I just saw something whoosh by in my feed about the Cincinnati Food & Wine Classic. Taking place in Washington Park on Sept 12-13, it’s a combination of tastings, classes, book signings and more. Celebrating the Midwest, and the excellent chefs that dot that area of the country, it looks like a wonderful weekend in a lovely location.
Tickets go on sale TODAY, Wednesday, July 16. There are a variety of options you can choose from, so grab a ticket and don’t miss out on the fun!
An old friend of mine is on a tour of, well, the world. In the last two weeks, I think he’s been in Istanbul, Zanzibar, and now he’s somewhere in the Serengeti. Curt is a wine connoisseur, so I’ve begged him to send me tasting notes of his adventures whenever he has some time and an internet connection. Here is the first of those missives, detailing a set of Tanzanian wines. I’m hoping for his notes from Africa all the way to Paris. You can check out Curt’s travel blog at march-fourth.com.
The day before leaving for Tanzania for 2 weeks, I attended a once in a lifetime winetasting. Our regular wine group spent the evening tasting some spectacular burgundies, including a Le Montrachet and a Romanee Conti. The advice I received that night, from a friend who has spent numerous years traveling the world - especially in Africa: ‘Take your wine with you!’
So there I was (there I was, there I was!) in the gift shop at Lake Manyara, and a white and a red bottle From the finest Tanzanian Vineyards stuck out like a tourist in a local village – $10 for the white and $11 for the red. There was no vintage on the label and no way these bottles had been stored adequately in a building that more resembled a permanent camper. It was simply Dodoma Dry White and Dodoma Dry Red…so I bought them both.
Back at the lodge, I opened the white wine first, wanting to follow proper etiquette. The color was nothing special, medium to deep gold. The nose on the other hand knocked me back in my bar stool (and not in a good way)! It overwhelmed me with pungent iodine and I thought, ‘I should have brought some wine with me.’ I mustered up the courage and went back for the second nose with very low expectations, but found more mellow aromas. There were notes of unsweet honey and it seemed similar to a sherry. Lucky for me I enjoy a weird white wine like this from time to time. I took a sip and noticed the immediate dryness and strong acid drawing the moisture from my mouth. It actually had notes of wet tobacco on the palate (weird!). I finished 2 glasses and it held my attention but it was certainly beginning to take an effort to keep drinking it.
The red on the other hand was totally drinkable. I would probably stand it up against any California $10 red. It wasn’t the darkest red but it was still a teeth-stainer. I picked up consistent and subtle but identifiable hints of black cherry, pepper, and smoke on both the nose and the palate. A hint of extraction on the palate quickly melted away into a good balanced finish. I could have kept drinking this wine with dinner all night, but as customary I reserved a glass for tasting the next day. By then all of the fruit had evaporated and it was a little like licking a rock.
Curious about my experiment, I searched the web for Dodoma wines. CNN dubbed Dodoma as one of the ‘5 African Wines Making a Splash’ in January this year. Other articles are sparse, but commentary seems to at least say the Dodoma wines are making a marketing push. Right now I think it is a high price to value ratio – let’s hope it stays that way.
You win some, you lose some. I am glad that I didn’t bring wine with me!
A couple of new reds I’ve tried recently…
Robert Reynolds Merlot “Rocky’s Block” Lodi 2007
I tried this wine at a recent event and I was pleasantly surprised. Not outstanding but well above average. It is a subtle, medium-bodied Merlot from the Lodi region in California; slightly oaky with berry and vanilla flavors, very low tannins and a smooth but super sweet finish for a Merlot. I would consider having this one on hand at home as it was easy to drink.
2010 Bodegas Sierra Norte Bobal Temperamento
This was a wine club pick, and it was just OK for me. The club tries very hard to select unique wines that you can’t find everywhere. I don’t think I’ve been a fan of the Spanish selections they’ve sent over the last couple years.
This wine comes from the Bobal grape, which is a dark-skinned red grape native to the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia, Spain. It had an intense fruity aroma, a soft oak flavor with hints of black licorice (probably why this was not one of my faves). The structured tannins and long finish made it a little hard for me to drink.
I have not had a white wine in a long while! I am definitely ready for Spring so I at least have a (better) excuse to try some whites.
Just finished up my brief trip through the festival and while everything I tried was really nice, there were a few things that I’d like to highlight that were new to me.
Note: The local winery row was to the left of the hall as you entered. An the numbers start to the right of the entrance.
Terry Theise Selections (booth 12) – 3 very nice, yet different styles of growers Champaign. The Varnier Brut (100% Chard) had the most upfront yeast with a 2010 base, but grapes added from 2001-2009, the Pehu-Simonet (60% Pinot Noir/40% Chard) made using only their own grapes was more fruit focused, and the Marc Hebrart 50 Chard/41 Pinot Noir with 9% Still Pinot Noir added at the end of the process was a balance between the styles. The Contratto Extra Brut (Booth 15) was also a nice extra dry sparkling wine.
For Whites: Hoepler (Booth 99) once again had a very nice and fresh Gruner Veltliner along with the Pinot Blanc which was aged in Hungarian oak. The Bovin Chardonnay (Booth 132) from Macedonia was a 100% stainless steel offering and it is the only place to check off that country at the Festival.
Reds: Rob Murray Wines (Booth 28) had a few wines not yet available in the area yet. Both the Pinot Noir and the Force of Nature Zin are both arriving in May. This gives a nice opportunity to try them earlier. Cinnabar Winery (Booth 3) had the Sorcerer’s Stone which is available in Ohio and their California tasting room. It was a Zinfandel that worked really nicely for me.
It’s that time once again to celebrate with the International Wine Festival here in Cincinnati. It’s always a sign that warmer days are getting closer and after this winter, that is a really great thing. 14 countries, 143 booths most with 4-10 wine selections, and a selection of small food items has me excited this year.
I’ll try to get a post up in the late afternoon highlighting any specific gems, but feel free to add you finds in the comments. Did you try everything at Korbel (booth 115) and decide what type of Champagne you prefer? Or was your favorite a Moscato or an American sparkling wine instead?
Annually, we like to publish a few ways to get the most out of the overall experience. Here our list of tips and tricks compiled from our and other blogger’s experiences on how to best survive this festival:
Please realize that these tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered. If insanely drunk is your goal, well … get a cab and/or a hotel.
So in no particular order, here are our tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:
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