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Remembering Last Summer – Fero Vineyards in Pennsylvania

August 20, 2016 3 comments

Fero Vineyards GlassDoes it make sense to write about a winery visit a year after? Well, I will leave you to ponder at that question, and will just go ahead with my post.

We have a tradition which we keep going for many years now – adults getaway. One weekend in August, we all get together for the two days of food, wines, laughter and simply enjoying each other’s company. These trips usually take place within reasonable driving distance (3 hours or less) for all people in the group (we all live in a close proximity to the New York city), and winery is always a good choice for the first stop.

Lucky for us, oenophiles, the wine bug caught up everywhere in the US, so there is no shortage of interesting wineries to visit along the East Coast of the United States. Our choice last year was the winery in Central Pennsylvania, called Fero Vineyards and Winery. The choice was not random – one of the grapes they use in the wine production is Saperavi. This is definitely not a common choice  – however, a rapidly (I think) growing trend among Eastern USA winemakers, in Finger lakes and other regions. Having been exposed to many amazing Georgian wines, where Saperavi is a king, I was very intrigued at a perspective of tasting the local rendition of such wines.

Had all the arrangements made to meet with Chuck Zaleski, a winery owner and winemaker at Fero. Chuck was taking time for this off his busy schedule, as he was participating in the town fair where he was pouring his wines.

Just curious – do you think everything is going boringly well, or do you expect a twist in this story?

So yes, the twist happened – in the form of a flat tire. About 70 miles down the road, the familiar sound appeared – anyone who had a flat tire knows what I’m talking about; if you never had one – keep it this way. Not a problem, I thought – while the spare tire is very awkwardly located in Toyota Sienna, under the cabin floor, right in a middle – at least I knew where it was. Next ten minutes of jumping around the car ended up in a grim realization – the spare tire was not there. Angry call to the dealer (luckily, it was Saturday) lead to a discovery – all wheel drive Toyota Sienna cars don’t have a spare tire as there is no space for it – instead, they are equipped with run-flats. To make long story short, after arriving with the smoldering tire to the closest dealership and waiting for about 3 hours, we were able to get on our way (of course I fully realize this was still a very lucky outcome).

As we were at least 3 hours behind the schedule, the decision had to be made – should we visit Fero (Chuck, of course, was not there) or forget it all together, just drive to our B&B and relax after such an ordeal. I’m glad the love of wine prevailed and we decided to stop by the Fero Vineyards first.

Fero Vineyards Sign

Fero Vineyards If you will look at the line up of the Fero Vineyards wines, you would find the closest match in Germany or Austria – of course with the addition of Saperavi. Despite the fact that we didn’t manage to meet with Chuck, he still took care of us, by leaving a bottle of Saperavi for us to taste, as the winery was sold out of their last vintage. We tasted through almost a complete portfolio of Fero wines, so here are the highlights for what I liked the most (as usual, there were too many wines, too little time):

2013 Fero Vineyards Grüner Veltliner Pennsylvania – dry, crisp
2013 Fero Vineyards Dry Riesling Pennsylvania – German style, nice minerality, good fruit
2013 Fero Vineyards Pint Noir Pennsylvania – dry, classic nose, crisp, very nice
2013 Fero Vineyards 1812 Lemberger Pennsylvania – crisp, crushed red fruit, pepper
2012 Fero Vineyards Pinot Gris Pennsylvania – nice, simple
2014 Fero Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé Pennsylvania – residual sweetness, light, balanced, excellent overall
2014 Fero Vineyards Semi-dry Riesling Pennsylvania – excellent, nice touch of sweetness
Fero Vineyards Concord Pennsylvania Table Wine – yes, this is rather sweet, but if you like Concord, this was a classic, restrained and delicious

2013 Fero Vineyards Pinot Gris Pennsylvania – crisp, minerality, excellent
2013 Fero Vineyards Estate Lemberger Pennsylvania – roasted fruit, good concentration, excellent
Fero Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling Pennsylvania – nice touch of petrol, good touch of sweetness, excellent overall
2013 Fero Vineyards Saperavi Pennsylvania – excellent, nice concentration, tannins, crushed blackberries, pepper notes

I’m definitely intrigued by this Saperavi wine. Fero Saperavi has a character of its own, as you can see from my tasting notes above. I would love to taste it side by side with its Georgian counterparts, of course blind. And let’s keep in mind that Saperavi grows in the Balkans (never tasted it), Finger Lakes (also never tasted it), and probably some other places I can’t even think of. Can someone please put together an exciting blind tasting? Or this might be a great subject for the #winestudio session…

Well, I still have a few bottles of Fero wines left, including 2013 Saperavi (courtesy of Chuck, yes) – but I want to give it at least a few more years. See, this is how oenophiles build their excitement…

And we are done here. If you are looking for the great East Coast wines, Fero Vineyards must be on your short list. And who knows, may be you will be lucky enough to taste their Saperavi. Cheers!

Riesling, Oh Riesling – Finger Lakes Riesling Deep Immersion with #WineChat

September 16, 2014 18 comments

IRF tasteprofileThere is nothing obscure about Riesling. Unquestionably one of the “big three” white grapes (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling). Celebrated through various social media events – “The Summer of Riesling”, “Riesling Month”. An established, de-facto pairing for the Asian or any spicy cuisine for that matter. “Fastest growing white wine in America”. And nevertheless, one of the most unknown, under-appreciated and misunderstood wines, if you ask me.

Walk into any general wine store, and try to find Riesling wines. Are they right in the first aisle, next to the California Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc? Nope. Oh yes, a lot of Rieslings come from Europe, so they definitely will be right next to the Burgundy and Loire. Oops – not here again? Here they are – in the back of the back, a side aisle, a small section, ask the sales guy, he will show you. And this is not limited to the wine stores only – most of the restaurant wine lists have one or two Riesling wines, usually in the cheapest group. Similar story in most of our cellars – how many bottles of Riesling do you have on your shelves? A few? And this is despite the fact that Riesling is one of the most age-worthy wines in the world…

So how do these two realities of “one of the fastest growing” and “last row seat” co-exist? I think perception has a lot to do with this. Since Riesling can be sweet, and often it is praised for its sweetness, consumers are stuck in the notion Riesling = Sweet. Take a look at the Wine Spectator ratings – highest rated Kabinett Riesling (typically showing only a hint of sweetness) got 93 points; and then 8 (eight!) Rieslings got 100 points (the absolute top) rating – by the way, it is 8 of only 75 wines which got 100 points from Wine Spectator – and all 8 are Trockenbeerenauslese, the highest sweetness designation. Thus for lots and lots of wine drinkers, Riesling is a dessert wine, and while we love dessert wines a lot more than we are willing to admit, the dessert wine designation means “only for the special moments”.

Can this perception be changed? Of course. How? By educating people. This was one of the reasons for the International Riesling Foundation (IRF) to be created in 2007. The idea behind foundation was exactly this – to make people aware of what Riesling has to offer, and to help people better understand Riesling wines. One of the outcomes of the IRF efforts became the Riesling Taste Profile. According the the specification of that profile, four taste categories are defined – Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet and Sweet. Based on the given set of parameters (sugar, acid and pH), the IRF developed a technical chart which allows winery to estimate how the consumers will likely perceive the wine across the 4 defined taste categories. After that, the winery can print that taste profile on the label (you can see an example at the very beginning of this post) – and then the consumer can quickly set the expectations just by glancing at the label.

Finger Lakes Rieslings

Well, it is good to have an informative label, but when it comes to the wine world, seeing doesn’t really equates to believing. But tasting does. This is where the #winechat comes to the rescue. Last week, a group of enthusiastic oenophiles had a chance to dive deeply into the world of 2013 Finger Lakes Riesling, by tasting through the 8 different wines and sharing the excitement with each other. And the wines were definitely very exciting, full of pleasure in every sip. Finger Lakes region in New York deserves all of your attention  – but I already shared my thought about the region at length in the two earlier posts this year, so I will have to refer you to those (first Finger Lakes #winechat and the post about Bellangelo wines).

Below are my notes regarding the individual wines. These notes are based on the longer evaluation of the wines than we would otherwise have during the 60 short minutes of the #winechat, so if you are talking part in another #winechat session on that subject, I suggest you will start tasting your wines now. One last note regarding the wines. As this is my third encounter with the Finger Lakes wines this year, I would like to offer two “bits of wisdom” based on that experience:

  1. Don’t over-chill.
  2. Let ’em breathe.

Terroir, minerality are important components of Finger Lakes wines – by serving the wines a bit warmer than you normally would, say at around 50F, and letting them breathe for may be an hour, you will do yourself a big favor and will find a lot more pleasure in every sip. At least I did. Without further ado, here are the 8 beautiful wines:

Thirsty Owl Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Riesling Finger Lakes (11.0% ABV, $14.95). IRF scale not shown. On the nose, touch of minerality (gunflint), apricot. Overall nice and restrained. Palate: Clean , crisp acidity, touch of honeysuckle, golden delicious apple. Medium finish, overall very refreshing. Drinkability: 8-

Knapp Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Knapp Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (12%ABV, $15.95) – On the IRF scale, this wine is at the lower part of the Medium Dry style. White apples, honey and lemon on the nose. On the palate, candied lemon peel with fresh lemon juice, complemented by the cut-through acidity. Medium finish, overall a nicely balanced wine. Drinkability: 7+

Boundary Breaks Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Boundary Breaks Vineyard #239 Dry Finger Lakes (11.6% ABV, $19.95) – right in the middle of “dry” on the IRF scale. This is my second encounter with Boundary Breaks Riesling, and I find that this wine needs breathing time to show itself. Initially, closed on the nose, then opening to show distant hint of lemon, touch of minerality. On the palate – wave of sweetness first, with cut through acidity, lingering for a bit and then finishing dry. Tasting at a later time adds some fresh apple and more minerally undertones. Drinkability: 7+

Red Newt Cellars Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Red Newt Cellars Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (11.8% ABV, $17.00) – right in the middle of “dry” on the IRF scale. On the nose, shows minerality, touch of fresh grass. hint of fresh lime, overall very intense. On the palate – nutmeg, hint of mango, fresh herbs and lemon, crisp, dry. Excellent balance and overall very pleasant. One of my very favorites from the tasting. Drinkability: 8

Swedish Hill Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Swedish Hill Riesling Finger Lakes (11.8% ABV, $15.99) – IRF scale not shown. Fresh white fruit on the nose, touch of candied lemon. Nose quite intense. On the palate – rich, velvety, ripe peach with touch of fresh lemon, clean acidity, excellent finish (medium plus). Texturally quite unique. Drinkability: 8-

Fox Run Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Fox Run Vineyards Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV, $17.99) – According to IRF scale, the wine is right on the border between Dry and Medium Dry. On the nose, subdued notes of peach and honey, touch of lemon, intense. Palate is elegant, mineral-driven, with green apple, touch of Meyer lemon, overall dry and very balanced. Drinkability: 8

McGregor Riesling Finger Lakes2013 McGregor Vineyard Riesling Finger Lakes (10.5% ABV, $19.99) – IRF scale is not used. A lot is happening on the nose – cantaloupe, honeysuckle, candied orange, openly sweet and intense. On the palate – ripe apricot, honey, ripe white apple, elegant acidity, perfectly refreshing, very good balance. Drinkability: 8-

Chateau Lafayette Reneau Riesling Finger Lakes2013 Chateau Lafayette Reneau Riesling Semidry Finger Lakes (11.5% ABV, $14.99) – IRF scale is not used. On the nose – rhubarb, floral, touch of grass, white apple. On the palate – honeysuckle, ripe peach, touch of minerality and grass, lemon zest, clean acidity, excellent balance, soft and round mouthfeel. Another top favorite from the tasting. Drinkability: 8

Here we go – 8 great wines, and the region for you waiting to be discovered. September is still on, and it is an official Finger Lakes Riesling month – make an effort to find your new love – a versatile ( and affordable!) wine which you can drink now or put away to enjoy in a few years (or 10 or 20, this is entirely up to you). Cheers!

Finally, I’m a Convert

August 24, 2014 13 comments

Yes, this will be a post about the wine – what did you think I will be writing about? I completely changed my perception of one wine region, so convert or not, but this is what this post is all about.

Don’t know about you, but when I visit the wine region and wineries in it, I generally come with certain set of expectations, a perceived notion if you will. These perceived notions usually are very opposite and have no middle ground. Perceived notion number one – visiting many wineries, I generally expect to find a lot of wines which I will like, and a few which I will not care for. This would be true for many wine regions in California – Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara – but not all of them (for instance, Temecula is not included in that list). Perceived notion number two – I will not care for the most wines I will be tasting, but if I’m lucky, there might be a few wines which I will like. Connecticut wine region would be a good example of this second group – but we will talk about it later in a separate post.

Of course both of this perceived notions are founded based on the prior experience with the wines of the region, both at the winery and outside. It is easy to build – just visit a few wineries, where you don’t like the wines, or buy a few bottles in the store which you will not care for, and that’s enough to label the whole region as “not my thing”. Once the perceived notion is born, it is very hard to overcome and change. I agree that this sounds very shortsighted, but this is how we are [very commonly] wired – try something once, don’t like it (think about first time your mom forced you to eat broccoli), and you might be set in your “unlove” for life. This “tried this, didn’t like it, never again” type of attitude is never practically helpful around food and wine, as it prevents us from having great experiences. This perceived notion is hard to get rid of –  but not impossible if you are willing to take an “open mind” approach – try and try again, until a specific experience will trigger the change.

Okay, done with the philosophical intro, let’s get to the conversion details. The region I finally changed my view on is Finger Lakes. During multiple visits over the few years, I kept trying and trying new wineries, only to come up to the same resolution every time – “nope, not my wine” – and that included even Riesling, which is considered the signature wine of the Finger Lakes region. Then I discovered wines of Fox Run and Dr. Konstantin Frank, which created a crack in my preconceived notion. The Finger Lakes #winechat I took part of in May, made the crack wider. But what made me to change the whole perception were the wines of Villa Bellangelo.

Villa Bellangelo is a small producer, located in a close proximity to the Seneca Lake. The family owned winery produces a number of different Rieslings, as well as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot and other wines. About two month ago, I received a sample set of wines form the Villa Bellangelo, 5 bottles of Riesling and a bottle of Chardonnay. As I mentioned in some other posts, while samples sound great (“yay, free wine!”), to me they are more challenging to deal with than the regular wines I buy. I would not crack a sample bottle just casually in the evening – I need to make sure I can give it my undivided attention and spend time with the wine – thus it often takes me quite some time to find the right opportunity. Finally, the moment presented itself and I opened the first bottle of Riesling. Pour, sniff – delicious, take a sip – wow. Clean and beautiful Riesling, perfectly fitting my definition of “classic Riesling”. Next bottle, then next – all 5 Rieslings and the Chardonnay delivered lots of pleasure, sip after sip, bottle after bottle. 6 out of 6? I think this is very convincing performance, hence the title of this post and yes, the change in the perceived notion.

For what it worth, here are the notes on all 6 wines:

2012 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (12.3% ABV, $19) – Color is lighter than straw pale. On the nose, great Riesling aromatics, classic, honeysuckle, pear, fresh apple. palate is dry, clean, great acidity, very light, green apple, super-refreshing, present minerality, short finish. A wine of a great quality. Drinkability: 8-/8

2013 Villa Bellangelo Dry Riesling Seneca Lake Finger Lakes (11.3% ABV, $19) – Beautiful nose of the white stone fruit, hint of honeydew sweetness. Perfectly balanced on the palate, crisp acidity, minerality, touch of green apple. Excellent overall. Drinkability: 8

2012 Villa Bellangelo Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV, $19) – Nice straw color. Pleasant nose of white apples and touch of apricot. Palate exhibits good acidity, good balance, hint of sweetness and white stone fruit. This wine is showing better once it warms up a bit (not straight from the fridge), which I find interesting. Drinkability: 8-

2013 Villa Bellangelo Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes (10.8% ABV, $N/A) – Open nose of apricot and white peaches. Palate has nice level of sweetness, supported by good acidity. Very refreshing and a pleasure to drink. Drinkability: 8-/8

2012 Villa Bellangelo 1866 Reserve Riesling Finger Lakes (11% ABV, $32) – This wine is a dedication to the Dr. Byron Spence, who in 1866 planted 20 acres of the sloping western hills of Seneca Lake with the wine grapes. This vineyard is where the Villa Bellangelo makes their best wines from, hence the 1866 in the name of the wine.

The wine had a beautiful light golden color. Classic Riesling nose, with honeysuckle, white peach, apricot, all very subdued and delicate; touch of minerality. On the palate, apricot notes together with a touch of the apricot pit bite, touch of white apple, clean and vibrant acidity, present minerality, perfect balanced and nice complexity on the finish. Drinkability: 8/8+

2012 Villa Bellangelo Chardonnay Finger Lakes (13.8% ABV, $20) – Outstanding. Perfect Chablis-like, complex nose – minerality, distant hint of gunflint, touch of fresh apple. Palate is clean, balanced, with white apple and vanilla notes, vibrant acidity. Drinkability: 8

There you have it, my friends. One winery, which finally did it for me. Now Finger Lakes is squarely on my “yes, I love those wines” list. I don’t know what is your opinion about Finger Lakes wines, but if you were like me, find some Bellangelo wines and see if they will make you a convert. Cheers to the great wine discoveries!

Wines, Wines, Wines

August 16, 2013 24 comments

A couple of weeks ago, an interesting (concerning, rather?) thought came in – this is the wine blog. I’m doing my best to keep you entertained and informed, with all the weekly quizzes and potpourri wine news (a.k.a. Wednesday’s Meritage), but I don’t do enough of the core wine blogging stuff – namely, the wine reviews.  No, I don’t have a plan to address this radically – say, but introducing a new weekly topic or so. But during the past month, I had quite a few wines worth talking about, so this is exactly what I’m going to do – write a post to review those wines. Well, yeah, I guess you are already reading this very post… The usual warning – there will be pictures,… many pictures…

It is still summer, so let’s start with super-quaffable Prosecco. It is not even Prosecco, it is pretty much a complete cocktail in the bottle. The wine is made by Mionetto, a well known Prosecco producer in Valdobbiadene region in Italy.

MIonetto Il Ugo

Mionetto Il Ugo

Mionetto Il Ugo, a blend of Prosecco with elderflower blossoms and wildflowers – bright and uplifting on the nose, touch of sweetness with a charismatic bitterness and enough acidity – it is so refreshing, you don’t want to put the glass down. Yes, I know, the purists will disagree – but this is an outstanding wine in my book. Drinkability: 8

Now, a couple of value wines for your consideration. These wines come from Chile under the brand name of the Beach Kite. While you can’t find this information on the wine label, Beach Kite is presumable affiliated with 90+ Cellars. 90+ Cellars has a similar model of operation to Hughes Wines and Oriel (at least the two that I’m familiar with), which is: find good wines which well-known wineries have a hard time selling, bottle under your own private label, and sell for the reasonable price at around $20. Beach Kite seems to be more of a “second label” to the 90+ Cellars wines, considering the price of $7.99 per bottle. But – don’t judge the wine by its price.

2012 Beach Kite Sauvignon Blanc Central Valley Chile (13% ABV) had herbaceous nose, and zesty grapefruit on the palate, a bit more restrained compare to the typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but still  fruit forward next to Sancerre. Refreshing, with good acidity. Drinkability: 7

2012 Beach Kite Pinot Noir Central Valley Chile (13% ABV) – simple, round, good red fruit on the nose and the palate, touch of plums, good acidity – perfect sipping wine for a hot summer day. Drinkability: 7

Next I want to talk about few wines, sorted by the grape.

Riesling

While this is not how I rate the wines, but I would say that I had two Rieslings which were outstanding, and one which was … just spectacular.

DSC_0594

Paritua Riesling Central Otago

2008 Paritua Riesling Central Otago New Zealand (11.5% ABV). I got this wine for $6/bottle at Last Bottle Wines. I was questioning myself a bit when placing an order for this wine, as I never heard of Riesling from Central Otago – a region in New Zealand known for their world-class Pinot Noir, but not Riesling. I’m glad I took my chances and got this wine, as it was outstanding. Perfect ripe peach flavors on the nose with the hint of petrol (yes, I know some people are not very happy about this flavor, but I personally love  it). Very delicate on the palate, with some honey and apricot notes, perfect acidity and very restrained sweetness. This New Zealand Riesling would rival many of the German Rieslings at Kabinett level. One night we had it with Thai food, and [as expected] it paired perfectly. Drinkability: 8

2005 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese Mosel-SaarRuwer (9% ABV) – what I value the most in Riesling (any Riesling) is balance. My sweet tooth is not any smaller than the one any sweets lover would have out there. But I can’t take bottomless sweetness in the wine – I need acidity to come and play it supportive and refreshing role right next to the sweetness. This Riesling is perfectly balanced, with excellent acidity – and showing no signs of age.  Just had an interesting revelation – may be I should replace my “drinkability” ratings with “quaffability”, as this wine was not just drinkable, it was perfectly quaffable. Anyway, I digress. This is not the first Riesling I had from Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg  – and it seems to be a very interesting winery – but I need to refer you to the Riesling expert Oliver TheWinegetter if you want to learn more. Here is a link to the comment Oliver left on one of my previous posts where he is talking about this winery. Drinkability: 8+

Curt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling

Kurt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling

1999 Kurt Rasmussen Late Harvest Riesling Dry Creek Valley (13%ABV) – I’m not sure I can do justice to this wine trying to describe it. In a word – spectacular. Liquid viscous dark gold in the glass, honey, honeydew, caramelized pecan, apricot notes all over, both on the nose and the palate – and perfectly balanced (I’m know I’m abusing this one), with still bright supporting acidity. Drinkability: 9

Next up – Gewurztraminer

To be honest, I don’t drink Gewurztraminer all that often. I find a lot of Gewurztraminer wines to be all over the place in terms of taste – many of them have wonderful nose, but then on the palate the wine often doesn’t appear to be “together”, it shows up quite disjointed. But – not this wine.

Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Domain Zind-Humbrecht is one of the best producers in Alsace, probably best known for its Pinot Gris wines. Just to put things in perspective, 36 wines of Domain Zind-Humbrecht have classic ratings from Wine Spectator (95-100), including perfect score 100 point 2001 Pinot Gris. Well, this is not the wine I’m talking about here.

2002 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Gewurztraminer Alsace (15.5% ABV) – I got two bottles of this wine at Bottle King in New Jersey on a big sale for about $20 each – this wine typically retails for $60 or so. I had a bottle few years back, and was not impressed. So when I pulled this bottle out, I was not expecting much ( it was more like “yeah,  let’s free some space in the wine fridge”). My, was I wrong! In one word, I have to use again my abused wine definition of the day – spectacular. Dark golden color, beautiful nose of candied apricot, perfect honey tones on the palate, fresh acidity, more candied apricot, perfectly balanced. Drinkability: 9

Food break

Tired of wine? Let’s make a short break for some food pictures. First, I promised to Food and Wine Hedonist that when I will make Elotes according to his recipe, I will share my impressions. Elotes is Mexican street food which is essentially a grilled corn with spicy mayo and Cotija cheese – this is precisely what I did and it was tasty! For the recipe, use the link above, and here are the pictures:

Yes, I continue admiring my “mangal”, a special charcoal grill – here are few pictures for your drooling pleasure:

You know what – I think this is enough for one post. Let’s stop here. In the next post – Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and may be something else.

To be continued…

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Transportation Challenge Round Up, Cabernet Day, Can We Resurrect #WBW?

July 10, 2013 5 comments

DSC_0032 Hans Von Muller RieslingMeritage Time!
Let’s start with the answers for the wine quiz #64, Grape Trivia – Riesling. In that quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions regarding Riesling grape.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Riesling is a very popular grape in US and Canada, growing in many regions. Considering the plantings of the Riesling in the regions, can you sort the list below from the biggest area plantings to the smallest?

a. California, b. New York, c. Ontario, Canada, d. State of Washington

A1:correct sequence is Washington, California, Ontario, New York

Q2: Have you heard the term “noble rot”, which is often associated with certain types of Riesling? Can you explain what this term means and to which Riesling wines it is typically applicable (at least in Germany)?

A2: Noble Rot is actually a grape fungus, officially called Botrytis Cinerea, which affects a number of different grapes and leads to subsequent shriveling (drying) of the grapes while on the vine. This drying of the grapes tremendously concentrates sugars, which allows for the grapes to be used in production of the sweetest of all Rieslings – Trockenberenauslese.

Q3: Riesling is known for sometimes developing a specific aroma which has typically nothing to do with the wine – but it is not a fault. Do you know what aroma is that?

A3: Petrol. Believe it or not, but many Riesling wines (in some rare cases, even Riesling wines outside of Germany) can develop this petrol aroma. It is usually perceived only on the nose, and it doesn’t give you a feeling of being at the gas station – it is just a light hint, but when it is present, you can safely guess your wine being Riesling even in the blind tasting.

Q4: Name one major(!) wine producing country which doesn’t produce any Riesling wines.

A4: Spain. Spain is a home to the plenty of wonderful white grapes – but it doesn’t produce any Rieslings at all.

Q5: If you look at the bottle of German Riesling, you will typically see the word such as Kabinett or Spatlese written on the label. Such words typically indicate the level of sweetness you should expect from wine  – even though this is not a precise definition, as these words only indicate sugar amount in the freshly pressed grape juice – the level of sugar in the resulting wine can be quite different depending on the way the fermentation is done. Can you sort the following list of these key indicators from the lowest sugar content to the highest?

a. Auslese, b. Berenauslese, c. Eiswein, d. Kabinett, e. Spatlese, f. Trockenberenauslese

A5:The correct line up is Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Berenauslese/Eiswein, Trockenberenauslese (if you need full level of details, you can always go to Wikipedia).

It seems that the first question proved to be most challenging of all, as nobody was able to provide the right answer – as the result, we don’t have a winner this week. At the same time, The Wine Getter and Foxress both get an honorable mention with 4 correct answers out of 5.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and web!

First of all, I want to bring to your attention a roundup of a Monthly Wine Blogging Challenge started by Jeff (a.k.a. The Drunken Cyclist). About a month or so ago, Jeff announced a wine blogging challenge based on the theme, similar to the challenges which are popular among photography bloggers. The first theme was Transportation, and the idea was to write the wine blog post which would relate to the designated theme. 10 wine bloggers participated in this challenge, and you can find links to all the blogs posts in this round up. I think this is a great idea and I hope more wine bloggers will participate next time.

Who remembers the Wine Blogging Wednesdays (#WBW)? Similar to the challenge I mentioned above, the WBW events had a theme, which in the most cases was a grape, a type of wine or a wine region, and they also had a host. The host was typically the one who suggested the original theme, and also it was the host’s job to provide a roundup of all the submitted blog posts. These #WBW events had a very good run of almost 8 years, and there was a dedicated web site which is still somewhat accessible. I think it might be cool to bring the #WBW events back – in case you experienced any of them, feel free to comment – do you think Wine Blogging Wednesday events should be resurrected?

Last but not least – the Cabernet Day is coming! Well, not tomorrow – but August 29th is the day. And you know how it works – the summer will be over in a blink, so it is never to early to prepare for celebration of such a noble grape as Cabernet. Here is the link to the invitation I received for the this Cabernet Day – join the festivities!

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is is empty – but more Meritage is coming. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wine Quiz #64: Grape Trivia – Riesling

July 6, 2013 11 comments
Ripe Riesling Grapes, as captured in Wikipedia

Ripe Riesling Grapes, as captured in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend  and your new wine quiz!

And the moment you’ve being waiting for is here – as promised, we are switching to the white grapes! For the next 10 or so quizzes, we will be talking about white grapes. And we are starting with nothing less than the Riesling!

Riesling is one of the major white grapes (that “major” list typically includes Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) with long and somewhat turbulent history. The first official mentions of Riesling appear 1400s in Germany and then Alsace. From there, Riesling had been growing in popularity for the long time, about 100-120 years ago even surpassing red Bordeaux wines both in price and demand. Unfortunately, with prolonged wars and also subsequent Germany’s focus on quantity instead of quality in the middle of 20th century, Riesling lost its leadership position and currently is engaged in the uphill battle to regain its old popularity.

Overall, Riesling is considered to be very terroir-driven (similar to Pinot Noir), which you can easily see just by trying, for instance, German, Australian and Alsatian Rieslings side by side – you might perceive them as completely unrelated wines. Substantial acidity makes Riesling very food friendly (it is one of the most versatile white wines) and also allows it to age for a very long time – even 100 years would not be unheard of. Riesling is quite popular world-wide, growing in pretty much all major wine producing countries and slowly but steadily increasing both in terms of production and acreage.

Let’s get to our quiz, shall we?

Q1: Riesling is a very popular grape in US and Canada, growing in many regions. Considering the plantings of the Riesling in the regions, can you sort the list below from the biggest area plantings to the smallest?

a. California

b. New York

c. Ontario, Canada

d. State of Washington

Q2: Have you heard the term “noble rot”, which is often associated with certain types of Riesling? Can you explain what this term means and to which Riesling wines it is typically applicable (at least in Germany)?

Q3: Riesling is known for sometimes developing a specific aroma which has typically nothing to do with the wine – but it is not a fault. Do you know what aroma is that?

Q4: Name one major(!) wine producing country which doesn’t produce any Riesling wines.

Q5: If you look at the bottle of German Riesling, you will typically see the word such as Kabinett or Spatlese written on the label. Such words typically indicate the level of sweetness you should expect from wine  – even though this is not a precise definition, as these words only indicate sugar amount in the freshly pressed grape juice – the level of sugar in the resulting wine can be quite different depending on the way the fermentation is done. Can you sort the following list of these key indicators from the lowest sugar content to the highest?

a. Auslese

b. Berenauslese

c. Eiswein

d. Kabinett

e. Spatlese

f. Trockenberenauslese

Good luck, enjoy and have a great weekend! Cheers!

Re-post: Affordable Luxuries of the Wine World: Sweet Wines

February 14, 2013 6 comments

During 2011 I wrote a number of posts for the project called The Art Of Life Magazine – of course talking about my favorite subject, wine. The project closed and even web site is down, but as I still like the posts I wrote, I decided to re-post them in this blog. Also, in that project, posts were grouped into mini-series, such as “Affordable Luxuries” you see here – I will continue re-posting them from time to time.

Also note that the series was written for a slightly different audience – I hope none of my readers will take offense in the fact that sometimes I’m stating the obvious. Ahh, and I think this post is very appropriate today, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day – Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

drloosen_ba_RieslingWe are continuing our “affordable luxuries” series. In the previous posts we were comparing Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage wines, as well as Grenache and Garnacha. Today we will talk about sweet wines.

First, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. We will be talking about real wines, made out of grapes, with soul and heart – this excludes white zinfandel, as well as blueberry, peach and coconut concoctions from further consideration. Second, I deliberately avoid using the word “dessert” wines, as that creates and expectations that we will be talking about wines which should be served only after a meal – where sweet wines are just the wines which have a lot of sweetness in the taste – but they are balanced and interesting enough to be actually served at any time during the meal or by themselves. I remember how Kevin Zraly, famous American wine educator, described his dining experience in Sauternes, area in France making some of the best in the world sweet wines: while he was expecting Sauternes to be served only with desserts, quite on contrary, they were served as aperitif, with an appetizer and entrée course, and then, of course, with dessert.

If you look at the sweet wines in general, you will find wide variety of styles, with differences a lot more pronounced than, for instance, between classic Burgundy and fruit forward California Zinfandel. It would make it a fun project to classify the sweet wines of the world (hmmm, note to self), however, it would never fit in the format of the entertaining blog post, so let’s defer this for some other time, and let’s just lay down some basic facts.

Essentially, sweet wines can be made from absolutely any grape used in the wine making. There are some grape varieties, like Muscat, which are known to develop very high sugar levels and thus used more often in production of the sweet wines. Nevertheless, grapes are always harvested when they contain enough sugar to be made into the wine of particular style, whether it is Rioja, or Burgundy, or California Cabernet Sauvignon or anything else. Once grapes are harvested, they undergo a process of fermentation – that’s when sugars are converted by the yeast into the alcohol.

What makes wine to taste sweet is the amount of sugar left in the wine after fermentation is complete (it is called “residual sugar”). So in a very simplistic way, when we make sweet wine, we want grapes to have as much sugar as possible – which can be achieved by late harvesting the grapes, or by drying grapes under the sun, almost making them into raisins before the fermentation (this process is called passito), or by letting grapes to shrivel on the vine as the result of noble rot, or by letting grapes freeze on the vine and then making wine out of the frozen grapes. Whew, so much information in a single sentence! If you want to actually learn more about the same in a slow down form, take a look at the Wikipedia article on the sweet wines.

In order to retain sugar in the wine, we need to stop fermentation before all the sugar is converted into alcohol. There are two ways to do so. One is by adding pure alcohol, which kills all the leftover yeast and therefore fermentation stops. This is how Port wines are made, for instance. Another way to stop fermentation is by lowering the temperature of the liquid, which will technically achieve the same result as adding the alcohol (yeast stops converting sugars into alcohol), and then filtering the yeast out. This is how Riesling wines are made, for instance. There will be of course a difference in the amount of alcohol in the resulting wines – Ports typically have 19%, and Rieslings typically are ranging from 7% to 12%.

Now, after all this technical details, we are supposed to be talking about affordable luxuries, right? We learn to like (and crave) sugar from the moment we are born, so it is very easy to like sweet wines. But – it is not maple syrup we are talking about – it is a wine after all. The idea of a great wine is that it gives us pleasure – and pleasure of wine is dependent on the balance, whatever the balance would mean to you. Therefore, sweet wines are not been an exception at all – we want them to be balanced, same as any other wine we enjoy drinking. You want the balance of sweetness, acidity, fruit, minerality and alcohol – in other words, you want sweet wines to have sense of place and being well made.

Same as for any other wines, you will find sweet wines at full range of prices. Legendary Chateau d’Yquem from Sauternes will get you anywhere from $600 to $2000 per bottle, depending on the year and availability. At the same time, you can enjoy Haut Charmes Sauternes (Number 12 on my 2010 Top Dozen wines list) for $17. You can find Ruby Port for about $10 ( not necessarily very enjoyable), going to Rozes over 40 years old Port for about $100 (amazing, Number 2 on my 2010 Top Dozen) and then to the Taylor Fladgate Scion 155 years old (dream) at $3000 per bottle – if you can find it, of course.

d'Arenberg sticky chardonnaySo for this post, let’s compare 2008 d’Arenberg Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay from Australia (about $10 for 375 ml bottle) with 2006 Dr. Loosen Riesling BA ($20 for 187 ml bottle, so it is 4 times more expensive).

This sticky Chardonnay is a very nice wine, showing lots of peach, ripe apple and honey notes on the palate, with good acidity. When you try this wine by itself, the perception is “very good” – you just need to forgive some rough edges, a little sharpness on the palate.

So one would be technically quite happy with this Dessert wine – at least until he or she will have a chance to try the Dr. Loosen Beerenauslese Riesling. Light and beautiful, effervescent, with exposed minerality, smooth and balanced, with clean acidity and light sweetness. Very easy to drink and without any heavy aftertaste (as some sweet white wines can do). While d’Arenberg Sticky Chardonnay is quite drinkable, Dr. Loosen Riesling is definitely few notches above in terms of delivering pleasure.

Well, it is time to conclude. I hope you got a few ideas to explore – and don’t be afraid to experiment and look for your own personal wine pleasures – the reward is well worth it. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage: Happy Independence Day!

July 4, 2012 4 comments

First and foremost: Happy July 4th! It feels a bit strange when the holiday falls in a middle of the week, but still it is a nice break.

Now, here is the answer for the Wine Quiz #18 – Wine and Independence Day. It was great to see a variety of opinions, but the right answer is…Madeira! Now almost forgotten (but seemingly coming back, little by little) Madeira was the wine used to toast Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. The great thing about Madeira is that it was made to easily withstand a sea voyage in the barrel, were the other wines would arrive in totally insipid condition. If you want to read a bit more about Madeira, here is the link for you. And I would actually recommend to take it further – if you haven’t had Madeira recently, find a good bottle (forget the cooking stuff, please, get the real thing) – you might discover something you will really like.

For the news updates, I have a few things for you. First, for the “local” news, I finally updated my blogroll to add all the blogs I mentioned in my recent post.

I also want to bring to your attention a special “wine day” holiday. It is not even a day – it is a month-long holiday! In one of his recent posts, NJVinoman mentioned that we need more wine holidays – so his wish is granted – July is The 31 Days Of German Riesling! Now you have 31 days to celebrate the light, refreshing and versatile wine, perfectly complementing any hot summer day.

Last but not least – in addition to The Generous Pour program I mentioned in the last news update, The Capital Grille announced the return of their $18 “Plates” lunch menu for the summer. Well, there is a fine print there – you should check if you local Capital Grille is actually participating in the program – you will find the list of location at the bottom of the link I just shared. But if your Capital Grille is listed – don’t miss it!

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. Let me know what you are going to open to celebrate July 4th (Madeira, may be?). Happy Independence Day! Cheers!

Oh, My Sweet Valentine… – 2005 Version

February 8, 2012 2 comments

As I did recently with the post about Champagne, let me present you with an article written for the same Stamford Times newspaper in 2005 – talking about sweet wines for your special Valentin’s day, which is coming up in less than a week. For what it worth, here it is in its entirety.

* * *

Well, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. All stores are full of heart-shaped things, candies in particular. Seems that “sweet” is closely entwined into our tradition of Valentine’s Day celebration, and sweets and romance are usually go together. While we are on the subject, did you ever think of where the word “honeymoon” came from?  If you know the answer – great, you can skip the last paragraph, if not – please keep reading and you will get an answer at the end.

Now, let’s talk about sweet substance which usually doesn’t come in the heart-shaped form, but nevertheless is worth mentioning – let’s talk about sweet wine. So how come the wine can be sweet? Do they add sugar to it? No, usually, nobody adds sugar to the wine. Sugar is developing in the grape as it ripens, and it is a result of photosynthesis ( no sun – no sugar  – no wine, very simple formula). As the grape ripens, the amount of sugar is increasing, thus the idea is very simple – the longer time grape spends under the sun, the sweeter it becomes. The later harvest is, more sugar the grape will have. Have you seen words “late harvest” on the wine label? What it telling you is that the grape spent more time on the vine and was harvested late, thus you should expect that the wine under such label will generally be sweeter.

Well, then, if sugar is naturally present in the grape, how come most of the wine we drink is not sweet at all – they are so called dry wines? After grapes are pressed, when grape juice is fermented by adding yeast, the fermentation process stops by itself once all sugar is converted into alcohol – this is why we usually don’t taste sugar in the wine. Based on that fact, we can see that if grape has too much sugar, we might get wine very high in the alcohol, which will usually defeat the purpose. The fact that amount of sugar in the grape needs to be controlled, often dictates the starting date of harvest. But when the goal is to produce sweet wine, the grapes are usually left on the vine for as long as possible, they shrivel under the sun, almost becoming raisins, plus very often it is desirable that the mold, called Bortrytis cinerea, or “noble rot” will develop on the grapes. This will ensure that grape will have maximum concentration of sugar, which will be then only partially fermented into an alcohol, thus producing sweet wine.

One more fact would be interesting to note – as it is necessary to wait until the grapes are “raisiny” enough to be made into a sweet wine, usually small quantity of suitable grapes is harvested, and also such suitable grapes should be picked by hand multiple times. This translates into the fact that very often sweet wines carry a high sticker price (however an exception, but some German Rieslings, for instance, can go for $400 per 375 ml bottle)

To make sweet wines even more concentrated, as unusual as it sounds, next after sun and heat comes frost. This is how so called ice wine is made – grapes are harvested well into the winter months, when temperature drops below 17°F. Frost leads to the further dehydration of grapes, thus ensuring even higher levels of sugar and flavor in the grape. The grapes are pressed while frozen, and usually very limited quantity of the grape juice is extracted, which in turn means once again – you guessed it right – high prices. Just to add a historic prospective, ice wine was first produced in Germany at the end of 18th century and since then it is becoming more and more popular and it is now produced in other countries with great success (Austria and Canada are two of top contenders).

So where sweet wines are made? The answer is – pretty much everywhere. While covering all different sweet wine regions in this article would be impossible, let’s take a quick tour around the world.

We will start in … France, of course. Some of the best sweet wines in the world are produced in the region of Bordeaux called Sauternes. Sauternes wine is made primarily out of grape called Semillon. The most famous wine in Sauternes are made at Chateau d’Yquem – you wouldn’t regret having Chateau d’Yquem served at your romantic dinner.

While we are in Europe, let’s make another stop – Germany. Assumingly, German Rieslings don’t need much introduction. Riesling wine is made out of the grape with the same name – Riesling. There are different levels of sweetness (five of them) in German Rieslings – starting from the one called Kabinett, which is a semi-dry wine, and going to the one called Trockenbeerenauslese ( TBA in short), which makes very rich, sweet, honey-like wine ( the price also follows the trail).

Of course when talking about wine, we can’t forget about Italy. While most of its fame is coming from the red wines like Barolo and Barbaresco, there are a number of well known sweet wines coming from that beautiful country. Asti Spumante, a sweet sparkling wine, would be one. Moscato di Asti would be another one – lightly fizzed wine with a fresh and delicate aroma. Vin Santo out of Tuscany (produced in the Chianti region) might also sound familiar.

Let’s cross the ocean now – in United States, sweet wines are produced in the number of regions, best of them arguably coming from upstate New York and state of Washington. These sweet wines are usually made out of Riesling grape. Canada is also worth mentioning as since 1973 it became a very respected producer of ice wine and compete very well in that category with both Germany and Austria.

While there is more to the geography of the sweet wines ( we didn’t even get to talk about Australia, Chili, Spain, Portugal and others), let’s talk about how and what to serve them with. The serving temperature range for the sweet wines is rather large, from 50°F to 65°F. You can chose the serving temperature depending on what characteristic of the wine you want to bring out – for the sweetness you can serve it warmer (57°F – 65°F), but if you want to stress light and refreshing side of the wine, you can serve it colder (50°F – 57°F).

What to serve with the sweet wine?  One possible choice – nothing. After all, there is plenty of sugar in that glass to qualify as a desert by itself. But if you want to have the sweet wine with food, the rules are the same as for any wine in general – it can either complement or contrast the food. You can serve sweet wine with desert to complement it, or you can contrast – serve a nice Riesling with blue cheese, for instance.

One thing left before we conclude – the answer to the “honeymoon question”. The word comes from ancient Persia, where it was a tradition for the father of the bride to provide a month-long supply of alcoholic beverage called mead (made out of honey) for the groom to be enjoyed after the wedding. As lunar calendar was used at that time, hence the “honeymoon” word.

With this we will conclude our short journey to the world of sweet wine. This Valentine’s Day, bring a bottle of sweet wine to your sweet Valentine, and to make sure it will taste the best – enjoy it together! Cheers!

Experiencing Wines of Canada

August 28, 2011 9 comments

Coming back to the memories of “ahh-so-distant-by-now” our Canada vacation (it’s being almost a month!), I need to share my wine experiences with you. You might remember two earlier posts (you can find them here and here), which I prefer to refer to as “picture reports”, which gave you visual expression of the food and some of the wines in Canada. However, we had an opportunity to spend some time in one of the Canadian wine countries, surrounding small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake – and it was an eye opening experience for me.

Until this trip, my idea of Canadian wines was very simple – Icewine. I knew for a while that Canada makes some really famous Icewines, which compete with German and Austrian Icewines. Outside of Icewine, my only reference were wines of Finger Lakes region in upstate New York (general direction of Canada). While I wouldn’t claim that I visited mass amount of wineries in Finger Lakes, in a few places we visited the only drinkable wines were Rieslings, and all the red wines were plain bad. Therefore, these were my expectations for the Canadian wines.

I decided to start from the winery with the name at least I heard of – Inniskillin, and of course the only wine I knew “of fame” there was an Icewine. As a side note I want to mention that the winery had a playroom for kids – which is very important factor in letting adults to enjoy a wine tasting, even during family vacation. The first wine we tried was 2010 Two Vineyard Riesling – very clean, good tropical fruit expression, all paired with beautiful acidity, nice finish. This was a great start of the tasting. The next wine completely blew me away – 2009 Legacy Series Pinot Gris. First, I didn’t expect Pinot Gris to be produced in Canada. But is not the main factor. Very complex, with explicit minerality and spicy bouquet on the palate, this wine still puts a smile on my face when I think about it.

After having a great start with the whites, my level of expectations increased for the reds – and rightfully so. 2009 Montague Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir was very nice, varietally correct with precise expression of smokiness and red fruit. Again, I would never expect to find a Pinot Noir of such clarity at a winery located so high up North – but I did. 2009 Shiraz Cabernet had perfect acidity, good minerality, just a right balance of dark fruit. 2009 Cabernet Franc was simply my favorite red wine – perfect, very balanced, with clearly expressed green peppers and explicit minerality (you might think that I’m abusing the term – but minerality was one of the key characteristics of all the Inniskillin wines we tasted, so I can’t help myself but to call it out).

As you might expect, sweet wines were next. We are not talking about some arbitrary late harvest wines – we are talking about Icewines, which have the highest sugar concentration out of all sweet wines, as the grapes are ripening on the vines until the frost reaches –8°C (about 17F) – then the grapes are harvested while being frozen and pressed right away – which yields tiny amount of super-concentrated grape juice – this is why the wines are called Icewine (also such a low yield explains high price of the Icewines). First we tried 2010 Sparkling Vidal Icewine, which was very light and delicate. 2007 Cabernet Franc Icewine was a real star though. I have to mention that Inniskillin was the first winery to produce Icewine from the red grape. Also, Inniskillin worked together with Riedel, leading wine glass maker in the world, to produce a specially shaped Icewine glass which enhances aromatics of the Icewine.

Going back to Cabernet France Icewine, it was incredible, one of the best ever dessert wines I ever tried. Why am I saying that? Balance. Ultimate Balance was first and foremost characteristic of this wine. Beautiful balance, perfect lingering acidity and literally unnoticeable sweetness – great wine. All in all, it was an outstanding line up of wines at Inniskillin, I can’t recommend high enough each and every wine I tried.

Next stop we made at the Cattail Creek Family Estate winery. One of the reasons to pick that particular winery was the fact that they have a few wines with the grapes I didn’t have before, like Chardonnay Musque, or different Riesling clones. I’m glad we stopped by, as we found more great tasting wines, plus most of the wines are made in a very small quantities, so many are available only at the winery itself. First, we tried 2008 Catastrophe White, which was perfectly refreshing, with good acidity and good amount of the white fruit. Then we tried 2009 Catastrophe Red, which had very good balance, nice red and black fruit expression, soft and pleasant. It is interesting to note that Catastrophe wine series labels depict real cats who lived at the winery. Last but not least was 2009 Chardonnay Musque – very nice, with good acidity, good reflection of what Chardonnay is, good subtle tropical fruit expression, more as a hint. This was yet another great experience.

Our last stop was Chateau des Charmes. This winery had the most impressive building of all:

The wines here were also very impressive. We started with 2007 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling (I wanted to experience “old vines” Riesling) – and to my complete surprise, this Riesling had a Petrol nose! I was always under impression that Petrol nose is a property of only German Rieslings – and here we go, Riesling from Canada with full classic German Riesling expression. In addition to Petrol nose, it also had very good fruit, medium body and perfect balancing acidity. Next were more of the very impressive Pinot Noirs. 2007 Pinot Noir had a beautiful nose, and lots of tannins on the palate – it was unusually muscular for the Pinot Noir, probably in need of a few years to open up, but still, it was very good. 2007 ‘Old Vines’ Pinot Noir  was also very big and powerful, with very clean smoky nose, but also needing time as the previous wine.

Last but not least was 2008 Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, which happened to be a clone of Gamay and therefore it accounted for an additional grape for my “counting grapes” project. This wine had very unusual herbaceous nose, and was nice and light on the palate – definitely a food friendly wine.

That concludes the Canadian wine story, as we didn’t have time to visit more places. But even based on this experience, if before I knew of only Icewines from Canada, now all the Canadian wines are squarely on the “to find and drink” list for me – and I highly recommend that you will make an effort to find them and try them as well. The challenge is – I didn’t see that many Canadian wines on the shelves of the wine stores here in Connecticut. Oh well, hopefully we can change that. Cheers!