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Tag Archives: Riesling

Niagara Wine – Reif Estate Winery

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Reif Estate Winery is one of the original wineries in NotL – founded by Ewald Reif in 1983 and situated within yards of the Niagara River. Klaus Reif took over in 1987 after graduating from the Geisenheim Institute in Germany with degrees in both Oenology and Viticulture. Their winemaking history goes back 12 generations, so one must assume its in the blood. With 125 acres, this winery is just off the Niagara Parkway, so its popular with the bike riders and “hen parties”. However, they do have an interesting and well appointed back bar where they do tasting experiences – pairings, blind tastings, and special tastings – for a slight upcharge from normal tasting prices. Its worth the extra dollars to not fight the crowd at the tasting bar.

Borrowed Image – so you can see the Room, and not the crowd.

Going back to my Virginia roots, we tasted the Vidal. This is a wine I’ve had a fondness for when its on the dry side, and their 2011 does not disappoint. A fruit forward and balanced wine, the vidal has crisp acidity on the finish. A bit of Grapefruit and peach on the mid palate makes this an easy drinking summer wine that can be paired with any light summer dinner, or sipped on during a steamy day. At $9.95, its one of the best Vidal values I’ve seen.

The Gamay Noir has an enticing blend of raspberry and cherry on the nose. I really enjoyed the pepper finish and its a well balanced wine with smooth tannins. Gamay is flourishing in Niagara, and Reif does an excellent job with it. $16.95 retail.

The First Growth series are harvested from the oldest vineyard blocks and are created for extended cellaring. The 2007 Merlot presents with leather and plum – the finish is very dry with puckering tannins. Even at 5 years old, this wine should be decanted now, and can easily cellar another 5-10 years to integrate those tannins. This one retails at $50.

Their Riesling TBA (Totally Botrytis Affected) is everything a Sauterne should be, right here in Canada. The naturally occurring “Noble Rot” flourished in the vineyard in 2009, so the grapes were harvested and placed in a kiln to encourage growth of the bacteria. The result is a tangelo and truffle nose with lemon on the palate. Beautiful, and $50 retail.

The tasting room is well staffed with educated associates, and their enterprise is well organized, even with the sheer number of folks visiting. The winemaker was spotted weaving his way through the crowds on this busy Saturday, and it seemed everyone we spoke with was in some way related. After producing wines for almost 30 years in Canada, the family tradition continues. 

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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! 


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.

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Salsa

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

Marinade

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.

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