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Jun 20

Travel Diary: Adventures in Africa

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.

 -Michelle
___

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!’

Pre-Trip French Tasting (Photo by Curtis Pack)
Pre-Trip French Tasting (Photo by Curtis Pack)

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.

Tanzanian Wines (Photo by Curtis Pack)
Tanzanian Wines (Photo by Curtis Pack)

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!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:16 am in Guest Writers, Tastings, Travel, Wine Misc, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 19

Bordeaux in Photos

by Michelle

I finally got my Bordeaux photos (yes, from a year ago) uploaded to Flickr.

DSCN1380

View the full Flickr album. 

As you’ll see when you peruse the photos, I got a rather thorough introduction to Bordeaux. We stayed in ancient chateaus, had meals with chateau owners and winemakers, explored the town of Bordeaux, had some classroom instruction and got out in the dirt of the vineyards during harvest.

Cheers!

 

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Posted by Michelle at 10:09 am in Photos, Travel, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()
Apr 06

Super Elegant … and Expensive … Sangria

by Michelle

Out here in Napa Valley, there’s a big weekend at the end of April called the Vineyard to Vintner (V2V) Open House Weekend featuring wines from the upper echelon Stag’s Leap District. V2V is out of my limited price range at the moment, but there is something in the press release that caught my eye.

The Stag’s Leap District Vintners are coming together to make a sangria.

Yeah, you heard that right. I often recommend a more low-end wine for sangria, because you’re just going to destroy it with brandy and fruit. But this time, 18 of the District’s high-end cabernet sauvignons will combine with local fruits and brandy to create … fruit punch. Really really extravagant fruit punch.

Here’s what the folks in the Stag’s Leap District have to say about their classier-than-average sangria:

“Everyone knows that we make some pretty remarkable wines here in the Stags Leap District, some of the best in the world,” said newly elected SLDW President, Elizabeth Vianna of Chimney Rock Winery. “What people don’t know is how much fun we have doing it.  Our V2V weekend and our ‘Swanky Sangria’ are our way of showing the world the extraordinary sum of our parts as the fortunate beneficiaries of this District’s amazing terroir and eclectic personalities.”

Once again, the sangria is out of my price point, but I would dearly love to try some. Considering the cost of many of the bottles involved, the estimated value of the blend is $20/oz or a staggering $100 a glass.  That better be some amazing sangria … and everyone better sip!

Out of your price point too? We’ve got some tasty sangria recipes right here on Wine-Girl.net that I promise won’t cost you $100/glass.

Greatest Hits: Make Your Own Sangria (Red, White, and Blush recipes)

Cheers!

 

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Sep 18

Schlafly Brewery

by Kevin

A quick post on one of our almost local breweries: Schlafly of St. Louis. Michelle and I had the chance to stop in here on our way through Missouri and enjoyed the visit. On tap were two cask conditioned alternate versions of the 80/- (80 Schilling) and the Golden Ale.

I sat down with the cask conditioned 80 schilling. Cask conditioning allows a secondary fermentation to occur within the storage container. In this case it added an extra layer of smokiness that I usually don’t find in the normal Schlafly offering. AbV was in line at 4.7 to create a very enjoyable drink.

I also tried a small sample of the Pumpkin Ale from draft and found a pumpkin-pie flavor along with a very noticeable sweetness. This was pumpkin pie filling with a touch of whipped cream. The 8% alcohol was not apparent.

The food was also impressive. I had a pulled pork sandwich along with a side of the Beer Cheese soup. Michelle had a ham and egg sandwich. We could have easily split either entree between the two of us. The portions were generous and the food itself was well prepared and matched the beer.

Overall, I would give a :-) to the Schlafly brewery experience. We did not have time to take the tour at the Bottleworks location, but if any readers have been on that tour, let us know in the comments. For anyone visiting the St. Louis area, I recommend a quick stop by the brewery to split a meal and try something from their large selection.

You can always follow me on Untappd to see what I am enjoying.

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Posted by Kevin at 11:07 pm in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 28

Epcot: Beer!

This year we were far more impressed by the beer than by the wine. I think we tried every beer available at the various booths, particularly Germany’s biergarten and the special 15 Beers for 15 Years booth. At both booths, you could order beer flights, so trying every beer (in a much smaller pour)  probably isn’t as much of an accomplishment as it sounds. The video below is Kevin with two of the tasty selection, this time from the Sam Adams-focused booth in Epcot’s “USA”.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:14 am in Disney, Florida, Tastings, Travel | Permalink | Comments ()

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