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Friday, September 30, 2016

From The Publisher: A New Beginning For Toledo Wines and Vines

twv_hortizonalThis month marks the seventh year since I wrote the first post for Toledo Wines and Vines. Since that time we’ve had more than a half million page views and written more than 1,900 blog posts.

Whew! We’ve come a long way. We’ve shared wonderful wine tastings, winery visits, parties and new experiences galore. We’re made new friends and minted incredible memories. We’ve endeavored to share the fun and knowledge surrounding the fruit of the grape. It’s been a fun trip.

The path ahead will take another direction.

Effective in a matter of days, Toledo Wines and Vines will be rebranded as Vino-Sphere. We will expand our focus from wine to include food and travel. There are a couple of reasons for the change.

vino-sphereFirst, as we’ve explored the wine lifestyle with friends and our Tasting Team, it’s become apparent that it isn’t only about the vino. What are your most memorable wine experiences? Chances are it was great wine paired with an amazing meal or a spectacular destination. It’s the complete experience. Like the atmosphere in which we exist, we are surrounded by elements that make life something special. Vino-Sphere will explore them with you.

domaine eden2All of the great content produced over the last seven years will still be available through the archives on Vino-Sphere. You’ll see some graphic changes and our social media channels will be rebranded as well.

So, the desire to expand the vision for the blog was the first reason. The second reason is that the Green Dragon and I will be relocating. It wouldn’t make much sense to publish a blog about Toledo wine activities while living 500 miles away. We’re currently working on a Facebook presence for Toledo to continue on even after our wine bottles have moved on down the road.

We’re glad you’ve enjoyed Toledo Wines and Vines. Thanks for taking the trip with us as we enter the next phase of our journalistic voyage and launch into the Vino-Sphere!

Cheers!

Dave Nershi

Publisher, Toledo Wines and Vines

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 28–October 1, 2016


December 11 Vino 008Wednesday, September 28
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Tasty New Reds and a Sweet Little Bubbly for Dessert. 1. Oak Ridge OZV 2014 Red Blend (California), 2. Oak Ridge OZV 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel (California), 3. Rocca del Dragone 2009 Aglianico (Italy), 4. Toad Hollow 2012 Erik’s the Red (California),5. Famiglia Pasqua 2014 Moscato d’Asti (Italy). Nominal fee per sample or $7 per flight.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Wine tasting. 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, September 29
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. More Fall Wines: 1. 2015 Chateau Ste Michelle – Dry Riesling – Columbia Valley, Washington, 2. 2014 Four Graces – Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon, 3. 2013 Kermit Lynch – Cypress Cuvee’- Cotes Du Rhone – Avignon, France, 4. 2013 Gorman Winery – The Devil You Don’t Know – Columbia Valley, Washington. Nominal fee per sample or $8.50 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, What’s In a Label? Good Wines with Distinctive Labels. 1. Osso Anna Chardonnay, 2. Prophecy Red, 3. Rhiannon Red, 4. Caricature Red, 5. Stand Out Red, 6. Saved Red, 7. Coup de Grace, 8. Treana Red. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Wine Tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Friday, September 30

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Big Red Blends Tasting. Tricia Rasar from Vintner Select is bringing her best in red wine blends from all over that are sure to please.

Saturday, October 1

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

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Wine Tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Craig and Kathryn Hall Deliver Entertaining Read With “A Perfect Score”

20160919_201746

A Perfect Score – The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery is the tale of the Craig and Kathryn Hall’s experience building a successful Napa Valley winery.

Planting The Seeds

A good book is usually a companion for me when taking cross country flights. During my recent trip to California, I grabbed a copy of A Perfect Score, by Craig and Kathryn Hall. The book has just been released by Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group.

I was on the way to the Wine Bloggers Conference and this was ideal reading material to set the mood. It’s easy to blow it with a wine book – either be too technical and dry, or too elementary. A Perfect Score hits the sweet spot, with engaging style and content no matter your wine sophistication. It’s also the tale of a building a successful business from the ground (or should I say soil?) up.

The Start of A Dream

Kathryn and Craig Hall (courtesy HALL Wines)Kathryn came from a family of wine lovers who owned and worked a vineyard in California’s Mendocino County. Craig, on the other hand, was an entrepreneur with a successful financial company who never drank wine. Kathryn, a successful lawyer, met Craig while she was running for mayor of Dallas.

The book weaves the tale of Kathryn’s time as US ambassador to Austria with the couple’s initial stumbling efforts to break into the Napa Valley wine business. The Austrian connection later resulted in the construction of an wine cellar featuring reclaimed brick from the Hapsburg Empire period.

“As Craig inched his way toward the small town of St. Helena, located in the heart of Napa Valley, he noticed an old winery with the look of a disheveled, ignored child who never has to take a bath.” The purchase of that property and its development enabled HALL wines to expand production and its notoriety.

Photo courtesy of HALL WinesThe Quest For The Perfect Score

The journey of the Halls has them overcoming challenges in the vineyard, financial crisis in the market downturn of 2008, and conflicts with Napa neighbors who would rather not share “their” valley with others. Their insight makes for tasty reading.

A Perfect Score lets you join Kathryn for an early morning tank walk with the winemaker and the leadership team as they discuss developing a brand identity for HALL wines. For Cabernet Sauvignon lovers in particular, you get a fascinating look at how award-winning Napa Cab is produced.

Of course, the crowning achievement is the perfect score of 100 attained by the 2010 HALL Exzellenz Cabernet Sauvignon. The journey to get there I found engrossing. I read almost the entire book on my non-stop flight from Detroit to Sacramento.

Other readers have equally enjoyed the book, which is the number 11 on The New York Times bestseller list to be issued October 2. The hardcover is $26 and it is also available as an eBook or audio book.

Uncork a bottle and enjoy this smooth yet robust book!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Island Wine Festival Scheduled October 1 At Put-In-Bay

Mark your calendar now for this unique island wine festival coming up next month.

Wine Fest 1The Annual Island Wine Festival will be held Saturday, October 1, at Put-In-Bay. Representatives from wineries across the US will be on hand for festival goers to sample hundreds of foreign and domestic wines, including island wines from Heineman Winery and Put-in-Bay Winery. Also featured will be great food, a display on the history of island wineries, winery and grape related merchandise.

Admission is $6 which includes a souvenir wine glass Sampling tickets are $1 each with most samples $1 to $4. 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.

PIB Island Wine Fest 002This event is one of our favorites. The setting of picturesque Put-In-Bay plus the amazing array of wine makes this a stand-out event.

A silent auction will be held to benefit the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society. The event is scheduled 11 AM to 6 PM at Put-In-Bay Winery.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 21-24, 2016


20151126_202521Wednesday, September 21
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Celebrate The Coming Of The Fall Equinox: 1. Oliver Apple Pie Wine (Indiana), 2. Apothic 2014 Inferno Red (California), 3. Badia Al Colle 2014 Chianti (Italy), 4. Tait 2012 “The Ball Buster” Red (Australia), 5. Chateau Ollieux Romanis 2011 Corbieres Rouge (France). Nominal fee per sample or $8 per flight.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 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, September 22
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Italian & French Wines: 1. 2013 Terredora Di Paolo – Coda di Volpe – Campania, Italy, 2. 2013 Terredora Di Paolo – Falanghina – Campania, Italy, 3. 2015 Domaine Laroque – Cite de Carcassonne, France, 4. 2011 Terredora Di Paolo – Lacryma Christi – Campania, Italy. Nominal fee per sample or $6.50 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. The Many Shades of Petite Sirah: 1. Bogle, 2. Pennywise, 3. Parducci Small Lot, 4. Parducci True Grit, 5. Foppiano, 6. Runquist, 7. Mettler, 8. Fieldstone. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Wine tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Wine Tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Friday, September 23

Tea Tree Asian Bistro, 4100 Chappell Drive, Perrysburg (Levis Commons), (419) 874-8828. 7 PM. French Wine Tasting. Join us as we experience the beautiful Old World wines of France. the wines will be paired with your favorite Asian foods.  Live vocal and piano music. $35 per person. Call for reservations.

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Not So Common Grape. Take a taste of these Not So Common selections that are the fast track to stardom for your next dinner party. Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, September 24

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

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Oktoberfest Wines. Join us on the patio for a celebration of Everything Oktoberfest. Chef Bill Kolhoff with be grilling up a storm and we will have wines to pair well with his German favorites.. Nominal fee per sample.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oliver Winery & Vineyards Apple Pie Wine

Oliver Apple Pie

This unusual apple wine had us scratching our heads and asking for another glass.

A Taste Of Fall In The Bottle

As a rule, our palate gravitates toward dry or off-dry wines. In general, we prefer wines made from grapes. There are more than 10,000 different varieties out there, after all.

We received a sample of Oliver Winery’s limited release of their Apple Pie Wine. Why not, we said.

A cook-out with the neighbors was scheduled for the weekend, and Tom and Debbie have a sweet tooth when it comes to wine. This was the perfect opportunity to try a “slice” of the Apple Pie Wine.

The Leading Indiana Winery

Oliver Winery and Vineyards is the leading winery in Indiana. It was founded in 1972 and is the oldest and largest winery in the state. They host thousands of visitors each year at their Bloomington winery and have a lineup of wines that run the gamut from dry to very sweet.

In the Midwest, states like Indiana, Ohio and Michigan not only have award-winning wineries, but bountiful fruit harvests. For several years I served as a wine judge at the Wood County Fair in Ohio and tried scores of fruit-based wines. Some were quite good.

So its only natural that Oliver has been producing apple wine and cider for decades. Winemaker Dennis Dunham came up with the idea for Apple Pie wine, but he was greeted with skepticism. In the end, he convinced the sales team – and we’re glad he did.

Does It Really Taste Like Apple Pie?

To accompany a delicious barbeque of ribs and corn on the cob, we opened the Apple Pie. I took a tentative sip, not knowing what to expect. There was a nice, but not overpowering, sweetness. Being made from apples, the wine was halfway home. The apple batch includes Ida Red, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Gala apples.

The secondary flavors really made the difference. There are hints of cinnamon and vanilla. After several glasses it wasn’t hard to imagine a warm slice of apple pie with a flaky crust and some whipped cream on top.

Oliver says this is a wine designed to share around a holiday table. We’ll agree with that. This won’t replace Cabernet Sauvignon – but then again, it isn’t intended to. It’s a nostalgic wine that evokes memories of frost on the pumpkin and a warm fireplace.

This has 7.3% residual sugar, certainly sweet, but much less so than an icewine or late harvest wine. The alcohol level is 10%, a lower level than a typical wine which allows Apple Pie to pair well with dessert or a meal with hearty flavors.

Apple Pie is available September through November in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Missouri, Texas, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. It is also available from Oliver online. The cost is a tasty $8 SRP. Pie anyone?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lodi AVA Shines During 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference

Sun illuminates wine glasses at Mohr-Fry Ranch

Is your image of Lodi, California, wine fixated on Zinfandel or the song Stuck in Lodi Again? It is time for a reset.

Sure, There Is Zin, But So Much More

If you ask someone the first thing that pops into their mind when you say Lodi, there could be two responses. A music lover might stay “Stuck in Lodi Again,” a song by Credence Clearwater Revival a few decades ago. A wine lover would certainly respond with “Zinfandel” as I did prior to my visit there for the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference.

No surprise there. Lodi crushes more than 40% of California’s Zinfandel crop. Many of the existing Zinfandel vineyards were first planted back in the 1880s to early 1900s. It has garnered the title of “Zinfandel Capital of the World.”

But in addition to its hearty Zin, it is also produces diverse grape varieties from around the world. Current plantings include: Albariño and Tempranillo (Spain), Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cão (Portugal), Kerner and Zweigelt (Germany), Barbera and Sangiovese (Italy) and Cinsault and Picpoul Blanc (Southern Rhone). That’s just to name a few.

Lodi has been growing winegrapes since the mid-1800s and today is California’s largest appellation with 190,000 acres in production. The Lodi AVA is a leading producer of Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon winegrapes.

Ironstone Petite Sirah - The Grape and The WineRedefining Lodi

The Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) kicked off with a reception at Mohr-Fry Ranches – a picturesque 225-acre ranch comprised of nine separate blocks of own-rooted, head-trained Old Vine Zinfandel along with blocks of 11 other winegrape varieties like Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Sauvignon Blanc, heirloom beans and cherries. The event burst the misconceptions anyone may have had about Lodi. Wonderful Zinfandel abounded, but the breadth of the wine types was impressive.

With 85 wineries and more than 300 wine labels, Lodi knows a thing or two about wine. More than 2 million people visit Lodi each year. It's located 90 miles east of San Francisco and 35 miles south of Sacramento, and is establishing a reputation as a world class wine destination.

Ironstone Petite Sirah GrapesOn the opening day of WBC Panelists Aaron Lange, Vineyard Manger of Langetwins Winery, Kevin Phillips, Vice President of Operations at Michael-David Winery and Markus Bokisch, Owner/CEO/Vigneron at Bokisch Vineyards presented a history of Lodi winemaking.

Their backgrounds present a snapshot of the diverse Lodi wine scene. Aaron is a fifth generation wine family, Bokisch Vineyards is a small producer of 5,000 cases of wine from Rhone and Spanish varieties. Michael David, meanwhile, is on track to produce 650,000 cases of wine this year.

Lodi is a region that was able to reinvent itself, transitioning from table grape and bulk wine production to taking fuller advantage of the terroir. The  region’s natural environment has always been conducive to an enormous quality of top quality wine grapes.

The AVA boasts the first third-party sustainable grape growing certification program, dubbed Lodi Rules. This is a practice based program with more than 100 sustainable farming practices that take a holistic approach to farming. Twenty-five wineries are currently producing wine that bear the Lodi Rules seal on their labels.

Trio Of Lodi Wines

The Proof Is In The Bottle

The last thing I expected in Lodi is the first thing I found – an eclectic collection of wines made with grape varieties spawned around the world. Homage is paid to Old Vine Zinfandel to be sure, but Acquiesce delivered a delicate and delightful Picpoul Blanc. Harney Lane highlighted a Tempranillo and Albariño. Just a few months ago I visited Spain, and this pair wouldn’t be out of place. Turley produces a wonderful Bechtoldt Vineyard Cinsalut, which was the hit of the opening reception for me.

m2 Wines emtwopointone ZinMore familiar grapes shone as well. Lucas presented their expressive and elegant 2001 Chardonnay. PRIE offered a mind-blowing 2012 Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel. We were hosted at the closing dinner by m2 Wines owner and winemaker Layne Montgomery. We were enchanted by his wines, especially his emtwopointone 2014 Zinfandel.

20160813_194426There’s a world of wine out there – and you can find it in Lodi, California!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Estate Winery: What Does The Term Mean?

WBC14 044While we retool to prepare for our rebranding as Vino-Sphere, please enjoy one of our classic posts.
 

State of The Estate

 
As you scan the labels of bottles in your favorite wine shop, you probably see a lot of information you've seen but never thought about before. Some of the label is just marketing hype, but if you are looking at a bottle of American wine, the words "Estate Wine" or "Estate Bottled" do have an important meaning controlled by law.

While terms like "Reserve" or "Old Vines" have no rules behind them, the use of "Estate" on wine is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Three Requirements to Fit Definition of Estate Wine

 
1. Wines with an "estate bottled" designation must also designate an appellation of origin or an AVA (American Viticultural Area) and both the winery and vineyards must be located there. Appellation and AVA are terms for an established wine growing region. You can't be a Napa winery and source grapes from Lodi and call it an estate wine.

2. The grapes must come from vineyards owned or controlled by the winery. If you own a winery and purchase fruit from another vineyard owner, you must have control over the vineyard. This would include decisions on what grapes to plant, irrigation, cultivation and other important decisions. If you don't control the vineyard, you can't put "estate" on the bottle.

3. The wine must have been produced, from the initial crush to bottling, in a continuous process without leaving the winery's premises.

Usually estate wines cost more because of the extra care and effort that goes into production of the wine. This doesn't mean that non-estate wines are bad. Some wines are labelled "California" for example, with grapes from several different wine growing areas -- but they can still produce exceptional wines.

What About Reserve Wine?

By the way, although the term "Reserve" isn't regulated if you are buying from a respected winery, you should feel pretty confident that there is something special about the wine. "Reserve wines" are typically considered the winery's best or upper echelon wines and good wineries try to live up to that standard. With struggling or unknown wine producers: buyer beware.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: September 14-17, 2016


20160610_184841Wednesday, September 14
The Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. These Wines Just Blew Us Away - Fantastic Deals...We Couldn’t Say No! 1. Torres 2013 Verdejo (Spain), 2. Murfatlar 2013 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay (Romania), 3. Newman’s Own 2012 Pinot Noir (California), 4. Piattelli 2011 Premium Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina), 5. Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Manchester United Legendary Collection 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Spain). Nominal fee per sample or $5 per flight.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. French Tasting. Try some fantastic offerings. 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, September 15
 
Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Nearly Fall Wines: 1. 2011 Domaine Bott-Geyl – Pinot d’Alsace Metiss – Alsace, France, 2. 2015 Chateau Thivin – Beaujolais Villages Rosé – Beaujolais, France, 3. 2012 LA 50/50 – Minervois Red Blend – France, 4. 2009 Château Bouscassé – Unique Red Blend – Madiran, France. Nominal fee per sample or $8 per flight.
Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Wines of South Africa: 1. Secateurs Chenin Blanc, 2. Graham Beck Brut, 3. Goats do Roam Red, 4. Riebeek Pinotage, 5. Protea Red Blend, 6. Riebeek Cabernet Sauvignon, 7. Rustenberg red blend, 8. Graham Beck Cabernet Sauvignon. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Spanish wine tasting. Nominal fee per sample.
 
TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 3-9 PM. Portugal/Port Tasting. 1. Terra Nossa Vinho Verde, 2. Doural Red, 3. Quinta das Maias Red, 4. Kopke Dry White Port, 5. Kopke Fine Ruby Port, 6. Kopke 10-Year Tawny Port.
 
Friday, September 16

Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Greek Wines. Jeff Stroud from Natural States is helping us celebrate Oktoberfest with his German favorites. Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, September 17

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

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Oregon Wines. All wines come from someplace, but Oregon is a world-class area with 18 approved wine-growing regions, and over 700 wineries. Nominal fee per sample.
 
AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wines Of Italy’s Umbria Region Beckon With Style And Flavor

Umbria Wines

Umbria is located in central Italy – the only Italian region without a coastline or a border with another country. What it does have, is outstanding wine.

A Journey To Central Italy

I had a chance to visit Umbria earlier a few weeks ago, but I didn’t take a plane. I was whisked there through modern digital technology – and a corkscrew. As a participant in Wine Studio, an interactive wine education program conducted via social media, I was able to visit this historic land without worrying about what to pack. I have written about Montefalco and was anxious to savor other delights of the region.

Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. It includes part of the Apennine Mountains as well as the Tiber River. In literature, Umbria has been called “the green heart of Italy.” Sadly, the Amandola region of Umbria was devastated recently by an earthquake and aftershocks.

A Trio of Wines from Castello di MagioneThe Exploration Begins

Our taste of Umbria included a trio of wines from Castello di Magione, which enabled us to sample 900 years of tradition in a glass. Today the estate spans 1,325 hectares of farmland with 30 hectares of vines, but its notoriety began as a defensive shelter for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, Rome and Compostela. Today a magnificent medieval castle stands watch over the estate and is depicted on the wine labels.

My first sip was white, the Castello di Magione 2013 Monterone Grechetto. It is from the Colli del Trasimeno DOC region. The wine is a golden yellow and I was struck by a waft of lemon as I inhaled the aroma. This is a joyful wine with a slight acidity. What a way to start!

My wife, the Green Dragon, paired the 2014 Castello di Magione Sangiovese with a ham and orzo dish with some cauliflower. The Sangiovese had a delightful herbal quality. It is vibrant and sensual with cooked cherry flavors. This IGT wine is smooth and perfect for a light entrée.

Is This Wine A Heap Of Stones?

We closed the tasting with the 2008 Castello di Magione Morcinaia, also from the Colli del Trasimeno DOC. Morcinaia is an Umbrian word roughly meaning a heap of stones placed on the edge of a plot of land when work begins on creating a vineyard. What?

Perhaps the winemaker was referring to Morcinaia as a solid wine, which indeed it is. Upon first sip, I was awash with a blast of wet berries.

This is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese. It is a balanced wine with luxurious flavors. It is intense and complex, but never heavy or ponderous. This is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in recent months.

Although Castello di Magione is deeply rooted in history, their winemaking is bolstered by a new winery which opened in 2009. Their wines are fresh and compelling.

Umbria is not as well known as Italy’s spotlight wine regions. Let’s change that. These wines are three good reasons to explore this land of history and tradition.