Friday, July 31, 2009

Four Winery Visits on Day Two of River Drive - Plus One

CORYDON , Indiana (and the general area) - After spending the night in the beautiful Leavenworth Bed & Breakfast Inn I headed for Corydon. I learned as I was departing of a new winery on Ind. 62 near Corydon I had not heard of previously.

Click here for photos from the second of my two days in Southern Indiana.

Scout Mountain Winery is about six miles west of the old state Capital. Michael and Margaret Schad own a bed and breakfast and an orchard. They opened their winery this spring with a modest 900 gallons of wine but are experiencing success.

Mike, a former toolmaker, shared his story while pouring wine. They've already sold out of their Traminette and Vidal Blanc. Mike noted he has gotten lots of help from Dan Adams at Winzerwald, Jim Pfeiffer at Turtle Run, and Ted Huber at Huber winery.

The Scout Mountain wines were unique in two ways. Some of the traditional Indiana grape wines - Chardonel, Chamourcin - were done in a light style that was well balanced. They were very good wines for a first-year effort.

But Mike has some of that 'mad scientist' in him that runs through many of these winemakers near the Ohio River. He wanted me to try his Apple-Strawberry wine. I was surprised to find the fruit wine a nice combination. It was not too sweet and had the tartness of apple with a lingering strawberry flavor on the finish.

He's planning another blend called Blue River Blush which will combine Chambourcin, Riesling, and Apricot. It sounds like a crazy mixture, but he pulled it off with the first one.

I asked how he came up with the Scout Mountain name and he shared asking residents about the area's history. It seems there was a Boy Scout camp over the hill near the river which closed in the 1920s. So he thought Scout was a perfect name for the winery ... and doesn't mountain just sound better?

For me, the wine highlight of the day was a visit to Turtle Run Winery west of Corydon. I had heard alot about owner/winemaker Jim Pfeiffer and he didn't disappoint.

He was working on a white wine blend while I was there and it was alternately fascinating, educational, entertaining, and at times maybe even a bit silly. He allowed me and a family of three to smell and taste the various blends. "Everybody does it this way," he repeated over and over.

He has a bit of a frantic energy that's just contagious. When you talk about "passion" for wine, Pfeiffer's mug could be beside the definition.

He makes a lot of wine. There were 20 wines on the tasting list. He hopes to more than double his production the next few years and get the winery to 10,000 cases.

He's making some wines others are not and may be one of Indiana's most creative when it comes to blending wines. "We're blend-a-holics," he laughed.

The last wine I tasted was one of the most interesting of the two-day trip. Jim's Summer Solstice is a blend of Chardonnay, Gwertztraminer, Traminnette and Chardonel. And by Jim's definition, he just oaks the Chardonnay until he kills it.

Oddly, but in a good way, the oak is the first thing to hit your palate then layers of fruit carry on through the finish.

I liked his nice Catawba and wonderful Vignoles. His Syrah was as good as many $15 bottles you'll find in any wine shop. He also does Zinfandel without oak - almost unheard of to most wine drinkers. I tried the Zin and liked the flavor, but missed the oak.

I really liked his Red My Mind Barrel Aged bottle of Merlot and Chambourcin. I read the notes which said the wine wouldn't taste like either grape and it was right on. The wine actually reminded me of a Pinot Noir style wine. I bought a couple $14 bottles.

There are several more on his list that I enjoyed. But it's all blurred by his work blending his Dry Tortuga which is one of his best sellers. It's a blend of 2005 barrel-aged vignoles, 07 late harvest vignoles, 07 stainless steel aged chardonel. Now that was the blend on the bottling he had just sold out. But it gives you the idea.

Who said "Mad Scientist?" Well, I did. Jim, discussing the Solstice, prefers to think of himself more as Picasso.

Turtle Run is not terribly far from Huber's which I have written about here on several occasions. I'd strongly recommend both for some of the best wine made in Indiana.

About six miles away, I couldn't tell anyone exactly because I got lost, is Best Vineyards. Best is in its second year of operation with a 10-wine lineup.

The big seller is a very light Peach/Chardonel combination they consider a dessert wine. I was surprised it wasn't a sugar bomb considering the sugar they add. It was pleasant and nicely balance for so much sweetness.

Their Lavina is your typical Concord Grape wine with an exception - the Concord grapes came from Canada for this one. It was a lighter, softer style Concord.

I liked their Hummingbird Red ($11.95) which is a light style red made from Chambourcin. I could see sipping this one without food, sitting on the porch.

My last stop of the day was at Indian Creek Winery with their 12-wine offering. Indian Creek is on the west side of Georgetown, Indiana, just north of I-64. These last three wineries are all relatively close together and close to Huber - just west of Louisville on the Indiana side of the river.

Indian Creek does a Dornfelder, the grape Germany considers its Pinot Noir. They have a couple of blends and a lineup of sweet wines.

I don't know if it was a quick lunch I grabbed before getting to Indian Creek, if it was the end of a long day and tasting wine at three previous stops, but I found a taste to all their wines that I just couldn't shake. It wasn't helped when the young man, the owner's son, noted one bottle I was tasting had been open a week.

There was an odd odor to each glass that carried through to the taste. We even switched glasses after the first couple.

Maybe it was me, I'm giving Indian Creek the benefit of the doubt after just one visit.

I started the morning in Madison, Indiana - a place Charles Kuralt, of CBS News fame, once called the prettiest river town in America! I bought fresh peaches on the hill and visited the farmers' market on a beautiful, old side street downtown.

Then it was down the river to Vevay, Indiana, - home of the late-August Swiss Wine Fest that draws a dozen or more Indiana wineries each year.

Ridge Winery sits about five miles east of Vevay on State Highway 56. The tasting room appears to be built off the end of a beautiful new home. There's a large deck with plenty of tables on the back side of the house where you can sip wine right along side the Ohio River.

It's a beautiful setting.

The tasting room is full of wine-related gifts and novelties and two delightful women pouring a sip for the many visitors. They had 12 wines on their tasting list and I had small samples of several.

Their sweeter wines were typical of most Indiana wineries, but a tad more sweet than most I had tasted during this trip. Their "Country Red" made from Stueben grapes had a pleasant and light nose and taste. It's the kind of sweet red many Hoosiers enjoy.

Their attempts at a Cab/Merlot blend and a Cabernet - well - let's just say there is an incredible view of the Ohio River on the deck at Ridge Winery!

Another nice note about this winery is its less than five minutes from the Belterra Casino and Resort. And across the river from the Casino is the Kentucky Motor Speedway.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Up A Lazy River With a Glass of Hoosier Wine

LEAVENWORTH, In. - A drive up the Ohio River sounded like a great two-day trip last fall. I didn't get it done then, but I'm in mid-trip tonight (July 30).

The gray weather and frequent rain didn't make it a perfect day but this unique area in Indiana is really beautiful. I drove up and down very curvy roads with a few spectacular views of the Ohio. (Yes, there is a Possom Junction!)

My wine trip was also part of a two-day vacation driving the Ohio River. Check out photo albums throughout these two blogs. An album from the Lincoln Boyhood National Park is here.

I also made visits to Winzerwald Winery near Bristow and the new Blue Heron Winery with a spectacular view of the Ohio River.

Here is the second set of photos which includes river pictures and shots taken at the two wineries.

I had been to Winzerwald on two previous occasions and enjoyed chatting with Dan Adams. Dan recently retired as director of the Perry County Parks department and is now focusing all his efforts on the winery.

Winzerwald makes all its wines in a German style honoring the family's German heritage. Last year Dan made just over 2,200 cases of wine and expects to be near 3,000 this year. Winzerwald is also a frequent participant at many of the Indiana wine festivals.

Most of their grapes come from the immediate area though he does buy fruit from Washington state. I've not seen alot of Pinot Noir in Indiana and Dan is making one from Washington grapes.

I tasted seven of his wines and will offer thoughts on a couple. I really liked his 7th Anniversary Catawba Rose' It had a beautiful nose and was nicely balanced. A really good bottle of wine for the $14.99 price point. It had a full fruit flavor but still could be considered a semi-dry to dry wine.

He makes a nice Riesling that's his biggest seller in the whites. It had a hint of green apple and mild acidity. I like Riesling to have good acidity but its easy to see why many like the Winzerwald.

Dan had great success at the recent Indy International Wine Festival. His Cherry Red won a rare Double Gold Medal. I normally shy away from the sweet fruit wines, but this was really not what I expected. The nose had the Louden Cough Drop aroma and I was thinking, "oh no." But one little sip and the experience was far different. The wine was nicely balanced and sweet but without the over-kill in so many Indiana wines.

He also makes a German-style Blaufrankish and Blaufrankish Reserve from Lemberger grapes grown in Southern Indiana. The primary difference between the $15.97 and $17.99 is the reserve gets a year in oak.

The less-expensive Lemberger was smooth with a lighter-than-expected feel on the palate. The oaked version was just a better glass of wine with a nose and taste of the 12 months in American oak.

Winzerwald sits pretty close to I-64 and is easy to visit if you're on that interstate stretch between Louisville and Evansville.

It takes considerably more effort to make it to one of Indiana's newest wineries, Blue Heron Vineyards. But let me tell you that it's worth the effort.

Blue Herron Vineyards is south of Cannelton, on Ind. 166 - then you have to climb up a hill that is largely gravel road. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the top to see a beautiful facility, quaint tasting room and one incredible view of the Ohio River and Cannelton locks.

I had a great time with Lynn Dauby, who runs the winery with her husband Gary. Both are retired school teachers pursuing a dream.

They have made a limited number of wines and just started pouring this spring. They are distributing their wines only out of the tasting room so you won't find them without an unlikely trip to Cannelton. They may undertake a couple of festivals this fall or next summer if they have enough wine.

Their first wines show potential. I tasted four of their five. They have two wines from their own Marechal Foch grapes. One was a little lighter and sweeter while I really liked the drier 'Prime 23' version. It was nicely balanced with a unique "cherry pie" fruit taste on the palate. I was picking up cherry and it was Lynn who suggested the "cherry pie." I've had Foch at some Indiana wineries that was harsh, this was unique - in a good way!

They also have one of the more interesting Concord grape wines I've sampled. Most every Indiana winery makes this version of sweet red wine. The Blue Heron "On Deck Red" was lighter than most and while very fruity, it wasn't as sickenly sweet as so many of them on market shelves.

Lynn also poured "On Deck White" which was ... aaaa ... different. It's a blend of Cayuga and Chardonel. I couldn't get a handle on it at all. But three out of four isn't bad!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On The Road Again - Not So Far From Home

In April I blogged from my roadtrip to Oregon's Willamette Valley as I hopped from winery to winery. It was truly one of the most fun experiences I've ever had.

I'm embarking on a two-day trip Thursday morning that wasn't originally designed to be a winery tour, but has turned into something of one.

I've wanted to drive along the banks of the Ohio River for a year or two. I did it many years ago and its an interesting experience. There are great old river towns like Rockport, Tell City, and Cannelton.

I checked Indiana's winery map and found 5-6 wineries very close to my route. So I'm going to stop and visit as many as possible.

I'll definitely post something with photos Thursday night. I'm not sure what my internet access will be Friday. I'll post something over the weekend, or the second day of the trip will have to wait until Sunday or first of the week. We'll see!

But I should have some river and winery pics up tomorrow night

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

One of the Nicest Rose' Wines of the Summer

As one gets more and more into wine what you want to look for is if a wine is correct to the varietal. Does the Pinot taste like Pinot? Is the Cabernet characteristically correct for a Cabernet? Etc ....

That's hard with a nice dry summer Rose' because the wine is made, and made well, from so many different grapes.

But if there was one you might want to try for your summer of dry rose' exploration it would be the nice French Mas Carlot 2008 Rose'.

The wine is 60 percent Grenache and 40 percent Syrah. It has a big beautiful nose of strawberry .. a bigger nose than many dry rose' wines.

It has a bright and light fruity flavor with some mineral, strawberry, and sweet spicy goodness.

There are so many good Rose' wines on the market at incredibly low prices, it's hard to go wrong. Ok, there are a few stinkers too!

But this wine is available at Kahn's Fine Wines in Indianapolis on Keystone Ave. for $9.99.

A great wine at a great price. If you wish to taste really good French Rose' at a reasonable price, it's hard to go wrong staring with Mas Carlot.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

A French Winemaker I'm Going to Remember!

There are plenty of choices from France's Cotes du Rhone area in your local wine shop. You will find the Grenache- and Syrah-based wines plentiful in any good shop worthy of your business.

There are so many wines to choose from, most quite tasty, it's hard to remember anything truly outstanding. Or at least outstanding enough to remember the name or write it down. That might be true until you sample the wines of Patrick Lesec.

A 2005 bottle of Lesec's Cotes Du Rhone Bouquet was nothing short of remarkable for the price point. For $12.99 you're going to have a great bottle of wine that will hold up to most dinner dishes.

It's a terrific wine with herbal notes, a big ripe and rich flavor, but still medium bodied and smooth on the finish. And for the real wine geeks, the first taste of this wine screamed "DIRT!" I you want to taste the "terroir" the soil and environment where the wine is made, or better understand the concept, find a bottle of Patrick Lesec's Bouquet.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, gave this juice an 89 rating. I thought it was every bit that good. Most of us are influenced by the price point though more than Parker. If you buy your wine on a budget,try this wine.

It's a cliche' but this is far better wine than the price point!

Pairings - Where Wine and Food Meet!

I made my first visit to Pairings in Indianapolis, near Castleton on 82nd, this week. I met proprietor Philip Vandeusen and he walked me through the shop.

I was impressed with the selection of value wine and his cooled storage room of high-end wines. I bought about five bottles including the wine above on his recommendation. In the climate-controlled room I found Lange Freedom Hill Pinot Noir and Domaine Serene Pinot Noir - enough to convince me that this was a serious wine shop.

I've included a link here and urge you to stop by. And besides the great wine selection, he has beer and gourmet food products.

He is in a strip mall just down from Keystone at the Crossing.

The 89 Project

So what's the difference between a wine that scores at the magical level of 90-or-above and a wine rated at 89?

That's a concept that Indianapolis attorney David Honig explores in an ongoing blog with numerous contributors called The 89 Project.

David asked me to be a contributor a long time ago and I have just recently posted comment on a couple of 89-point wines. Take a look, it's great reading!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Portugal Again - This Time a Tasty Rose'

I've bought several bottles of Rose' lately and opened a great version tonight.

This Portugese treat was Adega Coop Ponte da Barca's 2007 Vinho Verde Rose. It was one of the best Rose' wines I've had this summer!

The wine is light in alcohol at just 10 percent. It is a light red color that is spicy on the nose and palate with that wonderful hint of strawberry. It's a medium bodied Rose' that's ok against food and dynamite all alone.

The wines from this region are also know for some effervesence and this one had some light buzz to it!

Normally you'll find this wine at about $14.95. But I bought it from my friends at Cork & Cracker in Indianapolis for just $9.99.

Vinho Verde is a specific designated wine growing region in the northwest corner of Portugal.

I'm going to be contributing to a new national online wine magazine soon. And after meeting the publisher this week, learned they want to adopt the popular 100-point scale to rate wines. I'm not sure what I think about that and I'm not certain at all I can define a 91-point wine from a 93-point wine.

All that being said, I'd give this Portugese Rose' something over 90!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Portugal Producer Makes Pretty Good Table Wine

I have picked up a few bottles of value wines from Portugal a time or two. And frankly, never liked any of them.

I recently took the recommendation of Ashley at Cork & Cracker in Indianapolis and bought a $12.99 bottle of Barco Negro red table wine. It comes from the Douro Valley of the seaside country.

This wine has a nice dark ruby color, there is soft red fruit and a definite spice on the nose of this wine. It has soft tannins and it has a very nice feel in the mouth.

When most of us think of Portugal, we think of port. The best ports in the world come from the country also known for its cork production.

But check out your local wine shop and you'll see more and more Portugal red wines.

This wine is made from three grapes I'm not familiar with: Tinta Roriz 30 percent, Touriga Franca 30 percent, Touriga Nacional 40 percent.

But I'd recommend this wine. It's big enough to please the purists, smooth enough for the novice, and nicely balanced for anyone who likes a nice wine with a different flavor profile with dinner.

It was nice with my grilled steak, green beans and fresh corn!

I paid $12.99 for this bottle but if you look hard enough, I found it under $10 on the Net.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Very Drinkable French Wine Under $10!

I was a little disappointed when I opened a bottle of Lavielle Ferme red table wine tonight. I expected more since it was recommended, but considering the price point I'd drink it again. And perhaps, buy another bottle as well.

This red table wine from the Rhone valley is 50% Grenache with some Syrah and Carignan. It has some spice but not lots of identifiable fruit on the palate. It's rather smooth. Not much on tannins but I thought it was a bit harsh on the finish.

Still, there was something about it I couldn't strongly dislike. The wine drank "okay."

And you have to love the price at $7.99 up to $11 in most wine shops.

And it's a French wine with a screw cap! How often does that happen? In my experience, the answer is not often.

Both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator gave this juice an 87. I don't see it - but for the price you could do so much worse.

Keep in mind, as I'm still learning, many of the great Old World European wines are much more delicate in style. Many California wines tend to be in-your-face with flavor, tannins and alcohol.

This was a nice simple red wine at a simple price that I enjoyed with some pork chops off the grill!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Latest Newspaper Column Posted to Other Blog

This always feels even more self-indulgent than writing a wine blog, but several readers tend to miss my newspaper columns and then ask about them.

I just posted the newest, published this week. I send out the columns every other week but the eight newspapers have different publication schedules.

I maintain a separate blog "Grape Sense" - with a link in the left column here where I post just the newspaper columns. So you can go over there and read the columns. They are usually of an educational nature or feature stories.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nothing Wrong With an OK Zin With a Funny Name

Plungerhead Zinfandel is pretty good juice.

That's the simple point of this blog entry. I've had better and I've definitely had worse. Zinfandel is pretty serious wine when done well. It's not for the weak of heart or those looking for something soft and smooth.

Zin should be big fruit, big peppery finish, big alcohol and sort of "in your face" kind of wine. California Zin producers have frequently been criticzed for their high-alcohol Zinfandel wines.

The Plungerhead, yes - there is a dude with a plunger on his head adorning the label, is a nice Zin. It's a bit of a fruit bomb. It's very fruit forward with spice flavors, you'll notice the oak, and maybe some vanilla hints.

This wine also has an intersting closure. There is a twisted plastic wrapper around the neck leading to a cork with a cap you simply pull out.

It doesn't have the peppery finish of many. But this is not a bad wine for the $15-$17 price point.

The wine takes its heritage from Sonoma's legendary Sebastiani family of wines.

It's not bad juice! Probably a pretty good introduction to Zinfandel for those not drinking much Zin.

I'd buy it again.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

A Big Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile

Summer is the time for dry Rose' as you will read over and over. I've had several this summer and picked up several more in Indianapolis today!

I had bought a Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon made in South Africa recently and found it surprisingly light. I didn't write about it, but it was ok. I was expecting a bigger wine flavor coming from the King of red grapes.

Today I bought and tried a bottle of Miguel Torres Santa Dinga Cabernet Rose. It was a 2008 with an unusually high alcohol level of 14 percent. That's unusual at least for a dry Rose.

This one had a real bang of big wine flavor. It is a beautiful transparent cherry color with a powerful nose. There is just a small amount of typical-Rose' strawberry on the front of the palate with some tangy citrus on the finish.

This wine was well balanced and could probably hold up to bigger food than most Rose wines. Most Rose' wines are wonderfully refreshing and more delicate on the palate than this powerhouse. But this was enjoyable.

Even the wine bottle suggested several foods, including pasta, the winemakers thought were a good match.

I bought this at Kahn's Fine Wines on Keystone in Indy. I found it on the internet for up to about $11 or $12. I paid just $6.99 at Kahns!

The Torres family, with Spanish roots, opened its Chilean operation in 1979 and its grown since. The family was one of the first major foreign investors in Chile.

I love Rose' in the summer. This one is big, but a nice change of pace from those I just sip on the porch! Try a Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese Rose' if you like them big. The Grenace-based Rose's, largely of France and Spain, are also big wines with a lighter touch. The Pinot Noir Rose' seems to be the one most like relegated to the porch with cheese or fruit.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kissy Face, Kissy Fish - Sassy Wine!

Anyone who has read this blog in last few months know I'm taken with the wines of Lange Winery in Oregon.


I brought a mixed case of Lange wine home with me in April. Most of it was their great Pinot Noir. But I also bought a few whites.

My morning with Jesse Lange included tasting their entire line of wines. They have an incredible Pinot Gris Reserve I can recommend to white wine lovers. Their regular Pinot Gris is also quite tasty.

But Jesse wanted me to taste something new that was "fun!" Kissy Fish, yes that's the name, is a blend of white wine grapes. It's mainly Gewurztraminer, which is the only grape attributed to the wine on their website. But I remember Jesse saying there was some Riesling in the blend, and I think something else as well.

It is a beautiful "sassy" wine and fun. It's very floral with lots of soft citrus. It may be one of the most drinkable white wines you'll ever come across.

I discovered another Indiana outlet for Lange wines this weekend. I found them originally at Sahara Mart in Bloomington. But I also found Lange Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and their Pinot Gris at Bar Berry Liquors in Lafayette on the 52-Bypass.

I'm not sure you'll find Kissy Fish. I don't remember the number of cases, but I don't think it was very many. If you find it and like well-structured and fruity white wines without too much sweetness, buy a bottle. It retails at the winery for $16.

Or, as it says on the label: "Suck it up it's tasty!"

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bostonians Making Great Oregon Pinot Noir

A NOTE ABOUT THIS BLOG: I visited Oregon’s incredible Willamette Valley in April, tasted wines, visited with winemakers, and had the time of my life. I have a couple interviews that have aged a bit before getting around to the writing, but there really wasn’t any time stamp on them. This blog entry is for the geeks out there – too long for the newspaper and probably too long for here too. But I loved these people and their wines.)

Bill Sweat and Donna Morris aren’t unique in the Willamette Valley, there are plenty of investors who have had success in other businesses come to Oregon and open wineries.

The couple who opened Winderlea Winery spent most of their careers in financial services running branch offices for Fidelty. They had a dream of making premium Pinot Noir and went about achieving that dream systematically.

"I think we did our homework so we knew what to expect,” Bill said in April. I tasted their 2007 wines during this interview. I should add they were kind enough to pour even though they close their tasting room over the winter and had not yet re-opened.

“We had done a vocation vacation; we spent three days in a winery; we kicked the tires. We had a very nice woman open her books for us and tell us how the finances work.

“We also made wine privately at a crush pad in San Francisco. So we came in and had a sense there was agriculture, and there’s marketing and more than sitting in the tasting room drinking wine. It was such an exciting project for us to take this jewel of a vineyard that people had been working on for 30 years and see what we could do to build upon the foundation that was already established.”

They put in long hours during the 2007 harvest season. They didn’t take any shortcuts. They invested not just dollars but old-fashioned sweat equity as well.

Their vineyard is the Goldschmidt Vineyard which sits in the Dundee Hills – the red soil or terrior is the heart of the beautiful Pinot Noir made by Erath, Lange, and Winderlea – among others. The vineyard has been producing Pinot grapes for more than 30 years.

Bill and Donna did all the homework. They are the ones pouring the wine in their Worden Hill Road tasting room. And Bill is thinking of doing some winemaking himself this fall. Donna keeps the books and tries to stay current with the mish-mash of wine shipping laws a winery must contend with to be successful.

They bought the storied vineyard then landed winemaking veteran Robert Brittan to make their wines. Brittan has enjoyed a long Napa Valley career with more than 30 years making wines for Stag’s Leap and St. Andrews. He also owns vineyards in Oregon.

The couple may be new to the business but the careful planning and decision making has been rewarded with some incredible wines. They made just 1,600 cases of wine in 2006 and 1,300 in 2007. They have used the term “luxury boutique” wines to describe their goals.

“We both spent time running branch offices for Fidelity Investment,” Donna said. “I told Bill it reminded me of our first days at Fidelity and selling mutual funds to people. We were trying to give them enough information to make an intelligent decision but you don’t overwhelm with the geekiness. I find that’s true with the wines. It’s like being back in the branch and we’ve had a few friends walk in here and say it has a similar feel.”

Bill is quick to interject there is a major difference. “People are happier when you pour wine for them other than just handing them a prospectus.”

Winderlea’s wines have been well received. They have also become important contributors to the community. The Winderlea $10 tasting fee is donated to iSalad, a healthcare program for vineyard workers.

I found their Pinot Noir and the Pinot at Lange the best I tasted in two separate trips to Oregon in 2008 and again this spring.

“It’s been really quite positive,” Donna said. “Most of the people who came in last year were predisposed to the wine and enjoyed the wines. It’s so fun to pour for people. People have such different palates. It’s just like food; we don’t all love the same foods. We don’t all love the same wines. The education part is really fun for the people really trying to learn about wine. I really enjoy that.”

They made a decision early on not to make their wines available for scoring, so in some ways they don’t make it easy for visitors to like or dislike Winderlea juice. “You can’t walk in here and be predisposed to like them or not like them, you are kind of on your own. There are some wine writers whose palate we’ve learned we share so when they like a wine we typically will as well. But we know there are some wine writers who won’t like us so much so we’re not going to make a lot of effort sending our wines out.”

The couple prefers to have visitors taste their wines and discuss them in their state-of-the art, if not funky, tasting room. “We’re not going to start with ‘Robert Parker game this wine a 94 so I should like it or someone else gave it an 87 so I should hate it.’ We look more for people who think ‘I sorta like this place. It’s pretty cool. I hear good things or Lange sent us down or Erath and said we should try it.’ That’s gratifying in a lot of ways.”

The former Bostonians find working with other Valley winemakers gratifying beyond expectations.

“That’s why we have a concern about (tourist growth in the Valley,)” Bill said of the wine community. “I think one thing Donna and I have a concern about is the people who founded this industry created a community willing to help one another. They recognized they didn’t know enough individually to avoid failure so they worked together. Even to this day if you look at the folks really committed to this industry in terms of being involved, writing checks, you’re going to see the names Adelsheim, Erath, all the folks here at the beginning are still deeply committed to making this work. We came here because that’s what we loved about this area and we feel the same thing. We wanted to join this community and bring whatever skills and talents we can but not try to dramatically change it but try to move it forward on same path it’s been on.”

Their wines are available across the county but the couple continue to add new states.

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Take A Look at the New "Palate Press"

Take a look at the new "Palate Press" by clicking the button embedded in this post.

The Palate Press is an idea kicked around a long time but now being brought to reality by Indiana wine blogger David Honig, Indianapolis.

The idea is rather simple and that's to collect, edit, and distribute writing from wine blogs across the country. Editors across the country will handle different subjects and post what they believe has the widest interest.

Yes, I've been asked to contribute and most likely will offer my feature stories and maybe the occasional review.

This is a great idea. So for those of you who like to read about wine, hit the button embedded here and check out Palate Press.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Nice Big Glass of Wine at or Under $10

I've had Tilia wines before and thought I wrote about this one, but couldn't find it in the new search feature on the blog.

This 2008 Tilia Malbec-Syrah is a dynamite glass of wine for the price point for those of you that like big spicy wines. It's an Argentina wine from the Catena family of wines that usually sells for under $10 or right at that price point. It's a Mendoza Valley keeper. I bought this bottle at Jill Ditmire's Mass Ave. Wine Shop.

This is a nice purple-ish wine that has dark fruit flavors, a bit earthy, and even roasted coffee. It's big without clobbering the palate. I had this wine with some seasoned pork burgers off the grill and it was just great.

It has a nice soft tannin finish. The 07 vintage of this same wine got an 88 from Wine Spectator. I'd strongly suggest you buy Tilia wines in your wine shop. The label is widely distributed.

Try this one with some big chocolate too!

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Monday, July 6, 2009

A Rose' of Syrah Too Much Like Kool-Aid

I love a nice dry Rose in the summertime and plan my next newspaper column on the topic. I have several in the wine rack I'm anxious to pop open and try. I also want to pick up a few more this summer.

One of those on the rack was Montes Cherub Rose' of Syrah from Chile.

I've made a point on this blog not to go on too long about wines I don't like. Take a look at the blog name. Yes, it's Grape Sense - but, "A Glass Half Full." Of course I don't set out to buy bad wine or wine I don't think I'll like. I do try to be positive in what I write about various wines.

I can see how some people would like this wine. It is very fruity, a beautiful dark pink, and very easy to drink. I found it a bit too sweet and way too intense on the fruit.

You can find this wine in the $10-$14 price range in Indiana wine shops.

I enjoy a nice Syrah so was very taken at the thought of a 100 percent Syrah Rose'. But I found this one disappointing. If you like your wines of the "fruit bomb" nature, then you'll like this one.

It's just not for me!

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Tart New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Rocks with Salmon

Summer is for lighter wines with just the right flavor profile.

I had the chance to buy some fresh King Salmon in Indianapolis this afternoon and picked up a nice pink piece of fish that I seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh lime, and dill!

Such a piece of fish just screams for a Sauvignon Blanc. I had bought a New Zealand (Marlborough region) Sauv Blanc - 2008 Fire Road - earlier this week for $13.99 and was anxious to try it.

The wine had a fruity nose of grapefruit and citrus. It was that lovely light straw yellow color and it had strong fruit flavor on the front end. It didn't have a lot of "mineral" flavor but it had good acidity.

The wine felt good in my mouth with the fish and had a nice long finish. That was probably the wine's strongest attribute - the long finish for you to match with that fish.

King Salmon on the grill, some fresh grean beans grilled with garlic, candy onions, salt and pepper, and a great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc makes for a great Sunday night!

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Never Know Where "Grape Sense" Will Show Up

Okay, this is a bit self-serving but cool.

I am a bit of a news junkie and regularly scan news websites throughout the day. My favorite news site is

The site provides a wide range of news including a "local news" category. You can type in your zip code and the site pulls headlines from a number of papers in your region of the state. For Crawfordsville, I've seen headlines from probably 15-20 papers.

So imagine my surprise Tuesday when I was scanning down the national headlines and saw "GRAPE SENSE" in the middle of the page. It seems the site had pulled my newspaper column from the Logansport Pharos-Tribune.

Logansport runs the column exclusively online. I was pretty happy to see "Grape Sense" on my favorite news site.

I'll take any exposure I can get. I did a screen capture which I've included here.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Curiosity Produced An Okay Wine

If you're like me, sometimes you'll pick up a bottle of wine out of sheer curiosity!

I remember being in Indy's Cork & Cracker a few weeks back and was making some carefully considered choices. Then I saw something called "Fourplay" from Sicily.

It is an interesting blend, in equal parts, of four grapes I was totally unfamiliar with prior to picking up the 2004 Dievole wine. The blend is 25 percent each of: Frappato Nero, Nerello Cappuccio, Nebello Mascalese, and Nero D'Avola.

The bottle's label says: "The Island of Sicily is in play with a field blend of four native grapes from the seashore of Pachino. The wine was $13.99 and 13 percent alcohol.

It is sort of a wine you don't have to think much about. It had a typical dark fruit taste on the palate, a decent mid palate body, and some tannins on the finish. It was a nice little glass of wine. I reminded me of a Chianti.

I had it with pasta but think you could enjoy it with grilled meats as well.

It was a nice glass of wine. I might buy it again. The ratings I found were in the low 80s, probably about right. Nothing wrong with this wine, but nothing particularly memorable either.
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