeling was that Vintage Champagne is best paired with food but that he personally drinks a lot more NV champagne overall, especially on its own.

2009 BRUT ROSE VINTAGE – Fresh and creamy, with lots of red berries and a touch of Bermagot. The rep told me they strive to make a memorable Rosé that immediately brings berries to mind for the drinker. They definitely succeeded.

2006 SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL – Hugely complex Champagne that starts off with the light crystalline body and fresh green apple of their Vintage Brut before suddenly veering off into a rich warm and nutty almost Sherry like complexity. The fruit and crystal body return on the finish and mix with the richness for an insanely complex Champagne. The only other Champagne I’ve ever had even close to this was the 1997 Sensation and that needed 21 years to come anywhere near this. Though I still personally prefer Cristal for its purity, I have to acknowledge that this is just incredible.



2014 NAPA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON – The wine has a smoky finesse and a touch of phenolic bitterness that somewhat dominates the black cherry fruit flavor. Not what I was expecting but certainly a quality wine.

2015 TWOMEY MERLOT – I have a soft spot for Twomey as they make the first Cali Merlot and Cali Pinot I fell for when I finally started transitioning to dry table wine. And true to their style, they make a light bodied Merlot that defies expectations the way Biale defies with their Zins. The full red fruit flavor, herbaceousness and a touch of smoke lets you know it’s still Cali Merlot.

2015 TWOMEY RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIR – light bodied, sour cherries, a little green pepper in there. Decent and good job making it lighter than you would expect from Cali Pinot. I feel their Merlot is their true superstar when comparing the two together, though.


OVID: I asked Ovid's rep if the stronger fruitiness I detected in the 2014 was due to the higher amount of Cab Franc in the blend. He informed that it was not a result of blend composition but rather of the vintage itself.

2014 PROPIETARY RED -- 60% Cab Sauv, 35% Cab Franc, 5% Merlot. Deep smoke and potent red fruit flavor. Great Meritage blend that proved an interesting contrast to its younger sibling.

2016 PROPIETARY RED -- 66% Cab Sauv, 23% Cab Franc, 8% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. This was less fruit forward than the 2014 but also had much more finesse, far more than you'd expect from such a young Meritage.


GRAPPA NONINO: Youngest daughter Elisabetta of the famous Nonino family flew all the way from Italy to attend the show and pour. She smiled as I recalled the importance her mother had in particular in bringing Italian grappa to prominence. They emphasize using high quality single varietal grape pomace sourced from all over Italy.

NONINO L’APERITIVO – Relatively new product that seeks to capitalize on Vermouth’s renaissance. The botanicals are macerated in a mix of pure grain spirit and their Monovitigno Fragolino grappa and then blended in with wine. A little higher ABV than most standard Vermouth at 21%. Great lemon verbeana and herbal botanical flavor. Served on ice at the event. They were also mixing with Prosecco but I would recommend using soda water instead.

GRAPPA MONOVITIGNO MOSCATO – This grappa is from Muscat pomace and has a soft texture that holds a rich sweet woodsy flavor with the expected high heat. Beautiful floral aroma. Elisabetta actually had some in a spray bottle for attendees to smell as she sprayed it in the air and I explained to some attendees that it is a custom in Italy to use grappa as a perfume, causing Elisabetta to smile at my knowledge of this.

GRAPPA NONINO RISERVA 5 YEARS – Although the show booklet stated she would be serving the Vendemmia 18 Months Riserva and she actually had a small bottle present, Elisabetta actually served the more prestigious Riserva 5 years out of a giant showpiece bottle. Blended and distilled from Cabernet, Merlot and Schiopettino pomace, this is rich and oaky with sherry influence. Complex flavor of baked berry compote, almonds, nuts and caramel.

PIRUS NONINO – This was the first of two major discoveries. This is their version of a French Poire Williams brandy and this absolutely kills any of those I’ve ever had. Warm and lush fully ripened pear flavor that mixes smoothly with the heat. I remarked to Elisabetta that it was in fact better than any Poire Williams I’ve ever had and she smiled and told me that Nonino only distills from fresh fruit and never uses frozen fruit like the French do. I had no idea that they did that and it certainly explains a lot. This was superb.

PRUNELLA MANDORLATA NONINO – This amber colored prune liqueur is soft and sweet and surprises with not the flavor of dried plums but rather chocolate covered cherries. I actually asked Elisabetta if I was correct in identifying that ans eh smiled and proclaimed I was correct. Really delicious and not at all what I was expecting.

Last edited by Tran Bronstein on November 9th, 2019, 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Tran Bronstein
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#2 Post by Tran Bronstein » November 2nd, 2019, 9:49 pm


BRICK AND MORTAR: Winemaker Matt told me they are also OK from the fires though they came dangerously close to his home.

2015 SWEETWATER BLANC DE BLANCS – I told Matt if you’d told me this was NV Brut from France, I’d totally believe it. Rich, yeasty, baked green apples. Indistinguishable from Champagne. Nice.

2017 MANCHESTER RIDGE CHARDONNAY – Gunpowder nose, a touch of brioche from the lees, and ripe green apple. Indistinguishable from Meursault. OK Matt, now you’re just showing off. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

2017 – COUGAR ROCK PINOT NOIR – And now Matt nails the red Burgundy style down pat. Light bodied, high acidity, sour cherry flavor, quite a bit of tannin still. Needs time, but then again so does young Burgundy.


JACKSON FAMILY WINES: I Cam here for the Penner Ash Viognier but was immediately distracted by Pinot Noir from none other than the board’s own Adam Siduri. I tried them and was so immediately enraptured that I literally forgot to try the Viognier! Hmph. Thanks for nothing, Adam. :P

2017 SIDURI RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIR – Smooth rounded body, an intriguing little touch of black pepper to go with the delicious red fruit, and very high acidity. Great, of course. Not that I expected any less.

2016 SIDURI LEMORAVO VINEAYRD SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR – And the Cali terroir differences shine through as this is much richer than the above with a ton of delicious ripe red fruit. Kind of torn on which I liked better.



2016 MONTAGNY 1ER CRU LES COERES – Classic white Burgundy full of gunpowder and ripe green apple.

2016 SAINT-ROMAN – No gunpowder on the nose, more acidity to the fruit, and an interesting touch of fizz like the kind you’d find in a freshly opened German Spatlese.

2016 MEURSAULT 1ER CRU LES PORUZOTS – Gunpowder on the nose but also the same touch of fizz. Very rich green apple. Classic Meursault.

2017 POMMARD 1ER CRU LES CRAS – Dense Pinot with rich sour cherry fruit. Tannic. Needs time like all young Burgundy does.

2017 VOLNAY 1ER CRU BROUILLARDS – Even more fruit than the Pommard squeezed into this bottle. Really comes down to how much flavor you want with your red Burgundy. I’d go with this but note the price premium is 50% more than the Pommard.



2017 SPARKLING SHIRAZ – My first ever sparkling Shiraz from Australia. Dosaged with Australian Vintage Port. Somewhat high 14.5% ABV. Full body, red fruit flavor, off-dry but not too sweet. I enjoyed but I imagine this would be a tough sell for Champagne and Rose Champagne lovers due to the much fuller body.



2014 PULIGNY-MONTRACHET 1ER CRU LES REFERTS – Gunpowder, green apple and a surprising touch of vanilla which I presume came from oak that rounds out the wine quite well.

2016 DOMAINE PRIEUR-BRUNET SANTENAY 1E RCRU MALADIERE – Fruity red Burgundy given complexity by a touch of black pepper spice and tannin.

2011 CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 1ER CRU LES SENTIERS – Much richer than the Santenay with lots of umami flavor. I have a few 2011s in my collection this makes me want to check out. I have a concern over how well this and other 2011s will age over the long run as this seems far too young to be developing these kind of tertiary flavors but right now they’re great.



2015 VIN DE CONSTANCE – The most famous South African sweet wine ever made, a complex taste of orange peel, fresh mangos, brown sugar and honey. Surprisingly high acidity for a wine made from Muscat in the hot South African climate.



2017 RAW CHENIN BLANC – The only Niagara, Ontario producer present, winemaker and owner Andre Lipinszki and his son were present to pour. This is very fresh with lemon and beeswax and a touch of phenolic bitterness. Indistinguishable from a good dry Vouvray.

And that covers all the wines I got. Believe me, I didn't even to near half of the attendees present but I did cover a good selection of wines. Thanks once again to Halpern for putting on this rather extraordinary event filled with unicorn wines and especially again to all the reps and attendees who flew in from around the world for their time, knowledge and generous pours.

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#3 Post by Mike Grammer » November 2nd, 2019, 11:36 pm

I'll add my notes to Tran's here---I was trying to be quick but couldn't beat him to the post here [grin.gif] First set here, rest tomorrow. Tran's right about not being able to get to everything--in particular, I missed trying the Hugels and the Pol Roger Rose and 2006 SWC, which I was sorry to miss. Also meant to try Ratti and the Majella table but never made it. Ah, well. Still a truly amazing array of wines and winemakers and a fantastic day.

2016 Dalla Valle Collina

52% CS, 48% CF. Really fragrant strawberry and cinnamon bouquet. Quite ready already with sweet-and-spicy plum jam fruit

2016 Dalla Valle Cab

It was funny—yes, they were on an end but I stopped here first, then my friend Dave stopped here first, then my friend Mark stopped here first. This is sterner stuff to sniff at, with plenty of hidden red licorice and a goodly amount of rhubarb accenting red fruit on nose and mouth. Long and finely tuned. Should be good for quite a while.

2016 Maison de Montille Montagny 1er Cru Les Coeres

Quicksilver lemoncake aromatics with slight mineral underneath. Straightforward if strong presentation, light bitterness on the frame to lemon and apple tastes.

2016 Domaine de Montille Meursault Les Poruzots

One of the great things was to get in early enough to have some lively conversation with some of the legends. Etienne de Montille was one of those. He cleared something up for me—that “Poruzots” and “Porusots” *are* the same vineyard and both spellings are acceptable. He is really happy with the 2017 white vintage, calling 2014 as a resemblance. All sorts of hidden treasures in this—vanilla spice, baked apple, graham crust and nuts—yum. And I could drink this all day. Super-polished and long and uber-balanced. Its real descriptor is “white burgundy”. Marvelicious and my WOTD, with a lovely fruited-nut aftertaste.

2017 Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Cras

Sweet berry core, and some dust and cocoa present themselves too. Light-ish and tangy to me, tasty but a little less drive than I expected.

2017 Domaine de Montille Volnay Brouillards

I wasn’t aware that they hadn’t made a designate wine from here at de Montille until quite recently. More going on for me in the bouquet here—berries and plums and tons of florals. This, too, is accessible but for me has more drive and really good “pace” in mouthfeel, with deep cherry and some earth touches. Fun to chat with Dave about this as he much preferred the Pommard while I definitely preferred this. #12

2017 Racine SRH PN

So Etienne told us that he, another Burgundian, a champagne producer and a California producer have teamed up to make these wines, this from Santa Rita Hills. This is fairly light on nose and tongue, but pretty enough and good freshness

2017 Racine Sanford & Benedict PN

A little fuller and jumpier aromatics. Palate is also more active, finds rhubarb component, unripe pomegranate too, to the cherries and a little underlying spice. One to track

2018 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Ries Kabinett

Almost a ricecake-sake thing wafts up from the glass. Lemongrass too. Wow—even at the Kabinett level, a *burst* of yellow fruit on the front and it glides effortlessly to the back of your throat. Star fruit even. I guessed—9%? Yup, 9%. Very good

2018 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Ries Spat

More reserved in the schnozz, funny enough, more mineral and steel here. This one almost drinks like a VT—peach, lime and apple have equal say. But there is underlying real conviction. And this is licklicious. #9

2018 Egon Muller Wiltinger Braune Kupp Auslese

Much the same profile as the Spat, maybe with the add of some mulled cider aromatics. More intensified on palate, will appeal to those who like that—I actually slightly prefer the energy in the Spat, but this is no slouch wine.

2016 Pickett Cab

This is the second wine out of the Araujo property. I have a bottle but hadn’t yet had a taste. The nose has nips of licorice and charcoal around black cherry and cassis. Pretty rich to taste and very frontal-assault right now. Plenty of ripe red and purple fruit material in there, and to be fair, I’m tasting it after the Auslese.

2015 Eisele Altagracia Cab

Darker, with bits of creosote among the black fruit bouquet. That’s nice—structure with red and black fruit and some allspice touch adding interest.

2015 Eisele Cab

Mulberry, blackberry and spices make up the aroma. In the mouth, kind of a mix of the Pickett and the Altagracia. This is still an active and kinetic wine that will need time to settle down.

2016 Eisele Sauvignon Blanc

My go-to for Cali SB, this has a bit of gooseberry but also lemon and beeswax, interestingly enough. Dans la bouche, has drive and some lip-smacking about the aromatic replays and a touch of pine tar, but it seems a bit more ordinary than some previous examples. That still leaves this very solidly in my like profile.

2018 Domaine de Triennes Saint Fleur Viognier

The provencal project that Jacques Seysses and Aubert de Villaine started together. Smells real pretty, with flowers, peaches and orange. Same on the tongue—it’s not Condrieu, but lovely with lots of carry and after-presence. Really, rather good value.

2018 Domaine des Triennes Les Aureliens Blanc

Chard, Viognier and Rolle in equal amounts. Busy nose and mouth, plenty of tropical fruit but it seems a bit wild and unfocused to me, at least for now. A “fun” wine with a year’s age?

2017 Domaine Dujac MSD

It was a thrill to have Jeremy Seysses there and to have the chance to speak with him. He was originally a bit down on 17 for reds, but has seen them come into excellent focus and really is enthusiastic about their future now. This one was 85% whole cluster from 40 year vines. It has real Morey character—tart berry, earth, brambly/herbs and sauvage. Super-tingly and really very tasty. The purity of the raspberry and cranberry is impressive. Like a lot! #8

2018 Snowden Sunninghill Sauv Blanc

I was steered over here by my friend Michael, who raved about this producer after trying the wines. I have to agree. Fine accents of gunflint on the nose—bracing sea air to unripe apple. Exerts a fascination. And in the mouth, this has it going on! Brilliant waves of lemon and apple and all on a light but lithe frame. Found out that Jeremy Seysses’ wife, Diana, is the winemaker. At C$50, I need to think seriously about getting some. #5

2016 Snowden Napa Cab The Ranch

CS, CF, PV and Merlot. Melted tobacco sniffs, if that makes sense. Red fruit underneath. Just OK for me, doesn’t fully have an identity.

2016 Snowden Los Ricos Cab

17 months in oak. Does have that Rutherford dust character to pretty red fruit and light cinnamon accent. To taste, beautiful structure with spices around red and black fruit, everything in terrific harmony. Guessed about 14.4% which is probably close. *why* can’t more Cali producers get back to making this old-style stuff that is so, so good. Reminded me a lot of the kind of wine John and Sandy Arns are making. 90 and #3 today.

2016 Snowden The Brothers Cab

A fine counterpoint to the Los Ricos, this—higher elevation fruit—has more of the dust, along with cocoa and a violets-and-perfume thing. This is leaner, more smoky aspect with some meats and herbs surrounding dark plum and blackcurrant fruit. Right now, I much prefer the Los Ricos, but Susanne Snowden (she prefers the Los Ricos now too) and I both think this may end up being the better wine 10 years out. Definitely worth talking about.

2011 Chateau Pontet Canet

Cedary, fragrant, full of sweet currant. Not a knockout, but hands-down, the best 2011 I’ve had. There’s solidity and presence and expressive red fruit. That said, I do think this will be at peak much sooner than is the norm for this chateau, maybe 4-5 years.

2014 Chateau Pontet-Canet

Harder to get at the bouquet here, lots of roots and soil. Palate is tart and still very coiled, with plum, cassis and redcurrant all holding forth and a small dab of cured tobacco. Nicely complex.

2017 Remoissenet Savigny-Les Beaunes Les Guettes

I was delighted to see Bernard Repolte again after 8 years. We chatted about Pierre-Antoine and the wines and this coming vintage, where he echoed Etienne’s comments—low yields but excellent fruit. This has light slivers of baking spices on top of raspberry. It’s quite light to drink as well, pretty in its way but a little unremarkable.

2017 Remoissenet Beaune Les Teurons

I always have thought of Teurons as a “solid exemplar” of Beaune and this is no different. Raspberries and earth tones are in the nostrils and on the tongue. It has body and a little depth on the finish.

2017 Remoissenet Beaune Les Marconnets

A bit more “heft” here aromatically, and tinges of meats or game with leafy and dark fruit. Prickly and tingly, a little short on finish but very tasty on midpalate and good weight there as well. Maybe give it time to fully develop

2017 Remoissenet Gevrey Chambertin

Bernard echoed the other Burgundians here that this will be a more early-access vintage. Attractive sniffs of black raspberry, some wild strawberry, gaminess and very small dash of cedar closet. It *is* approachable for Gevrey—an interesting round character to the fruit, yet acid is there to carry it. A touch ripe? Would be neat to try this in 3 years.

2016 Three Sticks Durell Chard

Wood in evidence, but it matches the ripe yellow fruit, a bit of banana in play too. Riper style—which is how the vineyard plays—but controlled….just.. 14.3% listed, probably an earlier-drinker.

2017 Three Sticks Gap’s Crown PN

Rather offbeat hickory/bacon note swirls into my nose here. Boysenberry and mulberry scents. Palate finds it tart and a bit on the savage side, though material is there. Give time.

2017 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Sauvage

Clement Jolivet was a delight to chat with. Coiled nose—mineral, lime, apple core. Fair grip here, though accessible. This was done 1 year in concrete egg on lees. Some 80 year vines in the mix.

2017 Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume Indigene

Love the hint of smoked leaves here to go with pure white fruit and mineral nose. Super, *super* stuff—can’t spit any of it out, some real clarity, purity, luminosity. Wonderful 91+ and #2 today.

2015 Klein Constantia Anwilka

My first red ever from them, Syrah, CS and PV are the grapes. Quite fragrant—you’d almost think co-fermented. Tons of plummy fruit, this is tense and tactile, if not quite what I’m looking for.

2015 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance

Obviously it’s much too early to taste this, but they’re serving it, so….very ripe apricot and kumquat aromas and flavours here, there is a slight heaviness at present which I expect will lift with time in the bottle. Should be a good, if not great, example of this stuff.

2017 Racine Bentrock Chard

Went back for this, which I hadn’t seen earlier. Great stony sniffs as the backbone here. To taste, stern and very sharply precise. Incredible life in the mouth, acidity plus. Puts one in mind of Puligny. I do love this vineyard for Chard. #6

2017 Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Fremiens

Indian spices weave through cherry and dab of chestnut. Tight—as you’d expect—quite wound up with crunch raspberry and sour cherry. Should age well

2017 Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Champans

Slightly riper nuzzie—cherries and roasted chestnut this time. This is not quite as tight as the Fremiens, but maybe not as much substance either—on the rooty-earthy side of things.

2016 Penner-Ash Willamette PN

Glad to see this as I have an unopened bottle. Scents of fresh green forest with pure cherry and strawberry. This has tang, zip and length, but is undeveloped right now. Promising

2018 Penner-Ash Viognier

I don’t think I’ve had an Oregonian Viognier before. Some florals, but muted for me in the bouquet. Has some varietal character but not enough to move the needle for me.

2017 Biale Black Chicken Zin

Fine, fine plum and cassis with a nuance of clove rising up from the glass. Mmmm, that’s an excellent example—has earth and chocolate to match the black plum and really quite suave and balanced, this is the best cuvee of this I’ve had in some time. #4 today.

2017 Biale Royal Punisher Petite Sirah ast

I'll stand in contrast to Tran here as I much preferred the Zin. Motor oil and lots of dark fruit. Fair promise of balance overall, but this has always been a big-boned boy out of the gate and this version is no different. Leave 5 years at least.

2013 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova

In the aroma, real leather component for me crabapple and plum as well. Deep and already showing well. A long, long finish with cocoa-tinged breathe-back. Yum and only getting better.

2015 Castello Della Panaretta Chianti Riserva

Smells great—spices and cherries and small nutmeat character. Replays with some good tannins and an add of lavender. Solid Chianti here.

2007 Castello di Ama La Casuccia

Jumped at the chance to try this older wine. The proprietress was very engaging. 80% Sang, 20% merlot from 25 year vines. Found macerated plums and a grapey sense here---thinks about being Amarone in aroma? Solid on the palate, though perhaps just starting on the downward side. Berry and plum.

2015 Castello di Ama Gran Selezione San Lorenzo

Tantalizing sniffs of sultan’s tent, leather, mocha and cherry. There’s a “wholeness” about the wine, real depth, real precision but real expressiveness too. Delightful---gets me excited about this vintage in Tuscany. #10

2015 Rizzi Barbaresco Rizzi

Hints of sweet black pepper around the dark fruit. Tasty, has some spark. Likely an early-drinker. Plum and boysenberry

2015 Rizzi Barbaresco Pajore

Boysenberry and plum here as well, on nose and mouth. A bit more focused and serious than the regular cuvee. Probably too early for me to assess overall performance, wouldn’t mind trying again in 3 years.

2017 Roberto Voerzio Barbera Ceretto

Tarry note even here. Some roasted red pepper character too. In the mouth, forthright and more acidic than the baroli and barbarescos, but still a lot of stuff to digest.

2009 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Foassati Nere

He broke out a broad smile when I told him we tasted an 06 Langhe blind and missed by about 7 years (too young guessed). Vivid strawberry and raspberry here, with some tomato leaf. Puckers the cheeks with plum and prune. Ton of potential….in 10 years at least! OTOH, at C$485, I can’t see myself buying any.

2018 Tiberio Pecorino

Bit of a mystery. Juniper needle, a kind of sous-bois, even truffle. Ahh, that’s just a very peasant mouthful of wine. No distinct flavours but makes it on the mouthfeel and gentle finish. You could do a lot, lot worse for C$30

2018 Tiberio Trebbiano

Mulched grass thing in the nose. Palate has a strict feel to it, though quite active. OK, not great.

2016 Mayacamas Chard

Lemon and lime and wood varnish scents. Plenty of zip—maybe too much at this stage. Hard to sort out the divergent fruit. Let it sit to come together but lots of elements in play.

2014 Mayacamas Mt. Veeder Cab

10% merlot in here. Some shoeleather, baking spices, sweet currant. Good and balanced, if young---very young. All the building blocks for a really good wine in 10-15.

2004 Mayacamas Cab

A bonus pour—this older model accents some leather in the nose, with dried berries and baking spices also having a say. Le gout is young but getting there—expressive tart berry and currant, real classicism to this.

2014 Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet Les Referts

Like smelling and drinking sunshine. Gorgeous expression of lime, apple, pear and mineral with an extra level of class and suavity. Just friggin’ great. #7

2013 Poggio Salvi Brunello Pomona

Didn’t take a formal note, but had a balanced ripeness to it and quite expressive strawberry and cherry with some earth sprinkled in. Long life ahead.
Last edited by Mike Grammer on November 4th, 2019, 10:10 am, edited 5 times in total.
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#4 Post by Rob_S » November 4th, 2019, 6:04 am

Tasted a whole bunch, to be honest there wasn't a whole lot of great wine and more than a few stinkers.

Baron Rothschild. Across all of the NV bottles the best you could say is that they were champagne. Thin, limpid, sterile champagne but.... The 2008 vintage was obviously a vintage champagne but already a little tired. I love autolytics but was shocked at how advanced it was. Then I fell over when I saw the $350+ price tag.

Egon Müller, the kabinett was shut down but that's to be expected a bit. The lady from the winery pouring it told me before I even asked which was nice. Still you can see what it will turn into and it will be superb.

The spatlese was transcendent. To the point where it's probably worth the insane price. I was told 86 grams of sugar and it was totally hidden behind the massive acid. Perfectly in balance and harmony.

The '13 Fuglini Reserva it tight as a drum but tastes as though it will be great in time.

Pol Roger. They should be ashamed of the 2012 vintage wine. It's borderline wretched. The 2006 Winston is neither the 2004 or the 2008 in any way, shape or form. Maybe the weakest I've tried (and I've had most). Not a bad champagne at all but...

The Eisle cab was about as good as Napa cab gets. $1000 for a mag was eye watering.

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#5 Post by edwardmilstein » November 4th, 2019, 6:49 am

Tran- guess you were there early (from the photo ) because by the end, it was crazy there. Fabulous charity tasting,auction and dinners , benefiting Toronto General and Western hospitals.( I'm biased )
Unbelievable food served at an Hermitage tasting on Thursday at Daniel. Guest chefs incl Cesar and Leo Troisgros,Gilles and Enzo Goujon,Michael Tusk and of course Daniel ( who has donated his time for the entire 15 yrs of this event) .Food outperformed the wine by a pretty good margin.The same chefs plus a great chef from Langdon Hall( Jason Bagerter ) cooked on Sat night and for the after party. The dinner raised a ton of money and some of the wines served incl 96 Salon,90 Krug,2008 Montrachet Remoissenet in 6L,82 Latour in 3L's,90 Latour,86 Mouton in 6L,59 Clos Vougeot Remoissenet,59 Palmer in mags,90 Troplong in 6L.....

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#6 Post by C. Mc Cart » November 4th, 2019, 7:45 am

Mike, sorry I missed you. It was nice to see so many familiar faces. Hadn't seen Dave H. in ages. I tasted with Peter for a while, then met up with Ken & Tracey.
I think I'm closer to Rob's impressions above - Understanding the context that this is a 'free' portfolio tasting, I wasn't impressed overall, as the overall selection wasn't as solid as past editions. Some producers were very generous, others (really Jaboulet?), clearly phoned it in.
I didn't get around to nearly everything. I wanted to taste some benchmarks like the '17 burgs & new release Piedmont, but otherwise was only looking for things I would put in my cellar.

On a few points made by others - I didn't like the Muller's nearly as much as most, and I have really loved these wines in other years. The QBA would be great at $25, but $65 is ridiculous. The Spat was the best of the line-up, but not nearly worth $250, when others at that level or above are 2.5x less. I didn't think the Auslese was THAT great, I mean it was really delicious, but not great by any means - although I'll be happy to reserve final judgement for 30+ years.
Thought the same as Rob re the champagne's - When I think of the many many grower champagne's we now can buy in our market from other importers at less $, these were all quite pedestrian. My least worst was the Pol Rose '09. I wouldn't buy any of what was offered.

Really liked the D"Angerville (The Marquis looked beyond thrilled to be there) Volnay's (no surprise). I thought the single Dujac MSD was quite good & typical (would have been nice if Jeremy was pouring a few other wines, considering how much they make). I was dissapointed by the De Montille Pommard & Volnay. I thought both were below average.
Liked the Remoissenet's Beaune's a lot more than I thought I would - quite good for their level. Bernie is doing good things there.
Didn't stop at Jadot, as they were pouring a smattering of older vintages that haven't sold through and I've either already bought or passed on.

The positive surprises for me were mostly wines or producers I don't buy - Snowden (wasn't aware of the Dujac connection until after I tasted and we spoke a bit, but totally makes sense in the glass) I really liked the Brothers bottling. Tenuta Biserno I've never had before that I recall and the wines were great (might buy some). Ratti, I have some vintages of the Marcenasco Barolo, which is a bargain, but I really enjoyed '18 Barbera.

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#7 Post by Mike Grammer » November 4th, 2019, 9:27 am

Drat! So sorry I didn't get to see you Chris, or meet you Rob and Edward. I did see Ken and Tracey very briefly, didn't see Peter either---grrr---so many people!

I did try what was left of some of the champagnes at the end--the 12 Pol Roger, the Reserve NV and the Baron de Rothschild Brut NV. None of them moved the needle. I did grab a taste of the 16 Isole e Olena Cepparello but was left a little underwhelmed by it. Didn't get to Biserno, nor Antinori….

Have updated post #3 with the rest of my notes.
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#8 Post by Peter Papay » November 4th, 2019, 9:18 pm

Nice to see so many familiar faces during this lovely event. One definitively needs to come early as it gets really busy towards the end. Most high level wines are gone midway through. Noteworthy sightings included Dwayne Wade which was pitching his own wines which I didn't dare trying. I didn't take any detailed notes so I can only share my impressions and left out the ones which are mentioned above.

To shine some light on our local wines I would like to mention the 2016 Chardonnay Cuvee Dix Neuvieme by Pearl Morissette. Its in the same ball park as the 2010 which is imho one the hallmark Chards in the Niagara Peninsula.

Egon Muller line up was a delight with the Spatlese taking the lead. Interesting how perception of acidity and sugar content compared to the Auslese varied from person to person and spurred some invigorating conversation.

Brunelli were represented by
Casanova di Neri 2014 BdM and 2013 BdM Tenuta Nuova. I did notice a golden label which I haven't seen before and also didn't see while visiting the winery this September. Turns out that each case includes one bottle with the special labeling to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of the Nuova. I prefer the more classic style of the BdM which gets its grapes from their northern most vineyards. The Nuova is much darker, denser and fuller as it originates from grapes in the southern part.
Fuligni 2014 BdM drank very nicely and showing great balance. 2013 BdM Riserva was very closed as one might expect.
Poggio Antico 2013 BdM, 2013 Altero BdM and 2012 BdM Riserva. VERY nice.
Poggio Salvi 2014 BdM and 2013 BdM Pomona. Didnt get to those

2016 Isole e Olena Cepparello. Big wine from a warm year. Got to it towards the end when palate fatigue was starting to show. I would definitively like to retry to get a fair assessment. Too bad the Vin Santo was not on display.

2018 Paul Jaboulet Aine Vin de France Secret de Familie Viognier. Not a blockbuster but very entertaining for a song. Excellent QPR.

2018 Jerman Pinot Grigio. Comes with a big sticker price but it delivers. Very nice.

2016 Domaine des Perdrix Nuit Saint George 1er Crue Aux Perdrix. Powerfull and elegant

2017 Domaine Perdrix Vosne Romanee. Slightly darker then above and seemed to have a lot to unfurl for the years to come.

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#9 Post by Rich Brown » November 5th, 2019, 11:44 am

Wow, awesome notes on what sounds like an amazing event!

My biggest surprise....hearing the words 'pinot like' being used to describe the Biale wines. I've liked them in the past but they were always big, fruit forward zins and PS. Sounds like I should try a recent vintage.

Thanks again for the notes!

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#10 Post by Mike Grammer » November 5th, 2019, 2:36 pm

I didn't try the Party Line Zin, Rich, but the Black Chicken was dialed back from some of the last few vintages for sure.
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#11 Post by Rich Brown » November 5th, 2019, 3:19 pm

Mike Grammer wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 2:36 pm
I didn't try the Party Line Zin, Rich, but the Black Chicken was dialed back from some of the last few vintages for sure.
Love it! I'll definitely give one a try sometime soon!

Thanks again for the notes!

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#12 Post by Tran Bronstein » November 6th, 2019, 7:05 am

Agree with Mike but if you're after that Pinot like body in a Biale Zin, the Rocky Ridge and the Party Line are the ones you want to try.
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#13 Post by Chris V. » November 7th, 2019, 2:31 pm

Nice discussion of this event on here.

I wasn't aware so many Berserkers were there. I'm probably a little more positive on this event than others. Compared to other tastings that cost money, this one is free and IMO there are higher end wines being poured here.

Pol Roger: missed the SWC, but I'm always a fan of the white label and this one was equally nice - maturing, toffee, toast. The two vintage wines were poor quality as mentioned above.

Brunello: both Fuligni BdM were thoroughly enjoyable. It's a shame the prices are getting so high as the value prop is dying. The Poggio Antico BdMs were also nice, but again prices are creeping upward. I'm finding less heralded producers selling for less that I like just as much.

Egon Muller: Holy Sulfur! All of them were nice on the palate. I bet they become quite nice after a few years, but I'm certainly not buying at these prices.

Burgundy: I'm predisposed to red fruited, elegant, high acid, and earthy burgundy. I too liked the Remoissenet Beaunes way more than previous years. I almost skipped them but I'm glad I didn't. Already placed my order for a few bottles. Jadot was pouring some poor reds (11 Chambolle was boring... BoJos felt a bit off and tired). I liked the 2015 Jadot MdT Chablis 1er enough at $65 to order a few. d'Angerville's Volnays are just too dark and extracted for me. De Montille I liked a little more than years past. The Volnay and Pommard being poured were pretty solid, but just a little steeper in price than I'd like (~$100, ~$150). Interestingly De Montille's new Cali project Racines was quite nice as well, but prices again were too high ($80 - $150).

Renatto Ratti: The 2015 Marcenasco was very nice. Hard to find Barolo this good for $60 CAD. I used to see them as a little too modern leaning for me but this was actually appealing. Buy it from Halpern for $61 + HST + Agency Fee + Delivery, or at any LCBO on Saturday for an even $60.
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#14 Post by Rich Brown » November 7th, 2019, 8:42 pm

Tran Bronstein wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 7:05 am
Agree with Mike but if you're after that Pinot like body in a Biale Zin, the Rocky Ridge and the Party Line are the ones you want to try.
Gotcha! Have had the party line multiple times but the most recent was probably 4 years ago. Interesting that they changed the style so dramatically. Theres a retailer in town that usually has a decent selection of Biale wines - ill snag one next time I'm there.


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