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Feb 26

Sparkling Wine for a sparkling evening

The Academy Awards. A night when the stars sparkle on the red carpet. I liveblogged the Oscars for another blog, so I popped open some sparkling wine for the sparkling occasion. I pulled an Australian sparkler out of the closet for the evening: a NV Thorn-Clarke Brut Reserve that we’d picked up at Cork and Bottle for around $14.99 in early December.
This purchase is a prime example of my susceptibility to atmosphere. At a tasting, when I’m in the moment and enjoying several different tastes, involved in conversation, I may positively love a wine. When I get home and open the bottle a few weeks or months later, I often wonder what I fell in love with originally.
This particular wine is 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir. It shows golden in the glass, with a slight blush tint. There is a definite citrus flavor, with lemon, and, as you continue to drink the wine, more peaches and pears.
It’s not that this is a bad sparkling wine. It’s much better than a lot of low-end sparklers. However, it’s not the best of the bunch either. In the $10 – $20 range, I can find a lot better sparkler. If offered to me, I might drink this again. But I probably won’t buy it, with one caveat. This sparkler would work perfectly in a Bellini, with its heavier peach undertones.

Our score:

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Posted by Michelle at 10:40 am in Pop Culture, Tastings, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments ()
Feb 25

Save the Dates

WinefestivalIf you’re anywhere near the Cincinnati area, or would like to come by for a visit, save the dates for March 23 and 24, 2007. Tickets for the Cincinnati International Wine Festival are now on sale at several local wine sellers, including Cork -N- Bottle locations here in Northern Ky. In the Cincinnati, there are many more retailers, including Cincinnati Wine Warehouse and MicroWines. Tickets are also available in Dayton and online at the official web site.

We’ve gone to the Wine Festival for several years, and wine festival art decks our walls. Since the festival moved into the expanded space at the remodeled convention center, there is a lot more room to see, drink, and chat with others, not to mention a lot more room to move around. We’ve found this to be an enjoyable event when we attend with friends, giving us the opportunity to compare more wine and discuss it in detail. We’re always amazed by the size of the festival, and the depth and breadth of wines available.

The wine festival offers three Grand Tastings on Friday, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening. In the past, we’ve attended on Saturday evenings, but that will change this year. On both Friday, and especially Saturday afternoon, there are less people, and more of a chance to talk with the distributors, winery reps, and occasionally the wine makers.

In addition to the Grand Tastings, there are several Winery Dinners, which we haven’t ever had the good fortune to attend. These sell out fast, and take place in some of Cincinnati’s best restaurants. The chefs and the wine makers work together to pair their wine and food. This year, the Winery Dinners are on March 22.

The Wine Festival also hosts several more events, including a charity auction and luncheon, and a champagne Chamber Music concert before the evening Grand Tastings.

You can learn more about the Cincinnati International Wine Festival by visiting the following links:
Official Web Site
Our reviews of the festival: 2006, 2005

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Posted by Michelle at 5:02 pm in Cincinnati, Local, Wine Events | Permalink | Comments ()
Feb 23

John Cleese on Wine

For Christmas we were given the DVD of John Cleese’s Wine for the Confused. Although we’re not quite as confused as the intended audience, the gift hit upon two of Kevins favorite things: Monty Python and Wine.

Last Saturday night, we sat down to watch the flick. Originally a special for the Food Network, the show has a distinctly PBS feel to it. It’s fairly low-budget, which actually makes it a bit more personal. You get the feeling that making this was a personal and important thing for John Cleese – that he is incredibly passionate about wine and wants it to be less intimidating for others. The film crew used the Cleese home outside of Santa Barbara as their hotel and base of operations. They hopped into Cleese’s Land Rover and visited nearby wineries in the Santa Ynez valley. They even filmed several segments in and around Cleese’s home.

Cleese was a great choice to host the video. He truly has a passion for wine that he wants to share. He was able to ask questions to the winemakers without sounding like a moron, and truly sounding like he wanted to know (although you KNOW he already knew the answers).

The show itself is Wine 101. With winemakers, Cleese reviews the basic process for making wine, the differences between reds and whites, and then talks a little about Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. While I didn’t learn anything new, I did learn some great new ways to explain things. For instance, I loved when terroir was described as "the harmony of a place." I’m completely stealing that line.

A really great portion of the show, especially for the intended audience, was a section on ordering wine. Cleese really wanted to get across the point that you should be honest with your sommelier or wine retailer. If you can accurately describe the flavors you want and the price range you want, the sommelier or retailer should be able to help you find exactly what you’ll like.

In fact, Cleese really tried to drive the point home that describing wine whenever you drink it will help you immensely. You don’t have to use standard terminology, but try to identify what you taste. Throughout the presentation, we kept returning to a tasting party hosted by Cleese. While I thought some of it (including Brendon Fraser) was just silly, there was an exercise I’d like to try with my own friends. All of the wine was bagged and numbered. Everyone was asked to just identify what flavors and words they could come up with to describe the wine. No one had to guess what type of wine or anything, but the sharing of identifying words was insightful. It’s a good exercise.

The DVD extras were, in my opinion, better than the DVD itself. Sort of Wine 102. There were extended interviews with the winemakers, as well as many extemporaneous thoughts from Cleese.

This would be a great gift for someone just starting to get into wine. That was us, not so long ago. But overall, this enjoyable little DVD doesn’t tell you anything a winery tour and a few questions won’t answer as well.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:51 am in Entertainment, Knowledge, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (4)
Feb 22

Calling Danny Ocean …

I love a good heist movie. Not because of the outcome, but I love the planning it takes to get there. Ocean’s 11 (the original and even the remake) doesn’t skimp on the planning. The Italian Job (I’ve only seen the remake) is not that great of a movie, but the heist planning is great.
What can I say, but that I love a good heist.

This morning I read on Decanter.com that there has been a rather large wine heist. A true heist. The sort of thing where you know a lot of time, planning, and practice went into the execution. More than €600,000 of the really good stuff (first growth, grand cru classé wines), including multiple cases of Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, and Latour, were stolen from Seignouret Frères. Over 250 cases and more than 3,000 bottles of their best wines are now missing.

Ah, a theft to order, an inside jobOcean’s 11 for the wine world. The wines will be making their way overseas, as numbers and codes make it next to impossible to sell the wines in France.

Other factors point to a professional gang working to order – they left
thousands of other less sought-after wines, there were no signs of a
break-in, and they must have been able to work undetected for some
hours, moving what amounted to four tons (4,000kg) of merchandise.

Now, I don’t applaud the crime. In fact, I hate that some fantastic wine was stolen. I do, however much I shouldn’t, enjoy the planning that went into such an amazing heist. Most of the crime I read about is violent and unnecessary. This was intelligent, well planned, non-violent, and apparently the thieves have great taste.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:23 am in News, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments ()
Feb 21

German Icewine

Back in October, I was in Party Town, talking with my favorite wine guy, JP. We were talking about icewine and dessert wines in general, when he dragged me over to the German area and shoved an Eiswein in my arms. "You have to try this. It’s completely unexpected."

He’s right. The 2004 Eugen Müller Forst Weissburgunder Eiswein is a completely unexpected icewine.

I did a little research and had to haphazardly translate some German to get the information I was seeking. Here’s hoping it’s correct. The winery is in a forest in the Pfalz region of Germany. The winery itself was opened in 1935 and was purchased by its current owners, Kurt & Elizabeth Mueller, in 1971. The vineyards cover 17 hectares, with over three quarters planted in Riesling. The winery specializes in sweeter wines, including their reds.

We were quite surprised, as our experience with icewine is northern Ohio and the Niagara region of Canada. This was acidic (quite puckery) and cleansing. It reminded me of a crisp sorbet you might eat between courses. There was a lot of citrus, especially lemon and apricot. The Weissburgunder was lighter than we expected, not heavy and mead-like, as in some icewines. It also wasn’t overly sweet, but pleasant.

We discovered that the wine needed to be chilled first, which made a difference in the blending of the flavors. Overall, we enjoyed this recommendation and will definitely buy it again.

Our score:

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Posted by Michelle at 1:36 pm in Tastings, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments (1)

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