Wine Tasting – May 13, 2017

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It was nice to be back among friends at Party Town for our regular tasting.  JP lined up a trip through France with the following:

  • 2014 Blanc de Birot from Bordeaux, France – a white Bordeaux blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon
  • Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé from Rhone, France – a rosé blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Clairette
  • 2015 Domaine de Couron Marselan from IGP Ardeche, France – a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache
  • 2015 Mas des Brousses Chassuer des Brousses from IGP Pays d’Oc, France – a red blend of Merlot, Grenache, and Syrah
  • Muscat de Beaumes de Venise Tradition from Rhone, France

While we’re not usually Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, the Semillon softened the Blanc de Birot making it quite a nice experience.  The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise Tradition made for a nice dessert wine.  It was not overly sweet and had a refreshing flavor.

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Jamie then took us to Virginia with three of her finds:

  • Jefferson Vineyards 2008 Petit Verdot Reserve from in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Winery 32 2014 Gloria’s Sunshine from Richmond, Virginia – a blend of 60% Peach and 40 % Vidal Blanc
  • Glen Manor 2013 Petit Manseng from Front Royal, Virginia

JP warned us that this particular bottle of Gloria’s Sunshine was a bit off and Jamie admitted it was nothing like what she had tasted at the winery.  We tried it anyway and could envision what they were going for.  The Petit Manseng was very nice, but it was the Petit Verdot that stole the show.  Absolutely delicious! People were still talking about it the following week!

Bardwell Winery

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Not ready for our tasting adventure to end, we made one last stop at Bardwell Winery. Located in the historic Moon Buggy Factory, they feature a restaurant, craft beer, and wine.

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We had already eaten, so we made our way to the small tasting bar.

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Their website touts, “All of our wines come from the very best hand picked grapes and corked in house.”  We couldn’t argue with the “corked in house” part but the the Black Raspberry Merlot, Blueberry Pinot Noir, and Strawberry White Merlot by their names alone led our thoughts immediately to Island Mist Wine Kits.  A quick Google search later confirmed it.  Neither one of us voiced our thoughts to the other as we tried to keep an open mind during this tasting.

Our hostess was gracious enough and attentive to us as she poured and we appreciated her hospitality.  She wasn’t able to tell us much more about the wine beyond what was on the tasting list.  We found nearly all the wines to have that “kit essense” in the palate that has caused us to steer clear of any more kits in our own wine making.

With wine tasting on our minds, I neglected to inquire about the craft beers.

As for the restaurant, they had a diverse little menu with several nice sounding options. A number of people were enjoying dinner while we were there so possibly there is more to experience if we hadn’t had such full tummies.

Another day, perhaps.

Indian Spring Winery

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Upon recommendation from Maura at Meranda-Nixon Winery, our next winery stop was Indian Spring.  We hadn’t been aware of this winery and as the afternoon was waning, we were happy to learn that they were open until 10:00 PM giving us plenty of time to enjoy another tasting.

Among the more traditional wines, were quite a number of unique options.  We tried them all!

  • Arrowhead White – Dry Riesling
  • Kamali (Burgandy Cap) – Dry Niagara
  • Renegade – A white blend aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels
  • Kamali (Gold Cap) – Traditional Niagara
  • Merlot
  • Arrowhead Red (Burgandy Cap) – Chambourcin
  • Weekend Warrior (Burgandy Cap) – Chambourcin aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels
  • Weekend Warrior (Gold Cap) – Semi-sweet Chambourcin aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels
  • Taquana Black – Semi-dry Concord aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels
  • Estate grown Blackberry (Burgandy cap) – Semi-dry Blackberry
  • Estate grown Blackberry (Gold cap) – Sweet Blackberry
  • Estate grown Strawberry – Sweet Strawberry
  • Koona – Mint wine
  • Mahcawte – Jalapeno wine
  • Melassi – Maple wine

Picking favorites here was difficult as so many topped our list.

Renegade was the first white we could recall tasting that had been aged in bourbon barrels and it definitely worked.

The Merlot was nicely balanced, and much to my liking, aged in wood.

Of course I loved the Chambourcins.

We were amazed with the Taquana Black, and as noted on the tasting list, it was “not your average concord”.  I am not a fan of most Concords as they come off to me more as Welch’s grape juice.  It was done semi-dry and the bourbon barrels nicely offset the typical foxiness of the Concord.  Neither of their Concords had that overpowering nose.

Their strawberry had a wonderful nose and flavor.  It was as close as you could get to fresh strawberries in a wine.  Simply delicious.

“Koona” which is Indian for “ice”, was a fantastic experience.  I would have never imagined a mint wine but I am glad they did.  What a refreshing and delicious treat!

“Mahcawte”, which is Indian for “fire”, took us to the other end of the spectrum. Bushmaster, who is not a fan of peppers or heat, opted out of this one, but I loved it.  It was recommended for cooking and while I am looking forward to experimenting with it, I also found it to be an enjoyable sipping wine.

They also had sangrias that they mix fresh daily.

  • Red Sangria – mixed berry
  • White Sangria – pineapple, orange, and Niagara
  • Mango Mint – mango and Koona
  • Mango Mint Jalapeno – mango, Koona, and Mahcawte

The Red Sangria was Bushmaster’s favorite while I preferred the Mango Mint. And after adding a splash of Mahcawte, it was out of this world delicious.

We happened to be visiting on Derby Day so as it got closer to race time, patrons began to funnel in.  Angela’s Curbside Cuisine also arrived to provide dinner options.  Bushmaster ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich and ordered the Crispy Chicken Wrap.  We shared an order of Saratoga Chips.  Everything was so delicious.

Indian Spring features live music every Saturday evening and Angela’s is a staple there every Friday and Saturday evening.  They also host a Farm Market on Saturdays in the summer from 10 AM to 2 PM for local farmers and crafters.

A family and dog friendly establishment, we cannot wait to go back this summer with our own Classy Canines for another relaxing and enjoyable visit!

 

 

Meranda-Nixon Winery

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I’d like to say it all started with the case of Meranda-Nixon 2013 Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc that Bushmaster won on the Action Auction when I was out of town. However, I had been wanting to bring him here since Aary and I visited in February.  I just knew he would love this winery.  He quickly made friends with all the winery dogs, but it was the wine to which I really couldn’t wait to introduce him.

Their two page wine list offers something for everyone.  During our time there, we enjoyed a wonderful visit with co-owner Maura Meranda and sampled the following:

  • 2016 Estate Reserve Chardonnay
  • 2016 Traminette
  • 2014 Catawba Estate Wine
  • 2015 Estate Sparkling Catawba
  • Red Oak Creek – a blend of Traminette and Norton
  • 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc
  • 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2014 Estate Norton
  • 2013 Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc
  • 2013 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

There wasn’t a wine we didn’t like!

Their Chardonnay was one of the best we had ever tasted and reminded us so much of the Michigan Chardonnays that made us relinquish our claims to be “ABC Drinkers”.

Bushmaster, who typically does not care for sparkling wines, admitted he found the Sparkling Catawba to be the exception.

The Norton, just as last time and no surprise at all, was my all around favorite.

We both agreed that Bushmaster had done well winning the 2013 Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc.  During my previous visit, I had opted for the pepper of the 2014, but this time the smoothness and richness won me over.  Maura had graciously offered to allow us to trade our case in if we found something we liked better and prior to our tastings I thought I would be tempted. However, in the end we declined. Quite often, Bushmaster’s and my tastes vary so much.  It was especially nice to find a wine upon which with both agreed was exceptional.  There’s just something about sharing a single bottle of wine with the person you love.

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Meranda-Nixon is frequently host to special dinners and events that Maura coordinates. Winery activities are a family affair with all the Meranda children pitching in to help. Their tasting room is bright and airy and a perfect place to relax with a bottle of wine. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the unique metal sculpture chandeliers.

Maura, Bushmaster, and I chatted for quite some time as we enjoyed our samples and then took us out to their production room.  Wine maker and co-owner Seth Meranda was hard at work assisting a friend with with bottling his own personal wine.  We were treated to a taste of this as well as barrel tastings of the up and coming batches of Cabernet Sauvignon and their Norton/Cabernet Franc blend.  There’s just nothing like sampling the new wines straight from the barrels!

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Our plans this summer are sure to include another road trip or two to Meranda-Nixon for a delicious dinner and more of their amazing wines.  It is most definitely worth the drive to experience some of the best wines we have had in Ohio.

Fancy Farm Vineyard & Winery

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A relatively new addition to the Vintage Kentucky Winery Guide, we couldn’t wait to visit Fancy Farm Vineyard & Winery.  With a micro climate and white clay soil not typically found anywhere else in the state, co-owner and wine maker, Tom Curtsinger, grows grapes that he was told would never grow here — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Malbec, Viognier, and Riesling.  In fact, he and his family have been at it for 10 years now.  His vines survived the winters of 2013 and 2014 when many vineyards lost theirs.

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The current wine list is strong with the influence of Riesling as many of the other varieties are still works in progress that won’t be ready until the fall.

Old Red Barn was a blend of Concord, Niagara, and Riesling.  While listed as sweet, it was well balanced with good fruit flavor, but not cloying.

Their Blackberry was also listed under the sweet catagory but it was done more like a semi-dry and reminded Aary of the dry Blackberry wine she had loved so much at Butterducks Winery in Georgia.

Fancy Pear had the right amount of sweetness and a delicious pear flavor.  It was made from Red Anjou Pears and had a beautiful red color from skins.

Fancy Peach was a sweet peach wine very true to the fruit.

Fancy White was their sweetest white and was a blend of Niagara, Cayuga, and Riesling.

A semi-sweet blend of the same Niagara, Cayuga, and Riesling, Golden Grape was a really nice experience.  It started off sweet but finished dry with a delightful wash of flavor.

Moscato was exactly what you would expect from this varietal.

Returning to that signature blend of Niagara, Cayuga, and Riesling, Harvest Gold was the dry version of their white.  Just like I was surprised when I first tasted a dry Concord, I really enjoyed the flavor and liked what they had done with this wine.

Peachy Keen was another wonderful surprise as it too was done dry.

Finally we were to the Ruby Red.  It was a dry version of Old Red Barn and both Aary and I agreed that it was our favorite.

Just when we didn’t think it could get much better, Tom disappeared into the production room and returned with a barrel taste of one of his experiments. Ruby Red Oaked was the same dry Ruby Red but aged with oak staves.  How we both wished we could have had more!

 

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The Fancy Farm tasting room was spacious and inviting.  It was a great space for gatherings and activities.  They are frequently the host to a number of events, including yoga and painting classes, which co-owner Robbie Felker coordinates.

We had such a wonderful time visiting with Tom and Robbie and discussing wine making.  Tom gave me a number of tips to help us with our endeavors and I know Bushmaster is really going to enjoy meeting him.  I cannot wait to return here in the fall when they will have more of their vinifera wines bottled and available.  Fancy Farm Winery is such a gem!

 

Natchez Hills Winery at Fontanel

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A day of road tripping just isn’t complete without a winery stop.  Wherever we head, I am always looking for wineries along our path, so it was no surprise when I found one. While the main winery and vineyard are located in Hampshire, Tennessee, Natchez Hills also has a tasting room at Fontenel near Nashville.

They offer two tastings of five wines:

Staff Pick Sampler

  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2015 Riesling
  • 2014 Alicante Bouschet
  • 2014 Merlot
  • Ridgetop Red – An off dry red blend

Southern Sampler

  • Harmony – A white blend of Riesling, Viognier and Muscat
  • Sunset Blush – White Zinfandel
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Peach

The also have three additional wines outside of the samplers:

  • La Fusion – A spiced blend of Merlot and Cabernet
  • Ruby Blush – An off dry Zinfandel Rosé
  • Naughty TEA – A wine made from Sweet Tea

I selected the Staff Pick and Aary opted for the Southern Sampler.  We traded tastes so that we could sample them all.  Not an oenophile, Nate watched from the sidelines.  We thought he might like the sweet Peach, so he humored us and tried a bit but found it still too winey for his liking.

Both Aary and I liked the Alicante Bouschet but it was the Naughty TEA that impressed us the most.  It was a sweet wine with a hint of tea flavor and so unusual.  Of course it has given me ideas for my next batch of wine making experiments!

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Purple Toad Winery

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It had been two years since Aary and I had visited Purple Toad Winery so we were looking forward to returning.  While their wines are fairly easy to obtain through a number of retailers, it’s always more fun to be able to do a tasting at the winery.

Since my last visit, there were a number of new additions to their wine list. We weren’t limited to a certain number of tastings so we were able to taste as many as we liked.

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We started out sampling a number of the dry wines:

  • Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc 2013
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
  • Merlot 2015
  • Pino Noir 2013
  • Berry Dry

Hands down, the Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon was our favorite of this group.

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From there we moved into the Semi-Sweet and Sweet wines that dominate their tasting list.  Between the two of us, Aary and I sampled:

  • Black Currant
  • Cranberry
  • Killer B’s
  • Angela’s Black Cherry
  • Allen’s Blueberry
  • June’s Red Apple
  • Strawberry Lemonade
  • Black Strawberry
  • Hannah’s Black Honey
  • Paducah Harbor
  • Honey Kiss
  • Steven’s Strawberry

Purple Toad does such an amazing and creative job with their sweet and fruit wines. I couldn’t get over how true all the wines were to their fruits. Their Black Currant is one of the most decadent dessert wines I have ever experienced. Anything with strawberry was clearly strawberry in the nose as well as in the palate. My favorite was the Strawberry Lemonade.

While I normally prefer dry wines, my purchases here were five bottles of sweet to one dry.  Bushmaster was very surprised by my selections when I brought them home.  Once again, this tasting clearly illustrates the importance of trying everything.  Each wine is different and you could be missing out on some real treats.

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As we left the vineyard, I couldn’t help but notice their grape vines. They were pruned very much in the style of what we saw in Bordeaux.  Short trunks with only two shoots. It seems they are taking some lessons from the French!

Wine Tasting at Roof Brothers – April 25, 2017

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The original purpose of our stop at Roof Brothers was to locate the violet liquour that Aary had learned about from a co-worker.  Having sampled some of Aary’s sugared violets the night before, I was intrigued and knew I needed to purchase a bottle myself.  I love the unusual.

While we were there, we asked about the local wine section and were told not to miss their clearance section.  As we contemplated what treasures we might have found, we ended up having an impromptu wine tasting as we were offered samples so that we could make a more informed decision.

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First up was Brutacao 2010 Zinfandel from Mendocino, California.  This was a very full bodied red with just the right amount of tannins.

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Next was Montinore Estate 2012 Müller-Thurgau from Willamette Valley, Oregon.  This white was reminiscent of a dry Riesling which is one of the grapes from which this varietal was developed.

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Our last sample was the Cantina Zaccagnini 2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Abruzzo, Italy.  We were told that the grapevine twigs were tied on each bottle by hand. This red was well balanced and smooth drinking.  It was my favorite of the three we sampled.

Our browsing wasn’t limited to just wine and spirits. There was fresh coffee and specialty food items and seasonings. It was quite the experience.

The staff at Roof Brothers was incredible.  We were helped by no less than five different staff members.  All were so gracious, friendly, and knowledgeable.  They even carried our purchases to our car.

Roof Purchases

We of course came away with a bottle of the violet liquour each.  I also puchased two bottles of the Montepulciano as well as a bargain bottle of Hey Mambo 2013 Sultry Red, which I had enjoyed from a previous tasting at Party Town.  My biggest score was the bottle of Glisson Vineyards & Winery Dolce Passione.  Glisson had closed down a couple of years ago so we thought we’d lost all opportunity to taste their wines.  While I am typically not a white wine drinker, I couldn’t resist purchasing possibly one of their last bottles of wine on earth.  We haven’t opened it yet, but are looking forward to enjoying this rarity.

Eddy Grove Vineyard & Timberdoodle Restaurant

A work related conference took me within 40 minutes of where my daughter lives.  The dates, as well as my work schedule, allowed me to enjoy two extended weekends with her. During our girl time we always plan some wonderful adventures.

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We had had Eddy Grove Vineyard on our radar for some time.  A little bit of research on there website revealed that they also had a restaurant with a very interesting menu.

It was a beautiful day and the tasting room and restaurant were just as cute as they could be.  We decided we wanted to enjoy the perfect weather and relaxed with a tasting of their wines and a fantastic lunch on the patio.

Like many wineries, Eddy Grove’s vines had suffered with the previous winters so their wine list was not as lengthy as they would have liked it to be.  We sampled all that they had to offer:

  • Zinfandel
  • Chambourcin Rosé
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonel
  • Traminette
  • Sweet Dreams – A blend of Vidal Blanc and Caldwell County blackberries

The Zinfandel was my favorite and the Chardonel was Aary’s.  We both enjoyed a glass of our picks with our lunch.  And what an amazing lunch it was!

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I had actually thought I was going to play it conservatively and order a burger. But when they didn’t have blue cheese, I stepped out of my comfort zone and order their Teriyaki Salmon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing.  I was so glad I did.  It was absolutely fantastic!

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Aary ordered the Sautéed Quail Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing. It too was amazing. Neither one of us could remember when we had had such a beautiful and delicious meal.

Timberdoodle Restaurant has a different menu every week.  Based on our experience, we can only imagine what new and beautiful dishes they will be featuring.  For those who aren’t so adventurous, their gourmet burger is always a staple.

Eddy Grove  Vineyard is looking forward to a new harvest and being able to expand their tasting list.  I know Aary and I are both looking forward to another visit later in the season, not only for the new wines, but for another wonderful and unique dining experience.  Their winery and restaurant are ones not to miss!

Brooks Hill Winery

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My travels last month took me through Louisville, which game me the opportunity to visit a fun little winery on the way.  I had been to Brooks Hill Winery twice before but it had been a while.  I hadn’t been able to manage a stop here on several of my previous trips because it seemed like I was always traveling through when they were closed.

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My stop here was anticipated but not really planned as I didn’t know until I got on the road if I could manage it.  I was only an hour out when I texted my friends, Debbi and Vickie, for an emergency meeting of the Winey Wenches. Vickie was working but Debbi was able to join me.  We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while so it was so nice to catch up. The time just flew by.

Of course we had to do a tasting!

Without a Designated Driver and driving a rental car, I had to be conservative. I limited myself to a single standard tasting.  My selections were:

  • Dori Roe Red – Chambourcin
  • Estate Blend – Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Limberger
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Hill Breeze – Traminette
  • Cherry-Cranberry

They were all quite enjoyable but it was the Chambourcin that stood out to me this day.  I purchased a bottle to enjoy later on my trip.

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While Debbi and I were visiting in the charming little tasting room, the winery dog, Lili, came in to say hello.  We even managed to convince her to pose for a picture.

I definitely need to plan my trips better so that I can enjoy more visits to Brooks Hill. There are several other wines I need to try.  And next time maybe I’ll let Bushmaster join me too!