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Apr 12

2011 Woodford Reserve $1000 Mint Julep Cup

It’s Derby season and as many of you know, I love the Kentucky Derby. While Derby itself isn’t until May (have you picked out your hat yet?), Woodford is already promoting their $1000 Mint Julep Cup.

You can now purchase this gorgeous Mint Julep cup online, made by my favorite jeweler, Tiffany’s. They even come with a sterling silver straw to sip that julep.  Cups are first come, first serve to the first 103 people (there have been 103 Derby winners born in Kentucky) to, um, pony up that $1000. Cups come in a Tiffany blue box, of course, and are set in a Woodford Reserve casing made from the same wood as Woodford Reserve barrels. All proceeds from sales of the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup benefit The Heart of a Horse Foundation and you can pick up your cup at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.

Once you have that cup in hand, you can get your mint julep. Since you’ve paid $1000 for the cup, you might as well have the most exotic mint julep in the commonwealth.

– Bourbon Smoked Sugar from Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville, KY represents the union of flavors that result when Woodford Reserve barrels are combined with raw Demerara sugar. The bourbon-soaked barrel staves are utilized during the smoking process to impart a sweet, caramel flavor and the essence of smoked oak.

– Rare Chocolate Mint grown in San Diego, California. This unique mint adds a tantalizing touch of spring freshness to the classic Mint Julep.

– Ice made of rainwater captured on the pristine island of Tasmania, Australia, where the air is scientifically proven to be the purest in the world. The air travels over Antarctica and 10,000 miles of ocean reaching the western part of Tasmania called “The Edge of the World” where it is collected without ever touching the ground.

So go ahead and try to be one of those 103 lucky people. I will probably be at  home on my couch, wearing a fancy hat and cheering on my favorite horse, drinking a mint julep made from Kentucky ice.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:00 am in Charity Benefits, Cocktails, Scotch & Whiskey | Permalink | Comments (7)
Mar 28

Community Farm Alliance Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit Seeds of Change Project

The Community Farm Alliance (CFA) today announced it will be hosting Planting Seeds of Change Fundraiser and Mingle, Friday, April 8 at The Artisan’s Enterprise Center, 25 West 7th Street, Covington, KY. Cost is $10 per person and all proceeds go to the Community Farm Alliance Seeds of Change project.

The $10 per person donation includes hors d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages. Savor Catering will be serving locally produced foods in scrumptious small bites and there will be a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. A cash bar will include Kentucky liquor, wines and beer. Enjoy the art installation presently on the walls, as well as a special farm-related presentation on display for the evening, featuring photography, art, quilts, pottery and more from local farms and artisans. There will be a silent auction with a variety of wonderful items including a full sized, specially made farm-themed quilt. All proceeds benefit the CFA. Tap your toes as local musicians fiddle, pluck and strum bluegrass and other selections. No RSVP is needed—just stop by and have a great time meeting local folks that all share the legacy of food.

Community Farm Alliance is a grassroots membership organization with over 2,000 members in 75 Kentucky counties. The CFA creates new farmers’ markets in underserved urban communities and develops farm-to-cafeteria programs that link local farmers with institutional buyers. The organization also provides a grassroots voice for Kentucky’s citizens—farmer and non-farmer, urban and rural—by promoting family farm-friendly policies in the halls of the state capitol.

Tickets will be available prior to the event by calling 859-643-3276 or email Tricia to receive tickets via email or postal service.

For more information on Community Farm Alliance, visit their web site.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 11:15 am in Charity Benefits | Permalink | Comments (5)
Mar 21

Lafite Auction Helps Japan

Hart Davis Hart, America’s largest wine auction house, conducted a highly successful auction over the weekend devoted exclusively to the wines of Château Lafite-Rothschild. The sale comprised the largest selection of Lafite ever offered at auction and was 100% sold, realizing $5.8 million in sales against a pre-sale auction estimate of $4.3m-$6.5m. Bidders participated from 22 states as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Five of the top ten invoices of the day went to Asian buyers.

The celebrated 1982 vintage brought in $1.39 million over 39 lots and achieved the highest hammer prices of the sale; the top lots of the day were two full cases of this vintage (est. $40,000-$60,000), fetching $59,750 each. Other acclaimed vintages posted strong results as well, with several cases of the 100-point 1996 vintage bringing $23,900 (estimate $16,000-$24,000), and a case of the 1995 commanding $19,120 (est. $10,000-$15,000). Prices for 15 of 20 comparable vintages rose from the strong levels achieved in Hart Davis Hart’s most recent previous auction, held at the end of January. In total, prices for Lafite rose 4% sale to sale. Both the 1998 and 1999 vintages rose more than 14% while the 1982 vintage fell slightly by 4.7%.The average price achieved per lot across the entire auction was an astounding $14,789.

Bidders in attendance at Chicago’s award-winning restaurant TRU enjoyed tastings of several vintages of Lafite paired with specially-created dishes from Executive Chef Anthony Martin. Multiple vintages were poured from magnum format, making the day “a complete celebration of the legendary wines of Château Lafite,” as Vice-Chairman Michael Davis noted.

Hart Davis Hart will be donating 3% of the buyer’s premium from The Lafite Auction to Japan Society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund and many of the consignors in the auction will provide matching donations. Hart Davis Hart will raise more than $30,000 which will be used to directly support victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

“The recent devastation in Japan has been weighing heavily on our minds, especially since many of our clients were directly impacted. We were thrilled to get such a great response in support of this effort from both our buyers and consignors,” said Chairman John Hart.

Top Lots (inclusive of 19.5% buyer’s premium):
Lots 275-276: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs)
(est. $40,000-60,000) $59,750
Lots 1-3, 114-115, 142, 196: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs) (est. $40,000-60,000) $57,360
Lot 116: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (3 dbl mags)
(est. $38,000-55,000) $53,775
Lots 27, 117: 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (1 imp)
(est. $26,000-38,000) $41,825
Lots 11-12: 2000 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs)
(est. $26,000-38,000) $38,240
Lot 7: 1996 Château Lafite Rothschild (12bs)
(est. $16,000-24,000) $28,860
Lot 48: 1995 Château Lafite Rothschild (12 bs)
(est. $10,000-15,000) $19,120

Sale Stats
Percent sold by lot: 100%
Total Aggregate: $5,887,526
Low Pre-Sale Estimate: $4,337,250
High Pre-Sale Estimate: $6,483,700

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 6:44 pm in Charity Benefits, News | Permalink | Comments (12)
Mar 09

Wine-Girl’s Annual Wine Festival Survival Guide

Welcome to Wine-Girl’s Annual Wine Festival Survival Guide. Every year I poll a large group of wine bloggers and find out if there are any outstanding tips, which I add to my own. This year, I’ve added new tips based on my experience pouring wines at last year’s festival.

These tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered.

So in no particular order, here are my tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:

  1. Decide when you want to go. The Friday Grand Tasting has always seemed more manageable to me, with slightly less people. The Saturday Grand Tasting is generally the biggest event, with what seems like an unending number of people. My favorite session is Saturday afternoon, as fewer people attend and I can get more face-time with the winemakers. This year you’ll find Kevin & I enjoying the Friday night session only.
  2. Eat a big meal before hand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a large meal afterwards. Either way, it’s a busy weekend downtown, and the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities fall on Saturday. Whenever you decide to eat, make reservations.
  3. Consider a designated driver, cab service, or even a hotel room. Last year we decided to succumb to an afternoon and evening of alcohol and we got a hotel room. The Wine Fest web site offers several hotel packages downtown, and we often find great last minute deals at The Cincinnatian. In past years, we’ve had good luck booking through Hotwire.
  4. Make a game plan. First, download the Tasting Guide ahead of time. In the guide, you can find the list of attending wineries, the corresponding floor plan, and the list of wines in the Special Tasting Room. Plan ahead. See what looks interesting. Accept that you can’t possibly try everything. You may want to decide to divide and conquer within your group of friends.
  5. Dress comfortably. Seriously, ladies, there is no need for high heels. You can still look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home. You will be walking a lot, standing even more, and jostling in and out of a lot of people. Expect it to be warm in the tasting hall. Lots of people and red wine can raise the temperature in a room.
  6. Since we’re talking about clothes, wear dark colors. I know it’s almost Spring, but don’t pull out your sundresses and pastels. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might very well careen into you. Lots of people + lots of alcohol = lots of wine accidents. Dark colors are your best bet. On that note, carry a small bottle of Wine Away or a Tide Stain Stick. Even if you don’t need it, someone else might.
  7. Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get really crowded really fast. Enjoy being early.
  8. Start at the end. Most people will start at the beginning. Starting at the end (or back) will allow you to fight a smaller crowd – at least until you make it to the middle.
  9. Manage your route so that you visit the sparkling wine and champagne in between big wines. Sparklers are excellent palate cleansers and you’ll last longer if you try those in between the big reds.
  10. Save those dessert wines for last. One year I succumbed to temptation and had a chocolate port early on. As tasty as it was, my next ten wines still tasted like chocolate.
  11. Hold your glass up and don’t tilt it sideways. Think about it  – the wine will spill out. Holding it up higher makes it easier for the pourer to reach over all the bottles. Guys were better at this than gals last year, most likely because guys are just taller in general. Reach out with those glasses ladies!
  12. The pourers are not bartenders. Seriously, don’t bang on a bottle with your glass expecting service. (And no, I’m not kidding.) And while we’re on the topic, say please and thank you. Just because you’re thirsty for wine, doesn’t mean that all good manners get thrown out the window. Some of the pourers are just volunteers and aren’t being paid to be there and everyone has been working hard for at least two days; in the case of winemakers, they’ve been going non-stop for nearly a week.
  13. Move out of the way. I can’t stress this enough for the evening sessions. You don’t have to leave, but get your wine and move to the side. Don’t step back two steps, you’re still blocking the three people behind you and you’ll probably spill wine in the process.
  14. Try new things. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they’re bad. Truly, some of the booths have the name of the distributor, but they might be featuring three or four different wineries. This is a perfect opportunity to branch out and explore a little. Who knows what you’ll find? There might be something you really like, even if it’s not Merlot and Chardonnay. The two questions I heard while pouring last year were “Do you have any Merlot? Do you have any Chardonnay?”  The answer is not always yes, and there are some really exciting grapes out there that are not merlot or chard. If you see an Alicante Bouché for example, try it – you might be surprised. Chances are, the person behind the table can tell you a little bit about the grape as well, and if you don’t like it, then dump it.
  15. Spit or dump. A winemaker commented to me a few years ago that Cincinnati is strange because hardly anyone spits. Some thoughts on spitting:
    Carry your own spit cup. Dixie cups work, as well as those Solo plastic cups. When a table is crowded, it’s hard to get to the bucket, nor do you want to be in someone else’s spit stream. Also, it’s easier to be discreet when you are quietly spitting into your own cup.
    Dump instead of spit. I don’t spit at the Wine Festival. When I’m judging a wine competition, it doesn’t bother me to spit into a personal cup. But in our weird lack-of-spitting city, I get really self-conscious. So I take a small sip or two, try to really glean something out of it, and dump the rest of the wine into the bucket. It’s expected. You’re not wasting wine or hurting anyone’s feelings.
  16. Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to have some snacks and water, as well as to regroup.
  17. Hydrate, and wine doesn’t count. Bring water if they aren’t handing it out. But you’ll definitely want some handy.
  18. Rinse strategically. You see, rinsing your glass is necessary occasionally. But when you’re switching between white and red, ask for a wine rinse. No one will complain. If you’re switching between the reds at the same table, you don’t need to rinse your glass between every one. Not only do you waste water, but no one ever gets all the water out of their glass. You know what that leads to? Watery wine, and you certainly don’t want that.
  19. Don’t try to take detailed tasting notes. Sometimes I just rate things on my happy face scale; occasionally I’ll write a sentence. There will be no time for detailed information, nor will you really have free hands or space for writing.
  20. And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. Even Kevin & I pay to get in to the evening events. It’s a charity function. In fact, I believe 50% of your ticket is a tax-deduction as a charitable donation. So don’t try to get in free and skimp on those charities, okay? Instead, just go and have a fantastic time!
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Posted by Michelle at 8:03 am in Charity Benefits, Cincinnati, Local, Wine Events | Permalink | Comments (23)
Mar 02

Meeting those Wine Fest Winemakers

Cincinnati is lucky to have one of the best wine festivals in the nation. We get wineries from all over, distributors pop up to lead tastings, and even better, the week leading up to Wine Fest is generally packed with great events.

Enough people now know about the Thursday night dinners that they are mostly sold out. There are a few left and tickets are priced per person:

Daveed’s at 934 featuring Peter Franus Wine Company, ticket: $125

Eddie Merlot’s featuring Greg Norman Estates Wine with Morgan Leigh Norman, ticket: $125

Embers featuring Au Bon Climat, ticket: $150

Stone Creek Dining Co. West Chester featuring Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Bob Berteau, Head Winemaker, ticket: $125

You can order these tickets via the Wine Festival web site. Winery dinner sales close on Tuesday, March 8, at midnight.

If you find $125+ to be a tad steep, that’s okay. Chances are you can find the winemakers around town at various tastings. Ask around at your favorite wine shop and see if anyone special is dropping by. You see, while the distributors have the winemakers in town, they take them to as many shops as possible to both talk with the shop buyers and the consumers. Additionally, certain restaurants might be having winemaker dinners that are not officially linked to the Wine Festival. For instance, 20 Brix is having a dinner with JAQK wines (sold out though!) that’s not part of the “official festival.”

So check tasting schedules at various shops and restaurants or just give a call. Sometimes these tastings are pretty last minute. I’d start looking for winemakers to appear around Tuesday and for a few of them to last through Sunday.

Don’t forget, you can wrap up your wine festival week at Dilly Cafe on Sunday with one of those lingering winemakers – Rich Parducci. I happen to be partial to his Mendocino wines, so I recommend you reserve a spot for that brunch.

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Posted by Michelle at 4:33 pm in Charity Benefits, Cincinnati, Local, Wine Events | Permalink | Comments (9)

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