Sunday, November 29, 2009

2009 Ohio Barrel Tasting Review

Yesterday was one of the most enjoyable days of the year for a local wine fan. For the last 4 years or so, several Southern Ohio wineries have gotten together and put on a Barrel tasting day on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Given that the wineries are all a bit spread out in location, we were only able to visit three of the six or seven participating, but we enjoyed every one.

Let's start with our first stop of the day, Kinkead Ridge in Ripley. Kinkead was sampling 4 varieties from their 2008 vintage all still aging in the barrels - Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot. I'll start by noting, 2008 was an amazing growing year for grapes here in Southern Ohio - hot and dry with a late harvest. With that fact in mind, it's no wonder all 4 of the wines Ron at Kinkead was sampling were absolute BOMBS. I tend to talk up Ohio wines probably more than I should, but for once I think it's no exaggeration to say no one would ever believe these wines come from Ohio - they taste way more like huge reds from northern California. My personal favorite at this point was the Syrah which will be the first Kinkead has put it's primary label on since 2005. Each of these wines will be released around Labor Day 2010 so be sure to make a note of it for future reference.

From there we headed just up the road to Meranda Nixon winery. Meranda is located on a former tobacco farm which was converted over to grapes about 6 years ago. Each time I visit I continue to be impressed with winemaker (and owner) Seth's Chardonnays. First he released an American Chardonnay that was produced from purchased California grapes and now he has moved on to making and bottling his own Estate grown Chardonnay. We tasted the 2009 which is obviously brand new and very young at this point but certainly showing great promise already. In addition we also tasted their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon which like Kinkead's is already big and robust as well as a 2009 Norton. If you're not familiar with it Norton is a true American grape and does well in areas like Ohio. This one was also very young and will continue to change dramatically over the next couple years of aging.

Our final stop of the day was at an old favorite, Harmony Hill in Bethel. The Hill was tasting 3 wines from the barrel as well - their 2009 Woodwind which is a Seyval Blanc, 2009 Rhapsody - a Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and the 2009 Ruboto - their crowd pleasing Chambourcin. Each wine was shaping up nicely and will be sure to be in high demand once bottled and available when Harmony Hill opens back up with live entertainment in the late spring.

All in all it was a great day in Southern Ohio wine country. Beautiful weather, some great wines, and some of the most friendly people you will come across. Each Ohio vintner really appreciates the art of winemaking and the art of making their visitors happy. I encourage everyone to get out and visit these wineries when you're in the area.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's On My Wine-Mind Tonight?

Well, tonight I'm drinking a wine I know I've already blogged about (St. Clement Merlot) so instead of a new review, you just get what's swimming in my head right now.
  • A good friend, Bryan Radtke, has started a great new blogged called Uncorked Cincinnati centered on all things wine in the Cincinnati area, be sure to check it out.
  • For the first time in my life I personally know someone who is running for Congress, check out his campaign site here.
  • Now that we're into November all the wine-making activities have slowed down. My new wine is in the carboys just beginning to age a bit. I really do love this time of year for drinking wine. Something about the cooler temperatures and upcoming holidays that just really make opening a good bottle seem like an even better idea. I'm already thinking about what I'd like to open for Thanksgiving, not sure yet, plenty of good choices.
  • Loving this weather but ready for it to be just a bit cooler. Also really enjoying Bengals football for once, here's a toast to hoping it will last.
  • Starting to look forward to the Cincinnati area Barrel tasting coming up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. About 5 local wineries open up to let you come in and sample the new wine right out of the barrel, one of the best wine events of the year in this area, check it out
Well, that's all for now, hope you're enjoying a nice glass this evening

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wine and Life, part 1

Decided I'll take a slightly different approach to this wine blogging thing. For the most part, I think most folks who read this really just want to know, is it any good, and what does it cost. But I think people also read for the same reason we obsess over our friends facebook/twiiter, etc status updates - we love a little insight into everyone's daily lives. So, I'm still going to write about wine, but I also hope to relate it to a little more about my life in general.

Tonight I'm drinking a California Zinfandel that I really really like, especially at the $7 it goes for. It's called Dancing Bull and is an 07 Vintage. Get some, soon! The funny thing about Zinfandel is it's the variety that so many of us start out on when we first try wine - not exactly the kind like Dancing Bull, but rather that old sweetie White Zinfandel. If you're not aware, White Zin is made from the same grape as Zinfandel, but as it ferments it's not allowed to stay "on the skin" long so it only picks up a bit of pink color and the winemaker stops the fermentation process before all the sugar converts to alcohol, so you're left with a sweeter, lower alcohol wine. Perfect for all the new wine drinkers. As much as I would disdain drinking White Zin today, I do hold a fond memory of one bottle of the stuff. Several years ago (pre-kid days) my wife and I took a vacation to Charleston, SC - an absolutely wonderful town. It was our first time there and we both loved the mix of history, charm and coastal atmosphere. On our first evening in town we had dinner at a seafood place called Hyman's right on the main street in town. Of course, being new to wine and knowing that "seafood should go with a white", we ordered a bottle of White Zin. Dinner was fabulous and man that bottle went down great! It's funny how things like that stick out to you even years later - for some reason my wife and I often think about that dinner and what a great time we had just enjoying Charleston and being on vacation together that night. And we still laugh about how much we loved that White Zin.

Well, if you're newer to wine, I totally encourage you - get a bottle of White Zin, learn to love it. Just promise you'll continue to explore the wine world from there! Anyway, I look forward to sharing more in the days to come.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Doing Napa the Right Way

Hello enophiles. After a prolonged break in blogging, I'm finally back to do some wine reviews. Tonight I wanted to talk a little about the trip we took to Napa back in July and highlight one of our favorite wineries from the visit. First off, I have to say, if you're going to Napa you have to do a bed and breakfast and you really should stay in the northernmost town - Calistoga. And if you're choosing a bed and breakfast in Calistoga you have to choose Chateau De Vie. The place is simply serene and the hosts are incredible, not to mention the fabulous breakfasts. Another benefit of the B&B - they can recommend some great small wineries! When we go to Napa we really feel the way to have the best experience is to seek out the smaller guys and just skip the crowded big labels. With this in mind, we were able to find several again this year. One of our new favorites (although the winery is certainly not new) is Vincent Arroyo. Vincent has been making wine in the Napa Valley for over 20 years and he's done a great job of keeping quantity small and quality high. We stopped by, tried several and left with about 6 different bottles. Tonight I wanted to review his 2006 Petite Sirah.

The winerey primarily sells on a "futures" basis meaning you can sign up to have wines delivered to you when they are released and most "sell out" via this method so are never really available for sale through the tasting room. Fortunately we were able to get a bottle of this Petite Sirah while we were there. It's certainly a bold, full bodied wine. With lots of color and great texture, it has an intense nose that to me displays herbal spices and pepper - think almost clove like. Taste wise, I think this wine would probably be even better a few years from now. There is a lot of wonderful P. Sirah flavor here, but also still heavy on tannins. This wine will age nicely. At $32 a bottle it's actually a very good buy for a big Napa red like this, but given the wonderful size of the winery (only 8000 cases total) you won't find it in a store near you. Check out his website linked above and treat yourself to one of these and some of his other great wines. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

KinKead Ridge 2008 Viognier - An Excellent Break in a Stressed Life

Well, it's been an exhausting week or so around here, and it's nice to relax a bit and just write about something that really put a smile on my face tonight - a 2008 Kinkead Ridge Viognier/Roussanne blend. Before I get into the wine, I'll just make a note to thank all those who have wished my father well over the last week. He has been in the hospital since last Wednesday, and we're still not totally in the clear, but hopefully things are looking upward. There's an interesting story between he and my love of wine that I'll have to blog about sometime soon.

Anyway, on to the wine...this is a white from one of my favorite Ohio River Valley wineries that we picked up last weekend, and wow do I love it! I know Ron and Nancy out at Kinkead Ridge are very excited about this wine and after tasting it I understand why. This wine is SO refreshing and flavorful all at the same time - it made a wonderful pairing with our cajun shrimp and pasta alfredo tonight! It's a 57% Viognier, 43% Roussanne blend and I detect a bit of honeysuckle on the nose in addition to the fruit forward aromas. In your mouth the wine has just a tinge of tingliness and I actually noticed a bit of spice, almost like ginger or something, again, in addition to the very flavorful fruit notes like orange and pear.

I've always been a big fan or Ron's red wines such as his 2006 Revelation Red and before that the 2005 Syrah, but this white may actually be my favorite wine he has produced. The wine runs $15.95 a bottle and is well worth that. For a list of where to find Kinkead Ridge wines, click here. If you're in the Southern Ohio area, I would really encourage you to visit Kinkead Ridge on a Saturday afternoon and check out all they have to offer. For me, tonight's glass offered a nice relaxing break from some of the stress I've had the past week or so. Tentative plans are to head to Napa next week, so I should have plenty to blog about soon. Happy tasting all, hope you enjoy the first miracle!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Wine with a Witty Name

Wow, has it been a long time since I blogged about wine!! It's amazing how finding 15 minutes to talk about something you love seems to become so difficult as our daily lives begin to overwhelm us. Here's a toast to hoping we are all always able to slow down and enjoy the things that truly make life enjoyable.

Well, to get back into things, tonight I tried a wine with a really witty name - Goats Do Roam! Of course playing off the French region, this wine actually comes from South Africa. They make a Red, White and a Rose, tonight we had the white. It was a very nice and refreshing wine for a warm summer evening. We've had some long days at work, so just ordered a pizza and opened a bottle for dinner this evening. The nose had hints of pear and in the mouth it created a nice tingly sensation and tasted of apple and pear. I think the cost was below $10 which so many of the good South African wines are currently, so I would consider it a very good buy. We have a bottle of the Goats Do Roam Red which we'll try at a later date, I'll let you know how that one goes. Hope you have all been enjoying the first miracle!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pedroncelli 2006 Pinot Noir

Another post from vacation at the North Carolina shore. Tonight my wife and I had a kid free night to visit probably the nicest restaurant on Oak Island - Island Way. We were both in the mood for a Pinot Noir so I chose a medium priced one from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma - a Pedroncelli 2006 Pinot Noir. I'm not sure what this would retail for in a store, but the restaurant was offering it for $35 so I'm guessing a retail of around $20. To be honest until tonight I had yet to find a Pinot Noir from CA that I really liked - I'm just too much in love with Oregon Pinot's right now to find the CA ones that much to my liking. However, the menu notes on this one said "soft and velvety" which sounded good to me. The notes were right - this wine was a perfect Pinot Noir. Maybe it just complimented my oysters and seared tuna perfectly, but I loved this wine. There was a bitter of pepper on the nose, then in the mouth it was exactly as advertised, soft and velvety with a slightly spicy finish. I must admit, a California Pinot Noir I really really like. Again, I haven't seen this in a store before, but if you do I would encourage you to pick up a bottle. If you do, let me know what you think, and what you pay for it if you don't mind! Enjoy the first miracle.