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Monday, August 29, 2016

Amador County Producing Wine As Good As Gold–Part 2

Amador County is located in the Sierra Foothills AVAThe Motherlode gold vein may have played out in Amador decades ago, but today more than 40 wineries there are producing wines that are truly a treasure.

Exploring Amador Wine

In the first article about my recent trip to Amador County, we covered the historic roots of this unique wine growing region and what makes it a cool destination today. Gold may have led the world to rush into an area then inhabited by small bands of Native Americans – for me, it was all about the wine.

I was in the area to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi along with tasting team member, the Cabernetor. Lodi produces an array of different wine, but is best known for Zinfandel. I signed on for the Amador County pre-excursion to learn more about this area about an hour away.

There were three takeaways that made a lasting impression.

Zinfandel For The Ages

Winemaker Scott Harvey with Vineyard 1869 ZinfandelLodi may get the trade news coverage for Zinfandel, but Amador County winemakers could consider Lodi latecomers. Amador County is home to the Original Grandpere Vineyard, the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in California. It is noted in a county deed in 1869, solidifying its claim.

We sampled three Zins from the OGP vineyard, The 2008 Vineyard 1869 Zinfandel from Scott Harvey Wines, Andis Wines 2012 OGP Zinfandel and the 2012 OGP Zinfandel from Vino Noceto Winery.

The gnarled canes of old Zinfandel vines give forth fewer grapes, but ah! The grapes are concentrated with deep briary flavors that yield complex layers of currant and blackberries. Each of these wines are superb

Mark McKenna, winemaker for Andis, says that he can “push” the Estate Zinfandel a bit, but says the OGP grapes are like a toddler, with him following behind letting the wine find its own path. The result is exceptional.

According to Scott Harvey, who boasts a wealth of winemaking success, the marine influence in Amador County makes it ideal for producing incredible Old Vine Zinfandel. We agree.

A Flood Of Sangiovese

Lindy Gullett with Vino Noceto Pinot GrigioI won’t say that Amador County is the last place I’d expect to find Sangiovese. Many Italian grape varieties flourish in the Golden State. But nine from one winery! That did get my attention.

Vino Noceto owners Suzy and Jim Gullett were called nutty by neighboring grape growers when they decided to focus on growing Sangiovese. After investigation, they decided their property was best suited for warm weather red grapes. They produced 110 cases of Sangiovese in their inaugural vintage in 1990.

Today almost all of their 25 acres of vineyard are planted to Sangiovese and the winery produces 10,000 cases of wine annually. Today they are one of the main producers of Sangiovese in the state. My goodness, their Sangiovese is delicious!

We sampled three of their nine offerings: the 2013 Marmellata Sangiovese Shenandoah Valley, the 2013 Estate Sangiovese and the 2013 Dos Oakies Sangiovese. These are triumphant wines that wines give Chianti a run for its money. They are full of jammy flavors melded with earth and spice.

Barbera Wherefore Art Thou?

The excursion was organized by Amador Vintners and if they wanted to surprise the attendees by showcasing unexpected grape varieties, they succeeded – at least with me. I had no idea that the Italian grape Barbera could create such sublime wines in Amador County.

20160811_100107The first inkling that this grape is something truly special came during the morning tasting at the Shenandoah School House. The Redwood Grand Reserve Barbera, of which only 50 cases were produced, is a beautiful, expressive wine. There is energy to it with a flow of chocolate and raspberry. It is a $100 bottle and drinks like it.

It’s impossible to talk about Barbera in Amador County without a mention of Dick Cooper of Cooper Vineyards. Dick is a winemaking legend who began growing grapes in Amador County in 1980. Today he has 40 acres of Barbera and is considered the Godfather of this grape.

Dick Cooper, Godfather of BarberaWhen asked why Cooper Vineyards likes to produce Barbera, he said, “It’s too easy to grow Zinfandel. It’s like cottage cheese.” The 2013 Cooper Barbera is no cottage cheese --  it is smoky with cherry and pepper flavor notes. (Just for the record, Cooper produces some nice Zin too.)

Also joining the parade of outstanding Barbera was Bella Grace Vineyards, with their 2013 Barbera and 2013 Reserve Barbera. Bella Grace also was superb with their whites, the 2014 3 Graces Blend, the 2015 Roussanne, and one of my favorite wines of the trip, the 2015 Vermentino.

Amador Wine ExcursionThe Amador Experience

As you may have divined, I truly enjoyed my trip to Amador County and the wines there are now on my watch list. I also wanted to call out Distant Cellars, Sera Fina Cellars and Legendre Cellars for their classy wines we enjoyed during our visit.

Visiting Amador County could become a regular thing. One visit and I think you’ll understand why too.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Amador County Producing Wine As Good As Gold–Part 1

There’s grapes in them thar hills! We recently joined the gold rush to discover a motherlode of outstanding wine in California’s Amador County during the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference.

Amador County GrapesThe Riches Of Amador County

Between 1851 and 1942, quartz rock veins in Amador County produced $160 million dollars in gold. Gold put this county, nestled in the Sierra Foothills of California, on the map.

As gold fever gripped the state, prospectors from around the world descended on Amador. Many were Europeans who brought the knowledge and vine cuttings to establish wineries. In a few years, there were more wineries in Amador than anywhere in California.

When miners finished their work in the mines, their throats were dry with dust. What better way to slake their thirst than with a glass of wine? Early miners enjoyed rustic wines made with Mission grapes mixed with Zinfandel.

Prohibition in 1920 almost wiped out winemaking in the region. In 1960 a new generation of winemakers began migrating to the Sierra Foothill region attracted by the volcanic, decomposed granite soils and the temperate climate. Today more than 40 wineries call Amador County home and are crafting wine rich with heritage, but with the benefit of modern equipment and techniques.

Scrumptious 2013 Vino Noceto Marmellata SangioveseLittle Italy In Amador

Zinfandel is one of the most widely planted grapes in the Sierra Foothills AVA and in Amador County nearly a quarter of the grapes planted are Zinfandel vines more than 60 years old. This wine region is no one trick pony, however.

Amador County’s Italian population were among the earliest winegrowers in the county and were devoted to it beyond all others. Today that heritage comes through with with a mastery of Italian varieties like Sangiovese and Barbera.

The best Barbera, I was told by winemaker Scott Harvey, comes not from Italy, but from Amador County – something he says was borne out in a recent international wine competition. Barbera is a sun-loving grape, and sunshine is in abundant supply in Amador. Scott also mentions that in many prime Barbera regions in Italy, the grape is second to Nebbiolo and therefore doesn’t get the best vineyard locations.

Amador Wine CountryAmador Wine Country

My excursion was hosted by Amador Vintners and took place prior to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi. It featured three tastings: one at the historic Kennedy Gold Mine, another at Shenandoah Valley Schoolhouse and the final one at a lovely lunch at Andis Wines. There certainly was plenty of wine, but the story would be incomplete without noting the charm of Amador County.

We stayed at the Hotel Sutter. The hotel was founded in the early days of the Gold Rush, even before Sutter Creek became a city. The original hotel was built in 1851, later burned down, and was rebuilt in 1865. Today it is a historic boutique hotel with 21 guest rooms and an insanely vintage bar. A second floor balcony provides a great view of the old-timey downtown and is an ideal location for a late night glass of wine or spirits.

Up and down Main Street in Sutter Creek there are interesting shops, cool restaurants and wine bars. Driving through the county you’ll also see Amador City, one of the smallest cities in the state. The Village of Volcano has 115 residents today, but nearly $100 million in gold was extracted back in the day. Drytown once featured 26 saloons frequented by miners, today it is known for the Drytown Club, a popular dive bar.

Amador County is a gem, featuring sites for the history buff, scenic landscapes and world-class wines. Now that the stage is set, I’ll cover the wines of Amador in the second part of my odyssey.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ànima Negra 2012 ÀN/2, Mallorca

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Mallorca is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Ocean. You can be forgiven if you don’t know this --  but it does produce wine.

A Spanish Enigma

I recently visited Spain and had stops in the that country’s top wine regions, including Rias Baixas, Priorat and Rioja. Lots of wine flowed during that trip.

At no time did I quaff a bottle of wine from Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. That pleasure had to wait until I returned home.

More than a year ago I purchased a “mystery” case of wine from an online retailer. The ÀN/2 was one of the bottles and it provoked puzzlement on my part.

At Least There Is Syrah!

Upon some investigation I discovered that 85% of the wine’s blend was heretofore unknown to me. The leading player is Callet, with 65% followed by 20% Mantonegre-Fogoneu and 15% Syrah. Callet used to be considered a rustic grape, but now is used in deeply colored, low alcohol wines. Manto Negre and Fogoneu are two grape varieties on Mallorca. Whether the grape in ÀN/2 was a cross of these two varieties is still unclear to me.

This wine comes from the Vi De Terra Mallorca region. Vi De Terra is one step below the more prestigious DO in Spanish wine classifications. Although Mallorca received Vi De Terra status in 2007, its history of grape cultivation dates back to 121 BC. For a couple decades in the 1800s, Mallorca produced wine for a thirsty Europe where phylloxera had wiped out most vines. However, Mallorca eventually succumbed to the phylloxera plague as well. In the 1990s, local winemakers decided it was time to invest in their businesses and improve the quality of their wine.

Offbeat And Tasty

Ànima Negra winery is located in the southeast part of the island on an old country estate. Wines are produced from more than 135 parcels of land that the winery either owns or controls.

ÀN/2 is fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete to help it maintain its fresh flavors. It is aged in American and French oak barriques for one year. In the glass it is a dark red. On the palate is is medium in body.

Its blend of grapes is unusual outside of Mallorca, but produces beautiful, soft flavors of spice and herbs. The wine has a smoky tone.

For a price of $21, this is a score for fans of food-friendly light to medium bodied reds. It also doesn’t hurt if you like to try offbeat grapes!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: August 24-27, 2016


20150506_092450Wednesday, August 24
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Dog Days Wine Tasting. No dogs in these wine selections, but there are some cute pooches on the labels. 1. Chateau La Paws Chardonnay (California), 2. Chateau La Paws Pinot Noir (California), 3. McNab Vineyards Fred’s Red (California), 4. Casa Santos 2013 “Lab” Red (Portugal), 5. Mutt Lynch Portrait of a Mutt Zinfandel. Nominal fee per sample or $7 per flight.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Wine tasting with Ann of Vintage. Come taste some fun and stylistic wines. 1. Bortolotti Prosecco, 2. Calvachina Custoza, 3. Bisci Verdicchio, 4. Lucignano Chianti, 5. Torre d'orti Rosso, 6. Giustini PATU Primitivo. $10 or nominal fee per sample.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.
 
Thursday, August 25
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Late Summer Wines: 1. 2012 Hill-Smith Estate – Chardonnay – Eden Valley, California, 2. 2015 Antonutti – Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) – Italy, 3. 2013 Anne Amie – Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon, 4. 2015 Tinazzi – Valpolicella Ripasso - Italy. Nominal fee per sample or $6.50 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. End of Summer Fun: 1. Estancia Chardonnay, 2. Rombauer Chardonnay, 3. Monmousseau Vouvray, 4. Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot, 5. Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Cabernet, 6. Mark West Pinot Noir, 7. Bread & Butter Pinot Noir, 8. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. French vs. Italian! 1. Cantina Taburno Spumante Falanghina, 2. Silvio Grasso Barolo, 3. Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino, 4. Brizio Brunello di Montalcino. $25 or nominal fee per sample.
 
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Wine tasting.
 
Friday, August 26

Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe Street, Toledo. (419) 255-8000. 6:30-8:30 PM. Wines by the Glass Museum: Arrivederci D‘estate: Italian Wines. Enjoy four wines and light snacks during It’s Friday! at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers, plus tax, and are available for purchase during Museum hours by phone at 419-255-8000 ext. 7448 or at the information desks.

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Nod to the German American Festival. Guest co-host Tricia Rasar from Vintner Select will be sharing the other favorites from Germany for those wanting something different. Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, August 27

Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Experience the wines from Germany, and understand why Riesling and Pinot Noir are considered Noble Grapes. Nominal fee per sample.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mission Hill 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley BC VQA

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It can be difficult to get your hands on Okanagan Valley wine. But when you do, oh what a reward!

Okanagan Valley Remote and Rocking

One of my travel highlights in recent years was a trip to Penticton, British Columbia, to visit the Okanagan Valley wine region. It is a land of breathtaking beauty nestled between the snow-crested Coastal Mountains to the west and the Monashee Mountains to the east.

The valley extends north from the US-Canada border for  100 miles and glacial lakes run its length. Lake Okanagan is 85 miles long and is flanked by superb vineyards on the slopes and benches surrounding it. Merlot thrives there as do Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris. The magical scenery, superlative wine and friendly people made for an unforgettable experience.

Mission Hill Winery

British Columbia WBC13 046Mission Hill Winery is one of the finest wineries I’ve ever visited. That includes stops on three different continents. It is a nexus of food, wine, architecture and art that is draped on a sharply sloped hillside overlooking Lake Okanagan near Kelowna.

Owner Anthony Von Mandl has spared no expense at this winery, which was built by an international team of architects, designers and craftsmen. The wines are sophisticated and – thankfully – are available outside British Columbia. In my case, I was able to purchase this 2011 Reserve Cabernet at an LCBO store in Ontario.

Canadian Cabernet

Mission Hill offers a spectrum of wine, and the Reserve line is one of their more affordable ranges. I paid $20 US for the bottle, which I consider to be a tasty value.

The grapes for this vintage come from vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos in the southern reaches of the Okanagan Valley. The area has sand and gravel soil and sage abounds. It’s also rattlesnake country and while touring the area, we had someone going with us to look out for snakes.

The Reserve Cabernet is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and has 14% alcohol. It is well balanced with light and smooth tannins. Delicate cherry notes mix with some oak and a dash of nuanced plum. There is depth to the wine, but nothing like Mission Hill’s top end Oculus red blend. The tasting window on this wine is probably closing within the next year.

Mission Hill produces some standout wines and you are encouraged to seek them out. The Reserve Cabernet represents a good value, but doesn’t deliver the heavy hitting tannins preferred by some Cab fans. Newer vintages are worth a fling at the $20 to $25 price range.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: August 17-20, 2016


Cline Tasting Plus 008Wednesday, August 17
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Mollydookers, a Good Summer Quaffer & A Tasty Bonus Buy: 1. Domaine du Tariquet 2015 Rosé (France), 2. Trivento 2013 Amado Sur (Argentina), 3. Trivento 2015 Malbec Reserve (Argentina), 4. Mollydooker 2015 Two Left Feet Red (Australia), 5. Mollydooker 2015 “The Boxer” Shiraz (Australia),. Nominal fee per sample or $10 per flight.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.
 
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 7-9 PM. Terry Theise Portfolio Champagne Tasting. This is a great opportunity to pre-order your Champagne needs and take advantage of special pricing. The wines will arrive mid-November in time for the Holidays. Reservations required. $40 per person.
 
Thursday, August 18
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Back to School Wines: 1. 2014 Saladini Pilastri – Falerio White Blend – Italy, 2. 2014 Cucao PX – Pedro Ximenez – Chile, 3. 2013 O’Reilly’s – Pinot Noir – Oregon, 4. 2015 Tinazzi – Vini - Italy. Nominal fee per sample or $5.50 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. New Arrivals from the French Countryside: 1. Champalou Vouvray Les Fondraux , 2. Henri Perrusset Macon Villages, 3. Domaine Oratoire St Martin Cairanne, 4. Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone, 5. Chapoutier Bila-Haut cotes du Roussillon Ville, 6. Chat Gamage Sel. Xceptional, 7. Dom. Rothschild Legend, 8. Chateau Limbourg. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Wine tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Wine tasting.
 
Friday, August 19

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. New Italian Selections. Diana Kerr-Brown from Wine Trends is breaking out the latest in Italian favorites great for any family gathering. Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, August 20

Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Guest Rep Tasting. Shelly Zeiher, will help guide us through European Wine Imports portfolio. Based out of Cleveland, they import wines directly bypassing many of the costs associated with east coast ports.Nominal fee per sample.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

California Wine Shows Strength in Challenging Economy

2015 Annual Economic Impact Grows to
$57.6 Billion in California, $114.1 Billion in U.S.

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California Wineries Generate 786,000 Jobs

The California wine and winegrape sector and allied businesses deliver a total economic contribution of $57.6 billion annually to the state’s economy and $114.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy according to a new report commissioned by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. California wineries and vineyards also directly and indirectly generate 325,000 jobs in California and 786,000 jobs across the nation. The report, “The Economic Impact of California Wine and Grapes 2015” prepared by John Dunham & Associates of New York, was presented today at a Joint Informational Hearing of the California Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Assembly Select Committee on Wine held at UC Davis.

The report shows growth of 17% in statewide impact (from $49.2 to $57.6 billion) and 19% in national impact (from $96.0 to $114.1 billion) in the past seven years. This strong growth during a period that started with the Great Recession and continued with slow recovery shows the strength and resiliency of the nation’s number one wine-producing state as a positive economic force across the nation. John Dunham & Associates used new methodology for the 2015 report and has also adjusted the 2008 economic impact numbers so that the comparison in growth would be comparable.

“California wine is an economic engine for our nation. Our predominantly small, family-owned businesses create jobs, pay significant taxes, and give back generously to charities and communities,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “These are significant accomplishments when the strong dollar and pressure from imports make the U.S. the most competitive wine market in the world, and we continue to face the threat of increased taxes and regulation at every level of government.”

 

California Wineries Hosted 24 Million Visitors

“Vineyards and wineries are iconic images of the California landscape, but today's report reminds us that wine and winegrapes are also integral to a vibrant state economy,” said California Association of Winegrape Growers President John Aguirre. “The scenic views and tasting rooms found in wine country attracted nearly 24 million tourist visits in 2015, and the commitment of California growers and vintners to sustainable practices forms a foundation that supports 325,000 jobs while also promoting important social and environmental benefits.”

The report measures the full economic impact of the wine and grape industries in terms of employment, wages, taxes, tourism spending and visits, and charitable giving. It uses a standard and widely used methodology which includes direct, indirect and induced economic impact in order to present the full picture. The IMPLAN model, developed by the U.S. Forest Service and University of Minnesota, is used by many companies around the world as well as government agencies such as the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service and Federal Reserve Bank.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: August 10-13, 2016


20151117_200629-02Wednesday, August 10
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Lamont’s Picks:1. Custard Chardonnay, 2. Trapiche Broquel Malbec, 3. Pitch Cabernet Sauvignon. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Wednesday is retro night. Show up in your best fitting concert t-shirt and get entered into a raffle to win a bottle of wine. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.
 
Thursday, August 11
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Some New, Some Wine Closeouts: 1. 2015 Innocent By-Stander – Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough, New Zealand, 2. 2015 Latue Rose’ – Toledo, Spain, 3. 2014 Castillo de Monseran – Carinena, Spain, 4. 2010 Chateau Gamage – Red Bordeaux  - Bordeaux, France. Nominal fee per sample or $5 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Down Under Wonders: 1. Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc, 2. Jacobs Creek Chardonnay, 3. Rosemount Shiraz/Cabernet, 4. Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier, 5. D’Arenberg stump jump red, 6. Greg Norman Cab/Merlot, 7. Shotfire Shiraz, 8. D’Arenberg high Trellis Cabernet. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Thursday is anything goes night. I may even open up something special. Nominal fee per sample.
 
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Wine tasting.
 
Friday, August 12

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Boutique Wine Tasting: Rachel Nasitif from Grand Cru Wines will have the latest chic and savvy wines that are perfect to share or savor for yourself .

Saturday, August 13

Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Nominal fee per sample. Dog Days of Summer: Light refreshing wines for the heat of summer that won’t give one palate-fatigue. As the seasons change so do our needs for wines to compliment the weather as well as our food.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Endeavour Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

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Endeavour is Dry Creek Vineyard’s effort to produce Cabernet that is the equal of any in California. So how did they do?

A California Cabernet Challenge

There’s oodles of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Golden State. Napa Valley is our country’s most famous wine appellation. Across the Mayacamas Mountains is Sonoma, with wine quality to match Napa ounce for ounce.

When you say you set out to produce a Cab that is the equal to any in the state of California, that’s saying a lot.

Quite An Endeavour

Kim Stare Wallace and Don Wallace are the second generation at Dry Creek Vineyard family winery. The winery was the first established in Dry Creek Valley after Prohibition was repealed. Today is it one of the few remaining family-owned wineries.

Endeavour is the vision of Kim and Don to grow and produce Cabernet that equals the finest in California. The estate Endeavour Vineyard is located in the Lytton Springs district of Dry Creek Valley. It is planted to take advantage of each of the different soil expressions on the property.

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The Judgment Of Dry Creek

The Judgment of Paris is a key moment in wine history, when a California wines went head to head with the best of France and came out on top. It was the vinous shot heard round the world.

We didn’t have quite as elaborate a taste challenge for Endeavour, but we did also pour a second Cabernet from a well-known producer in British Columbia. The wine from BC paled in comparison!

Endeavour is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with a 10% dollop of Petit Verdot. It spent 20 months in French oak, 10% of which was new.

We decanted Endeavor for about 30 minutes. In the glass it is dark red with a medium-full body. The aroma explodes with a rush of berries.

On the palate it is a deep, lush wine with silky notes and a touch of cedar. The tannins are amazingly integrated for a 2013. There are extracted flavors of raspberries with plum and spice. Layers of taste dance and sing with each sip. It is a wine that is balanced from start to finish.

There were 995 cases produced and the wine was just released in June. This wine could certainly age comfortably for five or more years – but it is drinking like a champ now. Retail price is $70.

This is an Endeavour well worth undertaking!

Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Woodinville Wine Country Dining: Two Recommendations

Barking Frog restaurant excels with seafood.

Here are a pair of Woodinville wine country restaurants you should be sure to visit during your next trip to Washington State.

Man Does Not Live On Wine Alone

During our visit to Woodinville, Washington, we had the chance to visit some outstanding wineries and tasting rooms. Tasting some of this country’s best fruit of the vine only stokes the hunger for delicious cuisine.

Our base of operations was the Country Inn Suites in Bothell, a small community about 10 minutes and three miles away from Woodinville. Woodinville was where we spent most of our time, enjoying the abundance of choosing between 108 different wineries and tasting rooms. But you need fuel for such a marathon.

Preservation Kitchen, Bothell

Preservation Kitchen in Bothell is in a 1916 building

The first day of our wine exploration, I decided we needed a substantial lunch. When you plan to visit four or five tasting rooms, cheese and crackers just don’t cut it.

Preservation Kitchen was a convenient and fortuitous stop on our way to Woodinville. Preservation Kitchen is in a 1916 building that was originally home to the mayor of Bothell. The back dining room was once the garage for the estate. In the 1970’s the building was Paris Chef Gerald Parrat’s Releais de Lyon restaurant. Many elements of his 2,000-foot French kitchen still remain.

More importantly for today’s diners, Preservation Kitchen preserves the traditions of regional cuisine and drink. Their seasonal menu supports local producers, and uses sustainable, organic ingredients when possible.

Mouthwatering AleHouse meatloaf sandwich from Preservation KitchenThe original woodwork and floors, a fireplace and huge windows make this a relaxing, inviting space. Indie alternative tunes wafted through the air as Green Dragon and I selected lunch.

I opted for the AleHouse Meat Loaf Sandwich, which is meatloaf topped with sweet chili ketchup, lettuce & ale “mustayo” on toasted Como bread. Green Dragon makes incredible meatloaf, but I told her this was the first meatloaf to rival hers. Savory with just the right consistency, the zip from the chili ketchup made for a delightful treat. For $13, I felt I was dining like royalty.

Preservation Kitchen has an extensive vegetarian menu featuring Fall Papardelle as well as a Spinach and Berries dish with Praline pecans, chèvre, and pear basil vinaigrette. The AleHouse is a more casual pub and features everything from chicken wings to Wild Boar Ragu. The House Roasted Hazelnuts sounds appetizing.

Of note to wine lovers is the extensive list of Washington wines. Included in the stellar lineup are: Baer, Barrage, DeLille, Elevation Cellars and Force Major, to name just a few. Cocktails are prepared with goods from in-state artisan distilleries such as Softail Vodka, Halcyon Organic Gin and Woodinville Whiskey. An ample supply of the region’s microbrews are on hand as well.

The Barking Frog and Willows Lodge, Woodinville

1,500 year old Cedar Snag on the grounds of Willows Lodge

The Barking Frog and The Willows is not the name of a classic children’s book. Willows Lodge is the top luxury accommodation in Woodinville and the the Barking Frog is its restaurant – a food lover’s dream.

We paid two visits to Willows. The first was for Experience Woodinville – a charity food and wine event. This was a mostly outdoor event with food and wine stations on the lovely grounds and a competition between local chefs assisted by area winemakers.

Willows Lodge is located on five acres bordering the Sammamish River. It’s Pacific Northwest style and luxurious accommodations have earned it a place on the Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List.  We enjoyed the harmonious blending of nature and architecture plus the picturesque gardens and grounds.

Experience Woodinville is an annual food an wine charity eventThe lodge delivers on its aim of capturing the heritage and informality of the NW while providing the highest level of refinement in food, comfort, aesthetics and service. It uses Douglas fir timbers throughout the rustic lodge which also features a beautiful stone fireplace.

The Barking Frog is the ideal location to recharge the batteries during your wine country visit. Native Americans use the frog as a symbol of wealth or abundance, and the Barking Frog was had a bounty of exceptional food.

Willows Lodge and Barking Frog

We had lunch on the Barking Frog patio, first passing an inspiring collection of large format bottles. The sun and temperature were perfect as was the gurgling fountain nearby.

For my lunch I opted for the Angus Flat Iron Steak with Béarnaise and house-cut fries while the Green Dragon selected the salmon special. The artful presentation of each dish had our mouths watering. My pairing was the Savage Grace 2015 Cabernet Franc while the Two Vintners 2014 Grenache Blanc accompanied the fish. This was a sensory-filled lunch we didn’t want to end.

The Barking Frog focuses on fresh local ingredients. Dinner entrees include Butter Poached Halibut with leeks, chanterelles, beluga lentils, artichoke puree and apple-celery vinaigrette. You can also order Iberico Lomo, a pork dish from southwestern Spain.

Barking Frog is an outstanding meal choice whether it be for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Lunch prices run from $10 to $24 and dinner entrees run from $36 to $60. The wine list cannot be surpassed in the depth of fine Washington State wines, which represent great value and quality.

So there you have it. Two reasons why no one should go hungry in Woodinville wine country!