TWAV Leaderboard

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Henry’s Drive 2009 Dead Letter Office Shiraz, South Australia

20160408_211835

This wine from two of Australia’s great wine regions was just the delivery we needed. After sampling a spoiled wine, we rebounded with this great bottle.

Russ Knew What He Was Talking About

A few years ago I was visiting with my friend Russ. He began ranting on about Padthaway being a stellar wine region with great values. At the time I certainly had a love of Australian wines, but I don’t think I ever had a wine from Padthaway.

For once, Russ got something right! The wines from the southeastern corner of Australia are expressive and can be had for a song.

Never Miss A Toledo Wines and Vines Post – Click To Subscribe

Origin of Henry’s Drive

During the nineteenth century establishment of the farming and wine industries of southeastern South Australia, horse-drawn coaches provided the only transportation of mail and passengers. The coach service owner in this part of the state was Henry John Hill. His route went directly through a property owned more recently by three generations of the Longbottom family of Padthaway. Routes were known as Drives, and so the family’s wine business is today known as Henry’s Drive.

This is great information to share as you sip some of this outstanding Shiraz. Shiraz is the same grape as Syrah, but there are stylistic differences. Shiraz typically is more fruit driven than Syrah and in Australia can also have a touch of sweetness.

 

This Letter Is Not Dead

The name might be Dead Letter Office, but be assured this is a lively wine. I had pulled a different, older bottle from the cellar and Green Dragon planned on enjoying that. However, the wine had clearly peaked and come crashing down the other side of the mountain. I grabbed the Dead Letter Office get our groove back.

South Australia is the source of some of the best red wines in the country and includes well know regions Barossa Valley, Coonawara and McLaren Vale. As is common in Padthaway, this wine blends grapes from its home region as well as from another (in this case McLaren Vale).

The wine offers a heady aroma of jam. On the palate it is deliciously juicy with flavors of cooked cherries and blueberries. Add in notes of mint and vanilla, and you’ve got a bodacious sipping experience. The tannins are dialed back, so the texture is smooth and the finish lingering.

At $26, this was a nice value. Henry’s Drive has several tiers of wine with a 2009 Reserve Shiraz coming in at an $80 price, but others at more accessible prices. A special delivery of this wine is highly recommended.

Rating: 4 of 5  Value: 4.5 of 5

 

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: April 27-30, 2016

 
Bookmark and Share 
Chateau SimardWednesday, April 27
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Spring! Bright, fruity and lighter-bodied wines, perfect for the season. 1. Riebeek 2015 Pinotage Rosé (South Africa), 2, Hugl 2015 Zweigelt Rosé (Austria), 3. Roth 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (California), 4. Tess Red Blend (California), 5. 14 Hands 2013 Kentucky Derby Red (Washington). $6 per flight or nominal charge per sample.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Wine tasting with Laura of Private Reserve. 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, April 28

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Wine tasting.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Italian Wine Bargains.For any food lover, whether it is Italian food or not, knowing Italian wines is a must. 1. Terradoro Diapolo Falanghina, 2. Inama Vin Soave Classico, 3. Montaribaldi Treselle, 4. Piazzono Chianti, 5. Monte Antico Toscano, 6. Gran Passione, 7. Bricco Magno, 8. Corte alla Flora Merlot, 9. Centonze Nero d'Avola, 10. Masseria Surant Ares Rosso. Nominal fee per sample.
 
WineTastings_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum
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. Weekly wine tasting. Adam Shobert and Tricia Rasar will be here from Vintner Select featuring Domestic Gems. $8 per flight.

Friday, April 29

Toledo Museum Of Art, (419) 255-8000. 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Wine By The Glass Pavilion- California Dreaming – Wines of the West. Enjoy four wines and light snacks. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers and are available for purchase during Museum hours by phone at or at the information desks
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. What’s new? Laura from Purple Feet Wines will be showing off their newest bottles that you will fall in love with. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Saturday, April 30
Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 3-5 PM. Celebrity Tasting – Domaine Solitude. Join us in welcoming Florent Lancon, wine-maker and family descendant of the world-renowned winery, Domaine Solitude. Tasting will be limited and $40 in advance and $50 the day of the tasting. Six wines will be offered including two of Solitude’s luxury cuvees.

AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pair Of Rías Baixas Albariño Display Contrasting Styles

Robalino and Vinabade Albarino

In Spain’s Rías Baixas region, the production of Albariño is closely controlled. How then does a winery express its own style? This pair shows the way.

A White Wine Waiting For You

Our white wine of choice in recent months is Albariño. This crisp white wine has been perfected in the Rías Baixas DO (Denominación de Origen) of Spain.

More than 90% of all plantings in Rías Baixas is Albariño. Although the grape is in common, the wine can vary due to winemaker style and the terroir of five different subregions.

During our trip to Spain last month, the greatness of Rías Baixas, in the green fields and rocky coasts of Galicia, was amply demonstrated. The Albariño and local seafood were simply off the charts with excellence.

Rias Baixas AlbarinoA Question of Balance

While in Rías Baixas, I had the chance to taste of 2015 Albariño against a 2014 vintage at Bodega Vionta. The different was clear, the 2015 tasted great – but the acidity was racing. The 2014, on the other hand, showed an elegant complexity.

Our most recent tasting featured a pair of Albarino from different subregions: the 2014 Rectoral do Umia Viñabade and the 2015 Señorio de Rubiós Robaliño. For dinner the Green Dragon whipped up chicken cutlets with lemon caper sauce.

And The Winner Is…

Vinabade Albarino and Chicken CutletsThe 2014 Viñabade is from the Salnés Valley, where Vionta is located and the site of my visit. The style was similar to what I had enjoyed there – flavor threads of minerality, citrus and pear. The style is subdued and integrated as befits this cool climate area. This is a style I really like.

The 2015 Robaliño from the Condado subregion leads with a tingling acidity. It has a zesty lime and grapefruit flavor that is reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc – even down to the “cut grass” aroma. Green Dragon loves her New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and proclaimed this a winning bottle almost immediately.

As our sipping continued, I did a mental about-face. The Robaliño started to round the edges of its sharp acidity while the Viñabade began to become a bit too soft. Of course, I was in a win-win situation – two bottles of outstanding Albariño to help me ponder their individual merits.

The biggest take-away of the evening? Albariño wines, although united in their purity and food-pairing qualities, can have different expressions. For me, the balance of fruit and acidity determine its nature.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bonny Doon 2015 Proper Pink Rosé, California

DSCF3519The calendar pages have flipped to spring. That means it is time for rosé, that delightfully pink wine that pairs perfectly with food.

What Exactly Is Rosé?

The coming of spring means blooming of daffodils and also the appearance of rosé on your wine shop shelves. Rosé has soared in popularity in recent years as wine lovers discover the new style of artfully crafted dry pink wines.

In the normal winemaking process for red wine, the juice remains in contact with the grapes during fermentation. For rosé, the juice is drained from the skins after two to three days and is then fermented in another vessel. The brief skin contact gives the wine its pink color and also means that the wine doesn’t have the body and character of red wines. They are light-bodied and usually lower in alcohol.

Bonny Doon’s Playful Rosé

Randall Grahm 014[7]Bonny Doon founder Randall Grahm is a wine icon. His winery in Santa Cruz produces European style wines that express a sense of place. The Proper Pink is his playful take on rosé.

According to Bonny Doon, the modern term for a proper red wine. derives from the French word, “clairet,” or light, “clear” wine, designating a certain style of darkish pink wine much favored in the Middle Ages. The Playful Pink fills the bill.

In the glass, this is a deeper color than most rosé. Instead of the melon color of a rosé from Provence, it has a red currant color. While Cabernet Franc is not unusual for rosé, Tannat is not as common. Tannat is a bold grape that is heavy on the tannins.

Is It Proper In The Glass?

We enjoyed this wine at a family dinner for Easter. The wine was chilled and then allowed to warm slightly so we could enjoy the full range of flavor.

This is a heartier style of rosé if there is such a thing. The wine is full-bodied, which is a surprise for a rosé. There are flavor notes of cherry and watermelon.

Proper Pink works very well as a food wine, but doesn’t completely hit the mark for those seeking a chilled hot weather sipper. It’s worth a twist of the cap for $16, especially if you are adventurous.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day With These Sustainable Wineries: Winners Of The 2nd Annual California Green Medal Awards

Looking to show your support for our environment – and drink tasty wine at the same time? Try wines from these four sustainable wineries.

Sustainable winery practicesSAN FRANCISCO — Recipients of the second annual California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards were announced and honored at a lunch reception and ceremony April 20 in Sacramento. The California Green Medal, developed to showcase leading wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability, is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and The Vineyard Team. Many association partners also helped to promote the awards which were selected by a panel of wine and sustainability experts.

Awardees of the four 2016 Green Medals are:

Green Medal LeaderLEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in all “3 E’s” of Sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable.
Winner: Jackson Family Wines has been a sustainability innovator and an early adopter of healthy land management practices since the winery’s founding in 1982, with more recent actions guided by a company-wide sustainability strategy and a comprehensive audit of environmental impacts in 2008. Incorporating triple bottom-line sustainability principles across all aspects of their business, the company deployed solar arrays at eight wineries and collaborated with Tesla to reduce energy demand and increase grid reliability, utilized industry-first water conservation technologies, introduced human resource initiatives to improve employees’ well-being, paid a price premium for certified sustainable winegrapes and led voluntary drought initiatives.

Green Medal EnvironmentENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: Halter Ranch Vineyard. The environmental stewardship commitment by Halter Ranch Vineyard owner Hansjörg Wyss is demonstrated by the decision to preserve 1,700 acres of the Halter Ranch property with 18% planted to vineyards that work in harmony with the undeveloped acres to provide habitat, wildlife corridors and biodiversity. The winery also works with the Wyss Foundation to help local communities and partners conserve millions of acres. Halter Ranch conserves water, resulting in over a 50% reduction in irrigation; captures rain and winery water bringing over two million gallons back to irrigation ponds; and farms 281 acres of vines without removing oak trees or displacing existing wildlife and plant life.

Green Medal CommunityCOMMUNITY AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.
Winner: Tablas Creek Vineyard. Since its establishment in 1989, Tablas Creek has been a trendsetter for its wine region, actively involved in the Paso Robles community through the local winery association and by hosting workshops to share sustainability practices. The winery has partnered with organizations such as must! charities, the local animal shelter, arts and youth sports organizations and has donated more than $100,000 to support local youth and arts programs since 2002. Tablas Creek promotes productivity and job satisfaction by compensating employees with fully funded medical, dental and vision benefits, employer-matching 401k plans, educational support, wine shares and annual profit-sharing bonuses to both part-time and full-time employees. Staff are encouraged to continue education.

Green Medal BusinessBUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: McManis Family Vineyards. With a focus on constant improvement of practices and adoption of the latest farming and winemaking technologies, McManis Family Vineyards’ water use efficiency measures in the vineyard include the use of soil moisture sensors, flow meters and distribution uniformity tests; while their winery recycles water and averages one gallon of water to produce one gallon of wine. Sustainable practices have also decreased energy use, diesel use and tractor work and limited the impact on soil. Making sustainability a core part of their business strategy has not only benefited the environment, surrounding community and employee retention, but has streamlined processes in the vineyard, winery and office, resulting in economic gains that help ensure a thriving business for future generations.

“The awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability," said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “The challenge was selecting four winners from the stellar applications we received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The committee and judging panel were impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.”

The second annual California Green Medal was judged by a panel of wine and sustainability experts. They include: Karen Block, Industrial Relations Manager, Viticulture & Enology, UC Davis; Hunter Francis, Director/Founder, Center for Sustainability in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Camron King, President, Lodi Winegrape Commission; Karissa Kruse, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers; Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certification Manager, The Vineyard Team.

Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

European Startup Wineist Aims To Disrupt Wine Industry

Wineist aims to help people on the go learn about wine and experience the magic that happens outside the comfort zone. Their initial offering was a set of six mini-bottles of wine that range from Navarra to Swartland…

Wineist Shipping Box

Good Things Come In Small Packages

I receive a fair number of wine shipments. This one, though, was a real surprise. My package from Wineist, a small Euro startup designed to sell wine directly from wineries, brought a smile to my face.

Wineist Packed With 50 ML GoodnessAbout the size of a box of chocolates, when opened it reveals six 50 milliliter bottles. Each bottle is numbered and corresponds to a description in the “wine carte” booklet. The booklet is illustrated with playful drawings, but also provides solid information about the wine.

Each wine is labeled in two ways, a classification and a “wine perspective.” The wine classifications are: Freshman (light bodied white), Lusher (medium and full-bodied white), Juicer (light bodied red), Bigshot (medium and bold-bodied red) and Sweetie.

The wine perspectives include “Sunny Afternoon,” “Social Rally,” and “Philosophy Feast.” Each of these designations has an icon or color. While we don’t really need those devices, it adds to the fun.

Sampling The Goods

My wife, the Green Dragon, helped me with the sampling. The selection was quite nice:

  • 2014 Ernst Riesling Kabinett, Weingut
  • 2015 Delheim Pinotage Rose, Stellenbosch
  • 2014 Pagos de Araiz, Navarra
  • 2012 Chianti Rufina Cru Basciano
  • 2011 Allesverloren Barnyard Blend, Swartland
  • 2014 Bodegas Lopez Mercier Cal Y Canto

Difficult ScrewtopEach wine has a wine description, food pairings, “wine geek info,” winery info and a spot for wine tasting notes. You can also check off three categories: Pour More, One is Just Right, or Not My Cup of Wine.

Battling The Bottle

The first issue was the bottle itself. I’ve encountered these small European bottles before, and they just aren’t well designed. While most of them opened without a hitch, one required a pair of pliers to open and even then it didn’t come entirely off. I pried it open enough to pour.

My second sticking point is the amount of wine. I love wine – and my love is measured at more than 50 ML. The Wineist bottle is 1/15th of a regular 750 ML bottle or about 1/3 of a regular glass of wine. I like to compare tasting notes with Green Dragon, but if we split the wine, it was in danger of evaporating before we had any.

Wineist Mini-RieslingI must admit I don’t know how 50 ML bottles age, but I do know that large format bottles of wine can age longer because less surface area is exposed to air relative to the volume. For whatever reason, our Chianti sample had spoiled and our final Spanish wine didn’t smell good enough to sample.

There were some successes. The Navarra Tempranillo blend and the Pinotage Rose both scored highly with us. I really enjoyed the Backyard Blend, which lived up to its name and reminded Green Dragon of rhino.

Does The Wineist Model Work?

The Wineist packaging looked very cool, but once we started sampling we discovered the size was too small. There is an option to purchase full-sized bottles, but it is hard to pass judgment on the wines based on this very small sip.

We liked all of the tools, text and art that went into the booklet. It lent the experience an air of fun.

The bottles seem problematic. I’m not sure they are guaranteeing the freshest wine and they are difficult to open.

Wineist may have already received some of this initial feedback. The subscription model (which was 15.99 to 17.99 Euros per month) has been at least temporarily shelved in favor of full bottle sales. Here’s the latest word from the Wineist website:

Wineist will now be offering full bottles of wine, being sold directly from the wineries themselves through our webpage. We are becoming a platform where wineries from all over Europe will offer wine directly to the wine lovers! We will eliminate the middle man & high retail margins and offer the best wine for the lowest possible prices to the consumers! The price will be set by the wineries themselves and delivered by them directly to your door step, creating a win – win situation for everybody.  With this innovative approach Wineist will disrupt the world of offering wines as much as AirBnB has changed the world of offering apartments.

The website goes on to say that the subscription model will be transformed into a special wine club for the most loyal Wineist clients.

Wineist has plenty of Euro style and charm. We hope they are a smashing success.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: April 20-23, 2016

 
Bookmark and Share 
Wednesday, April 20
DSC_0249The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. A Juicy Italian Pink Sparkler Plus a Washington State Cab/Merlot Taste-Off. 1. Berlucchi Cuvee 61 Sparkling Rose (Italy), 2. Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Merlot, 3. Columbia Crest 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot, 4. Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 5. Columbia Crest 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. $6 per flight or nominal charge per sample.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Wine tasting. 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, April 21

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Great Spring Wines: 1. 2014 Terra d’Oro – Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend – Clarksburg, California, 2. 2014 Couly-Dutheil – Rosé – Chinon, France, 3. 2011 Meeker – Zinfandel – Sonoma Co., California, 4. 2013 Bonterra – Cabernet Sauvignon – California. Pay per sample or $5 for flight.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Best Foodie Bargains. There are some wines that pair better with food than others. 1. Jeio Prosecco, 2. Domaine Des Valanges Vine de Bourgogne (Chardonnay), 3. Gysler Silvaner, 4. Yalumba Viognier, 5. Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc, 6. King Estate Pinot Gris, 7. Pinot Project, 8. Belleruche Cote du Rhone, 9. Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 10. D'Albola Chianti Classico. Nominal fee per sample.
 
WineTastings_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum
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. Weekly wine tasting. Featuring Eric from Heidelberg. $8 per flight.

Friday, April 22

Toledo Museum Of Art, (419) 255-8000. 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Wine By The Glass Pavilion- Venetian Glass – Italian Wines. Enjoy four wines and light snacks. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers and are available for purchase during Museum hours by phone at or at the information desks
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Rep’s Choice. Sara from Berman Wines will have us all surprised with her choices. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Special Earth Day tasting.

Saturday, April 23
Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Sauvignon Blanc and Its Offspring Cabernet Sauvignon. About 15 years ago, DNA testing showed that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. 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.
Technorati Tags: ,


Up & Coming:
Taste of the Nation Toledo, Sunday April 24, 5-10 PM. The Toledo Club, 235 14th St., Toledo. Food from Toledo’s finest restaurants paired with entertainment and wines. Tickets $225. Black tie optional. For tickets and information go to www.ToledoTaste.org

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April Is Michigan Wine Month, Celebrates Growth In State Wine Industry

LesHainesLANSING, MI —Spring-time kicks off a budding tourism season in Michigan wine country. April has been declared “Michigan Wine Month” to honor our state’s wide selection of quality wines and the wine industry’s significant contribution to the economy, Gov. Rick Snyder said.

The number of wineries in the state continues to grow, with 121 producers of Michigan wine currently recognized by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development that is charged with supporting industry growth.

Michigan wineries attract more than 2 million visitors each year, a testament to the exquisite charm of the state’s wine country and quality of wine being produced. The majority of wineries are near Michigan’s beautiful shorelines, as the Great Lakes facilitate optimum growing conditions for wine grapes.

Michiganders have long known that their wine country ranks among the best in the world, but national and international audiences are now paying attention as well. This is evidenced by more than 500 awards earned by 30 producers of Michigan wine in national competitions in 2015. In addition, Michigan ranks among global company, as one of CNN’s 10 Up-and-coming Wine Regions.

“I am proud to acknowledge the outstanding reputation that Michigan vintners are creating for the Michigan wine industry,” noted Gordon Wenk, chief deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and chair of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. “The industry is a shining example of value-added agriculture, contributing to the agricultural and tourism economies of our beautiful state. The quality of our wines, unique local foods and the scenic beauty of ‘Pure Michigan’ make Michigan an unparalleled winery touring region in the U.S.”

During Michigan Wine Month, travelers are encouraged to venture out and sample wines in one of Michigan’s many beautiful tasting rooms, and participate in one of the many wine events taking place around the state.

Here is a sampling of some of the events taking place to kick off the touring season:

April also marks the release of 2016 Michigan Wine Country magazine, an indispensable guide to the wines and wineries of Michigan, featuring maps and touring information. Pick up a free copy at any Michigan winery or Travel Michigan Welcome Center. To request a copy, visit www.michiganwines.com or contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at 517-284-5736.

Plan your winery tour and learn more about Michigan’s grape and wine industry at www.michiganwines.com.

View the proclamation signed by Governor Snyder.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ancient Wine Region Of Rioja Carries The Banner For Spanish Reds

Wine has been made in the Rioja region for more than 2,500 years. Wines from the Rioja DOC are among the finest and most famous in Spain.

Solar Viejo Winery

Punishing Weather and Welcoming Wine

The fog drifted through driving rain as the bus left the grimy industrial city of Bilbao on its way to Rioja. I was traveling to Solar Viejo, one of the Ferrer Family wineries, to see Spain’s most famous wine region firsthand.

There are more than 600 wineries in Rioja, producing 400 million bottles of wine annually. Most of the wine is red and Tempranillo is “king of the vineyard” although other grapes are permitted.

The weather remained a threatening mixture of sunshine and shadow, but we soon entered Rioja. Around us was a rolling landscape of orange, light and dark brown, and dull green colors accented with rows of vines. The horizon was fringed with snow-dusted mountains. Luckily, it was very welcoming inside the winery.

The Solar Viejo Tradition

Wrought iron decorations in LaguardiaBodegas Solar Viejo was founded in 1937 in the medieval town of Laguardia. The name derives from Casas Solariegas, the traditional noblemen’s houses in the town where Solar Viejo wine was first made. Now Solar Viejo is located in the heart of the Alavesa sub-region of Rioja.

Laguardia was established in the 10th Century as a fortress for the kingdom of Navarra. The city has many underground tunnels built for defensive purposes, but which also served as excellent wine cellars.

Today Solar Viejo is a modern winery operation, but maintains close connection with the land and the people. The winery has five hectares of vineyard, but controls 400 hectares. It produces three million bottles annually, which puts it in the mid-size category, at least in Rioja.

Wines of Distinction

Rioja was the first region in Spain (and still only one of two) to receive the designation of Denominación de Origen Calificada (qualified destination of origin). This is the top quality designation in the country. Tempranillo grapes flourish in the clay and limestone soils and the Cantabria mountains protect the region from the cold, wet winds from the north.

Traditional Rioja PotatoesThere are four categories of wine in Rioja.  The Cosecha label has typically been used for wines within 12-24 months of harvest. (However, it now can also be used for wines that do not want to be constrained by the very strict Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva rules each year.) Crianza is at least two years old with at least one in oak. Reserva is select wine three years old with one in oak. Grand Reserva is produced during exceptional vintages and aged for at least two years in oak and three in the bottle.

We were able to taste the Solar Viejo wines accompanied by traditional Navarra dishes. As a starter we had white Navarra asparagus followed by Patatas a la Riojana (Rioja style potatoes). Here I must point out an apparent breakdown in translation. Our delicious potato dish was served with a slender green pepper. I asked is this hot? The response was “oh, no.” Well, can you say “caliente!?” I think I heard some laughter from the kitchen.

Lamb chops cooked over sarmientosA highlight of our visit was small lamb chops roast in a brick oven over sarmientos, small bundles of dried cuttings from the vineyard. Pair this with a Vaza Crianza Tempranillo and it is quite heavenly.

Artistry In The Bottle

Vaza CrianzaSolar Viejo’s Vaza wines are available in the US, including the Crianza and Cosecha Tempranillo. The 2014 Vaza Cosecha is deep cherry in color with a violet ring. It is a great match with everyday food and, in Spain, is a good substitute for a soft drink or beer.

We were able to compare the 2012 and 2013 Crianza side by side and there was quite a difference. The 2012 harvest was dry in spring and summer and the fruit was rich and ripe. In 2013 it was the opposite, with rain and cool temperatures. This is reflected in the glass. The 2013 has vanilla and cinnamon flavors while the 2012 has heavy tannins. 

The Solar Viejo Tempranillo and the Vaza are traditional Rioja wine, Tempranillo rich with vanilla imbued by American oak barrels. Solar Viejo produces a couple of non-traditional wines.

Solar Viejo Oak BarrelThe 2013 Orube (Basque for Solar) is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano and 5% Garnacha. It spends 12 months in oak, primarily French, and is a more savory wine with complex intensity.

The showstopper for me was the 2011 Orube Vino de Autor. This is the winemakers wine – using 60 to 80-year-old vines from the best vineyards and then selecting only the perfect, flavorful grapes. The winemaker uses malolactic fermentation and the wine is aged in new French oak for 14 months.

Vino de Autor“This wine is our own little baby,” said Vanessa Berez of Solar Viejo. We were urged to let the wine open and evolve in the glass. In the tasting room we were able to look out over the stormy Rioja vineyards while sampling Idiazabal cheese. The cheese is “zero kilometer” food coming from a nearby farm.

The Orube Vino de Autor is powerful and complex with notes of black fruit and oak. There is a touch of sweetness and an enveloping finish.

Rioja RainbowThe same could be said for our visit to Rioja and Solar Viejo. Rioja is one of the world’s premier wine regions. While built on centuries of tradition, new styles and creative approaches are emerging to the delight of wine lovers.

As if signaling agreement, a rainbow appeared as we left the winery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: April 6-9, 2016

 
Bookmark and Share 
Wednesday, April 6
20150523_191856The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Jim’s “In Like a Lion” Tasting. 1. Wagner Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling Select 2013 (New York State), 2. Ano Verde Pinot Noir Santa Barbara 2013 (California), 3. Sineann Red Table Wine 2013 (Oregon State), 4. Jeff Cohn Cellars Smoke and Mirrors 2013 (California), 5. The Verdict Shinas Estate 2012 (Australia). $10 per flight or nominal charge per sample.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Wine tasting with Tricia from Vintner Select. 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, April 7

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Pre-Tax Day Wines. 1. OPICI (traditional fish bottle) – Vino Bianco – Italy, 2. 2010 Meeker – Cabernet Sauvignon – Sonoma County, 3. 2013 Z. Alexander – Uncaged Red Blend – North Coast, California, 4. 2012 Kaiken – Ultra – Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina. Pay per sample or $6.50 for flight.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net

Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Spanish Wine Values. For their quality, Spanish wines are some of the best values in the wine world today. The three signature grapes of Spain (Grenache, Mourvedre and Tempranillo) have friendly flavors and are very easy to drink.1. Crucillon Garnacha Tempranillo, 2. Borsao Grenache Tempranillo, 3. Venta Morales Tempranillo, 4. Tres Ojos Garnacha, 5. Coto de Hayas Garnacha Syrah, 6. Luzon Monastrell Syrah, 7. Paso a Paso Tempranillo, 8. Tarima Monastrell, 9. Wrongo Dongo Monastrell, 10. Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria, 11. Triton Mencia. Nominal fee per sample.
 
WineTastings_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thum
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. Weekly wine tasting. Featuring Angela from Vanguard Wines. $8 per flight.

Friday, April 8

Toledo Museum Of Art, (419) 255-8000. 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Wine By The Glass Pavilion- April In Paris: French Wines. Enjoy four wines and light snacks. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers and are available for purchase during Museum hours by phone at or at the information desks
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. French and Italian Wines. Jeff from Natural-State Fine Wine and Craft Beers is bringing us his favorite French and Italian bottles.. Nominal fee per sample.

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

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Zinfandel Tasting. What better red wines for Spring and Summer than a classic Zinfandel from the great state of California. 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.
Technorati Tags: ,


Up & Coming:
Taste of the Nation Toledo, Sunday April 24, 5-10 PM. The Toledo Club, 235 14th St., Toledo. Food from Toledo’s finest restaurants paired with entertainment and wines. Tickets $225. Black tie optional. For tickets and information go to www.ToledoTaste.org