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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Split Personality? Dry Creek Vineyard Crafts Two Very Different Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a sprightly wine, bright with acidity. The wine maker’s touch can produce elegance or electricity.


Deciphering Fumé Blanc

DCV Fume BlancAre you a wine lover who is puzzled when greeted with a bottle of Fumé Blanc? It’s from California, but the exotic jargon may cause shoppers to stroll down the aisle. Don’t make that mistake!

Fumé Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc. The term was originally coined by Robert Mondavi’s winery. Some credit this marketing effort with propelling Sauvignon Blanc to become the second most popular white wine variety in California (behind Chardonnay). The term sometimes means an oaky style of Sauvignon Blanc.

Dry Creek Vineyard has a long history with Sauvignon Blanc. Winery founder David Stare loved the fresh Sauvignon Blanc of France’s Loire Valley. He became the first person to plant Sauvignon Blanc in the Dry Creek Valley AVA. Forty years later, Fumé Blanc continues to be the flagship wine of Dry Creek Vineyard.

There is no oak aging with the 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc. It is fermented in stainless steel and is crisp and balanced. On the nose there are citrus notes and a waft of minerality.

On the palate there is a refreshing rush of honeysuckle and apricots. It is a light wine with a vibrant acidity. It impresses with clean and pure flavors.

A perfect wine for hot weather – or to stir up sunny memories during a chilly fall. At $14, why stop at buying only one bottle?

DCV Sauvignon Blanc Musque 2Sauvignon Blanc Musqué Anyone?

With 40 years of pioneering Sauvignon Blanc in California, Dry Creek Vineyard has a few tricks up their sleeve. They produce five different Sauvignon Blanc wines including a dessert wine. They have a pair of single vineyard releases including the 2014 Taylor’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Musqué.

So what exactly is Sauvignon Blanc Musqué, you may ask. It is a Sauvignon Blanc clone. A clone is a subvariety of a particular grape that may have slight differences in aroma, flavor, vine health or ripening ability. For example, there are hundreds of Pinot Noir clones. Don’t confuse it with a “cross,” which is when two different grape varieties are cross-bred.

This wine comes from Taylor’s Vineyard on the western bench of Dry Creek Valley. It receives no oak aging to preserve its fresh fruit flavors.

In the glass it is pale yellow and swirling releases a grassy aroma with whiffs of citrus. It is a medium-bodied wine with a bit more restraint than the angular New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There is a nice flowing acidity with crisp grapefruit flavors. The finish provides a pop of acid on the tongue.

The Musqué adds complexity compared with the typical Sauvignon Blanc. The flavors are deeper, the body fuller and a richer texture. This wine also has the potential to age for about five years – something that isn’t typical for most white wines. It would be interesting to see how the flavor profile changes in a few years.

This duo of wines shows the possibilities of Sauvignon Blanc. The Fumé is a crowd pleasing wine for any occasion. The delicious Taylor’s Vineyard Musqué provides a more adventurous experience. It still is a strong value at $20. Regrettably, the 2014 vintage has been sold out – but this wine has been produced each year since 2011, so expect a new vintage in the not too distant future.

Full disclosure: We received these wines as marketing samples.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lodi Wine Dinner Displays Diversity of Unique Region

Acquiesce 2015 Belle Blanc

We enjoyed the wines of the Lodi California AVA so much, we just had to “revisit” them for a special wine dinner.

Yep, Lodi Is More Than Zinfandel

Forty percent of California Zinfandel hails from Lodi, where more than 20,000 acres of it are planted. That’s not a bad thing, there is some incredible Zin from Lodi. But as our recent visit to Lodi for the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference proved, there’s a world of exciting winemaking going on there – and it all doesn’t start with the letter Z.

Lodi is predominately a red wine region with about two-thirds of the vineyards devoted to reds. There are more than 100 grape varieties including all of California’s leading grapes plus those from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and the Southern Rhone. You can find out more about Lodi in our recent article.

We were so blown away by the quality of Lodi wines, that we jumped at the chance to participate in a virtual wine tasting by Snooth. As is our style, the Green Dragon prepared an amazing wine dinner and we were joined by good friends to sample the wine before the online activities started.

Lodi White A Stellar Start

20160928_184844A great discovery from #WBC16 was that Lodi has some superb white wines. Right at the top of the list are wines by Acquiesce, Lodi’s only dedicated white wine winery. The vines are lightly watered and thinned. Grapes are handpicked and whole-cluster pressed to optimize fruity characteristics.

Our meal kicked off with the 2015 Acquiesce Belle Blanc. Belle Blanc is a blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 45% Roussane and 10% Viognier. This is a Rhone-style white from the Lodi Mokelumne River AVA. The grapes come from Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, which is well known for popularizing Rhone varieties in California. The grape clones are from cuttings from the famous French Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

While the winemaking team at Acquiesce were busy obsessing about making great white wine, Green Dragon was in the kitchen whipping up a superb dish. Our first dish was an organic beet salad with crispy chevre crouton accompanied with a swordfish skewer.

This was a golden combination! The Belle Blanc had a warm, tingly apple flavor. The Roussane brings more substantial body to the wine and Viognier adds its wonderful honeysuckle aroma. It is a balanced and food-friendly wine. This is a limited production wine of only 288 cases produced under the stringent Lodi Rules certification. Only $26? Are you kidding me? It is worth that for the elegant bottle alone.

Grenache In The House

McCay Cellars GrenacheOur next wine was the 2013 Grenache from McCay Cellars, and our friends pronounced this wine simply as “dynamite.” Michael McCay and his family have farmed in Lodi for more than 20 years. Michael’s winemaking style includes natural fermentation, a layered “Old World” style, and a concentration on Rhone varieties.

What do you pair with a Lodi Grenache? The Green Dragon opted for butternut squash soup with pork tenderloin, cranberry gravy and wild rice. The cranberry gravy is a favorite of mine – it is a blend of cranberries plus onions. Sounds a bit off-balance perhaps, but it works in a delightful way.

Our guests Maria and the Cabernetor provided important tasting notes as we worked through this gastronomic masterpiece. The McCay Grenache is garnet colored in the glass. Cabernetor proclaimed this as a highly flexible wine that could stand up to an even heartier entree.

The wine has delicious notes of red fruit and cola. It is 100 percent Grenache finished in natural oak with native fermentation. It undergoes malolactic fermentation, which enhances its rich, smooth texture.

This is another “micro-production” wine with 309 cases produced. It is a wallet-friendly $32 and punches above its weight class.

Lange Twins Nero d'AvolaItaly Comes To Lodi

I don’t think I’m the only one to be surprised to hear of the Italian grape variety Nero d’Avola growing in Lodi. The Lange Twins 2014 Nero d’Avola is their first vintage of this grape. We hope to taste many more.

The winery is a fifth generation family farm. Randall and Brad Lange (the twins) have focused on ecologically responsible winemaking and this bottle is certified sustainable. Nero d’Avola is an Italian variety with roots in Sicily. Historically it was used to add color to light red wines, but recently has made a name for itself as a stand-alone wine.

The wine did not have to stand alone at our table, as it was accompanied by chicken cacciatore over egg noodles. Our crew gave this first vintage an enthusiastic thumbs up. It was a more robust wine than the previous Grenache and opens with rustic and earth notes. While the Grenache was all about red fruit, the Nero had deeper notes of black cherry.

Aging is done is both French and neutral American oak barrels. This allows the fruit to show nicely but adds a light touch of oak. Aging is for 18 months. Currently this wine is exclusively available at the winery.

Klinker Brick Farrah SyrahKlinker Is Not A Klunker

We’ve been fans of Klinker Brick Winery for many years. In fact, we met Farrah for which the Klinker Brick 2013 Farrah Syrah is named at a wine tasting a number of years ago. The wines are all flavorful and tremendously over-deliver on quality for the price.

Speaking of over-delivering, Green Dragon prepared a delicious herbed rack of lamb with oven roasted Asiago cauliflower to pair with the Syrah. Lamb is a classic pairing with Syrah, so we were anxious to begin sipping away.

The Farrah Syrah is also from the Lodi Mokelumne River AVA. It is aged in French oak for 15 months. The alcohol percentage is 14.9%, on the upper end for fine wines.

This is a smoky, beautiful wine. We detected licorice and spice flavor notes. It’s balanced and smooth – a great match for our grilled food.

As this quartet amply demonstrates, Lodi is a diverse wine region. It offers many pleasurable surprises for wine lovers. We suggest you explore this area – a bottle at a time.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

Lodi Wine Dinner Graphic

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016’s Best and Worst Foodie Cities

Think New Orleans or New York are pretty great cities for foodies? Certainly in the top 10? Not the case according to a recently revealed survey. Spoiler Alert: Steer clear of North Las Vegas.

SA Dave 050And The Winners Are…

To find the best and cheapest foodie scenes in the U.S., personal finance website WalletHub compared the 150 most populated cities across 21 key metrics, ranging from “cost of groceries” to “affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants” to “number of food festivals per capita.” 

Factored into the ratings were key metrics (at least to us) including average beer and wine price, number of restaurants per capita, number of food trucks per capita, number of craft breweries and wineries per capita, access to healthy food options and number of food festivals per capita.

I would have put Seattle right at the top trailed closely by San Francisco – but alas, it wasn’t my research project. Both cities were in the top 10, but they lagged behind the leader. Incredibly enough (or perhaps not) the winner is Orlando!

Here’s The List of the Top 10 Cities:

1. Orlando, FL
2. Portland, OR
3. Miami, FL
4. Tampa, FL
5. San Francisco, CA
6. Cincinnati, OH
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Salt Lake City, UT
9. Richmond, VA
10. Seattle, WA

Interestingly, Seattle just edged out Rochester, NY. The Big Apple languishes at number 54. In case you wonder, New Orleans came in at 34 – below cities like Grand Rapids, MI, and Cleveland.

There are some great gems on this list, including Richmond, Cincinnati and St. Louis. These are cities that don’t automatically come to mind as culinary capitols – but they have vibrant food scenes.

There Is No Joy In Mudville – The Bottom 10

For every joyously celebrating “best foodie” city, there is a flip side – the worst foodie cities. Here is the list of the bottom 10.

141. Garland, TX
142. Fayetteville, NC
143. Jackson, MS
144. San Bernardino, CA
145. Aurora, IL
146. Fontana, CA
147. Montgomery, AL
148. Grand Prairie, TX
149. Moreno Valley, CA
150. North Las Vegas, NV

I’m not sure how North Las Vegas will react, but the Texans in Garland and Grand Prairie won’t take kindly to this blemish on their civic pride. However, Laredo, Texas earns points for having the lowest average prices for beer and wine of the cities measured.

20160811_085933Fun Foodie Facts

Here are some interesting insights from the survey results:

  • Laredo, Texas, has the lowest grocery cost index, 79, which is two times lower than in Honolulu, the city with the highest, 158.9. 
  • Orlando, Fla., has the most restaurants per 100,000 residents, 1,176.38, which is 9.8 times more than in Santa Clarita, Calif., the city with the fewest, 120.09. 
  • Santa Rosa, Calif., has the highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments, 1.74, which is 3.1 times higher than in Jackson, Miss., the city with the lowest, 0.57. 
  • Portland, Ore., has the most coffee and tea shops per 100,000 residents, 103.92, which is 29.5 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest, 3.52.   
  • Miami has the most gourmet specialty-food stores per 100,000 residents, 117.46, which is 14.5 times more than in Gilbert, Ariz., the city with the fewest, 8.08. 
  • Cincinnati has the most grocery stores per 100,000 residents, 128.29, which is 13.8 times more than in Santa Clarita, Calif., the city with the fewest, 9.32. 
  • San Francisco has the most cooking schools per 100,000 residents, 6.36, which is 28 times more than in Raleigh, N.C., the city with the fewest, 0.22.

To see the full results of the survey, visit this WalletHub link.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How To Host An Amazing Blind Wine Tasting

What is a blind tasting? How do you host one? What food should you serve? Here are the tips you need for a successful event.

Blind Wine Tasting Bottles 1

What Is A Blind Tasting?

First of all, there are no blindfolds involved in a blind tasting. A blind tasting allows you to focus on the wine without the preconceptions that a bottle and the label might impart.

When you see a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet from Stag’s Leap, your mind immediately sends a signal, “This is going to be an incredible bottle of wine.” If you see a bottle of Merlot and sip it, your sixth sense says, “Yeah, this tastes like Merlot.”

Take away the visual cues and it is a different ball game. Unknown wine regions compete on an equal footing with the big boys. Varieties like Cabernet Franc become more difficult to identify.

With a blind tasting, the bottles are concealed. This heightens the mystery and creates an outstanding social event.

Setting The Stage

The tips suggested here are straight from a recent smashingly successful blind wine tasting hosted by our good friends Glorious T and the Cabernetor. They are sensational party hosts and took their game to a new level with this event.

A key step in the blind tasting is the invitation. In this case, guests were asked to bring a single-variety wine (no blends) costing between $15 and $25. In several cases, guests brought a bottle of red and white. Part of the fun is guests guessing what each wine is. If you have a blend of seven exotic wine grapes, no one will have a clue. Guests were also invited to bring an appetizer to share – although in this case Glorious T got into a cooking frenzy and prepared almost all of it with the help of her friend Michelle.

You may have friends or their “plus one” who don’t know that much about wine. Provide a brief explanation about what is taking place – with the emphasis on fun.

Blind Wine Tasting White WinesPreparing The Vino

The anticipation is ruined if you see Joe walking in the door with a bottle of Cabernet for all the world to see. Not a whole lot of suspense there. Most guests get it and bring their bottles in a paper bag.

Cabernetor and I set up a staging area for the wine on their dinner table. While guests went into the kitchen to mingle, they handed off their bottles to us. Each red wine was placed into a cloth bag or a paper bag with a number. A few years ago, I got a nice blind wine tasting kit. It included five cloth bags each with a letter in the word WINES. So we had those “alphabet” wines and once we got above that number, Glorious T had printed some fancy numbers. Adding those to a paper bag added a touch of class.

The white wines were a different story. They were served out on the patio and were chilled in a large bucket of ice. Those were wrapped in aluminum foil and numbers were added.

Cabernetor and I were the only ones who knew all of the wines. The guests didn’t even know which bag contained their bottles. Insider tip” - be sure the foil or bag covers as much of the neck as possible – some wineries have their name on the neck or it is so distinctive it gives the identity away.

We were also on standby in case the wines needed to be supplemented with different bottles from Cabernetor’s cellar to provide variety.

The Event Unfolds

Blind Wine TastingEach guest was given a cool tasting sheet that Glorious T found on (This site also has other supplies for blind tastings.) The evening began with eats and mingling before official kickoff.  

As you can tell from the aerial photo by Cabernetor (he climbed up on a chair), the food was out of this world. It was a feast for the eye as well as the stomach. The appetizers were designed as one or two bites that could be paired with different wines and could be handled easily.

You will want to have a variety of foods. We would suggest shrimp, seafood and/or puff pastries for pairing with whites. One the red side, you’ll want some savory apps, perhaps some mushrooms, meatballs or olive dishes supplemented with spreads, dips and cheese. Don’t forget about the chocolate and sweet bites too.

With a house filled with guests and lively discussion, it was on to the white wines.

Blind Wine Tasting Unwrapped!

Blind Wine Tasting Bunch O' BottlesOn the deck, the tasting began. We had a smaller number of white wines, but no shortage of discussion. The wines were indeed single varieties – but they included Torrontes, Kerner and Gruner Veltliner! It was a tasty way to get things going and the wine favorites were as controversial as the presidential debates. This was merely the opening act.

When tasting a dozen or more different wines, as we did, having bountiful good food is crucial. It’s also important to let your guests know that they don’t have to sample every wine and that they should start with small sips. Let them know dumping is OK too. At the end of the evening, you’ll want to make sure they get home safely.

There was quite a battle to select and identify the favorite red. Again (and I plead guilty) there were some offbeat reds, including Tannat, Dolcetto and a wine I brought from Turkey (Kalecik Karasi). Surprisingly, no one was able to successfully identify the Kalecik Karasi! We also had a couple of Cabernet, a Zin and Pinot Noir.

After all identified their favorite, the bottles were revealed. The top choice? A Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon from Wellington Vineyards. This sub-$20 bottle crushed the competition with its great value and taste.

Whether it is a small group or large, a blind wine tasting can add spice to your next party. We close with a loving look at all that great food!

Array of Fantastic Blind Wine Tasting Appetizers

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Louis Jadot 2014 Beaujolais-Villages

Jadot Gamay

Looking for a smooth sipper? Get your game on with Gamay. Looking beyond Beaujolais Nouveau has its rewards.

Burgundy With A Twist

The twin powers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rule most of France’s famed Burgundy region. In Beaujolais, located in the southern part of Burgundy, things are different.

The granite-laden soil is ideal for Gamay. No other region in the world comes close to producing great wine from this red grape.

Relax – It’s Gamay

Gamay is an easy-going grape. It has soft, rounded edges without the barriers of oaky tannins. Part of it is achieved through the use of carbonic maceration. This technique, perfected in Beaujolais, ferments most of the wine inside the grapes, which are crushed by gravity and their own weight. Maybe this is why Gamay is so mellow – they bypass the process of pressing and crushing the juice out of the grapes first.

On a relaxing evening, the Green Dragon and I uncorked the 2014 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages. Beaujolais Villages is an AOC in the northern part of the region comprised of 39 villages with superior vineyards.

Some call Beaujolais a white wine that’s red in color because of its refreshing quality. It also drinks well slightly chilled. The carbonic maceration used in most Beaujolais wines accents the fruity flavors of the grape with miniscule tannins.

The Inside Sip

The Louis Jadot is a delicious bargain at an SRP of only $13.99. It is medium in body and full in juicy red berry flavors. It works well with light meat entrees and we found it enjoyable as an after dinner bottle.

I’d also recommend this to wine lovers who favor juicy flavors over more austere, earthy wines. For those new to French wines, this is a great starting point. It offers easy to understand goodness at a great price point.

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

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Cesari 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

Amarone is considered one of Italy’s greatest wines, delivering rich, smooth flavors. Cesari Vineyard of Verona is celebrating 80 years of producing some of Italy’s best vino.  This Amarone is a nice anniversary gift.

Cesari Amaroni sports embossed bottle

The Mystery and Beauty of Amarone

Okay, what’s the fuss about Amarone? It’s just another Italian red wine, right? No, my friend. It is a special treat that can send wine lovers into the stratosphere.

The essence of Amarone’s excellence lies in the passito process. In this traditional method of production, the grapes are dried in a cool airy room (called fruittai) for up to four months.

At the end of the process, the grapes lose 30% to 40% of their weight, resulting in a concentration of sugar. That sugar is converted during the fermentation process into alcohol at a significant level of about 15%.

The resulting rich elegance of Amarone makes it a connoisseur’s delight.

Hail Cesari!

The grape varieties are 70-75% Corvina Veronese, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The wine is produced  in the towns of Negrar, Marano di Valpolicella, Sant’Ambrogio, Fumane, San Pietro in Cariano (the historic area of Valpolicella Classico production).

Cesari Amarone has orange highlightsCesari has been producing outstanding wine for 80 years. They certainly demonstrate their prowess with this Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. We tasted this bottle with friends Cabernetor and Glorious T. As the Cabernetor opined, “This is a whole different realm of wine.”

Indeed it is. The wine ages for 12 months in large Slovakian oak barrels with 20% aging in small French oak casks. It also undergoes malolactic fermentation and gets another six to eight months of bottle aging before release.

Cesari Amarone is rich and suppleEveryone’s Talking

This Amarone (Ah-mah-ROH-neh) should be opened about two hours before serving. It can be paired with game or grilled meats, as in our case, can be a “conversation” wine.

A visual as well as a taste treat, the wine is “leggy” with long wine “tears” in the glass after a swirl. The color is also unique, a deep red with orange highlights on the rim.

Our conversation certainly did flow as we enjoyed the Amarone. The wine is lush and smooth, lingering on the palate. The artistry of winemakers is evident. The wine is rich, supple and warming. Flavors of cherries and fruit preserves mingle in happy harmony.

As you can tell, we recommend Amarone very highly. We suggest you celebrate 80 years with Cesari. This bottle retails for $60.

Full disclosure: This bottle was received as a marketing sample.

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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!


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
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.
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.
  • 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”


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.