This is the first post in a series on grapes that are either a type that has been tried in a blended wine, but are difficult to obtain as a standalone example or lesser known varietals in general. Since most people have an idea of Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir (thanks Sideways), and Riesling, I thought it might be interesting to profile a few of the other wines you might be able to find as an opportunity to expand your palate if you get a chance.
Pinot Meunier is the other red grape used in the production of Champagne. In fact, it accounts for roughly 40% of the total plantings of vines in that region. The two “noble” grapes of Chardonnay (found alone in Blanc de Blanc) and Pinot Noir (found alone in Blanc de Noir – usually. This can also have Meunier as Cresta has explained) have long overshadowed the humble Meunier. If you have tried all three type of Champagne and not found the same sharpness or acidity in either of the sole varietal versions, what you are noticing is the Meunier. American and Australian bubbly producers also grow Meunier to help produce an offering closer to the traditional Champagne.
The flavor when produced alone produces a jammy wines with moderate acidity and low tannin. It makes a very nice drink now wine that usually doesn’t need a large amount of time to open up. There are very few producers who make a still version of Meunier and even fewer who make a sparkling version. Chandon, Eyrie, Wilakenzi, and Bouchaine are a few of the wineries who produce a still version. Chandon is usually available in Kentucky and Ohio. The rest might need to be a special order from you local wine store or a direct order from the winery. The only sparkling version of Meunier I have had was at the 2012 Cincinnati Wine Festival. It was imported by Terry Theise can called Aubry Brut, sadly that is the extent of my notes on that selection.
Personally, I enjoy the sharpness of the Meunier on its own. It provides a balance lending towards acidity with enough tannic structure to make a nice wine that is easily paired with lighter foods. If you get the chance to try one of these, take it. Especially if you like Champagne or want to taste one part alone from the others to try and see if you can tell the make up the next time you try some bubbly.
Thanks to Alphonse at DEPS Fine Winne, Kevin at Party Source, David at Water Tower Fine Wines, and JP at Party Town for their help with this article. Please support your local wine shops and any of these four folks will be more than happy to help you find some unusal wines if you stop in and see them.
For anyone looking to try a little wine this weekend, might want to check out Party Town. In addition to their regularly scheduled casual Saturday tasting they have added an art show featuring a local artist twice a year. This time the artist will be Keith Klein. Mr Klein has a studio in Florence, Kentucky. His “Atelier” is housed in the former “Florence Deposit Bank” on Main street. Mr. Klein is represented by the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Eisele Gallery will be having the Grand Opening of its new contemporary wing on April 27, from 6-9PM, featuring beautiful contemporary realism and impressionism.
As an added bonus, an extra hour is planned for this weekend with the Saturday tasting running from 3-6pm. Sunday returns to the normal times of 3-5.
“We’re excited to have an artist from right here in Florence,” says Drew Murphy, General Manager of Party Town, “whose work has been featured in so many international locations. Keith’s work is part of the collection(s) of the Princess of Saudi Arabia, Cincinnati Bell, Converges, Cincinnati Financial and many other prestigious private collections across the United States.”
The wines planned by the knowledgeable staff include a few really nice gems. I always enjoy the tastings on a weekly basis and encourage everyone to visit. This Saturday should be a great time at Party Town. Cost of the tasting: Free.
Wines available to taste:
Laguna Laguna Chardonnay
Valle dell’Acate Insolia
Columbia’s Cellarmaster Riesling
Valle dell’Acate Il Moro
Mitolo Savitar Shiraz
Runquist Petite Sirah
Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
On the drive across Kansas, a state that seems to be roughly 12,000 miles across, Michelle and I noticed a billboard for the Oz Museum. With her love of the Wizard of Oz and my desire to not be in the car for a few minutes, we decided to make a small detour to Wamego, KS. Wamego was a very nice little town and in addition to having coffee at The Daily Grind, next door was the Oz Winery.
The winery offers free samples while they are open and this gave us a chance to try what they had to offer. The dry whites were tasty, especially the Poppy Fields, a balanced Pinot Gris. The wine was well made and we ended up with a few bottles.
Oz Winery is worth a stop for anyone on their way through the Sunflower State.
And if you want to know more about our cross-country road trip, from Cincinnati to San Francisco, you can follow along over on the Posterous Blog.
I got an email this morning that grabbed my attention. Microwines in Kenwood, a wine shop known for its open tasting table and its often unique selection of wines, is making some drastic changes. They will be open “most” Saturdays from 12-5 pm and by appointment only. They will also be increasing their internet ordering, which means they’re “increasing communication” - more email! (Just what I wanted … I’m three months behind as it is.)
I could speculate on why they are making this drastic change – we all could – but I don’t know the real reasons. Here is their letter, as received in my own inbox:
microWINES is updating its model! For the past six years, microWINES has been delivering cutting edge wine retailing, entertainment and educational experiences in a unique setting. Our global portfolio of small production wines from around the world is well selected and much appreciated by all our loyal customers. Like most retailing today, many of our customers now call in orders, browse our web site and e-mail orders for ultimate delivery, and follow us on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites. microWINES will seek to enhance these methods of reaching our customers to further improve your wine acquisition experience. We will retain physical store hours at our unique wine lifestyle venue (7292 Kenwood Road Cincinnati 45236), but on a limited basis (most Saturdays 12 – 5 and by appointment). This will allow our customers to continue to choose an unequaled in store experience and take advantage of our ability to host the most unique wine themed events in Cincinnati. We will increase communication with you regarding great new wine discoveries and planned events via electronic communication. I have personally studied and developed a passion for wine over the past 25 years and I very much look forward to enhancing your education and enjoyment of wine in the years to come. Please look for further updates on: www.microwines.com and please send us your wine stories, interests, buying requests and event interests: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your continued loyalty and interest in microWINES!
All the best,
Owner – microWINES
About a month ago, Tino Vino, a winemaking venture in East Hyde Park, closed its doors. Because the closing was sudden, without notice, some chaos has ensued. Customers who have placed orders for custom wine have been left with a large hole in their pocketbooks, no way to retrieve their wine, and no way to contact the owners.
The shop was originally owned by Annie McManus, Lindsay Valentino, Michelle Banks, and Jennifer Fairbanks. I admit, I’ve reached out privately to one of those ladies, as well as a former Tino Vino employee, to find out what happened. I honestly don’t expect to hear from anyone. I’ve been led to believe that Annie and Jennifer, at the end, were only peripherally involved in the venture and have acquired lawyers.
I found out about the closing because I’ve been contacted by several of Tino Vino’s customers who think I’m Michelle Banks. I’m not. Let me make this clear – I do not have any business association with Tino Vino, nor have I ever. I’m as surprised as the rest of the you that they closed in the unprofessional manner they have.
Lindsay Valentino’s recently ex-husband, Steven Sykes Valentino, has his own legal troubles. He and his realty group, ORP, were accused of stealing more than $1 million from the condo properties they manage. One of the girls from Tino Vino was also an employee of ORP. I’m not sure if there is a direct relationship between that situation and the closing of Tino Vino, but common sense tells me there might be.
I have been trying to dig into the closing a little more, but there isn’t much out there. Both Howard Ain (WKRC) and John Matarese (WCPO) have tried to contact the owners with no luck. Both of those gentlemen did reach the landlord of the building, and they both reported an eviction notice on the door. (I drove out to Tino Vino on Sunday and was surprised to find the eviction notice had been taken down. To me, that’s a sign of life. Take it as you will.)
According to Ain at WKRC, the building owner cannot give out any of the wine, as it is still legally the property of Tino Vino. There is an eviction hearing scheduled for the end of the month. If something is not done by then, the Sheriff may have to dump the wine because it’s illegal to set it out or give it away.
My recommendation? Call your credit card company. If you can get your charge reversed for the wine you paid for, do it. It’s certainly worth the call. Also keep in mind that the shop has been closed for a month. If the utilities weren’t paid for in that time, then the wine was no longer in a temperature controlled environment. It may be baking in there under terrible conditions.
If I hear anything that will shed some more light on this situation, I will certainly publish it here.
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