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
I once again got the privilege to attend an industry preview of the wine festival and here are a few highlights. Please realize these are high level thoughts of what I enjoyed; your experience might be different:
Booth 2: Charles Smith/K Vintners – Eve Chardonnay was a nice well rounded example. Also learned that Kung Fu Girl (a must try for Riesling fans) has had production to support year round availability for the last two years and that should continue going forward.
Booth 3/50: Rieslings and Grüet Bubbly are nice breaks in the middle of a large red run to help refresh the palate. All the Loosen offerings are good with the Dry Riesling being a different take on the standard offering.
Booth 15/22/68/98 – There are some nice high end red wines in the Grand Tasting Room. Expect a longer than usual line for Orin Swift, JAQK, Mollydooker, and Cinq Cepages. All were showing nicely in the afternoon and might be worth a slightly longer wait for red lovers.
New to me this year was Hoepler Estates out of Austria. Christof Höpler is in attendance to answer any questions you have about Austria, their national grape (Grüener Veltliner), or the other wines he brought. Overall I was impressed by his Pinot Noir in addition to the Gruner and Blaufränkisch.
Also, the Frederick Wildman, & Sons table (booth 118) was a “new-to-me” importer that was able to give me a few good examples of their portfolio. Tasting through their red offering was well worth the time. They’ve been attendees in the past, but this was the first year I spent time sampling their offerings.
A few favorites were also there: Veleta (booth 56), JAQK (booth 98), Terry Theise (Booth 12), Henke (booth 125), Burnet Ridge (booth 127), Firelands (booth 59), Moet Hennessy (Pinot Meunier booth 116), and Justin (booth177). Terry Theise has a Pinot Meunier driven bubbly; the Aubry Brut, which can be used as a nice comparison to the still version at Moet.
Overall. my impression is that the Wine Festival will be a great time for wine lovers looking for something to do this weekend. There is a nice mix of new and old favorites that should keep everyone expanding their palates. If you go this weekend, post any favorites in the comments below!
Once you have mastered surviving a festival, you can start to apply a few other techniques on navigating the amazing number of options you have. Here are a few different ways that I have approached large tasting events:
This is the basic system of picking an end and working your way around stopping at each booth along the way fully tasting options that appeal to you. The advantages are very little up front planning and it gives a large amount of time to socialize with your group. It does require you to switch from sweet to dry at every table and I remember the time I tried a heavy desert wine and stained the glass for the rest of the evening.
The two variations of this are stop at the shortest line or stop at the largest line. By stopping at a short line, you can get a little more personalized attention from whomever is working the booth. When this is a winemaker, winery rep, or distributor they can be very knowledgeable about what you are tasting. The additional information can give a better appreciation of the style and help to improve your overall knowledge. The long line theory is that this many people cannot be wrong. It’s a gamble that the wait will be worth it when you get to the front. Usually this line will make it more difficult to engage in conversation and learn about the wines.
This requires a glance through the program to see if there are any varietals or wineries that you have been wanting to try, but have not had the opportunity. It could be a desire to try something else from a place you have heard about, like Canadian Ice Wine (Booth 89), a new varietal like Blaufraenkisch (Booth 93), or a producer like Orin Swift (Booth 22). These are only a few examples. You could also visit local winery booths (along the left wall this year).
This is an additional layer of planning, but can be worth it. The goal of this is to try all wines of a certain type or color before moving on. Only whites, then rose, finishing with reds. This really helps when you like certain varietals or want to be able to compare the same type of wine from different regions and producers. The difficulty is remembering any place you want to return to on the next round.
The main goal of the wine festival is to have fun and enjoy yourself and the company you are with. These are a few suggestions on how to make the most of your time in the convention center this year. Anyone have other approaches? Did I miss an obvious way to navigate the large amount of choice? This year, I’m excited to revisit Pinot Meunier (Booth 116). This is the third grape used in most Champagne along with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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