Davesté Vineyards Review

by Jean Engelke, Wine Wise Guy Reviewer

I recently visited Davesé Vineyards located in Troutman, NC. This winery is the closest to Mooresville and the one I was unable to visit during my father-in-law’s visit because they are closed Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Davesté  is the first winery in Iradell County, and the 52 acre site was purchased in 2003, the land renovated and cultivated, 4 acres planted in 2005, and the first harvest in 2006.

I was greeted by a very nice server who was also attending two other ladies. They were in doing a tasting to choose the wines for an upcoming event they were having at the vineyard’s beautifully landscaped grounds and buildings. I learned Davesté  is a combination of the owners’ two names, Dave and Ester, and that the tasting room also serves as a small gallery for local artists. Tastings are $7 and you can keep the commemorative glass, or $5 without.

The tasting started with a 2011 Viognier. The wine is made in stainless steel and was slightly acidic with distinguishable citrus. This wine was pleasant and drinkable. We then moved to the 2011 Chardonnay. It, too, was made in stainless, no oak at all. It was very light with hints of fruit. A blend of Viognier and Niagra was next. This wine was also very pleasant and finished with the acidity of the Viognier. The Niagra was also distinguishable. The next wine was a Bordeaux-style blend of Cab Sav, Cab Franc, Merlot and Malbec. This was very pleasant with light tannins—not as intense as a typical wine of that style. The next wine was a Cab Franc. Again, this Cab Franc was lighter than NY Cab Francs and was made in French oak.  The final wine was a blend of Chambourcin, Cab Sauv, and Merlot. This wine was served chilled and had a port-like finish—very pleasant.

The server was personable, and we chatted a bit. I asked about their available wines, specifically about their 2011 Moonlake Traminette relating my experiences with wines of the Finger Lakes. Without much prodding, she offered me a taste of this wine as well. This wine was dry and very pleasant with a citrus finish and is named after the vineyard that produced the fruit. I was also given a sample of the Rkatsiteli. Davesté  is the only vineyard in the state to grow the Rkatsiteli grape. This wine reminded me of a Sauv Blanc with good acidity and a long finish.

I purchased a glass of the Traminette and set out to see the grounds. They have an outdoor pavilion that is perfect for parties and events and overlooks a beautiful pond, fountain, and waterfall—very serene and relaxing.  All of these features were adapted from an old animal farm very nicely documented in a photo album in the tasting room. The gallery was also very nice, albeit quite small.

The wines ranged from $12 – $22. While they were all very pleasant, I think the prices were a little high for the value. The visit to this vineyard was well worth the time, and so close to home.  I will definitely take visiting guests to this nearby spot.

Davesté Vineyard Facts
Location: Troutman, NC
Latitude: 35o 50’ 24.36”N
Longitude: 80o 17’9.96”W
Elevation: 936’
Located in Iradell County, just South of the Yadkin Valley AVA.

Hunt Country Vineyards Review

by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch, Wine Wise Guy

During the 4th of July holidays, Tom and I  had the opportunity to stop by Hunt Country Vineyards, overlooking the western shore of Keuka Lake, and try some of their wines.

Cassidie was our tasting host, and she walked us through a tasting of five wines, chosen by us from a list of over 20 varieties.

First on our list was their 2012 Chardonnay. Aged eight months in French oak, it had the classic chardonnay oaky nose and good fruit.

Moving on to the reds, our second selection was the 2011 Cabernet Franc. Aged nine months in French oak barrels, this had a lot of cherry on the nose and a little spice on the palate. Next was their 2011 Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvingon, and Merlot. This wine was also aged nine months in French oak. We found it to be a lite blend, a good red for summer quaffing. Last in our selection of reds was Alchemy, their unique blend of reds (cabernet franc, lemberger, merlot, cabernet sauvignon) with some oak aging. Our opinion – the lemberger make this a richer blend than the Meritage with dark berry flavors.

Saving the best for last, we tasted Hunt Valley’s 2012 Vignoles. This wine with 4.5% residual sugar featured notes of strawberry and was absolutely delicious when paired with a coconut-curry chocolate! Based on our positive response to this wine, Cassidie shared a tasting of their 2012 Late Harvest Vignoles—another winner for us! We went home with Alchemy and the 2012 Vignoles and coconut-curry chocolate and will be sharing it with friends at an upcoming dinner.

We’d like to thank Cassidie for being such a great host at the tasting bar. She was both friendly and knowledgeable about the wines, making the visit an enjoyable and educational experience.

If you happen to be driving through New York’s Finger Lakes, we recommend you stop by Hunt Country Vineyards and take a taste.

Founders & Owners: Art & Joyce Hunt
Owner & Winemaker: Jonathan Hunt
Owner: Caroline Boutard-Hunt
Vineyard Manager: Dave Mortensen
4021 Italy Hill Road (County Road 32)
Branchport, NY  14418

More Adventures in North Carolina Wine Country

by Jean Engelke, Wine Wise Guy Reviewer

Today’s wine adventure is very special. I was accompanied by my husband and father-in-law! My 86 year old father-in-law drove from Michigan to North Carolina for a well-deserved rest and visit. We tried to jam as much adventure into the week as possible, going boating, to battle fields, touring the country side and yes, to wineries. I had my sights set on one that was close, and one that did not offer fruit wines. My father-in-law is not a big fan of fruit wines and I wanted his North Carolina wine experience to be a good one! Unfortunately, the winery I originally selected (close to home) was not open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I thought this was a little odd, but I’ve since learned that many wineries in NC are not open on those days. In New York, the wineries are open nearly every single day, especially in the summer. We scrubbed the first plan and I reorganized to find some wineries open on Wednesday.

This trip, we headed Northeast to the very Southeast corner of the Yadkin Valley AVA. The first winery we visited was Weathervane Winery in Lexington, NC. Upon arrival we were greeted with construction sounds and smells emanating from an addition being built at the winery. Once inside, we were greeted by a relatively friendly gentleman who got us started on our tasting. The tastings were $7 each and we got to keep the commemorative glass.

We started with an Estate grown Traminette. Being familiar with Traminette from New York, I expected something similar. It was not, and did not have a memorable taste. The vineyards are just beyond the tasting room and I inquired about the location and slope of the land, if it was chosen to facilitate growing, ripening and/or soil contribution. Unfortunately, the server and the owner/winemaker, were unable to make that leap, it is where they are and where they are making wine and holding events. We also tasted a Pinot Grigio, an Estate grown Chambourcin, a Malbec (California juice), and three red blends, a ‘super Tuscan’ (that was sweet?) and a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. We finished with a Merlot, Cab Sauv and Petite Verdot blend. The wines were bland and unremarkable. When I asked the wine maker what his background was and how he got in to wine making, he responded by asking me what my profession was and how I chose my path. Not sure where he was going with that, as I was at his winery tasting his wines, not in my office reviewing monthly sales numbers. My father-in-law also asked about the elevation of the winery. Unfortunately, the server did not know and, more importantly, did not know why this is important.

Overall impression is that this winery is still trying to find its way. (It even says something like that on their website.) They had additional fruit wines to taste, but we declined. The wines were priced from $13-20, a bit high for the taste. The overall experience was disappointing, not a good way to start the day. Undeterred, we headed out for the next stop!

Weathervane Facts
Location: Lexington, NC
Latitude: 35o 55’ 7.6794”N
Longitude: 80o 16’27.1”W
Elevation: 813’
Located in the South East corner of the Yadkin Valley AVA.
Winemaker & Owner: Sid Proctor

Just a short distance down the road we arrived at Childress Vineyards. Similar to Raffaldini, the Estate has a very large and breathtaking building that housed the tasting room, meeting rooms, a restaurant and gift shop. The location sits right next to Highway 52 in Lexington. It is difficult to miss the grand structure surrounded by 41 acres of vineyards. For those of you who do not know, Childress is a very well-known name in these parts. Have you heard of NASCAR? Richard Childress Racing?  No. 3? Richard became interested in wine and wine making during his years of travel on the racing tour. He started on his own, then hired a team of viticulturists and an aspiring winemaker, Mark Friszolowski, to build his dream. Mark had already made a reputation for himself working at a Long Island, NY winery.

They had two options for tastings. One was a Cellar select tasting (predominately off-dry) and the other a Barrel Select Tasting (Barrel Select, Reserve or Signature Wine). Of course, we chose the Barrel Select tasting for (gulp) $15 (but we get to keep the commemorative glass). (You have to wonder if NC wineries are selling wine or just glasses.) And, we had to pay first, taste second.

We started with a 2011 Viognier. My father-in-law thought this was unique as Viognier is used as a blending grape and is not often seen on its own. It is also a very finicky grape to grow and in the North Carolina heat and humidity is most likely a challenge. It had a very light aroma and taste. Not the perfume fruit you would expect, more subdued. The second wine was a 2010 Sauv Blanc. The RS was said to be 0, but the wine tasted sweet. We then moved to a non-vintage red blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It was light in color, pleasant, not heavy as is characteristic of Cab Franc. Next came a 2009 Merlot. This wine was not really fruit forward as some merlots, and had very light tannins. Not very remarkable. The 2010 Sangiovese was next. These grapes were not estate grown but sourced from a vineyard in Sumerfield, NC (North of Greensboro and outside of the Yadkin Valley AVA.) This wine was also light, and light tannins. We then tried the 2010 Reserve Cab Franc. Coming from the Finger Lakes where Cab Franc is plentiful, this one seemed much lighter. I will admit, I have not tasted enough NC Cab Francs to determine if this is due to the grapes or due to the winemaker, but the comparison cannot help but be made. We then tried the 2009 Signature Meritage which is similar to the non-vintage red blend we previously tasted except with more Merlot. Indeed light again, with smooth tannins. The last red wine was a 2010 Richard’s Red which is a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv. The fruit of the Cab Sauv could be distinguished here. Nice tannins and pleasant finish. The final wine was a Late Harvest Viognier. This wine was okay, not really sweet as some late harvests can be. Makes sense based on the first Viognier we tasted.

The staff of the tasting room were seemed well prepared. When asked the elevation, our host did not know, but within a minute or two was able to summon someone who did. The tasting room ‘store’ was filled with an eclectic mix of wine, picnic, tastes, NASCAR, No. 3 and serving ware. The wines are priced from $9.99-$49.99. We did not taste the $9 wines so cannot vouch for their value. As for the others, the prices are a bit higher than we’d be willing to pay.

Childress Facts
Location: Lexington, NC
Latitude: 35o 50’ 24.36”N
Longitude: 80o 17’9.96”W
Elevation: 757’
Located in the South East corner of the Yadkin Valley AVA.
Winemaker: Mark Friszolowski
Owners: Richard Childress and Greg Johns

Ridge 2011 Three Valleys Sonoma County

by Jean Engelke, Wine Wise Guy Reviewer
We had the distinct pleasure of tasting (and enjoying) a Ridge 2011 Three Valleys Sonoma County wine today. I purchased the wine at Total Wine for $24 (less discount! Thank you Total Wine!).
I purchased the wine because I know that any Ridge wines are a bit more expensive (for good reason) and it peaked my curiosity on why the price was right. We enjoyed the bottle with a New York Strip steak accompanied with garlic and rosemary roasted red potatoes and green peas.
The initial nose was pretty mellow compared with other Ridge single vineyard zinfandels that are our favorites. The initial taste did not explode or ‘wow’. However, once we tasted the food (read steak and fat) the wine soared in depth and flavor! We were happily tasting a savory wine filled with berry, depth and very enjoyable tannins! Delicious.
After dinner the research begins. The following is blatantly taken from the Ridge website on this wine.

Varietal Information 
65% Zinfandel
20% Petite Sirah
9% Carignane
3% Mataro (Mourvedre)
2% Alicante Bouchet (cross between Petit Bouschet (itself a cross of the very old
variety Teinturier du Cher and Aramon) and Grenache.
1% Grenache
13.8% Alcohol by Volume

The history of the Ridge Sonoma County Three Valleys began with the release of the 2001. The wine contains grapes from a number of Sonoma vineyards – this year, seven. We take great care in selecting the fruit, which is hand-harvested, then crushed and fermented at both Monte Bello and Lytton Springs. Unlike our single-vineyard wines, which reflect the distinctive character of each site, Three Valleys represents the blending of vineyards – winemaking – at it’s finest. Zinfandel determines the wine’s varietal character; old-vine carignane contributes bright fruit and acidity; petite sirah spice, depth of color, and firm tannins; grenache brings briary fruit and lively tannins.

Harvest Dates: 19 September – 25 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.6˚
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Grapes fully crushed and fermented in small stainless steel tanks; fermenting juice circulated over the cap twice daily for extraction of color, tannin, and flavor. Full, natural malolactic to soften acidity. Pressed at six days on average.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (10% new, 20% one and two years old, and 70% three to five years old).
Aging: Twelve months in barrel

Growing Season
Rainfall: 40 inches (above average)
Bloom: Mid May
Weather: Wet spring and typical cool summer, with no sustained heat spells. 

Ridge is noted for its single vineyard wines. Very well respected and distinguishable. We have had the pleasure of visiting the winery and sampling their incredible work. Overall evaluation of this blend is that it is a great value for the price, from a renown producer of exceptional wine. An every day (albeit special for us) wine. Very enjoyable, a Ridge success.

And so it begins- North Carolina Winery Adventures!

by Jean Engelke, Wine Wise Guy Reviewer

And so it begins! For those of you who know me, visiting wineries is my hobby. I am fortunate to have visited hundreds in the United States and Europe. My most recent adventures were in the Finger Lakes Region in New York State. I believe I visited every winery in operation in the region during my three years living in the Rochester area (and have proof in my tasting notes!). I learned a great deal about New York wines and was fortunate to be acquainted with a working wine maker, home winemakers and tasting groups.

Today I will be documenting my newest adventure – North Carolina Wineries. While not considered a dominant wine producer, North Carolina has over two hundred wineries. The state consists of three regions – the Mountain Region, Piedmont Region and the Sandhill/Coastal Region. There are three   AVA’s – Yadkin Valley AVA, Swan Creek AVA and the Haw River Valley AVA, all located in the Piedmont Region. . I will not go into the varietals here (saving that for the tasting notes) but there are well known vinifera as well as indigenous varietals. The most famous NC winery is the Biltmore Estate Winery   whose name, architecture, history and grandeur bring in thousands of visitors a year. For the record, this is the only winery I visited prior to moving to the Charlotte area earlier this year

As you may have surmised, I now live in the Piedmont Region. I was not here long before researching my approach to visiting and learning about NC wine. They have a website (ncwines.org) and a wine growers association (ncwinegrowers.com) that supply ample information on the states wineries and vineyards.

They also do a very good job of advertising the wine industry. There are many billboards along the highways advertising the industry and signs along the roadways directing you to the wineries themselves. Having this information in hand, I begin my journey!

The first winery visit was at Raffaldini Vineyards. The Tuscan style villa, located in Ronda, NC, is nestled in the Swan Creek AVA at the southern end of the Yadkin Valley.

Raffaldini Facts:
Latitude: 36o 10’ 42.78”N
Longitude: 80o 53’29.45”W
Elevation: 1243’
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains.
Winemaker: Kiley Evans Owners: The Raffaldini Family

The Raffaldini family dates back to 1348 in Mantua, Italy located in the Northern Provence of Lombardy. The family purchased the current setting and began growing Italian grape varietals and producing Italian style wines. The Tuscan style villa is breathtaking, along with the surrounding views of the mountains.

They purchased the land in 2001 and erected the villa in 2008.

The absolute theme of this winery is Italian wines. They offer Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Girasole (free run juice of Sangiovese and Montepulciano), Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Moscato d’Asti. The staff was plentiful and polished at the beautiful villa. We were greeted upon arrival and given a detailed overview of the operation. Tasting bars were manned and at the ready, however, we chose to visit the beautiful patio first where they were hosting a local artist show (one of the reasons we chose  that day to visit). The views are beautiful and a great place for the show although we were a little disappointed in the number of artists, only a handful. Their talents were apparent, just wished there were more of them!

We headed back in to do the tasting. There was plenty of room so we approached a young man who  was eager to help. A tasting is $7 which allows you to taste 9 wines and keep the commemorative glass. We started with a 2012 Pinot Grigio which was very light with a dry finish. Next was a 2013 Vermentino that was also light but ‘flatter’ then the Pinot Grigio. The 2012 Vermentino Riserva is an oaked white (18 months) with a smoother buttery finish. Moving toward the reds we had a 2013 Girasole. This rosato was not sweet and you could taste fruit and watermelon flavor.

The reds started with a 2011 Sangiovese. This is in the Chianti style and was very pleasant. A 2012 Montepulciano followed. They consider this their flagship red. A little lighter that some I’ve tasted, but good well balanced. A 2011 Sangiovese Riserva was next. This had light tannins and a cherry finish. We were told it was aged 18-20 months. We then had a 2011 Montepulciano Riserva. This was a very big wine, three years of aging and features appassimento fruit (dried grapes). This wine has won numerous awards and was very good.

Prices range from $15 – $29 per bottle (with quantity discounts). These were a bit high in my opinion. The experience was well worth the time and effort. The setting is beautiful, the gardens very attractive and the surrounding countryside stunning.

Our next visit took us just around the corner to Laurel Gray Vineyards. They are located in Hamptonville. They make it clear they make wine in the French tradition. I believe this is stated to alert the taster that if you’re looking for more crowd friendly ‘sweet wines’ you’ll not find many of them here and they will direct you to their newest venture The Yadkin Valley Wine Company that markets Fruit Crate Wines (I’m not kidding). Laurel Gray planted vines in 2001, opened their tasting room in 2003 and have 10.5 acres under vine. They grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Gris.

Off in the distance is the Yadkin Valley Wine Company building. Below is YVWC welcome

Laurel Gray Facts
Latitude: 36o 08.035’N Longitude: 80o 50.349’W Elevation: 1149’
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains.
Winemaker: Charlie Kidd Owners: Ben & Kim Myers

Laurel Gray Vineyards is the oldest vineyard in the Swan Creek AVA. The land has been in the Myers family for 10 generations. The tasting room is a renovated milking parlor and is very cozy. The tasting fee is $7 for nine wines. They also supplement the tasting with a few of their many Laurel Gray sauces available for purchase (such as Chocolate Cabernet Wine Sauce).

We started with a 2011 Unoaked Chardonnay. This award winning wine was aged 11 months in stainless steel. It is light with citrus notes. Next up was a 2012 Viognier. This wine was very nice, crisp with peaches and apricot notes. It was not sweet, yet full bodied. Moving to Chardonnay we tasted an award winning 2011 Barrel Fermented chard. Aged in French oak for one year, it was fruity but I didn’t consider too buttery. Moving on to the reds we started with 2012 Estate Cab Franc. Another award winner, this was their first attempt at an Estate Cab Franc. Being most familiar with Cab Francs of the Finger Lakes, this one was a little lighter with less tannin on finish. The 2012 Estate Merlot was also a first bottling and Best of Show at NC State Fair. Very fruit forward and pleasant. The 2010 Scarlet Mountain is a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Chardonnay. It is a combination of berries and smooth finish from the chardonnay.

They provide a ‘Fun & Creative Wine’ selection as well. Their Black Diamond is produced from NC mountain blackberries. This is a sweet wine. Their Encore is Laurel Gray’s Cabernet infused with natural black raspberries and a hint of chocolate. The Cheri is a late harvest wine that uses honey from bees that pollinate and orange grove.

The price of the traditional wines ranged from $17-$25 (with quantity discounts). These prices were a bit high in my opinion. The staff and the quaint feel of this winery made it well worth the visit. The ladies in the tasting room were very knowledgeable and sincere in their delivery of service. Since Yadkin Valley Wine Company was so close, we went over there to investigate. We are not much into fruit wines, but YVWC produces fruit ‘infused’ wines. They use Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot and white varietals and infuse them with pomegranate, cherry, raspberry, pear and other fruit juices to produce Fruit Crate Wines. They explained they are a favorite on a hot day while sitting on a front porch in North Carolina! The prices are all at $16 per bottle.

Our next adventure happened a few weekends later when we went up to Stone Mountain State Park to do some hiking and fishing. Unfortunately, the steams were designated ‘late harvest’ so legal fishing was out. Not deterred, we focused on hiking this beautiful park. The park is located in Roaring Gap, NC.



The park surrounds Stone Mountain, an enormous stone outcropping that is impressive. Note that the mountain towers above this fully grown forest. The wall is used by rock climbers who are able to scale to the top (at their own risk). The top left photo is the view from the top, we hiked all the way to the top and over the mountain. This was not for the faint of heart, as you are literally walking on the top with absolutely nothing to stop you if you happen to start sliding off. The falls were next, there are 330 (counted them on the way up) stairs from the top all the way to the bottom. Easier going down then heading back up! Needless to say, we were quite winded by the time we emerged from the trek. These pictures do not do the park justice, it is a massive geographic sight.

Fortunately, on the way out of the park and back home we saw the McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks sign! Without hesitation we steered the car in the right direction. McRitchie is located in Thurmond, NC. The winery is located on about 30 acres in the Yadkin Valley. The owners are Sean and Patty McRitchie. Sean was raised in the Oregon wine country and has made wine in Australia and the Alsace region of France. They moved to NC from Oregon to help open Shelton Vineyards (more on that later). They knew they wanted to stay in NC and raise a family and make wine. They chose Thurmond due to its higher elevation and rocky soil and slopes. Sean also consults at several other local wineries.

McRitchie Winery Facts
Latitude: 36o 22’ 02”N
Longitude: 80o 56’ 43.68”W Elevation: 1359’
Located in Yadkin Valley.
Winemaker: Sean McRitchie Owners: Sean & Patty McRitchie

We were greeted by a four legged welcome wagon, a beautiful black lab. It led us into the quaint tasting room where two other guests were already enjoying a taste. The tasting fee was $7 and you are able to take home the glass. We started with 2012 Fallingwater White. This is a Traminette blend with Chardonnay and Riesling. The wine was a little dry, but very refreshing. We then moved to the 2012 Pale Rider Dry Rose. This rose is made with Sangiovese grapes and had a very nice, dry finish, light tannins.

The 2013 Adhoc Nouveau Red is a Chambourcin and Merlot blend. You could taste the bright fruit from the Merlot influence. Next we tasted the 2011 Ring of Fire Red a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. I tasted dark fruit spice but it had good mouth feel and balanced tannins. The 2011 Merlot showed the fruit forward Merlot style yet had a very smooth finish that was quite nice.

We also tried one hard cider. They make their hard cider from North Carolina apples. We tasted a Dry Hard Cider, and it was dry and slightly acidic yet we were told it was at 2% RS.

This visit was a very nice finish to a long day of hiking. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. The wine prices ranged from $12-$22 per bottle. I thought this was reasonable for the quality of the wine we tasted.

The North Carolina adventure has begun! I will send in the next update soon.

Salvaging Corked Wine

By Jan Klapetzky, Winemaker & Wine Wise Guy

It seems that much too often, the bottle you held onto for a special occasion turns up corked. I personally have experienced this a couple dozen times or more, either my own wine or friend’s wine. And naturally by that time, it’s way too late to take it back or even complain to anyone who might care (at least in the supplier end of the chain).

At an impromptu Wine Wise Guys meeting last month, a pricey New York State (Seneca Lake) Merlot about five years old was heavily corked. A brief memorial was conducted with words of sympathy for the contributor, then on to a lot of other great wines. As the host, I ended up with the bottle and thought of a number of suggestions that Saran Wrap could remove TCA. I’d seen it tried several times, stuffing Saran in a glass of wine and waiting an hour or so but nothing conclusive.

Obviously a semi-controlled experiment was in order. I took about 30” of normal width Glad Wrap and stuffed it loosely in a carafe. I poured the wine in, flushed the air out with a good inert gas wine preserver, and covered the carafe with more Glad Wrap. The next morning I decanted the wine back into the cleaned bottle.

The effect was impressive. The musty TCA smell was almost gone. While I didn’t have an uncorked bottle of the wine for comparison, I did sense the fruit aromas were muted, the mid palate a little thin, and there was a slight bitterness on the finish. None the less, the wine was pleasant and I finished it over the next couple days whereas  the corked wine was terrible. Obviously there’s a lot more that could be optimized like contact time and Saran area, but for resurrecting a ruined wine, it was a neat trick.

Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting

At a dinner attended by the Wine Wise Guys, a discussion on French wines led to a Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting arranged by Brian Thomas, which was held on March 19, 2014, at the Klapetzky’s. Food was ordered from Bad to the Bone BBQ in Williamson, New York.

Eight wines were blind tasted—four Burgundy and four Bordeaux—with and without food, and the ratings were entered onto individual scoring sheets. In the Burgundy grouping, the tasters were asked to identify whether the wine was a Pinot Noir or Gamay. In the Bordeaux grouping, tasters were asked to identify the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blends and the Merlot-dominant blends.

Wines and food were great, the companionship was excellent, and all had fun as the wines were unveiled and tasters learned how accurate they were in identifying grape types.

The final ratings reflect the top three picks from each taster. Results are below.

Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting final ranking

1st: Jean-Paul Brun Ter Dor Cote de Brouilly 2011 (#3)

2nd: Ch Cap de Faugeres Cotes-de-Castillon 2004 (#6)

3rd:  Gevrey-Chambertin (Frederic Esmonin) 2005 (#2)

3rd:  Chenas Quartz Dom Piron-Lameloise 2010 (#1)

3rd:  Caronne Ste Gemme (Haut-Medoc) 2009 (#7)

3rd:  Ch. Larose-Trintaudon (Haut-Medoc) 2009 (#5)

7th:  Ch Vrai Canon Bouche (Fronsac) 2003 (#8)

7th: Emotion de Terroirs Pinot Noir Vincent Girardin (2005) (#4)

Tasting “Value” Bordeaux Wines

By Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch

The Wine Wise Guys gathered on a cold winter night and held a blind tasting of “Winter Reds.” The theme was “Value “Bordeaux Wines,” although you can see by the results that a California red-blend ringer was snuck into the mix and actually won.

All the wines were brought to the tasting in brown bags and then numbered for the tasting. Each wine was tasted and rated on score sheets, the results were tabulated, and then the wines were revealed.  The unanimous winner was the non-Bordeaux, Mazzocco’s 2011  Fascination –  a blend of 40% Zin; 30% Cab Sav and 30% Merlot from Sonoma County!

None of the bottles were finished at the tasting, so they were resealed with the vacuum cork system and tasted later in the week. It was interesting that many of the wines that received low ratings at the initial tasting improved dramatically over a couple days.

1st             2011 Mazzocco Fascination
2nd           2009 Chateau Haut Sociondo Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux
3rd            2009 LaTores Seguy Cotes de Bourg
3rd            2000 Chateau Mayne-Viel Fronsac
5th             2009 Chateau La Bedouce Bordeaux Superior
5th             2009 Cazat – Beau Chene Bordeaux Superior
7th             2009 Chateau Jacquet Bordeaux
7th             2009 Chateau Martinon
9th             2009 Chateau DuPin Bordeaux
9th             2003 Chateau La Croix de Roche

Exploring the Wineries and Inns of Prince Edward County

A Guest Blog by Cynthia Weber, Interior Decorator


Kent and I took a few days to tour into the fantastic Prince Edward County Region of Ontario. Always a wonderful destination if you love visiting wineries, enjoying great food and beautiful scenery.

The first night we stayed at the

Merrill Inn located in Picton Ontario. Nestled amongst Picton’s most elegant and historic mansions, built in 1878, this stately Inn is architecturally significant for its striking gingerbread and bargeboard trimmed gables.

It has all the characteristics I look for in an Inn, Independently owned and run, historically interesting and well appointed.

We were greeted by the owner upon arrival and given the tour. Our room was located up the wonderful main staircase, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the details of it, so fascinating.


Another lovely feature were the front door grills, both beautiful and functional with the hinged door for venting.

I don’t mind admitting, I was very envious!

This framed collection of antique salts caught my eye… what a great way to showcase these little treasures.

Served on a lovely patio, our breakfast the following morning was well presented, fresh and delicious. Featuring local cheeses, baked goods and a hearty vegetable strata.

Full of energy we headed out to explore …

Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s precious wine regions, a tiny gem of lush beauty, lovingly cultivated by some dedicated and talented winemakers.

I had no idea that wine was made in this region more than a century ago and that the industry disappeared until a group of wine industry pioneers rediscovered the area in the 1990′s.

We stopped in at Closson Chase a real treat…

Kent and I were taken right away with the setting, right up our alley with perfectly untended gardens, just wild enough to be interesting.

The staff were informative, knowledgable and attentive yet not pretentious… a refreshing combination to be sure!

We took our selections out to enjoy in the back gardens.

Although we enjoyed all on offer, the hit for us was the 2008 K.J. Watson vineyard Chardonnay… Superb. It came home along with the 2010 Chardonnay.

Being somewhat preoccupied with presentation I was enamoured with their branding.

Inspired by Prince Edward County’s maritime tradition, the Closson Chase label makes reference to international signal flags, incorporating an original painting for Closson Chase by master painter and printmaker David Blackwood.

Taking the theme further, these amazing windows echo  the feeling of flags moving in the breeze, coaxing the sensual play of light to dance throughout the barn…

I loved it!

Our stop here was greatly enjoyed!

The next night was spent at the Auberge Victoria Rose Inn located in Gananoque Ontario.

Victoria Rose Inn

It is lovely! Our room was spacious and clean. The grounds are wonderful and so well kept… a meander around with a glass of wine in hand was a must!

The Victoria Rose Inn

Finally we made our way to the Warring House Inn and cookery school located in Picton.

the Warring House

Here again, the grounds are lovely. We enjoyed our evening meal looking out over the gardens. The vineyard cottage is where we lay our heads. It is charming and boasts a private patio.

the patio at vinyard view cottage

So, if you are thinking of exploring this beautiful area I hope you got some ideas of places to go and things to do!

We will definitely head back that way soon… it is picture perfect.

If you would like help making your home everything you want it to be please contact me. We now offer e-design packages for distance clients and our shop carries a delightful selection of beautiful items to enhance your home.

De Restia Crianza Ribera Del Duero Selected Harvest 2004 Review

By Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch, Wine Wise Guy & Wine Reviewer

We are partial to Spanish wines, so when we a had a wonderful Ribera del Duero tempranillo the other night, we knew we had to share the find with our followers.

De Restia Crianza Ribera Del Duero Selected Harvest 2004 was rated at 93 points by Wine Spectator and described as follows:

 ”This maturing red is beautifully balanced, with fresh, ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry, and deeper notes of cedar, tobacco, mineral and spice. The firm tannins are softening, yet this remains fresh and focused through the long finish.”

The dark fruits, tobacco, and spice were most prominent to our palates, and while the tannins are softening and ever so nice, there is no doubt in our minds that this wine will definitely cellar well for another year or so.

Purchase online from Marketview Liquor at $16.99 a bottle.