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.
Recently, I celebrated my birthday at La Poste Eatery and Wine Room and it was one of the best wine and food experiences ever. We decided to have wine pairings with dinner.
Our first course was the Foie Gras on Banana Bread with a sliced Banana with caramelized sugar on top that had a maple carmel syrup finished with cracked sea salt. We had a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne. The hint of sweetness from the Champagne complimented the syrup and the Banana Bread and the driness of the brut matched perfectly with the salt. The Foie Gras melted in your mouth and had this creamy after taste.
The second course was an order of Ravioli with a field blend of mushrooms, fresh sage, cream, and parmesan reggiano. It was paired with Styring Estate Pinot Noir ’06, this was one of the best comfort combinations that I ever had. The Ravioli had a parmesan sage cream sauce with crispy pieces of sage on top that added a slight crispiness to the cream. The Styring Estate Pinot Noir was the perfect pairing. It was a very soft tasting with berries and finish with tannins. This is one of the best well balanced Pinot Noir that I have ever tasted.
The third course was fresh catch of John Dory, a nice crispy white fish with a wonderful red wine reduction with sliced carrots and sliced parsnips. A sweet and savory taste intertwined with the light fish was perfect and it was paired with Domaine Aubissieres Cuvee Silex Vouvray ’09. It wasn’t tart at all, a slightly sweet taste of melon and fruits. I loved it because it didn’t have that sour taste that Sauvignon Blancs have. A wonderful summer wine that you can drink all summer long and for $16.99 a bottle with a 90 point rating from Robert Parker who wouldn’t want to.
The last course was a white chocolate bread pudding with dried cherries and a butter cream carmel sauce. It was paired with La Tour Vielle Banyuls dessert wine. First of all anything with white chocolate and bread pudding is exquisite. The taste that carried me into bliss was the port-style wine that in France they chill and drink it as an aperitif. This nutty, fruity dessert paired perfectly with the chocolate dessert.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves wines, food and wonderful ambiance.
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
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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