TWAV Leaderboard

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chamonix: South Africa Winery Visit

SA Dave 089

Continuing the saga of our wine and safari expedition to South Africa…

The last winery visit during our stay in Franschhoek, the wine and food capital of South Africa, was Chamonix Wine Farm. My wife was getting tired from our long day of tasting, but I was determined to visit this one-of-a-kind winery.

Chamonix has a restaurant with a deck that protrudes into the forest, a tasting room in a blacksmith’s cottage that leads to and underground cellar and a mountain backdrop with an elevated view of the valley. It also has some splendid wine.

After working our way past a boisterous crowd on the deck, we settled in for a tasting inside the blacksmith cottage. Green Dragon, who was getting a bit grumpy, soon brightened as she picked a prime spot near the fireplace.

DSC_0267We began our premium tasting (which cost the “outrageous” sum of $3.32 each US) with the 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay. The Chard is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then spends four to six months on lees to give it more body. There are snippets of apple and grapefruit flavors and a lively acidity.

The 2013 Reserve White is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon. It undergoes barrel fermentation and then is aged for 11 months in French barriques. Barriques are small barrels and their use can result in more prominent oak characteristics. This straw colored wine has a full body and an exotic nose.

DSC_0268Move to the reds, we began with a pair of Pinot Noirs. The high quality of Pinot in South Africa was a surprise to me. First up was the 2013 Feldspar Pinot Noir. It is medium bodied with sour cherry flavor. The 2013 Pinot Noir Reserve is a superior wine from the best block of Pinot Noir grapes. It is naturally fermented and barrel ages for 16 months. This is a complex Pinot with notes of caramel and toffee blending with cherries and violet. This was a steal at 270R (about $22 US).

DSC_0269Rounding out the tasting was the 2012 Rouge and the 2013 Greywacke Pinotage. The Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It’s a satisfactory blend, but dimmed in comparison with the Pinot Noir and the Pinotage. Greywacke is a type of soil, in case you’re wondering.

DSC_0266The Pinotage uses the ripasso technique whereby a portion of the grapes used are partly dried and then added whole to the wine for a second fermentation. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and then is aged in oak for two years. That’s a lot of lovin’ in the wine making process and the results show. The Pinotage is a complex blend of flavors with berries and spice tinged with chocolate.

Chamonix exhibits the same skill in winemaking that the village blacksmith did centuries ago – forging outstanding wine in a unique setting. This is a recommended visit during the Cape Winelands tour.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, July 3, 2015

Indiana’s 5th Annual Uncork the Uplands Scheduled July 25

Indiana WinerySummer is in full swing and now is the time to take advantage of early bird ticket pricing for the 5th annual Uncork the Uplands, the signature event of the Indiana Uplands AVA. For one night only on July 25, 2015, wine lovers can enjoy a taste of all nine south-central Indiana Upland Wine Trail wineries against the backdrop of one beautiful location at Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards in Borden, Indiana.

Uncork the Uplands offers guests the rare opportunity to sample delicious, award-winning wines of all varieties from nine wineries in one place. This year, vino fans can also participate in guided tours of one of Indiana’s largest and oldest vineyards. From vines to orchards, guests can witness some of the many crops growing on Huber’s almost 800-acre farm that have contributed to Indiana’s agritourism for over 150 years. Nationally renowned wine, local cuisine and live music in an idyllic setting are the ingredients that make Uncork the Uplands a perfect summer blend.

This year’s Uncork the Uplands will be catered by Plantation Hall, Huber’s onsite catering company. The evening’s menu will consist of several mouth-watering International food-tasting stations including Italian, Mexican and assorted desserts. Peacetree Mountain Truffles will also provide a special assortment of wine-infused truffles featuring wines from the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail! Guests will also have an opportunity to tour Huber’s new 20,000 square-foot stillhouse and hear from Huber’s own wine experts about the changing face of Indiana agritourism as they continue to explore the production of spirits.

The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail is located within the Indiana Uplands American Viticultural Area, a federally recognized grape-growing region established in 2013. The trail wineries include Best Vineyards Winery of Elizabeth; Brown County Winery of Nashville; Butler Winery of Bloomington; French Lick Winery of West Baden Springs; Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards of Starlight; Oliver Winery of Bloomington; Owen Valley Winery of Spencer, Turtle Run Winery of Corydon and Winzerwald Winery of Bristow.

Uncork the Uplands will take place on July 25, 2015 from 4-7 pm at Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards located at 19816 Huber Road in Borden, Indiana. Early Bird tickets are $45 (before tax) through July 1 and $60 (before tax) through July 25. For more information about the event, please visit UncorktheUplands.com

Photo Credit: OhKyleL via Compfight cc .

Thursday, July 2, 2015

C’est Bon 2013 Reserve Selection Chardonnay, Oakville

Game Cabin 2015 Plus Wine 023

This wine comes from online retailer Invino’s private label. It is their first release from their Reserve Selection portfolio.

C’est Bon 2013 Reserve Selection Chardonnay is from Oakville with fruit from the Money Road Ranch. We brought this with us on our recent rustic cabin trip to West Virginia.

The cooking chores were divided among the group of friends at the outing. For our dinner, Green Dragon and I (actually just her) decided on cedar plank salmon. My task was to build a hardwood fire in an outdoor grill and cook the fish.

It was mighty difficult to get the fire started. Once ignited it burned with intense flames, causing me to cool off with large amounts of chilled white wine.

Once the salmon was done, I expertly transferred it to a serving dish and the cedar plank was soon engulfed in an inferno. We were soon enjoying some (if I do say so myself) wonderfully cooked salmon paired with a great Napa Chardonnay.

The C’est Bon was part of a mystery half-case that I purchased. We aren’t over-the-top Chardonnay fans, but I was pleased to see this high quality Chard. It comes from one of the top sub-regions of California, located right in the center of Napa Valley.

Lightly oaked, the Chardonnay paired well with the smoky seasoning of the salmon. There were flavors of apple and peach leading to a very dry finish.

The bottle retails for $19.99 and I got it for about $15 via the mystery deal. That’s an outstanding value for a solid Napa Chardonnay.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 3.5 of 5

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: July 1-4, 2015

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, July 1

British Columbia WBC13 047The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Our Second Annual "Rosé Can You See" Wine Tasting: 1. Mas Carlot 2014 Rosé, 2. Gerard Bertrand 2014 Cote des Roses Rosé, 3. Charles & Charles 2014 Rosé, 4. Domaine Lafond 2014 Tavel Rosé, 5. Mulderbosch 2014 Rosé. $8 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Wednesday Wine Tasting. Come out with friends, have fun, taste good juice! $15 per person.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Premium Wine on the Patio: Pinot Noir and Syrah. Limited to 18 people.
$50 if you pay in advance. $75 day of the event.

Thursday, July 2   

Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Happy Independence Day! 1. 2014 Picpoul De Pinet – France, 2. 2014 Domaine De Gournier – Rosé – France, 3. 2013 The Pinot Project – Pinot Noir – California, 4. 2012 Bertrand Stehelin – Le Vin de Pays de Vaucluse – France. $5 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Unoaked Chardonnay and Refreshing Wines for Summer: 1. Heidi Schrock Rose Biscaya, 2. Navarro Chardonnay, 3. Hanna Chardonnay, 4. Meiomi Chardonnay, 5. Argyle Chardonnay, 6. Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti Colli Fiorentini, 7. Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas, 8. Big Guy Red. Nominal fee per sample,

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Weekly tasting. Nominal fee per sample.

WineTastings-1_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thNoir Fine . Wine and Beer, 1616 East Wooster, Bowling Green, 6-9 PM. Nominal fee per sample or priced per flight.

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.

Friday, July 3

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting – 4:00 – 7:00 PM.

Saturday, July 4

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. America’s Best Wines. Forget beer this holiday! America makes some amazing wines! Nominal fee per sample.

AREA WINE BARS

  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful Wine Bar, (419) 878-9463, 7541 Dutch Road, Waterville.

Technorati Tags: wine

[Information on tastings can be sent toTWAV@ATT.NET.]
Up & Coming:

Tuesdays – Weekly wine tasting at Forrester's on the River, 26 Main St. Toledo – (419) 691-2626. 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Five to six unique tastings of wine, that are not found on the menu, along with an assortment of tapas style appetizers to complement the wines.  Tastings are between $10-$15 per person and are held in their wine bar (Paige's Wine Bar).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Old Soul 2013 Pure Red Blend, California

Old Soul Pure Red

I am just now becoming acquainted with Old Soul wines, produced in Lodi. They offer full-on flavor at an every day price. Case in point: the Old Soul 2013 Pure Red blend.

The appellation for this wine is California, meaning that the grapes come from a variety of regions, not just Lodi. The blend for this wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. I’d be very surprised if the Zin wasn’t from Lodi, which is known for world-class Zinfandel.

The Pure Red was opened on an evening when the Green Dragon was calling for a casual wine for some after dinner sipping. I popped the cork on this blend, not knowing quite what to expect.

The Old Soul was full of fresh, vibrant flavors and a silky smooth body. Part of the wine was aged for a year in French and American oak while another portion was fermented in stainless steel. That’s a bit unusual, but it works.

I’d guess that the Cab was oak aged and perhaps the Zin and Petite Sirah went the stainless steel route. Whatever winemaking machinations took  place, the result is a wine that has richly concentrated flavors of raspberry and blackberry. It has structure, but doesn’t require aging or decanting to enjoy. There is a long, tongue-coating finish.

At a SRP of $14, the price of a case or two isn’t sky high. This is a solid wine that would be a great crowd pleaser at a party. It would pair well with pizza, steak or barbeque.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 4 of 5

Technorati Tags: ,

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Môreson Family Winery: South Africa Winery Visit

DSC_0258

Continuing the saga of our wine and safari expedition to South Africa…

We arrived at Môreson at just the right time during our first day of wine tasting in Franschhoek. We had been to a couple of wineries and the day was starting to heat up and our bellies beginning to growl.

The winery is located on Happy Valley Road and to get to the cellar door (as the South Africans call the tasting room) you walk on the cobbled path past oak trees and lemon orchards. We found a lovely location for tasting under a spreading tree. Soon our server Cara was pouring a glass of Methode Cap Classique bubbly. MCC is South Africa’s version of Champagne, made in the traditional method.

The Solitaire Blanc de Blanc was effervescent and a fountain of refreshment. It was less yeasty, and more crisp, than the MCC sparklers we had tasted at other wineries. It is made with 100% Chardonnay, a portion of which is oaked. It is lightly tropical with a hint of biscuit. It also had a delicious froth and persistent bubbles. This was Green Dragon (my wife) approved.

DSC_0256

Enjoying the sunshine on the patio, we continued our exploration of their whites with the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. This was a tasty glass with tropical flavor notes and lemon zest. The playfully named 2013 Dr. Reason Why is an “unwooded” Chardonnay. This offers a full bodied mouth-feel and had butterscotch and vanilla tones. We were able to contrast this with the 2013 Mercator Premium Chardonnay, which had more of a citrus flavor profile.

DSC_0257

As we progressed, the red wines emerged. Môreson was one of the first Franschhoek wineries to excel in Pinotage, the signature red of South Africa. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (which the South Africans call Hermitage). The best Pinotage is medium bodied and subtly flavored.

The 2013 Widow Maker Pinotage is the best Pinotage we tasted in our excursion to South Africa. The vines for Widow Maker are grown on a sunny slope and the grapes are treated like Pinot Noir (with great care!). It projects bright cherry and berry flavors. It also has no “funk” which can ruin Pinotage. According to Cara the winemaker must carefully avoid pulling out the banana flavors in the grape – a sign of an inferior Pinotage. We loved it and lugged a bottle back in our checked luggage.

We closed our tasting with the 2012 Mata Mata, a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot. Unlike many blends you encounter, the Petite Verdot was prominent on the nose and the Cab Franc played a major role in the mixture. It offers rich berry flavor with a hint of oak.

Since we were approaching the lunch hour, we were in luck. One of the best dining experiences in the Cape is Môreson’s Bread & Wine restaurant under the spreading trees of the courtyard.

I luxuriated with the bacon-wrapped springbok, butternut granola and sour fig. The Green Dragon enjoyed a tasty ahi tuna dish. Augmented with some wine, and surrounded by the pastoral setting of the wine farm, this was exquisite.

Untitled design(9)

Môreson is a top pick when visiting South Africa’s Cape Winelands. Franschhoek is known as the country’s culinary capitol, and Bread & Wine is a top pick for creative, balanced and seasonally inspired dining.

We heartily recommend Môreson.

Related Articles

Grande Province Heritage Wine Estate: South Africa Winery Visit
Rustenberg 2008 Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon, Simonberg, Stellenbosch
La Bri Estate: South Africa Winery Visit
La Petite Ferme: South Africa Winery Visit
Exploring Franschhoek, South Africa’s Food and Wine Capital
Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, June 26, 2015

Saint Cosme 2014 Little James’ Basket Press, Pays d’Oc

Little James Basket Press

While strolling through Churchill’s wine department I happened upon an unusual white with a quirky label. Little James’ Basket Press, it proclaimed. For only $10.99, I popped it in my bag for some casual sipping.

Part of the appeal was the unusual label. I’m immune to the “cute animal” labels, but this one had a little imp, Little James I assume, prancing around conducting an orchestra (in the vineyard), taking a bath in a wine barrel and stomping grapes. The combination of grapes is also eccentric: a blend of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine is unoaked, so it retains a refreshing character. The blend is heavier on the Viognier, which takes the edge off the Sauvignon Blanc’s acidity and creates a more fragrant and luscious wine. Like Little James, it is fun and playful and also immediately satisfying.

little_james_saint_cosme_vin_de_pays_d_oc_little_james_blanc_2014This is the first time I’ve tasted a Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier blend, but this French country wine sold me on its merits. At this price, Little James could be a frequent visitor to the patio this summer.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 4 of 5

Technorati Tags: ,,

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bodegas Triton Avante 2009 Mencia, Spain

Mencia

This mild red went with us on our recent trip to a rustic cabin in West Virginia. While there we enjoyed an assortment of tasty meals prepared on a wood stove. The Avante held up well with a variety of dishes from meatloaf to pasta.

Mencia is a relatively new grape to me. It is a Spanish grape found mostly in the northwestern part of the country. It is becoming more popular as winemakers experiment with older vines resulting in complex wines.

The Avante comes from multiple vineyards in the Castile and Leon regions. It is 100% Mencia and is finished in 30% stainless steel and 70% French oak.

This is a light to medium bodied wine. The tannins are loose, making it a good food to pair with lighter dishes. It has raspberry and earth flavors while maintaining a somewhat bright tone.

In Greek mythology, Triton's stallions represented the waves upon the waters he ruled. According to the winemaker, inspired by a stone carving of these horses, Avante pays homage to the wild rivers that carved their paths into the rugged mountains of northern Spain.

I found this bottle for $9 on a closeout at Zinful and galloped away with a great deal. This doesn’t have the firepower to pair with a grilled steak, but it is a suitable choice for casual sipping, light fare or tapas.

Rating: 2.5 of 5  Value: 3.5 of 5

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: June 24-27, 2015

Bookmark and Share
Vin 48Wednesday, June 24  

The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. A New Chardonnay and Some Great Red Specials: 1. Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2013, 2. Saint Clair Block 16 2010 Pinot Noir (New Zealand), 3. Edmeades 2011 Zinfandel, 4. Chateau Mourgues du Gres 2011 Galets Rouge, 5. BV Beaurouge 2012 Napa Red. $7 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 – 7:30 PM. Wednesday Wine Tasting. Come out with friends, have fun, taste good juice! $15 per person.

Thursday, June 25  

Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Beautiful Summer Wines: 1. 2013 Bovin – Chardonnay – Macedonia, 2. 2014 La Ferme de Gicon – Cotes Du Rhone  - Rose, 3. 2014 Mas Carlot – Costieres De Nimes – Rose – Rhone, 4. 2011 Bovin – Alexandar – Macedonia. $5 flight or nominal fee per sample.

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Never Had or Heard of that Before – Tasting: 1. Botani Dry Muscat, 2. Prager Gruner Veltliner, 3. Chateau Nozieres Cahors, 4. Protea, 5. Villadoria Bricco Magno Nebbiolo, 6. Chaman, 7. Il Baciale, 8. Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico. Nominal fee per sample,

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Weekly tasting. Nominal fee per sample.

WineTastings-1_thumb1_thumb_thumb_thNoir Fine . Wine and Beer, 1616 East Wooster, Bowling Green, 6-9 PM. Nominal fee per sample or priced per flight.

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.

Friday, June 26  

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting – 4:00 – 7:00 PM.

Saturday, June 27  

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. Customer Appreciation Day Part 2: “This time it’s personal.” Nominal fee per sample.

AREA WINE BARS

  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful Wine Bar, (419) 878-9463, 7541 Dutch Road, Waterville.

Technorati Tags: wine

[Information on tastings can be sent toTWAV@ATT.NET.]
Up & Coming:

Tuesdays – Weekly wine tasting at Forrester's on the River, 26 Main St. Toledo – (419) 691-2626. 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Five to six unique tastings of wine, that are not found on the menu, along with an assortment of tapas style appetizers to complement the wines.  Tastings are between $10-$15 per person and are held in their wine bar (Paige's Wine Bar).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old Soul 2013 Pinot Noir, Lodi

Old Soul Pinot Noir

Mention Lodi and chances are that a bottle of reasonably priced Zinfandel pops into mind. Or perhaps Chenin Blanc. But most wine consumers won’t connect the dots between Lodi, part of the expansive Central Valley of California, and Pinot Noir. It’s taken an “old soul” to make that happen.

Old Soul wines are produced by the Maggio and Reynolds families, who have made wine in the historic region of Lodi for five generations. In 2002 they transformed the oldest winery in Lodi into a state-of-the-art facility and now produce a number of brands including Old Soul.

I grabbed this bottle as we headed out the door to visit tasting team members Glorious T and the Cabinator. They were delighted to see the bottle. As it turns out, they refer to CoCo, one of their new dogs, as an “old soul.”

The Old Soul 2013 Pinot turned out to be ideal for our perfect evening on the deck. While puffy clouds wafted around the blue sky, we experienced the power of Pinot.

Coco 1Lodi is known for robust, powerful fruit and that carries through to Pinot Noir as well. The wine is rich with concentrated flavors. The wine is a blend of Pinot Noir with a dash of Zinfandel and Merlot. That gives it a unique Lodi spin.

During the winemaking process, malolactic fermentation helps soften the acidity and broaden the body. The wine is then separated into lots and aged in oak for various lengths of time depending on their profile. The best lots are then selected to become “an old soul.”

We thoroughly enjoyed the Old Soul Pinot. At a $14 SRP, you can become James Brown – and by that I mean you can afford to have a lot of (old) soul.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Full Disclaimer: We received this bottle as a marketing sample.