The Date and Time: Tuesday, May 6, 2PM to 5 PM
The Event: Lifford's Grand Tasting 2014
The Venue: Roy Thomson Hall
The Target Audience: restaurants/sommeliers
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines are in consignment, or private orders, or at Vintages. The catalogue had all the wines in retail prices.
The Quote/Background: Lifford has had its Grand Tasting for almost a decade, each May. They skipped Toronto last year, but have branched out to Ottawa and other places. Here it was a fundraiser for a charity at night, and the trade attendees were also asked to contribute $20 each. It was a good chance to catch up with their wines, even though many were showcased at other trade shows. I was on a hunt for Hispanic wines on behalf of Bloom Restaurant (although I paid my own way), so took better notes of the offerings [see below] and dabbled about with the rest of the wines. There were almost 300 wines, along with some spirits and liqueurs. Here were the wines I really enjoyed – from Australia, the Kiss Me Kate Chardonnay 2013 from Shingleback ($29.95 retail) and the Hollick Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($79.95). From Canada, I had had Bachelder Chardonnays through a number of venues (LCBO labs, Somewhereness) but thought I would try the Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2011 from Oregon ($29.95 and delicious). It had been awhile since I last tried the glorious Benjamin Bridge Brut 2009 from Nova Scotia ($47.95)and I was not disappointed. Domaine Queylus from Ontario showed off nicely with Cabernet Franc Merlot Reserve 2011 and the Merlot Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010 (both $45). Painted Rock Syrah 2011 excelled ($56.95) as did Redstone Vineyards excellent Meritage 2010 (rated 91+ by me, $39.95). The range of Sancerres from Alain Gueneau was terrific: La Guiberte 2013 ($28.99) and Les Griottes 2013 ($39.99) led the range, but were excelled by the Sancerre Blanc Cuvee Eloi 2012 ($56.99). Domaine Duclaux Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 probably took the best red wine of the show award (if there was one), a mere $53.99 in price. Argentiera Bolgheri led off the international style of Italian wines with their Superiore DOC 2010 ($89.99), challenged by Castiglion del Bosco's Brunello di Montalcino 2009 ($62.50), Felsina's Colonia 2007 ($208.99!!), Pio Cesare's Barolo Ornato 2009 ($134.99), and Speri's Amarone Classico Monte Sant'Urbano 2009 ($74.99). As for Italian sweeties, I enjoyed Donnafugata's Ben Rye 2011 ($47.99) and Marchesi di Gresy's L'Altro Moscato 2007 ($59.99). Some of the US wines I had at the California show. Here, I enjoyed very much K Vintners Viognier 2012 (barrel fermented, $51.99) and Honig's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($61.99). Pine Ridge's Dijon Clones Chardonnay 2012 was terrific in its complexity ($46.99), Of note were two "licensee only" wines, available via the LCBO: Quinta do Portal Peccatore Douro 2009 +361980 ($10.59) and Zinck Eichberg Gewurztraminer 2010 +373522 ($33.88).
The Wines: I did not try all the wines, nor did I try any spirits and liqueurs.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Humberto Canale Winery Estate Malbec 2013 Argentina, $16.99 retail
-Vina Sena 2010 Chile, $119.99 retail
-Vina Echeverria Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Chile, $36.99 retail
-Quinta do Portal Frontaria Douro Red, $14.95 retail Vintages
-Quinta do Portal Portal Reserva Douro Red, $21.95 retail Vintages
-Bodegas Pinord Clos Torribas Crianza 2010 Spain, $15.99
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Finca Decero Syrah 2011 Argentina, $24.99 retail
-Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Argentina, $24.99 retail
-Finca Decero Mini Ediciones Petit Verdot 2011 Argentina, $44.99 retail
-Finca Decero Amano 2010 Argentina, $79.99 retail
-Humberto Canale Winery Black River Malbec 2013 Argentina, $12.99 retail
-Humberto Canale Winery Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Argentina, $15.99 retail
-Humberto Canale Winery Merlot Gran Reserva 2011 Argentina, $33.99 retail
-Humberto Canale Winery Malbec Denario Reserva 2012 Argentina, $16.99 retail
-Vina Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Chile, $22.99 retail
-Vina Echeverria Syrah Reserva 2011 Chile, $17.99 retail
-Vina La Rosa La Capitana Carmenere 2012 Chile, $17.99 retail
-Bodegas Pinord +Nature White Organic Penedes 2013, $29.99 retail
-Bodegas Pinord +Nature Red Organic Penedes 2013, $32.99 retail
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Finca Decero Malbec 2011 Argentina, $23.99 retail
-Vina Arboleda Chardonnay 2012 Chile, $19.99 retail
-Vina Echeverria Classic Carmenere 2012 Chile, $14.99 retail
-Vina Echeverria Pinot Noir Reserva 2012 Chile, $17.99 retail
-Vina Echeverria Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2011 Chile, $17.99 retail
-Vina La Rosa La Palma Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Chile, $11.99 retail
The Food: mostly international cheeses (Stilton, Manchego) with Canadian cheeses, crackers, nuts, and two relish sweet dips (apple and rhubarb?).
The Downside: there were too many wines to grapple with, and it was hard to focus on quality wines-by-the-glass labels. Maybe they could all be on the same tables?
The Upside: there was room to manoeuvre.
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89.