Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Really Great New Year's Eve Day in Tuscany

Florence, Italy - I'm in Florence traveling for my employer, Wabash College, with students learning about the Italian Renaissance. New Year's Eve and Day are days off from out hectic schedule.

For two months I had been trying to set up a winery visit or two for the day off. I have posted on the Wabash website with several photos. It is more of an overview and a not full of detail but take a read. I had great Chianti Classico for under $20 (US).

I'll have a lot more in the next few weeks on this great trip.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Imagine This: East German Reisling!

I can't believe I'm posting on Christmas Eve, but the house is now empty of brothers, their wives, grandchildren and great grandchildren so it's just me and good ol Mom!

I was on my way out the door Tuesday and literally grabbed a bottle of wine. I had a bottle of German Riesling that I had been told was pretty good - by a German no less!

A little bit of Internet research before popping the bottle raised my interest. Bernard Pawis is an East German winemaker. Why that should be a surprise to anyone not familiar with German wines is that most Riesling comes from the Rhine River valley area.

Pawis is a relatively new producer. His 2006 Riesling Edelacker Qualitatswein trocken is a $30 bottle of wine.

It is a really smooth Riesling. Instead of the usual tartness and acidity you get a big dose of orange with enough mineral to make this a great wine from front of the palate to the finish.

It was a nice change of pace which made it a great evening wine nibbling on snacks and Christmas eve pork roast, ham, and all the trimmings.

This one is probably going to be hard to find in the U.S. He is not a big producer and this one was hand carried from Germany.

Note: Not exactly the right label in photo, but close!

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Joyous Holiday Season to All!

Here is wishing everyone a great holiday season - however you spend the holiday reflect on the meaning of the season and the value of your family and friends.

I hope to find time to post over the next few weeks. I will be traveling to Florence, Italy, over the holidays and hope to have a few opportunities to write about the wine and cuisine of Tuscany. I am traveling because of my job so that comes first!

I may get a posting up this weekend, but depart for the great Renaissance city early next week!

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Old Ghost is Powerful, Great Zin! Wow! Bam! Zap! Bang!

If you like great Zinfandel and occasionally a really big Zinfandel, Klinker Brick is a name you need to know.

I tried Klinker Brick's Old Vine Zin earlier this year and just loved it. That Zin is usually available in the upper teens. You can find my blog entry here.

Friday night I opened a bottle of Klinker Brick's signature wine, the Old Ghost Zinfandel - a 2005. Wow! Bang! Zap! - I feel like using words from the 60s Batman show!

I thought the old vine was a nice, big and well-balanced Zin. The Old Ghost just turns it up a few notches. The wine comes from vineyards that are nearly 100 year olds. The yield is very small but it sure packs a huge punch on the palate.

I'm not sure about every year, but there have been years the winery has limited customers to just one case!

The wine has strong fruit with big alcohol. At 15.5, you'll know you've been drinking big Zin. Always keep in mind too with these big California Zins and Cabernets that the alcohol printed on the bottle is considered by many to be lower than reality!

I loved this wine and will definitely replace this bottle I had been saving for more than a year and a half. The wine ratings folks have this from the high 80s to very low 90s.

It is a different price point. I found it online from $29 to $41. I seem to recall paying in low $30-range when I bought it at Kahn's on Keystone in Indianapolis.

This is dynamite red wine. It lives up to its reputation and definitely worth the higher price!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Special Treat - Daedalus Gruner Veltliner from Oregon

Every now and then, even with no guests in the house, I reach for something a little special to lift my spirits or just for the heck of it!

Tonight was a "just for the heck of it" kind of night. I grabbed a bottle of Daedalus Cellars Gruner Veltliner. I bought this bottle in the Dundee, Oregon, tasting room during an April visit earlier this year.

Gruner Veltliner is best known as an Austrian wine. Daedalus and others say the small family-owned Oregon winery is one of only two in the United States producing a "Gruner."

You can go to the website link above and read the details about the wine. Here is what I liked. The wine is a great food wine. I prepared some thin pasta, olive oil, shrimp, frozen pees, in olive oil with some garlic and light Italian seasoning. The wine was a beautiful match with the heavy acidity disappearing against the garlic and pasta dish.

The wine is a complex wine. At first sip you might think, "that's nice though a bit acidic." But the more you drink the more you'll come to appreciate such an unusual wine.

Daedalus does ship to Indiana. The winery made just 120 cases of the 2007 with grapes from a single vineyard. It really is something special. The price is reasonable at $21.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Delas Cotes du Ventoux Dry, Tannic Wine

I've really enjoyed some great Cotes du Rhone region wines lately and continue to look for good bargains and good recommendations for those wines or other regions close by.

I picked up a bottle of Delas Cotes du Ventoux (east bank of the Rhone river) recently and popped it open over the weekend. The wine definitely opened up some with time and for my palate was better the second day than the first.

This is a really dry Grenache/Syrah-based French wine. And the tannins were much bigger than I expected or normally find at this price point.

It had the light hints of berry and maybe some floral characteristics but just wasn't to my taste. Interesting enough, Wine Spectator gave the juice 89 points. But all that means is we don't have to agree, now do we?

This was not bad wine, just not the French Rhone that I normally really enjoy. If you like strong tannins with light fruit on the palate instead of the jammy ones, then the Delas is for you!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Which is Hardest on Your Teeth? Red or White?

Every now and then I run across stories related to wine that I think are worth sharing. That happened today when I scanned for news headlines and saw an interesting piece about wine stains and your teeth.

Here is an interesting story on that topic that might change your conventional thinking a bit.

Go onto your favorite web browser and type in "wine and teeth" and you'll get several interesting articles. For those of us who really enjoy wine and the health benefits of red wine, there is a lot of good information on how to correctly protect our teeth!

Even if you don't read the stories, the most common suggestion for good health is don't rush to brush your teeth after drinking wine. Instead, rinse with water thoroughly and brush later!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

My Story on Wine Chains Featured on Palate Press

My second story for the national online wine magazine, Palate Press, went up this morning.

I wrote about the two biggest national wine retail chains - Vino 100 and Wine Styles. It's nice that it is the featured story on the site today! Palate Press has been getting in excess of 3,000 hits daily nationwide and has some really great contributors making it happen.

The story of the two chains is interesting. I discovered Vino 100 on work trips to northeastern Ohio for football. Liz even recognizes us now when we make our first stop each fall. I had not been in a Wine Styles before researching for this story. There is a franchise store at 146th and 31 in Carmel, just south of Westfield.

PALATE PRESS: The Online Wine Magazine

Both "concept stores" are helping bring more people to wine. I think that's a good thing! Check out the story and leave a comment!

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ok, So You Haven't Tried Tempranillo Yet?

I have several bottles of young Spanish Tempranillo in my wine rack and lately it seems like they've all been really great bottles of wine.

Tonight I opened a bottle of Legon 2007 Ribera del Duero Roble. And, wow! This was one great bottle of wine!

I've found a couple of great bottles of 100 percent Tempranillo this fall and here's another. There is some woodsy flavor and some vanilla. The tannins are strong enough to hold up to food and it has that distinctive tartness that I use to describe Tempranillo.

The Valtostao Legon comes from 35-year-old vines, providing the layer of flavors and taste beyond the price point.

You'll find this wine up to 15 bucks. I paid $13.99 at Kahn's Fine Wines, Keystone Ave., in Indianapolis. The wine has its fans. Robert Parker gave it a 90 and Wine Advocate called it a Top 100 Value of the Year.

The nice thing about this label is its not hard to find.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Domaine Drouhin: An Oregon Winery I Missed in Two Visits

If you go to any wine region its really tough to get to all of the great wineries. That happened to me in the summer of 2008 and spring of 2009 when I visited Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Domaine Drouhin was on my target list both times but for a variety of reasons I never made it to the winery. Drouhin is a well-respected French name that bought property in Oregon early in the rush to start producing Pinot in this great area. They even sell their French wines in the Oregon winery.

I finally tasted their Pinot Friday night and it certainly lives up to its reputation. A young man at Wabash College, from Portland, brought me a bottle as a gift for allowing him to store a lot of his personal items in my home over the summer.

I opened the 2006 Domaine Drouhin Willammette Valley and immediately got week-kneed at the nose. I think if I keep drinking Oregon wine - which I will - I could blind sniff Oregon wine and pick out the soil from just the nose!

The wine was a very clear and ruby red color that was beautiful in the Riedel crystal I dug out for the occasion. On the palate it was medium-bodied with a spicy and earthiness that only great Pinot can deliver.

There was a sense of muskiness that I love in a Pinot along with a hint of strawberry.This is a very well-make, silky wine.

This wine consistently has been rated 89-91 by the national review publications. This is what I call the classic "next tier" of Oregon wines. Most of the wineries have something around $30 or just under and the next price point tends to be $40-$45. This retails at $39.95 though I did find it up to $44.

It's a great representation of the better Oregon Pinots. If you can't find Drouhin, find an Oregon Pinot Noir.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ottimino Zinfinity Will Get Your Attention for $17

If you like your Zinfandel with some pepper, tannins, and a medium flavor you'll like Ottimino "Zinfinity."

Ottimino is a Sonoma County, Russian River Valley, winery known for its Zinfandel. The winery recently releasted its first Zin blend or "Zinfinity" of 93 percent Zinfandel with seven percent Petite Syrah.

I liked this wine a lot. I was suprised at the balanced flavor against the peppery finish and rather big tannins. The wine is aged 20 months in French Oak creating the big finish.

The Zin grapes come from a number of vineyards including some old vine Zin. I picked up the peppery finish, a jammy dark fruit flavor with a hint of vanilla. This is not a wine for wine wimps.

It's not huge like many California Zins and suprisingly low in alcohol at 13.9 percent. This is handcrafted wine with just 1028 cases produced. The suggested retail price is $17 but I did find it online for as low as $14.

It's a luscious, rich wine with a big wine finish.

I tasted this wine as a sample. I'd pay for it any time. A great glass of wine. I had it with some pasta that included ground veal and mild Italian sausage. The wine was a great pairing and would have held up just as well against seasoning stronger than I used tonight!

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