Thursday, October 1, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Teeing off with Weir Chardonnay

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
I've written before about the wonderful vacations that The Winey Family has taken over the years up to the beach in Canada. Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh? And in addition to the water sports we get to partake of up there, there is another sport that goes hand in hand with our Canada trips: golf.

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
We're lucky that very close to our beach cottage are a number of really nice golf courses. And although I have been on a bit of a break from the sport (spinal surgery will do that to you), and The Winey Daughter would rather play soccer, The Winey Hubby and Son hit the links every chance they get. (This doesn't just apply to our Canada vacation. Those two never, ever, ever pass up the chance to golf. As I write this, it's a lovely sunny autumn Thursday and I'll give you one guess where The Winey Hubby is. Hint: it's not at his desk at work.)

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
There is a reason I'm talking about golf and Canada here. It's Mike Weir. He is Canadian golfer, Masters champion and more to the point: he has a winery in Ontario. So of course on our most recent visit to the beach, I decided it was time to hit the ball off of the tee, so to speak, and try some of Mike Weir Winery's Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, 12.5%, Niagara Peninsula). This cost $14.95 Canadian, making it a wonderful bargain (about $10 American at the time I bought it).

The first thing I noticed about this Chardonnay was that it was a really pretty, bright clear gold color. It looked so nice with the beach setting. Anyway, the nose on this wine is pure pear. As for the taste, that pear was the first flavor  that came through. It was followed by some golden apple, some toasty vanilla, nutmeg and a tinge of cinnamon. It finished very juicy and tasty. Pure Chardonnay grapes, no wood barrels to interfere.

Mike Weir Winery Unoaked ChardonnayI can best describe this wine as round and full. It falls somewhere between summer and fall - fruity and juicy but with those warm brown spices that give you a hint of the autumn weather to come. It's a great transition wine, if you feel the need to ease yourself away from light whites to more hearty whites as the weather grows cooler.

OK, I'll say it: this wine is hole-in-one! A birdie! Or if you're me, and holes-in-one and birdies are not normally used in conjunction with your golf game (ahem), it's a really good wine. (I may not have been the world's best golfer, but I always had a keen appreciation for the cute outfits and the drink cart.)

Fore! (For some reason, I say that a lot when I golf.)


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: New Favorite Alert - Eos Estate Zinfandel

So after a busy summer, The Winey Nest is empty once again. The Winey Daughter is safely ensconced in her second year at college. The Winey Son has some new digs in Texas. It's just me, The Winey Hubby and The Winey Dog (more on the dog in the future :)

Eos Estate Zinfandel wine labelI was talking with a friend the other day. She is one year away from her own Empty Nest. And she mentioned that she was pretty unsure about the whole thing. I told her, "It's much worse dreading and anticipating the empty nest than the actual reality of the empty nest." And it's true. The Empty Nest does not stink. Sure, we miss the kids and their friends. And I especially miss our family time. But we have our four-way texting sessions and phone calls and the odd Face Time session. And I just MAY be stalking a few Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Hey, every new picture is proof of life, right?

There are a few advantages even. I can finish all the laundry in two loads: Darks. Whites. OK, I'm not including towels and bed linens here, but they're so easy I don't count them. Nor do I need to do them as often, because it takes so much longer to get a full load with only two people in the house. We can park our cars in the garage again. Both cars, one garage. Not that I have ever backed out of the garage and into The Winey Hubby's car parked in the driveway, twice, but this is nice, especially when it rains. We can eat in front of the television if we want to. (Breaking a cardinal rule of family dinnertime.)  This means we've been able to see more of the Cleveland Indians' games. Although at times, this is definitely not an advantage. But that is nothing new. The DVR is ours again. All ours.

And so in honor of looking for the sunny side of the nest, I have found a new favorite wine, courtesy of The California Wine Club. (Full disclosure: I get two bottles of their wine every month to review for my work with Moms Who Need Wine. And I normally don't mix my reviews between there and here, but then I realized that when I find an amazing wine from the CWC, I should share it on The Winey Mom, too.) So this post is a bit of a re-write of one of my reviews from there, but I loved the wine so much I just had to.

This wine I speak of is Eos Estate Zinfandel (2012, 14.5%, CA) from Eos Estate Winery in Paso Robles, CA. Eos is very dark red with a nose of chocolate covered cherries. One of my favorite scents of all time.  Every time I sip a Zinfandel like this, the whole varietal moves up higher and higher in my winey esteem.  You'll taste  cherry, dark mocha and a line of sweet chocolate when you sip it. There’s also that Zinfandel spice thing going on – dark green spices and herbs that give it a little extra zing.

Eos Zinfandel is full of everything you want in a Zin – fruit forwards and toasty and ending up with zingy tannins. It's pretty balanced too, for a 14.5% ABV. There's just a hint of warmth at the end of a sip. 


I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own. The idea for this post was originally written by me and published under my name on Moms Who Need Wine. So I'm kind of just copying myself here because I really liked this wine so much and wanted my Winey Friends to hear about it.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh?

Our view looking south.
OK I couldn't resist the "eh" in the title of this review. And it's meant with absolutely no disrespect at all to our neighbors up north. The Winey Family loves Canada. We have spent many, many happy times up there and this year was no exception.

The Winey Hubby and his family have been going to a small beach in Ontario for a LONG time. Before the Winey Hubby was born, actually. It's that kind of a family institution for them, and this year, we did the math and figured out that the family has owned this little patch of heaven for 95 years. We're gearing up for a big bash for the centennial in 2020, by the way.

Winey Daughter and Dog with our
houses in the background. 
The beach town is called Ipperwash. I don't know why. It just is. And when anyone around here says "the beach" we know just what they are talking about. (This is sort of like when I say "the shore"and everyone knows I am referring to my beloved Jersey shore.) It's located on sands of Lake Huron. Our little compound consists of three buildings that between them, can house 6 families. Or as we like to say, "the cousins," because over the years, as children marry and families grow, we have just started calling each other cousins. One of said cousins can actually figure out all the first, seconds, thirds and removeds.....but my mind can't handle that.
Our view looking north. 

The fact that the beach is in Canada has opened up a whole new world of wines for me over the years, and I decided that it was high time I started to write about some of them. So here we go.

It was so nice and hot up at the beach this year that I decided to sip on some lovely white wines. I love unoaked Chardonnays, and I picked two of them to try first. Boy, were they different.

20 Bees Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, Ontario, 12%) had a cute label. No judging, it was the beach after all. And a very good price, which was $9.95 Canadian, which at the time, translated to about $6.95 American. I would like to add here that such conversion only works on currency. I had a birthday while we were at the beach, and trying to convert my age to Canadian only got me laughed at. Back to the wine: 20 Bees comes from the Diamond Estate Winery over in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of our all time favorite places to visit, by the way. This wine is best served very, very cold, because 1) It was hot and 2) the flavors really came out the more it chilled. The nose is of faint pear and yellow apples. The flavors were pear, and some very mellow, gold apple. It ended slightly tart green apples and nutmeg. These bees felt round and full in the mouth, too. This was a great unoaked Chardonnay! The grapes really shone on this one, no wood barrels needed here. And yes, you still got that little bite of warm nutmeg spice at the end of it. Well done, bees, well done.

Moving on, also from the Diamond Estates Winery, I tried the $13.95 (Canadian) EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay (2013, Niagara Peninsula, 12.5%). The nose on this wine was ripe pears and some vanilla pudding. The flavors were pear, red apple, nutmeg and it finished off with some sour apple. Would I compare it to 20 Bees? Nope. Because while 20 Bees felt round and full in mouth, EastDell just felt thick and flabby. No sharpness to the taste all....and it was too "cloying" for my taste buds to enjoy.

So while these were two unoaked Chards, they were very very different in taste. The grapes for 20 Bees were from all over Ontario, while the EastDell grapes were from Niagara. The tasting notes for the wines said that the 20 Bees were fermented in stainless steel for 12 days...but the EastDell spent 8 months fermenting. So I can assume that the vineyard location and the length of fermentation both made a big difference to my taste buds here. While one was lively and tasty, the other was just thick and flabby.

I really don't mind when I get a wine I don't least once I get past the whole bummed out thing...because with each wine I don't like, I learn so much more about the ones I do.

If you get the chance, and you are in Ontario, go with the 20 Bees. If you can't visit, learn from my experience that not all unoaked Chardonnays will be to your taste. If you're in a restaurant, ask for a little taste first. If you are in a wine store, check with The Winey Mom first to see if I've tried it (shameless little plug) and if not, talk to the folks who work there. It'll help you choose a zesty unoaked Chard instead of a dud.


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc

I seem to be on a Sauvignon Blanc kick these days. It may be the direct result of summer finally arriving here in Cleveland. And the temperature is finally in the 80's instead of the humidity level and/or chance of rain being in the 80's. It seems that these conditions have me reaching for a bottle of cool and crisp white wine time and again. I'm okay with that, by the way.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
From the bottle label, to give you an idea of where that
39th parallel hits.
In my previous review, I talked about Scratchpad Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, which was a very tart, dry Sauvignon Blanc. This review is also about a Sauvignon Blanc, but this one is from California.

It's called Line 39. The "line" refers to the 39th parallel line that runs through California wine country. So now you've had your geography lesson for the day. Carry on.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 13.9%, Lake County, California) is very pale gold in color. It starts out with a nose of melon and starfruit. It's not the strongest bouquet out there, so don't spend too much time trying to figure it out.
Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
The taste of the wine is full of key limes, cantaloupe, tangerine and just a tiny hint of honey. It finished with a slightly sour, citrusy flavor. The wine is perfectly layered: the tart, citrus and fruit flavors below with that honeysuckle floating lightly above them.

Very fruit forward, but it has that little hint of sweetness that Scratchpad didn't. That's not to say this is a bad just goes to show you how different two wines of the same varietal can be. While the Scratchpad stayed citrusy and sour, Line 39 hits on the citrus but adds in that little extra layer of flowers. It's not so sweet that it isn't refreshing though, which is a good thing when your taste buds are screaming at you to give them a bit of summer while it's still around.

If you like a white wine that's full of crisp tartness but tinged with some sweet, you'll like Line 39.


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Sketching with Scratchpad Cellars' Sauvignon Blanc

I know that I've talked about fun wine labels before, but as I wandered the wine aisles recently, I spied a really different type of wine bottle label. It was blank. And it had a little tag around the neck of the bottle, with a little pencil attached to it. The instructions on the tag read: Sketch. Post. Sip.
How cool was that?

Scratchpad Sauvignon BlancUpon closer inspection, the wine was called Scratchpad and it was a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 13.8%, Central Coast California). And the idea was to grab that little black pencil and personalize that wine label to really make the vino your own.  How fun! A customized wine label on the spot.

The only real problem with this is that I cannot draw. Seriously. I am no artist. In any way shape or form. I can write, I can play piano, I can scrapbook and make cards.....but I cannot draw. Well, I cannot draw past a stick figure, first grade level. And I mean no disrespect to any first graders out there, who are probably better than me anyway. And if you are a first grader reading this, cut it out. You're underage. Show it to your parents and go back to your crayons.

My lack of artistic ability did not manifest itself in my offspring. In fact, I can tell you for sure that The Winey Daughter has quite the artistic bent. She draws and paints and has amazing fashion and decor sense. She is great at photography (she just won a photo contest during her summer studying abroad). She gets it from her dad, The Winey Hubby, who has a wonderful eye for color and form and seriously can decorate better than I can. He gets it from his mother, who is actually an artist - and we have the paintings to prove it. So there was nothing to do but to drink the wine and hand the bottle over to The Winey Artistic Daughter.

As it happened, we opened this wine on the evening that The Winey Daughter arrived home from her 6 weeks of study abroad. She had taken classes in England and then did a little touring around the continent with a buddy. And she was finally home (along with the brand new camera she won in that contest). At her request, we dined on the patio, since it was a lovely summer night.
My pretty flower.

Scratchpad Sauvignon Blanc fit right in with the grilled chicken and salad and strawberries. It started out with aromas of kiwi, starfruit and melon. The flavors were full of lemon, white grapefruit, kiwi and it finished off with some sour citrus rind. The tart lingered, but the fruit flavors did not. This was a very crisp, dry wine and it was wonderful on that patio.

If you like a white wine that's full of tart fruit flavors without a hint of any sweetness anywhere you'll love this.

I duly handed the bottle over to The Winey Daughter. She drew a pretty little dogwood flower for me on the label. The bottle now has a place of honor on the bookshelf next to my computer. So I got to sip some great wine, got The Winey Daughter back from Europe AND I got a cool little memory of the night she came home. And I didn't have to draw any stick figures and prove to everyone that I am not now and never will be an artist. Phew!


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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Winey Day in Ohio

What to do on a perfect July day in Ohio, when it is NOT raining (this year, that's kind of rare) and you and two of your Winey friends want a girls' day out? You hit the wineries, of course. For those of you who don't know northeast Ohio, take that surprised look off of your winey little faces. We have quite the wine region up here, known as the Grand River Valley region, which stretches through Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties.

Lake Erie is the reason this region pretty much exists, since the waters to and from it carved out the Grand River valley. The lake also keeps the temperatures nice and moderate (just don't ask how much snow they get up there....YIKES!) and provides a very happy climate for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc grapes. It's also very well known for its ice wines, thanks to the winters we struggle through have here.

And it's less than an hour drive from our homes. Easy decision.

We started our day out at the largest of these wineries, which none of us had (gasp) never been to: Debonne Vineyards. This winery began life in the early 1900's as a fruit farm, and became an official winery in 1972. They also have a great menu there, and since we all wanted lunch, Debonne was the perfect choice.
The dry varietal white wine tray
(yes, you get to keep the glass).

Debonne also has these awesome tasting trays, where you get anywhere between 6-8 samples of wine and can choose from a number of wine combinations. We went with the dry varietal wine tray (reds and whites), the dry white wine tray, and the off dry to sweet varietal tray. Yes, we all made sure we had a different tray because we are a sharing little group..and this way we really got to sample a very full range of Debonne's wines.

Since, between the three of us, we had about 18 different wines, I'm going to give a quick little overview of some of our favorites, in the hopes that it will help anyone else pick a Debonne wine to try. Here we go:

Chardonnay Reserve: aroma of pear and light oak, full of flavors of pear and nutmeg and a little toasty vanilla.

Semillon, Muddy Paw: (from Trebets Estate Wines, see my review of the Muddy Paw Cabernet Sauvignon for more info on Muddy Paw) Light and juicy, just shy of being fully tart. Peach and light citrus scented, flavors of peach and some citrus, hence the "almost" tart!

Pinot Grigio, 2013, 11%:  All three of us loved this one, and I went home with a bottle of it.  A nose of pear and pie spices followed by tastes of flowers, honey, citrus rind with a refreshingly tart finish. Sip it cold, but pay attention as it warms up, because that's where the finish comes with a sweet note above it all. Great wine!!!

Jazz White: A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. A bottle of this one went home with one of my friends. Apple and pear aromas, followed by zesty lemon-lime flavors.

40th Anniversary White: A blend of Chardonnay with a little Riesling. A lovely, light wine. I tasted granny smith apples and light oak flavors.

Merlot: Berries on the nose. Raspberry and strawberry flavors with a medium tannic finish (not too drying, but it does have that Merlot pucker to it!).

South River Vineyard, church building
South River Vineyard
South River Vineyard, back patio view
South River Vineyard
view of the back patio
After our lunch and mega catching up with each other session (kudos to the folks at Debonne who didn't roll their eyes at us at all), we took a drive by some of the other nearby wineries. The staff at Debonne told us that we had to see South River Vineyard, which was pretty much just down the road from Debonne.

And we were so glad we did! A picturesque winery housed in an old church with gorgeous views off its back porch and patio. Being the responsible people that we are, we didn't try any wines, because we know our limits...but we walked around the grounds and vowed to come back.

We had also been told that the newer Hundley Cellars was lovely, so this was another winery we stopped at. Our first thoughts upon walking into the tasting room was "our hubbies would love this place". Lots of wood beams, antlers, rustic wooden tables and one of the friendliest tasting staffs I can remember. They were all so excited for us to try the wines there that even though we hadn't planned on it, we wound up on their gorgeous back patio with a glass of wine.

view of lake and grounds, Hundley Cellars, Geneva, Ohio
Hundley Cellars
view from the back porch
I had their Riesling (12%) because it was just so good! The nose was faint, but the flavors were not. There was a line of juicy peach running through the middle of it, surrounded by sour citrus flavors. A great combination! The finish was key lime, and as far as I'm concerned, you can never go wrong with key lime. (Side note: they also have a wine called Blonde Ambition, which I liked a lot when I tasted it and which would be a VERY fun gift for ladies of a certain hair color. Like me.)

We could not have asked for a more glorious day: lots of talking and laughing and eating and sipping and the chance to explore a stunningly beautiful area of our state. If you ever get the chance, give the Grand River Valley wineries a try. The wines will please everyone from the sweet wine sippers to the big red lovers. I suggest pairing the wines with your special date or a bunch of your best girlfriends. For more information on the Grand River Valley wine growers, head to their website.

O-H.....(the correct response here is for you to say "I....O".)


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Frisk Prickly Riesling

Well, I learned something new when I started drinking my latest wine choice. There are Alps in Australia. Who knew I'd get a geography lesson that day?

I thought I was just buying a nice refreshing-looking wine for the weekend. It had a cute name: Frisk. And it was Riesling, but it was "prickly" Riesling. That intrigued me.

As I researched the wine, I learned that Frisk makes its home in the Alpine Valleys of the Australian Victorian Alps. And by Victorian, I mean the city of Victoria, not the era of Queen Victoria. Well, well, alps in Australia. But what did that matter or mean for the vino? First off, you've got a bit of an Italian influence here, since the vineyards were founded by Italian immigrants in the 1850's. They saw the mountains, started climbing and then sent back to the homeland for their grapevines. The valleys are formed by 4 rivers, so you get that wonderful mineral element in the soil. It snows on them in the winter, too. These grapes have a lot of character, it would seem.

The first thing I noticed about Frisk Prickly Riesling (2014, 9.5%, Victoria, Australia) is that it fizzed when I poured it. It smelled of tarragon, which kind of scared me, since that's not a favorite aroma of mine. But then I tasted it. Flavors of juicy starfruit and lime and flowers hit me first...and the bubble were tiny and active, so it felt lively and, to quote the bottle label, it had a "racy verve" (I love that description. I wish I'd come up with it first.) The winemakers say that the "prickly" element comes from the "canny" yeast added during fermentation. Again, another description I wish I'd thought of first: canny yeast. It finished nice and tart

This wine was so yummy. Absolutely not too's like they took all the best flavors of a Riesling, added a little sass, and came up with a refreshing, flavorful, bouncy wine.

If you like a wine that is on the sweeter side, but not thick and sweet, you will love this one. If you like your wine with a bit of a tart taste in it, ditto. And ditto again if you like a little movement in your vino. The bubbles really play a big role in the taste and feel of Frisk, tiny as they are after you pour it.  I found this wine for under $8, by the way. Frisk also makes a Prickly Rosso, and I intend to climb the nearest Alp, or head to the nearest store, to get some.

This wine paired very nicely with a seat on the patio, doggie in my lap and a new magazine to read. (Yes, since you asked, it is a bit difficult to read a magazine with a dog on your lap. I gladly accept the hardship however.)


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