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Category Archives: Ohio

West Side Wine Spots

Hello! I’m Holly, the Cleveland-based writer behind “Rust Belt Runner,” a blog where I detail my journey with running, yoga and healthy living. As part of the Ohio Blogging Association November Blog Swap, today I am sharing about one of my other loves: wine.

I knew the Cleveland, Ohio area was home to many wineries, but it wasn’t until after moving here just over a year ago that I realized how truly extensive the options here were. From wineries, to wine tasting shops and wine bars, a pour is available almost anywhere to suit any palate. Today I’d like to share my favorite Cleveland Westside wine picks:

John Christ Winery (Avon Lake, Ohio): A visit to John Christ Winery includes reasonably priced samples at the bar, followed by a chance to share a bottle after selecting your favorite. Small plates and appetizers are also served here. Sit and enjoy the cabin-like atmosphere inside this historic building, in operation since 1964.

Rocky River Wine Bar (Rocky River, Ohio): I enjoy the upscale and intimate atmosphere here, which is perfect for a girl’s night out. Sit around a barrel of wine as you enjoy a selection from the house pours. Happy Hour specials are also available here during the week, along with wine flight options. In the summer, sitting outside is an extra delight.

Battery Park Wine Bar (Cleveland, Ohio): Here the motto is “You Only Live Once” YOLO and with a casual, yet upscale atmosphere it’s easy to partake in a memorable evening filled with wine here. Built in an old smokestack building, Battery Park Wine Bar has great Happy Hour specials, along with gourmet small plate options throughout the week. Come here for a snack or dinner and let the wine flow!

Wood and Wine (Avon, Ohio): I stumbled upon Wood and Wine, quite literally by simply seeing a sign on the interstate. This off-the-beaten-path restaurant and wine bar has amazing wood-fired pizzas made in the 900-degree oven, cheese platters and a variety of other entrees. The atmosphere here is casual, not crowded and truly just comfortable. Local wines are on the menu too.

There are so many options for wine-lovers in Cleveland. I have many more establishments I still want to check out. But next time you are in town or passing through the Westside, I hope you can enjoy trying out one of these local favorites!

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Micro Brewery Tour in Northeast Ohio in October

ImageI was asked to relay this information to my readers – its a great cause, and looks to be a really fun event. 

Please contact the person named below for additional information. 

In May,2012, Angel on the Avenue lost one of its founding members in Dick Kemer.  Dick fought a courageous battle for five (5) years against lung cancer.  As a way to honor him and his always “giving” nature, Angels on the Avenue will donate $1000 in Dick’s name to Holy Family Hospice in Parma, Ohio.  In an effort to raise funds for this donation, we will be hosting a micro-brewery tour on Saturday, October 6, 2012.

The date of this year’s event will be Saturday, October 6, 2012.  Cost for the tour will be $50.00 per person and is limited to 50 people.  Your cost includes chauffeured driven bus transportation provided by Touch of Class Limo Service, all taxes, driver tip, draft beer on the bus, and tastings at most of the visited breweries.  Our day will start by gathering at P.J. McIntyre’s Irish Pub (17119 Lorain Road) at 9:00 a.m. You can enjoy drinks and a limited menu.  We will depart promptly at 10:00 a.m. from the back parking lot.  Stops include Indigo IMP Brewery (Cleveland), Cellar Rats (Madison), Chardon Brew Works (Chardon), Main Street Brewing (Garrettsville), and the Buckeye Beer Engine (Lakewood).  We will arrive back at P.J. McIntyre’s between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.  Special hotel rates have been established with the Hilton Garden Inn on Graton Road which includes shuttle service to and from PJ McIntyre’s for the tour.  This rate is $89.00, plus tax.  If we secure 10 rooms, this rate will drop to $79.00 per night.  Ask me for details!!

Guest may bring any food and/or beverage on the tour for themselves or to share.  Since the majority of these breweries are on small side, food (lunch / dinner) will be “on your own”.

Since this will be a fundraiser, we will have 50/50 raffles, Jell-O shots, and a large basket raffle available during the course of the day.

If you are interested, please either e-mail (jdailey@ppg.com) or call him at (216) 701-3143 to secure your spot.  Again, this will be a first come, first served event.  Act now to secure your spot.  Monies received guarantee your spot.  Final payment will be due by September 22, 2012.

MissWineOH received no compensation for positing this event. 

 

Selection Sunday demands Craft Brew and Cupcakes

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There was Beer and Cupcakes at Market Garden Brewery on Sunday, March 11. We had a rockin’ time. Here are the notes. I sat with Andy Tveekrem to get information about his beers. If any of these notes are incorrect – this is my fault – and not his.

The Ohio City Room

Friar Power Belgian Tripel with a Saffron and orange cake, topped with Cardamom icing.

This strong light golden ale is the product of belgian history. Originally produced by monks – they developed the distinctive yeast that gives the belgian tripel its ester profile. (Volatile flavor compound naturally created in fermentation. Often fruity, flowery or spicy.) At 8%, the alcohol can sneak up on you. This is Andy’s stealth beer.

The profile of this beer – very floral, slightly bitter, with a lovely citrus kick is paired with the complementary subtle flavors of saffron and cardamom – with a little orange to draw out the citrus.

Pearl Street Wheat with an Almond cake, topped with lemon/orange icing.

The phenolics (Flavor and aroma of smoke, or cloves; caused by wild yeast or bacteria) from the yeasts in this Hefeweisen are nutmeg and clove. Its slightly tart or acidic – the banana nose is characteristic of the yeasts as well. The beer is brewed with about a 65% wheat base in addition to malted barley. This makes for a sweeter beer – but lower alchohol than the first, coming in at 5.5%.

We are pairing this one with almond – in complement to the banana (think banana bread) and the lemon/orange icing is a nod to the tradition of serving this beer with a lemon or orange slice.

Boss Amber Lager with a roasted garlic cake and sundried tomato icing.

Possibly the beer from Market Garden that is most suited for food due to the toasted malt. This one would pair with any roasted meat dish. Its fermented colder and slower than ales – for about six weeks. Andy utilizes a Vienna Malt for this traditional Vienna Lager. A great Session beer, it comes in at 5% – a perfect example of how to make a good lager. This is probably my favorite.

Obviously the roasted garlic and sundried tomato come together to give you a sweet treat reminiscent of your Sunday dinner of roast chicken – without trying to create a meat cupcake!

 

 

This beer is named after Andy – the “Striking Viking” – an American Pale Ale produced with Cascade hops and English yeasts. These yeast typically produce a butter or butterscotch flavor. And he uses a crystal malt for color and body. This one comes in at 5.5% – another easy drinker.

We bring creaminess to this pairing with white chocolate to sooth the hops, and bacon and jalapeno demonstrate an easy pairing with burgers or spicy foods.

Wallace Tavern Scotch Ale with a Five Flavor Cake and Salted Caramel icing.

This beer is named for George Wallace, a Scottish settler to Cleveland from 1806. He owned a Distillery and brewery in the area, and later moved to Brandywine. So this is an homage to Cleveland’s beer history. This ale’s malts are actively caramelized utilizing a prolonged boil. The strong heavy malt is balanced by the addition of other flavors to reduce bitterness. Typically the Scots would use heather or other wild ingredients, though Andy doesn’t hold THAT closely to the tradition. He utilizes a slightly higher alcohol percentage (between 6.5 and 7% depending on the batch) to balance the malt – so that the caramel becomes noticeable in the flavor and neutralizes much of the bitterness.

The obvious pairing on this beer is salted caramel, one of my favorite flavors – we added in the five flavor cake to show the diversity of pairing possibilities. A traditional southern dessert, this has lemon, butter, rum, coconut and vanilla in the cake. Any rich saucy dish would pair up nicely with the Wallace Tavern.

Forest City Brown Ale with a nutty carrot cake and cream cheese icing.

This beer is named after Cleveland’s moniker – back when it was all about the lumber here. This brown ale is born from the roasted flavors of a coffee malt which literally can be roasted like coffee beans, providing the brewmaster with differing degrees of flavor to work with. This English style beer is bold and expressive, coming in at 5.8% – and is Andy’s favorite.

When I first tasted this beer, all I could think about was roasted vegetables. Pair this one up with any roasted veg – like a lasagna. The pasta will sooth the bitterness on the finish. We give you a nutty carrot cake with cream cheese to attain the desired affect.

A Cookie and a Cupcake made these incredible treats. Visit them in Tremont. 

Tiny Bubbles, in my wine….

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pardon the Don Ho flashbacks….

Mr WineOH and I headed over to Lago for a Bubbles tasting with a Northeast Ohio wine group. What better way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon than sipping on some bubbles and meeting new friends!

Our hosts were Mindy and Alice from WineTrends, an Ohio distributor – so all of the sparklings we tasted are available in the Cleveland Metro area. John from Lago was gracious enough to open the doors early for the group – and provide us with appetizers. This restaurant specializes in northern italian cuisine and has a nice by the glass list. They also have a lovely patio with live music on warm days.

Now, on the the Bubbles!

zardetto prosecco label We started with Zardetto Prosecco – this one is aged in stainless steel.  Any sparklings produced in Italy after 2009 must be from Prosecco to be CALLED Prosecco, otherwise, it is called Glara –  much like the limitations placed on french wines, including Champagne. See more about that here.

The Zardetto is 95% Prosecco and 5% Chardonnay – we found crisp acidity and green apple flavors. Its floral on the nose, and soft on the palate. We got to this one a bit warm, which presented as flat. This one is bone dry, compared to other proseccos you’ll find. At $12.99 – I place it high on the QPR scale.

Loosen Sparkling Riesling label Dr. L Dr. L Sparkling Riesling was next on the menu – 100% pure Riesling from one of the most accessible German producers. The Dr. L is another stainless steel sparkling, called “Sekt” in Germany and is produced using the Charmat method. The secondary fermentation is done in a pressurized tank, producing smaller, longer-lasting bubbles; as opposed to Methode Champenoise, where secondary fermentation is in the bottle. If you are curious about this process, read more here.

The Dr. L was definitely bubble heavy, almost too heavy on my palate. Even the finish had a strong effervescence. I got stone fruit on the nose, and some banana on the palate. It is an interesting and affordable sparkling at $11.99.

Laetitia Pink Sparkling labelWe then headed to the Arroyo Grande Valley in California, tasting Laetitia Brut Rosé – this one is produced in small batch tanks – medium bubbles and elegant fruit, mostly strawberry – showing off the Pinot Noir base, and a niggle (that’s a technical term) of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. If you like pink bubbles, you’ll like this one, as it’s an easy sipper, though I could see it an easy pairing with chicken or fish. Selling at $19.99, I’d put it midrange on the QPR scale.

Taltarni Brut Tache label Next on the trip was Victoria,  Australia, with Taltarni Brut Taché. Made from 54% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier – this sparkling is elegant, floral and has just the right amount of bubbles for me. according to the winemaker’s notes, the pink hue is achieved by adding a hint of red wine liqueur to the finished wine at disgorgement. Strawberry and floral on the nose, I got less of the Pinot Noir in this one. The mouthfeel was luscious and the complex yeast characters typical of well made sparklings were obvious. At a local price of $29.99, its a bit lower on the QPR scale, but I found it online for around $23. I think its worth that price.

We had to spend some time with the French bubbles of course, which means the prices get well…. pricey!

ayala zero dosage brut champagne

The Ayala Brut Zero Dosage was the first of the French champagnes, and is a lesson in how champagne is made. Champagne spends many months, sometimes years maturing in bottle on its yeast lees.  At the end of this time, the wine is ‘disgorged’, meaning the yeast lees are removed.  A final ‘dosage’ – a wine/sugar solution – is added immediately afterwards, which gives the wine the level of dryness/sweetness required by the cellar master.

This is a zero dosage champagne and with no residual sugar, an extremely dry wine.

40% pinot noir; 40% chardonnay; 20% pinot meunier – a delicate effervescence, distinct fruitiness and a long finish.

This was my favorite of the tasting… but as MamaWineOH would remind me. I can walk into a store and fall in love with the most expensive item, without looking at the pricetags.

This champagne retails at $49.99.

champagne j lassalle

The Champagne J Lassalle was the grower champagne of the event. It is grown and produced by three women at this family owned Champagne house in Chigny-Les-Roses in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France. This is a Kermit Lynch import selection, and one of impeccable taste. A blend of 60/40 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it is a distinctive Premier Cru Champagne. Fruity and soft, dry and beautifully structured with a long finish – a champagne to truly sip and enjoy. This bottle would work perfectly for any special occasion and is available from fine wine merchants in Cleveland. It retails for $49.99.

The tasting was lovely, and bubbles are a great way to spend an afternoon. I love Lago Restaurant in Tremont – but there was not a lot of thought put into the pairings on the appetizers. One of the apps was heavy onion – which can do some serious damage to the palate, particularly when tasting the delicate flavors in champagne.

The price was right at $30 for this tasting. I’d just as soon have had a bit of brie and crackers to nibble with the bubbles though.

Winery Adventure – Markko Vineyards

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Markko Vineyards - front entrance

A regal entrance into one of Ohio’s oldest and most successful wineries.

Markko Vineyards isn’t the easiest place to find. There is no big sign indicating “Winery Here” – in fact, there are no signs at all. I got a bit turned around on the back roads off of I-90 because of some bridge work (now completed) – but if you follow the directions from the Markko website, you’ll get there fine. And you should. You should make an appointment for a tasting, and go out and try these wines in Conneaut, Ohio. Arnie Esterer, owner and winemaker, has a theory. “Our wines are good. If they like good wine, they’ll find us,” so he’s not worried about drawing a crowd. He’s been at this for over 40 years, and he knows what he’s talking about – his wines are divine.

Markko WineryThis is not a “destination winery” and not one to appear on the cover of a tourist magazine, but the wines are worthy of The Beard House and the New York Times. There is a small tasting room with a table for 12, and old growth tree shaded deck. Perfect for one of their Perch and Riesling lunches.

Back deck at Markko

I chatted with Arnie and his son, opening bottles here and there, while we talked  about this incredible adventure they’ve been on. The goal when Arnie Esterer and Tim Hubbard started was to show the potential of Vinifera in the Lake Erie region – it wasn’t an AVA yet in 1968. They were looking for the terroir, and by george, I think they found it.

Markko has 16 acres under vine, and every bottle produced comes from estate grapes, producing about 2100 cases annually. When Markko got started they planted Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir under the guidance of Dr. Konstantin Frank (a New York winemaker). Later Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, and Merlot were added to the plantings. Over the last 44 years, Arnie has become known as pioneer in Ohio winemaking.

Once Arnie came back from testing the wines they intended to bottle that day, we started the tasting with his Chardonnay.

2007 Chardonnay Select Reserve, bottled in ’09 (I tasted in 2011, so it’d been aging in the bottle 2 years) This spent 2 years on oak, but the flavor of the chardonnay grape shines through. Apple and pear on the palate, buttery on the finish. I am in no way an oaky chardonnay fan – much prefer them stainless steel, but WOW. Beautiful. ($33) – This one was paired at a MissWineOH event with chicken salad toast points and fresh garden salsa crostinis.

2004 Chardonnay Reserve This spent 7 years sur lee on American oak. Yes, you read that right – 7 years. This one had less of the fruit on the palate, but the butter was certainly present. I’d call this a perfectly oaked Chardonnay. (2005 is $30, I don’t think the 2004 is available)

2007 Chardonnay Lot 0703 Three years on oak, and fined with egg whites. Pleasant fruit, crisp and aromatic. Slightly more obvious oak here. ($24)

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve A beautiful field blended Cab, smooth tannins and well balanced. Blending consists of 5% each of merlot, cab franc and chambourcin. Gorgeous. ($33)

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Having tasted the 07, I grasped just how Markko wines are meant to be aged. The 08 had more prominent alcohol, and was slightly more tannic. It is also a drier red, but has the same full mouthfeel as the 07. Similar field blend.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve The smoothest of the Cabs. Very fruit forward, the complexity of the field blending shows with fun layers of the chambourcin and cab franc peeking through. This wine, while aged similarly to the others in its oak barrels, did not have the oak intensity – beautiful wine, and any of the Cabs could lay down for many years. ($36)

2008 Johannesburg Riesling Grassy and slightly floral on the nose stone fruit on the palate, slight effervescence that makes this a great wine to pair with spicy dishes. (currently not available)

2007 Riesling Reserve More grassy and slightly petrol on the nose, with honey on the finish. This one also has that effervescence. ($30) I paired this at a special event with a pumpkin cupcake. Beautiful wine.

Arnie did not stop being an innovator when he planted vinifera in Ohio in 1968. He also devised a trellis system for organic grapegrowers and planted American, French and Hungarian oak trees on his 100 acre property.  The intent was to be able to harvest these (now 40 year old) trees to be sent to a cooperage to become Markko barrels. That harvesting begins this year. Winemaking innovation and excellence is  a hallmark at Markko.

I arrived with the intention of doing a bit of a tasting and picking up a bottle for an event I was doing. I stayed about 2.5 hours, and had I been dressed differently, I might have been conscripted to help cork their wines. They were bottling that day, a fun thing to watch, an incredibly labor intensive process to complete. They use a pump system and hand run equipment to bottle and seal.

Employee Notice - wash your feet

Arnie’s son told me during our conversation that they opened a 1973 Chardonnay a week before I’d been there, and that it had aged beautifully. I just wish I’d been around for THAT tasting. These Ohio wines, while not exactly budget friendly, are priced extremely well for the quality and pricing of comparable wines. Don’t let the Ohio AVA fool you. There are serious vintages being made in Conneaut.

Markko’s first vintage was in 1972, and their system works, so they aren’t fixing what’s not broken. Markko wines are available in wine shops throughout Northeast Ohio. I have spotted them in Heinen’s and in Constantino’s. They do have a few budget friendly wines ($9-$20) – and while I haven’t tasted them, I can’t imagine Arnie and Linda would put out a wine they wouldn’t drink. These folks make cellar worthy wines.

Ohio Blogging Association – February Meeting

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 The February Meeting of the Ohio Blogging Association will be a tasting at

Wine and Design in Tremont

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

7pm.

Wine and Design

751 Starkweather Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113

6 affordable wines will be poured and there will be light appetizers while each wine is discussed and additional wine/blogging tips shared.

Miss WineOH will also answer the mystery of  “do wine bloggers really get free wine?”

Cost for this meeting will be $15,

and should be paid in advance.

You may pay using Paypal to misswineoh@gmail.com

Greg and Dan at Wine and Design have generously donated their space for the meeting, so please give them Twitter love to @wineanddesignOH and blog love before and after the meeting!

Wines poured the night of the meeting will be available for purchase, as well as great wine accessories and of course the beautiful design elements from the “Design” side of Wine and Design.

(Miss WineOH has no affiliation with this business, other than being a fan of local small business and buying a LOT of wine there!)

If you have questions about the wine tasting,  or need to make other payment arrangements,

please email Tammy Colson at the Miss WineOH address.

There will be a non-alcoholic option available (soda/tea) – please RSVP for this option. The charge will be $5.

If you have OBA questions, please contact the OBA folks.

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We look forward to seeing you on February 21st at 7pm!

Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

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Sipping Sweetness – Dessert Style

I am a sucker for a good dessert wine during the holiday season. I’ve been known to open up a late harvest wine while preparing a holiday season meal or party appetizers. While these wines can – and should – be enjoyed any time of the year – they are particularly endearing during this season. Late harvest wine, Icewine, Port and Sherry are all included in this category. While true port and sherry is particular to specific regions of the world – this is a great opportunity to explore varieties from the “Other 46”.

Chocolate Lab from Barrel Oak Winery

courtesy of Vinoshipper

Chocolate Lab, Barrel Oak Winery, Delaplane, VA – $31

Chocolate Lab is my recommendation for anyone who would like to experience something in the “chocolate wine” catagory, but isn’t enthused with the idea of merlot blended with chocolate syrup. This is a totally unique port style wine infused with essences drawn from cocoa beans added to the wine during secondary fermentation. Its not terribly sweet at 5% RS, and its been aged in recovered American oak whiskey barrels. I’ve paired with berry tarts. This is one of a kind and delicious.

Gray Ghost Winery - dessert wine

Adieu, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Amissville, VA – $23-25

This one is produced only in exceptional years, so its not always available, but when it is – wow – a special wine!  With an RS of 11.5%  – although it really doesn’t taste like its that high, it makes for a perfect after dinner sipper. Rich peach, honey, Muscat and apricot aromas compliment a light cheese platter or your holiday pumpkin pie.

Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine

Cabernet Franc Ice Wine, Ferrante Winery, Harpersfield Township, OH – $34.99

One of the sweetest ice wines I’ve tried recently is the Ferrante Cab Franc Ice Wine. This one is from select estate grown grapes frozen on the vine. Aromas and flavors of sweet raspberry and cherry. 17% Residual Sugar. While it is definitely a sweet one, the cab franc flavor from Ferrante’s wonderful estate grapes is obvious, and a red dessert wine is still a unique experience at most parties. I pair this one with savory tarts, mince meat pies or créme brule. This is a red wine, but please chill it down for the best experience.

Seven port wine - King Family VineyardsSeven, 2009, Port Wine from Merlot grapes, King Family Vineyards, Crozet, VA $29.95

At the American Wine Bloggers Conference, we encountered some folks in the atrium pouring a Virginia post style wine that I’d never seen. Named for the 7th chukker in polo ~ like the 19th hole in golf, its made in the traditional Porto style with an American twist. This port wine is made with 100% Merlot and is fortified with brandy. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for 2 years and bottled as a 500mL – slightly larger than most of these. 3% residual sugar. 18% alcohol.  If you are a port fan, this wine will tickle your fancy.

Hanover Park Winery Port HanoverPort Hanover, Chambourcin port style wine, Hanover Park Vineyards, Yadkinville, NC – $17

As a fan of the Chambourcin grape, I was really impressed with this port when I first experienced it. It is a beautiful example of all of the characteristics of the Chambourcin, a grape showing some serious success in North Carolina  – and showcased in a port style. An easy port wine to pair with an asiago cheese ball or dessert pieces from Lilly’s Chocolates, like the Cinnabunny.

The Virginia and North Carolina wines are available to be shipped to Ohio, and while Ferrante is only available in Ohio, the winery’s location close to Lake Erie, and many other wineries make for a great day trip. I have not seen the ice wine in retail stores in Cleveland, but it may be available if your wine shop carries Ferrante wines.

Do you have a favorite dessert, icewine (eiswein), or domestic port? Share them in the comments!

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