Thursday, December 17, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Curated Box of Wines? Yes, Please

There are times when you just want someone else to make decisions for you, aren't there? For instance, when I hear "Where do you want to eat?" or "What kind of pizza are we ordering?" or "What's for dinner?" I would absolutely love it if some decision genie would pop up and give me the answers. Because I have come to the point in my life where if I say "It doesn't really matter to me," I mean it. If it mattered, I'd say so. If I have no real strong thoughts, and I say so, I MEAN IT.

Spagnol Prosecco Extra DryUnfortunately, The Winey Hubby is also at this point in his life, so when you are trying to answer a question and both parties really don't have any strong opinions, you get a little stuck. Or you just order Chinese take-out, which has become the option for argument free dining around these parts recently.

So let's just say you're trying to decide what wines to buy for a party. Wouldn't it just be heaven on earth to have someone else decide what wines to serve? And then to send them to you? Wouldn't it also be heaven on earth to have someone clean the house for you before hand? OK, I'm getting off track here a bit. But choosing a bunch of wines for a party can be a bit intimidating. Not to mention a pain in the butt. Because you've got so much else to decide on. Like food, and what you're going to wear and how to convince the family not to use the powder room until after the party because you cleaned it cleaner that it's been in months. So there.

The folks at Global Wine Cellars feel this pain. And they decided to take some of the pressure off by offering an Entertainer's Collection of wines. Six bottles that range from a bubbly Prosecco to a big old Cab that should be able to please the palates of guests gathered at your home.

Global Wine Cellars thought it might be a good idea to let me try one of their wines, and they sent me a bottle of Spagnol Prosecco (2013, 11%, Treviso, Italy). I love sparklers for a party - they pair with such a wide variety of food and they just add that little extra bit of fun because of the bubbles. Most people like bubbles. They really do. Me included.

And this Prosecco did not disappoint. It's a very pretty golden yellow color and like most bubblers, the nose was a bit faint, but had a golden apple bouquet to it. The first taste was so yummy: there was the apple, a bit of ripe, sweet pear and some honey. It wasn't sweet though, because the bubbles gave it a zesty little kick that kept it from being cloying. It was lively and fresh and made me want to find some prosciutto STAT. A wonderful party bubbler that would stay as wonderful no matter when you decided to sip it. Party or not.

The other 5 wines in the Entertainer's Collection look amazing too. I am especially intrigued by the 2014 Ranga Ranga Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the 2013 Saint Gregory Pinotrois, a blend of three Pinot wines from California. The 6 bottles cost $100 which is pretty reasonable, especially when you add the sanity saving bonus in there.

Global Wine Cellars also has an online wine shop so you can explore wines from all over the world, including Austria, which is an area I'd like to explore more when it comes to my Winey sipping.

Happy entertaining! Cheers!

I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.


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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Ménage à Trois Silk and the Advent Calendar

I am going to pause in the reminiscing about my wonderful trip to Israel (and the great wines from that country) to talk about something that has been on my mind lately. Every single morning, actually.

The Advent Calendar.

wine rack advent calendar
NOT this Advent Calendar
(but I do like it)
And to clarify, I'm not talking about the Advent Calendar that may show up on The Winey Mom's Facebook page every year. The one with bottles in a wine rack, numbered from 1-24. Also known as Mommy's Advent Calendar.

No, this calendar is the cloth hanging that holds court in the kitchen, on the french doors, and has
done so starting every December 1 for as long as I can remember. I don't even recall where we got this Winey Family Advent Calendar. (I'm guessing Grammy...but that's just guessing.) But ever since the Winey Kids have been old enough, it's been there. It has, at times, been accompanied by other calendars given to us by well-meaning friends or family (a Playmobil calendar that fell apart every time you breathed on it comes to mind) but this is the one that we have always used to mark the time until Santa comes. Ever year.

And every year it's the same argument  discussion. Which Winey Kid gets to do which day. Do we split it up odds and evens? Oldest first? Youngest first: A reward for whichever one gets downstairs first? And what about December14th? Because that's the Winey Daughter's birthday so of course she MUST take the little cloth marker out of it's pocket and add it to the tree that day, right?

advent calendar
The Winey Family
Advent Calendar
No matter how we did it....it got done. Little hands reaching for a marker to get us all one day closer to the big day.

After the Winey Son left for college, the Winey Daughter became the sole keeper of the calendar. Bittersweet you ask? Because she was the only child left? Nope. She was diligent about it in a way I have seen her be diligent in little else throughout her life. Every morning, before school and again on weekends, another day was marked.

But, as time moved on...well, you guessed it. I have become the sole keeper of the calendar for the past two years. I dutifully put it up in the same place. And every morning, I add another marker to the tree. (The dogs can't reach the calendar and The Winey Hubby would forget, so I win the honor.)

But I'm not marking the days until Santa gets here, am I? (OK well maybe a teeny bit.) I am mentally marking the days until I am no longer allowed to add to the Advent Calendar tree. So I'm counting down until Winey Daughter's finals are over and she can take over. And then I am counting the days until the Winey Son gets home on leave so that the two of them can debate who gets to put the markers out (that whole first downstairs thing? Doesn't really work any more since now they compete to see who can sleep the latest on their breaks.) For the record, the 14th still belongs to the Winey Daughter (woe to the person who puts THAT marker up).

I long for the days that I don't have to be in charge of the calendar. Because it means that our Winey family is together again, for however brief a time.

Menage a Trois SilkAnd I will celebrate that day, when it comes, with a glass (or two..) of wine. This year I'm really enjoying a new offering from one of my old favorites: Ménage à Trois. My first meeting with this winery was a few years ago at a party (Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Names Series: Menage a Trois Red) Then, a bit later, they introduced a different take on their blend with Ménage à Trois Midnight (Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Name Series: Ménage à Trois Midnight). And just recently I spied and tried Ménage à Trois Silk (2014, 13.5%, Calif).

The winery calls this a "soft red blend". It's 70% Pinot Noir, 20% Malbec and10% Petite Sirah. The nose is smoke and cherry. The taste? Wow! Mocha surrounded by cranberry with a tinge of dark herbs wrapped up in some chocolate covered cherry syrup. Silk is right! As I sipped, I imagined a big, wide bolt of wine-colored silk.

This is another great example of why I love red blends. All the best of each varietal coming together to make this a dangerously drinkable wine. If you like your reds fruity-forward but not totally without some herb and mocha influence, you will love this wine. I have found readily available at a number of places - big box and local grocery store, all in the $10-12 range.

Cheers to me not touching that Advent calendar again this year.....starting very soon.

And cheers to you all!




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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Revisiting an amazing trip with Israel's Mediterranean Soul wine

Mediterranean Soul Dream White BlendThe Winey Hubby and I celebrated a major wedding anniversary this year - one that ended with 0. OK, it was 30 years (yes, as a matter of fact, I was 9 when we got married, thank you for asking). What to do to celebrate such a happy milestone?

We went to Israel.

Yup, this fall we joined a group of wonderful folks who made the journey to the Holy Land. And to answer everyone's first question to us: No, we didn't feel unsafe at all. Awed, overwhelmed and emotional, but never unsafe. Israel is a beautiful country - from the rolling hills and mountains and fields of Galilee to the narrow streets of old Jerusalem to the beaches of Tel Aviv to the desert of Masada and the lowest place on earth, The Dead Sea, Israel astounded us. And the scenery was almost the least of it all! The sheer history of the land is mind boggling. Really. I had to laugh once when our guide told us that one particular wall wasn't that old....it had only been there for 500 years. Ha! Here in the US, 200 is pretty darn good. But in Israel, 500 is nothing. We walked on stone streets that had been in use for thousands of years. We walked on stones that Jesus had walked on. All in all, it was a very moving experience.

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Galilee,
Sea of Galilee in background
And yes, Winey Friends, there was wine. Actually, Israel has a number of different wine regions. I loved the Galilee region, which is in the north and is pretty much a Mediterranean climate. Think cold and wet winter and warm and dry in the summer. In fact, if you drew a line of latitude across to Europe, you'd hit some of that continent's best vineyards.) The wine I'm going to review today comes from a sub-region of the Galilee, Golan Heights.
Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Olive trees

Actually, I didn't sip on this particular wine in Israel. We had some yummy wines over there - especially some great Cabernet Sauvignon blends. But buying wine and toting it around for 10 days and then packing it for the 20-ish hour journey home sounded a bit too daunting. So we drank as we went, enjoying wine with some very tasty Mediterranean foods. And when I got home, I found Mediterranean Soul Wines.

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
View of north shore of the
Sea of Galilee
Mediterranean Soul is a boutique winery in the Golan Heights. The first of their wines that I sipped was a white blend called Dream (2013, 13.5%, Israel). It's a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillon. It's a translucent, pineapple yellow color with a nose of peach and kiwi. The flavors are tart green apple, lemon-lime and a hint of melon. It finishes tart and juicy, like a Sauvignon Blanc, but with the blend of the other wines, Dream doesn't feel as thin in the mouth. It's got a bit more heft to it. Overall, it's a refreshing, tart, sharp juicy wine.

I wouldn't call it a light wine - but it's not big and oakey either. I'd say that this wine was very reminiscent of our amazing time in the Galilee. It brings to mind fresh air, water, olive trees everywhere and herbs that grow like weeds in the Mediterranean climate.
Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
OK, so yeah, I milked a goat
while dressed like...OK, a tourist,
I was a tourist!

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Winey Couple, Galilee
Buy this wine (I found it locally here in Ohio for $10) if you want a citrusy-tart, flavorful white wine that stops just short of being buttery and big. Perfect for seafood, chicken and looking at a bazillion pictures from the trip of a lifetime.

Cheers!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Moving Forward with Forward by Herzog Chenin Blanc

There I was on a Friday morning. Driving to work, singing (rather brilliantly, if I do say so myself) along to my tunes when…..BAM. A lethal piece of construction equipment (I live in Ohio, aka The Land of Orange Barrels) comes sailing toward my little car. It had been lying on the road, halfway in the lane, halfway on the berm, when the vehicle in front of me hit it in just the right way to send it flying towards me.

Forward Chenin Blanc labelThankfully, at the last minute, this thing took a dive under my car and instead of smashing my windshield, proceeded to rip apart an entire tire and wheel well. (I didn’t even know a wheel well was a thing.) I was able to make it to the side of the construction nightmare road safely. I was also able to cross “hear the sound of a tire exploding while you are riding in the car” off my bucket list.

But then I got a little righteously indignant. Who the heck was in charge of cleaning up after themselves on that road? I wouldn't call myself a stellar housekeeper or anything, but this was NOT your run-of-the-mill household clutter. It’s one thing to step on a wayward Lego when you are barefoot. Or to set off the dog’s squeaky toy on your way to a midnight potty run. Or to leave the laundry basket on the stairs and just cherry pick your way through the clothes until the basket’s empty. (ahem) But c’mon. This was a huge thing-y with very large, nasty, metal hooks on its ends. Not your everyday piece of debris. A tarp or a garbage bag I can understand. But this was an epic failure to clean up that cost me an entire day at work, many, many dollars and my faith in my husband’s ability to realize that he should answer the phone at work when I call 6 times in a row (conference call, smonference call….I needed a ride).

How very ironic then, that I am reviewing a wine called “Forward”. Because I definitely wasn't going "forward" without a big old tow truck that day.

Forward by Herzog Chenin Blanc (2014, 13.5%) can be summed up in one word: lovely. The wine is translucent pale gold with a nose of apricot, nectarine and peach. The flavors are full and crisp: flowers, white peach and a touch of minerals. The way it felt in the mouth was wonderful – as if you’re drinking a silky ribbon. If you want a white wine that is slightly sweet, but not at the expense of some lively flavor, you’ll love this Chenin Blanc. I got it as a sample from the California Wine Club.

So with the help of some vino, I have moved forward (get it?) and put the whole exploding tire thing behind me. I must move on, because construction season in Ohio is almost over.

Just in time “for lake effect snow” season.

Cheers!

 The wine was sent to me for sample purposes. The work and the opinions are all my own, as was the repair bill for my car. 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: I Am The 20%: Pareto Estate's Eighty 20 Red Blend and Chardonnay



"The Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. This is true in the world of wine, where 80% of wine is consumed by 20% of the people. With Pareto’s Estate, we raise our glasses to those of us that take up the slack of others. 
Cheers to the 20%!"

OK let's just think about the above statement for a second or two. I didn't even know that The Pareto Principle was a thing. I thought it was just...you know....the way the cleaning and laundry chores are divided in my house. I seriously was unaware that it was also known as the law of the vital few and/or the principle of factor sparsity (look it up, I did). So now my household management actually has a scientific-type principle to describe it. "Sucky" was doing just fine for me, but this just sounds so much more official.

And then there is the Pareto Principle as it applies to wine. 80% of wine is consumed by 20% of the people. This is when I started to really get on board with this whole idea of an 80/20 split. I guess it just depends on what you are applying it to. Housework: nope. Dog baths: nope. Wine drinking: YUP.

So I am going to proudly and unabashedly now count myself in the minority of the 20% when it comes to wine. I AM THE 20%. This makes me happy.

Eighty 20 Chardonnay, Pareto's EstatePareto's Estate, the website of which the above quote comes from, gets me. They cheer on the 20% and they even made a line of wines to celebrate us Pareto Principle drinkers. I have recently been introduced to this line, so let's talk about my first two tastings from it. 

Pareto's Eighty 20 Chardonnay (2013, 13.5%, Monterey, CA) comes from the Monterey Appellation of California. It's on the coast in the middle of the state and is an estate grown wine. Which means that they grow (and crush) the grapes and make the wine all by themselves. It's a pretty golden yellow color that has aromas of pear, nutmeg and cinnamon. It tastes of vanilla, pear and yellow apple and finishes off with some wet oak and citrus rind.  It's got a round, full mouth feel to it, which just completes the whole 100% Chardonnay pedigree. This is a really, really good Chardonnay at a really, really good price (I got it on special for under $10!!) If you like your white wine oakey and mellow and full and rich, you'll love this one. 

Eighty 20 Red Blend, Pareto's EstatePareto's Red Blend (2013, 14.5%, Monterey, CA) is a blend of 30% Petite Sirah, 25% Syrah, 19% Petit Verdot, 13% Cinsault, 11% Merlot, 2% Riesling.  (Yes, that says Riesling. I was as surprised as you are.) Same thing for the whole estate grown thing as the Chardonnay. This blend is dark purple in color and has a nose of pepper and black plum. It tastes of plum and mocha with a touch of black pepper. A little airing makes the tannins smooth and zesty - just a hint of a bite of them at the end of it all. Again, another wonderful bargain: under $10 for a solid, tasty red blend. Buy this if you like your reds a little less fruit forward and a bit more toward the spice (not spicy) side of things. 

Pareto's also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. I will be trying them soon, but I had to pace myself. Because Pareto Principle or not, if I had tried 100% of their wines at once, I'd never finish the review.

Now that I know I am a member of the Winey 20%, I'd like you all to join me there. We have a high standard to keep up here, Winey Friends, but we cannot let the other 80% of the world down. Sip on!

Cheers!




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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Cheers to autumn with Cocobon Red Blend

It's here...you can feel it in the air. The leaves are turning colors, there's a coolness in the air, the colder nights, the dewy mornings. Yup, fall has arrived.

Cocobon red blend wine bottleI've never made any bones about the fact that I'm a weather driven wine sipper. And the thought of fall turns my taste buds to all things red (because orange and brown are not really colors I want to see in my wine glass). It just feels right to be sipping a warm, hearty red when I have a cozy sweatshirt on and my feet are once again ensconced in my warm fuzzy socks. (Yeah, I don't go for the glamor when I get chilly. Said socks are warn and cozy but very fuzzy and rather....old and ratty.)

Ratty socks or not, I found a great welcome to fall wine recently. It's a California red blend from Cocoon Vineyards (2013, 13.5%, CA). It was being sampled in the wine department of a local grocery store and I liked it so much I put a bottle right into my basket, then and there. (Did I mention how much more fun it is to grocery shop if you hit the wine samples first?)

Cocobon's website says that this is "an inspired blend of mélange of Bordeaux-style varietals." Said melange includes Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. The Zinfandel really comes through here, as the wine starts off with a nose of chocolate and cherry.

I tasted flavors of violet, cherry and mocha. The tannins were nicely behaved in a very smooth finish - they gave me just a slight little pucker flavor to end on a fun little bite.

The words I'd use to describe it: luscious and velvety. And with all that fruit forward flavor and little kick at the end, I've got to call this another red blend winner. I found it for under $10 and have seen it sold online for as low as $7. Dare I tell you to stock up on this one? I dare. Stock away.

I would so totally pair this wine with a fire pit, the comfy sweatshirt and those ratty socks. Throw in a doggie on my lap and some friends and family in the surrounding chairs and you've got what I'd call a perfect autumn evening!

Cheers! Pin It

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Teeing off with Weir Chardonnay

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
I've written before about the wonderful vacations that The Winey Family has taken over the years up to the beach in Canada. Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh? And in addition to the water sports we get to partake of up there, there is another sport that goes hand in hand with our Canada trips: golf.

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
We're lucky that very close to our beach cottage are a number of really nice golf courses. And although I have been on a bit of a break from the sport (spinal surgery will do that to you), and The Winey Daughter would rather play soccer, The Winey Hubby and Son hit the links every chance they get. (This doesn't just apply to our Canada vacation. Those two never, ever, ever pass up the chance to golf. As I write this, it's a lovely sunny autumn Thursday and I'll give you one guess where The Winey Hubby is. Hint: it's not at his desk at work.)

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
There is a reason I'm talking about golf and Canada here. It's Mike Weir. He is Canadian golfer, Masters champion and more to the point: he has a winery in Ontario. So of course on our most recent visit to the beach, I decided it was time to hit the ball off of the tee, so to speak, and try some of Mike Weir Winery's Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, 12.5%, Niagara Peninsula). This cost $14.95 Canadian, making it a wonderful bargain (about $10 American at the time I bought it).

The first thing I noticed about this Chardonnay was that it was a really pretty, bright clear gold color. It looked so nice with the beach setting. Anyway, the nose on this wine is pure pear. As for the taste, that pear was the first flavor  that came through. It was followed by some golden apple, some toasty vanilla, nutmeg and a tinge of cinnamon. It finished very juicy and tasty. Pure Chardonnay grapes, no wood barrels to interfere.

Mike Weir Winery Unoaked ChardonnayI can best describe this wine as round and full. It falls somewhere between summer and fall - fruity and juicy but with those warm brown spices that give you a hint of the autumn weather to come. It's a great transition wine, if you feel the need to ease yourself away from light whites to more hearty whites as the weather grows cooler.

OK, I'll say it: this wine is hole-in-one! A birdie! Or if you're me, and holes-in-one and birdies are not normally used in conjunction with your golf game (ahem), it's a really good wine. (I may not have been the world's best golfer, but I always had a keen appreciation for the cute outfits and the drink cart.)

Fore! (For some reason, I say that a lot when I golf.)

Cheers!




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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: New Favorite Alert - Eos Estate Zinfandel


So after a busy summer, The Winey Nest is empty once again. The Winey Daughter is safely ensconced in her second year at college. The Winey Son has some new digs in Texas. It's just me, The Winey Hubby and The Winey Dog (more on the dog in the future :)

Eos Estate Zinfandel wine labelI was talking with a friend the other day. She is one year away from her own Empty Nest. And she mentioned that she was pretty unsure about the whole thing. I told her, "It's much worse dreading and anticipating the empty nest than the actual reality of the empty nest." And it's true. The Empty Nest does not stink. Sure, we miss the kids and their friends. And I especially miss our family time. But we have our four-way texting sessions and phone calls and the odd Face Time session. And I just MAY be stalking a few Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Hey, every new picture is proof of life, right?

There are a few advantages even. I can finish all the laundry in two loads: Darks. Whites. OK, I'm not including towels and bed linens here, but they're so easy I don't count them. Nor do I need to do them as often, because it takes so much longer to get a full load with only two people in the house. We can park our cars in the garage again. Both cars, one garage. Not that I have ever backed out of the garage and into The Winey Hubby's car parked in the driveway, twice, but this is nice, especially when it rains. We can eat in front of the television if we want to. (Breaking a cardinal rule of family dinnertime.)  This means we've been able to see more of the Cleveland Indians' games. Although at times, this is definitely not an advantage. But that is nothing new. The DVR is ours again. All ours.

And so in honor of looking for the sunny side of the nest, I have found a new favorite wine, courtesy of The California Wine Club. (Full disclosure: I get two bottles of their wine every month to review for my work with Moms Who Need Wine. And I normally don't mix my reviews between there and here, but then I realized that when I find an amazing wine from the CWC, I should share it on The Winey Mom, too.) So this post is a bit of a re-write of one of my reviews from there, but I loved the wine so much I just had to.

This wine I speak of is Eos Estate Zinfandel (2012, 14.5%, CA) from Eos Estate Winery in Paso Robles, CA. Eos is very dark red with a nose of chocolate covered cherries. One of my favorite scents of all time.  Every time I sip a Zinfandel like this, the whole varietal moves up higher and higher in my winey esteem.  You'll taste  cherry, dark mocha and a line of sweet chocolate when you sip it. There’s also that Zinfandel spice thing going on – dark green spices and herbs that give it a little extra zing.


Eos Zinfandel is full of everything you want in a Zin – fruit forwards and toasty and ending up with zingy tannins. It's pretty balanced too, for a 14.5% ABV. There's just a hint of warmth at the end of a sip. 

Cheers!

I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own. The idea for this post was originally written by me and published under my name on Moms Who Need Wine. So I'm kind of just copying myself here because I really liked this wine so much and wanted my Winey Friends to hear about it.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh?

Our view looking south.
OK I couldn't resist the "eh" in the title of this review. And it's meant with absolutely no disrespect at all to our neighbors up north. The Winey Family loves Canada. We have spent many, many happy times up there and this year was no exception.

The Winey Hubby and his family have been going to a small beach in Ontario for a LONG time. Before the Winey Hubby was born, actually. It's that kind of a family institution for them, and this year, we did the math and figured out that the family has owned this little patch of heaven for 95 years. We're gearing up for a big bash for the centennial in 2020, by the way.

Winey Daughter and Dog with our
houses in the background. 
The beach town is called Ipperwash. I don't know why. It just is. And when anyone around here says "the beach" we know just what they are talking about. (This is sort of like when I say "the shore"and everyone knows I am referring to my beloved Jersey shore.) It's located on sands of Lake Huron. Our little compound consists of three buildings that between them, can house 6 families. Or as we like to say, "the cousins," because over the years, as children marry and families grow, we have just started calling each other cousins. One of said cousins can actually figure out all the first, seconds, thirds and removeds.....but my mind can't handle that.
Our view looking north. 

The fact that the beach is in Canada has opened up a whole new world of wines for me over the years, and I decided that it was high time I started to write about some of them. So here we go.

It was so nice and hot up at the beach this year that I decided to sip on some lovely white wines. I love unoaked Chardonnays, and I picked two of them to try first. Boy, were they different.

20 Bees Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, Ontario, 12%) had a cute label. No judging, it was the beach after all. And a very good price, which was $9.95 Canadian, which at the time, translated to about $6.95 American. I would like to add here that such conversion only works on currency. I had a birthday while we were at the beach, and trying to convert my age to Canadian only got me laughed at. Back to the wine: 20 Bees comes from the Diamond Estate Winery over in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of our all time favorite places to visit, by the way. This wine is best served very, very cold, because 1) It was hot and 2) the flavors really came out the more it chilled. The nose is of faint pear and yellow apples. The flavors were pear, and some very mellow, gold apple. It ended slightly tart green apples and nutmeg. These bees felt round and full in the mouth, too. This was a great unoaked Chardonnay! The grapes really shone on this one, no wood barrels needed here. And yes, you still got that little bite of warm nutmeg spice at the end of it. Well done, bees, well done.

Moving on, also from the Diamond Estates Winery, I tried the $13.95 (Canadian) EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay (2013, Niagara Peninsula, 12.5%). The nose on this wine was ripe pears and some vanilla pudding. The flavors were pear, red apple, nutmeg and it finished off with some sour apple. Would I compare it to 20 Bees? Nope. Because while 20 Bees felt round and full in mouth, EastDell just felt thick and flabby. No sharpness to the taste all....and it was too "cloying" for my taste buds to enjoy.

So while these were two unoaked Chards, they were very very different in taste. The grapes for 20 Bees were from all over Ontario, while the EastDell grapes were from Niagara. The tasting notes for the wines said that the 20 Bees were fermented in stainless steel for 12 days...but the EastDell spent 8 months fermenting. So I can assume that the vineyard location and the length of fermentation both made a big difference to my taste buds here. While one was lively and tasty, the other was just thick and flabby.

I really don't mind when I get a wine I don't like...at least once I get past the whole bummed out thing...because with each wine I don't like, I learn so much more about the ones I do.

If you get the chance, and you are in Ontario, go with the 20 Bees. If you can't visit, learn from my experience that not all unoaked Chardonnays will be to your taste. If you're in a restaurant, ask for a little taste first. If you are in a wine store, check with The Winey Mom first to see if I've tried it (shameless little plug) and if not, talk to the folks who work there. It'll help you choose a zesty unoaked Chard instead of a dud.

Cheers!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc

I seem to be on a Sauvignon Blanc kick these days. It may be the direct result of summer finally arriving here in Cleveland. And the temperature is finally in the 80's instead of the humidity level and/or chance of rain being in the 80's. It seems that these conditions have me reaching for a bottle of cool and crisp white wine time and again. I'm okay with that, by the way.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
From the bottle label, to give you an idea of where that
39th parallel hits.
In my previous review, I talked about Scratchpad Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, which was a very tart, dry Sauvignon Blanc. This review is also about a Sauvignon Blanc, but this one is from California.

It's called Line 39. The "line" refers to the 39th parallel line that runs through California wine country. So now you've had your geography lesson for the day. Carry on.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 13.9%, Lake County, California) is very pale gold in color. It starts out with a nose of melon and starfruit. It's not the strongest bouquet out there, so don't spend too much time trying to figure it out.
Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
The taste of the wine is full of key limes, cantaloupe, tangerine and just a tiny hint of honey. It finished with a slightly sour, citrusy flavor. The wine is perfectly layered: the tart, citrus and fruit flavors below with that honeysuckle floating lightly above them.

Very fruit forward, but it has that little hint of sweetness that Scratchpad didn't. That's not to say this is a bad thing...it just goes to show you how different two wines of the same varietal can be. While the Scratchpad stayed citrusy and sour, Line 39 hits on the citrus but adds in that little extra layer of flowers. It's not so sweet that it isn't refreshing though, which is a good thing when your taste buds are screaming at you to give them a bit of summer while it's still around.

If you like a white wine that's full of crisp tartness but tinged with some sweet, you'll like Line 39.

Cheers!



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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Sketching with Scratchpad Cellars' Sauvignon Blanc

I know that I've talked about fun wine labels before, but as I wandered the wine aisles recently, I spied a really different type of wine bottle label. It was blank. And it had a little tag around the neck of the bottle, with a little pencil attached to it. The instructions on the tag read: Sketch. Post. Sip.
How cool was that?

Scratchpad Sauvignon BlancUpon closer inspection, the wine was called Scratchpad and it was a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 13.8%, Central Coast California). And the idea was to grab that little black pencil and personalize that wine label to really make the vino your own.  How fun! A customized wine label on the spot.

The only real problem with this is that I cannot draw. Seriously. I am no artist. In any way shape or form. I can write, I can play piano, I can scrapbook and make cards.....but I cannot draw. Well, I cannot draw past a stick figure, first grade level. And I mean no disrespect to any first graders out there, who are probably better than me anyway. And if you are a first grader reading this, cut it out. You're underage. Show it to your parents and go back to your crayons.

My lack of artistic ability did not manifest itself in my offspring. In fact, I can tell you for sure that The Winey Daughter has quite the artistic bent. She draws and paints and has amazing fashion and decor sense. She is great at photography (she just won a photo contest during her summer studying abroad). She gets it from her dad, The Winey Hubby, who has a wonderful eye for color and form and seriously can decorate better than I can. He gets it from his mother, who is actually an artist - and we have the paintings to prove it. So there was nothing to do but to drink the wine and hand the bottle over to The Winey Artistic Daughter.

As it happened, we opened this wine on the evening that The Winey Daughter arrived home from her 6 weeks of study abroad. She had taken classes in England and then did a little touring around the continent with a buddy. And she was finally home (along with the brand new camera she won in that contest). At her request, we dined on the patio, since it was a lovely summer night.
My pretty flower.

Scratchpad Sauvignon Blanc fit right in with the grilled chicken and salad and strawberries. It started out with aromas of kiwi, starfruit and melon. The flavors were full of lemon, white grapefruit, kiwi and it finished off with some sour citrus rind. The tart lingered, but the fruit flavors did not. This was a very crisp, dry wine and it was wonderful on that patio.

If you like a white wine that's full of tart fruit flavors without a hint of any sweetness anywhere you'll love this.

I duly handed the bottle over to The Winey Daughter. She drew a pretty little dogwood flower for me on the label. The bottle now has a place of honor on the bookshelf next to my computer. So I got to sip some great wine, got The Winey Daughter back from Europe AND I got a cool little memory of the night she came home. And I didn't have to draw any stick figures and prove to everyone that I am not now and never will be an artist. Phew!


Cheers!


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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Winey Day in Ohio

What to do on a perfect July day in Ohio, when it is NOT raining (this year, that's kind of rare) and you and two of your Winey friends want a girls' day out? You hit the wineries, of course. For those of you who don't know northeast Ohio, take that surprised look off of your winey little faces. We have quite the wine region up here, known as the Grand River Valley region, which stretches through Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties.

Lake Erie is the reason this region pretty much exists, since the waters to and from it carved out the Grand River valley. The lake also keeps the temperatures nice and moderate (just don't ask how much snow they get up there....YIKES!) and provides a very happy climate for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc grapes. It's also very well known for its ice wines, thanks to the winters we struggle through have here.

And it's less than an hour drive from our homes. Easy decision.

We started our day out at the largest of these wineries, which none of us had (gasp) never been to: Debonne Vineyards. This winery began life in the early 1900's as a fruit farm, and became an official winery in 1972. They also have a great menu there, and since we all wanted lunch, Debonne was the perfect choice.
The dry varietal white wine tray
(yes, you get to keep the glass).

Debonne also has these awesome tasting trays, where you get anywhere between 6-8 samples of wine and can choose from a number of wine combinations. We went with the dry varietal wine tray (reds and whites), the dry white wine tray, and the off dry to sweet varietal tray. Yes, we all made sure we had a different tray because we are a sharing little group..and this way we really got to sample a very full range of Debonne's wines.

Since, between the three of us, we had about 18 different wines, I'm going to give a quick little overview of some of our favorites, in the hopes that it will help anyone else pick a Debonne wine to try. Here we go:

Chardonnay Reserve: aroma of pear and light oak, full of flavors of pear and nutmeg and a little toasty vanilla.

Semillon, Muddy Paw: (from Trebets Estate Wines, see my review of the Muddy Paw Cabernet Sauvignon for more info on Muddy Paw) Light and juicy, just shy of being fully tart. Peach and light citrus scented, flavors of peach and some citrus, hence the "almost" tart!

Pinot Grigio, 2013, 11%:  All three of us loved this one, and I went home with a bottle of it.  A nose of pear and pie spices followed by tastes of flowers, honey, citrus rind with a refreshingly tart finish. Sip it cold, but pay attention as it warms up, because that's where the finish comes with a sweet note above it all. Great wine!!!

Jazz White: A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. A bottle of this one went home with one of my friends. Apple and pear aromas, followed by zesty lemon-lime flavors.

40th Anniversary White: A blend of Chardonnay with a little Riesling. A lovely, light wine. I tasted granny smith apples and light oak flavors.

Merlot: Berries on the nose. Raspberry and strawberry flavors with a medium tannic finish (not too drying, but it does have that Merlot pucker to it!).


South River Vineyard, church building
South River Vineyard
South River Vineyard, back patio view
South River Vineyard
view of the back patio
After our lunch and mega catching up with each other session (kudos to the folks at Debonne who didn't roll their eyes at us at all), we took a drive by some of the other nearby wineries. The staff at Debonne told us that we had to see South River Vineyard, which was pretty much just down the road from Debonne.

And we were so glad we did! A picturesque winery housed in an old church with gorgeous views off its back porch and patio. Being the responsible people that we are, we didn't try any wines, because we know our limits...but we walked around the grounds and vowed to come back.

We had also been told that the newer Hundley Cellars was lovely, so this was another winery we stopped at. Our first thoughts upon walking into the tasting room was "our hubbies would love this place". Lots of wood beams, antlers, rustic wooden tables and one of the friendliest tasting staffs I can remember. They were all so excited for us to try the wines there that even though we hadn't planned on it, we wound up on their gorgeous back patio with a glass of wine.

view of lake and grounds, Hundley Cellars, Geneva, Ohio
Hundley Cellars
view from the back porch
I had their Riesling (12%) because it was just so good! The nose was faint, but the flavors were not. There was a line of juicy peach running through the middle of it, surrounded by sour citrus flavors. A great combination! The finish was key lime, and as far as I'm concerned, you can never go wrong with key lime. (Side note: they also have a wine called Blonde Ambition, which I liked a lot when I tasted it and which would be a VERY fun gift for ladies of a certain hair color. Like me.)

We could not have asked for a more glorious day: lots of talking and laughing and eating and sipping and the chance to explore a stunningly beautiful area of our state. If you ever get the chance, give the Grand River Valley wineries a try. The wines will please everyone from the sweet wine sippers to the big red lovers. I suggest pairing the wines with your special date or a bunch of your best girlfriends. For more information on the Grand River Valley wine growers, head to their website.

O-H.....(the correct response here is for you to say "I....O".)

Cheers!


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