A few thoughts this year, first, I seem to have been excited about the right things. The ability to try different style of the same grape within seconds of each other is one of the key opportunities of the wine festival. For example, I was able to taste the Simi Sauvignon Blanc, a nice example of Californian style SB, and across the aisle was Thorny Rose, which had a very nice counter example of New Zealand styled SB. The grassiness was even more pronounced when directly compared with the more acidic California counterpart.
If you are looking for a really nice selection of Rieslings from different regions and sweetness, Schmitt Sohne and Estates (booth 107) had a very nice selection of 5 different wines.
The still Pedro (booth 2) was a really nice wine and helps to show another side to what is usually made into sherry. McNab (booth 28) was as solid as always and highly recommended for a stop. Valeta had a Vijiriega that was a nice native Spanish grape that I had never tried before. It had a distinct mineral flavor that helps to showcase something unique to the region.
The sparkling wines were worth their own pass, but were mostly in the lower numbered booths. Vinum (booth 7) had a very nice showing with both their sparkling and a nice rhone based white wine. Across the aisle, Terry Theise selections had two examples of grower Champagne that helped to show the difference between a wine with Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir as the lead varietal.
Cutting Edge (especially booth 32) showcased a rather wide selection of wines. The 2011 wines from the pacific northwest were all tasting extremely well. The Four Grace Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris were both examples of this well made wine from that year. Learning more about the overall growing season from 2011, makes me interested in what other wines I can find from that year to try.
Michael David (booth 38) also had a very strong showing of their selection. Petite Petite, Rage, and Incognito were all very good. Ferrari Carrano (booth 42) had a very nice “patio pounder” with BellaLuce. It was also a part of a large number of stainless steel fermented wines. Oak seemed to be less of a consideration from most places that focused on having the grape do most of the work. Trinchero (booth 76) also provided a nice range of red wines.
To end the tasting, I would recommend Wineworth Importers (at booth 6) to try through a really nice selection of ports. The ten year old, which can be found in half bottles for around $20 in Kentucky, had a great almond flavor. When you get to the vintage 1996 port, the nuttiness and sweetness become apparent. I also learned that they avoid loosing large amounts of the vintage by combining barrels and reducing the amount of exposure to the air. This means that one barrel was sacrificed every few years to top off the others. It was a new piece of information for me.
I tried to get to as many different places as possible, what did I miss? Was there another star of the show? Let me know in the comments,
I’m happy to see what everyone else enjoyed.
The Cincinnati International Wine Festival is upon us for the 23rd year! This Friday and Saturday, the grand tasting will be held at the convention center in downtown Cincinnati.
I will be posting as early as I can on Friday afternoon the highlights from the afternoon tasting, especially the surprises that I find. Every year my goal is to find something unexpected, unusual, or interesting. With 133 booths and a few hundred wines, I have never failed in this goal.
Tickets are still available for both Friday and Saturday nights and the list of wines seems both extensive and exciting. While it always nice to see a few favorite importers like Terry Theise(booth 11), Vintner Select(booth 14), Cutting Edge Selections(booth 32 thru 34) and many wineries from years past, for different reasons: Charles Smith/K Vinters (booth 4) from my wine bloggers conference in Walla Walla), Cline Cellars(booth 51) my first wine club, Henke Winery (booth 125) for teaching me that Norton can have a level of depth and quality, Veleta Wines (booth 56) for helping me learn that the story behind the wine helps to explain the taste, JAQK Cellars (booth 98) for beign able to highlight how different approaches to the a grape can have a very different taste in the bottle, and there is also a place for Bully Hill (booth 39) which was my first every winery experience in the Finger Lakes. I think that is some of the power of the taste of wine is that is can transport us back to a different time and place where we first got caught up in trying to learn as much as we could.
I’m also excited to try a few new things this year, a 2011 Chilean Pedro Ximenez (booth 2), Sivas Sonoma (booth 21) a new winery for me, the Italian selections from Dalla Terra (booth 48), hoping there might be a bottle of Pinot Meunier somewhere at a booth.
Beyond just my excitement, we always like to publish a few ways to get the most out of the overall experience. Here is our annual post of tips and tricks compiled from our and other blogger’s experiences on how to best survive this festival:
Please realize that these tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered. If insanely drunk is your goal, well … get a cab and/or a hotel.
So in no particular order, here are our tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:
It’s that time of year again when the leaves fall off the trees, the weather hits a surprising cold snap, plans are made for the upcoming holiday season, and the LLS kicks off the season with their Taste of the World event. This has been one of the events that I have looked forward to and attended over the past few years.
It is now up to the 9th annual version located at the Newport Aquarium. This year they have continued the Top Shelf room for anyone who might be interested in a few higher end offerings. The participating restaurants run from BBQ to seafood, with a list being found on the LLS site.
Last year, I helped to pour both at the Party Source spirits table, featuring a selection of mescals, private barrel bourbons, and a rum. The Top Shelf area had a scotch selection that was similarly fantastic. I’m not sure exactly what the non-wine offerings will be this year, but the Praty Source team does a great job of making sure there options for everyone.
Both the food and spirits are in addition to the wine and beer options that are available. The exact list is a closely kept secret, but I have never been disappointed with the selections.
This is the first year that I am a committee member for this event and I encourage everyone who attends to let me know about your experience.
Date: November 10th, 2012
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Newport Aquarium
General Admission Tickets are $100
Top Shelf Tickets are $150
All proceeds go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 513.698.2457.
This is the first post in a series on grapes that are either a type that has been tried in a blended wine, but are difficult to obtain as a standalone example or lesser known varietals in general. Since most people have an idea of Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir (thanks Sideways), and Riesling, I thought it might be interesting to profile a few of the other wines you might be able to find as an opportunity to expand your palate if you get a chance.
Pinot Meunier is the other red grape used in the production of Champagne. In fact, it accounts for roughly 40% of the total plantings of vines in that region. The two “noble” grapes of Chardonnay (found alone in Blanc de Blanc) and Pinot Noir (found alone in Blanc de Noir – usually. This can also have Meunier as Cresta has explained) have long overshadowed the humble Meunier. If you have tried all three type of Champagne and not found the same sharpness or acidity in either of the sole varietal versions, what you are noticing is the Meunier. American and Australian bubbly producers also grow Meunier to help produce an offering closer to the traditional Champagne.
The flavor when produced alone produces a jammy wines with moderate acidity and low tannin. It makes a very nice drink now wine that usually doesn’t need a large amount of time to open up. There are very few producers who make a still version of Meunier and even fewer who make a sparkling version. Chandon, Eyrie, Wilakenzi, and Bouchaine are a few of the wineries who produce a still version. Chandon is usually available in Kentucky and Ohio. The rest might need to be a special order from you local wine store or a direct order from the winery. The only sparkling version of Meunier I have had was at the 2012 Cincinnati Wine Festival. It was imported by Terry Theise can called Aubry Brut, sadly that is the extent of my notes on that selection.
Personally, I enjoy the sharpness of the Meunier on its own. It provides a balance lending towards acidity with enough tannic structure to make a nice wine that is easily paired with lighter foods. If you get the chance to try one of these, take it. Especially if you like Champagne or want to taste one part alone from the others to try and see if you can tell the make up the next time you try some bubbly.
Thanks to Alphonse at DEPS Fine Winne, Kevin at Party Source, David at Water Tower Fine Wines, and JP at Party Town for their help with this article. Please support your local wine shops and any of these four folks will be more than happy to help you find some unusal wines if you stop in and see them.
For anyone looking to try a little wine this weekend, might want to check out Party Town. In addition to their regularly scheduled casual Saturday tasting they have added an art show featuring a local artist twice a year. This time the artist will be Keith Klein. Mr Klein has a studio in Florence, Kentucky. His “Atelier” is housed in the former “Florence Deposit Bank” on Main street. Mr. Klein is represented by the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Eisele Gallery will be having the Grand Opening of its new contemporary wing on April 27, from 6-9PM, featuring beautiful contemporary realism and impressionism.
As an added bonus, an extra hour is planned for this weekend with the Saturday tasting running from 3-6pm. Sunday returns to the normal times of 3-5.
“We’re excited to have an artist from right here in Florence,” says Drew Murphy, General Manager of Party Town, “whose work has been featured in so many international locations. Keith’s work is part of the collection(s) of the Princess of Saudi Arabia, Cincinnati Bell, Converges, Cincinnati Financial and many other prestigious private collections across the United States.”
The wines planned by the knowledgeable staff include a few really nice gems. I always enjoy the tastings on a weekly basis and encourage everyone to visit. This Saturday should be a great time at Party Town. Cost of the tasting: Free.
Wines available to taste:
Laguna Laguna Chardonnay
Valle dell’Acate Insolia
Columbia’s Cellarmaster Riesling
Valle dell’Acate Il Moro
Mitolo Savitar Shiraz
Runquist Petite Sirah
Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
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