Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Selling Out The House With Hogue Late Harvest Riesling

Each November, for the past 3 years, I have gone to a wine tasting. Big deal, you say, aren't you a wine blogger? Not much of a stretch there, huh? Well, true, but this tasting is a special one. It's put on by our West Point Parents Club and is actually a big fundraiser for our group. It starts out with a contest: all the club members are asked to submit a name for a wine label. The only stipulation is that the name has to have some tie in to West Point. Past winners have included Stoney Lonesome Grapes (named after an entrance gate at West Point), Hoo-ah Harvest (hoo-ah being the Army equivalent of Yippee!!) and Red Sash Splash (Firsties, or seniors, get to wear red sashes and scare all the underclassmen).

Northeast Ohio West Point Parents Club wine label winner 2013 Chateua Furlough
The winning label!
This has been a bit of a different year for us West Point parents, in that our Cadets have had to deal with a sequester (which resulted in many activities and internships and field trips being canceled) and a shutdown (good bye to civilian professors for a few days). The impact wasn't all that horrible on them (especially when you consider what many government workers had to deal with), and after all, they are kind of a tough bunch. But, in keeping with my theory that West Point parents have amazing senses of humor, the winning wine name in our label contest this year was: Chateau Furlough. How 2013 American, yes?

We print up labels (perfect for holiday gift giving) and have a wine tasting to celebrate. And what a wine tasting it is! The local restaurant that hosts us goes above and beyond to come up with wines and food pairings for our evening. This year, the 5 course tasting featured wines from Robert Mondavi, Estancia and the two restaurant brands we chose to be our "Chateau Furlough" labels. But far and away, the hit our of our evening was Hogue Cellars Late Harvest Riesling (2011, 11%, Washington State).

Now, before all you sweet wine haters out there jump off this page, let me tell you that this is one of the best Rieslings I've ever had. Sweeter, sure - but there is a crispness to it that makes the flavors soar. The grapes are 100% Riesling, and are fermented in stainless steel, so you have to know that it's the growing season, the late harvest and Washington terroir (soil) that make this such and amazing wine.

bottle of Hogue Late Harvest Riesling, 2011, Washington StateOn the nose, you get a bouquet of of apples and honey. The feel of the wine is a bit surprising when you first sip it, given that rich bouquet. You'd almost expect something thick and syrupy, but nope. You get a feel of crispness and even some acidity that keep the wine from being cloyingly sweet (take that, all of you Riesling pooh-poohers!).  I tasted some clementine and red apple, but a friend swore there were flowers in her mouth as well. And again, the whole idea of the crispness just made this wine burst in your mouth instead of settling sweetly there. It was paired that evening with chicken dumplings in teriyaki sauce and was absolutely perfect.

How perfect? Well, by the end of the evening, the wonderful folks at the restaurant were SOLD OUT of this wine. In fact, they were oversold, because the clamor (and believe me, after 5 courses, we were quite the clamoring crowd) for this one was so great that they took extra orders! (Everyone has theirs now, so don't anyone out there worry.)  Even for our parents club, this was an amazing feat. (Seriously, you should see us at the Army Navy Game every year...but that's another story.)

Buy this wine if you like Riesling. Buy it if you want to serve it with your smoky, tangy appetizers. It would be perfect on its own as well. But, I'm also going to tell you to buy this wine if you have any thoughts that Riesling is just way too sweet and one dimensional for your taste. It really was that good. Make sure you get the late harvest varietal, which will give you that extra little kick that the grapes get from hanging around a bit longer than their other vineyard mates.

If you want to read about another West Point Wine Tasting, here it is:
Winey Tasting Notes: 2010 Guenoc Pinot Grigio & Cabernet Sauvignon: Hoo-ah!!! 

And since I know you are all waiting for it, here it is:
GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!

Cheers!

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