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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rideau Vineyard: Santa Barbara County Winery Visit

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A little bit of Creole… in California? It’s unexpected, but cool, as we discovered as we at Rideau Vineyard during our recent swing through Santa Barbara County.

Rideau Vineyard owner Iris Rideau is a New Orleans native. The winery is dedicated to Rhone varietals, which are a perfect match for the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. Iris also instinctively felt these wines would be best suited to the Creole cuisine of her youth.

The tasting room is a historic gem, housed in the El Alamo Pintado Adobe, once a famous guest ranch on the Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara stagecoach line. The house dates back to 1769 when it was owned by the King of Spain and supervised by Mission Santa Barbara.

Santa BarbaraCounty 019The Inn became very a very fashionable resort. Guests enjoyed exquisite dinners in the Adobe and lemonade on the verandah overlooking the lilacs in the spring and golden yellow cottonwoods in the fall.

The good times didn’t last. After struggling as a working ranch it finally lay abandoned for 10 years. In August 1995, Iris Rideau purchased it with a vision to rescue the once famous inn.

Our tasting began with the 2010 Estate Viognier. This wine is finished sans oak and has a subdued floral and vanilla aroma. On the palate there is tropical fruit together with a underlying thread of acidity. This is a winning white wine.

Our next wine was the 2009 Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache Blanc. It may take me a while to warm up to this grape. This was our second Grenache Blanc sample of the day and I had difficulty pulling out any notable characteristics. There was a slight bouquet of wet stone and flavor notes of pear. This was our signal to move to the reds.

The 2009 Sangiovese spends 18 months in French oak and has a luscious appeal. There is a red berry and spice nose. Flavors of black cherry and cigar box combine into one of Rideau’s most popular wines.

Santa BarbaraCounty 020The 2008 Lagniappe got my attention right away. This wine is an 85% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah and 5% Mourvedre blend. I love New Orleans and their concept of Lagniappe, which means “the little something extra,” – a bonus or unexpected surprise. This is a classic Rhone-style wine. this is a highly drinkable wine. It is supple with herbal undertones and pepper accents. This retails for $27 and I brought a bottle home.

We wrapped up with the 2007 Iris Chateau Duplantier, which recently won a gold meal at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition. This is another Rhone blend, but with a different formula: 60% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre and 20% Grenache. This is an age-worthy red with exotic spice aromatics.

Our report would not be complete without a tip of the hat to our hostess, Rise Delmar Ochsner, a former resident of New Orleans who moved to Santa Barbara in 1995 to become an artist. She has painted commissioned portraits of Mick Jagger, Emeril Lagasse and Carol Burnett’s cat. Her unique stories paired well with the excellent wines of Rideau.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Jaffurs 2009 Santa Barbara County Syrah

100_0106This is a wine that almost wasn’t. But the experience provides a cautionary tale.

Green Dragon and I decided to celebrate Valentines Day on the Saturday before with a nice dinner at Mancy’s Blue Water Grille, one of the top restaurants in the Toledo area. Having had salmon earlier in the week I opted for their filet mignon and my valentine chose a beef medallion Oscar. Of course Mancy’s has a reputation for exquisitely prepared steak.

As we enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant I scanned the wine options. Mancy’s has a contemporary layout to their wine list. Organized by categories such as “fresh and crisp” whites and “full bodied” for reds as opposed to listing by countries or varietals.

My eyes were caught by the ‘09 Jaffurs Syrah. We recently returned from a wine trip to Santa Barbara County. Jaffurs was one winery on our list that we missed. Here was a chance to sample the goods!

I placed the order and our waitress soon returned with a bottle. She presented it to me and I looked at the label. Often this is an automatic step – but this time I noticed that it was the 2010 vintage.

Beep. Beep. This does not compute. A 2010 Syrah is too young – aside from not being what I ordered. We sent it back and were reluctantly thinking about a different wine if they were out of the 2009.

Cupid’s arrow was flying true that night because our waitress returned with the Jaffurs 2009. Perhaps the 2010 would have tasted comparable – but I can’t imagine how.

The 2009 Jaffurs was succulent and layered. The tannins were integrated very well – present to interplay nicely with our entrees, but retreating to allow a rich, berry-drop finish. The berry and spice flavor notes seemed especially spectacular as we swirled the last drops in our glasses. The wine, the food and the company made quite a memory.

The punch line is to always check your label for the vintage and appellation. If you receive a wine with only a California appellation instead of a single vineyard designation, for example, you could be paying for a first class wine and receiving a mundane wine instead.

The second thing to look for is wine by Jaffurs. Their 2009 Syrah is simply outstanding!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grand River Valley Ice Wine Festival Slated March 3, 10, and 17; Proceeds To Help Local Food Banks

Anne Froehlich
Photo by Anne Froehlich
Madison, Ohio – Looking for a sweet way to warm up this winter? The Winegrowers of the Grand River Valley Wine Region have just the answer. Their ninth annual Ice Wine Festival is scheduled March 3, 10  and 17.

The festival includes five area wineries all within 10-minutes drive time. Patrons begin at the winery of their choice for this fun, progressive Ice Wine tasting all throughout the Grand River Valley wine region.

Participating wineries include Debonnè Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, and St. Joseph Vineyards.
Last year the festival was extended for three weekends, which turned out to be a great success. The wineries were much less crowded than in years past giving the customer better service.

“Each year this festival has grown in popularity due to the quality product that is being offered to the consumer,” says Nick Ferrante, from Ferrante Winery and chairman of the organization. “We are fortunate to be able to grow internationally award winning ice wines right here in Northeastern Ohio. Many of the ice wines consumers will taste have won Best of Show and Double Gold Medals from competitions all over the United States. Not only is it a great product but a very reasonable priced event for the quality of the product.”

Making this event a progressive tasting is one of the reasons the event is such a draw. Patrons will have a unique experience at every winery and will be able to see different sights around the area. Many wineries have added “extras” for people to enjoy. Some of the extras include special wine dinners, ice carving, dog sledding, and several artisans. Most of these “extras” are free but some will cost the patron a little extra. In addition, many of the winemakers will be on hand for people to talk to and other wines will be available for people to taste.”

This year is a special celebration. “There was much concern regarding the ice wine harvest,” says Tony Debevc, president of Debonnè Vineyards. “With an unusual warm winter, there was fear that the grapes would rot on the vines before there was an opportunity to pick. But, a blizzard blew into the region, temperatures dropped and the picking crews were called in.” The wines featured at the Ice Wine Festival are ‘true’ ice wines. The grapes are left on the vines at the end of the traditional harvest season and await Mother Nature to shift seasons from fall to winter. Once the grapes are truly frozen, reaching temperatures below 17 degrees, the grapes are picked and pressed immediately before they have a chance to thaw.”

Out of town guests will be sure to want to check the winegrowers website for a places to stay the night. Many hotels and restaurants are able to give top-notch service because it is a slower time of year and they are able to offer wonderful amenities and are much less crowded.

Participants will need to determine a starting point at one of the participating wineries in the Grand River Valley. Each winery will then provide a sample of their wines, an ice wine glass, along with a complimentary appetizer. The event begins at noon and ends at 5:00 PM. The cost is $6 per person at each winery. In an effort to help the local food banks, the wineries are encouraging everyone to bring in canned food items for which they will receive $1 off at each location. For more information about the Ice Wine Festival call (440) 466-3485 or for a list of details and a map.
Appetizer and Event Menu
DEBONNE’ VINEYARDS: Adams Reserve Sharp Cheddar served with Homemade Peach Jam & Crushed Walnuts. Featuring Ice Carving at 2 p.m. Sled Dog Demonstration. Ice Wine Martini Bar (small additional fee). Winter Glow Progressive Dinner- each Friday evening. Call (440) 466-3485 for more information on the dinner.

FERRANTE WINERY & RISTORANTE: Peach Vidal Mascarpone with Vanilla Crisp.

GRAND RIVER CELLARS WINERY & RESTAURANT: Homemade Warm Peach Cobbler. Featuring Ice Carving at 12 p.m. Ice Wine Marshmallow Roast All Day (small additional fee). Jelly Sales and Samples by Gatherings. Winter Glow Progressive Dinner- each Friday evening. Call (440) 298-9838 for more information.

LAURELLO VINEYARDS: Homemade Orange Cranberry Biscotti. Featuring Beach Glass Jewelry & Pottery.

ST. JOSEPH VINEYARDS: Golden Pound Cake with Warm Maple Syrup. Art Work featuring Jeff Suntala. Krzys Family Maple Syrup Demonstration.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Toledo Area Wine Tastings & Events: February 15-18. 2012

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

Wednesday, February 15
The Andersons, Sylvania, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-9 PM. Gianni Vanni of European Wine Imports presents Delicious European Vinos. $15.

Thursday, February 16

059216-yellow-road-sign-icon-food-beverage-food-grapesThe Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Some more great closeouts: 1. Lot 27 - Russian River, California – , 2. Chateau Lacombe La Petite Culotte, 3. Buena Vista "The Count" Red Blend, 4. Vigilance Cabernet Sauvignon. $3.50 per flight or nominal fee per sample.

The Andersons, Talmadge Road. Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Malbecs. Nominal fee per sample.

The Andersons, Woodville Mall. 5-7 PM. $2 per flight or nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-9 PM. Gianni Vanni of European Wine Imports presents Delicious European Vinos. $15.

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. 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.

Friday, February 17
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. California Cabernets: 1. Murphy Goode Cabernet Sauvignon, 2. Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon, 3. Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Gunfighter Cabernet Sauvignon (New Dark Horse Label). $15 tasting.

Saturday, February 18
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. California Cabernets: 1. Murphy Goode Cabernet Sauvignon, 2. Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon, 3. Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon, 4. Gunfighter Cabernet Sauvignon (New Dark Horse Label). $15 tasting.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 12:00 Noon - 5:00 PM. Elderton Estates vs. Qupe Vineyards with special guest Jim Kruzinski of Vintner Select. Elderton Estates is one of the elite wineries of Australia with a history vineyards dating all the way back to 1894. Qupe Vineyards is one of America’s most exciting wineries producing organic wines that emphasize regional terroir through Rhone-styled varietals. Premium tasting. Nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. Wine Tasting. 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Nominal fee per sample.


  • Tres Belle Wine and Martini Lounge, (419) 874-4555, 3145 Hollister Lane, Perrysburg (Levis Commons).
  • Zinful Wine Bar & Restaurant, (419) 878-9463, 7541 Dutch Road, Waterville.
Technorati Tags: wine [Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Salomon Undhof 2006 “Steinterrassen” Riesling

Dry Creek 001Founded in 1792, Salomon Undhof is an Austrian wine estate with a long tradition. The seventh generation of the Salomon family continues to produce white wine from its terraced vineyards along the banks of the Danube River. All grapes, including their famous Riesling, are harvested traditionally by hand.

I picked up the 2006 Steinterrassen Riesling at Andersons for $11. That’s a hard to resist price for an Austrian Riesling.

This wine has an elegant palate. Rather than an austere acidity, there is a soft sweetness that is balanced with a bone-dry finish. There is a tingly minerality with delicate floral aromas.

In short, this is a darn good Riesling for the price. Have no fear about the 2006 vintage, it is still drinking well and still has plenty of life.
The high acidity of Rieslings provides a longer cellar life than most whites. I intend to add Salomon Undhof to my “watch” list for the future.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 4 of 5

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Italian Winemaker Massimo Piccin Introduces Sapaio Super Tuscans

Massimo Piccin believes winemaking is a creative process with the focus on quality – not reproducing an industrial process. He brought his artistry and new releases to Corks Wine and Liquor in Rossford last week. 

Massimo founded Podere Sapaio in 1999 with the intent to experiment and find new expressions of Bordeaux style wine in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany. Sangiovese is the most famous of Tuscan grapes, and is front and center in wines from Brunello and Montepulciano. But the trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate in the small DOC of Bolgheri. Unlike some other regions, the use of these Super Tuscan varieties conform to regulations in the relatively new (1994) Bolgheri DOC.

Massimo grew up in Venice and later moved to Tuscany where with the help of his father he began making wines. Sapaio is an 80-acre estate winery that stretches between Castagneto Carducci and Bibbona. His wines are imported by Specialty Wine Co. of Sandusky, which is owned by Claudio Salvador, who is also partner and winemaker at Firelands Winery.

The first Sapaio wine sampled was the 2009 Listra, a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Syrah aged 10 months in French oak. The wine is made for Specialty Wine according to a blend determined by Claudio. The wine is an easy drinking red that sells for $22.

Volpolo is a DOC Toscana Rosso, which is a less expensive and lighter alternative to the DOC Toscana Superiore. This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. The wine is aged 14 months in French oak with prominent notes of cherry and vanilla oak. This wine copped a 90 rating from Wine Spectator.

The flagship wine is Sapaio, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot aged 18 months in used French oak. The flavor is concentrated, but with round tannins. On the tongue the wine is thick and lush with generous blackberry and coffee sprinkled with cherry. This wine not only has been praised by Wine Spectator (92 pts.) but earned the Italian Gambero Rosso Tre Bicheri award. This full bodied wine retails for $55.

“The focus is on artisinality,” said Massimo. “This is my idea of a contemporary wine. It is drinkable when released, but has a long life.”

Podere Sapaio wines have arrived in the Toledo area. Seek them out to enjoy an artistic glassful of Tuscany.

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