Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Weekend At Turkey Run State Park

People primarily go to Turkey Run State Park to hike, and it's set up well for that. From the parking lot, where the Nature Center is located, a long and tall suspension bridge takes you across Sugar Creek to the more demanding trails in the park. Maps for the trails (and park in general) are handed out when entering ($9 for out-of-staters at the time of this posting) or in the Nature Center. Make sure you get one, because the trails are well-marked with sign posts, but it's still easy to get turned around when you are out there. I hiked this with our six year old and, while he's a gamer, none of the hikes were overly difficult for him (though he did tire about halfway through our second day).

A Weekend At Turkey Run State Park

We spent two days hiking the Park. On the first day we hiked Trails 3 and 10 and back on 3 - 3 has ladders and stairs and plenty of canyon time, while 10 meanders flatly through the forest. If you're reasonably fit, we highly recommend Trail 3 above the others, if you can only choose one. The second day we hike Trail 3 (ladders again!), briefly on Trail 5, then Trail 9. Trail 5 from Trail 3 starts with 140 stairs up the side of the hill, beautiful but taxing. Trail 9 was the most technical of the ones we hiked, with a lot of scrambling over boulders and so forth. There is a beautiful waterfall on this trail we hadn't heard about and that made the more difficult trek worth it for sure. Back onto Trail briefly, then the return to the bridge along Trail 3 made for a nice long hike.

A Weekend At Turkey Run State Park

While you can camp or find lodging outside the park, the Turkey Run Inn is on site, which makes it very convenient. Built in 1919, it has undergone expansions and renovations over the years. It's in reasonable shape, with some mustiness here and there, but overall clean and well-run.

The Narrows restaurant is onsite at Turkey Run Inn and, unfortunately, is only okay. Décor is dated and uninspired, but the restaurant feels clean. We ate both breakfast and dinner there, opting for the buffet option both times (Sunday we didn't have an option due to a holiday). The food tastes like it was provided by an outside food company like Aramark or Sysco. Nothing wrong with that, but not overly interesting, creative, or flavorful. I wish we'd opted for the pizza option, which can be eaten either in the restaurant or taken out - they looked and smelled great.
The Narrows Restaurant at Turkey Run State Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Weekend At Turkey Run State Park

If you don't want to hike, or want to supplement that activity, the park does offer an outdoor pool during warmer weather, picnic areas, and other recreational activities. Next time we come back we plan on canoeing or kayaking Sugar creek or trying out the park's horseback riding.

How to get there: Turkey Run State Park is about 160 miles South of Chicago, IL an about 70 miles West of Indianapolis, IN.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Aberrant Cellars: A Winery Dedicated to Avoiding Convention


ab⠂er⠂rant
adjective: aberrant, departing from an accepted standard

Aberrant Cellars: A Winery Dedicated to Avoiding Convention

When I was offered samples of Aberrant Cellars wines, I jumped at the chance, based on the name of the winery alone. I love language and when someone shows imagination, that's a real bonus. Eric Eide, the winemaker, has an appreciation for Latin, and it is reflected in his wines' names.

Tasting Notes:
Philtrum Pinot Noir Blanc 2015: "Love Potion;" not a typical Pinot Noir in any shape or form; dry farmed grapes from the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA; whole cluster pressing; fermented for 52 days 53% stainless steel/47% barrel; aged 5 months in stainless steel and 25% new oak puncheons; white flower, starfruit and red berry aromas; orange peel, savory notes, into a spice filled finish; decidedly non-white in character, belying the color in the bottle; 344 cases produced.
Virtus Ex Pinot Noir 2013: "Strength;" LIVE farmed grapes from 3 vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA; each vineyard fermented separately; aged 15 months in 44% new French oak; 223 cases produced; smoky plum and black currant aromas; dark berry, tobacco, and tart red berry flavors into an earthy acidic finish; 223 cases produced.
These are some amazing wines, really a different approach than other wines I've had from the same sub-AVA. While I would recommend searching both of these wines out, definitely try the Philtrum, as it's unlike anything you've likely tasted before.

*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.


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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Trivento Reserve Malbecs

Named after the three winds that blow through the Mendoza region: the Polar, Zonda and Sudestada, Trivento shows Malbec not as a signature style, but reflecting different temperaments, styles, and flavors. Their Reserve wines are a great way to see the differences side by side.

Trivento Reserve Malbecs

Tasting Notes:
2016 Reserve Malbec: grapes from Luján de Cuyo (50%) and Uco Valley (50%) in Mendoza; maceration before fermentation for 20 days in stainless steel; natural malolactic fermentation; aged in French oak barrels for 6 months, then in bottle for 5 months; red plum, pomegranate, and cocoa aromas; dark fruit, tart red berry and tobacco flavors; comparatively light and bright.
2014 Golden Reserve Malbec: grapes from Luján de Cuyo; definitely the Reserve's bigger brother - dark fruit, earth and tart berry aromas; dark fruit and cassis flavors into a earthy leather finish.
These are two very different interpretations of Malbec, fun to compare and contrast their styles.

*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Frontera After Dark!

Frontera After Dark!

Frontera, a Chilean wine company, is reaching out to Millenial wine drinkers, aiming new ventures their way with an “After Dark” tagline, in deference to this new generation of wine lovers for whom “the day starts to come alive at night.” Interestingly, Millennials are less engaged with 1.5-liter bottles than previous generations, demonstrating instead a marked preference for 750s and alternative packaging. Frontera After Dark labels port a dramatic black background, overlaid by a depiction of the Andes Mountains traced in gold, as dark labels represent a powerful new trend in the U.S. and dominate the landscape where millennials are concerned. In 2015, dark labels registered by an impressive +29% volume increase over traditional cream/white labels. Frontera After Dark was one of the first “dark-label” ranges to debut in the $4 - 7 value category. The 2 wines I tasted were the Moonlight White, a faintly effervescent, crisp, fresh, light Moscato-based blend and the After Midnight Red: a Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah blend, rounded out with a touch of Merlot.

Tasting Notes:
Moonlight White: honeyed lemon and white floral aromas; melon and honeyed apricot into a lemon finish; on the sweet side but balanced by an underlying acidity.
After Midnight Red: cherry, tobacco, and spices on the nose; dark fruit, red currants into a tart red berry finish; luscious mouthfeel with decent acidity.
*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir Rolhüt 2015

Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir Rolhüt 2015

The grandfather Peter Zemmer established the family wine business in 1928  in Cortina s.s.d.v. in Alto Adige - South Tyrol. Today his grandson Peter continues the family's work. At an elevation of 450 m. (1,400 ft.), the hillsides are made up of loam, chalk, and porphyry. A mixed alpine and Mediterranean climate makes for farming that can be herbicide-free, with only organic fertilizer used. In a truly sustainable effort, the winery's entire energy requirement is met with renewable energy, generated through the use of photovoltaic panels on an area of 400 square meters on the roofs of the vineyard. The best of both worlds - a family business with an eye to the future.

Tasting Notes:
Stems immediately removed and grapes fermented with skin contact for a week; 70% aged in large French oak barrels/30% aged in 2-3 year old French oak barriques; wine is blended and bottle aged for 6 months; pomegranate and tart cherry aromas; tart berry, dark cherry, and baking spice flavors in a light bodied and balanced wine; cork closure; SRP $18.
*Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Riesling Rules: Meeting Pacific Rim's Nicolas Quillé

Riesling Rules: Meeting Pacific Rim's Nicolas Quille

A breakfast meeting with Nicolas Quillé had me excited and a bit nervous. He is the head winemaker for Pacific Rim (among other Banfi properties in the Northwest).  Born in Lyon, France,  to a multi-generational wine family, Nicolas worked in France as a winemaker before making the move to the United States in 1997.  He initially worked as a winemaker in California and then in Washington State, before earning his MBA and then moving to Bonny Doon Vineyard as General Manager. where he supervised the restructuring of the family business involving two significant merger and acquisition transactions. He led the Pacific Rim brand spin-off from Bonny Doon and became the General Manager and Winemaker for Pacific Rim Wineryand is also the Vice President of the International Riesling Foundation, among other wine industry positions. A nicer person you couldn't meet, and a true ambassador for Riesling, one of my favorite white varietals and probably the grape most responsible for me getting the wine bug.

We spoke at length and happily, since I had to get back to work, chose to forego tasting wines, though a few bottles came home with me that day (cheers!). I'm a fan of their green practices, which include a winery built to optimize efficiency for electrical and water usage, composting 100% of their pomace, along with a host of other sustainability efforts. They even produce an organic Riesling, hooray!

Tasting Notes:
2014 Columbia Valley Riesling: white floral, starfruit, and pineapple aromas; muskmelon, honeyed nut, and lychee flavors; semi-dry; nice acidic finish, twist off closure.
2013 Solstice Vineyard Riesling: old vines planted in 1972; grapefruit, white floral, and spice aromas; tart citrus, almond, and white strawberry flavors into a tart and acidic finish; quite dry in the Alsatian style; twist off closure.
Selenium Vineyard Ice Wine Riesling: Yakima Valley grapes harvested on St Nicolas Day 2013; the Selenium Vineyard sits at 1200’ above sea level; floral, honey and stone fruit aromas; sweet apricot with a touch of citrus and into a honey and nut finish; not acid forward but underlying and cuts through sweetness; 117 cases produced; twist off closure.
Pacific Rim makes a range of Rieslings, from entry level to their single vineyard bottling, and it's clear that quality is paramount in their winemaking. The wines I tasted had that quality in common, yet stood apart as individuals, allowing the different aspects of Riesling shine through. It was fantastic to meet with Nicolas, hear his story, and finally, taste his wines.

*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Southern Love

When Chile's Concha y Toro purchased vineyards in neighboring Argentina, they named their new venture Trivento, or Three Winds. The Polar (winter), Zonda (spring), and Sudestada (summer) provide ideal conditions for grape growing. Trivento takes those grapes and vinifies several lines of wines, including Amado Sur, or Southern Love, which are odes to the art of blending varietals.

Southern Love
Tasting Notes:
Hand picked Malbec 79%, Bonarda 11%, and Syrah 10%; fermented in stainless steel tanks; aged 8 months in French oak barrels, 6 months in stainless steel tanks after the assemblage, then bottle aged for 5 months; lovely dark fruit, and red berry aromas; dark fruit, tar, and a hint of red licorice flavors; nice balance, and pleasant mouthfeel into a slightly tart and tannic finish; cork closure; SRP $15.
*This wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Brothers in Wine

Brothers in Wine


From Michel Chapoutier comes a collaborative wine, produced with Jasper Hill owner-vintner Ron Laughton of Victoria, Australia. This wine comes from a small, old-vine vineyard planted above the Agly Valley. Biodynamic winegrowing is enhanced with organic composts (they are Ecocert-certified). About a third each of Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache are hand-picked and fermented in small cement vats. Aging in 1-3 year old French oak barrels lasts for up to 20 months. I found the 2010 to have minimal aroma, but in the mouth there were lots of dark fruit, green herbs, and an earthy midpalate into a slightly acidic finish. Love the round, almost viscous mouthfeel when first opened - according to the producers, this wine is ready to drink upon release after having been aged in bottles for at least a year.

*Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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