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Jun 12

Bourbon Country


I can’t tell you much about our recent trip to the distilleries here in Kentucky, as it’s going into print. But I can direct you to the photos. My favorites are of the Bed & Breakfast and their dog Gabe. We were also able to attend the Opening Night Gala of the Stephen Foster Story, a musical on the grounds of My Old Kentucky Home that is heading into its 49th season.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 6:04 pm in Cocktails, Photos, Spirits, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jun 12

The Perfect White Wine

Thursday was a day celebrating German and Austrian wines in Cincinnati. Several winemakers who are part of the Terry Theise catalog were on a whirlwind tour through the States, and stopped to spend the afternoon and evening in Cincinnati.

Thanks to the kind folks at Taste Magazine Cincinnati, Kevin & I were able to attend the catalog tasting at Pho Paris in the afternoon. This event was chock full of winemakers and wines. There were so many wines we couldn’t taste everything, and we weren’t able to write everything down. You can find our limited notes and rating at the end of this post, after the jump. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational afternoon.

I noted several things, but the biggest is that I love German wines. In fact, I prefer the German wines to the Austrian wines, although the Austrian selection is excellent. There is a neat flavor in many of the German wines – Kevin called it minerals. To me, it tasted similar to spring water rushing over rocks – a fresh stoniness. I don’t believe we had a bad wine all day, and those we didn’t like were simply not to our taste. The Germans made a point to explain the soil type and the elevation/steepness of the location for each grape. This provided the best guide to terroir I have come across in a tasting.

I also noticed very few women. I was there, as well as a few others, and one female winemaker. There were maybe 5-7 of us in a room filled with men. I thought I was just being sensitive, but Kevin even mentioned it over dinner that night. Ladies, it’s a guys industry but we’re making headway. One of my favorite winemakers was Caroline Diel (Schlossberg Diel). Her wines were excellent. I was also impressed by the youth in the room. Not just the buyers and the sommeliers wandering around – the winemakers themselves were often younger than I would have expected.

It was fascinating to talk to the winemakers and I was particularly taken by Johannes Leitz. He is young and personable. He had a great aerial photograph of his winery and as I tried each wine, he explained where that particular grape was grown and how the soil and elevation affected the taste. With his visual aids, I really came to grasp the entire idea of terroir. Each riesling tasted quite different, with the influences of that particular soil, elevation, and climate. Terroir didn’t seem like a fleeting, grand concept, but simply a fact of German winemaking.

That evening, we had already made plans to attend the German Winemaker Blowout/Master Class with Leitz, Strub, and Darting at The Party Source. This was an opportunity to get to know even more about each of these talented winemakers and their wines. I covered a lot of their histories in my German winemaker primer.

Each winemaker made it clear the global warming is indeed having an impact. The weather in their region is perfect now, but harvests are coming earlier and earlier, and they don’t know where the industry may be in 10 or 20 years. There is also a push towards Stelvin screwcap enclosures for the majority of the whites. The winemakers have had bad experiences with cork and find screwcaps to be the perfect solution.

I’m now a complete convert to German wines. Our wine collection will probably start skewing towards Spanish reds and German whites if I’m not careful. After the jump you can read our slightly scattered notes (it was a long day) on both tastings.

Our thanks both to Taste Magazine and Party Source.

You’ll notice three words attached to the German wines we tried – Kabinett, Auslese, and Spätlese. The highest quality wine category in Germany is QmP, and it is divided into 6 subcategories. Kabinett wines must contain minimum amounts of natural sugar (around 17-21% sugar by weight), depending on the region and the variety. These are the lowest minimums for QmP wines, and these wines are therefore usually the driest and least expensive.

Spätlese is German for “late picking.” It refers to grapes that are selectively picked at least 7 days after the main harvest. Because such fruit is riper than the grapes from the main harvest, it contains more sugar and produces wines that are rich and sweet. The natural sugar must attain around 19-23% sugar by weight.

Auslese is German for “selection,” used to describe specially selected grapes that are hand-picked and pressed separately from other grapes. The natural sugar content of the grapes must reach around 20-25% sugar by weight. Auslese grapes are sometimes subject to botrytis to make them sweeter.

The Party Source Tasting: Master Class with Strub, Darting, Leitz
All of these wines received a Happy1 rating.

Walter Strub – Rheinhessen
2005 Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett – red slate dirt and limestone, small residual sugar, good acidity, minerality, soft finish
2005 Niersteiner Bruckchen Riesling Kabinett – sweeter, good acid structure, more complex and rich in body, made in pure limestone soil, has a bubbly characteristic from the sloped location, peaches, apples,berry characteristics, well-balanced

Helmut Darting – Pfalz
2005 Durkheimer Nonnengarten Riesling Kabinett – sandy stone soil, green apple & peaches, more acidity in the 2006 vintage than the 2005
2004 Durkheimer Nonnengarten Gewurztraminer Kabinett – sandy soil, difficult to grow, sometimes will only get 20% fo the harvest, spicy and sweet, full-bodied, golden in color, a white I could drink in the winter

Leitz – Rheingau
2005 Rudesheimer Dragonstone Riesling Qba – named after an ancient dragon-claw shaped stone, no sweetness, tastes like it has a clarity if that makes sense, hand harvested, gravelly soil, minerals, steepest region other than Mosel
2006 Rudesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett – Named for the slate of an abby, light and enjoyable, harvest was crazy because of the changing climate, an Auslese sold as a Kabinett
2005 Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spätlese – Named for a donated Magdalene cross in a village that had been racked by the plague in the 17th century. Made from loamy, garden-type soil, minerality, acidity, almost fizzy, one of Shel’s favorites.


Therry Theise Estate Selections Fall 2007 German/Austrian Tasting
Imported by Michael Skurnik
Distributed via Vanguard in our area.

All of these wines received a Happy1 rating unless otherwise noted. There were also many more wines available than we were able to notate or even taste.

L. Hiedler – Kamptal
2006 Gruner Veltliner Thal – Well balanced and rounded
2006 Gruner Veltliner “November” – Spicier
2006 Riesling Urgestein – Dry, balanced, slight acidity
2006 Riesling Hieligenstein – More spice, slight forward fruit

Nikolaihoff – Wachau
2006 Gruner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Federspiel – Dry Sortofhappy1
2004 Gruner Veltliner Schlossberg “Jungfernlese” – Almosthappy1

Familie Nigl – Kremstal
2006 Gruner Veltliner Seftenberger Piri – Fuller mouthfeel than previous Gruners
2006 Gruner Veltliner “Privat”  – too dry Sortofhappy1
2006 Riesling “Private” – spicy notes of cinnamon Almosthappy1
2006 Riesling Kremser Kremsleiten – bitter finish, dry Sortofhappy1

Schlossgut Diel – Nahe
2006 Diel de Diel – dry, not acidic
2006 Rosé de Diel – pinot-based, a great rose
2006 Eierfels Riesling – south-facing slate soil, sweet and mineraly
2006 Dorsheimer Goldloch Riesling Spätlese – Very nice. Gravel soil, tropical fruits and minerals.

Spreitzer – Rheingau
2006 Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Erstes Gewachs – 1st press, minerals
2006 Oestricher Doosberg Riesling Kabinett – cross wise planting
2006 Winkeler Jesuitengarten Riesling Spätlese – hints of dessert wine, botrytis
2006 Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Spätlese “303” – Lots of residual sugar, very sweet

H.u.M Hofer – Weinviertel
2006 Hofer Gruner Veltliner Freiberg DAC  – Biodynamic, enjoyable

Setzer – Weinviertel
2006 Gruner Veltliner “Vesper”  – Creamy, soft mouth feel,
2006 Setzer Gruner Veltliner “Die Lage” – dry finish. Grew on me. Almosthappy1
2006 Gruner Veltliner “8000” – Sortofhappy1

Kerpen – Mosel Saar and Ruwer
2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese Artist Label – sweet, crisp, scent and taste of raisin
2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese – less sugar. Well grounded and structured.

Leitz – Rheingau
2006 Leitz Dragonstone Riesling – crisp, enjoyable, easy to drink
2006 Leitz Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spätlese – made from loamy garden soil, one of Shel’s favorites
2006 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese – excellent, made from the steep part of the hill

Strub – Rheinhessen
2006 Riesling “Soil to Soul” – first attempt at the simplified label, crisp and fun
2005 Niersteiner Orbel Riesling Kabinett – steeper slope, more complex riesling
2005 Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese – enjoyable, good fruit

Salomon – Kamptal Kremstal
2006 Gruner Veltliner Wieden – sweer, dry, full bodied Almosthappy1
2006 Gruner Veltliner Von Stein Reserve – citrus characteristics, little bit of spice and sweetness

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Posted by Michelle at 10:17 am in Tastings, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments ()
Jun 11

Ohio Wine Laws – Legislative Alerts

I know I’m usually a one-post-per-day type of gal. But I just got an email worthy of a second post for the day. Ron & Nancy of Kinkead Ridge have given me permission to repost their email here. Take a minute to digest it:

We have been working diligently to insure Ohio has a fair and constitutional solution to the direct shipping issue.
Tuesday June 5th, over the objections of our Senator Tom Niehaus and
Senate Finance Chair Carey, Senate President Harris attached a wine
amendment to the budget bill.
The amendment, if
implemented, will eliminate your ability to order wine from medium and
large wineries. Orders from small wineries are permitted, but with many
"only in Ohio" restrictions and such bureaucratic excess that in fact
little wine will likely be shipped.
The bill’s
amendment has been reviewed by WineAmerica, a national winery trade
organization. We were told that at least some of their recommendations
had been implemented. They were not.
budget bill (HB119) is due to be voted on Wednesday the 13th of June.
After that it will go to conference where changes can be made.
is the time to make your views known to your elected representatives.
At a minimum, all of WineAmerica’s recommendations should be inserted
into the amendment in conference. At best, the amendment should be
pulled and submitted as standard legislation.
wholesalers, a few Ohio wineries, and the Senate President have
demonstrated a disregard for wine consumers and the legislative process
which should not go unchallenged.
Your Senators can be contacted using the information here.

It’s not just happening in Ohio. There are wine laws in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, just to name a few, that do not favor the consumer. We actually had a wine club in California drop us last year because of our state. It’s getting harder to get the wines you want, from the the places you want, at the prices you want to pay.

Need more information for your own state? Check out FreetheGrapes.org and Wine America.

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Posted by Michelle at 12:09 pm in Cincinnati, Legislation, Local, Local Wineries, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()
Jun 11

Curtains Up!

I admit this is a break from our regularly scheduled wine programming.

Kevin & I are involved with the Cincinnati Opera Center Stage group, which is an off-shoot of the Opera focusing on young professionals. Did you know we have the oldest running opera company in the US? There’s also a big party on Friday night for young professionals.

UPDATE 6/20/07: Photos from the event are here.

It’s easy to have a negative viewpoint of Opera. It’s often-times portrayed as long, boring, and for the rich. But it’s not. My first Opera was Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which I saw about 7 years ago. It’s a comedy, and I loved it. I was hooked. Shortly after, we subscribed. Over the years we’ve worked our way down in seats, from the Gallery to the Orchestra floor. Orchestra seats are more expensive. We’re able to afford it because of Center Stage.

(Want to know about the party? All the info is after the jump.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Michelle at 11:48 am in Cincinnati, Entertainment, Local | Permalink | Comments ()
Jun 10

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Wine

Do you know how to ruin a perfectly (or even potentially) good wine? It’s easy. Don’t drink it.

Back in May of 2006, we won a large Sauvignon Blanc wine "competition."  We came home with several cases of various Sauvignon Blanc, mostly low-end, inexpensive  bottles. However, we suffer from the not-too-awful problem of having more wine available than we can drink – and we seem to keep buying more! The better wines have an easy life. They make it into the wine coolers and live on their sides at the right temperature. Then there are these Sauvignon Blancs, which have been sitting at the bottom of wine racks shoved into any non-sunny available space. We’re now trying to work our way through these wines. There really aren’t that many left – at this point, maybe 4 bottles.

Last week we had to dump 4 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. It was all the 2004 vintage of bottles that we think cost $8 or less. Each was far past its peak. Tonight we dumped two Trinchero Family Sauvignon Blancs. The first was a 2004 vintage that still had the price tag on it of $8.99. It tasted sour and somehow wrong. The second one, a 2005 of the same wine, tasted thick in the mouth and sour.

So really, in order to enjoy a wine you need to drink it. Don’t just let it hang out at the bottom of your wine rack.

And now for the good stuff …

In order to counteract our sad experience with Sauvignon Blancs, we popped open a 2005 Ledson Chardonnay from Mendocino County. I believe we paid around $30 for it, as we recieved it in a case shipment from their wine club. While it definitely has buttery and oaky characteristics, there is also subtle and enjoyable fruit. You can definitely pick up some apple and the pear lingers on the finish. The wine is well-balanced and complex. I am not normally a fan of California chardonnays, but this one is quite drinkable. It’s not a full happy face though, as I would have guessed it at around $20-$22, not $32.

Our rating:

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Posted by Michelle at 9:29 am in Tastings, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments (5)

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