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Pairing Adventure – Holiday Meal – Part 2

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As a continuation from my earlier holiday post, our Christmas morning always begins with Breakfast Casserole, coffee, and poinsettias’ for those in the mood. Then we sit down later in the afternoon for a Roast Beast dinner. While the recipes here are great for a Christmas feast, I have been known to pull them out for many different family gatherings, as they are simple, and will easily feed a crowd.

Breakfast Casserole is an easy “Make the Night Before” creation. The first time I ever had this dish was at a CYO gathering of teenagers, so you know it will appeal to the masses!

MonmousseauIn 2011 we became rather fond of Monmousseau sparkling for our celebrations. Monmousseau Brut Etoile. This sparking is done in the “methode traditionnelle” and is made of Chenin Blancfrom the Loire Valley (if google translated the french correctly) As is traditional, the secondary fermentation is in the bottle. Its crisp, fruity – aromas of stone fruit, and well balanced. It is a dry sparkling, but an easy sipper. For those of us that enjoy French champagne on a California sparkling budget, this beauty rings in at $14 a bottle. Its available in wine shops in Cleveland, and we get ours from Wine and Design in Tremont.

For Poinsettias you combine your sparkling with a cranberry juice. It’s a holiday festive twist on the Mimosa, and I love to use a Cran-Raspberry, which blends well with the drier bubbles. Straight cranberry can be palate drying at times.

Our main meal consisted of Waldorf Salad, Standing Rib Roast (aka Roast Beast), the Chef’s Mashed Potatoes, my green beans, and the Chef’s amazing pound cake with lemon blueberry topping. Since she won’t even share the recipes with me, (aka Mom) – I know she won’t let me publish them. But I will give you the Waldorf Salad and Green Beans recipes on the recipes page.

There’s more than a few palates in the house when the family gathers, so there were obviously more than a few wines. We opened a wine from Vinoklet Winery in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the Ohio River Valley for Mamma WineOH. She’s always been my inspiration for my palate and over the years she’s increasingly fond of the sweeter wines… and Mamma gets what Mamma wants. So we poured the La Dolce Vita, a concord wine. Its a slightly sweet version of the concord, and frankly, a drier one than many I’ve tried. Retail – $11.99

Vinoklet’s story begins with Krešo Mikulić immigrating to the United States from his homeland in Croatia, near the Adriatic Coast in the Mediterranean Region. He grew up in the winemaking tradition and  Krešo returned to it in 1984. He purchased a dairy ranch in Colerain Township, Ohio and because of its excellent soil conditions and micro-climate, the vineyard produced first samples of wine with great success. They are producing Chambourcin, Concord, Catawba, Traminette and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The rest of us shared a bottle of one of my favorite Zinfandels – The Other Guys Plungerhead. This wine is one I’ve been drinking for years, and I love the 2009. (Though the 2006, 2007 and 2008 were just as lovely) I discovered this one in Virginia, and was totally taken by the wines of The Other Guys. Its jammy, fruity, and spicy on the finish with a bit of clove – a hint of the oak is also present. There’s about 98% Zinfandel with a splash of Syrah blended in for character. Retail – $11.99

Two things I enjoy about this wine… one – there’s a guy with a plunger on his head on the label. Seriously…. it makes me giggle. Second – the closure on this wine is a Zork. This particular closure is helpful if you open a bottle and will need to close it up for the next day, or place it in the refrigerator. The plastic unwraps and you have your own private “saver closure” on the bottle. When you see these don’t think “cheap wine” – they are a lifesaver when you don’t want to finish your wine.

We enjoyed a Waldorf Salad, a cheese and meat platter, and the company while we prepared the balance of the meal. I usually recommend a crisp white with this salad – but in combination with the meats and cheeses – the Zinfandel worked surprisingly well.

Then it was time for the Roast Beast. Sides of course were Chef’s Garlic Mash and my green beans. We opened the Thief, a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley (that’s “Willamette, Dammit”) in Oregon. Thief, according to the bottle, is a wine “of distinction absconded from the best vineyard sites in the Pacific North West.” A cute riff on the name, but a lovely medium bodied Pinot Noir – black cherry and just a bit of cinnamon – this Pinot is heavy enough to carry the roast beast easily. At $19.99, I rate the QPR value medium – but one of the better wines I’ve seen in this from this region and in this price range.

This was our Holiday meal in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed the wine and food around your table as much as we did!

Happy Sipping!

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Wine of the Week: Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc

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This is my new weekly feature called Wine of the Week – its a short review and recommendation of wine I loved in the past week (gee, I had to stretch for the title, huh?) You’ll see it hereafter referred to as WOTW for brevity. Or laziness, or both.

I’m not usually one to haphazardly buy wines over $20 per as I wander through a wine store, at least not when I’m restocking for the week. But I was in Rozi’s Wine House on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland just before New Years and found a wine I had to have. I’d been hankerin’ (that’s a technical term) for a good Cabernet Franc and had been remiss in not ordering anything from my beloved Virginia Cab Franc gods. When I found the 2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc, I clutched it to my chest like a long lost brother from the Corps.

Alexander Valley Vineyard - Cabernet FrancThis wine runs $24.99 at Rozi’s, so its not horribly expensive by any stretch – and I will tell you, its worth every       nickel and dime if you enjoy Cab Franc.  The 2009 is available on their website, I can’t speak directly to that one, and I might suggest buying it and putting it away for a bit, but the 2008 is VERY drinkable now, and also could sit in the cellar, but not for too long – its just that good right now.

Alexander Valley Vineyards has been making wine since 1975 in Sonoma County. Maggie and Harry Wetzel purchased the property in 1962 and were one of the first in the area to plant grapes. They produce about 100,000 cases annually, including 17 varietal wines and proprietary blends. Seventy-five percent of AVV’s production is red wine. Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon constitute half of total production. They also produce Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Sangiovese, Viognier, and this incredible Cabernet Franc.

The 2008 Cab Franc is an estate wine, but not single vineyard, having been sourced from several of the family’s properties. They made 1400 cases, and aged it for 14 months on 100% french oak, 50% of which was new. I’m not one for an over-oaked Cab Franc – as I love the flavor of the grape and don’t want it hidden in the oak, and this wine is a great balance of oak for aging and the beautiful cab franc flavor. It comes in at 14%, but a few years in the bottle shows beautiful smooth tannins and not a hint of heat (higher alcohol) that I usually taste at 14%.

Berries and spice come out of this wine on my palate, and it smells, well… yummy. As I said on twitter when I poured it, there was a winegasm in my kitchen. Gorgeous wine.

As if you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this one. The price is out of my daily drinking range, but I’ll definitely be going back to it; and trying the 2009 as well. I’d pair it with a lighter meat dish – herbed pork loin perhaps, not too heavy on the pepper. This is a wine you want to show through, not be eclipsed by your meal. I almost want to put a salted caramel dessert with it… just to see how it shines. If you are on “the tweeter” – follow them at @avvwinery.

Happy Sipping!

Light by Beaujolais – A Pairing Adventure

I had the privilege of inviting a few people over to MissWineOH headquarters for a Beaujolais tasting on December 7. It was a collision of two worlds – a few people from #MrWineOH’s office, and a few great people I’d met through my tastings.

SEDavenport and her husband, WhyCLE and her beau, and EatDrinkClev joined us to delve into the beaujolais world and nosh on some appetizers. The entire event was a twitter tasting and broadcast under the #beaujolais hashtag. All of the Beaujolais wines were served chilled to 60°F.

We started the evening with a little palate cleansing French sparkling. Yes, there are reasonable French sparklings – we picked up ours from Wine and Design in Tremont for less than $15.  The first Beaujolais poured was a 2010 Christophe Pacalet, Chiroubles. Most of our guests thought it to be a light, fruity wine. Others tasted a perfume base, followed by the fruit. This was not high on the list of favorites for the evening at $16.99. It was paired with a Pastry Wrapped Baked Brie.

Baked Brie Recipe


  • 1 large sheet of puff pastry dough or 1 tube of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 round or wedge of Brie cheese (do not remove rind)
  • Raspberry Jam, or other sweet jam
  • Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 On a non-stick cookie sheet, lay out the puff pastry or the crescent rolls flat; put brie round or wedge on top.

2 Spread jam on brie, fold dough over top, cutting off excess dough. Drizzle maple syrup and place a handful of brown sugar on top.

3 Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes, pastry should be golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with crackers and apple slices.

The 2009 Domaine de Colette, Regnie was the second wine poured. All cherry and berry on the palate, this wine opened up nicely and was enjoyed for the duration. We paired it with a soppressata, beef sausage, and smoked gouda platter – the olives were a hit or miss. Some thought they paired well, others thought the quality price ratio was not up to par. This wine retails for $18.99.

The third wine we poured was the 2009 Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly. This Brouilly is from the among the oldest and most historic estates in the region of Beaujolais. Medium bodied, fruity, with a long finish, most of our guests picked this as the QPR winner of the evening at $13.95. It was paired with a Proscuitto wrapped camembert.

Proscuitto Wrapped Camembert


  • 6 large fresh sage leaves
  • 8 oz. whole round camembert
  • 6 large slices prosciutto
  • 12 slices French bread stick (baguette), toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Arrange 3 sage leaves on top of the camembert. Place 3 slices of prosciutto over the sage. Carefully turn the camembert over and fold in the ends of the prosciutto slices to enclose. Repeat with the remaining sage and prosciutto to completely enclose the camembert.
  2. Place the camembert on the lined tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp and the camembert is soft. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the bread.

Our last Beaujolais of the evening was the 2010 Pavillion de Chavennes, Cote de Brouilly – the most complex wine of the night, there was a floral aroma on the nose and spice on the finish. Even at the $21.99 price point, this became the crowd favorite and quickly disappeared. We paired this wine with Crunchy Apple Salsa over Chicken.

Crunchy Apple Salsa over Chicken


2 cups York or Fuji apples, halved, cored and chopped

3/4 cup (1 large) Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup lime juice

salt and pepper to taste


1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup apple juice

1/2 tsp. grated lime peel

1/2 tsp. salt

Dash pepper

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine salsa ingredients and mix well; allow flavors to blend about 1/2 hour. Serve over or alongside grilled chicken. Makes 3 cups salsa. For grilled chicken combine marinade ingredients, pour over chicken breasts. Marinate for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and cook in an oiled skillet, turning once, until done.

WhyCLE takes pictures, I pour wine. (Thanks, Jen!)

It wouldn’t be #MissWineOH without a cupcake pairing. I chilled and poured the 2007 Markko Select Reserve Johannesburg Riesling. If you have never experienced Ohio wines, Markko makes some of the finest in the state. This is a slightly sweet riesling with floral aromas. I’d pair this with a seafood dinner or a savory chicken dish.

The cupcake I chose for this event and pairing was the pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing from A Cookie and A Cupcake, on of my favorite Cleveland bakers. The savory pumpkin paired beautifully with the riesling. It balanced the sweetness of the residual sugar in the wine, while allowing the minerality to show through.

So, what was the conclusion? A rousing success of course! The wines of Beaujolais are always lovely, and you should seek them out when you find them. I’d recommend pairing a Beaujolais with food – try some of the recipes I’ve included. Many thanks to @sedavenport, @whycle and @eatdrinkclev for joining us. Follow them on twitter because they are interesting and cool ladies in Cleveland.

If you’d like to join us for a future event, stay tuned to the calendar. We’ve got #wineandcupcakes and #beerandcupcakes coming up in January. Or like MissWineOH on Facebook for wine related articles and information from around the world.

The Beaujolais wines were provided by Discover Beaujolais.

Wine and Cupcakes – City Beverage tasting notes

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We had a great evening in the tasting room at City Beverage in Winston-Salem. Spencer from CityBev was pouring, and I was passing cupcakes – the lively crowd had plenty of opinions on what the best wine and cupcake pairings were. This is what we served:

2010 Bourgeois Cuvee Stephi Chardonnay  paired with blueberry cake and cream cheese icing

A custom project made in partnership with Thierry Rodriguez in Veyran, Languedoc. The domaine is comprised exclusively of older Chardonnay vines (20+ yrs old). Cuvee Stephi practices sustainable farming.

A: Green and citrus aromas, including lemon on the nose, with a hint of spice.

P: Medium-bodied, tropical and citrus flavors, and a clean, refreshing finish.

Unoaked – Aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks with 3 months on its lees.

retail price $13.99

This pairing juxtaposes the citrus flavors in the wine with blueberry and balances the acidity with cream cheese.

Picture compliments of Meg Cline

2010 Valdesil Montenovo Godello paired with vanilla bean cake & strawberry balsamic icing

100% Godello – one of the oldest grapes on the Iberian Peninsula

Valedorros, Spain

C: Extremely pale like ginger ale.

A: apple, pear, honey, citrus,

P: green apple, grape juice, and a tart finish that lingers with caramel-honey notes.

Some heat early on and lots of acidity.

13% abv

Stainless steel fermented – this wine should be consumed within 18mos of bottling.

Retail Price $9.99

The chilled Godello reminds me of one of the crisper viogniers – so we paired the   vanilla bean to mimic oak while complimenting the acidity with the strawberry balsamic icing.

2010 Big Fire Rose paired with a saffron cake with cardamom icing

R. Stuart & Co – Oregon

Umpqua appellation

blend of 80% syrah and 20% pinot gris

Sustainable farming

Harvested exactly a year ago,

Aged for 1 month in 7yo french oak barrels so you get very little of the oak in the wine

11.5% abv

559 cases produced

.5% RS

Pescatarian friendly due to filtering techniques.

Retail Price: $15.99

The winemaker calls this his “big fruit bowl” – but I get a wine that just blends seamlessly with some spice, thus the saffron and cardamom, a typical indian spice pairing. I’d love to put this wine with Thai food as well.

2009 Dante Pinot Noir paired with roasted garlic cake with smoked gouda icing

From Michael Pozzan Winery

90% California, 10% Carneros

100% Pinot Noir

Aged 6 months

C: brilliant garnet

A: romas of sour cherry, dried orange peel, a hint of clove over a back drop of earthy leather.

P: rich and supple, spice and finishes with a balanced touch of cocoa and coffee.

Cases Produced:5000

Enjoy until 2012 – I recommend this wine as a drink now. Particularly at the price of $13.99

I usually pair a bacon cupcake with pinot – I highly recommend it. After all, everything is better with bacon. However, Camino is a vegetarian bakery… so, we got creative with some of the spices and flavors you find in bacon appetizers. Roasted garlic and smoked gouda are perfect compliments to the smokiness you find in a pinot noir.

2009 Periano Estate Merlot paired with a dark chocolate cake with currant icing

Lodi, CA

Peirano Estate Vineyards’ Merlot is produced from 6 different clones, or sub-varieties, of Merlot grown on the estate, including two rare French clones (#181 and #314), as well as the very rare Italian clone #9. Peirano Estate was the first commercial winery to grow and produce wine from these rare Merlot clones.

Aged for 12 months in all French oak barrels, of which less than 20% was new oak.

A: rich ripe cherries, blackberries with vanilla

P: cherry, plum, cocoa and cinnamon

I’m also fond of “The Others”, Immortal Zin and “The Unknown” – these wines are great every day drinkers.

Retail: $11.99

The chocolate and berry hints in the wine are enhanced by chocolate base, while the tannin and cinnamon are complimented by the currant.

2008 Domaine Janasse Cotes du Rhone  paired with chocolate spice cake with cinnamon icing (vegan)

This winery and vineyard covers 122 acres of vineyards distributed among different appellations : Châteauneuf du Pâpe, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Village, Vin de Pays de la Principauté d’Orange and Vin de table.

Grape variety : 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 15% Carignan, 5% Cinsault – stem removal : 80% – maceration : 12 to 15 days – elevage : 6 to 9 months in vat

Tasting :

P: strawberry, black cherry , a tinge of minerality and spices

60 000 to 80 000 bottles per year.

GSM, or Cotes du Rhone blends love spice. So we put a chocolate spice with some cinnamon for this wine. GSM also does well with harvest fruit dishes, and is a great thanksgiving complement.

As every year, the 3rd Thursday of November is the release date for the 2010 vintage of Primeur Côtes du Rhône. You may be familiiar with Beaujolais Nouveaux releases, this is similar – and the wines of this region are great for holiday meals.

I hope you enjoy the tasting notes, and if you are in Winston-Salem, head to City Beverage to get some of these wines. This event could not have been successful without the help of Paul Jones, location scout and operations guy extraordinaire. You should follow him on twitter. and the folks at Camino Bakery were extremely friendly – and they do vegetarian in a creative way. Thank you for everything!

Attendees, what were your favorites? If you like what you saw here, join us for the next #WineandCupcakes tasting! And we’ll be heading back to City Beverage for an all new event in February. Hope to see you there!

Regional Wine Week – A Limerick and Top 5

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Its been a fun week highlighting regional wineries, wine and winemakers from a few of my favorite places.  We successfully launched Wine and Cupcakes here in Cleveland, and we are taking our pairing experience  on the road to Winston-Salem, NC next week. Plenty of tastings coming up, and they will be on the  calendar as they are confirmed.

I’ve been asked by several folks for my Top 5 regional wines.

Without further ado, in NO particular order.

Miss WineOH Top 5 Regional Wines

From Ohio:

2007 Markko Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay ($27)

2008 Kinkead Ridge Cabernet Franc

From Virginia:

2005 Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo

2007 Linden Vineyards Hardscrabble Red ($42)

From North Carolina:

2008 Grove Winery Norton ($16.99)

There are about 5 more on my list of wines I’d go back to again and again…

2007 Benmarl Winery Baco Noir from New York

2009 Ferrante Winery Signature Series (GRV) Cabernet Franc ($15.99) from Ohio

Winery at Blackstar Farms Dry Cherry ($10) from Michigan

2009 Keswick Vineyards Verdejo from Virginia

2008 Hermes Vineyard Aglianico ($11.99) from Ohio

There are plenty of incredible wines out there. Discover what may be just around the corner! Tell me your favorites – I love finding new wines.

And in honor of the end of Regional Wine Week:  31 words about Drinking Local – because I’ve tasted from 31 states.

There once was a girl who drank whiskey.

In bourbon or beer she saw beauty

Then she found local wine,

And called it divine,

Its dry, she declared; not just fruity.

No more poetry… I promise!

Wine and Cupcakes – a pairing adventure

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Here are the tasting notes and pairings for the wines from Wine and Cupcakes at Market Avenue Wine Bar in Cleveland from Octover 13, 2011. Many thanks to Market Avenue, Joy and Nicholas for their help and great service, and A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont for the awesome cupcakes. Thanks for letting me get really creative! Retail prices listed are prices for purchase at Market Avenue. Stop in for a glass, and take home a bottle.

2010 Golem Riesling with a lemon cake and strawberry balsamic vinegar icing.

Australian – Clare Valley

.1% RSV

12% alcohol

Harvested March 6

Fermented in All stainless steel, so there’s no oak at all.

C: Pale yellow

A: Peach and Lime

P: Bright fresh fruit with juicy lime and lemon rind flavors as well as ripe tropical fruits

350 cases

retail price $17

This pairing accentuates the citrus flavors in the wine, while the strawberry balsamic provides a sweet tart that balances out the residual sugar. If there was more RS, you’d want to go sweeter with your flavor.

2010 Louis Laurant Vouvray paired with almond cake and roquefort icing

100% chenin blanc

France – Loire Valley

The villages of Vouvray and Montlouis are the largest appellations in the region and make only white wines from Chenin blanc.

C: Light yellow straw color.

Medium bodied.

A: Aromas of apples and pears.

Well balanced acidity.

Retail Price $12

Chenin blanc’s typical notes of stone fruit complement the nuttiness of the almond and pairs with the creaminess of the cheese in the icing.

2009 The Velvet Devil Merlot paired with cherry chocolate and salted caramel icing

Washington – Columbia Valley

90.6% Merlot, 9.4% Cabernet Sauvignon


Fermented in stainless steel, French oak aged.

C; Bright violet-red color extends to primary aromatics revealing

A: Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil

P: chocolate covered cherries and suggestions of smoke and cedar.

Release Date: September 2010

Retail Price $13

The chocolate and berry hints in the wine are enhanced by the cherry chocolate base, while the tannin is balanced by the salted caramel.

2009 Bella Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir paired with white and maple bacon icing

Meiomi owner and winemaker, Joseph Wagner follows a long family tradition of farming and making wine that spans well over 100 years.  His Grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, the namesake for the Belle Glos Pinot Noirs, was co-founder of Caymus Vineyards along with her husband, Charlie and son, Chuck, in 1972.

For this vintage, 47% sourced from Sonoma County grapes; 34% from Santa Barbara County and 19% from Monterey County.

9 months in French oak barrels – 60 percent new

C: Bright, deep garnet color.

A: Aromas of blackberries and cedar. A greatly layered palette abundant in flavor and texture.

P: Palate flavors of bright cherry, cola, dried leaves undertoned with vanilla and oak.

Release date: November 2010

Retail Price: $18

Nothing pairs better with a pinot noir than bacon. Add some sweetness with the maple and you have a perfect blend of flavors to pair with the oaky vanilla in the flavor of the wine.

 2005 Norman The Vocation paired with dark chocolate and cinnamon icing

50% Syrah 40% Grenache 10% Mourvedre

Appellation: Paso Robles

Alcohol: 15.0%

RS: .20%
Barrel Aging: 16 months in 50% new French oak
Cases Produced:525

Enjoy now or cellar age until 2016

A: aromas of ripe cherry, perfume and strawberry with nuances of cocoa and nutmug.


The cocoa and nutmeg blend seamlessly with the dark chocolate and savory cinnamon.

Retail: $23

Join us for the next Wine and Cupcakes experience in January, or one of our other events to be on sale soon. Check the Calendar of Events for details.

Where did the Wine go?

Labor Day weekend called for a trip to southern Ohio. Kinkead Ridge Estate Winery was going to be open, and we just had to taste their latest offerings. After hearing Brian Kirby wax philosophical about all things Kinkead, I knew that this was our chance.

With a 5 acre vineyard, they are known for their Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and also grow and bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, and Riesling. along with smaller quantities of Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc.

At the little house in Ripley, OH – home to their tasting room – which is open only select weekends depending on the quatities of wines available we encountered a lively group of tasters and many people discussing the wines.

From Kinkead Ridge website… my camera didn’t cooperate.

We were able to taste 5 of their wines. The 2009 reds were released under the secondary label, River Village Cellars. The whites are the 2010 release for Kinkead Ridge, plus their River Village traminette.

The 2010 White Revelation is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and some secret grape thatI couldn’t pick out. Its a tart wine, reminding me much of New Zealand SB – with just a hint of the vanilla that you get from oak. At $13.95, its a good buy for Sauvignon Blanc fans, but the alcohol, at 14.8% was a little overwhelming for us.

The 2010 Viognier/Rousanne has some of the very distinct viognier characteristics, but the addition of the larger amount of rousanne, I think, makes the wine just bit flat or flabby. At $15.95, its not one I’ll recommend for a quality-price ratio winner, but it does make a nice sipper.

The 2010 Riesling was MrWineOH’s favorite in the bunch. I’m not sure how many bottles we walked out with, but I know it was more than one. Nice and dry, with a 1.2% residual sugar. (I was shocked – I didn’t think it was more than .05%) Very crisp acidity, a fruity finish and a hint of efforvescence, this will be a wine we’ll thoroughly enjoy. At $11.95, it is definitely high on the QPR scale, but they only made 82 cases, so get after it… after I get mine.

The reds, as I said, were bottled under the secondary label. Ron Barrett noted in his winemakers notes that he was concerned about the 2009 vintage. That concern shows in the reds.

The 2010 Cabernet Franc… this is one I was SO looking forward to – and what I tasted was all oak, all the time. I had no notes of cherry fruit, no green pepper, just oak. I think many folks who like their oaky reds will love this, especially at the price point of $11.95 – but this is not the Cab Franc that we will go back to.

If I was looking for my favorite Kinkead Wine – I hit the jackpot with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of you might say… “Cab Sauv? In Ohio? Really?” but I have to tell you this one is delicious. Cabernet Sauvignon with a blending of petit verdot and syrah. The PV, one of my favorite varietals, shines through with its soft velvety finish. The Cabernet provides the fruity palate that many expect in a bold Cab. At $12.95 on the River Valley label, its a great value.

I want to love Kinkead, I think I was exposed to it at a bad vintage. I’ll be hunting for the older vintages in the wine shops, because I’ve heard amazing things about their Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

Please – try their wines. They do good work, and while I wasn’t overly impressed with a few of their wines, we walked out with a half case of the good stuff, and I’ve committed their Cab Sauv to my Ohio Wine Tasting lineup for the season. They are THAT good.

Orchestral Wine – a Pairing Adventure

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Mr. WineOH and I like to head down to Blossom Music Festival during the summer to sit on the lawn, eat gourmet goodies, and partake in a bit of the vitis vinifera while we listen to the Cleveland Orchestra in their summer home. It soothes the savage beast, as they say… or at least it soothes us after a hectic work week. Last weekend we gathered the WineOH eldest child, visiting from Maryland and most recently returning from a trip to Greece (there’s Greek wine from that trip… can’t wait to try it – Thanks, Ash!), and we headed out for a pleasant evening of music conducted by  Bramwell Tovey, one of the most convivial conductors I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing – he actually talks to the crowd… very cool man. This set the mood for a most enjoyable evening.

Image Courtesy of Panoramio

I usually take particular care when putting my meals together for events like this. The music is particularly divine, and so the wine and food should blend seamlessly. I put together a picnic of salame, prosciutto, cheeses, chicken salad, pasta salads, mozz & tomato drizzled with balsamic, olives, a bit of basil pesto and an incredible old world baguette  - with Mr. WinoOH’s brownies, of course. We paired this up with The Climber Chardonnay and a random bottle of pinot noir. The Climber is an interesting concept I first discovered at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA a few weeks ago. As much as we like to camp and hike, and prepare little meals to be enjoyed in places inconvenient for glass bottles, we were excited to see this packaging that, once emptied, folds up quite nicely to be hauled out of whatever location we have hauled it into, so it definitely intrigued me.

Clif Family The Climber Chardonnay

This is an unoaked chardonnay in a totally collapsible package with a non-drip plastic spout. Anyone who has tried to hike or camp with a buda bag knows that 75% of the time you are going to get leakage. This spout is actually, truly, non-drip – no leakage. This package is produced with an 80% lower carbon footprint than the equivalent bottles and produces 90% less waste. For us outdoor enthusiasts, that’s always a bonus, and the empty weight is a breeze compared to humping a glass bottle off a trail for 5 miles. As a member of 1% for the Planet, CLIF family donates 1% of all Climber pouch sales to Trees for the Future. Another bonus for the environmentally conscious – and the fact that this pouch holds 2 bottles of wine makes any outing a value for $17 retail. 

So, we have nice, convenient packaging and an environmentally sensitive company… what else?

The wine itself is a pretty standard unoaked chardonnay with some sharp acidity on the palate and a crisp apple aroma. In the realm of unoaked chardonnay, in the price range, and with awesome packaging, I consider it a contender. If you are used to California oaky chard, this is NOT your wine. I paired it with some pretty indigestion inducing foods (namely some salads with peppers, spiced olives and at least one heavily seasoned and Italian dressing laced dish) These were not the best pairings for this wine. In the future, I’ll go with fruit salads, crostini topped with cheeses and dried fruit, and other slightly sweeter dishes to balance out the acidity of the wine. Clif Family says its best enjoyed with good food and good company, I’ll agree with that whole heartedly, just don’t pair it with acid heavy foods.

Overall, this was a good wine to take to the lawn at Blossom. We enjoyed sipping on it once the brownies came out,  and not hauling an empty glass bottle was convenient for repacking our little cooler to trek back to the car. I do wish that the little plastic cap that comes off the top of the push button would actually go back on. Taking the wine in and out of the cooler, I was concerned that the button would get inadvertently pushed (and I’d have this concern in a pack as well) We were fortunate that the button is not that sensitive, but having the cap would definitely ease my mind in a hike-in situation. Wine down the back of your leg as you hike into camp, anyone?

I recommend this for value and packaging. Better than any boxed unoaked chardonnays. Nice QPR for the intended use.

Next weekend, we will be heading out with the Climber Cabernet. I’m thinking steak tartar and pickled beets? Ok, maybe not.

*wines provided by Clif Family for review.

#GDandBurgers – A Pairing Adventure

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Food and Wine pairings are one of my passions. Putting the perfect morsel together with whatever wine I’m considering for the evening is a habit of mine that drives my other half crazy sometimes. But on a particular night in July when @winetwits paired up #GDandburgers – the man was oh so happy to indulge. French wine and sliders – he was in heaven.

It was all Eat. Drink. Love.

With a little wrangling, and more thana few tweets culminating in receiving our tasting kit inCharlottesville, VA at the Wine Bloggers Conference, without evermeeting the great guy who had hauled it all the way from New York –(sheesh, thanks for all your hard work with that – love Ohioshipping laws!) We brought home a box of GeorgesDubœuf wines and somekiller recipes from Chef Bob Waggoner. Ever the purist, I set out topurchase all the necessary ingredients from our local vendors to makeslider representations of all 3 recipes to pair with the threewines… we invited a few neighbors over and it was on.

All wines were chilled for 3 hoursbefore serving, and then set out to gradually warm. The Julienas wasdecanted and then chilled.

First wine paired was the 2009Beaujolais-Villages, for which I prepared angus sliders stuffed withbacon, shallots, rosemary and New York aged sharp cheddar. This wasthe easiest “drinker” of the wines – and conversation flowedaround the smoothness of the gamay and the price ($9.99 retail) –making this a crowd favorite for an everyday wine.

Winemakersnotes on this wine.

The grilled portabella slider was the burger favorite – topped with eggplant, green onion and tomato afterbasting in some beaujolais, it was hard not to love this burger. I’mnot exactly a mushroom fan, but have a feeling this one will reappearon my menus. When paired with the 2009 Brouilly, I found it to beabsolutely divine. With a retail price of $13.99, this fitted intomost “good dinner” budgets in the room. It was chewy, very berryand very much a stand out wine. Dubœufbelieves this one can lay down for about 24 months – based on thetannins, I’d agree with that assessment, but I wouldn’t go much pastthat.


The last burger (wow… three huge anddelicious sliders… I could already hear the elliptical downstairscalling my name) was a turkey burger with sundried tomato and basilsauté.This one also called for arugula and grilled red onion stuffed into apita. While I had some trouble finding pitas that were not too big,and not too small (cue Goldilocks here….) I did find a work aroundand got all of that goodness stuffed into an appropriate package.This one was paired with the 2009 Julienas Chateau des Capitans whichshowed a spicy richness and tight tannins, along with pepper andlicorice on the palate. Although we decanted this one for severalhours prior to serving, it was still very tight and not the favoriteof the evening. I left it decanted overnight however, and found itmuch more open and flavorful the next day. At $17.99 retail, it wascloser to a “special night in with a steak” sort of wine for thisgroup and with all the decanting needed, the consensus was that thiswas one to buy and keep for a few years to let it settle down.

Winemakers notes.

Preparing the burgers just before showtime was the key to making it all happen. I heartily encourage anyone doing a twitter tasting to dedicate someone to tweeting, recording and snapping pictures, as it is nigh on impossible to host an event and do any sort of substantive tweeting. We did manage to participate in the conversation, though our video feed of Chef Bob never did work properly – but it was a struggle even for my multitasking brain. 

Manythanks go out to our neighbor Becky, who provided positivelyscrumptious cheese filled dates wrapped in bacon as an appetizer.They paired very well with the Brouilly and the Villages wines we weresipping pre-gnosh. Compliments to the vendors from West Side Market inCleveland for providing all my ingredients from one amazing localsource – save the fresh herbs, which came out of my balcony garden.And also to Winetwits forgetting this all together – absolutely loved the pairings and theidea.

Letsdo it again!
Eat.Drink. Love. 

What you need to know about #OHwine at #WBC11

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Southern Wine Trails is presenting Ohio Wine at the Other 46 Tasting tonight for the North American Wine Bloggers Conference. The winery we will be pouring is Ferrante Winery from Geneva, OH. 

Ferrante Winery is a family owned and operated winery. In 1937, Nicholas and Anna Ferrante established the winery in Cleveland’s Collinswood area. In the 1970′s, their sons Peter and Anthony built modern wine making facilities in the family’s Harpersfield Township vineyards. In the 1980′s, their families developed a thriving restaurant to showcase wine and food. 
         The menu then, as now, included Ferrante family favorites such as pizza della casa, spaghetti and meatballs, vitello scallopini and many more. All, of course, to complement the subtleties and nuances of the vintages from the cellar. 
         On November 4th, 1994, the operation was interrupted briefly by a fire. Gone were the dining and tasting rooms and many artifacts. Fortunately, a firewall saved the wine production facility, cellar and warehouse. 
          In early 1995, the Ferrante family pulled together body, mind and spirit to create the new home they have today. They are excited about the future of the Ohio wine industry and continue to develop award winning wines and fine dishes in the kitchen. 

The wines being poured tonight are: 

2010 Golden Bunches – Dry Reisling, Signature Series – Grand River Valley $14.99
1.54% RSV 
American Fine Wine – Gold
Finger Lakes International – Silver
Taster’s Guild International – Silver
Pacific Rim International – Silver
Beverage Tasting Inst. – Silver
LA Wine – Gold
Winemakers notes: 

2010 Cabernet Franc, Signature Series – Grand River Valley $15.99

American Fine Wine – Bronze
Finger Lakes International – Gold
Taster’s Guild International – Silver
Pacific Rim International – Silver

Winemakers notes: 

If you have additional questions, please drop me a note, or a tweet – I’m happy to answer anything I can about Ohio Wines! Stay tuned next week for video from Nick Ferrante, wine maker at Ferrante Winery and Ristorante. 


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