On Saturday we went to the Northern Ky Wine Festival with a large group of friends. After reading Jen’s detailed review of the West Chester festival yesterday, I feel as if I am depriving you. I took no notes. I can tell you very little about the wines and wineries. I do know that I was just too busy having fun to care, which is nice.
Usually, we attend a festival and I’m furiously writing things down in awkward positions as we move along and try to talk and taste with everyone. This time, having tasted most of the wines during our judging, we stood back and let our friends do most of the tasting.
My three favorite wineries of the day were Talon, Elk Creek, and Chrisman Mill.
My new friend Jen attended the West Chester Food & Wine Festival on Saturday. Kevin & I spent the day at the Northern Ky Wine Festival, so couldn’t make it crosstown to the West Chester event. Jen is new to discovering both wine and the wine opportunities that Cincinnati has to offer. She offered to let me re-post her write-up on the festival. It’s here in in it’s entirety and can also be found over on her blog. I will have our write-up of the Kentucky event on Tuesday.
UPDATE 6/5/07: Gang, Jen is a guest writer and she’s very new to the wine world. Keep this in mind as you read the post. Also keep in mind our disclaimer: wine is personal taste. Just because Jen doesn’t like a wine, or I don’t like a wine, doesn’t mean you won’t love it. And that’s perfectly alright. Also keep in mind that this is a blog, not a magazine, and we certainly don’t pretend to be experts. We’re all sharing our experiences with you. That’s it. And every experience is individual.
As part of our foray into the wide, wonderful world of wine, John and
I went to the West Chester Wine & Food Festival yesterday. It was
held at the Voice of America park in West Chester, which is basically
an open grassy space in front of the Voice of America Museum. There
were three major wine festivals happening in the metro area this
weekend, but we decided on this one because Dayton is a little far from
us and we knew that Michelle & Kevin would be covering the one in
Northern Kentucky, so we’d get to hear all the great highlights from
I also chose this one because it was strictly Ohio wines,
which meant that we’d get to taste wines from some of the Cincinnati
vineyards right in our own backyard. I almost mean that literally – one
of the vineyards, Henke Winery, is just down the road from John’s
Some general thoughts about the festival before
I get into specific wines: lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, lots of
too-sweet whites. I will admit that John and I sort of set out with the
idea that he would be trying lots of the Cab and I would be trying most
of the rieslings & chardonnays, because we really like those wines
and are always looking for new favorites. My main complaint with the
white selection is that they were mostly too sweet. As a thought for
the future, anything described as "fruity" probably means I’m going to
hate it. I like sweeter wines. Something described as "sweet and
fruity" seems like it would appeal to me, but left me feeling like I
had just downed a wine cooler, which is not really what I’m looking for
out of a good bottle of wine.
We were very disappointed with
the food selection. For something that claims to be a wine AND food
festival, there really wasn’t much in the way of food. Chicken fingers,
hot dogs, cheeseburgers. One booth had garlic mushrooms (a vegetable
John and I have long condemned) and I saw one advertising quesadillas,
though that was the only description. That was it for the food. There
was a booth selling pre-packaged homemade sweets, and one booth – bless
them – that had bread with various oil dippers to sample. (Little
Sonoma, and we tried the parmesan and garlic herb dipping oils. We
I would have given any
winery a thumbs-up that had food or water. After ten wines or so, we
were really hankering for something to clear the taste out of our
mouths. The only thing any booth had was oyster crackers. Little cubes
of cheese, pieces of bread, or glasses of water would have gone a very
long way. Unfortunately, out of the 12 vineyards we visited, no one had
anything. We had to stop after the first five and go buy hot dogs and
soda just to get a clear palette again.
Editor’s Note: We find that we should go find sparkling wine at this point. There’s nothing like a good sparkler to clear the palatte. – ML
It’s time for our weekly event listing. This weekend is Festival Weekend, in the big leadup to Memorial Day. If you want wine, your best bet is to attend one of these events.
Also of note – The Liquor Cabinet in Hebron is having a special Australian Adventure night on Thursday, complete with wine, food, and a guest speaker. Cost is $20 and you need to make sure you RSVP by Monday. It sounds like fun!
Tuesday is election day in many places. In Kentucky, we’re doing something about the governor situation. Because of that, liquor stores won’t open until 6 pm.
As usual, it’s a big list, so we’ve compiled it on one
page for your reading pleasure. (For information on Dayton, you can
refer to Mark’s blog at Uncorked.) If you know of tastings or events that we missed in the Cincinnati area, please email us
and we’ll add it to the list.
You may note that the tastings in KY are mostly free, and the
tastings in Ohio charge at least .25. It’s illegal for a retailer to
give alcohol away in Ohio, so they charge you, but many times it’s a
Tell them we sent you, and happy tasting!
Follow the "Continue reading" jump at the bottom for Friday, 5/18 –
Thursday, 5/24 tastings. Upcoming events that require
reservations or attracted my attention are listed at the end.
(An easy-to-print PDF of all the events in this blog post)
You can also click the map icons in the detailed listings to view the maps.
Not long ago, we mentioned the Northern Kentucky Wine Festival. It’s this Saturday, in Alexandria, and features Kentucky wines and some great food and crafts. Last Sunday, Kevin and I got to judge wines for the festival. We learned a lot on Sunday, and there’s almost too much for one post. But I’ll try to squeeze it all in.
When you think of Kentucky wines, does that country song, "Strawberry Wine," come to mind? It shouldn’t. There are fruit wines in Kentucky (some darned good ones), but there are also some good wines from vinifera.
Kevin and I served as two judges on a 4-judge panel. There was one sanctioned judge and one experienced judge plus the two of us. We tasted around 70 wines over the course of the day. For a professional judge, that’s probably nothing. For us? We needed a beer when we were done. I definitely suffered from palate fatigue.
I think judging is overrated. Would I do it again? Yes, although it’s not something I’ll want to make a career of. I know it sounds fun – tasting a bunch of wine in one day. It’s truly hard work though. You want to be fair across the board. Medals mean a lot to the marketing of a small winery.
Wine competitions are not like the Olympics. There is not just one gold, one silver, and one bronze per category. Medals are awarded as needed. If the scoring for a wine adds up to a silver, that wine receives a silver. If the score doesn’t add up to a medal, no medal is awarded. Wines are judged on an individual basis, and not against each other.
It’s hard to not compare the various wines in a flight and to judge each wine on its own merits. Even harder is to forget personal biases. For instance, I’m not a fan of either Cabernet Franc or Chardonnay, but I needed to forget that and judge each wine based on whether it was a good example of that varietal.
We almost forgot Wine Blogging Wednesday. Time just got away from us. I remembered at 11:30 pm on Tuesday and made Kevin get out of bed to try the wine with me.
We chose the Mas Amiel Notre Terre, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, 2003. We didn’t quite make the $15 mark, as it was $14.99 before tax at our local Party Town. The wine was recommended by our friend JP, who rarely gives a bad wine suggestion.
I was surprised to learn this is a biodynamic wine. In a recent biodynamic session, we learned that certain areas of France lend themselves well to organic and biodynamic production. Apparently the hot climate is just perfect for the farming technique. It seems that biodynamic wines are generally more expensive, so the price point on this one is particularly nice. The Notre Terre is a blend of old vine Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan, all of which were hand harvested.
Anyway, I was up for a while last evening, and enjoyed the glass of wine I had. As always with red wines, I was fascinated by the changes the wine went through in an hour. A glass that had started out dry, tannic and sort of chalky mellowed within an hour to a dry, jammy red. Despite the mellowing and jamminess that came out, the wine was still layered with tobacco, leather, and earthy qualities (maybe mushroom). I was also surprised to find some cinnamon at the back of the palate, mixed in with an herbaceous quality.
This one could definitely handle a few more years in the cellar, but it wasn’t bad as a drink-now wine.
Many thanks to the good Doktor Weingolb for hosting this month!
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