Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Mollydooker Blending and Wine Making Celebration on behalf of wine-girl.net. The event, which took place at Morton’s The Steakhouse Cincinnati, featured Sparky Marquis, award-winning winemaker and owner of Mollydooker Wines.
Before I get too far, Mollydooker is Aussie for left-hander. Both Sparky and wife, Sarah, are left-handed. The husband-and-wife team established Mollydooker in 2005 and they’ve won many awards for their wines since.
This event was entertaining and educational. We were first greeted with a tasting of Mollydooker’s only white wine, The Violinist, made from the Verdelho grape. We all learned later in the evening that it was Sparky’s mum, Janet, who greeted us with the wine! We munched on Miniature Crab Cakes and Blue Cheese Tenderloin Crostini, and Sparky came in to welcome us and chat for a while.
We were then led to another banquet room with assigned seating. There a personable and extremely entertaining Sparky told us the story behind Mollydooker. He also demonstrated the Mollydooker Shake – the best way to prepare and enjoy most Mollydooker wines. The vigorous shaking of the wine bottle releases nitrogen, which allows these young wines to show their full, creamy flavor profile.
Then it was time for the interactive part of the evening. We were paired up and challenged to create our own blend of wine. Each pair designed very different flavors using three Mollydooker Lefty Wines: a Merlot called The Scooter; The Maitre D’, a classic Aussie Cabernet; and a Shiraz called The Boxer. Each table voted on the four creations and my team’s blend was the ultimate favorite! Funny thing is Mollydooker makes a blend with the perfect combination of these three wines called Two Left Feet.
Finally, we tasted Mollydooker’s Party Wines, including Gigglepot, a Cabernet Sauvignon named after the Marquis’ daughter, Holly; and Blue Eyed Boy, a Shiraz named after their son, Luke. We also tried the Love Wines: Enchanted Path, a Shiraz/Cab; Carnival of Love, a Shiraz; and the fabulous Velvet Glove. Many thanks to the event organizers for comping my ticket.
Some fun Mollydooker facts:
- All Mollydooker bottles are screw caps so that no wines ever experience cork taint.
- Bottles include a Wine Find tear off tab on the back label so you always remember the name of the wine you just drank.
- Sarah is the inspiration behind all the labels. Each label tells a story about some aspect of Sparky and Sarah’s lives.
I got an email this morning that grabbed my attention. Microwines in Kenwood, a wine shop known for its open tasting table and its often unique selection of wines, is making some drastic changes. They will be open “most” Saturdays from 12-5 pm and by appointment only. They will also be increasing their internet ordering, which means they’re “increasing communication” - more email! (Just what I wanted … I’m three months behind as it is.)
I could speculate on why they are making this drastic change – we all could – but I don’t know the real reasons. Here is their letter, as received in my own inbox:
microWINES is updating its model! For the past six years, microWINES has been delivering cutting edge wine retailing, entertainment and educational experiences in a unique setting. Our global portfolio of small production wines from around the world is well selected and much appreciated by all our loyal customers. Like most retailing today, many of our customers now call in orders, browse our web site and e-mail orders for ultimate delivery, and follow us on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites. microWINES will seek to enhance these methods of reaching our customers to further improve your wine acquisition experience. We will retain physical store hours at our unique wine lifestyle venue (7292 Kenwood Road Cincinnati 45236), but on a limited basis (most Saturdays 12 – 5 and by appointment). This will allow our customers to continue to choose an unequaled in store experience and take advantage of our ability to host the most unique wine themed events in Cincinnati. We will increase communication with you regarding great new wine discoveries and planned events via electronic communication. I have personally studied and developed a passion for wine over the past 25 years and I very much look forward to enhancing your education and enjoyment of wine in the years to come. Please look for further updates on: www.microwines.com and please send us your wine stories, interests, buying requests and event interests: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your continued loyalty and interest in microWINES!
All the best,
Owner – microWINES
Once upon a time, Valley Vineyards in Morrow had a heck of a wine festival each spring. I have friends who would rent an RV and camp there. But 4 years ago, they cancelled the festival. (Has it really been that long?)
According to Mark Fisher at the Dayton Daily News, the festival is returning on Saturday, June 4, 11 am – 11 pm.
The event will celebrate 41 years of winemaking at Valley Vineyards, and will feature oferings from food producers and restaurants such as Wildflower Cafe of Mason and The Jam and Jelly Lady of Lebanon. The festival also will include the winery’s annual “Walk-Run Through the Vineyards,” which this year will benefit a Hamilton Twp. “Shop With A Cop” program, according to the winery’s web site. Live music and hot-air balloon rides also will be offered.
This year they’ve modified the festival format, most notably limiting it to one day and there will be no camping or overnight parking. I know what you’re thinking – they’ve killed the party. Well, it’s a wine festival people, not a campground. And if you suspect you’ll be overindulging, you can stay at the Spring Hill Suites Cincinnati Northeast, which will be offering a free shuttle to and from the festival.
Visit the Valley Vineyards web site for more information.
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:
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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