Monday, August 3, 2009

Howard Hewitt's Ohio River Trip

It's been three months since I took my winery trip, and I still haven't finished writing about it. Fellow Hoosier wine blogger Howard over at Grape Sense-A Glass Half Full writes about his the next day. Show off!

He visited six wineries, including a few new ones and gives great descriptions. Check it out, parts I and II!

Howard also brings up a dilemma that comes up when one tastes wine-what do when something tastes off? Do you move on and not say anything or do you mention it? Myself, I play it by ear. Some pourers seem receptive to that sort of questioning, while others might bristle. It does get especially complicated when the pourer is the winemaker. It can be even more intimidating when someone is new to wine and isn't sure if there is something off with the wine or if they are really supposed to be tasting (and presumably enjoying) those off notes.

Anyway, thanks for the great review, Howard!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RIP Appellation America

After hearing the bad news that the wonderful resource Appellation America was moving to a paid subscription site, we get the even worse news that the site has decided to cease totally. Sad. AA was a great resource that attempted to give weight to all of the wine growing regions in America. I somehow doubt anyone can pick up the slack.

There does seem to be a constriction in the wine internet world right now. Let's hope it is merely cyclical due to the economy. While more information is not always a good thing, I have appreciated much of the "power to the educated buyer" stance many websites have been offering.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tasting Notes: Carousel Winery

On day two of our recent winery adventure, we left our base in Nashville and hopped south on IN-37. Past Bedford, right on the highway, we came across our first destination of the day, Carousel Winery.

The winery has been in existence for 8 years, started by West Coast transplants Marion and Sue Wilson. What juice they can't get locally, they try to get from Washington State. Sue was at the beautiful limestone counter when we came inside just as another group was leaving, and was quick to set us up a tasting.

The first thing one notices about the winery is the decor. Just as the name would suggest, a merry-go-round theme is evident here. The rest of the decor was over the top as well, but to each their own. One thing I did like is that the winery hosts a different local artist every couple of months and allows him or her to bring their work in the winery for sale. Great idea to help support the local arts, not to mention a cheap way to decorate (and redecorate) your store.

You also notice the friendly large Retriever moseying around. Named Cayuga White, it is a great ambassador for the winery.

As we took our places at the counter, we were handed a wine list. It was out of date, with several of the varieties sold out but not marked as such, but we made due. I am listing the price we were quoted when we were there, even though the website now lists higher prices for some bottles, even though it appears the website is irregularly updated. Notes:

Aglianico ($28.04) Sue crowed about this wine, saying you will can rarely find it in this country, let alone Indiana. This is an ancient variety that has never come into favor in America, and has only recently arrived with significant California plantings. I enjoy Italian Reds, and I am always up for something different (not to mention to knock another off the Wine Century Club countdown), so we tried it. The bouquet reminded me of a Syrah. The taste is dry, dry, dry, (some age on this wine would have been appreciated), and I didn't notice much of the complexity I get from some of my favored Italian wines. The taste reminded me of plums not quite ripe. Try it for the novelty factor, but this price is way too high for what you get.

Petite Sirah ($32.71) This limited reserve cost $1 to sample. Wanting to see how Indiana wineries are handling the higher end varietals, I forked over the money. Some blackberry and pepper notes, but we would taste better vintages of this variety on our trip at half the price, not to mention absent the sampling fee.

Lady Luck ($11.00) The description on the list said nothing about the wine, just some quizzical lines about luck smiling on you. That's nice, but it doesn't tell me a damn thing about the wine. After getting a taste, it does have a good balance in the mouth, with enough sweetness to be a hit in Indiana. One of the better "summer sippers" we tasted on our trip.

Riesling ($15.89) Lots of pineapple flavors to the exclusion of everything else. Underdeveloped, and much better (and cheaper) Rieslings would be tasted on our trip.

Cherry ($14.02) Made from Michigan fruit, this is an above average cherry wine. For me, that damning with faint praise, since I don't generally care for cherry wine, but if you do, this is one of the better Indiana ones.

Pomegranate ($14.02 for 500ml) I have only had one other pomegranate wine, that being at Grape Inspirations. I wasn't too impressed with that. This one was much better, if pretty sweet. The Silver Fox said, "it tastes just like the juice." Sue says this wine is becoming a big seller. If you like fruit wines, it's worth a shot.

I have to admit, I came away pretty underwhelmed here. In fact, at the conclusion of our trip, we named it one of the two biggest disappointments. Some innovation, but the prices stifle the desire to buy. I am sorry, but you are missing a huge opportunity for business if you can't provide some dependable, decent wines for under $10. If you can't do that, you better make sure your wines are better than average. Sadly, they weren't here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: 2008 Butler Vineyard Chambourcin Rosé

I don't normally care or post about wine competition results, but do feel the need to point out that Butler Winery won the award for Rose Wine of the Year at The Indy International Wine Competition. This is the first time an Indiana wine has won one of the major awards and represents a huge breakthrough for Indiana wines. It also confirms what many have been saying about Butler Winery-they may not get the attention their larger brethren do, but they sure make good wine.

When I was in the winery earlier this year, the wine was not yet available for tasting. However, I recently was able to split a bottle with some friends at Mass Ave Wine Shoppe. There was a markup in price ($24.95 vs. $17.95 at the winery), but it was worth it to enjoy the wine with friends in a great atmosphere. (Not to mentioned the markup is pretty insubstantial when compared to restaurant markups.)

Anyway, the wine was crisp and refreshing, perfect for a warm summer day. Served chilled, it set the perfect mood with its full herbaceous bouquet. It was great with some light cheese and crackers. We all loved it. Chambourcin is a wine that can actually do well in Indiana, and it is great to see what magic Butler was able to put into the bottle.

A wonderful addition the Butler brand, and one of the best Indiana wines. Congrats on the victory! Get it at Mass Ave or at the winery-it won't last long.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guest Judging at the Indy International Wine Competition

Like several bloggers, I received an invitation to be a guest judge at the Indy International Wine Competition. Sadly, my schedule did not allow me to participate. However, you can find two great posts from Grape Sense and Wine Biz News.

Sounds like a great time was had by all! Sorry I missed it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oak Hill Winery Now Has a Blog

Rick over at Oak Hill Winery has already done some pretty inventive things with his winery. Now, he becomes the first Hoosier winemaker to have his own blog, Ponderings at the Oak Hill Winery. He is doing a good job of keeping up the writing. Let's hope he keeps up the blogging, and that other wineries follow suit!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lastinger Wine Review Reviews Oliver's Watermelon Harvest

In my absence from blogging, I also neglected my blog reading. I missed this review last month on The Lastinger Wine Review on Oliver Winery and their Watermelon Harvest wine. I am not a big fan of these wines, though they certainly do have their finger on the pulse of Midwest palates. I agree with Stacy-the Black Cherry is particularly atrocious, just like a Luden's cough drop. The Mango isn't that bad though, and my friends who like sweeter wine rave about it.

Anyway, a great summation and worth reading. I haven't tried the new varieties of Watermelon and Passion Fruit, and though Stacy's review doesn't make me want to, perhaps I should and consider them for when I entertain people with diverse palates.

EDIT: I was at a dinner party this weekend, and a friend brought this over. Stacy has it right-this wine taste just like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. VERY sweet. As it was, it was too much. One of the people remarked, "I can't believe I used to drink this sweet stuff all the time." Another though it would be okay as a spritzer. I am sure it will sell well, since Oliver almost always has their finger on the Hoosier wine buying pulse, but I'll pass.

We all agreed the bouquet was wonderful though.