Friday, February 11, 2011

J. Trees Cellars Wines Shine At TREO Wine Dinner

Sometimes our neighbors in Michigan don’t get the best reception when they cross over the border into Ohio – especially during football season. That was certainly not the case earlier this week as winemaker Jon Treloar of J. Trees Cellars received a warm welcome during a special wine dinner at TREO Restaurant and Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania (419) 882-2266.

Three JTC wines were paired with a trio of amazing dishes created by TREO chef and owner Mike Fletcher.

The three featured wines were the 2008 Dry Riesling, 2008 Chardonnay and the ‘08 Fuji Ice Cider. After a long, cold and draining day, it was a pleasure to sit down to a relaxing meal in a beautiful restaurant surrounded by new friends.

The focus of JTC is white wine and Michigan is beginning to make its mark on the national scene as a source of quality Riesling.The JTC vineyards are relatively young, and so Jon gets his Riesling grapes from the Old Mission Peninsula area of Michigan, a top wine producing region. We are fans of the JTC Dry Riesling and the wine tonight was paired with a sensational opening dish.

The Farm & Forest course was breaded flash fried Portabella mushrooms served on a bed of lettuce topped with a soft poached egg, grilled asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.

The Dry Riesling was crisp with the accent on fruit and citrus. The pairing was spot on with Chef Fletcher’s specially created dish working wonderfully with the Riesling. All three dishes were specially created for the dinner and aren’t on the regular TREO menu. You will find the three JTC wines on the TREO wine list which some at the dinner consider the best in the Toledo area.

The second course was Salmon Trocadero paired with the 2008 Chardonnay. The dish features a lightly breaded salmon fillet stuffed with Blue Fin crab, baked until golden topped with bacon-wrapped scallops and drizzled with brandy cream served with jasmine rice and vegetables. Are you hungry yet? Green Dragon is allergic to scallops, and so a special dish without the scallops was prepared. I must say, the scallops rocked!

The Chard is lower in alcohol and less oaky than most California Chardonnays. Jon said he does like oak (unlike the Green Dragon) especially when done with a delicate hand. This wine had a citrus and vanilla flavor profile. The oaking is done judiciously, with no new barrels used. This is a food-friendly wine.

The final wine was perhaps the most unique and, in fact, is currently labeled as an ice cider and not an icewine. The JTC Fuji Ice Cider is a rare treat. It is incredibly difficult to make icewine. It can only be done when the grapes are frozen. To make the ice cider is even more difficult because much colder temperatures are required to freeze an apple. The temperature was below zero when the apples were harvested and pressed.

The apples for the cider came from the Iott Orchard and Katrina Iott was there to join the festivities. She grows some great apples and Jon Treloar knows what to do with them. It takes 90 apples to make a half bottle of Fuji Ice Cider.

Chef Fletcher prepared a Twice-Baked Apple as the dessert. A whole baked apple is stuffed with three kinds of cheese and served with a brown sugar glaze. Jon said that people often make the mistake of serving a very sweet accompaniment with a dessert wine. He said it is often better to go with sharp cheese or “something stinky” to contrast with the sweet wine.

The combination of apple dessert and the Fuji Ice Cider was simply awesome. The bite of the cheese softened the sweetness of the wine and the glaze was just, well, really tasty. It should be noted that we’re not big fans of sweet wines in general – but this is a real treat and highly recommended.

Interestingly, Jon mentioned that he had difficulties entering the Fuji Ice Cider into wine competitions because it was labeled “cider.” Future bottlings will be called Fuji Apple Icewine or something similar.

This year there was no apple harvest for the ice cider because of an early frost. Luckily juice from the previous harvest remains in the tank and so there won’t be a shortage of this great wine anytime soon.

Big plans are afoot for J. Trees Cellars. The wines will soon be widely available in the Toledo area. They are currently available at Joseph’s Beverage Center and scheduled to be available as soon as this weekend at Walt Churchill’s Market locations in Perrysburg and Maumee. Andersons will soon offer JTC as well.

The tasting room for J. Trees Cellars is located in Blissfield with the winery in Petersburg, Michigan. Expansion is planned at the Petersburg location to accommodate special events. Jon also plans to direct his focus on sparkling wines and adding some hard ciders.

Great wine, a cozy restaurant and superb food. That’s a great trio anyway you spell it!

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Pete said...

It was a pleasure meeting you and the Green Dragon at the wine dinner. The food was execellent, the wine was outstanding, but the new friends we met is what really made the event!

We look forward to seeing you at more wine events in the future!

Warm regards,


Dave Nershi, CSW said...

Pete - Nice to meet you. It was a great evening and we hope to see you again at another wine happening.