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California wineries are masters in marketing. Every year, their 715 strong association arranges a coast-to-coast tasting of their wines, starting in Vancouver, then proceeding east to Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
     These annual tours are organized by the association’s Canadian office in Ontario.
     Since Canada is an important market for all American wine producing states, but particularly California, the association feels it  important to keep up the  good image, and hopefully expand it.
     These tastings draw huge crowds in every city. Most wineries send either their marketing directors or wine makers to pour their wines, get feed back, provide information, and generally conduct public relations.
     Some of the wines are listed across the country, others may be available in Vintages offerings in the future, and yet others only by special order or as consignment products.
     Well before the show arrives in Toronto, wine writers are given an opportunity to taste a selection of the wines to the poured.

     This year 15 wine writers tasted 70 wines ( eight flights, starting with a selection of a range of white wines, followed by one flight each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, assorted reds and three flights of Cabernet Sauvignon.
     Among the best in the assorted white category my selections were; Blanc de Noirs 2000 Schramsberg Methode Classique sparkling wine  and Sauvignon Blanc 2003 by Talus winery; and reds Petit Sirah 2001 EOS, Merlot 2001 Duckhorn. In the Chardonnay flight, Chardonnay 2002 from Bonterra in Mendocino; Stonehedge 2001; Vintners Reserve 2002 Kendall-Jackson stood out.
     In the Pinot Noir flight, I liked Pinot Noir 2001 Russian River from Kenwood Vineyards; Pinot Noir Private Selection 2001 by Robert Mondavi’s Central Coast line.
     In the Zinfandel flight Grandpere Vineyard 2001 from Renwood Winery, Ancient Vines 2002 from Cline Cellars shone. Both are enjoyable now, but will age well for two to four years more.

The best of the Cabernet Sauvignon flights were:
     Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 Malibu-Newton Canyon from Rosenthal Malibu Estate; Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Geyser Peak, Sonoma County; Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1998 Robert Mondavi Oakville.
     Any of the above should be available in American wine shops in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington D C 
     You can also contact the winery directly if your state permits direct wine shipments to your address.
     Better yet, you can travel and attend the tasting on April 2 in Ottawa; April 6 in Toronto and April 7 in Montreal.
     This is an excellent opportunity for all wine enthusiasts to taste a fine selection of California wine at a reasonable cost.
     Even people living in Buffalo, Detroit and Rochester will enjoy the wine selection.

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu


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