Last week, Kevin and I were given a special treat as we attended a media preview (complimentary) of the upcoming Charles Krug Wine Dinner at Morton’s. We got to try sample portions of each course, as well as comparable wines. Additionally, Morton’s arranged a virtual tweetup with Krug winemaker Peter Mondavi Jr.
The real wine dinner occurs next Wednesday night, April 21, and benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cost is $150 per person (reservations). Peter Mondavi, Jr, will be live and in person for the event, which culminates in a live auction for a beautiful, specially commissioned 27 liter bottle of Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002. This bottle – weighing approximately 100 pounds, measuring three feet in circumference and filled with the equivalent of 36 standard bottles of wine or 180 glasses of wine – will be on display at Morton’s through the evening of the wine dinner.
I’m not a food blogger, nor will I pretend to be. While I loved some of what we had, much of it ended up on Kevin’s plate due to my absolute pickiness. But I did enjoy the wine and can tell you (with a little bit of help from Kevin), that everything paired perfectly. Again, the wines we had are not necessarily the wines that will be served on Wednesday night, but they are comparable.
Charles Krug Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007: Filled with pears, apricots, and grapefruit; high in acid (very citrusy), and cut nicely through the seafood.
Charles Krug Carneros Chardonnay 2007: On its own, without food, I found this to be buttery and heavy. However, it paired wonderfully with the salad, which lightened it up considerably.
2004 Charles Krug Vintage Select Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine was paired with a filet, mashed potatoes, and a spinach-stuffed roasted tomato. I found a lot of roses and dark cherries on the nose. It was tannic, but it helped to clear the palate and paired perfectly with the roasted tomatoes, balancing out their acid.
It’s worth noting that we had a 2004, but the night of the wine dinner, participants will enjoy wines from the 1994, 1995, and 1996 vintage.
Charles Krug Zinfandel Port: We took this port and paired it with various fruits and cheeses. The port was a lot more tart when paired with raspberries, for instance, but strawberries added an additional sweetness. Kevin and I both favored the port with the cheeses, in particular the Gouda, which brought out the raspberry in the port itself.
Interested in our Twitter conversation with Peter Mondavi, Jr? I captured it all and you can view the entire tweet chat after the jump.
Reserve your dinner spot online or call Morton’s at (513) 621-3111.
Last week, Michelle and I went to Arnold’s Bar and Grill, one of my favorite places in Cincinnati for spaghetti and meatballs, for a tasting of Jameson with Gerry Murray, the U.S. East Coast Jameson Ambassador. The atmosphere was overly social with a few great stories from Gerry to keep the tasting moving along.
We learned that all Jameson is triple pot distilled and will age in a combination of barrels that previously contained sherry or bourbon. The percentage of each as well as the age are what lend to the different flavors and colors.
Over the course of our hour long conversation, we tried 4 whiskey samples:
Jameson: 5-7 year old whiskey with 90% from bourbon barrels and 10% from sherry. A very nice toasted oak flavor with hints of orange and vanilla. Both Michelle and I enjoyed this one and surprisingly, it was Michelle’s favorite. The bourbon barrel seemed to impart a lower acidity than the other options and this was a nice smooth flavor similar to the bourbon we have at home. Gerry was coy on letting us know which distillery provided the barrels.
Jameson 12: 12 -15 year old whiskey with 75% coming from bourbon barrels. The tartness was higher on this one providing a slightly longer finish and a more abrupt mouth feel. Smokeless fuel is used to roast the barley which is one way that Irish whiskey differs from most Scotches. Overall, this one had a more present crispness.
Jameson Gold Reserve: 14 – 20 year old whiskey with an added twist. This adds in a small percentage of whiskey aged in virgin American white oak. This adds a creaminess to the initial taste while maintaining very strong honey and vanilla flavors. The end has a little bit of pepper. This was my favorite of the night.
Jameson 18: A flip of percentages from the first one: 75% 18 year old sherry aged and 25% 20 year old bourbon barrel aged. This one had a very heavy grassy flavor along side apricots and toffee. The finish was a bit much for Michelle, but I found it well rounded with the intensity of the rest of the flavors.
A few of the interesting things that I learned were that Michelle likes a whiskey that has been aged primarily in bourbon barrels without smokiness in the roasting of the grain. I think that was one of the reasons she preferred the earlier samples we tried. I enjoyed the whole range and appreciated the differences that were apparent in the different selections. Our current bar has a bottle each of Redbreast and Powers, but Jameson has earned a place as well at any of the levels.
Let me know other thoughts on Jameson or other Irish whiskeys in the comments. Here’s the rather popular “Lost Barrel” commercial for Jameson as well:
Michelle and I headed to Pachinko recently for a beer tasting in anticipation of the upcoming Cincinnati Beer Festival. Our friends at Hoperatives set up a quick introduction on the history of beer in Cincinnati by Timothy Holian. Timothy wrote Over the Barrel vols 1 and 2 and walked us through the history of how Cincinnati went from a large beer producing area to very little in the 80s and 90s, and now back to a place with additional options created locally.
Once Timothy finished, we were able to try 6 “German Style” brews from new local brewery Rivertown Brewing Company. I call them German-style as all six we tried had a very malt-driven flavor, more like a German style beer as opposed to the hop characteristics of most American microbrews or wheat that you would get from a more traditional Belgium Farmhouse style. The brewers were able to walk us through each beer we tried and they each have 10 years of home brewing experience. The six we tried were:
Don’t forget to buy your tickets for the festival March 26-28 at the convention center. I hope to see a great turnout when I am there on Friday.
I was lucky enough to pour for Wine Trends (distributor) on Saturday at the Wine Festival, and I ended up in two remarkable booths: TGIC (with all Chilean and Argentinean wines) and Epiphany / Fortress (with Santa Barbara County / Fess Parker-related wines). I had a fantastic time. Admittedly, it’s hard work, but time flies by, and I had great company in the booths.
However, being behind the table instead of in front of it, where I’d spent most of Friday, brought a couple of things to my attention. These are behaviors that I’ll change in myself, or that I was surprised to see in general. I’ll definitely be adding some of these tips to next year’s Survival Guide.
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, 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.
Try a new grape or ask for guidance. There might be something you really like, even if it’s not Merlot and Chardonnay. The two questions I heard the most on Saturday night 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.
During the afternoon session, I led a lot of people to the Torrontes we were pouring when they asked for a Chardonnay. I don’t really see any similarities, but when I said “light and summery”, people went for it. Most of them loved it as well. In the evening session, I poured a lot of Merlot-seekers the award-winning wine on the table, Epiphany Revelation, which is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Petit Sirah. Almost everyone enjoyed it.
Take a minute to talk. You’ll notice special badges on some of the folks or signs hanging on their booth. Most of the time that means there is a winemaker present. No one can tell you more about their wines. Several years ago I met Milla Handley of Handley Cellars by striking up a conversation. That’s the year I fell in love with her rose. I almost always appreciate wine a little more when I get to know the person who made it.
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.
Don’t waste water between reds. 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.
And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. Sure, when I was working I was there free, but I paid to get in on Friday night. It’s a charity event. 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?
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There are all sorts of things I learned while pouring at the Wine Festival this weekend, but I’ll get to those in another post this week. Right now I want to point you in the direction of a Wine Conference.
The American Wine Society (AWS) has announced the date and location of their annual conference. The 2010 conference will be right here in Cincinnati, at the downtown Hyatt, from November 11-13. This is pretty exciting, as the AWS conferences is pretty much for people who want to learn more about wine as opposed to just drinking it, if that makes sense.
AWS itself is fairly inexpensive to join – $62/year for a two-person membership. I admit I haven’t attended any of the local AWS chapter events, mainly because my schedule and theirs just doesn’t ever sync up. But if you want to attend the conference in the fall, it’s worth putting out the $62 now and keeping up with the information.
AWS hasn’t yet released costs or seminars, other than their standard WJCP. The WJCP is a three-year Wine Judge Training Program. They offer the 90-minute introductory course every year at the Conference. I suspect I’ve sat through the equivalent of this course every year when they train us for the Cincinnati competition judging.
Mark your calendars and I’ll try to keep you updated as more information is released.
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