Pull Out The Cork And Win

(Dec. 14, 2011) — Actually WE get to pull out the cork (with an occasional screw-cap) but everybody wins on December 14.

We noticed that, earlier this year, the iconic ‘Roll Up The Rim To Win’ promotion celebrated 25 years. And we can match that too. 25 Years at Casa Loma – which we think is an impressive run of vintage celebrations.

Every year, we like to think that many of our regular wines are ‘winners’, so to help manage the crowds, we do not traditionally advertise any specific wines. However we always feature several ‘famous’ names along with some relatively unknown treasures. Last year, among the over 100 different wines we poured, were included 1966 Château Léoville las Cases, 1978 Hermitage from Guigal, 1990 Grange Hermitage, 1994 Château Haut-Brion, 1978 Barolo, 1970 Rioja, Port back to 1960 (Fonseca), and a 1964 Bâtard Montrachet! This year is the 50th Anniversary of one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century – 1961 – this may be your last chance to try wines from that year.

Also, last year, we told you that we had difficulty finding a Madeira ‘anniversary’ wine such as 1911, but we really wanted something special for this year. And what could be more special than Château d’Yquem, which stands alone at the pinnacle of unfortified dessert wines. One can argue over which ‘First Growth’ Bordeaux is the best (and we do), but there are no challengers for d’Yquem. And mere mortals must scrimp and save to try it – recent vintages average around $500 for a HALF bottle (i.e. $50 for a single serving) – then, ideally, you store it for a generation or two for it to mature. But we at WINETASTERS have a tradition of offering ‘anniversary’ wines – and our trusty contacts have come through. 1966 was rated 4* (out of 5) by Broadbent and we have a limited supply of this 45-year-old mature d’Yquem (incidentally I’ve never had a d’Yquem that was over the hill; with time it darkens and caramelizes to an exquisite fully-rounded dessert wine – some say almost as good as a Madeira!). Plus we are offering this at an unbelievable $27 per serving.

As always, normal tasting-size portions of each wine will be served. Throughout the evening as selections are exhausted, they will be replaced with unadvertised wines. The identity of replacement wines will be prominently displayed at the various serving stations as the wines appear. Toward the end of the evening you can expect delicious dessert-style selections to appear, including Ports. We have also noted that people are definitely moving towards quality (rather than quantity) so we are encouraging you to continue that trend by providing more wine tickets than in the past. Please drink better, not more.

We recommend transportation to Casa Loma be provided by the TTC, a taxi, other exotic livery service or perhaps have a designated driver collect you.

Casa Loma has undergone a few changes this year, and we will make a few as well. For our previous 24 events, we have dealt with the Kiwanis; but our latest elected local government has clawed back Casa Loma, and it is now run by the City. Fortunately 25 years of continuous patronage buys us some influence and we have been permitted to continue to bring in our specialty wines (most rentals require buying all wine through the caterer). So you can expect a similar vast range of wine gems from our cellar. But the food set-up will certainly change. In previous years we have effectively self-catered by separately arranging for turkeys, ice-cream, coffee – and indeed the basic foods, organized by an ex-Director (thanks Bill).

But now we have a new exclusive caterer to Casa Loma – and they have assured us they will support us in every way. That leaves us free to concentrate on the wines. Expect to see some different foods – served at separate food stations, and this should make the food part more exciting for everybody. We welcome feedback (pun intended) on these changes! The caterer has a 20-year contract with Casa Loma and we all want this partnership to succeed. We’re still negotiating final details, and we hope you’ll be impressed.

And some traditions will continue unchanged. Expect to see a bubbly red-suited character rewarding people for being good.

This is also an opportunity to discover treasures that are relatively unknown. Talk to the other attendees – they’ll tell you about some ‘discovery’ they’ve made here. Typically people split between ‘old’ and ‘new’ world – but we encourage you to try something new as well as some familiar favourites. On the traditional ‘old world’ front, you will find representation from France (specifically Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône & Sauternes), Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

From the ‘new world’ you can enjoy wines from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, South Africa and the USA (California & Oregon). We will also pour limited quantities of a 1981 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and a 1981 vintage Grand Marnier.

Something special is available for those celebrating significant events or anniversaries. Anybody celebrating an anniversary from any of the years 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 will find something of interest (as well as many other vintages).

The main reason for coming is to socialize with your fellow WINETASTERS, in the perfect seasonal setting. So, come on out and bring your friends; that way you can share your ‘discoveries’ with them. This is our biggest and best social function of the year and we certainly believe that wine should be fun. This is the perfect opportunity to relax with old friends and meet our newer WINETASTERS.

Please click here to open a pdf version of the event description if you wish to mail in your reservation.

As always with tastings please ask your guests not to wear aftershave, cologne or perfume. We do get many first-timers at Casa Loma who are not familiar with our etiquette.

Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Casa Loma
Time: 7:00 p.m. 1 Austin Terrace
Limit: No Attendance Limit Toronto
Members: $100 Guests: $110

Cancellations accepted up to December 9, 2011. See the event form for cancellation contact details. No reservations by phone, please. No confirmations will be issued — you will be contacted only if we are sold out. There is no attendance limit, but supplies of the 1966 Château d’Yquem are limited and will be allocated to the earlier respondees.