There were quite a few surprises last Friday at the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland. This was our second year serving as volunteer wine pourers at the event.
When we checked in at the volunteer desk, we found out that they were not providing complimentary passes for the volunteers. Hmmm… so we drove 100 miles from Toledo to volunteer at the event AND we have to pay $60 to get into the show – and then work for four hours. In a change in policy, they are providing tickets for next year’s event.
The show, of course, is fantastic. With hundreds of food booths, a beer festival and lots of celebrity chefs. We had the opportunity to see Michael Symon, Carla Hall and Martie Duncan display their culinary skills. After enjoying lunch from a couple of food trucks, we strolled to the wine area. There we got our second surprise, a nice one.
One of the main sponsors this year was Finger Lakes Wine Country. As readers of this blog know, that’s our favorite wine region and we have visited there frequently.
After working our way back to the sign-in desk, we donned our volunteer T-shirts and informed them we wanted to work at the Finger Lakes booth. I had seen Laury Ellen Poland a few months ago at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara when it was announced that the Finger Lakes would be hosting the 2015 event. She was delighted to have two volunteers who were familiar with the wineries and the region.
At the Fabulous Food Show three wineries were carrying the banner for the Finger Lakes: Glenora, Standing Stone and Wagner. Each had a Riesling and Chardonnay. Glenora also had its Brut sparkling wine while Standing Stone had a Vidal icewine and Wagner its Riesling icewine. Each also had a red: the unique Standing Stone Smokehouse Red, outstanding Glenora Cabernet Franc and the Wagner Estate Meritage.
Wagner only produces its Meritage when conditions are ideal. Prior to the 2010 vintage, it was bottled in 2007 and 2001. Three times in a decade makes it special indeed.
Finger Lakes reds are cool climate wines and in many cases they are subdued and most usually lower in alcohol. This Bordeaux-style wine, however, is robust. The Meritage is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc.
The wine is aged in oak barrels for 11 months, but is ripe with fruit. The predominate flavors are black cherry and berries with threads of chocolate. Malolactic fermentation contributes to the rounded, smooth texture. The alcohol level is 12.6%, making it a food friendly red that will pair well with grilled meats or pasta.
Finger Lakes wines can be elusive in Ohio, so we stopped by the wine sales area and purchased a bottle of the Meritage. It retails for $25 and is an excellent value for a notable Finger Lakes wine.
The Wagner family has been growing grapes in the region for four generations and making wine since 1978. Their experience and skills shines through in this well-crafted bottle.
We did get one last unpleasant surprise. When we walked out the door at about 6:00 o’clock, five inches of lake-effect snow had fallen and the roads were treacherously icy. With Green Dragon serving as co-pilot, we were able to safely navigate the few miles to our hotel with our precious cargo of wine.