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May 20

We’re back! We’re back!

by Michelle

Oh my goodness!

Earlier this spring, there was a “brute force attack” on WordPress sites all over the web, including this one. It took us down. In fact, it went in and modified some things that I’m still trying to fix.

But finally, after 6 or so weeks of my fighting with WordPress, code, and my hosting company – the site is back!

Cresta, Angela, Kevin and I will get back to posting as soon as possible – and that includes some belated Mad Men posts.

Hooray! Time for a glass of wine to celebrate …

Cheers,

Michelle

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 10:06 pm in News, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments ()
Mar 06

23rd Annual Cincinnati Wine Festival Preview

by Kevin

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:

  • 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.
  • 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. Whenever you decide to eat, make reservations.
  • 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. Remember, if you drink, please don’t drive. And if you plan to drive, please don’t drink.
  • 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. I gave you my plan above,remember it’s only a plan. I am sure that I will deviate through the tasting as I find other things to try. I always like making a friend to find out what they have tried that I need to try. It’s an easy question and everyone has a few thoughts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get really crowded really fast. Enjoy being early.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    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.
    • Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to have some snacks and water, as well as to regroup.
    • Hydrate, and wine doesn’t count. Bring water if they aren’t handing it out. But you’ll definitely want some handy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. We 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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Dec 07

For the Love of Writing …

I started this blog almost 8 years ago because I loved wine, I loved writing, and I wanted to share with the world. Much to my surprise, the world actually gave a damn for a while.

Life has changed a lot for me in the last decade – particularly in the last 2 years. For those of you who don’t know, I’m now living in the San Francisco area. Turns out, I picked one of the most expensive areas in the country, so there’s been a lot adjustment to the new price tag of life. A lot of other things in my life are changing too and I haven’t paid as much attention to this blog as I should.

Thankfully, Cresta and Angela have really picked up the slack. Both based in the Cincinnati area, they make sure you’re getting reviews and event notifications of great things happening back in my hometown. For me, this is still a regional blog and Cresta and Angela are the heart of that.

In the midst of upheaval, I’ve still had some great experiences in the last couple of years. I tried some great wine. I went to Paris and Bordeaux. I passed the level 1 sommelier exam. These are all things I should write about.

Maybe because of the other changes in my life, I’ve been suffering the world’s largest case of writer’s block. I used to love writing. Now, I have an experience (such as Bordeaux) and I truly want to share it with you. But not in writing. The idea of sitting down at the computer (I almost said “typewriter”) and pounding out a blog post seems unappealing to me. It seems like work, and not something I love to do. I look at other wine bloggers, especially the ones who, like me, have been in this game since the beginning, and I’m amazed at their continued tenacity and passion. I’m jealous.

You’re my readers. You are exceptionally loyal. You’ve welcomed my reduced presence and my great new team with open arms. I can’t thank you enough for that. I ask you, the readers (and for that matter, you PR folks out there too), to have just a little more patience with me. I’m trying to find a way to either make writing fun again or find some alternative means of using this blog to share my wine experiences. I’m open to suggestions.

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and wine-filled holiday,

Michelle

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Michelle at 2:45 pm in Holiday, Life, News, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (3)
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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Posted by Michelle at 6:44 pm in Charity Benefits, News | Permalink | Comments (12)
Oct 07

Moving on to Bigger Things

No, not me. I’m staying right here in Cincinnati, with an occasional jaunt elsewhere. But we are losing one of my favorite sommeliers in the area.

Bretton Lammi, sommelier at Eddie Merlot’s, is heading to Las Vegas at the end of the month. Bretton is amazingly knowledgeable about wine and I just know he’ll be fabulous as the Head Sommelier at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas. The Cosmopolitan opens on December 15, so Bretton is busy packing up his life right now to transport it across the country. But he’ll still be at Eddie Merlot’s until October 22, so go sample their great wine list while he’s still in town.

Bretton will be busy at The Cosmopolitan. It looks like the hotel-casino will be home to 12 restaurants, of which one is D.O.C.G., a wine bar focusing on Italian cuisine and wines. There are also four bars and lounges in The Cosmopolitan, two of which really appeal to me. The Chandelier apparently has three different bars within its borders, each with a slightly different (yet classy) theme, and Vesper is apparently a place for vintage cocktails. Yum. Those are just the named bars. Being a Vegas casino, I can only assume that there are a multitude of smaller bar locations spread across the casino floor.

I’m heading to Las Vegas in January for CES. While I can’t afford to stay at Bretton’s amazing new hotel, I will certainly find time to grab a drink and say hello. Cheers, Bretton … congratulations and best of luck! We’ll miss you here in Cincinnati!

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Posted by Michelle at 8:41 am in Cincinnati, News, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2)

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