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Aug 20

Restaurant Not Required

This news is making the blog rounds today. Thanks to both Julie and Jay for alerting me to it.

Author Robin Goldstein was curious about how Wine Spectator awards its Wine Spectator Award of Excellence to restaurants. These awards are usually posted with pride in restaurants, including many of our fine Cincinnati establishments.

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the fact that you submit your restaurant, your menu, your wine list, and a $250 fee, and then Wine Spectator will judge your wine list. Now I can have a bigger problem.

Goldstein invented a restaurant, made up a menu and  a wine list, and submitted these (along with the fee) to Wine Spectator. In creating his wine list, he chose low-scoring Italian wines.

Goldstein’s imaginary restaurant won an Award of Excellence.

Now, I understand that WS can’t visit the restaurants for every submission. But maybe they could call to verify the existence of the place? In addition, they gave an award of excellence to a wine list comprised of wines they themselves scored low.

I don’t want to take away from the thrill that several of our local small restaurants have experienced upon receiving this Award of Excellence. I believe that our local folks really do have excellent wine lists that pair perfectly with their menus. However, I have to question WS at this point – is it really an award, or just a receipt for the $250?

Your thoughts?

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Posted by Michelle at 3:01 pm in News | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 20

You Know You Want to Come …

I already posted this once, but I figure I’ll keep re-posting it until the seats are sold out.

Come join us!

This is another benefit for the scholarship fund in memory of my sister. But this one might be a little more to your liking, seeing as how it’s a wine class.

Party Source has generously donated one of their excellent EQ sessions, including the wine, the appetizers, and the expansive knowledge of Jay Erisman. Come join us on Thurs, Sept 11, from 6-8 pm at the EQ Center at The Party Source for a night learning about Up & Coming French Winemakers and Wine Regions, with a focus on red wines.

Cost for the event is $40 per person and 100% of your donation goes to the scholarship fund. Isn’t that cool? There are only 28 seats still available for this before we have to mark it as Sold Out. It’s a great chance to learn more about French wine and help out a good cause as well. Win/win – or perhaps, win/wine!

Tickets must be purchased online and it goes without saying (but I should say it anyway), you must be 21.

If you have any questions let me know. You can learn more about the Scholarship Fund at the official website, which is also where you can register for the tasting.


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Posted by Michelle at 1:08 pm in Charity Benefits | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 14

Tobin James: Local Boy Makes Good Wine

Back in May, Kevin and I popped open a bottle of the 2005 Tobin James Dreamcatcher Muscat. We enjoyed it – I can’t find my detailed notes, only scribbles (I lost my wine notebook) – but it was light, refreshing, and loaded with fruit and flowers. Our score:


Yesterday, an email from Tim Shumrick (Chateau Pomije) unintentionally reminded me that I’d planned a specific post around that particular wine. You see, Tobin James has a Cincinnati connection.

Back in May, I asked Tim for a quick run-down on the Cincinnati connection:

Toby is my younger brother. He moved out
to Paso Robles about 25 years ago to work with Gary Eberle when Gary was the
winemaker at Estrella River Winery – before it became Meridian. Gary left to start Eberle Winery and Toby
went with him.

Toby worked at Eberle for over 10 years, then went to Peachy Canyon
with Doug Beckett. He made the first 2 or 3 vintages there before heading out
on his own. The rest is history.

My favorite quote from the email?

I’m not sure how much more you need or
how much I can really tell you because when he comes into town we don’t
talk a lot of business; we’re too busy drinking wine.

Well, my guess is that Tim is pretty busy drinking wines, but he’s sharing. Toby is in town and Chateau Pomije’s Casual Friday tasting features Tobin James Winery. It’s a great opportunity to meet a local winemaker who followed his dreams and enjoy our wonderful weather out on the Chateau Pomije deck. And in case you’re in the buying mood, Toby will be signing those bottles.

Chateau Pomije
2019 Madison Road
O’Bryonville, OH 45208
5:30 – 8:30
Drop by anytime
$15, includes appetizers

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Posted by Michelle at 2:38 pm in Cincinnati, Local, Tastings, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 13

WBW #48: Getting Back to Our [Wine] Roots

This isn’t at all the post I was going to write for Wine Blogging Wednesday this month. When I learned that this month’s tasting was all about getting back to your wine roots, I approached it academically. I was going to tell you about the Bordeaux that first illuminated me on the concept of terroir. We even drank our second bottle of it for this event (1998 Chateâu Lafon-Rochet).

I was lying in bed thinking about another post I wanted to write, this one about Tobin James and his Cincinnati connections, and it hit me. Who cares when I learned about terroir? Getting back to my roots should be an emotional connection, not academic. And I knew exactly what to write about.

When Kevin & I first met, back in 2000, we both enjoyed wine but we didn’t know much about it. We certainly weren’t the hobbyists and collectors we are today. Our first date was at a restaurant in O’Bryonville called Chateau Pomije. For our first Valentine’s day, in 2001, we braved a snow storm to trek out to the Chateau Pomije winery in Indiana. The owner, a rather fun and knowledgeable older gentlemen, would hold court in the outer lobby and gift shop, sharing tastes of his wines before everyone entered the restaurant proper. (The restaurant, by the way, had excellent barbecue.) 

At the time, I didn’t live overly far from the O’Bryonville restaurant. We often grabbed friends and visited for wine tastings. I joined their wine club – my first ever – which introduced me to wines outside of my previous purview of Columbia Crest and Dynamite Vineyards. Kevin and I continued to head out to Indiana, buying a lot of the Chateau Pomije wines and enjoying the restaurant, with its views out into the vineyard. As our own relationship changed, Chateau Pomije changed right along with us. The O’Bryonville location dropped the restaurant and became a fantastic wine bar and wine shop. The vineyard itself was sold to an out-of-country group. It’s not the same anymore.

But before the vineyard was sold, Kevin and I were married. It was probably right around 5 years ago that we showed up at their door on a Monday evening, not knowing they were closed. That older gentlemen let us in anyway and we purchased a lot of wine. In fact, Chateau Pomije Winery was the first place I ever purchased a case of wine. On that particular trip, we stocked up for the wedding. We purchased a bottle of amazing (to my memory) late harvest Riesling for each member of our wedding party. We also bought a half-case of sparkling wine, each bottle specially engraved, for us and for each set of our parents.

There are so many connections now to Chateau Pomije. I only recently realized that the young guy who helped me in the old wine shop/restaurant – and signed me up for the wine club – was probably Liquor Direct’s Kevin Keith, now a good friend. Chateau Pomije was there for my first date with my husband and it was there for my wedding. We took a bottle of their sparkling to the Dominican Republic with us for the ceremony, and shared the other bottles at our reception back home. Since then, I’ve talked with Tim Shumrick a little. Tim runs the O’Bryonville wine shop. It was his dad who sold us our wedding wines. His brother is Toby James, of Tobin James Winery in California. Wine runs in their family.

Chateau Pomije is many wines to me. But it was the first winery that ever meant something to me. I’ve always associated music with particular events in my life. Chateau Pomije taught me that wine can bring on that same wonderful nostalgia. It’s not always the wine that matters, but the memories that come with it.


Thanks Lenn, for hosting a great Wine Blogging Wednesday, and cheers to another four years!

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Posted by Michelle at 11:55 pm in Cincinnati, Life, Local, Restaurants, Tastings, Travel, WBW, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments (2)
Aug 13

A Champagne a Day Keeps the Dr Away

According to an article I read on Britain’s Decanter.com yesterday, Champagne might be the secret to a long life.

UK crime writer John Mortimer says a glass of Champagne every morning is the secret to a long life.

The 85-year-old novelist, whose most celebrated creation, Horace
Rumpole, used to drink ‘Chateau Thames Embankment’ red wine at his
local wine bar, revealed his drinking habits to UK broadsheet The
Guardian at the weekend.

The writer added that he was meant to take high-protein drinks
throughout the day but that he distrusted doctors, saying each one told
him something different.

‘So I stick to Champagne – not very grand Champagne,’ he said. ‘I
drink it every morning, and that is the secret of a long life.’

As Decanter is quick to point out, one small glass of bubbly at 12% AbV is half of the UK’s daily recommended amount for "sensible drinking."

Hmm … Champagne every morning. I think I could do that.

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Posted by Michelle at 3:29 pm in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()

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