The Lifford Grand Tasting left a long, lingering taste in my mouth, palpable a month later. Everything about the May 9th media tasting was a delight: the ambiance of the woodsy Stanley Park Pavilion where I’d never been before, as well as the scope: from wine and beer to spirits and cocktails. There was so much to taste I didn’t know where to start!
The Staete Landt 2010 Map Maker Sauvignon Blanc washed down the pepper cheese with style and finesse. A shot of the spicy Mitolo Jester 2011 Vermentino matched the grilled asparagus as well as the fresh strawberry. What really wowed me was the pairing of bisquity Nicolas Feuillatte 2000 Grand Cru Chardonnay Champagne with crispy poutine ravioli. Zu bezou bezou!
Then, it seemed I could not tear myself away from the Italian wines, huddled in the corner next to the Champagne. I found the wines of Rivera from Puglia amazing in terms of value. The Rivera 2005 Cappellaccio Riserva,100% Aglianico, was smooth and dark with that typical Italian dusty-fruit effect, and it’s priced at only $23.99 in private stores. The Rivera 2005 Il Falcone Riserva, 70% Nero di Troia/30% Montepulciano, tasted super elegant, had great structure and is only $29.99 private.
By comparison, wines from Tuscany are mostly Sangiovese, which command higher prices. But hey, if you can spend $39.99 that Rocca Delle Maci 2007 Reserve Fizzano Chianti, made from a single vineyard, you wouldn’t be disappointed with it’s smoothness and long finish. Their Roccato Toscana IGT was so well integrated as to be practically seamless: $49.99 at the LBD.
Enough heavy red wines, I said to myself. The scotch tables await.
And there they were, some of my favorite whiskies in the world, representing the best known regions. The Lowland Auchentoshan, the Highland Glen Garioch, and the Islay Bowmore all called to me, making me glad I wasn’t driving home afterwards. But, on the table in the window, what was this? A Canadian whisky made like Scotch? Gimme some.
Forty Creek Winery, er, Whisky is the only independent whisky distillery in Canada and was founded by a winemaker. John Hall, I learned, makes whisky like he makes wine. He ferments and distills his corn, rye and barley separately and ages them in different types of oak barrels before blending them. Like a fine Meritage, really.
The Forty Creek Barrel Select is quite mellow, with honey, nuts and orange notes. At $24.99 at LDB it beats Dewars for the price.
The Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve went through a secondary aging process using bourbon barrels from Kentucky. It has stronger vanilla notes and more spice and a persistent caramel finish. $59.99 LDB
The Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve is named for the 150 year-old oak trees in Ontario from which the barrel were made. This one has more smokiness and pepper and, dare I say, a strong maple flavor. It too, had a never-ending finish that I wanted to savor for the rest of the day. If I had $70 bucks to spend on a bottle at the LDB, that’s what I’d buy.
I’m certain that no fish were harmed in the planning of the event.