Thursday, June 26, 2014

ImBIBE: “I’m A Big Illinois Beer Enthusiast!”

Imbibe: Verb. To drink. To absorb. Take in. Receive into the mind and retain.
ImBIBE: Acronym. “I’m A Big Illinois Beer Enthusiast!”

ImBIBE: “I’m A Big Illinois Beer Enthusiast!”

For Father's Day, I treated myself to a craft beer gift that will keep giving all year long. ImBIBE was established to unite enthusiasts of Illinois beer and the brewing culture of the 21st State of the Union. I figured it was a good way to learn about some breweries I hadn't heard of, maybe connect with some kindred souls, and oh, get some amazing benefits.

Included in the one-year membership is a subscription to DRAFT Magazine, discounts to beer festivals, a “Free Taster!” at Monk’s Pub – Chicago, a free pint at Greenbush Brewery, and so much more.

I appreciate that, while it's an Illinois Beer group, they don't limit themselves too much, i.e., they include Greenbush even though they are in Michigan. Looking forward to seeing what comes across from the group and getting even more involved in our local craft beer scene!

What other beer organizations are worth joining?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Perfect Pairings - Horseshoe Casino

Last week, we were invited to attend Horseshoe Casino's "Perfect Pairings" dinner on Thursday. Typically, we don't go to casinos because a) we don't have extra money for gambling and b) neither of us enjoy second-hand smoke, and all the casinos around here allow smoking. Still, the Lakeview Room, where the dinner was held, overlooks Lake Michigan and was non-smoking to boot. The plan was that we, along with other guests, would  dine on a six-course menu paired perfectly with beverages all while learning about the cuisine from Horseshoe's own, Chef Mark Angeles. Okay, we were in.

Perfect Pairings - Horseshoe Casino

If you've never been to the casino before, the room is not easy to find, as it is located in the Pavilion, and not in the main casino itself. If you walk through the casino, it requires several turns and a run through the smoky gauntlet, so do yourself a favor and swing around to the second parking garage, where the Pavilion is located. Upon entering the Lakeview Room, a wall of windows offers a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the Hammond Marina below. I would say the design creates a clubby atmosphere, with varying seating areas and a bar along one edge of the room. The six courses were scattered throughout the room, with  drinks nearby on tables, usually with a knowledgeable helper there to pour. Wineries represented included Chateau Ste Michelle, Josh, Cellars, and Simi. Along with the wine, beer from Goose Island and Tequila from Casamigos (a company owned by George Clooney) were also available.

Perfect Pairings - Horseshoe Casino

I was a bit dismayed that 3 of the 6 courses were seafood based, but the others were so good it ended up being less of a problem than I expected. Laima tasted the seafood options for us and they were all very good, in her opinion - best combinations for her were the Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon with the Surf 'n Turf and the Goose Island beer with warm oysters. For me the Casamigos Reposado Tequila was perfect with the quail, while the Chateau Set Michelle Sauvignon Blanc and lamb skewers also were tasty together. While the event did have suggested pairings, nothing stopped us from trying what we wanted. It was a lot of fun to grab the food, 2 or 3 glasses of wine or beer, and taste the results of the pairings. 

Perfect Pairings - Horseshoe Casino

This was an interesting evening, both to see what the chef made and which wines were suggested, along with getting to try myriad options to see whether we liked something better. If you are close enough to the casino for this to be an option, another "Perfect Pairings" dinner will be held on Thursday, July 17th, so get tickets now.

This dinner was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards - BC, Canada

"Naturally South Okanagan"

When I was asked if we wanted to review wines from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, they didn't have to ask twice. While at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, I fell in love with the brightly acidic wines from British Columbia, including a few from Tinhorn Creek I got to taste. Unfortunately, they are not easy to come by, as Canada's convoluted shipping laws make it difficult for the wineries to ship almost anywhere. Luckily for them, they have many appreciative fans locally, who buy and drink much of the wine (unlucky for us). Happily for existing U.S. fans (and those sure to become fans), Tinhorn has announced a new service that allows their award-winning wines to be ordered directly from the winery in Oliver, British Columbia and shipped to addresses in the U.S.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Buy these wines, all of them. And then buy some extra,
because you'll want to drink more once you taste them.

Tinhorn Creek, established in 1993, uses only its own estate-grown grapes, sourced from their two vineyards. 50 acres are farmed at the winery (the Tinhorn Creek vineyard, a mix of red and white grapes, but primarily Gewürztraminer) and 100 acres on the Black Sage Bench (the Diamondback vineyard, a mix of red and white varieties, primarily Pinot Gris, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). They don’t use toxic baits or sprays to control pests. Instead, they change the habitat to discourage them – like removing big rocks and other hiding spots, fencing, netting, and the strategic use of sound help keep snakes, deer, and birds at bay – naturally. Certified as a Salmon-Safe farm, this includes managing run-off, reducing pesticides, and advancing environmental practices in the community.

During the summer, the winery offers concerts and theatre productions in an outdoor amphitheatre set amid the vines. They are now celebrating 20 years (1994-2014) with 20 events, another reason besides the natural beauty to visit the winery. Onsite, Miradoro Restaurant, opened April 1, 2011, is a partnership with Manuel Ferreira of Le Gavroche in Vancouver and is situated adjacent to the amphitheatre and barrel cellar. Eat in the restaurant or grab one of their prepared picnic lunches for an alfresco treat.

Tasting Notes:

Oldfield Series 2Bench Red 2010
41% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot; grapes sourced from the Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench and Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench (hence the 2Bench moniker); aged 18 months in new medium and neutral French barrels, then 18 months in bottle; dark ruby red with lighter edges and red throughout; earthy dark plum, bay leaf, and green pepper aromas; dark cherry, vanilla, cream soda, black pepper, into a dusty currant finish; medium mouthfeel, nicely balanced with some tannins for structure; 1,172 cases; 14.3% ABV; twist-off closure; 1,172 cases produced; SRP $27.25.
Oldfield Series Merlot 2010
87% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 1% Syrah from the Diamondback vineyard; aged 18 months in French oak and 18 months in bottle; deep purple color with ruby edges; blackberry, earth, and cassis aromas; dark fruit, red currant, mocha, and vanilla flavors; nicely balanced with some tannins for structure; 14.8% ABV; twist-off closure; 1,521 cases; SRP $27.25.
Cabernet Franc 2011
Diamondback Vineyard (Black Sage) grapes from 18 year old vines; aged in 2-3 year old American and French Oak barrels for 12 months; smoke, dark fruit, and floral aromas; bright red fruit, vanilla, and spice flavors; 13.6% ABV; twist-off closure; 1,798 Cases Produced; SRP $19.95.
Oldfield Series 2Bench White 2013
31% Sauvignon Blanc, 29% Chardonnay, 28% Semillon, 9% Viognier, and 3% Muscat; grapes sourced from the Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench and Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench (hence the 2Bench moniker); beautiful light golden straw color; muskmelon, starfruit; floral aromas; subtle cantaloupe, bright berry, starfruit, and lemon flavors; medium mouthfeel into a tart citrus finish; 14.3% ABV; twist-off closure; 1,441 cases produced; SRP $20.95. Beautiful wine for a sultry Spring evening.
Gewürztraminer 2013
Grapes sourced from 17 year old vines in the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard; cold fermented in stainless steel; clear golden light straw in color; floral, citrus, and spice aromas; starfruit, citrus, lychee, honeyed apricot flavors; just the right amount of sweetness balanced by the bright acidity; 13.3% ABV; twist-off closure; 8,288 cases produced; SRP $15.50.
Pinot Gris 2013
Grapes sourced from 19 year old vines in the Diamondback Vineyard (Black Sage Bench) and Tinhorn Creek Vineyard (Golden MileBench); 100% stainless steel fermentation with 30% going through malolactic fermentation in stainless steel barrels, lees stirred for 2 months; golden wheat color; pear, starfruit, and a bit of yeast on the nose;  melon, stone fruit, subtle tropical and white currant flavors; rounder mouthfeel than you'd expect with great acidity leading into a lime finish; 12.9% ABV; twist-off closure; 7,943 cases produced; SRP $17.25.
All in all just a fantastic group of wines, and amazing ambassadors for the great wines of the Okanagan. Order freely if you love well-made wines that taste of their place, with taste, balance, and  acidity galore. These wines go down easily on their own and are incredibly food-friendly.

Consumers in the US can visit http://usshop.tinhorn.com shop directly from Tinhorn Creek’s website in US dollars, a minimum of 12 bottles per order is required and consumers may order ‘A Taste of Tinhorn’ mixed case with two of each of six select wines currently available, or make up their own preferred mix. A delivery fee of $29.95USD is applicable, however there are no additional tariffs, fees or customs duties to pay, it’s all included. Shipping is permitted to 34 states in the US including: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, ME, MI, MO, MD, MN, NC, NE, NM, NV, NJ, OH, OR, SC, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WVA, WY.

These wines were provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beer Builds Bones

Another reason to drink craft beer...

Beer Builds Bones

Because it contains silicon, drinking beer may play a part in building stronger bones. Scientists in Spain also realized that the waste left from the beer making process might have some uses in the medical field. After the brewing process, beer leaves behind organic waste products rich in calcium, magnesium, silica, and phosphorus; those “characteristics can be tailored for use as replacement candidates in osteoporotic treatments, coatings for prostheses, bone grafts and orthodontic (dental) implants, for example, with greater cost effectiveness than conventional scaffolds and eliminating the use of non-renewable raw materials or toxic substances in their preparation.” Read more at IFLScience.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WineStudio: Hungary and Slovenia with Old World Vines

WineStudio the last few weeks has been all about the wines of Hungary and Slovenia, hosted by Katy Bendel Daniels of Old World Vines. For her, it all started with a trip to Central Europe, where she fell in love with the wines, the people and the cultures throughout the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. Through her eyes, we've taken an overall look into Hungary and Slovenia, tasted wines from both countries, and will wrap up next week with a look at tourism, cuisines, and planning the perfect trip. It's been a great pleasure to learn more about these winemaking regions and a bigger surprise at the quality and taste of the wines themselves. Definitely worth searching out!

Hungary and Slovenia with Old World Vines

Hungary:

Bock Kékfrankos 2011
Grapes from the Black Mountain Vineyard in Villány, Hungary; deep purple in color with lighter edges; earth, dark fruit, smoke, and floral aromas; tart dark berries, spice, leather, cedar, and vanilla flavors; medium body with a tart finish; 13% ABV; cork closure; SRP $23.
2011 Király dűlő Furmint
Single vineyard selection; fermented and aged in Hungarian oak barrels; golden color; stony, subtle tropical, and stone fruit flavors; stone fruit, lemon, mineral, and vanilla flavors; medium body and a lingering mouthfeel 13% ABV; cork closure; SRP $32.
Slovenia:

Vino Kupljen 2011 Muškat Rumeni
Glowing golden yellow; melon, honey, floral, and lemon aromas; stone fruit, honey, starfruit, and lemon flavors; sweet but balanced with great acidity; slight effervescence, round mouthfeel with into a smooth, lemony finish; vinified in stainless steel; % ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $25.
Erzetič Rebula 2011
Light straw, very clear color; lemon, white flower, and subtle green apple aromas; unripe apricot, green apple, hint of honey, and lemon flavors; pleasant mouthfeel with good acidity, nicely balanced wine with a lingering finish; vinified in stainless steel; 12.5% ABV; cork closure; 830 cases produced; SRP $24.
WineStudio, an online twitter-based educational program, is Tuesday nights, at 6 PM PT/8 PM ET - join us not just this week but every week to learn about interesting regions, wineries, and personalities in the industry. The schedule can be found on the Protocol Wine Studio website.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A to Z of Craft Beers Not Actually Craft Beers - Infographic

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been fooled into thinking that I'm drinking a craft beer when it's actually been concocted by or is owned by some global corporation. This is a fun infographic dealing with just this topic.

Infographic courtesy of Home Brew West

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Rare Beer Club

The Rare Beer Club was founded by Michael Jackson, one of the beer world's leading voices before he passed, and his influence lives on. Members of this club receive 2 bottles of beer in 750 mL bottles, including Limited-Release, Celebratory Beers, Exclusive Selections, Barreled beer, beers with Innovative Ingredients, Extreme beers, and Selections You Can Age. Each month prior to receiving your shipment, you are sent an email detailing the two upcoming beer selections and given the ability to customize what you will receive. You can:
  • Add more bottles of either or both of the upcoming featured beers
  • Add more of your favorite past selections
  • Replace one or both of the featured beers with your favorite past selections
  • Choose not to receive one of the featured beers
  • Skip the entire shipment altogether
You’re in complete control of what you receive every month. Find a favorite? You can easily reorder that selection, cellar it, and see how it changes over time.

The Rare Beer Club sent us a couple of bottles as an example of what one might receive - both samples were truly amazing beers and ones we'd be happy to receive as members.

The Lost Abbey Saint’s Devotion

The Lost Abbey Saint’s Devotion (California)
Rare Beer Club exclusive in 750 mL bottles; bottle conditioned with brettanomyces; amber orange to yellow along edges; beautiful fluffy foam with some consistency to it; scattered minimal lacing; hop, nutmeg, and citrus aromas; hop, spice, and yeast flavors; smooth medium mouthfeel into tart, hoppy finish; ABV 6.6%; cork closure with wire.
Sly Fox Nihilist Russian Imperial Stout

Sly Fox Nihilist Russian Imperial Stout (Pennsylvania)
This Imperial Stout was first brewed to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Sly Fox Brewing Company; amazing foam, full lacing, hop and subtle cocoa aromas, caramel, coffee and mocha flavors, smooth finish with bitter bite at end; ABV 10%; cork with wire closure.
Their 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that every item you purchase at The Rare Beer of the Month Club meets your high standards or you can return it for a replacement or refund. This would make an amazing gift for the beer lover in your life, even if you order it for yourself!

These beers were provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ribera del Duero Snooth Tasting

New technology and modern techniques, along with respect for tradition, have driven the quality of Ribera del Duero to its highest accomplishments in over two millennia of winemaking history. Ribera wines have received international acclaim and it was a pleasure to be invited to participate in this Snooth virtual tasting last night.

Ribera del Duero Snooth Tasting

Tasting Notes

2009 Bodegas y Viñedos Montecastro Alconte
Tempranillo sourced from mature vineyards 8 to 100 years old; aged 14 months in French and American oak; lovely even ruby color to the edge; blackberry, cassis, and floral aromas; dusty dark berries, black pepper, tobacco, and tart cherry flavors; smooth mouthfeel with soft tannins into a vanillin cherry cola finish; 14.5% ABV; cork closure; 13,345 bottles produced; SRP $24.
2007 Bodegas Valdubon Valdubon Reserva
Tempranillo sourced primarily from the villages of Roa, Pardilla and Milagros; aged 17 months in 50% French Oak and 50% American Oak less than 3 years old, then 16 months in bottle;  deep opaque purple color; dusty plum, herbs, and licorice aromas; dark fruit, mocha, forest, and tart cherry flavors; medium mouthfeel with full finish - beautiful structure; 13% ABV; cork closure; 35,000 Bottles produced; SRP $24.
These wines were provided for tasting purposes.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Speed-drinking with Kiwis

#NZSipsChicago

You might find a nicer group of winemakers, but I doubt it. Walking into the bar of Brixen Ivy, a rooftop restaurant built specifically to watch the Chicago Cubs, we were approached immediately by the vintners, introductions soon followed by glasses of sparkling wine in our hands (yes, NZ has sparkling wine!). This was the beginning of two days spent in the company of the Kiwis, courtesy of Complexity, a group dedicated to getting the word out on how great New Zealand wines are:
"The idea was very simple; we composed a portfolio of our most impressive wines to showcase some of the best of what New Zealand can offer the USA."
After an introduction by Clive Weston of Nautilus, the 10 winemakers poured a representative wine, introduced themselves and their wineries, then let us know what to expect from what was in our glass. Limited time and many bottles meant a rapid pace, essentially speed-drinking with the Kiwis. Alongside the introductory wines were some real New Zealand snacks, brought over from the islands: meat pie and a crust covered sausage, both really tasty and a great complement to the wines. 

The winemakers who made the trip, showcasing not only their own wines but those who did not travel, were: Matt Dicey (Mt Difficulty), Rudi Bauer (Quartz Reef), Blair Walter (Felton Road), Craig Erasmus (Amisfield),  Blair Gibbs (Spy Valley), Clive Dougall (Seresin),  George Geris (Villa Maria),  Alistair Soper (Highfield), and Ben Glover (Mud House). Apart from some initial confusion, 2 Blairs!, 2 Clives!, their personalities came through and soon we were best mates.

#NZSipsChicago

Then it was on to food, baseball, and 30+ wines to taste alongside the grilled fare. Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet/Merlot blends strutted their stuff alongside the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand's primary grape and what they are most famous for. The weather was beautiful, the Cubs were playing well, food was copious and tasty, with more wine than one could reasonably drink. Truly a great afternoon. We further bonded with the winemakers and visiting NYC sommeliers by comparing and contrasting baseball and cricket, 2 sports with endless rules and unique appeal.

Complexity NZ Master Class

Monday we met up again in more formal circumstances, sitting down for a masterclass at Rebar, a beautiful bar overlooking the river in the Trump Chicago Hotel. The focus of the class was to demonstrate the ageability of New Zealand wines. Aging? New Zealand wines? I had honestly never considered it. As Blair (Gibbs) and Ben mentioned in their presentation, when people think of New Zealand, they usually picture "blue skies, green grass, clean water, and young soils." The point of these wines, all from private cellars and not available commercially, was to demonstrate how some of the younger wines we'd tasted on Sunday might present some years down the road.

Shockingly, the first wines poured were whites: Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. While all the wines were surprising for their respective ages, the 7-year old Highfield and 14-year old Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blancs stole the group - who knew that Sauvignon Blanc could age so gracefully?

Then on to Pinot Noirs, which New Zealand is focusing on as their primary red grape for the near future. Turns out there is a wealth of variety stretching across the islands, with different styles based on the terroir and weather. We drank from 3 areas, Martinborough, Marlborough, and Central Otago. From North to South, the wines were a study in contrasts. My impressions:

  • Martinborough: warmer climate, more austere and greener wines.
  • Marlborough: north-facing and protected climate, more fruit-focused, with acidity and tannins.
  • Central Otago: a drier, cooler climate, closed off initially, then opened up showcasing fruit, with less acidity and tannins than the other two.

Last up were a pair of Cabernet/Merlot blends (with some Malbec as well) from Hawkes Bay. Initially, I couldn't believe these were Cabernets, as they each had such a unique nose. At 10 and 12 years old, each wine had tannins left but were very approachable, showing these grapes also have potential for New Zealand.

A diverse lunch buffet allowed us to taste these wines with a wide range of food flavors, once again showcasing their ease with food. Attendees slowly finished and trickled out, a quiet ending to two days of education and fun.

Complexity NZ Video Introduction

These two days blew me away, first with how good the current wines are, but even more so by the fact that I had never considered New Zealand wines as age-worthy, yet they very clearly are. Having the tasting over two days and in very different circumstances also underscored how versatile the wines are. I will definitely not think about NZ wines the same - as Blair Walter said in closing, in New Zealand there is "an increasing complexity and sense of place." We concur and look forward to many more years of watching the wine regions there evolve and improve even more.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Brewer's Apprentice

I really enjoyed The Craft of Stone Brewing Co, a book chronicling the brewery's history, along with beers and recipes from their restaurant. When I discovered that Greg Koch, co-founder/CEO of Stone, had written another book, I jumped at the chance to read it -- his style is very casual, funny, yet delves deep into the subject. Even though the book, The Brewer's Apprentice, is subtitled "An Insider's Guide to the Art and Craft of Beer Brewing, Taught by the Masters," I hoped it would also offer some insights on how to brew at home at a higher level. I was not disappointed.

The Brewer's Apprentice

Koch travels the country and also Europe, interviewing masters of the craft. The book is laid out chronologically through the brewing process, with chapters interspersed specifically dealing with grains, malts, and so on. Hops, water chemistry, Lambic brewing, Big Beers, you name it, there's probably a chapter on it, all the way to hard cider. Each chapter stands alone as a mini essay on the topic, yet fits in and expands on the whole of the brewing process. Fantastic group of masters sharing their wisdom and experience, written in Koch's casual yet educational style, with resources galore - if you're not inspired to at least drink good beer, let alone try to brew it yourself after reading this book, there's something awry.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

L. Mawby Sparkling Wines - Michigan

When we attended the Michigan Wine Showcase several weeks ago, we knew we needed to have a plan - with 20+ wineries and at least 100 wines, there was no way to taste everything, unless we were going to spend the night at a hotel, which was not in the cards. I'm always willing to try sparkling wines, so I opted to make that one of my focuses, along with Rosé. I was excited that L. Mawby was participating, as I've wanted to try their sparklers for awhile. Turns out they had both their lines - here's the difference:
"All of our L. Mawby sparkling wines are made using the methode champenoise, and are aged in the bottle before disgorging, with many cuvees being given 3 or more years of tirage aging. Our M. Lawrence sparkling wines are produced in the cuve close method, are given less aging, and are less costly than the method champenoise sparkling wines."
L. Mawby

Tasting Notes

L. Mawby Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay; whole-cluster pressed; initial fermentation in stainless steel; blended with oaked reserve wines; 30 month tirage; yeast and green apple aromas; lemon and yeast flavors, tart finish; small bubbles; 11% ABV; SRP $23.
L. Mawby Cremant Classic
100% Vignoles; whole-cluster pressed; initial fermentation in stainless steel; blended with oaked reserve wines; 36 month tirage; yeasty aroma; lemon and yeast flavors, tart finish; small bubbles; 11% ABV; SRP $27.
M. Lawrence Green
Cayuga and Vidal grapes; fermented in stainless steel tanks, then fermented a second time in a closed tank [the cuve close method]; then filtered, dosaged, and bottled; floral nose; melon and white floral flavors into a citrus finish; 11% ABV; SRP $15. This is their version of Vinho Verde as a sparkling wine.
M. Lawrence Redd
Regent and Marechal Foch grapes; fermented in stainless steel tanks, then fermented a second time in a closed tank [the cuve close method]; then filtered, dosaged, and bottled; bright ruby red in color; cherry and cranberry on the nose with same flavors; 11% ABV; SRP $17.
Some of their grapes are estate-grown, but all grapes used are from the Leelanau Peninsula AVA. L. Mawby is doing something I wasn't sure was possible - making good sparkling wines in the Midwest, from traditional AND hybrid grapes. If you're a fan of sparklers with yeasty character and bright acidity, feel comfortable buying these and supporting the Michigan wine scene in the process.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Charles Krug Winery Spring Releases

It was exciting to get an invitation for a virtual tasting featuring the Charles Krug Winery Spring Releases. This is the winery's 150th vintage, and also was the debut of their Howell Mountain Family Reserve Cabernet. Peter Mondavi, the clan's patriarch, turns 100 this year, which is another milestone worth toasting.

Charles Krug Winery Spring Releases
"The Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley's oldest winery, was established by Prussian immigrant Charles Krug in 1861. In 1943, Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the historic property, which remains a family-owned winery producing estate-driven Napa Valley wines. Built on a foundation of family values, hard work and European winemaking tradition, the winery offers a portfolio of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-styled wines. The winery is under the direction of Peter Mondavi Jr., who along with his brother Marc Mondavi, stewards the family business passed to them by their father, legendary Napa Valley wine icon Peter Mondavi Sr., who continues to serve as President and CEO. The family is now proudly welcoming members of the fourth generation to the business, continuing a legacy started almost 70 years ago and setting a foundation for generations to come.
Tasting Notes:

2013 Limited Release Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Estate grown grapes picked at night; fermented in stainless steel, aged sur-lie 7 months; grapefruit, citrus zest, grass, and tropical fruit aromas; stone fruit, citrus, grass and tropical fruit flavors; creamy mouthfeel and plenty of acid; 340 cases produced; 13.6% ABV; cork closure; SRP $35.
2011 Napa Valley Merlot
Napa Valley grapes: 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot; aged 18 months in French and American oak; dark cherry, cassis, and herbal aromas; dark berry, chocolate, subtle mint, and green pepper flavors; supple texture and balanced; 14% ABV; cork closure; SRP $25.
2011 Family Reserve 'Generations'
Napa Valley grapes: 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot; aged 20 months in new French oak; dark berry, forest, spice, and some bright fruit aromas; cassis, raspberry , earth, and cocoa flavors; another to lay down for at least a few years; 13.9% ABV; cork closure; SRP $50.
2011 Family Reserve 'Howell Mountain' Cabernet Sauvignon
Howell Mountain Grapes: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec; aged 19 months in new French oak; dark cherry, blackberry, and mocha aromas; dark chocolate, dark berry, and cracked black pepper flavors; forward tannins show aging potential; 13.7% ABV; cork closure; SRP $75.
Really a nice selection of wines, all well-made with upfront pleasure drinking now, but the reds having enough backbone to benefit from cellaring to preference. Nice to see a family-run winery that has multiple generations involved, with plenty more vinous goodness to come.

About Charles Communications Associates: CCA is an independent creative marketing firm that employs traditional public relations and new media strategies to assist companies, organizations and non-profits in the creation, development and marketing of interesting and compelling brands. Recognized as one of the most effective PR firms in the wine industry, we have an exceptional track record of promoting products in the gourmet, natural and organic food and beverage categories, from wine and tea to top shelf spirits and luxury goods. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with clients who share our philosophy of social responsibility in work and everyday life. For more information, visit the CCA website.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes.

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