I left Clarkson on the 10:36 GO Train arriving on time at 11:11 at the Union Station. Toronto's Santa Claus Parade was held on the Sunday and the 10:36 Train, normally an Express missing Clarkson, was changed to a regular run making all stops on its way to the Union. Every car was crowded although I didn't actually know what crowded was until the return trip.
The 3 block walk from Bay Street to the Toronto North Convention Centre west of Lower Simcoe had bursts of warm and bright sunshine with intermittent and brief stretches of cooling shade.
Arriving 30 minutes early I used the time to rest my aching Sciatic nerve using the plush seating in the large reception area. At noon friends arrived and we briefly welcomed each other then went our separate ways heading for the booths browsing for lunchtime munchies then on to wine samples. We were to join up later, 1:30, to enjoy a sitdown tasting of 8 economical wines, listed below, selected by Gord Stimmell, wine columnist/critic for the Toronto Star, for his session titled 'Mining Those Buried Gems'.
If you've attended the Expo before, my last was in 2009, compared with previous years I think you'll agree it was larger, more varied and, as the afternoon progressed, the aisles became filled with groups of a younger generation, all having a great time and, in fact, depleting many of the Booths of some of their wines. Unchanged from 2009 was a predominance of commercial wines although, hidden in the aisles, there were 'Gems' as well.
Gord Stimmell's "Mining Those Buried Gems":
- Citra Pinot Grigio 2011, GS89 -- G, Abruzzo, Italy, #017483 $8.25
- Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2010, GS89+ -- G, Chile, #230565 $11.95
- Henry of Pelham Riesling 2011 VQA, GS89+ -- G, Niagara, #268375 $13.95
- Chateau des Charmes Aligote 2010 VQA St David's Bench, GS89+ -- G, Niagara, #296848 $13.95
- Spinelli Quartana Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011, GS88-89 -- G, Abruzzo, Italy, #454629 $7.60
- Volcanes Summit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2011, GS89 -- G, Chile, #292607 $9.95
- Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2010, GS90 -- G, California, #272393 $14.95
- Errazuriz Max Reserve Syrah 2010, GS91 -- G, Chile, #614750 $18.95
Stimmell kept the chatter going with side comments about his personal history as a journalist and wine critic, his notes on the wines tasted and, briefly, of LCBO's relationship with agents and critics. By 3pm everyone came away satisfied with the session, their questions answered in a calm, folksy style.
One conclusion is that tasting is based on a set of personal preferences which I'll summarize as: flavour can vary widely from fruity to earthy, balance from sweet to acidic and character perceived as simple, full or complex. A highly rated (low 90's) wine will be appealing based on each of these. An exceptional (mid to high 90's) wine will add the chameleon character of evolving as it asserts itself in any circumstance. All wines should be given time for self expression, to realize that it's free from the bottle and ready to perform in a mystical genre: whatever the vintage and winemaker has given to his product whether intentional or not.
Current day ratings in certain instances, often those of regional wine critics, are compressed into the mid 90's. Certainly a matter of opinion rather than any statistical finding and is inconsequential if one follows several critics or puts no weight on numbers. My own conclusion, having tasted each of these eight wines, is that the ratings (GSxx) are compressed at the high 80s. One exception is the Errazuriz that crept in accidentally.
|My favourite Booth selection|
DOMAINE DE FUSSIACUS MACON-FUISSÉ 2009, Burgundy, France, 13.3% XD 2g/L, #279000 $16.95 (Tasted December 5, 2012)
Released by Vintages on September 29, 2012. My notes: A mid gold leaving a firm film with a smooth rim that slowly fragments by hanging tiny tears. Let this Chardonnay go offchill, 15oC+, to develop a honey scented nose. The first sip is softly textured, has a mild tang and a dry mineral edge on subtle pear flavours. Some of the flavours subside exposing more of a soft mineral tang. A sipper in a quiet crowd or with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or coconut shrimp. Pair with a tray of soft cheeses. A drink now. 86
|Glass, Metal and Concrete|
|New Condos everywhere|
|Reception area - Before the crowd|
|Skyview above the Convention Hall|
|The Convention Floor|
|802 Barefoot Wines|
|211 Diamond Wines|
|Time to buy a Shaka T|
|Winemaker Derek Barnett at the Lailey Booth|
|1119 Rosewood Wines & Mead|