Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Thanks to a very generous invitation from The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop, I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Vanguard Wines “Grand Portfolio Tasting”, near Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Vanguard Wines is one of the largest (if not the largest) wine importers to Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. And they have a great selection to boot! This year the event featured over 50 winemakers from Argentina, France, Italy, Spain and the US. Since this is a trade only tasting, most of the producers are represented by the actual owner/winemaker, making for a much more authentic experience and vinous journey. I had a blast and managed to taste and spit my way though 33 whites and 45 reds. Below is my breakdown.

IMG_1980

My Favorite Whites

Alphonse Mellot, “Generation Dis Neuf”, Sancerre 2011 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valourent”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010 – $43
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valmur”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Les Clos”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $75
Larmandier-Bernier, “Longitude Blanc de Blancs”, 1er Cru Champagne – $53
Larmandier-Bernier, “Vieille Vigne Cramant”, Grand Cru Champagne 2006 – $90
Az. Ag. Campogrande, Cinqueterre 2011 – $55
Tenute Rio Maggio, Telusiano 2012 – $20
Eola Hills, “Vin d’Epice Late Harvest Gewurztraminer”, Oregon 2006 – $27
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay, Carneros 2009 – $65
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River 2009 – $65
Talley Vineyards, “Oliver’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2011 – $40

My Favorite Reds

Caldwell Vineyard, “Rocket Science” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $48
Caldwell Vineyard, “Silver C” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $105
Antano, Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2009 – $40
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 – $33
Fattoria di Felsina, “Fontalloro” Sangiovese, Toscana 2008 – $60
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “H”, Mendoza 2010 – $37
Talley Vineyards, “Rincon Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Edna Valley 2011 – $60
Au Bon Climat, “Isabelle” Pinot Noir, California 2010 – $55

The Rest of the Whites

Kamen Wines “Estate Sauvignon Blanc”, Sonoma Mountain 2012
Dom de la Pertuisane, “The Guardian” Grenache Gris, Cotes Catalanes 2012
Alphonse Mellot, “La Mousierre”, Sancerre 2011
Alphonse Mellot, Pouilly-Fume 2011
Alphonse Mellot, “Les Penitents” Chardonnay, Cotes de la Charite 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Montee de Tonnerre”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Vau de Vey”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Domaine de Pajot, “Quatre Cepages”, VdP de Cotes de Gascogne 2012
Larmandier-Bernier, “Rosé de Saignee Extra Brut”, 1er Cru Champagne
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “d’Orsaria” Pinot Grigio, 2012
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Tové”, Tocai Friulano 2009
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “Cuvee de St. Jeannet”, Valle de Uco 2012
Eola Hills, Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011
Eola Hills, Chardonnay, Oregon 2011
Charles & Charles, Rosé, Columbia Valley 2012
Gotham Project, “Truth or Consequences” Keg Riesling, 2012
Ramey Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Russian River 2010
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Chardonnay”, Arroyo Grande 2011

The Rest of the Reds

Cliff Lede Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2010
Crocker & Starr, “Stone Place” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Kamen Wines, “Estate Cabernet Sauvignon”, Sonoma Mountain 2010
Lang & Reed, Cabernet Franc, North Coast 2010
Lang & Reed, “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2010
Lail Vineyards, “Blueprint” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2011
Lail Vineyards, “J. Daniel Cuvee” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Dom de la Pertuisane, “Le Nain Violet” Grenache Noir, Cote Catalanes 2011
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2011
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Refosco”, 2008
Antano, Montefalco Rosso 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Langhe” Nebbiolo, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Auginaggio” Roero, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Mompissano” Roero, 2009
Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, “L’Insieme”, 2010
Elio Altare, Barolo 2009
Elio Altare, “Cerretta”, Barolo 2007
Mauro Veglio, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Arborina”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Castelletto”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Gattera”, Barolo 2009
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico 2010
Fattoria di Felsina, “Rancia”, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Alberdi”, Rioja 2006
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Ardanza”, Rioja 2004
La Rioja Alta, “Gran Reserva 904”, Rioja 2001
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Malbec, Valle de Uco 2012
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Uco 2012
Charles & Charles, Red Blend, Columbia Valley 2011
Gotham Project, “El Rede” Keg Malbec, 2012
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Pinot Noir”, Arroyo Grande 2011
Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara 2011
Au Bon Climat, “La Bauge au-Dessus” Pinot Noir, Santa Mari 2009

Thanks again to Silvia, Chuck, Bob and the rest of the team at The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop!

IMG_1982

By Sarah James

So, you’ve been thinking about those beautiful apartments in Paris, thinking about whether or not the time has come for a hop over the North Sea. The kids have all flown the nest, you don’t enjoy your job anymore and it just feels like there’s nothing holding you back from going all European for the next twenty years of your life.

Wait a minute.

Are you doing your deliberating without a glass of vintage red in one hand? If so, you’ve got a lot to learn before you can qualify for a life in Paris and it starts with knowing your Beaujolais from your Pinot Meunier and your Riesling from your Colombard. Here’s a guide to five French wines that you absolutely MUST try before you die. These wines are the clearest sign we have that life is ever strange and wonderful but that alcohol is better.

Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 

Le Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine estate in France that dates back to the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘lafite’ means small hill and this castle on the hill is one of the France’s most prized. The château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac consistently tops lists designed to find and identify the best wines in the world.

Unfortunately, it also tops lists of the most expensive too. However, you get what you pay for with this red – it is simply superb. Flavourful and silky, with a slightly dark, smoky aroma – this vintage red leaves a taste that lingers for a long time.

Château Prieuré-Lichine 1982

This bold, peppery red is from the Margaux region of Bordeaux and was actually made under the supervision of the infamous Russian wine writer and entrepreneur Alexis Lichine. As a former student at the University of Pennsylvania, Lichine knew first hand just how ignorant Americans were about fine wine and he took it upon himself to change that. According to Yahoo Voices journalist Anne Wright, Lichine is praised with helping to make Americans aware of French wine. This 1982 red is a classic and is recommended for its extremely silky texture and subtle balance of flavours. It’s expensive but it won’t cost you your mortgage like several of the other entries on this list.

Château Latour 1949

Latour is a name that’s synonymous with quality in France. Grapes have been cultivated on this wine estate since the 14th century and Latour wines are especially renowned. They’re very rare and extremely expensive, so if you ever run into a glass – make sure you enjoy it. Critics have called the 1949 red an opulent, voluptuous wine that flirts with perfection at times. A six litre bottle of Château Latour sold for a whopping £135,000 at auction in 2011.

Château Le Pin Pomerol 1999

Château Le Pin is the name of a wine estate located right on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Wines from this estate are highly prized by dedicated collectors who are usually willing to pay thousands of dollars for just one bottle, says Ask Men journalist Matthew Simpson. This is mainly due to the fact that the wines produced by Château Le Pin are considered to be ‘garage wines’ – they come from a mid 90’s desire to change the taste of French red wine. Though widely criticised by purists, this movement was actually very successful and the wines it still creates are highly sought after. This 1999 Pomerol is famed for its hints of mocha, currant and black cherry.

Château Margaux 1995

This bold red is almost jet black in colour, making it a curious and dramatic wine to indulge in. It has quite a racy flavour, punctuated by notes of cherry and blackberry. This 1995 is powerful stuff and you’d do well to enjoy it slowly. It’s definitely one for sipping with dark meats or rich chocolate desserts. Why not combine all three in a romantic meal on the balcony of that apartment in Paris you’ve been thinking about? Book a holiday now and you could be there in a few weeks time.

Author Bio: Sarah is a wine critic and expat living in France. She recommends Chez Nous for a great range of accommodation and holiday apartments in Paris. Sarah can be found blogging about a variety of holidays around Europe.

Every month or so I return to The Andersons – one of the best wine selections in Central Ohio – to replenish my dad and I’s wine fix. Normally, I’m greeted by Chuck, a very pleasant and very knowledgeable wine associate. This time around I ran into Silvia, the Sommelier in charge. She was equally friendly and knowledgeable and helped me make a great selection. We struck up a very interesting conversation about her family vineyard in Romania and her vinous journey through Florida, Virginia and all the way up to Central Ohio! Born and raised in Romania, Silvia naturally wanted to share with me some of her country’s vinous love. She picked out a red and a white. I’ll be presenting the white today, which is a wine made from the Feteasca Regala grape, grown and vinified in the Târnave region.

Producing predominantly white wines, Târnave is a controlled appellation of origin within Transylvania, and is the most important and oldest wine region in the area. Târnave is home to Romania’s coolest vineyards and, similar to the Mosel region in Germany, the vineyards rest on remarkably steep slopes. The wines tend to share the high acidity, commonly found in Mosel valley wines. The Feteasca Regala varietal is exclusively Romanian, created in the 1930s from a cross between the Grasa and Feteasca Alba grapes. Feteasca Regala is one of Romania’s most widely planted grape varietals. So without further ado…

Jidvei “Feteasca Regala” Târnave 2011
Tasting Notes: 100% Feteasca Regala, aged a few months in oak barrels and stainless steel vessels, 12% vol. Light, golden straw yellow in the glass. Bright and fresh notes of peaches, lemons, picante and a lure of fresh meadows. There’s an overall sweet-citrusy, Summer-like appeal. The nose drew me in. This wine is bone dry with a pronounced tartness, displaying sour apple Jolly Rancher flavors, followed by lemons and peaches. A silky smooth texture accompanies the tartness. The palate is also mildly herbaceous, with notes of fresh green grass. A bit linear, despite all my notes, but this makes for a very refreshing Sunny-day wine. I can see myself lounging on the porch under the sun with a nice book or some good company.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: under US$10 @ The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop

For many people finding the right wine to pair with spicy foods is a very real challenge. They’re sure that something as red and meaty as chili should only be paired with a red wine, and that sweet whites are commonly known as dessert wines, so they must go with desserts. They know that there are rules, but no one has ever really helped them to understand those rules, which can leave a person feeling confused and frustrated. Offer them a dish like jerked chicken, with a white meat and a red sauce, and there is a danger that they’ll throw up their hands all together and walk away from wine pairings.

Unfortunately, the logical red-to-red and white-to-white thinking that they’re employing leads many people down the wrong pairing path. Think about the last time you tried to drink something sweet with a sweet snack. Whether it was soda and a candy bar, chocolate milk and cookies, or a nice Riesling with a fancy soufflé, you were probably at least a little disappointed.

The reason for this is that sweet things generally don’t work well together. One will overpower the other, or bring out bitter or sour undertones you may never have noticed before. You may find that your dessert doesn’t taste sweet at all, while your drink tastes like nothing but sugar syrup.

On the other hand, spicy foods will compete with very dry reds, and tannin-rich wines will actually intensify rather than sooth the burn. A sweet wine will complement the heat, and a white that is higher in acidity will actually stimulate the salivary glands, helping to move the capsaicin along and allowing you to get down to the flavors of a dish.

Moscat/Moscato:

This lightly carbonated white has a fruity taste that is almost candy-like in its sweetness. This may account for its recent surge in popularity among young American wine drinkers, and makes it an excellent match for spicy foods.

The flavor of wine can be drastically changed when food enters the equation, and a spicy meal will bring out some of the complexities hidden under the sometimes too-intense sweetness of this white. The bubbles will also actually carry away more of the capsaicin, which will make this a very effective palate cleanser. Consider trying a Black Muscat, which will be red and have more of a plummy, jammy flavor than its lighter cousin, which has more than once been compared to Life-Savers candies.

Riesling:

This may be the most recognizable white on the American market. Rieslings come in all shapes and sizes, from the very sweet and even lightly carbonated to the quite dry, almost cooking wine varieties. These wines range widely, but tend to have an undertone of apples and other familiar fruits, which will be accentuated by a spicy meal. Because of their familiarity, Rieslings are an excellent choice for a connoisseur looking to share a toast with a wine noob.

Another advantage of the wide range of choices in Rieslings will be the ability to choose how much or how little alcohol the wine contains. A higher level of alcohol can emphasize the spiciness of the meal, while a lower level will help to balance it out.

Gewurztraminer:

These German dessert wines are complex and captivating on their own, but once paired with spicy foods the many nuanced flavors of this intricate wine will be even more evident. Not only will the Gewurztraminer serve as a cool, crisp palate cleanser in between bites of heat, but the spiciness will emphasize the delicate and intricate nature of the wine.

The key is not to get stuck in the old, red meat/white meat paradigm. In reality you want to pair the wine to the sauce, and avoid making the mistake of thinking that matching them visually is the best method. Consider the flavors that should be most conspicuous in the meal and seek out a wine that will show them off rather than competing or overpowering them. Don’t be afraid to try a pairing that seems unconventional. Like most other aspects of cooking, trial and error is the best and most effective way to find winning flavor combinations and contrasts.

Author Bio:

Kayla Stevens is a freelance writer and a dedicated wine lover. She never passes up an opportunity to share a bottle of wine with friends, and if there also happens to be food, that’s cool too. She currently writes for Midwest Brewing, which provides supplies wine making equipment for the most daring drinkers among us.

By Sarah James

The history of champagne and sparkling wine is one that involves the refinement of particular wine making processes, from the early discovery of how to create bubbles using secondary fermentation, to the use of a Methode Champenoise to create high quality wines. While you might want to invest in different kinds of pre-made champagne and sparkling wines, it’s also worth considering how you can make champagne at home. This can be achieved in several ways.

In terms of home brewing, you can opt for a simpler fermentation process, or a variation on the Methode Champenoise. The former approach involves using champagne yeast, grape juice, and sugar to perform a two step fermentation. For this, you’ll need brewing caps, a hydrometer, a bottle capper, and the right grape varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir are typical options to take. When preparing your ingredients you’ll need to ensure that your hydrometer is set to a gravity level of between 1.070 and 1.080 to get the right results.

You can start the champagne making process by first creating white wine through a standard fermentation routine – you can find base wine and brewing kits to help you with this approach. White grape juice can be bottled and mixed with sugar and yeast, and left to gradually ferment until the wine has taken on a cloudy appearance with yeast sediment – the wine can then be siphoned off into a bucket or barrel to remove this sediment.

The next step to take is to create a syrup for the champagne by mixing one part water and two parts sugar, which can be boiled and stirred into wine, before being capped. The wine can be left to stand in a cool place for about 3 months, until it has become crystal clear, and sediment has gathered at the bottom of the wine; the bottle can then be refrigerated.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, the Methode Champenoise can be used to make champagne at home. Create your base wine, which should have an alcohol content no higher than 11.5 per cent, as well as no additional stabilisers. You should then remove deposits as part of a normal fermentation, before adding a cup of sugar into the wine, which can be transferred into sparkling wine bottles and capped for 6-12 weeks at 15 to 20 degrees, or room temperature.

You’ll then have to disgorge the yeast from the bottles, which involves using a cardboard carton or a rack to turn a bottle upside down; the bottle should be half turned every day for two to three weeks until sediment is transferred towards the cap. Freezing the neck of a bottle can also help to dislodge sediment, which can be quickly removed once you remove the stopper – make sure that you cover up the top of a bottle as soon as the sediment has been removed, though, otherwise you can end up losing most of the liquid within.

Author Bio

Sarah is committed to finding the best examples of champagne from around the world.  She can be found online blogging about food and drink and loves to learn more about different wines and wine making.

The Vintage: “A vintage summarised as a vintage that ripened without interruptions and producing moderate yields. Low to moderate winter rain with good follow-up rains in November enabled adequate moisture to support the potential crop load and allow it to slowly develop over summer. The summer was cool and dry followed by a very dry, warm autumn, which was unusual. This allowed many varieties to ripen early and without interruptions. The fruit has great floral aromatics with good intensity and perfectly balanced with excellent concentration, flavour development and length as well as lovely ripe, gritty tannins. Nearly every variety we have harvested exceeded classified expectations due to the exceptional autumn conditions.”

The Winemaking: “Very concentrated ripe bunches of Shiraz and Viognier were gently crushed by the “Demoisy” open mouthed, rubber toothed crusher, then co-fermented together in traditional, headed down open fermenters where the traditional foot-treading in wader- clad feet takes place. After about 2 weeks the must (the still fermenting juice) was then gently basket pressed by our 19th Century “Coq” and “Bromley & Tregoning” presses, and then transferred into American and French oak barriques for maturation.”

d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” McLaren Vale 2005
Tasting Notes: 94% Shiraz, 6% Viognier, aged 12 months in American and French oak. 0.7 g/L sugars, 6.8 g/L acidity, 15% vol. Blood red in the glass. On the nose there are strong black fruits, pretty floral notes, balanced oakiness, and sweet vanilla-cinnamon spices. Dark chocolate dominates on the palate, accompanied by ripe cassis and blackberries, a juicy and balanced acidity and smooth tannins. This is a big but also well-integrated wine.
Rating: 16/20 (91/100)
Price: US$19.99 @ Winelibrary.com

While on vacation with the family at beautiful Torch Lake, Michigan, my dad, brother and I decided to spend an afternoon wine tasting in Suttons Bay. We stopped by Black Star Farms Winery, one of their three locations.



As many Northern American wineries over market, Black Star Farms is located on the 45th parallel, just as Bordeaux. Of course, in reality this is irrelevant, because last time I checked, there’s a “small” pond between Bordeaux and Michigan. This 45th parallel reference is nothing more than marketing. What is not marketing is my assessment that this appellation and, in particular, this wine stand alone and side-by-side any top-quality Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Washington or Oregon wine. Props to the Michigan Visitors’ Center for recommending this winery after I expressed my interest in tasting the best wine in Michigan. I dare say that I think they just may have been right!

So two firsts here, and then I’ll just dive into the juice!

…One, this was my first ever tasting of Michigan wines. Originating from the State Down South, I am not embarrassed to say that Michigan BLEW AWAY Ohio on quality and expression. In fact, I have yet to taste an Ohio wine that I’d recommend.

…Two, I had never tasted, nor had I even heard of a double appellation wine. I didn’t even know this combination was legally permissible within the AVA system. Well apparently it is! And it works!

MY TOP PICKS:

Leelanau Peninsula Sparkling, Leelanau Peninsula ’08 – $17.50
Notes: fresh bread aromas, great local expression of the “méthode champanoise”
Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir, Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: Burgundian, mineral, dark chocolate
Arcturos Merlot, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: beautiful floral notes
Vintners Select, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: 60/38/2 Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah, big fruits, jam
Spirit of Apple Brandy - $24.50
Notes: sweet caramel nose, expressive whisky-like flavors, nostalgia of Calvados

3 WHITES WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé, Old Mission Peninsula ’12 (fruity) – $13.50
Arcturos Pinot Gris, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 (dry Alsatian style) – $15.00
Arcturos Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.00

1 WHITE TO PASS ON:

Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.50
Notes: too cosmetic on the nose

2 PREMIUM REDS REALLY WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir, Grand Traverse Co./Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: super light, color and palate
Arcturos Cabernet Franc, Old Mission/Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $25.00
Notes: big acidity, great floral notes

1 RED TO PASS ON:

Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cab Franc, Old Mission Peninsula ’10 – $42.00
Notes: 60/40 blend, too green and way over priced for the quality

1 SPIRIT “MAYBE” WORTH TRYING:

Spirit of the Vineyard White Grappa (strong!) – $25.00

In closing, how’z ‘bout some humor? While preparing this post I noticed that the tasting room’s wine list and tasting guide included a Wine Libs game, à la Mad Libs. I thought this was a fun and creative little touch and so I thought I’d do a quick Facebook experiment and share the results, unedited! I filled in the blanks, indiscriminately, in order of my Wall’s responses. Here’s what my friends had to say…

“Your Guide to becoming the world’s greatest wine critic”

This Syrah from Black Star Farms reflects Lee Lutes’ lifelong pursuit of the downward dog. The full-bodied, balanced wine captures a true sense of integrity and metacognition; the vineyard’s well-draining chewing gum stood up to the happy spring of 2011 and the hilltops slope captured the broken leg that followed, resulting in an ideal magnificent balance. Thanks to a week of extended nut shots, this wine’s soft tannins and groovy, full texture is a perfect unicycle for the lush flavors of lychee tulips, and a Chaise lounge of herbs and cloves. Such a quality wine will improve for over a decade, but this bottle’s bright myrrh and intense quadruple-cheese pizza make it absolutely delicious right now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,178 other followers