An old friend of mine is on a tour of, well, the world. In the last two weeks, I think he’s been in Istanbul, Zanzibar, and now he’s somewhere in the Serengeti. Curt is a wine connoisseur, so I’ve begged him to send me tasting notes of his adventures whenever he has some time and an internet connection. Here is the first of those missives, detailing a set of Tanzanian wines. I’m hoping for his notes from Africa all the way to Paris. You can check out Curt’s travel blog at march-fourth.com.
The day before leaving for Tanzania for 2 weeks, I attended a once in a lifetime winetasting. Our regular wine group spent the evening tasting some spectacular burgundies, including a Le Montrachet and a Romanee Conti. The advice I received that night, from a friend who has spent numerous years traveling the world – especially in Africa: ‘Take your wine with you!’
So there I was (there I was, there I was!) in the gift shop at Lake Manyara, and a white and a red bottle From the finest Tanzanian Vineyards stuck out like a tourist in a local village – $10 for the white and $11 for the red. There was no vintage on the label and no way these bottles had been stored adequately in a building that more resembled a permanent camper. It was simply Dodoma Dry White and Dodoma Dry Red…so I bought them both.
Back at the lodge, I opened the white wine first, wanting to follow proper etiquette. The color was nothing special, medium to deep gold. The nose on the other hand knocked me back in my bar stool (and not in a good way)! It overwhelmed me with pungent iodine and I thought, ‘I should have brought some wine with me.’ I mustered up the courage and went back for the second nose with very low expectations, but found more mellow aromas. There were notes of unsweet honey and it seemed similar to a sherry. Lucky for me I enjoy a weird white wine like this from time to time. I took a sip and noticed the immediate dryness and strong acid drawing the moisture from my mouth. It actually had notes of wet tobacco on the palate (weird!). I finished 2 glasses and it held my attention but it was certainly beginning to take an effort to keep drinking it.
The red on the other hand was totally drinkable. I would probably stand it up against any California $10 red. It wasn’t the darkest red but it was still a teeth-stainer. I picked up consistent and subtle but identifiable hints of black cherry, pepper, and smoke on both the nose and the palate. A hint of extraction on the palate quickly melted away into a good balanced finish. I could have kept drinking this wine with dinner all night, but as customary I reserved a glass for tasting the next day. By then all of the fruit had evaporated and it was a little like licking a rock.
Curious about my experiment, I searched the web for Dodoma wines. CNN dubbed Dodoma as one of the ‘5 African Wines Making a Splash’ in January this year. Other articles are sparse, but commentary seems to at least say the Dodoma wines are making a marketing push. Right now I think it is a high price to value ratio – let’s hope it stays that way.
You win some, you lose some. I am glad that I didn’t bring wine with me!
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:
Well, I finally did it! I hosted my very first wine exchange a couple of weeks ago. It was not orchestrated as “formally” as I would’ve liked (yes, I am pretty neurotic about things going according to plan), but because everyone had a great time, I consider it a big success! Here is how it worked…
Each person brought two bottles of the same wine. One bottle was put aside for the exchange and the other was opened for tasting. I even found these really cute wine glass tags to help distinguish our glasses.
We ate a few snacks before we got started. I kept it simple with cheese and crackers, a variety of nuts, olives, some veggies, dark chocolates and cocoa dusted truffles.We began with white wines (sweet then dry) and moved on to the reds, which included quite a few blends. No one brought any dessert wines or sparkling varieties. I provided index cards for people to take notes but that kind of fell to the wayside as we started down the line of about eight different wines.
After the tastings, we moved on to the exchange. We drew names to pick the order and we allowed one steal. I ended up with 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon, which I really enjoyed.
Some of my other favorites were: Clean Slate 2011 Riesling, Cary Chen Riesling from Elk Creek Vineyards and Pro-mis-Q-ous, a California red table wine.
I think it would be fun to try this again but perhaps create a theme around it (like Summer Wines). Or maybe dictate the variety of wine people bring. It’s not such a bad deal…I ended up with the leftover wine. Oh, and we had a massage therapist friend scheduled to give shoulder massages but she fell ill. So I would incoporate that next time.
This Saturday, December 15, The Wine Guy Bistro, Wine Shop & Wine Bar in Rookwood Pavilion is offering a fantastic opportunity to try a variety of different wines.
The Wine Guy’s seventh annual Taste the Tables event takes place from noon until 4 p.m. They will open 50 different bottles of wine for you to try… 50 wines for just $15. To me, there’s nothing more disheartening than buying a bottle of wine that you end up not enjoying. So this event is the perfect chance to find some varieties that you like and then purchase them to take home. You can mix and match cases to stock up for yourself or purchase Christmas gifts.
I would suggest grabbing a bite to eat before you taste. They won’t be serving food at the bar during Taste the Tables. But The Wine Guy Bistro will open for lunch (and dinner).
A few things to note:
The Wine Guy Bistro Wine Shop & Wine Bar is located in Rookwood Pavilion, 2692 Madison Road. Call 513-834-5712 or visit http://thewineguywineshop.com for more information.
If you go, please comment here and let us know how it was. Or you can always email me. If you find some fantastic wines, we want to know that as well.
by Angela L.
Last night I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with La Joya Wine Maker Johanna Pereira (Blog post to come) but I got taste all of the wines that will be in this weeks’ free wine tastings around Cincinnati and Louisville. These are simple wonderful wines that let the grape speak for itself. The La Joya wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Carmenere, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Enjoy!
Cincinnati area: Tuesday, November 6th
The Fresh Market – Kenwood, La Joya wine tasting and meet the Wine Maker, Johanna Pereira in store event 4-7 PM
Cincinnati area: Wednesday, November 7th
The Fresh Market – Oakley, La Joya wine tasting and meet the Wine Maker, Johanna Pereira in store event 4-7 PM
For our Louisville readers: Thursday, November 8th
Liquor Barn Louisville – La Joya wine tasting and meet the Wine Maker, Johanna Pereira in store event 4-7 PM
Cincinnati area: Friday, November 9th
The Fresh Market – West Chester, La Joya wine tasting and meet the Wine Maker, Johanna Pereira in store event 4-7 PM
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