Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mark the Calendar: Wine Affair and Wine Gala Scheduled In Toledo for November

Cropped version of photo by ivanx. Original ph...

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Toledo has a wine double-header of epic proportions in November, so mark your calendars appropriately.

The 23rd Annual Wine Gala to benefit Mobile Meals of Toledo is scheduled 6:00 PM Saturday, November 6, at the Stranahan Great Hall. The event will feature wine tasting and appetizers, a sit-down dinner and an auction of fine wines. The black-tie optional event will also feature a silent auction, raffle and entertainment by Touched.

The 19th Annual Wine Affair will be held 6:30 PM Friday, November 19, at Parkway Place in Maumee. The event will feature wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and silent and live auctions. The event will benefit the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio and will be emceed by Chrys Peterson.

More details will be provided in the near future. Don’t miss these opportunities to benefit great causes while sampling superb wine.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Fielding Estate Winery

Another in our series of Niagara Peninsula Ontario winery reports.

Fielding Estate Winery’s cedar, stone and glass lodge-style tasting room is set high on the Beamsville Bench in a wonderfully wooded area of the Niagara Escarpment. The large windows provide a great showcase for the vineyards – and also for viewing a downpour (we made it inside just before the sky opened up).

Fielding is one of the top 10 wineries in Canada and it is easy to see why. The tasting room is a real showcase and it has a diverse catalog of wines with friendly, professional staff.

I started with the complimentary sample of the 2008 Gewürztraminer. This had a dash of spice and ginger along with tropical fruit. We found this to be not as aggressive as some of the Ontario Gewurz we have tried. Although I like the floral aspect of Gewurztraminer, Green Dragon doesn’t. She found this to be a very pleasant surprise.

Fielding concentrates on wine varieties that perform well in their vineyards, for white wine this includes Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. One of their popular white blends is White Conception and we tried the 2008 vintage. The blend includes Pinot Gris, Chardonnay Musque, Gewurz, Riesling and Chardonnay. That’s quite a mouthful! This had flavor notes of honeysuckle, pears and almond. The flavors were not as complex as I would have hoped. This goes for $18.95 CA and is an enjoyable bottle.

To keep my balance, I next tried the Red Conception. This is a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. With one sip you are tasting some of the top red grape varieties in the world. This had dark cherry and blackberry with a medium finish. This was flavorful, but others in our tasting team favored the less expensive 2008 Fireside Red. The Fireside Red is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Cab Franc. Either is a good bet with the prices $18.95 and $15.95 respectively.

The final taste was of the 2006 Meritage. We love Meritage, the designation for America’s version of a Bordeaux blend that is typically reserved for the winery's best. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot blend that delights the taste buds. This is a gold-medal winner that is priced at $36 – not bad for a world-class quality wine. The ‘07 Meritage is reputed to be even better – named as the best red blend in Canada. The blend formula is different, with Merlot taking center stage followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I’m sure the price is worth it ($60 CA), but we weren’t even half-way through our Canadian swing. In the interest of not breaking the budget we opted for a bottle of the ‘06.

Fielding gives you a great taste of Canada in many ways: the beautiful scenery, expansive tasting lodge, friendly servers and top-rated wine. This is a must see when you visit the wineries of Niagara Peninsula.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lone Oak Vineyard Estate Schedules 9th Annual Harvest Party October 2

Bookmark and Share   Lone Oak Vineyard Estate, 8400 Ann Arbor Road, Grass Lake, Michigan, (517) 522-8167, has scheduled its 9th Annual Harvest Party for 4:00 to 9:00 PM Saturday, October 2.

The event, the biggest of the year for the winery, will be held rain or shine and a 3,200 square foot tent will be erected. The entertainment includes The Swingin' Sirloins, Koke McKesson with Doug Decker and will wrap up with Ian Steward during the bonfire at 9 PM.

Food from Bone Island Grille will be available with hourly drawings for gift baskets. No reservations are needed. Admission is $7.

Photo by G.F. Peck

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Regional Wine Week Scheduled October 10-16

Bookmark and Share  DrinkLocalWine.com will hold its third annual Regional Wine Week Oct. 10-16, 2010,
Vineyards in Johnson City, Texas.Image via Wikipedia
featuring some of the best writing about regional wine from some of the best wine writers in the country. This year, for the first time, Regional Wine Week will include a haiku contest, in which wine drinkers across the United States can submit haiku about their favorite regional wine. The winning entries will be posted on the DrinkLocalWine.com Facebook page.

“Regional wine week has a special place in our heart, since that’s how DrinkLocalWine.com got started,” says DLW co-founder and Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre. “Who would have thought that getting a bunch of people together to write about regional wine on their blogs turned into the national movement?”

During Regional Wine Week, writers across the U.S. post stories about their favorite regional and local wines, wineries, and events to their their blogs, Web sites, magazines, and newspapers. Then, the DLW Web site aggregates all that information, giving consumers a one-stop shop to see what’s cutting edge in regional wine. Over the past two years, writers from across the country have covered dozens of states.

The only rule? That the blog post or article be about something that isn’t from California, Washington or Oregon. And anyone -- whether professional wine writer or not -- can submit a story to be linked to on the DLW Web site.

The haiku contest is equally as simple. Just write a haiku -- three lines of poetry, with five, seven and five syllables in each line -- about your favorite regional wine, winery, event or personality and email it to DLW.

Or, as DLW co-founder Jeff Siegel, proprietor of the top 100 blog The Wine Curmudgeon, noted:

“Drinking Texas wine
leaves me with a feeling that
much is possible”

For information about regional wine week, or to submit a story link or haiku, call (978) 276-9463 or go to the DLW Web site.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Toledo Museum of Art Announces Wine by the Glass Pavilion Schedule

Bookmark and Share    The Toledo Museum of Art has announced its schedule for the up coming Wine by thejoevare Glass Pavilion tastings. These popular drop-in tasting event are scheduled Fridays from 7:00 to 9:30 PM at the Glass Pavilion.


Enjoy four wines, light snacks, and a view of our Hot Shop. Prices are $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

September 24 -- Green Wineries

October 8 -- Fall Friendly Wines

October 15 -- Off the Beaten Path

October 22 -- Blind Tasting

Photo by Joe Vare
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wine Tastings & Events: Sept. 22-25, 2010

Wednesday, September 22
justin The Andersons, Sylvania, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-8 PM. Chilean wines. $15. 

Thursday, September 23
The Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample. 
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The Andersons, Talmadge Road. Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Power Italians. Nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-8 PM. Chilean wines. $15. 
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM.Mediterranean Madness. No other place in the world is so focused on wine; Southern Italy, Sicily, Languedoc, Provence, Greece, and Lebanon all produce vast amounts of spectacular wine. So let's grab some hummus and olives, and go on vacation!  Nominal fee per sample.

Friday, September 24
* Special Event * Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation’s 15th Annual Wine & Cheese Social, 5:00 to 8:00 PM, at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., in Bowling Green. International selection of wines, plentiful food, silent and live auction. Tickets are $30 each and are available at the door.

* Special Event * Wine by the Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art. 7:00 – 9:30 PM. Drop-in wine tasting: Green Wineries. Enjoy four wines, light snacks and a view of the Glass Pavilion Hot Shop. $15 members, $20 non-members.

Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Time for Cabs: 1. Mackenzie, 2. B.R. Cohn, 3. Justin, 4. Covington Cellars. $10 tasting.

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM.Mediterranean Madness. No other place in the world is so focused on wine; Southern Italy, Sicily, Languedoc, Provence, Greece, and Lebanon all produce vast amounts of spectacular wine. So let's grab some hummus and olives, and go on vacation!  Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, September 25
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Time for Cabs: 1. Mackenzie, 2. B.R. Cohn, 3. Justin, 4. Covington Cellars. $10 tasting.

The Andersons, Woodville, Wine Tasting. 1-3 PM. Nominal fee per sample or flight.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. Noon to 5:00 PM. Customer Appreciation Tasting #3. Pay by the sample or flight. Premium tasting.

[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Grape Bus Tour To Visit Pioneer Wine Trail

Bookmark and Share  The Pioneer Wine Trail of Southeastern Michigan is offering a very special "Big Grape" Bus
A glass of Beaujolais red wine with salad as b...Image via Wikipedia
Tour November 13-14. The trip includes a day of wine, food, and fun as you travel by motorcoach from one wine trail winery to another, five in all. Each winery will be featuring one of their best wines paired with food. Following the wine and food pairings, you will check into the Marriott at Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti followed by dinner and dancing.
The wine excursion includes:

• Deluxe motorcoach transportation

• Dinner and overnight accommodations at the Marriott at Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti

• A Pioneer Wine Trail glass

• Live entertainment and dancing after dinner

• A generous pour of wine with a food pairing at the following wineries:

Lone Oak Vineyard Estate in Grass Lake, (517) 522-8167

Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson, (517) 764-0679

Chateau Aeronautique in Jackson, (517) 569-2132

Sleeping Bear Winery in Albion, (517) 531-7777

Pentamere Winery in Tecumseh, (517) 423-9000

Cost is $159.00 per person (Double Occupancy) or $209.00 (Single). The dealine for registration is October 10.

Ticket reservations are available online at http://www.pioneerwinetrail.com/ or from any Pioneer Wine Trail winery.



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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Best Wines Under $30: Austin's List

Bookmark and Share  Our good friend Austin Beeman, wine manager of Walt Churchill's Market in Maumee,
A glass of Chardonnay. Thomas Jefferson's Rotu...Image via Wikipedia
has
been running an interesting series of tastings. Last week he did a tasting highlighting his list of best wines under $30. The tasting this week will be the best wines under $50. You can click on the Wine Tastings & Events button to get the time and location for the tasting.


Austin Beeman's List of Best Wines Under $30

1. Paul Thomas 2009 Sancerre “Les Comtesses” $23.99, Old World White Wine. This is a superstar Sauvignon Blanc with great food-friendliness.

2. Lioco 2008 Chardonnay. $19.99, New World White Wine. The epitome of Sonoma Chardonnay terroir with no manipulation of any kind. This is pure Chardonnay.

3. Eyrie Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir ‘Oregon.’ $29.99, American Red Wine. The first, and still one of the best, Oregon Pinot Noirs. It transcends simple fruitiness with some of the most complex Pinot flavors in the USA.

4. J.L. Chave 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone ‘Mon Coeur.’ $25.99, European Red Wine. One of the legendary wine producers in the world and a historically great vintage collaborated on a wine so good it doesn’t really belong in this price category.

5. Dona Paula 2006 Tannat/Malbec ‘Salix Vineyard.’ $29.99, South of the Equator Red Wine. A dark and complex wine that embraces the uniqueness of the Argentine climate by embracing blending and single vineyards.

6. Machmer 2002 Bechteimer Rosengarten Riesling Eiswein. $29.99/ 375ml, Sweet Wine. A German Riesling Eiswein for less than thirty dollars? Are you kidding me?
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Angels Gate Winery

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Another in our series of reports on Niagara Peninsula wineries.

The Angels Gate Winery sits just below the forested Niagara Escarpment, the rocky ridge that gives this wine region its unique terroir. The winery opened in 2002 and its focal point is its Mission style winery building with its gabled tower. There was a sense of excitement walking up to the impressive structure and wondering what is inside.

The impression in the tasting room is first class all the way. The soaring ceiling and plentiful windows give an airy, comfortable ambiance. Although it was chilly and overcast during our visit, there is a patio that must be ideal for wine sipping on sunny days.

Despite its angelic name, it proclaims that it produces “devilishly good wine” and we were anxious to see if that was the case.

We started with the 2006 Vidal Blanc which was pleasant with a touch of sweetness. The Cabernet Merlot, which is aged for 12 months in Oak barrels, had blackberry flavor notes and I considered it punchy. The Cabernet Franc 2006 I rated as good. We also tried an earthy Gamay Noir – a distant cousin of Pinot Noir.

About halfway through the tasting, tasting team member Ace of Bass made the comment, “I need a compelling wine.” Although pleasant, none of the wines spiked into the remarkable range. Our server sensed this and offered up a nice 2008 Riesling and we wrapped up with the best wine of the visit, a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wines of Angels Gate are great values, with the VQA Gewürztraminer costing only $13.75 and the Cabernet Merlot going for $15.75 Canadian. We didn’t hear any harps playing, but if you want a memorable tasting experience you’ll find it at Angels Gate Winery.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Thirty Bench Wine Makers

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Another in our series of reports on Niagara Peninsula wineries in Ontario.

Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville, Ontario, is one of the first boutique wineries in Niagara.This was the second stop in our wine tour and was tabbed as a “must see” winery. Thirty Bench is very close to the main wine route and so we weren’t too surprised when we saw that the parking lot was jammed.

When we entered, the tasting room was pretty crowded, so we opted for a special (and complimentary) tasting taking place on the patio outside overlooking the vineyards.

Thirty Bench focuses on small lot wines, with each vine being trimmed to keep yield low with amazing quality. One thing that stood out to us during our Niagara trip was the manicured vineyards with the leaves and vines raised up on the trellis with the fruit hanging free below.

Two wines were being tasted, the 2009 Gewürztraminer Beamsville Bench and the 2007 Merlot Small Lot Bniagara 017eamsville Bench. Beamsville Bench is one of the sub-appellation within the larger Niagara Peninsula designated wine region.  What was unique about the tasting is that you could taste the grapes from which the wine was made and then taste the wine.

Before tasting the vino, we munched some of the respective grapes. This really added a new dimension. You could see the beautifully manicured vineyards that produce the grapes, then eat the grapes, then sample the wine. It was wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable after a long morning ride from the US.
These are two beautiful wines. The Gewürztraminer had a delicate floral aroma and a rosewater flavor notes, The Gewürztraminer goes for $30 Canadian. The small lot Merlot has flavors of cherry, plum and spice. The tannins are soft and smooth. This delicious wine sells for $40 CA.

During our trip the value of the US dollar was almost par with the Canadian ($1 US = $1.05 CA). All the tasting rooms we were at accepted US dollars at par and gave Canadian for change. The loniagara 015onies ($2 coin) were particularly helpful in paying for tastings. We usually charged the bottle purchases and convinced ourselves of the savings ($1 on a $20 bottle).

Thirty Bench is a great winery. We weren’t fully able to enjoy it due to the crowded tasting room. However, all things worked out for the good because it allowed us to enjoy a unique vineyard tasting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wine & Cheese Social Scheduled for Friday, September 24, in Bowling Green

Bookmark and Share  The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation’s 15th Annual Wine & Cheese Social will take place 5:00 to 8:00 PM on Friday, September 24, at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., in Bowling Green. Tickets are $30 each and are available at the door.


The three leading civic groups in Bowling Green (Exchange Club, Kiwanis and Rotary) are teaming up with the Bowling Green Parks & Recreation Foundation to help make this year’s Wine and Cheese Social and Auction a success.

The wine selections will have an international theme with wines from five different continents. Wine has been generously donated by Bowling Green Beverage. Wine expert (and BG Beverage president) Norm Heineman will be on hand to answer your wine questions. Not only will there be outstanding wine aplenty, but there will also be an assortment of microbrew and craft beers. Of course delicious food and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.

The event features a silent and live auction with some great auction items. The live auction will be conducted by television newscaster Jerry Anderson of WTOL, Channel 11. It is certain to be a fun-filled, exciting evening.

Wines for the evening are as follows:

Reds


1. 06 Warwick Estate Pinotage (South Africa)
2. 09 Schilds Grenache M.S. (Australia)
3. 08 Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva (Argentina)
4. 06 Midnight Cellars Malbec (Paso Robles, CA)
5. 08 Pelee Sweet Merlot (Canada)
6. Smith Woodhouse 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)

Whites

1. 09 Lenz Moser Heuriger Gruner Veltliner (Austria)
2. 09 Prendo Pinot Grigio (Italy)
3. 06 Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Blanc (France)
4. 07 Tangent Ecclestone (Edna Valley, CA)
5. 09 Chateau Julia Chardonnay (Greece)
6. 09 Kreusch Piesporter Michelsburg Spatlese (Germany) 

The beneficiary of the event is the Bowling Green Parks & Recreation Foundation Save the Woods campaign. The foundation purchased a parcel of land adjacent to the Wintergarden/St. John's Nature Preserve to prevent it from being turned into a housing subdivision. This fundraiser is helping to retire the debt.
Photo by Clif Boutelle

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wine Tastings & Events: September 15-18, 2011

Cuvée du Vatican
Image of Cuvée du Vatican via Snooth
Wednesday, September 15
The Andersons, Sylvania, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Spain: 1. Burgans Albarino, 2. Ercavio Tempranillo Roble, 3. Solanera Vinas Viejas, 4. Senorio de Sarria Moscatel. Nominal fee per sample or $9.00 per flight.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-8 PM. Wine tasting. $15. 

Thursday, September 16
* Special Event * Wines and Wishes, 6 – 10 PM, Levis Commons. Special wine tasting event to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio. Wine selections from Heidelberg Wines, food from Levis Commons restaurants and entertainment by Hepcat Revival. Tickets $50. Tickets available online.
The Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Austrian wines, Gruners and Zweigelt: 1. Salomon – Gruner Veltliner, 2. Berger – Gruner Veltliner, 3. Gobelsburger – Gruner Veltliner, 4. Lenz Moser – Zweigelt.  Flight $6.50 or nominal fee per sample. 
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The Andersons, Talmadge Road. Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Fabulous Wines of the Southern Rhone and other French Wines: 1. Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigar Rose, 2. Regis Minet Pouilly-Fume, 3. Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvines Cote du Rhone Villages 2007, 4. Domaine de la Tourade Gigondas 2008, 5. Domaine des Senechaux Chateauneuf du Pape 2006, 6. Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape 2007, 7. Cuvee du Vatican Reserve Sixtine, 8. Chateau Gravas Sauternes. Nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-8 PM. Wine Tasting. $15.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Super Funtime Blind Wine Tasting Extravaganza III. Our blind tastings have been among our most popular, and for good reason. So many of you performed so well at the last one, that I'm really going have to ratchet this thing up a notch or two. Are you ready? Nominal fee per sample.

Friday, September 17
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Aficionado 5th Anniversary Tasting. Special guest, importer Jean-Jacques Fertal. 1. Henri Marie "Vin Fou" Brut, 2. Chateau Du Pavillon, 3.Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 4. Chateau Les Roques $10 tasting.

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. Super Funtime Blind Wine Tasting Extravaganza III. Our blind tastings have been among our most popular, and for good reason. So many of you performed so well at the last one, that I'm really going have to ratchet this thing up a notch or two. Are you ready? Nominal fee per sample.

Saturday, September 18
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Aficionado 5th Anniversary Tasting. 1. Henri Marie "Vin Fou" Brut, 2. Chateau Du Pavillon, 3.Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 4. Chateau Les Roques $10 tasting.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. Noon to 5:00 p.m. Best Wines Under $50. Pay by the sample or flight.
Premium tasting.
[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toledo Wines and Vines Celebrates 1st Anniversary With Contest; Win Cool Wine Accessories

Bookmark and Share Hard to believe it's been one year since the curtain rose on Toledo Wine and Vines. We're going to celebrate in style by sharing some wine booty thanks to our friends at Wine Fabrications, a cool wine accessory company in Seattle.

We have some fans at Wine Fabrications (we met at the North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Washington State) and they have agreed to provide three really fantastic prizes for our contest. Let me share the rules of our little game and then I'll tell you about the goodies.

Since we began on September 13, 2009, we've had 367 posts and 10,128 visitors -- wait, just got another one, make that 10,129. We've shared our love of the world of wine and would like you to share too. Here's how to enter the contest -- it's really easy:

1. Contest runs from September 14 to September 28, 2010.
2. Contest is open to residents of the US and Canada. (True Fabrications is mailing the prizes and it isn't practical to mail to most international locations.)
3. Submit a short write-up (no more than 250 words) on your favorite wine.
4. Include a digital photo (should be of the wine or wine related).
6. The Toledo Wines and Vines tasting team will make the final selection of winners. Judges' decision is final.
7. Entries must be e-mailed to twav@att.net.

There will be a first, second and third prize:

First prize: Vinturi Aerator (Red Wine). Wine needs to breathe to open up, release its intended aromas and of course make it taste better. Vinturi's patent pending design speeds up this process by instantly aerating wine with ease and convenience. Your wine will have received the perfect amount of aeration by the time you are done pouring a glass. Includes base, pouch, and filter screen. I've got one of these and it has changed how I drink wine. It really works.

Second prize: Soiree Aerator. A person can never get too much aeration, right? This handy aerator was all the buzz at the North American Wine Bloggers Conference. This classy aerator is a gift worthy crystal ball that can show you all the complexities of the wine you are about to drink. Fitting securely on the bottle top, it pours and decants in one step. Soiree takes the fuss out of traditional decanting and Let the awesomeness begin! Includes gaskets for a universal fit, instructions, bottle stopper and stand.

Third prize: Vacu Vin wine saver. Tired of tired wine that loses its magic after a day or two? Here is the solution! This sleek and effective Vacu Vin wine saver pumps out air to preserve opened wine longer. It also comes with one stopper to use after you are done using the pump.

So there you have it -- probably the easiest contest you'll ever find. All you have to do is enjoy your favorite wine and then tell us about it.

Thanks for reading. It has been a fun first year. A tip of the cap also to our TWAV tasting team who has contributed photos, run the Facebook page and contributed outstanding stories.

Cheers and good luck.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

Another in our series of reports on the Niagara Peninsula and Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario wineries.
niagara 013 It was a welcome sight: our first winery in the Niagara Peninsula, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. Malcolm Gladwell’s interesting book, “Blink” talks about how the split second impression can sometimes be more accurate than long, painstaking study. With winery visits, that first impression can color your attitude and your perception of the wine’s taste.

Peninsula Ridge makes a great first impression. There are two main buildings, one is an Ontario-gothic, red-brick Victorian home which houses a fine dining restaurant. The tasting room and banquet facilities are in a beautifully restored barn with fantastic wood and soaring ceilings. We were ready! We had been driving since early morning, crossing from the U.S. at Windsor and driving through some pretty boring Ontario landscape.

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The sun was streaming through the high windows in the spacious tasting room as we scanned the list of offerings. Green Dragon opted for the 2008 Viognier, which she rated as nice with a taste of citrus. I went for the 2006 Reserve Viognier. This received an 88 rating from Wine Spectator and is a more complex wine than the ‘08 Viognier. The Reserve was more exotic, layering the citrus flavors with toastiness, thanks to finishing in Oak barrels. The Reserve goes for $25 Canadian.
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We moved to the Sauvignon Blanc, with Green Dragon tasting the 2009 Wismer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. This was OK, but didn’t have the zing of New Zealand Sauv Blancs of which GD is a fan. I tried the 2009 Wintner’s Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. This had lemon and tangerine flavors.
The 2008 Gewürztraminer was next. This has light floral notes and slight acidity. It was not a favorite. The 2009 Dubois Vineyards Reserve Gewürztraminer had a nice texture, fuller body and rose blossom aroma. I loved this.

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Moving to the reds, the 2009 Shiraz is a medium bodied, fruit forward wine. In fact, the fruit could take a step back because it was too much. Pleasant, but not award-winning. Glorious T is the tasting team expert on Cabernet Franc. She dove into the 2004 Beal Vineyard Cabernet Franc and found it to be enjoyable with blackberry, tannins and a bit of pepper.
My next taste was the 2007 Reserve Syrah. this is a really beautiful wine. It has a slight earthiness, but also flashes of black tea and red berries. It is medium bodied with a nice balance between the acid and tannins. This was my favorite of the tasting. It retails for $24.95 CA.

niagara 012 Ace of Bass and Glorious T next sampled the 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve. Although this goes for $30, it came up short in comparison with the 2004 Cab Franc. Although smooth, this particular vintage still wasn’t ready.

Green Dragon and I finished up with the Arcanum 2002. this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. It has a great nose with spice, berries and smoke. In the mouth it offers a taste of black cherries. This was my second favorite and is a stand-out wine. Green Dragon felt the spiciness was a bit too much. This is one of the niagara 008pricier wines going for $40 CA.

The tasting fee at Peninsula Ridge was $2 for four wines with 32 wines from which to choose. (It is $2 for the ice wine samples.) This was also our first exposure to the Niagara tasting experience, which includes beautiful, quality glassware, knowledgeable staff, a beautiful tasting room and a variety of outstanding wines. If all the rest of our stops were like this one, it would be a spectacular trip!
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Niagara Peninsula Ontario Winery Visit: Organized Crime

Bookmark and Share  Our Niagara wine tasting adventure gave us the opportunity to visit so many clusters of wineries - all different, but all very enjoyable. A favorite experience was the Organized Crime Winery, a small boutique winery on the Niagara Peninsula. Small but elegant, its walls told a story that the hospitable winegrowers, Jan & Krystyna Tarasewich were happy to share.

The story is actually told through the wines, with a different scene depicted on each varietal's bottle. The mystique piqued our interest, and the wines backed up their illustrious story-telling past.

When Krystyna said the Download would wow us, she was not exaggerating. We walked out with 2 bottles, that is after we got through the line of customers purchasing multiple bottles - this little place does a brisk business and has a wide reputation. The Download is a 4 grape blend that packs a serious punch as bursts of deep rich berries explode on the palate. This is a wine to savor! We were thrilled with this great find, and happily added it to the box - and it was only day 1!

More to come as the TWAV Niagara Adventure continues! http://www.organizedcrimewine.com/
-- GT


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Wineries of Niagara, Ontario

Bookmark and Share  Maybe it wasn't the perfect weekend. The winds were gusting to 30 miles per hour -- blowing away the summer heat and bringing an early fall chill. It was also a holiday weekend, clogging the roads and attractions with touristas. But the appeal was too strong, like an electromagnet drawing us north of the border to the wineries of the Niagara Peninsula and Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario.

An epic winery road trip was in order, so Green Dragon and I, along with Glorious T and Ace of Bass (the artist formerly known as Spiderman) hopped into the Altima and took off on Labor Day weekend in search of great vino.

Southern Ontario is in roughly the same latitude as southern France, which produces some of outstanding wines. The region has a great climate for ripening grapes, as well as apricots and pears. Ontario has an appelation system called VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), which sets certain quality standards. There are four wine producing regions in Ontario under the VQA system: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County.

We left early on Saturday and crossed the Ambassador Bridge over to Windsor.We were through the border crossing in about 10 minutes and motoring toward the Niagara Escarpment, a massive ridge carved out by ancient glaciers. It's the feature responsible for Niagara Falls and the rich limestone soil that create the classic mineral profile of the region's wines.

There are 38 wineries in the Niagara Escarpment area, between Winona on the west and St. Catherines on the east. Further east are 30 wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. To help us maximize our travels I broke the wineries up into clusters of adjacent wineries and I also put one or two stars next to wineries on the list we really wanted to visit.

In addition to some epic wine tasting, a trip to this area is rewarding because of the natural beauty and great attractions. We were able to visit Niagara Falls as well as the charming city of Niagara-on-the-Lake during our Ontario trip.

In the next few days we'll share photos and winery reviews, but I wanted to share some initial impressions:
  • The Niagara wineries offer an outstanding variety, not just ice wines. Get ready for some outstanding Merlot, Pinot Noir and Meritage blends in addition to great Cab Franc, Riesling and Gerwurztraminer.
  • Many of the wineries are huge operations but unknown to us since the wines aren't widely distributed in the U.S.
  • Some of the winery buildings are architectural masterpieces with a tendency toward clean, modern lines.
  • You will enjoy a top shelf wine tasting experience. Forget cheap industrial glasses or (gasp) plastic. Most wineries we visted served samples in high end crystal stemware including Reidel.
  • Some of the tasting fees were high -- up to $3 per taste, but some wineries waived them entirely. Much of the wine is pricey as well, with costs of $35 to $45 Canadian very common. 
Stay tuned for our tales of the Northern adventure...
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