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Apr 30

Derby Days: Wild Horse Chardonnay

Last weekend, Party Town hosted a tasting of Wild Horse wines. The tasting included a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet, but what caught my interest was the vertical tasting of Chardonnay.

If you’re not familiar with the terms, just know that you can have horizontal wine tastings and vertical tastings.

  • Horizontal: No, this does not mean drink until you are knocked flat. It means that the wines are all from the same vintage but from different wineries. For instance, you could do a horizontal tasting of 1995 Sonoma Valley Pinot Noirs to see how different wineries dealt with the grapes in the same year or try a horizontal tasting of different grapes from the same winery, all from 2005. The only requirement in a horizontal tasting is a consistent vintage.
  • Vertical: We had a vertical tasting at Party Town. A vertical tasting is one in which the wine is the same but the vintages differ. In this case, we tasted Wild Horse Chardonnay from 2004, 2006, and 2008. It allowed us to compare the changes in the wine during each vintage.

It was surprising the differences in each vintage of the Chardonnay.

2008, 2004, 2006 Wild Horse Winery Chardonnay, Party Town (@ Turfway), $12.99 per bottle

We started with the 2008. Kevin and I had differing opinions on this one. I thought it was the lightest, although it had spice on the nose. He thought it had the heaviest oak flavor.
Our score is the same, even if our opinions wildly differed:

Next we tried the 2006 vintage. This was hands-down my favorite of the three. We both thought the 2006 had a nice roundness to it, with a lot of creaminess bringing up the finish. If this was a horse race, I’d have bet on 2006.
Our score:

We finished with the oldest vintage, the 2004. Kevin this to be more Old World, and I would agree. At this point, the wine had found its more earthy flavors, complemented by some smokiness.
Our score:  

Wild Horse is actually a California winery, located south of Paso Robles and making wines from the Central Coast. They’ve been making wine over 25 years and use the slogan “Unbridled Spirit.”  I don’t know if they realize that’s also the slogan on our Kentucky license plates, and for this week, I say Wild Horse Winery is honorary Kentucky.  Happy Derby Week!

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Posted by Michelle at 10:23 am in Tastings | Permalink | Comments (2)
Apr 29

Derby Days: Bourbon Slush

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the Kentucky Derby. Between the horses and the hats, I’m in absolute heaven. So I thought I’d share with you, over the next three or so days, some of my favorite Derby drink recipes.

We’ll start with perhaps the easiest, which is Bourbon Slush. With any of these drinks, make sure you use a nice bourbon. The quality of the bourbon affects the quality of the drink, no matter how you mix it.  For this particular recipe, I like to use Woodford Reserve from the special Derby edition bottle.

I got this recipe from my old friend Kate, and it is by far the best slush I have tasted or made. I tend to make it the night before a party to ensure a good amount of slushiness.

Kate’s Bourbon Slush

Step 1: Tea
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 peach tea bags
1 cup sugar

Combine the boiling water and tea bags.
Once the tea is set, remove the bags and pourinto a large plastic container. (There must be room for the tea to expand once in the freezer.)
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Step 2: Those yummy flavors
6 cups cold water
1 large can, frozen lemonade
1 small can, frozen orange juice
2 cups Kentucky bourbon

Add remaining ingredients to the tea.
Stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Freeze in plastic container, covered, for 6 to 8 hours, sometimes longer depending on your freezer. Spoon into glasses and top off with Sprite or 7Up.


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Posted by Michelle at 10:11 am in Cocktails | Permalink | Comments (1)
Apr 20

My Thanks … and a Little About Riesling

My huge thanks to everyone who came out to my “Hot Chicks” tasting this weekend. It was great talking to all of you and of course, thanks so much for reading!

I was amused that with a selection of female winemakers and hot chicks on labels, it was the hot chicks on the labels  – both from Washington state – that won the day. I would say that my top seller was probably the Kung Fu Girl Riesling, followed by the Airfield Estates Bombshell Red. The lovely pink Domain Carneros Cuvee, named for Madame de Pompadour, was also fairly popular (albeit a little more expensive).

The Washington riesling seemed to be a surprise to everyone. It is a fruit-forward, bright riesling, but it’s not overly sweet. That said, so many people were afraid to try it, convinced that all rieslings are sugary syrupy things. So let’s clear that up a little.

I blame Blue Nun for the sugary, syrup reputation that riesling seems to have. Now, when a riesling comes from some where other than Germany, you’re a little hard pressed to identify how dry it might be. Cross your fingers that they mention it in the label description. But those Germans? They’re helpful when it comes to identifying the sweetness in your glass.

You’ll notice three words attached to the German wines – Kabinett, Auslese, and Spätlese. The highest quality wine category in Germany is QmP, and it is divided into 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 (the noble rot, so to speak) to make them sweeter.

I know it’s hard to remember. I’m working on some sort of mnemonic that will make it easier.

Another tip with rieslings? Don’t drink them too cold. Really, this applies to most whites. Yes, you should chill them. But if you over-chill, you’re missing out. They always warm up a little and bloom with flavor. So keep that in mind with whatever riesling you’re drinking – your refrigerator might just be a little too chilled for the right flavors to emerge.

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Posted by Michelle at 7:54 am in Knowledge, Tastings | Permalink | Comments (3)
Apr 16

Don’t forget – Free Tasting Today!

Come taste the Hot Chicks lineup with me today from 4-8 pm in Covington and tomorrow from 2-6 pm. The tastings are free and often quite social.

Dep’s Fine Wines – Covington
670 West 3rd Street
Covington, KY 41011

Dep’s Fine Wines – Fort Thomas
90 Alexandria Pike
Fort Thomas, KY 41075

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Posted by Michelle at 1:30 pm in Tastings | Permalink | Comments ()
Apr 16

Krug Tasting at Morton’s

Last week, Kevin and I were given a special treat as we attended a media preview (complimentary) of the upcoming Charles Krug Wine Dinner at Morton’s. We got to try sample portions of each course, as well as comparable wines.  Additionally, Morton’s arranged a virtual tweetup with Krug winemaker Peter Mondavi Jr.

The real wine dinner occurs next Wednesday night, April 21, and benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cost is $150 per person (reservations). Peter Mondavi, Jr, will be live and in person for the event, which culminates in a live auction for a beautiful, specially commissioned 27 liter bottle of Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002. This bottle – weighing approximately 100 pounds, measuring three feet in circumference and filled with the equivalent of 36 standard bottles of wine or 180 glasses of wine – will be on display at Morton’s through the evening of the wine dinner.

I’m not a food blogger, nor will I pretend to be. While I loved some of what we had, much of it ended up on Kevin’s plate due to my absolute pickiness. But I did enjoy the wine and can tell you (with a little bit of help from Kevin), that everything paired perfectly. Again, the wines we had are not necessarily the wines that will be served on Wednesday night, but they are comparable.

Charles Krug Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007: Filled with pears, apricots, and grapefruit; high in acid (very citrusy), and cut nicely through the seafood.

Charles Krug Carneros Chardonnay 2007: On its own, without food, I found this to be buttery and heavy. However, it paired wonderfully with the salad, which lightened it up considerably.

2004 Charles Krug Vintage Select Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine was paired with a filet, mashed potatoes, and a spinach-stuffed roasted tomato. I found a lot of roses and dark cherries on the nose. It was tannic, but it helped to clear the palate and paired perfectly with the roasted tomatoes, balancing out their acid.

It’s worth noting that we had a 2004, but the night of the wine dinner, participants will enjoy wines from the 1994, 1995, and 1996 vintage.

Charles Krug Zinfandel Port: We took this port and paired it with various fruits and cheeses. The port was a lot more tart when paired with raspberries, for instance, but strawberries added an additional sweetness. Kevin and I both favored the port with the cheeses, in particular the Gouda, which brought out the raspberry in the port itself.

Interested in our Twitter conversation with Peter Mondavi, Jr? I captured it all and you can view the entire tweet chat after the jump.

Reserve your dinner spot online or call Morton’s at (513) 621-3111.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Michelle at 8:14 am in Dinner and Drinks, Special Events | Permalink | Comments (1)

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