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Aug 18

Harmony Hill Comes Downtown

This is one of the strangest combinations I’ve come across. Harmony Hill Vineyards is coming to the Mainstay Rock Bar downtown. I know Harmony Hill does the music thing, but hmm …. Regardless of how strange I think the combination, I’m certainly going to be there. After all, the most important thing about this event is that the wine from out in Bethel will be exposed to folks in downtown Cincinnati. I’m all for that!

The event costs $20 and includes a wine tasting (flight I assume) from Harmony Hill and a chance to meet and greet with the winemaker, Bill Skvarla. Bill is an absolute hoot, and explains the science behind wine better than anyone I’ve met. So take this closer-to-home chance to meet him. Your $20 also gets you a selection of paired appetizers prepared by Mainstay.

Come to the party on Thursday, September 16, from 6-8 pm. Mainstay is located on the corner of 5th and Plum, at 301 West 5th Street. Tickets are available at the door.

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Posted by Michelle at 2:38 pm in Local, Local Wineries, Meet the Winemaker, Wine Events | Permalink | Comments (2)
Feb 04

Blood Into Wine: Maynard James Keenan

Once upon a time I wrote for the (now defunct) Taste Magazine. I was working on an article about celebrity-branded alcohol, although that article got scrapped when I took over the Wine Academy column for the magazine. In the process of researching that article, I somehow managed to get in touch with the publicist for Maynard James Keenan, and eventually, I interviewed him. It’s just as well my article got scrapped, because my recording of the interview wasn’t very good. It was so bad, I have yet to be able to clean it up and use it. (Since then, I’ve improved my recording equipment.)

For those unfamiliar, Maynard James Keenan is the front man for rock bands Tool, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle. Until I met Kevin Keith, I had no idea who he was, so don’t feel bad, and I think that Maynard actually preferred my lack of knowledge of his music during the interview. If there is anything I got out of that conversation, it’s that he doesn’t like being called a “Rock Star.” Well, that and Maynard James Keenan is the most intense person to whom I have ever spoken. I believe that he does everything with the same intensity – be it music or wine, which should tell you something about his wine.

When Kevin and I went to Arizona in 2007, we visited Cornville, AZ as we drove south towards Phoenix from the Grand Canyon. It’s off the beaten path a bit, but Cornville was an absolute delight for us as wine lovers. We started at Page Springs Cellars, where it just so happens that Maynard had worked with the wine maker to learn everything he could about wine. At the time, Page Springs Cellars was also selling Maynard’s labels, Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards. (Our Photos from Arizona Wineries) We have several Maynard-created wines in our wine fridge.

When I interviewed Maynard, he was working on launching Arizona Stronghold, a winery in the southern Arizona ghost town of Jerome. (A lot of grapes are grown in southern Arizona.) Last summer, an article in Decanter.com alerted me that Maynard and his winemaker Eric Glomski have officially launched the new winery.

Turns out, the process of creating Arizona Stronghold is the basis for a new documentary called Blood Into Wine. It premieres in Arizona (of course) on February 19 (full list of theatres is after the jump – mostly West Coast I’m afraid). But the DVD will be released on May 4 Sept 6. Check out the trailer. Even if you don’t like his music, how can you resist a documentary like this? It’s got music, wine, and a lot of humor, I think.

Blood Into Wine arrives in select theaters on Feb. 19 with a Phoenix-based premiere at the W Hotel Scottsdale.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:05 am in Entertainment, Meet the Winemaker, News, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (3)
Jul 31

Wine-Girl.net Meet-up/Tweet-up: Harmony Hill Winery

It's been a few months since I've been out to Harmony Hill Winery, but it's one of my favorite places to hang out on a beautiful summer day.

Join me tomorrow – let's call it a Wine-Girl Meetup (or Tweetup if you're on Twitter). Kevin and I are going to be there around 2 pm (when the winery opens) and I'd love to meet everyone there!

Don't forget that this is also your opportunity to partake in the Farmer's Market, which runs from 2 -6 pm.

Harmony Hill is family friendly – no matter who your family might be. So bring your kids and bring your dogs. Furry friends just need to be on a leash and friendly with other dogs and adoring people.

Bring your outdoor chairs or blankets in case there is a crowd and feel free to bring a picnic lunch and complement it with a bottle of summery wine and some great live and acoustic music.

Remember that buying and drinking local wines is a great way to stay "green". If you're interested in meeting the winemaker, he is usually around as well – and incredibly fun and friendly.

We hope to see you there!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Jul 24

WBC09 – Live Wine Tasting

While Michelle is in Chicago at BlogHer, I'm (Kevin) representing our blog at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma.

We're about to do a live "speed tasting." 6 Minutes per wine maker to explain a bottle of their wine. Then switch to the next group of 10 attentive tasters. Post will be updated with pics when I get a chance. 18 tables, 3 winemakers are stuck in traffic from San Francisco. We are delayed as IT is called to fix the wifi.

Round 1: Schramsburg 2006 Blanc de Blancs

Winery started in 1965. 4 areas are used for grapes to create the bubbly. Sweet fruity flavor upfront with a little apple. Small amount of yeastines and not trying to be French style. On lees for 2 years and I think our table lucked out with the best way to start a tasting. Retail $36.

Round 2: 07 Lilly Hills Zin from Bella Vineyards. Syrah and Petite Syrah in the blend as well. 15% Abv. Earthy and leathery on the palate and about the opposite of the last thing we tried. Overall it needs  alittle more time in bottle to relax. Retail at $38

Round 3: 2007 River of Skulls from Twisted Oak. Smoother than last year, higher Syrah percentage. Mourvedre. $35 at retail.

Round 4: 07 Barbarra from Northwest Wine Academy. Sweet flavor and little depth. Would work better with food.

Round 5: 08 Fish Eye Pinot Gris. Central Valley grapes. Going for year after year consistency. I am still not a huge Pinot Gris fan, but this has a open and acceptable flavor profile. $6.99 retail for 750. $14.99 for the 3L. I'd bring this to a party without heavy wine drinkers and I think there would be no problem.

Round 6: Pinot Evil. $20 for a 3L box. Nice basic Pinot. Would recommend for when hosting a party or to have an everyday red available for drinking.

Round 7: 07 Cab Sauv from Cupcake. 2 different vineyards combining for 85 CS, 12 Syrah, Petit Sytah for the rest. Going for an adult treat. Good again this year a little warm on the finish, but plenty of fruit to balance. Used Cab Sauv to make cupcake frosting on the paired cupcakes for after the tasting.

Round 8: 05 Snows Lake 2 Blend. Nice tannic, CS shows through, needs time to open up a little. Very deep wine with great food potential. $45 retail and worth it. 14.2% AbV doesn't overwhelm and is very nice.

Round 9: 07 Petite Syrah from Line 39. Very light with alot of tannins. At $10 this would be a great introduction to the varietal to anyone who is starting on red wines.

Round 10: 07 Ancient Vine Mouv from Cline Cellars. Nice spicy and earthy. Cline has nice sandy soil that lends to growing this varietal. 25% new American oak keeps the flavor pure. 15% AbV does not overwhealm the rest of it. 10,000 cases made yearly. $16

Round 11 (two left): 07 Chard from Tandem. Very buttery and subdued oak. Chewy flavor and a nice example of Cali Chard. 2000 ft elevation Dijon 809 clone used in making the wine. Balanced, but not my style of chard. $54 retail.

Round 12: 07 Estate Chard from Foggy Bridge. Winery to open in San Fran next year. Balanced and 1/2 malo and 1/2 stainless. Crisp finish and good acid. 190 cases and $18 a bottle. Malo balances the wine and makes this a nice value Chard.

This will be prettied up later, but another great tasting at the WBC!

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Jan 27

Review: Hahn Estates, Santa Lucia Highlands

"Every so often there is a certain barrel that grabs your soul."

 – Adam Lazarre

Every once and again I get what I call jokingly call a winecrush. It's usually on someone fairly young and accomplished who has an amazing passion for wine. For a while, my reigning winecrush was on Johannes Leitz, an enterprising and charismatic German winemaker that I met in 2007.

That winecrush was superceded by a quick winecrush on Doug Cook, WSET diploma holder and creator of academic wine search engine, Able Grape. Okay, maybe a geek-winecrush there. I met him at the Wine Bloggers Conference and he introduced me to the first Cab Franc I fell in love with (French, of course), and he brought an amazing selection of wine with him to the conference. I think even the guys had winecrushes on Doug.

Adam Lazarre, photo from Villa San Juliette Vineyards
I'm apparently fickle, because Doug has been pushed down my winecrush list by Adam Lazarre. Adam is the winemaker for Hahn Estates and the incoming winemaker for Villa San Juliette. You've probably heard of the former but not of the latter? Well, Villa San Juliette is the brainchild – and originally the reality tv show – of Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance) and Ken Warwick (America's Got Talent). The reality show, Corkscrewed, didn't do so hot, although you can view the entire first (possibly only?) season on Hulu. Villa San Juliette hired Adam in September 2008, so (according to the San Juliette web site) he's in transition between wineries at the moment.

But he was in our town – at the Party Source – to talk about Hahn wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH). The Santa Lucia Highlands are located in Monterey County, California. The location, situated in the western mountain range above the Salinas River Valley, is home to about 2000 acres of grapes. The vineyards, 200-1200 feet in elevation, are home to cool weather grapes such as syrah, malbec, and my personal favorite, pinot noir.

Adam has sort of a rock star look to him. Or maybe more like a surfer. I think it was the beaded necklace or the fashionably unkempt blonde hair. He also has a fondness for good bourbon, which I can fully appreciate. I mentioned talking to him to an industry friend of mine and she asked me, "Was he drunk from too much bourbon yet?" He's friendly and high-energy, to say the least, and deservedly passionate about his wines.

The conversation arose at some point as to how Sideways made loving pinot noir so trendy it's almost uncool now. But Sideways or not, pinot noir will always be my favorite grape. Hahn's SLH pinots are pretty impressive. While Hahn does have a nice selection of inexpensive wines on the market, overall the ones we tasted are not recession wines. The tasting started with a Pinot Gris and included 8 wines in total, all of which you can read about after the jump.

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Posted by Michelle at 12:01 pm in Meet the Winemaker, Tastings, Wine Notes, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (3)

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