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Friday, September 19, 2014

Strato 2013 Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg

Wine and Arch 002This wine was specially created for Lot 18 by winemakers Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, who own and operate Vinum Cellars. I got this from TWAV tasting team member Dr. J, who advised me that he was overenthusiastic purchasing wine and wanted to reduce his inventory.

I was happy to help out by buying a few bottles. We love Chenin Blanc and so this was one of my first selections. I was first introduced to the grape via the French Vouvray wines of the Loire Valley.

Clarksburg may be the best source of Chenin Blanc in California. The AVA has 10,000 acres of vines and most go to wineries outside of their region. It’s climate is cooler than Napa and Lodi.

Chenin Blanc is crisp without being crazy acidic. It has ample flavor without becoming a fruit cocktail.

The Strato is pale yellow in the glass. The aroma has a springtime freshness. On the palate there are citrus notes including lemon. It’s a juicy wine with medium acidity. On the back end it finishes with a slight herbal note.

This is a great food wine and should go well with Asian dishes that have a bit of heat as well as pork or veal.

For about $16, I consider this a great value. I’m always on the lookout for interesting whites. This fills the bill as a wine that would be enjoyable during the heat of a summer day, but also a perfect pairing with a medium bodied entrée any time of year.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 4 of 5

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Henry of Pelham 2007 Cabernet-Merlot Meritage, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Henry of Pelham

This wine is an unusual purchase for us. We visited the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario a couple years ago and loved the area. The wineries were fantastic and the wine enchanting.

We were racing along the back roads as the afternoon turned into evening. We had to make it to our hotel in Niagara Falls, but were trying to hit every winery along the way. Henry of Pelham is a highly rated winery we hoped to stop at, but just couldn’t locate.

In the end we gave up and regretted the missed opportunity. However, as we stopped at the duty free store at the border in Windsor on the way home I spied this bottle of Henry of Pelham Meritage. Soon it was crossing the border into a new country.

This wine is medium in body with blackberry and chocolate flavors. As it opened up the flavors of earth and dark fruit were more pronounced.

I was hoping that this wine would indeed be very special, but it fell short of the mark. The flavor profile was nice indeed and the wine had some character to it – but didn’t have the complexity that makes a superior wine. The flavor you got on the front end was pretty much the same until the finish faded away.

In the Niagara Peninsula, Cabernet Franc not Cabernet Sauvignon is king. This blend is an enjoyable armchair sipper, but did not change my opinion.

Rating: 2.5 of 5  Value: 3 of 5 (based on $14US)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 17-20, 2014

English: Photograph of 2 bottles of Mollydooke...

Two bottles of Mollydooker Wine side by side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Wednesday, September 17
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Hahn Family Wines with winery representative. 1. Hahn 2012 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2. Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel, 3. Smith & Hook 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Hahn 2012 Meritage. Nominal fee per sample or $10 per flight.
Thursday, September 18
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Early Fall Wines: 1. 2012 ÜberSchwang – Goldtröpfchen Riesling – Mosel, Germany, 2. 2013 Cheteau Suau – Bordeaux Rose – Bordeaux, France, 3. 2012 Menage a Trois – Midnight – St. Helena, California, 4. 2013 Apothic – Dark – Modesto, California. Nominal fee per sample or $5.50 per flight.
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Mollydooker Night Opulence at Its Best. Mollydooker is one of the great success stories in wine in the last twenty years. Sarah and Sparky Marquis make wine like no one else in the world: big, lush, plush, opulent, round, rich and unctuous. Mollydooker Night is a much-anticipated tasting event in our wine shop.  1. Mollydooker The Scooter Merlot, 2. Mollydooker Two Left Feet, 3. Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz, 4. Mollydooker The Maitre D' Cabernet, 5. Mollydooker Gigglepot Cabernet, 6. Mollydooker Enchanted Path, 7. Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz. Nominal fee per sample.
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
WineTastings-1_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thNoir Fine Wine and Beer, 1616 East Wooster, Bowling Green, 6-9 PM. Nominal fee per sample or priced per flight.
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
Friday, September 19
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting. 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
Maple Grove Golf Course, Lambertville, Michigan. 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Wine tasting by Flick's Package Liquor. $30 nonmembers, $25 members. A buffet dinner is included along with live music by Mike Fisher. RSVP to (734) 854-2000.
Saturday, September 20
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. A World Tour of Wines: France. Near and dear in the hearts of many die hard wine aficionados; the French have captured the top spot for regional climate differences, wine tourism, category defining wine styles, collectability and a storied history of excellence. Join us in a Tour de France wine style as we taste through the major regions. Nominal fee per sample.
  • Tres Belle Wine and Martini Lounge, (419) 874-4555, 3145 Hollister Lane, Perrysburg (Levis Commons).
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
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[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paglione Estate Winery: Lake Erie North Shore Winery Visit

Paglione 1

After picnicking and hiking in Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, the southernmost part of the country, we decided to hit a winery or maybe two before heading home to the US of A. It was nearing 5:00 PM, and that always is dicey because tasting rooms tend to close around that time.

Pagloine WinesAs we drove the back roads, half using the GPS and half guessing at the correct route, I saw a sign for Paglione Estate Winery. I had never heard of this one and so decided Green Dragon and I should pay a visit.

Paglione is situated on 40 acres of land in Harrow, in the heart of the Lake Erie North Shore (LENS) region. They have 10 acres of vineyards and have been open for about a year.

The building architecture is Tuscan-style and it reflects the winemaking philosophy of small batch production using estate grown or locally produced grapes.

Sam Paglione, a native of Capracotta, Italy, is the patriarch of the family and has been making wine for almost 40 years. Wife Nancy and other family members help make the winery a success.

Paglione 3The inside of the tasting room is expansive, with high ceilings and an arched section with paintings of clouds and playful cherubs. We ambled in to the tasting bar to sample the goods.

Our first wine was the 2013 Estate Riesling. This was one of my favorites of the bunch, with citrus notes, medium acidity and a touch of sweetness. On the white side, we also tasted the 2013 Chardonnay and purchased a bottle.

Paglione 2For the reds, we began with the 2011 Chambourcin. Chambourcin is one of my favorite French-American hybrid grapes. The Paglione bottling is light in body, tart and awash with great strawberry flavors. This was my favorite red.

We also sampled the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2011 Cabernet. There was a slight disconnect then as the hostess informed me that Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon are two different grapes – say what?

We thought that perhaps the “Cabernet” might have been a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but a check of wine list showed exactly the same descriptors for both wines. Both vintages of the Cab were light, smooth and enjoyable, but without the body and depth we prefer in a Cabernet. 

Other reds included the Erie red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. This was also light in body with floral notes and touches of cherry. The 2012 Cabernet Franc had pleasant flavors of mulberry and raspberry.

We weren’t quite sure where the grapes for these bottlings came from as the wines weren’t marked “estate” and the labels didn’t carry the Lake Erie North Shore VQA designation. At least some grapes may have come from the plentiful vineyards in the area. That’s not unusual for new wineries while their own vineyards mature.

Paglione PizzaAs we were enjoying our tasting, the kitchen was kept hopping. We were told that the tasting room hours are a bit longer than other wineries in the area due to their popular kitchen. You can purchase a bottle of wine, sit out on their sunny patio and watch your brick oven pizza being cooked. The pizza looked delicious.

Paglione, which opened in 2013, is off to a great start. The wine, food, family atmosphere and surroundings are perfect for enjoying La Dolce Vita, Ontario style!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moldovan Wines Seeking Awareness In United States Market And On National Stage

Wine and Arch 005Whenever we can strike a blow for freedom – and it involves drinking wine – we’re in all the way. Moldova is one of the oldest wine regions in the world with historical mentions dating back to Homer’s Iliad.

Russia, the biggest customer for wine from Moldova, has placed an embargo on Moldovan wine except for five wineries in a primarily Russian-speaking province. This was followed by efforts to stir up interest in Gaugazia becoming an independent region.

Sounds like a page from the Vladimir Putin’s playbook! Now with the support of US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Wine of Moldova, a government body looking to raise international awareness and sales, is launching their first campaign to promote Moldovan Wines in the US.

Resembling the form of a cluster of grapes sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, The Republic of Moldova lies in the Black Sea basin offering winemakers an ideal climate for vinification. Moldova has the greatest density of vineyards in the world with more than 276,000 acres of grape vines.

Moldova RedMoldova cultivates indigenous varietals like Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Traminer, and Saperavi as well as the better known Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Almost 25% of the country’s workforce is employed by the wine industry.

We were fortunate to receive a couple bottle of Moldovan wine to sample. The first is Golden Land Feteasca Neagra. The name of this Romanian-Moldovan grape means “black maiden” and the shade of this wine is a deep ruby. The bouquet is barnyard with aromas of meat.

As the nose will tell you, this is not your typical Pinot Noir, let’s say. It is a bold wine with savory flavors and deep raspberry notes. This would be a great choice with lamb or game.

The Chateau Vartely Traminer is a wine with whitish-green color. It comes from the southern Moldovan region of Codru. This region of forest, hills and rolling countryside is the best place to sample Moldovan white and sparkling wines. It is also the location of Romanesti, the former wine making colony of the imperial Romanov dynasty.

Traminer is a family of white grapes with Gerwurztraminer being the most well known. This wine lives up to its heritage, with a very floral bouquet. It has a dry finish with moderate acidity and rose petal and grapefruit flavors. It is refreshing and enjoyable.

One of my good friends who visits eastern Europe regularly proclaims that he has never had a bad Moldovan wine. We enjoyed the chance to sample this pair and hope to see greater availability and success in the U.S. market for Moldovan wines.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sensi Mantello 2009 Sangiovese- Shiraz, Tuscany

Sensi Mantello 09 Sangiovese-Shiraz

This unique wine was sampled during a visit to the home of tasting team members Jazz Man and Wine Chick. It’s a rebellious wine for those who are seeking adventure.

During our tasting we enjoyed a rosé from Pays d’Oc in France, a red wine from Moldova, a great Malbec from Argentina – but everyone was looking forward to this vino. Sensi is one of the largest producers in the region and has had a rich, successful presence in the Tuscan Hills for 120 years.

This Mantello Sangiovese-Shiraz is an IGT wine and the makers have the same freedom to break the rules as producers of Super Tuscan wines. IGT wines can mix traditional Italian grapes like Sangiovese and Nebiollo with Cabernet or Shiraz creating crazy good blends.

Mantello is a highly rated wine that is ageworthy. It’s earned accolades as one of the top wines in Italy.

The aroma is barnyard and forest floor – and I mean that in a good way. It’s loaded with character and isn’t just a meek, “here’s a tad of cherry flavor” wine. Don’t be lead by “shiraz” on the label – there is no trace of Australian sweetness in the glass. This is the brambly, Syrah version of the grape.

It’s layered and sophisticated with the flavors dialed into the earthy sector. Plum, cherry and some pepper swirl about. This wine will go great with beef, venison and perhaps an autumn firepit on the patio.

Green Dragon hemmed and hawed about the aroma. Meanwhile I sat back with Jazz Man and enjoyed the latest conspiracies on Ancient Aliens while the wine opened up in the glass. The wine became rich and expansive.

Mantello is recommended by me for those adventurers who enjoy rich and hearty wines that are off the beaten path.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Annual Island Wine Festival Coming To Put-In-Bay October 4

[Island-Wine-Fest-1-00310.jpg]The Annual Island Wine Festival will be held Saturday, October 4, at Put-In-Bay. Representatives from wineries across the US will be on hand for festival goers to sample more than 400 of their wines. Also featured will be great food, a display on the history of island wineries, winery and grape related merchandise.

Sampling tickets are $1 each with most samples $1 to $2 with some from $4 to $5. Retail sales are available so you can take your favorite bottle home with you. This is a great time to find a wine for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Heineman's, Put-in-Bay Winery and several other island and Ohio wineries will be participating. A silent auction will be held with items including a vacation package, large bottles of wine, and other fine gifts. The silent auction benefits the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society. The event is scheduled 11 AM to 6 PM at Put-In-Bay Winery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 10-13, 2014

Bottle and glass photo of an Alexander Valley ...

Bottle and glass photo of an Alexander Valley California Cabernet from Sonoma County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Wednesday, September 10
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Animal Label Wines: Tasty wines that go down swimmingly and will make you quack, ribbit and whinny with joy. 1. Opici Vino Bianco, 2. Frog's Leap Merlot, 3. Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Duckhorn Paraduxx Red Blend. Nominal fee per sample or $11 per flight.
Thursday, September 11
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Affordable Pinots: 1. 2012 Cleebourg – Pinot Gris – Alsace, France, 2. 2010 Pierre André – Pinot Noir – Bourgogne, France, 3. 2012 Portlandia – Pinot Noir – Oregon, 4. 2012 Picket Fence – Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley. Nominal fee per sample or $6.50 per flight.
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Great Chilean and Argentine Red Wine Deals: 1. Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, 2. Tapiz Chardonnay, 3. Zolo Signature Red, 4. Crucero Merlot 5. Siegel Cabernet, 6. Zuccardi Malbec, 7. Clos de los Siete, 8. Norton Late Harvest Chardonnay. Nominal fee per sample.
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
WineTastings-1_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thNoir Fine Wine and Beer, 1616 East Wooster, Bowling Green, 6-9 PM. Nominal fee per sample or priced per flight.
Third Street Cigar, 20 N. 3rd St., Waterville, (419) 441-0020. 6-9 PM. Wine and Cigar Pairing with Maumee Wines. $25 for wine tasting ticket, $50 for cigar/wine pairing ticket.
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
Friday, September 12
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting. 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
Saturday, September 13
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. A World Tour of Wines: Italy. Arguably considered at or near the top in in wine production and quality, there can be little argument that Italy has a stable of grapes surpassed by no other region. This week we will explore the many styles of Italian wine making and taste varieties that are familiar and maybe not so familiar. Nominal fee per sample.
  • Tres Belle Wine and Martini Lounge, (419) 874-4555, 3145 Hollister Lane, Perrysburg (Levis Commons).
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
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[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes

Swedish Hill Dry Riesling

September is the month to celebrate Finger Lakes Riesling. the region boasts 250 acres of Riesling vines and more than 220,000 cases are produced annually.

This is also the time when Finger Lakes wine producers will debut their 2013 vintage. On September 27 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT, you can be part of the Riesling celebration by opening up a bottle (or two or three) of your favorite Finger Lakes Rieslings and posting pictures on Facebook (tag @Finger Lakes Wine in your posts), or using Twitter (use #flxwine), and Instagram (use #flxwine).

Later this month we’ll have a report on the 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling vintage. In order to tune up our Riesling palate, we popped open a bottle of Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling.

We brought this with us on our trip to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We paired it with a salmon dinner and the company of eight of our good friends.

The wine has a classic Finger Lakes Riesling flavor profile. A combination of bracing crispness with slate-like minerality rolls pleasantly with flavors of green apple and citrus. This wine has elegance that has earned it 11 gold medals.

Swedish Hill has been recognized as one of the top Finger Lakes wineries, copping the Governor’s Cup three times. The Peterson family owns not only Swedish Hill, but two other standout Finger Lakes wineries, Goose Watch and Penguin Bay.

There’s a style of Riesling for everyone, whether you prefer a precise dry wine or one that is delightfully sweet. September is a great time to try the king of white grapes, especially from America’s top Riesling region, New York’s Finger Lakes.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Pays d’Oc Wines Deliver French Flavor and Value

Pays d'Oc RoseLocated in France’s southern Languedoc Rousillon region, Pays d’OC winemakers produce a wide range of wines with character and value. Pays d’Oc is France’s largest contributor to the “country wine” category.

Vin de pays is the second quality tier in France below the Appellation d’Origine Contrȏlée and above table wine. The wines are geographically controlled, but the regulations are less strict than with AOC wines. The vin de pays term is being phased out in favor of Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP).

Some would say that vin de pays can be produced with exceptional creative freedom. They certainly deliver great value for enjoyable French wine.

At a recent get-together, we popped open the 2013 Père et Fils Cinsault-Syrah rosé. We were winding down at the house of Sax Man and Wine Chick, two TWAV tasting team members.

Rosé is on the rise in Pays d’Oc, accounting now for about 20% of all production. We can see why. Rosé is one of the hottest wine trends in the U.S. This wine was especially delicious.

If I only drank in the Père et Fils with my eyes, it would have been superlative. The color is a striking pink-orange. On the nose there is a waft of apricot.

On the palate the wine is bright with a light to medium body, similar to Riesling. We’ve never had a Cinsault-Syrah rosé before and the grape combination seems ideal. The wine, which is 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah, is harvested at night high in the Languedoc hills. It has light filtration and matures on lees in stainless steel tanks.

Pays d'Oc MuscatA few days later, Green Dragon and I checked out a white Pays d’Oc wine, the Fortant de France 2012 Coast Select Muscat. Like the rosé, it retails for $10.99.

This wine is 100% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. This “white Muscat with little berries” is considered to be the best of the Muscat grape family.

The nose is expansive, with aromas of rose and honeysuckle. In the mouth this wine has a round and tropical flavor. The finish includes a pop of sweetness.

A rich wine, it seems ideal for a lazy summer day. Perhaps this reflects its origin in the sun-dappled Mediterranean coast.

There is a misconception that French wines are difficult to decipher and very expensive. Wines from Pay’s d’Oc allow you to enjoy the French lifestyle with gusto without worries of a busted budget.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.