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Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Niagara Wine – Caroline Cellars Winery

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Caroline Cellars Winery is a 36 acre vineyard started in 2000, and opened as a tasting room in 2002. The winery’s namesake (Rick Lakeit’s Mother) is memorialized in a portrait above a lovely stone fireplace in the tasting room.  Luckily, the air conditioning was on for our 95+ degree day visit, but I could imagine it being quite cozy on a winter day.

The soils are primarily sandy loam, characteristic of the  Niagara Lakeshore. The winery is producing a full selection of vinifera wines – whites and reds – and they carry a Baco Noir for my fellow baco fans. There is also quite a selection of fruit wines and ice wine available. The Lakeit family (Rick Lakeit, winemaker) is producing some excellent vintages, and Justine, the Retail Manager is a great face and tweeter for the winery. You can follow them on Twitter at @carolinecellars

Highlights of the tasting:

Their 2008 Tanked is an unoaked chardonnay with melon, pineapple and mango notes. It boasts a full mouthfeel and crisp finish. A good stainless chardonnay at a $9.50 price point!

The 2009 Gewurtztraminer is a refreshing white with very little sugar – though you do get the honeysuckle and orange on both nose and palate. A good wine for Asian cuisine at $14.70.

Caroline also has a very unique Plum wine, and if you are a fan of sushi, but not saki, I’d recommend this to pair with a sushi feast. A surprise flavor for certain, but the winemaker balances it well, and $11.50 per bottle, its a great value.

The Lunch Menu

The winery boasts a beautiful wrap around covered seating area, perfect for summer sipping, and their restaurant serves a wonderful lunch Friday-Sunday. We enjoyed a flatbread pizza and some awesome crab cakes. 

The friendly staff also has a special connection with one of my favorite Virginia winemakers, Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery. Jordan is one among an increasing number of excellent winemakers from Niagara College in Ontario. Both Niagara College and Brock University have impressive oenology and viticulture programs, as proven when we met several graduates during our visits. I was also pleased to discover that a large number of those award winning winemaker graduates are women. Cheers to Girl Power in the vineyards! 

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We Might Have Lost our WITS, but We Found Excellent Wine

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MissWineOH and company were asked to participate in the #WITS2012 Twitter Tasting event in conjunction with WineTwits, so we piled onto the rooftop deck with much anticipation. When the wines arrived, we were ready to pair, taste and tweet about four wines from California.

Wente 2010 Morning Fog Charndonnay was the first wine of the evening. This was paired with a romaine lettuce salad that I first experienced at Hillebrand in Niagara this past weekend. I don’t think I did Chef Dodd’s dish any justice, but it was pretty darn tasty. You can find my recipe here.

The Morning Fog lifted the dish to a beautiful profile with green apple on the nose, and soft citrus notes as it eased into a finish. As y’all know, I am not a fan of the oaky chardonnay, and it was obvious the oak was judiciously used to provide a light buttery medium mouthfeel. At $12.99, (slightly higher in Ohio) this will be a versatile crowd pleaser, as it paired seamlessly with the romaine, prosciutto, crab salad and caeser in the dish. 

Our second wine comes from Hahn Family Wines and home to my favorite wine banned in Alabama (Cycles Gladiator) – the 2011 Pinot Noir quickly became a crowd favorite. With strong berry and cherry flavors on the nose, with a hint of black currant, this pinot finishes with notes of marshmallow. I will attribute that to the winemakers use of caramelized oak on the wine. I am not at all saying the wine is sweet, though your tastebuds may argue with that point initially. The structure of the tannins and medium mouthfeel hold up well with a variety of dishes. We served a Cardamom Salmon spread over plain bagel chips (recipe here) and had trouble pulling away from this pairing to move on to the next wine!

Our third wine was the Garnet 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir paired with a Black Quinoa and Spinich with Basil Pesto. Garnet Vineyards has been making cool climate pinots since 1983, and the current winemaker Allison Crowe joined the tasting to give us her insights into the wine. While the Hahn pinot was overwhelmingly the favorite of our guests, I truly enjoyed the subtlety of this wine. Strawberry and Vanilla with a smooth enticing spice finish off with elegant oak and “drink right now” tannins that makes this CArneros Pinot Noir a go to red around MissWineOH headquarters. This wine is on the higher end of our wine buying for dinner, at $19.99 (and is not available in Ohio) but go get this wine, I loved it. The quinoa dish got lost in the structure of this wine, so the recommendation is to add a pork tenderloin or for a vegetarian twist, a well seasoned tofu, on top of the quinoa. You can find the recipe here.

The last wine was a bit of a struggle for us. Franciscan Estate sent us their 2008 Magnificat, a Mertiage blend. I had opened this a bit ahead, and aerated each glass, but it seemed either very tight in the bottle or slight off. After multiple aerations (and a later decanting) it was sadly determined that the wine was corked. We paired this complex red with a well seasoned Meatballs and Marinara, and those came out beautifully. That recipe is here. I’m not one to give up on a wine, so I’ll be looking for a bottle in the area to try. We’ll let you know how that works out. Based on the comments from tasters in the twitterverse, I’ll recommend this wine. The 2007 is listed at $50.00 per bottle, so a special occasion/cellar wine for us.

Many thanks to the wineries, our MissWineOH who participated on a school night, and the folks at Wine Twits for organizing it all.

Have you tried these wines? Or the recipes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Sipping!

#Writers Note# The four wines for this tasting were received as samples courtesy of the wineries and WineTwits. Thank you for letting us participate.

White Wines for Spring – TOWC Notes

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On a gorgeous Cleveland Spring evening, wine lovers gathered at The Olde Wine Cellar for an Ode to Spring, White Wines and Cupcakes on the deck of the wine shop. We were not disappointed with warm weather and a slowly setting sun. So what were we oohing and ahhing over on this beautiful evening with friends and strangers gathered to taste?

Wine and Cupcakes Selection

Brut D’Argent Blanc de Blancs

 Paired with White cake, custard and fresh strawberries with buttercream

How can one resist the urge to begin a tasting on one of the earliest warm days Cleveland has seen by sipping on some sparkling wine? We toasted to a new season with the very affordable and tasty Blac de Blancs from the Jura region on France.

This 100% Chardonnay has light effervescence, slight hints of crisp green apple and pear, a bit of mineral and some touches of buttered brioche at the finish.  Nice value.We paired this with the strawberry custard as a pleasing blend of light fruits. Champagne (or sparking, because even though French, this is not from the Champagne region) blends beautifully with fruits of all kinds. Think strawberry, apple, kiwi, peach… and of course you can easily add in the chocolate!

NV New Age Torrontes  – ArgentinaTorrontes Sauvignon Blanc blend

 Paired with Almond cake with roquefort icing

From one of Argentina’s most famous wineries – Bodega Valentin Bianchi, 90% Torrontes, 10% Sauvignon Blanc.

 Torrontes is the signature wine grape of Argentina. Aromas of fresh flowers and fruit, crisp, yet soft in the finish. Halfway through the fermentation process, the wine is centrifuged (spun) to halt fermentation, creating a slightly sweet, semi-sparkling wine. 9% ABV

The New Age is not your typical Torrontes, so if you are a huge fan, the effervescence may be a little shocking on your palate. That being said, for inexperienced wine drinkers, it is a great way to introduce your palate to a new grape. And if you like sparklings in general, you will probably find this to be a budget friendly one off from your usual bubbly.

Schloss Zell Mosel2007 Mosel Piersporter Michelsberg Kabinett Riesling – Germany

 Paired with Granny Smith Apple cake with Apple Cream Cheese and Caramel

Honestly, this cupcake could have paired with either the bubbly or the riesling. This wine and cupcake together just seemed like grandma’s apple strudel. Piesporter Michelsberg Kabinett is a very crisp moderately light bodied wine reminiscent of granny smith apples. The lively acidity results in a juicy clean palate feel that is ideal for a wide range of foods from cheese and appetizers to shellfish and meat.

There are so many variations on the theme when it comes to Riesling, this is your slightly off dry, slightly more acidity version. And it was a crowd favorite on our Spring evening!

2010 Tortoise Creek Wines Viognier – FranceViognier Tortoise Creek Winery France

Paired with Ginger Cake with Lemon Icing

 This Viognier, “Le Verger” is completely unoaked and therefore bright with lovely aromas of peaches, pears and honeysuckle that lead to a palate that is fresh and crisp but packed with fruit. Viognier can easily be paired with spiced dishes. I love a viognier with a sushi or fish. So I give you ginger and lemon… two of my favorite flavors with those dishes.

Viognier is meant to be consumed young, and typically will lose its perfume as it ages in the bottle, so don’t hold on to this one too long – not that you’d want to – its yummy (that’s a technical term), open it now!

2010 YardDog White Blend – Australia

Yard Dog White Blend South AustraliaPaired with Olive oil and sweet white wine cake with Basil Icing

55% Chardonnay, 18% Gewurztraminer, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 9% Viognier, and 3% Semillon. from South Eastern Australia.

 This wine is barreled in old oak and stainless steel, so that the oak mellows the edges of the wine, but does not impart huge amounts of oak flavor – and its aged for 2-5 years, depending on the varietal, then blended prior to bottling. This one will cellar for a few years, so be sure to give it some air before sipping.

 The YardDog made me think of fish, pork, chicken… white meat dinners on a summer day. So its paired with a sweetened cake (to balance the semillion and gewurtztriminer – traditionally sweeter wines) with basil icing – one of the herbs commonly used on summer white meat dishes.

2010 Dreaming Tree Chardonnay – CaliforniaDave Matthews Band wine label Chardonnay

 Paired with Fig cupcake with Brie

Steve Reeder partnered with Dave Matthews to create this wine. They wanted to bring the traditional Central Coast flavors of spice and big fruit to their Chardonnay. This wine was aged for 9 months in oak and stainless steel, so you will get American oak on the nose.. which will calm after getting some air.

 At 13.5 % this is not a heavy Chard, nor is it a fruit bomb… this is, with some air, a lovely dinner chardonnay.

 It reminds me of sipping white wine on the deck with fruit and cheese, so I give you fruit and cheese.

If these pairings sound like fun, join us for our next public tasting on April 28 – tickets are available for the East Side tasting at The Wine Spot. Or give me a call, and we can put together a private tasting for your friends, family, company or civic group! 


Spring Joy in White Wines on the West Side

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Its #WineandCupcakes with a spring in its step!

We’ll be tasting White Wines in March. Thursday, March 22 – at 6:30pm.

The Olde Wine Cellar in Olmsted Falls welcomes us back as our wine partner for an enchanting trip through France, Germany, Italy, Spain and California. We’ll start with a French champagne and end in California with Dave Matthews’ take on Chardonnay – and it will be a world tour in between.

Its Wine and Cupcakes for Spring!

We are pairing our six beautiful white wines with six specially created gourmet mini-cupcakes. A bite or two of a unique creation to enhance and complement the wines!

Six incredible courses, in a great setting – The Olde Wine Cellar is a cozy venue – and if its pretty enough, we’ll be sipping on the covered and heated patio.

Ticket prices include all fees, taxes and gratuity. Tickets must be purchased in advance because our bakers at A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont need to know how many of these beauties to make!

Join us for a Joyful Spring Evening.

MissWineOH and The Olde Wine Cellar at our finest Pairing Adventure!

Eventbrite - Spring Joy in White Wine and Cupcakes!

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.

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