Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Canada AM Meets Jackson Triggs/Inniskillin

Last Thursday, September 18th was indeed an early rising day for yours truly. There was something important in the air and this guy was going to be there, though the bed was OH! So welcoming! I forced myself out of the covers that held me so close to their warmth and trudged over to the shower. It was three am and I had gone to bed at one! I needed to be at the Jackson-Triggs winery at 6:30 am so I could be on hand to watch the Canada AM crew in person that morn. By 4 am I was on my way to pickup actor (Zero Hour, HBO) Paul Coombs and we were off to Niagara by 4:15. The 407 was a delight to drive that morning. The air pleasantly frosty and very clear. It was going to be a great day!
The drive went fast as it usually does when you have good company. By 6:15 we were at the winery and were greeted by National Hospitality Director, Del Rollo. Del was his usual charming and capable self. Since I knew that Canada AM's theme for that week was "Canada's Wineries----Their Growing Success/Influence In The World Of Wine!" I made sure that I had my most recent article in "East Of The City Magazine" with me to show him. My article described the "Changing Face Of Canadian Wines" and featured "Six New Wineries That Were Leading The Way To International Greatness"! In it, I described several newer wineries that were making an impact---one or two of which had been featured on Canada AM that week. I figured that it was a timely piece.
Jennifer Cowan of Jackson Triggs was there to greet us also and directed us to the much needed coffee lounge where the guests were assembling. We sat, coffee in hand in the main J-T foyer and looked at the mass of people getting the show on the move.
A number of people came up to greet us. Jackon Triggs Winemaker Marco Piccoli---a truly amazing man----came forward and discussed this year's vintage with me. Bruce Nicholson, award winning winemaker for Inniskillin was there as was Inniskillin's Debi Pratt. When Debi is around, the Sun seems to shine even when it is cloudy. Today, it happened to be sunny.
I watched as the ensemble cast came together along with the group of guests being seated around Paul and me. Finally, just before the show, Del came up and introduced several obviously important guests one of whom was wine writer David Lawrason. David went on to appear on Canada AM to discuss how well Canadian wine was doing. As we know, Canada's wine is doing very well indeed!
Wineries such as Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs have led the way in producing magnificent wines. It is well known that one of my favourite wines is the Proprietors' Grand Reserve Meritage followed closely by the Grand Reserve Merlot and Chardonnay. Inniskillin's Pinot Noir and Icewine are also top on my list of greats. It is commendable that winemakers such as Marco and Bruce are on hand to lead Canada into its next great venture in winemaking. Now, others are taking up the banner. Le Clos Jordanne in Niagara and Osoyoos Larose in B.C. are doing for red wine what Inniskillin Icewine and Jackson Triggs Chardonnay have done for white. With winemakers (really they are artists) such as Thomas Bachelder of Le Clos Jordanne and Pascal Madevon of Osoyoos Larose, the future looks great!
On the J-T AM show Seamus O'Regan proved as usual that he was one of the best hosts in Daytime Television on either side of the border. What really impressed me was weather and sports anchor, Jeff Hutcheson! This guy is smooth and brilliant----a pros pro who makes any appearance on television look easy and those of us who are hosts (I've done several) know that it is far from easy! My hat goes out to Jeff and it was a true pleasure meeting him. I made sure that he had a copy of my article so at least he would know that there were others who felt great about Canada's wine industry! He was gracious as usual!
Another person who impressed me beyond words was Maximilian Riedel, 11th generation of the magnificent glass company family. His appearance and presentation was class incarnate and as with most great persons, he was gracious with his time and information. Maximilian gave a scientific and historic account of his glassware along with etiquette information of how to serve wine as well as how to toast by clinking glasses.
After the program finished, Paul and I were invited by Debi Pratt to attend a commemorative event at Inniskillin featuring Mr. Riedel and the Riedel contribution (a table made from floor planks from the original and historic Riedel factory) to a similarly named room at Inniskillin. Here, I realized why I loved the whole subject of wine so very much. It is one that is continually is providing new information.
Maximilian discussed the making of lead crystal glasses and how special health methods have to be used to ensure the good health of the workers. I was intrigued by the fact that milk was used by workers as a way of eluding lead poisoning. It seems that when milk is consumed it absorbs the lead and thus keeps it from entering the blood stream. Alan Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Triggs and a chemist, provided me with a chemist's explanation (apparently he surmises it is the Lactic Acid that reacts with the lead). Whatever the explanation it was something that I learned that day and appreciate it.
The day ended with a toast to Mr. Riedel inventor of the "O" glass among other specialty wine glasses. It was with Inniskillin Rielsing Icewine 2007 in a Riedel Icewine glass----what else!