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".)


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Frisk Prickly Riesling

Well, I learned something new when I started drinking my latest wine choice. There are Alps in Australia. Who knew I'd get a geography lesson that day?

I thought I was just buying a nice refreshing-looking wine for the weekend. It had a cute name: Frisk. And it was Riesling, but it was "prickly" Riesling. That intrigued me.

As I researched the wine, I learned that Frisk makes its home in the Alpine Valleys of the Australian Victorian Alps. And by Victorian, I mean the city of Victoria, not the era of Queen Victoria. Well, well, alps in Australia. But what did that matter or mean for the vino? First off, you've got a bit of an Italian influence here, since the vineyards were founded by Italian immigrants in the 1850's. They saw the mountains, started climbing and then sent back to the homeland for their grapevines. The valleys are formed by 4 rivers, so you get that wonderful mineral element in the soil. It snows on them in the winter, too. These grapes have a lot of character, it would seem.

The first thing I noticed about Frisk Prickly Riesling (2014, 9.5%, Victoria, Australia) is that it fizzed when I poured it. It smelled of tarragon, which kind of scared me, since that's not a favorite aroma of mine. But then I tasted it. Flavors of juicy starfruit and lime and flowers hit me first...and the bubble were tiny and active, so it felt lively and, to quote the bottle label, it had a "racy verve" (I love that description. I wish I'd come up with it first.) The winemakers say that the "prickly" element comes from the "canny" yeast added during fermentation. Again, another description I wish I'd thought of first: canny yeast. It finished nice and tart

This wine was so yummy. Absolutely not too's like they took all the best flavors of a Riesling, added a little sass, and came up with a refreshing, flavorful, bouncy wine.

If you like a wine that is on the sweeter side, but not thick and sweet, you will love this one. If you like your wine with a bit of a tart taste in it, ditto. And ditto again if you like a little movement in your vino. The bubbles really play a big role in the taste and feel of Frisk, tiny as they are after you pour it.  I found this wine for under $8, by the way. Frisk also makes a Prickly Rosso, and I intend to climb the nearest Alp, or head to the nearest store, to get some.

This wine paired very nicely with a seat on the patio, doggie in my lap and a new magazine to read. (Yes, since you asked, it is a bit difficult to read a magazine with a dog on your lap. I gladly accept the hardship however.)


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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: "The Empty Nest Series" Muddy Paw Cabernet Sauvignon

rory, malshi
Rory, just before her 3rd birthday
My "Empty Nest Series" is dedicated to the Winey children who did NOT leave The Winey nest for college and jobs and - the  nerve - their own lives. Each Empty Nest Wine has something to do with those children who stayed: namely, the doggies. Woof. So from time to time, as I come across a doggie themed wine, another entry into this series gets posted.

When The Winey Nest emptied, we had two precious doggies to keep us company. However, one of those little ones, our Maltese named Chloe, has since left us for Doggie Heaven. We miss her horribly and there isn't a day that goes by that we don't think about her. Especially her little sister, Rory, who is an about to be 3 year old Malshi (she's a Maltese with a little Shitzu). The Empty Nest Series is still dedicated to both of our woofers, though. Because even after a pup crosses the Rainbow Bridge, they are always, always in your heart and memories.

I have a soft spot for people who do nice things for their canine rescue them and find them homes. And one day at work (yes, I decided that as fun as the empty nest can be, it can also be a bit..well....slow at when the opportunity to re-join my friends at Fox 8 news in Cleveland came up....back I went to produce their website) we had some of these special people on. They were holding a benefit for the Lake Humane Society (Ohio) and it was called: Wag, Woof and Wine. That's right....wagging and woofing and wining!!!!! I ran to the studio to say hello to these highly enlightened folks, and got to meet up with Cindy from Grand River Cellars, the winery that puts on the event. I also go to meet Harry, an amazingly mellow pooch who let me hug and pet him lots. Seriously, major TV news perk: meeting the guests, human or otherwise.

Muddy Paws Cabernet SauvignonCindy left me a bottle of Muddy Paw Cabernet Sauvignon (NV, 12%, Madison, Ohio), which is produced by the Trebets Estate Wine folks. When it isn't being featured at Wag, Woof and Wine, it raises money for another local humane society in Geauga County. And it comes with the highest of approvals: Owner tested, dog approved. What more could you ask for????

Not much really, because I'll tell you flat out that this is one of the best Ohio Cabernet Sauvignons I've ever had. We have a great wine growing region called The Grand River Valley Wine Region and if you ever find yourself up around Madison or Geneva, Ohio....stop and sips the wine.

Back to Muddy Paw. Let it breathe: not an option and you'll be happy you did. It's a dark pinkish maroon color that gives off aromas of coffee, mocha and raspberry. The flavors that hit your mouth are cherry jam, mocha coffee and vanilla cream. There's a long line of oak running through the finish and the tannins hang around for a bit. It feels smooth in the mouth and is just everything you want in a Cabernet Sauvignon: fruit and oak and that hint of vanilla cream that smooths it all out.

A flavorful, rich Cabernet Sauvignon that is dog approved and helps doggies in need. Need I say more?

You can find Muddy Paws at Grand River Cellars, along with Grand River's own line of wines. Safe to say that you'll be hearing more about them in the near future.

Here's the interview from the day I met Harry and his human pals:

Cheers and woof!! Pin It