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Monday, May 4, 2015

Mas de Daumas Gassac 2011 Vin de Pays de l'Hérault Grand Reserve de Gassac

Gassac Reserve

Languedoc is a huge region in the southern part of France that borders the Mediterranean. The area produces a third of French wine. The reputation has not always been stellar, but winemakers are working to build the quality and esteem of Languedoc.

This red Languedoc is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 30% Syrah. It comes from the Gassac area, where Saint Benedict of Aniane planted the first vineyard in 780 AD. The underground cold water springs, surrounding mountains and Ice Age scree give the area a unique microclimate.

The approach is soft with the Daumas Gassac. The flavors are rich but not bold. The tannins leave a bit to be desired as the wine’s structure is a bit loose. However, it is a winning wine with a sunny outlook that pairs well with a variety of food.

I’m not sure what qualifies this as a Grand Reserve. According to the bottle notes, the grapes are manually harvested from the best vineyard blocks and the 2011 vintage in l’Herault was reportedly good. When enjoyed with friends, it’s an enjoyable wine, but not a pyrotechnic display of winemaking brilliance.

I can’t criticize. I paid $10 to my friend Dr. J for the bottle. You can expect to pay less than $15 for it in the store. It’s worth a sip.

Rating: 2.5 of 5  Value: 3 of 5

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Sinclair Vineyards 2011 Stone Tree Vineyard Syrah, Wahluke Slope

Sinclair Stone Tree

I returned recently from a wonderful trip to Washington State. My time was filled with wine, outstanding food and, yes, some business as well.

Back in town, we were hosted by TWAV Tasting Team members Glorious T and the Cabinator. While Glorious T did most of the serious work preparing a spread of delicious food, the Cabinator did his part too. He uncorked this stupendous wine from Sinclair Estate Vineyards, a leading Washington winery.

Wahluke Slope is an AVA within the very large Columbia Valley appellation. It has one of the warmest and driest climates in Washington. There must be some, but I’ve never had a bad wine from Wahluke Slope.

This Syrah is from the Stone Tree Vineyard and only five barrels of this wine were produced. This prompted a lot of smart phone maneuvering, which eventually showed that each barrel results in around 300 bottles, meaning this was a limited production wine of about 1,500 bottles. However, we prefer to think of this as a five-barrel wine, with each barrel lovingly pampered to produce an exceptional wine.

Stone Tree Vineyard is a vineyard sought after by Washington wineries for some of their best Merlot, Syrah and Cab. This wine has a deep, rich body that coats the tongue. The flavor has blackberry and savory notes. It is everything that a Syrah should be. This one tends toward the opulent, dark fruit flavors and it crescendos to a lingering finish.

Based on this delicious bottle, I’m ready to finish off the rest of the barrel!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: April 29–May 2, 2015


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TasteCamp North 2011 013Wednesday, April 29
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Bradley's Picks: 1. Stag's Leap “The Investor” Red Wine, 2. Estancia “Meritage” Red Wine, 3. Banfi “Rosso di Montalcino,” 4. Buehler “Napa Cabernet.” $12 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Wednesday Wine Tasting. Come out with friends, have fun, taste good juice! $15 per person.

Thursday, April 30
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. New Spring Wines: 1. 2014 Cavalchina – Custoza – White Blend – Italy, 2. 2014 Rio Madre – Graciano – Rosé – Rioja, Spain, 3. 2012 Buena Vista – The Count – Red Blend – Sonoma, California, 4. 2010 Ridge – Merlot – Monte Bello Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains Estates. $9 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Down Under with d'Arenberg and other Australian Wines: 1. d'Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM, 2. d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz, 3. d'Arenberg High Trellis Cabernet, 4. d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz, 5. d'Arenberg  Laughing Magpie Shiraz, 6. Red Knot Shiraz, 7. Selkirk Bremerton Shiraz, 8. Imprimata Proprietary Red. Nominal fee per sample,

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Weekly wine tasting: 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, May 1
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting – 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
 
Saturday, May 2
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. Wine tasting.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful Wine Bar, (419) 878-9463, 7541 Dutch Road, Waterville.
Technorati Tags:  
[Information on tastings can be sent toTWAV@ATT.NET.]

Up & Coming: 
Tuesdays – Weekly wine tasting at Forrester's on the River, 26 Main St. Toledo – (419) 691-2626. 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Five to six unique tastings of wine, that are not found on the menu, along with an assortment of tapas style appetizers to complement the wines.  Tastings are between $10-$15 per person and are held in their wine bar (Paige's Wine Bar).
 
May 15Wood County Humane Society Wine and Dine. 7:00 to 10:00 PM at Graystone Banquet Hall 29101 Hufford Rd., Perrysburg. Advance tickets $50 per person, $90 per couple or $175 for four. Tickets available online.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Anthony Road 2011 Cabernet Franc - Lemberger, Finger Lakes

This wine emerged during our first firepit of the season. The weather finally was warm enough to sit on the back patio, set some logs ablaze, and uncork some wine while surrounded by blazing tiki torches.

Anthony Road is a showcase winery of the Finger Lakes with a wide open tasting room, beautiful garden, and a great view to Lake Seneca. They also have one of the broadest lineups of wine in the region.

During our last visit I became entranced by Lemberger. I believed it to be the up and coming grape of the Finger Lakes region. Time will tell if I'm right, or merely under the spell of a few delicious bottles.

One of the classic grape blending matches is Cabernet Franc and Lemberger. Lemberger, also known as Blaufrankish, is a gentle and savory grape that can take the edge off the sometimes peppery Cab Franc.

In this case, the Lemberger actually has the lion's share (55%) of the blend, with the Cab Franc at 45%. I think I might have reversed the ratio.

The punch of the Cab Franc was a bit muted by the Lemberger. At first the body was a bit mild simple. Of course, I was being blasted in the face by waves of acrid smoke from the fire at the time.

I revisited the wine after about 30 minutes and the white pepper of the Cab Franc and the raspberry notes of the Lemberger were playfully present. One benefit of the blending is that there is no green pepper flavor. To me, that indicates a Cab Franc that isn't quite ready for prime time. While some green pepper is OK, more than a smidge can be a turn-off.

This is a nice value at $18. If you aren't familiar with Lemberger or the Finger Lakes, this is a good intro.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dine Like A President Dinner May 2 Features Rodney Strong Wines

star5112The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont is hosting a wine event in May that offers a rare opportunity: the chance to have a former White House chef cook for you.

John Moeller, who was the chef to Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, will prepare special meals and tell stories of his White House years at the events.

At 6:30 PM on May 2, a five-course Dine Like a President dinner will be offered featuring wine pairings from Rodney Strong Vineyards. The cost is $125 per person, with only 100 seats available; advance reservations are mandatory. After the meal, Mr. Moeller will speak on what it was like to cook for presidents and other dignitaries.

The event will be at the Catawba Island Club, 4235 Beach Club Rd., Port Clinton. For reservations, please contact Hayes Presidential Center development director Kathy Boukissen at (419) 332-2081, ext. 226.

Photo Credit: star5112 via Compfight cc

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: April 22-25, 2015


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Wednesday, April 22
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Kim C's Battle of the Big Red Blends:  1. "Complicated" 2012 Red Blend, 2. Dark Horse "Big Red Blend," 3. Luminary 2012 Red Blend, 4. Duckhorn "Paraduxx" 2011 Red Blend. $10 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Wednesday Wine Tasting. Come out with friends, have fun, taste good juice! $15 per person.

Thursday, April 23
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Wordly Wines: 1. 2014 Garnacha de Fuego Rose – Munebrega – Spain,  2. 2012 Chateau St Jean Belle Terre Chardonnay – Alexander Valley, California, 3. 2010 Villadoria Bricco Magno – Nebbiolo – Italy, 4. 2012 Jean Paul Tollot LA 50/50 – Syrah and Carignan – France. $4.50 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Smooth Wines: 1. Butter, 2. Ned Pinot Grigio, 3. Josh Legacy Red, 4. Avalon Napa Cabernet, 5. Andronicus Red, 6. Machete, 7. Electra Red Moscato. Nominal fee per sample,

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Weekly wine tasting: Nominal fee per sample.
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. Open at 12:00 noon for Mud Hens Opening Day Celebration.
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, April 23
Toledo Museum of Art, 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Wine by the Glass Pavilion. Crickey! Surprisingly Good Australian Wines. Enjoy four wines and light snacks at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. $20 for members, $30 for nonmembers. Purchase during Museum hours by phone at 419-255-8000 ext. 7448.

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting – 4:00 – 7:00 PM.

Saturday, April 25
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. Wine tasting.

AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful Wine Bar, (419) 878-9463, 7541 Dutch Road, Waterville.
Technorati Tags:  
[Information on tastings can be sent toTWAV@ATT.NET.]

Up & Coming: 
Tuesdays – Weekly wine tasting at Forrester's on the River, 26 Main St. Toledo – (419) 691-2626. 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Five to six unique tastings of wine, that are not found on the menu, along with an assortment of tapas style appetizers to complement the wines.  Tastings are between $10-$15 per person and are held in their wine bar (Paige's Wine Bar).

May 15 – Wood County Humane Society Wine and Dine. 7:00 to 10:00 PM at Graystone Banquet Hall 29101 Hufford Rd., Perrysburg. Advance tickets $50 per person, $90 per couple or $175 for four. Tickets available online.

Photo Credit: Stilgherrian via Compfight cc

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Farm To Table Wine Dinner At Pairings On May 2 To Feature Chef Jeff Fisher And Top Winemakers

Grapes KelownaThe second in the series of Farm to Table Dinners at Pairings, Ohio's Wine and Culinary Experience in Geneva, Ohio is scheduled for May 2. Star Chef Jeff Fisher, a rising star on the Cleveland culinary scene, will prepare a five –course meal featuring award-winning wines and locally-sourced food.

Winemakers Bill & Michelle Bakan from Maize Valley in Hartville
and Mike and Carol Williams from The Winery at Versailles in Darke County will collaborate with Chef Fisher on a memorable dining experience.  The meal will include locally sourced foods from:

  • Shady Hill Farms,Ltd, Newberry  [meet farmer Ben Calkins himself!] - lamb
  • Milgate Farm, Ashtabula County - pork
  • Brunty Farms, Cuyahoga Valley Park Heritage Farm - eggs
  • Lake Erie Creamery, Cleveland - goat cheese 

THE MENU:
To welcome you: 
Sparkling Peach Mist from the Winery at Versailles

First Course:
Bacon and eggs, homemade smoked slab bacon, pickled red onion and mixed greens with a chardonnay Parmesan dressing served with a blend of Frontenac and Cabernet Sauvignon from Maize Valley

Then

Spring pea soup with mint and cream fresh served with Maize Valley's Reserve Blanc

And

Hand rolled gnocchi, galette with lamb boulognese, house made manacatta, sheeps's milk ricotta served with Maize Valley signature blend of Merlot, Cabernete Sauvignon and Petit Syrah:  Big Red Pecker

And

Crisp pork belly, wild picked ramps boudins, butternut puree, caramelized ramp jus


The Finale

Blackberry lemon curd tarts with goat cheese ice cream with Schwaratzbereen from The Winery at Versailles.  

Pairings, Ohio's Wine and Culinary Experience is located at 50 Park Street. Geneva. Cost is $75 per person or $145 a couple. Special Chef's table seating -- only 4 available:  $100 per person or $195 per couple. For reservations go to OhioWines.org

Photo Credit: Kelowna09 via Compfight cc

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jamieson Ranch 2013 Silver Spur Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

Jamieson Silver Spur

Recently I purchased a mystery half-case from an online retailer (Invino). It promised wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma and some great bargains.

Half of the enjoyment of such a purchase like this is opening the box to see what you got. It’s an adult version of Christmas morning. I was pleased to discover this bottle of Jamieson Ranch 2013 Sauvignon Blanc “under the tree.”

The grapes come from a small three-acre Ashe Vineyard bloc in Oakville. The wine is biodynamic certified.

The true Sauvignon Blanc expert in the household is my wife, the Green Dragon. Her favorite is the zesty New Zealand style, but has learned to appreciate some different approaches. I particularly like Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, so I was interested to try some Napa Valley SB.

On the nose, the Silver Spur packs a powerful punch and offers the signature cut grass aroma of Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity is also abundant, keeping the Silver Spur crisp and elegant – like its Rolls Royce namesake.

The flavor profile is rather unique. Green Dragon proclaimed the primary taste as honeysuckle and after a sip I agreed. (After several sips I was agreeing with anything she said!) The Silver Spur has citrus and pineapple with a dollop of tartness.

It’s a unique Sauvignon Blanc that would be a great pairing with a seafood dish. I’d suggest this as a food pairing wine or with some nice appetizers (like shrimp or crab) rather than standing along.

It retails for about $35 and is fairly priced at that figure. I was pleased to “steal” this bottle for about $20. Wine lovers should not live on Napa Valley Cabernet alone!

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 2.5 of 5

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wine N Bloom Event Starts May 1 On Northeast Ohio’s Vines and Wines Trail

timoVisit 16 wineries, sip a couple of their best wines, sample light appetizers, collect 16 different spring flowers for your garden during the popular Wine N Bloom event on the Vines and Wines Trail. The cost for this self-driving tour is $50 per couple or $40 for a single traveler. You also receive a souvenir wineglass. 

Reservations are required. The the event will sell out, so don’t delay. Visit www.OhioWines.org or call 800-227-6972 for more information. 

Here is a list of participating wineries:
* Benny Vino Urban Winery, Perry
* Buccia Vineyards, Conneaut
* Deer's Leap Winery, Geneva
* Emerine Estates, Jefferson
* Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Geneva
* Goddess Wine House, Ashtabula
* Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Geneva
* Harpersfield Vineyards, Geneva
* Hundley Cellars, Geneva
* Laleure Vineyards, Parkman
* Laurello Vineyards, Geneva
* Old Firehouse Winery, Geneva-on-the-Lake
* Old Mill Winery, Geneva
* The Lakehouse Inn & Winery, Geneva-on-the-Lake
* The Winery at Spring Hill, Geneva
* Virant Family Winery, Geneva

Host lodges this year are the Lodge at Geneva and Fitzgerald's Irish Bed and Breakfast.  Details about their offers are listed on the Ohio Wines web site noted above.

Photo Credit: timo_w2s via Compfight cc

Thursday, April 16, 2015

South Africa Offers New World Wine With Rich History

Val KyriehSouth Africa is known as a maker of New World wines. That label is deceiving. As my wife and I prepare for a trip to that country’s winelands, I’ve been researching the country’s rich oenological history and have found a tradition as rich as the abundant gold deposits in Johannesburg.

Almost twice as large as Texas, it has 1,800 miles of coastline. It is the only wine region in the world sandwiched between two oceans: the Atlantic and the Indian. Jan Van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company planted the first vines in the Cape of Good Hope in 1655.

Jason WeaverThere were many setbacks in the beginning, chiefly because of the farmers' ignorance of viticulture. Things improved when Van Riebeeck was succeeded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel who planted a vineyard on his farm Constantia and made good wine from the outset. Later, Constantia wines became world-famous.

The Dutch had almost no wine tradition and it was only after the French Huguenots settled at the Cape between 1680 and 1690 that the wine industry began to flourish. Since that time, South African wine has had its peaks and valleys, ranging from the decimation of vineyards by the disease phylloxera, the Anglo-Boer War, overproduction, international trade sanctions in the 1980s as a protest against apartheid,

In 1990 apartheid was abolished and South Africa’s first democratic elections were held in 1994. Nelson Mandela’s support helped the reemergence of South African wine and he toasted his 1993 Nobel Peace prize with South African wine from the Cape region.

Warren SkiThe wine industry in South Africa is undergoing an exciting period of change. Once known for a proliferation of low quality white wine, the industry is realigning itself to compete globally. Only recently a 10-year trend of planting more reds has shifted back to whites.

Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted variety. Other top grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Colombard, Shiraz, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Chardonnay. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is considered the signature grape of the country. Also produced are Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wines, outstanding sparkling wines made in the traditional method of Champagne.

The southern areas are the heart of the South African wine industry. We will be visiting Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, which is a ward in the Paarl wine region. There will be more to come as we prepare for our epic journey.