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Apr 14

Hot Chicks Alert! (Come Taste with Me This Weekend!)

This weekend, the nice folks at Dep’s Fine Wines are letting me take over their weekend tasting tables. You can find me on Friday (4-8 pm) at the Covington location and on Saturday (2-6 pm) at the Fort Thomas location for a FREE tasting.

I’d love to have you drop by!

My theme is going to be Hot Chicks.  This all started because I fell in love with the Bombshell Red from Airfield Estates and wanted to find a theme to work around it. I ended up with a couple of “hot chicks” on labels and several more who are hot chicks by virtue of being awesome female winemakers.

On my tasting table you’ll find:

Friday is also FourSquare Day in Cincinnati, so stop over to Pachinko’s to celebrate after you start off the afternoon with FREE wine.

Right, did I mention the wine tasting is FREE?

I hope to see you there!

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Posted by Michelle at 9:49 am in Tastings | Permalink | Comments (2)
Apr 09

UPDATED: Save the Bigg’s Skytop Wine Tastings!

Michael from Bigg’s has updated us in the comments (comments #5 and #7). Your help is no longer needed, but the support was and is appreciated. Remke will be continuing with the wine tastings.

One of the best wine tastings in the city, which is also insanely inexpensive, is the Friday evening tastings at the Bigg’s Skytop location on Beechmont Avenue. There are nice light appetizers, quality wines, a genial and knowledgeable host, and a highly social environment.

Go while you still can.

If you haven’t heard, Remke has purchased the Bigg’s Skytop location (amongst others). Several readers have asked me what might happen to the wine program and Michael J. Campbell, the wonderful man behind it.

I asked Michael today, as I’m worried as well. I didn’t like the answer. Basically, Remke hasn’t made a decision yet and they will within the next 10 days.That decision affects both the wine program and Michael’s job.

You still have a chance to influence the decision.

Michael has asked that you use the Remke Contact form and request that they maintain the current quality wine program – and him!

So tell everyone you know and help save the program. It’s sort of like writing your congressman though – you actually have to fill in your request on that contact form; don’t just think about it.

I have my fingers crossed. I often visit the Remke by my home in Northern Ky. For months, they were an active part of the campaign to bring wine into grocery stores in Kentucky. I’m hoping that eagerness to carry wine spills into their new Ohio retail sites and includes quality programs like the one at Skytop.

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Posted by Michelle at 4:34 pm in Cincinnati, Current Affairs, Tastings | Permalink | Comments (5)
Apr 07

Ventosa Vineyards Tocaice

I have no idea where I got this wine. I found it in my refrigerator last night and declared it the “wine of the evening.”  I suspect it came home with me from the 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference as a gift from my friend Lenn of the New York Cork Report.

Why do I suspect it came from Lenn? Because it came from the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. I’m really torn, here, between waxing on about the Finger Lakes region and telling you about the grape, so let me do just a little of both.

The Finger Lakes aren’t that far from here. Get in your car, drive 8 hours toward Canada, and veer off a little near Rochester. You’ll find yourself in the lovely and relaxing Finger Lakes region of New York. Kevin and I have been to Seneca Lake, as it’s an easy drive from Rochester. There are three lakes that look like fingers in an aerial shot, Seneca, Keuka, and Cayuga. Oneida is not an official Finger Lake but is often thought of as the thumb anyway.

There are countless wineries up there. Seneca Lake alone has over 35 wineries. In fact, this year’s wine blogger TasteCamp is being held in the Finger Lakes in May. We’re missing it due to various siblings graduating from college. (Some things are more important than wine, you know.) Seeing as how it’s an easy drive, I highly recommend you get in your car one Friday morning and take an impromptu long weekend on Seneca Lake.

2007 Ventosa Vineyards Tocaice Ice Wine, Seneca Lake / Finger Lakes, NY

The Tocaice is an ice wine made from the Tocai Friulano grape. Known as an Italian grape, it is commonly grown in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Recently, the EU ruled that the Italian wine must now be referred to as Friulano in order to prevent confusion with a similar Hungarian grape, known as Tokaji. For some reason, the fact the grape had to basically change its name has always made me sympathetic towards it.

It’s still predominantly grown in Italy but you can find a smattering of the grape in Argentina. I was rather surprised to pull this out of my ‘fridge last evening to see it was a Friulano from the Finger Lakes. Apparently Ventosa Vineyards has an eye towards the Italian, with several Italian style wines and plantings of both Friulano and Sangiovese on property.

This is, of course, a dessert wine. It’s sweet, with 37 Brix and 16.2 Residual Sugar. Since we’ve had this a few years, I came across some sugar crystals in my glass, which always makes me laugh. When we first opened it, we were pretty much assaulted by the scent of green apples rushing out of the bottle. That receded a bit and we were able to pick out the floral and apricots.

Being an ice wine, this is particularly viscous. I was impressed by the balance though – there was enough acidity from the grape to balance out the sweetness. I’ve run into the occasional ice wine that is more like mead than anything else. This was definitely a well thought out dessert wine. Sipping this wine, Kevin and I both found a lot of apple. But as I spent some time with it, I also found apricots and peaches in there. Considering our unseasonably warm weather right now (no complaints) and the breeze blowing through the windows last evening, this was the perfect nightcap on balmy spring night.

Shel: Kevin:

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Posted by Michelle at 10:23 am in Tastings, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments (2)
Apr 06

Your Requests for Key West?

As I mentioned, a week or so ago I did a coast-to-coast run of the country, from Seattle to Orlando. April doesn’t look much better for staying home, as my business is taking me to Baltimore, West Virginia, and Miami.

I have no complaints at all about Miami. In fact, I’m taking the Miami trip (starting this Thursday) and extending it into a couple of quiet days in Key West. Now, while Key West does have wine bars, it’s not exactly known for its wine. Is there anything in particular  that you, my readers, would like me to hunt down while I’m in the southernmost place in our country? Anything Key-West-related that you’d like me to write about? Let me know in the comments (or via email, of course).


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Posted by Michelle at 10:08 am in Florida, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)
Apr 05

Jameson Tasting at Arnolds

Last week, Michelle and I went to Arnold’s Bar and Grill, one of my favorite places in Cincinnati for spaghetti and meatballs, for a tasting of Jameson with Gerry Murray, the U.S. East Coast Jameson Ambassador. The atmosphere was overly social with a few great stories from Gerry to keep the tasting moving along.

We learned that all Jameson is triple pot distilled and will age in a combination of barrels that previously contained sherry or bourbon. The percentage of each as well as the age are what lend to the different flavors and colors.

Over the course of our hour long conversation, we tried 4 whiskey samples:

Jameson: 5-7 year old whiskey with 90% from bourbon barrels and 10% from sherry. A very nice toasted oak flavor with hints of orange and vanilla. Both Michelle and I enjoyed this one and surprisingly, it was Michelle’s favorite. The bourbon barrel seemed to impart a lower acidity than the other options and this was a nice smooth flavor similar to the bourbon we have at home. Gerry was coy on letting us know which distillery provided the barrels.

Jameson 12: 12 -15 year old whiskey with 75% coming from bourbon barrels. The tartness was higher on this one providing a slightly longer finish and a more abrupt mouth feel. Smokeless fuel is used to roast the barley which is one way that Irish whiskey differs from most Scotches. Overall, this one had a more present crispness.

Kevin: Michelle:

Jameson Gold Reserve: 14 – 20 year old whiskey with an added twist. This adds in a small percentage of whiskey aged in virgin American white oak. This adds a creaminess to the initial taste while maintaining very strong honey and vanilla flavors. The end has a little bit of pepper. This was my favorite of the night.

Kevin:  Michelle: 

Jameson 18: A flip of percentages from the first one: 75% 18 year old sherry aged and 25% 20 year old bourbon barrel aged. This one had a very heavy grassy flavor along side apricots and toffee. The finish was a bit much for Michelle, but I found it well rounded with the intensity of the rest of the flavors.

Kevin: Michelle:

A few of the interesting things that I learned were that Michelle likes a whiskey that has been aged primarily in bourbon barrels without smokiness in the roasting of the grain. I think that was one of the reasons she preferred the earlier samples we tried. I enjoyed the whole range and appreciated the differences that were apparent in the different selections. Our current bar has a bottle each of Redbreast and Powers, but Jameson has earned a place as well at any of the levels.

Don’t forget, in addition to liking Jameson on Facebook, you can also now follow My Wine Education as well.

Let me know other thoughts on Jameson or other Irish whiskeys in the comments.  Here’s the rather popular “Lost Barrel” commercial for Jameson as well:

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