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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paglione Estate Winery: Lake Erie North Shore Winery Visit

Paglione 1

After picnicking and hiking in Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, the southernmost part of the country, we decided to hit a winery or maybe two before heading home to the US of A. It was nearing 5:00 PM, and that always is dicey because tasting rooms tend to close around that time.

Pagloine WinesAs we drove the back roads, half using the GPS and half guessing at the correct route, I saw a sign for Paglione Estate Winery. I had never heard of this one and so decided Green Dragon and I should pay a visit.

Paglione is situated on 40 acres of land in Harrow, in the heart of the Lake Erie North Shore (LENS) region. They have 10 acres of vineyards and have been open for about a year.

The building architecture is Tuscan-style and it reflects the winemaking philosophy of small batch production using estate grown or locally produced grapes.

Sam Paglione, a native of Capracotta, Italy, is the patriarch of the family and has been making wine for almost 40 years. Wife Nancy and other family members help make the winery a success.

Paglione 3The inside of the tasting room is expansive, with high ceilings and an arched section with paintings of clouds and playful cherubs. We ambled in to the tasting bar to sample the goods.

Our first wine was the 2013 Estate Riesling. This was one of my favorites of the bunch, with citrus notes, medium acidity and a touch of sweetness. On the white side, we also tasted the 2013 Chardonnay and purchased a bottle.

Paglione 2For the reds, we began with the 2011 Chambourcin. Chambourcin is one of my favorite French-American hybrid grapes. The Paglione bottling is light in body, tart and awash with great strawberry flavors. This was my favorite red.

We also sampled the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2011 Cabernet. There was a slight disconnect then as the hostess informed me that Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon are two different grapes – say what?

We thought that perhaps the “Cabernet” might have been a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but a check of wine list showed exactly the same descriptors for both wines. Both vintages of the Cab were light, smooth and enjoyable, but without the body and depth we prefer in a Cabernet. 

Other reds included the Erie red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. This was also light in body with floral notes and touches of cherry. The 2012 Cabernet Franc had pleasant flavors of mulberry and raspberry.

We weren’t quite sure where the grapes for these bottlings came from as the wines weren’t marked “estate” and the labels didn’t carry the Lake Erie North Shore VQA designation. At least some grapes may have come from the plentiful vineyards in the area. That’s not unusual for new wineries while their own vineyards mature.

Paglione PizzaAs we were enjoying our tasting, the kitchen was kept hopping. We were told that the tasting room hours are a bit longer than other wineries in the area due to their popular kitchen. You can purchase a bottle of wine, sit out on their sunny patio and watch your brick oven pizza being cooked. The pizza looked delicious.

Paglione, which opened in 2013, is off to a great start. The wine, food, family atmosphere and surroundings are perfect for enjoying La Dolce Vita, Ontario style!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moldovan Wines Seeking Awareness In United States Market And On National Stage

Wine and Arch 005Whenever we can strike a blow for freedom – and it involves drinking wine – we’re in all the way. Moldova is one of the oldest wine regions in the world with historical mentions dating back to Homer’s Iliad.

Russia, the biggest customer for wine from Moldova, has placed an embargo on Moldovan wine except for five wineries in a primarily Russian-speaking province. This was followed by efforts to stir up interest in Gaugazia becoming an independent region.

Sounds like a page from the Vladimir Putin’s playbook! Now with the support of US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Wine of Moldova, a government body looking to raise international awareness and sales, is launching their first campaign to promote Moldovan Wines in the US.

Resembling the form of a cluster of grapes sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, The Republic of Moldova lies in the Black Sea basin offering winemakers an ideal climate for vinification. Moldova has the greatest density of vineyards in the world with more than 276,000 acres of grape vines.

Moldova RedMoldova cultivates indigenous varietals like Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Traminer, and Saperavi as well as the better known Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Almost 25% of the country’s workforce is employed by the wine industry.

We were fortunate to receive a couple bottle of Moldovan wine to sample. The first is Golden Land Feteasca Neagra. The name of this Romanian-Moldovan grape means “black maiden” and the shade of this wine is a deep ruby. The bouquet is barnyard with aromas of meat.

As the nose will tell you, this is not your typical Pinot Noir, let’s say. It is a bold wine with savory flavors and deep raspberry notes. This would be a great choice with lamb or game.

The Chateau Vartely Traminer is a wine with whitish-green color. It comes from the southern Moldovan region of Codru. This region of forest, hills and rolling countryside is the best place to sample Moldovan white and sparkling wines. It is also the location of Romanesti, the former wine making colony of the imperial Romanov dynasty.

Traminer is a family of white grapes with Gerwurztraminer being the most well known. This wine lives up to its heritage, with a very floral bouquet. It has a dry finish with moderate acidity and rose petal and grapefruit flavors. It is refreshing and enjoyable.

One of my good friends who visits eastern Europe regularly proclaims that he has never had a bad Moldovan wine. We enjoyed the chance to sample this pair and hope to see greater availability and success in the U.S. market for Moldovan wines.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sensi Mantello 2009 Sangiovese- Shiraz, Tuscany

Sensi Mantello 09 Sangiovese-Shiraz

This unique wine was sampled during a visit to the home of tasting team members Jazz Man and Wine Chick. It’s a rebellious wine for those who are seeking adventure.

During our tasting we enjoyed a rosé from Pays d’Oc in France, a red wine from Moldova, a great Malbec from Argentina – but everyone was looking forward to this vino. Sensi is one of the largest producers in the region and has had a rich, successful presence in the Tuscan Hills for 120 years.

This Mantello Sangiovese-Shiraz is an IGT wine and the makers have the same freedom to break the rules as producers of Super Tuscan wines. IGT wines can mix traditional Italian grapes like Sangiovese and Nebiollo with Cabernet or Shiraz creating crazy good blends.

Mantello is a highly rated wine that is ageworthy. It’s earned accolades as one of the top wines in Italy.

The aroma is barnyard and forest floor – and I mean that in a good way. It’s loaded with character and isn’t just a meek, “here’s a tad of cherry flavor” wine. Don’t be lead by “shiraz” on the label – there is no trace of Australian sweetness in the glass. This is the brambly, Syrah version of the grape.

It’s layered and sophisticated with the flavors dialed into the earthy sector. Plum, cherry and some pepper swirl about. This wine will go great with beef, venison and perhaps an autumn firepit on the patio.

Green Dragon hemmed and hawed about the aroma. Meanwhile I sat back with Jazz Man and enjoyed the latest conspiracies on Ancient Aliens while the wine opened up in the glass. The wine became rich and expansive.

Mantello is recommended by me for those adventurers who enjoy rich and hearty wines that are off the beaten path.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Annual Island Wine Festival Coming To Put-In-Bay October 4

[Island-Wine-Fest-1-00310.jpg]The Annual Island Wine Festival will be held Saturday, October 4, at Put-In-Bay. Representatives from wineries across the US will be on hand for festival goers to sample more than 400 of their wines. Also featured will be great food, a display on the history of island wineries, winery and grape related merchandise.

Sampling tickets are $1 each with most samples $1 to $2 with some from $4 to $5. Retail sales are available so you can take your favorite bottle home with you. This is a great time to find a wine for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Heineman's, Put-in-Bay Winery and several other island and Ohio wineries will be participating. A silent auction will be held with items including a vacation package, large bottles of wine, and other fine gifts. The silent auction benefits the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society. The event is scheduled 11 AM to 6 PM at Put-In-Bay Winery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 10-13, 2014

Bottle and glass photo of an Alexander Valley ...

Bottle and glass photo of an Alexander Valley California Cabernet from Sonoma County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Wednesday, September 10
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Animal Label Wines: Tasty wines that go down swimmingly and will make you quack, ribbit and whinny with joy. 1. Opici Vino Bianco, 2. Frog's Leap Merlot, 3. Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Duckhorn Paraduxx Red Blend. Nominal fee per sample or $11 per flight.
Thursday, September 11
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Affordable Pinots: 1. 2012 Cleebourg – Pinot Gris – Alsace, France, 2. 2010 Pierre André – Pinot Noir – Bourgogne, France, 3. 2012 Portlandia – Pinot Noir – Oregon, 4. 2012 Picket Fence – Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley. Nominal fee per sample or $6.50 per flight.
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Great Chilean and Argentine Red Wine Deals: 1. Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, 2. Tapiz Chardonnay, 3. Zolo Signature Red, 4. Crucero Merlot 5. Siegel Cabernet, 6. Zuccardi Malbec, 7. Clos de los Siete, 8. Norton Late Harvest Chardonnay. Nominal fee per sample.
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6:00 – 9:00 PM. 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.
Third Street Cigar, 20 N. 3rd St., Waterville, (419) 441-0020. 6-9 PM. Wine and Cigar Pairing with Maumee Wines. $25 for wine tasting ticket, $50 for cigar/wine pairing ticket.
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, September 12
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting. 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
Saturday, September 13
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. A World Tour of Wines: Italy. Arguably considered at or near the top in in wine production and quality, there can be little argument that Italy has a stable of grapes surpassed by no other region. This week we will explore the many styles of Italian wine making and taste varieties that are familiar and maybe not so familiar. Nominal fee per sample.
  • Tres Belle Wine and Martini Lounge, (419) 874-4555, 3145 Hollister Lane, Perrysburg (Levis Commons).
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
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[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes

Swedish Hill Dry Riesling

September is the month to celebrate Finger Lakes Riesling. the region boasts 250 acres of Riesling vines and more than 220,000 cases are produced annually.

This is also the time when Finger Lakes wine producers will debut their 2013 vintage. On September 27 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT, you can be part of the Riesling celebration by opening up a bottle (or two or three) of your favorite Finger Lakes Rieslings and posting pictures on Facebook (tag @Finger Lakes Wine in your posts), or using Twitter (use #flxwine), and Instagram (use #flxwine).

Later this month we’ll have a report on the 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling vintage. In order to tune up our Riesling palate, we popped open a bottle of Swedish Hill 2012 Dry Riesling.

We brought this with us on our trip to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We paired it with a salmon dinner and the company of eight of our good friends.

The wine has a classic Finger Lakes Riesling flavor profile. A combination of bracing crispness with slate-like minerality rolls pleasantly with flavors of green apple and citrus. This wine has elegance that has earned it 11 gold medals.

Swedish Hill has been recognized as one of the top Finger Lakes wineries, copping the Governor’s Cup three times. The Peterson family owns not only Swedish Hill, but two other standout Finger Lakes wineries, Goose Watch and Penguin Bay.

There’s a style of Riesling for everyone, whether you prefer a precise dry wine or one that is delightfully sweet. September is a great time to try the king of white grapes, especially from America’s top Riesling region, New York’s Finger Lakes.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Pays d’Oc Wines Deliver French Flavor and Value

Pays d'Oc RoseLocated in France’s southern Languedoc Rousillon region, Pays d’OC winemakers produce a wide range of wines with character and value. Pays d’Oc is France’s largest contributor to the “country wine” category.

Vin de pays is the second quality tier in France below the Appellation d’Origine Contrȏlée and above table wine. The wines are geographically controlled, but the regulations are less strict than with AOC wines. The vin de pays term is being phased out in favor of Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP).

Some would say that vin de pays can be produced with exceptional creative freedom. They certainly deliver great value for enjoyable French wine.

At a recent get-together, we popped open the 2013 Père et Fils Cinsault-Syrah rosé. We were winding down at the house of Sax Man and Wine Chick, two TWAV tasting team members.

Rosé is on the rise in Pays d’Oc, accounting now for about 20% of all production. We can see why. Rosé is one of the hottest wine trends in the U.S. This wine was especially delicious.

If I only drank in the Père et Fils with my eyes, it would have been superlative. The color is a striking pink-orange. On the nose there is a waft of apricot.

On the palate the wine is bright with a light to medium body, similar to Riesling. We’ve never had a Cinsault-Syrah rosé before and the grape combination seems ideal. The wine, which is 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah, is harvested at night high in the Languedoc hills. It has light filtration and matures on lees in stainless steel tanks.

Pays d'Oc MuscatA few days later, Green Dragon and I checked out a white Pays d’Oc wine, the Fortant de France 2012 Coast Select Muscat. Like the rosé, it retails for $10.99.

This wine is 100% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. This “white Muscat with little berries” is considered to be the best of the Muscat grape family.

The nose is expansive, with aromas of rose and honeysuckle. In the mouth this wine has a round and tropical flavor. The finish includes a pop of sweetness.

A rich wine, it seems ideal for a lazy summer day. Perhaps this reflects its origin in the sun-dappled Mediterranean coast.

There is a misconception that French wines are difficult to decipher and very expensive. Wines from Pay’s d’Oc allow you to enjoy the French lifestyle with gusto without worries of a busted budget.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Grand River Valley Wine Region to Host 3rd Annual Cask Tasting On September 13

Wine cellar in Burgundy

Wine cellar in Burgundy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Winegrowers of the Grand River Valley are pleased to announce their third annual tasting event, “Cask 1014”, on September 13 from Noon-5:00 PM. Debonné Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, and St. Joseph Vineyards are participating in this drive-yourself tour.

The wine tasting, which includes the limited release of the Cask 1014 red wine, will be paired with food samples to compliment the wine perfectly. The cost is $6 at each winery.

The Cask project was a joint effort of the 5 different wineries to each purchase a 500-gallon cask barrel, using oak from different countries. Each location then put only regional red wines from their winery into the barrel, resulting in wines that are smooth, dry, and full of flavors. The first vintage in the barrel was in 2010 and a second vintage was added in 2011 and the 3rd in 2012. This years' blend was bottled in 2014, thus the name Cask 1014 -- the year the project started “10” and the year the wine was bottled “14”. Each year, 100 gallons will be bottled from these amazing barrels, making room for the next years harvest.

All five participating wineries are within 10 minutes of each other, making this a very convenient excursion for travelers. Each winery will feature their cask wine and another regional wine paired with an appetizer. The cost is only $6 per person at each winery.

"This is truly the elite tasting event of the year," says Nicholas Ferrante, owner and winemaker of Ferrante Winery and Ristorante. "The cask wines from the five area wineries are all about bottling the best that we have. The blends are amazing and the consumer can really taste the difference an oak barrel can make."

With the event being in mid-September, during harvest season, it is highly likely that grape pickers will be in the fields and grapes being pressed at some of the wineries. The smell of grapes is sure to permeate your senses as you drive around to the different wineries.

While visiting the area the group encourages travelers to take a mini-vacation and spend their weekend in wine country. There are lots of shops to visit and beautiful covered bridges to check out in the area. For those looking for other things to do contact the Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau ( or the Lake County Convention & Visitors Bureau (

The Winegrowers of the Grand River Valley formed a group several years ago when they began to realize how quickly their wine region was growing. The Grand River Valley Wine Region is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the United States and has the quality wines to prove why. Member wineries have achieved national and international recognition with award winning wines. These wineries must adhere to strict standards.

The Cask Tasting is just one of a series of events The Winegrowers of the Grand River Valley host each year. Other events include the ever-popular Ice Wine Festival and The Turkey Trot.

For more information about the Cask Tasting call 440-466-3485 or go to and click on events listing.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Elizabeth Spencer Wines Featured In Inaugural Veritas Cork & Craft Tasting

veritas 1By now we hope that you know that Veritas Cork & Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, is open for business. It’s downtown Toledo’s hottest destination for wine, craft beer, artisan cocktails and just plain chillin.’

We got a tweet last week from co-owner Nick Kubiak who let us know that their first tasting was happening that evening. It was like Commissioner Gordon had turned on the bat signal! We dashed to the car and sped (as quickly as you can on construction-riddled I-75) to the hip new wine bar.

veritas 4The featured wines were from Elizabeth Spencer, a California winery with a focus on Napa and Rutherford that has more recently ventured into Sonoma and Mendocino. The wine style is intense without being overly heavy, with pure flavors and persistent finishes.

Scott Burgess, national sales director for Elizabeth Spencer, conducted the tasting in the retail area of the wine bar. There is no Elizabeth Spencer, by the way, it is a combination of the names of partners Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham.

First up was the 2013 Mendocino Proprietor Selected Sauvignon Blanc. This is a vibrant, fresh white with crisp flavors of grapefruit and lemon. What a great start to the tasting.

The 2012 Mendocino Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and then finished in neutral oak barrels. As a result this special cuvee is round and delicate – not overwhelmed by oak.

My pick of the whites was the 2012 Mendocino Pinot Blanc. Forty barrels were produced and each apparently is a beauty. This has layers of citrus with a pinch of flowers. There is a balancing minerality. If purity of flavor is the aim of Elizabeth Spencer, they hit a bulls eye with this wine. The SRP is only $18.50, so it is quite a bargain.

veritas 3On the red side of the spectrum, we began with a superb 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Black cherry flavors flow in a velvety mouthfeel. This is a delicious wine with the prominent note being dark red fruit, but with some complexity and earth tones. The grapes come from the Petaluma Gap region where ocean breezes create ideal Pinot Growing conditions. We grabbed a bottle of this for $33.50.

The 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet was the favorite of several guests at the tasting. Although a solid wine, it wasn’t my favorite. It is bright and smooth, but seemed to have less heartiness than I was expecting. Perhaps a year or three of aging will perfect it.

We were preparing to wrap up when some special bottles appeared from under the bar. That’s always a good sign at a tasting!

The first bonus wine was the 2011 Sonoma Coast Syrah. No wonder it was under the table – they only produced 13 barrels. This is a deep red wine with fruit that explodes from the glass. Smooth and rich, it is a wine with character.

We finished the tasting with the 2012 Mendocino Grenache. This was the most outstanding of the reds (although the Pinot gives close chase). A bright garnet color, flavors of raspberry roil through this medium bodied wine. It is a Grenache with finesse and bright, clear notes of red currant and traces of spice.

It was my first tasting of Elizabeth Spencer wines and they were impressive. Green Dragon and I were pleased to be part of the very first Veritas tasting. They should have had T-shirts! If you haven’t been to Veritas yet, consider this your insider tip and get a move on.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 3-6, 2014

A glass of Sauvignon blanc wine from the Calif...

A glass of Sauvignon blanc wine from the California winery of J. Lohr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Wednesday, September 3
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6– 8 PM. Special Wine and Cheddar Cheese Tasting: 1. Laetitia Arroyo Grande 2012 Chardonnay, 2. Chateau La Bernede 2010 Bordeaux Rouge, 3. Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Quinta do Noval Late Bottled Vintage Porto. Nominal fee per sample or $8 per flight.
Thursday, September 4
Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. End of Summer Wines: 1.
2013 Sola – Sauvignon Blanc – California, 2. 2011 Sola – Cabernet Sauvignon – California, 3. 2012 Juicy Rebound – Juicy Villages Red Blend – California, 4. 2010 Aglianico – La Provencale Red Blend – Campania, Italy. Nominal fee per sample or $5 per flight.
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Delightful Pinot Gris & Pinot Noir: 1. Foris Pinot Gris, 2. The Furst Pinot Gris, 3. Elk Cove Pinot Gris, 4. Claudia Springs Pinot Gris, 5. Angeline Pinot Noir, 6. Point North Pinot Noir, 7. Alexander Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir, 8. Migration Pinot Noir. Nominal fee per sample.
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Good almost evening. In preparation for the Greek Festival in Toledo this coming weekend, we offer a wine tasting featuring Greek Wines as the theme. Both whites and reds will be available as well as a semi-sweet selection. 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, September 5
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine tasting. 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
Saturday, September 6
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 – 5:00 PM. A World Tour of Wines: Sonoma, California. Only 6% of Sonoma County`s acreage is planted to vineyards and represents only 6% of all California wine made. In addition, with all the ancient geological activity in the area, there is greater diversity of soils then is found in all of France. Join us in tasting some stand out wines from an area that gets little respect and recognition. Nominal fee per sample.
  • Tres Belle Wine and Martini Lounge, (419) 874-4555, 3145 Hollister Lane, Perrysburg (Levis Commons).
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
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[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]