Ain’t That America

     As my wife and I were enjoying a leisurely stroll down Pitt St. in Bedford, Pa on a beautiful autumn day in October when we happened upon Tod Manspeaker. Tod was standing outside of his tasting room taking in the sights and sounds of the 2016 Bedford Fall Foilage Festival. Tod was as friendly and hospitable as I have always found him to be and he invited us in for a tasting of his Briar Valley Vineyard wine.

Tod lead us through a tasting of some of his wines starting with the 2014 Lemberger that was just bottled the previous day. This wine showed solid red fruit flavors and a nice finish. B.V. Lemberger 2014 should round-out and be in great shape by the time summer arrives and you find yourself pouring it for your guests to complement those burgers, steaks and ribs hot off the grill.

B.V. Chardonnay 2011 is a crisp, straw-colored wine with traditional Chardonnay flavors of apple with a citrus note. This is a perfect pick for when you have friends over and want a light but delicious wine to pair with a platter of soft cheese and fruit, both fresh and dried. Consider including unusual options on your platter, like fresh figs, goat cheese, dried cranberries, apricots and one of my favorites, dates.

     The 2014 B.V. Cab Franc had the most complex taste profile of the wines we tasted that day and I liked it a lot. This wine had plenty of aroma and was full of cherry and berry flavors. Don’t be afraid to serve this with heartier fare because its true colors will always shine through.

     We have had several bottles of B.V. Riesling spanning several vintages so our expectations were high for the 2015 and we were not disappointed. B.V. Riesling 2015 has fresh acidity and flavors of stone fruit and citrus on the mid-palate carried in a light body with a touch of slate mineralality on the finish. Because Riesling is such a food-friendly wine you can enjoy it alone by the glass or pair it with just about anything you find on your plate. We poured the B.V. 2014 on Thanksgiving and it went well with the turkey and most of the side dishes.

You can find these fine wines at the Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery tasting room at 107 E. Pitt St Bedford Pa, as we did, or online at http://BriarValleyWinery.com   1126162134-1

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Niagara Peninsula Ontario Canada

     My wife and I visited the Niagara Peninsula Wine Country of Ontario, Canada in September during their harvest. We stayed in the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake which sits on the shore of Lake Ontario where the Niagara River enters the lake. There are numerous wineries and vineyards in the area, which makes having a plan essential to maximizing your time and enjoyment while touring the region.  Our plan included the well know wineries of Trius, Stratus, Jackson-Triggs, Two Sisters, Peller, Konzelmann and Rief.

This area is definitely a cool climate grape growing region. The wineries and vineyards are among the most beautiful we have ever visited. We tasted at all the wineries that I mentioned and found the wine, even though well made, to be lean and lacking complexity. The varietals displayed crisp acidity, a light body and short finish. I was looking forward to trying their blends or should I say “Assemblage”, but found the same characteristics I found in the varietals predictably repeated in these wines both red and white. It’s not surprising the wine would exhibit these taste profiles simply because those are the traits you expect from cool climate grapes. After giving it some thought I believe that even with reduced yields the grapes couldn’t ripen fully and develop the complexity they needed. The 2016 Harvest may be different because it was a very hot dry growing season which put stress on the vines while the sunshine warmed the berries ripening them more fully.

     Many of the estates have excellent fine dining restaurants. They focus on fresh farm to table ingredients that really makes a big difference in the quality of your meal. We had dinner at the outstanding Kitchen 76 restaurant at the Two Sisters Vineyards. The view from our table was amazing, it afforded us a stunning view of the vineyards that were full of fruit waiting to be gathered. A long lane leads you through the Two Sisters vineyard to the large château that houses their tasting room, restaurant and other facilities.

     We had a wonderful time on our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Niagara Peninsula and would recommend it. If you are traveling there from the U.S. there are some things you need to consider before you go. Be sure to have a valid passport, check with your cell phone carrier for an international plan when you are there (roaming fees are insanely expensive ), most credit cards charge a fee every time you charge so get some Canadian bills for pocket cash, most GPS won’t work after you cross the border, ask about the laws that pertain to bringing back alcohol and be truthful about it because the border guards don’t like cheaters. 

     If you do some preparation you can relax and enjoy your time in the Niagara Peninsula.  

    

View from Kitchen 76 Restaurant @ Two Sisters Vineyard

View from Kitchen 76 Restaurant @ Two Sisters Vineyard

      

Two Sisters Vineyards view from River Bend

Two Sisters Vineyards view from River Bend

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Guest Post

    When Anatoli Levine invited me to write a guest post about Saperavi for his blog talk-a-vino.com I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce this fascinating red grape to wine lovers that probably never have of it. With that in mind I happily accepted Anatoli’s generous offer and started organizing years of information that I had acquired from the winemakers and vintners that are the vanguard for this grapes accent in the wine community. The finished product was published two days ago and I have been very pleased on how well it has been received. I invite you to read the article and have included a link to the http://talk-a-vino.com/2016/11/02/desperately-seeking-saperavi blog where it is being featured.  While you are on the site please take advantage of the opportunity to browse the other posts that you will find there. I think you will be glad you did. Thanks!

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Saperavi Vertical Tasting

     Standing Stone Vineyards in Lodi, NY will be holding their annual Saperavi Vertical Tasting the weekend of October 29-30, 2016. This event is a rare opportunity to experience the evolution of a wine that is rare in the United States. Marti Macinski has developed her Saperavi vineyard and perfected her techniques for this wine over the years to the point where it has become a best seller among her excellent reds. When you see Marti make sure to tell her Rich wpawinepirate said “Hi”

Here is what Marti had to say about one her most popular events.

Saperavi and Standing Stone Vineyards are closely connected in the Finger Lakes. We planted this variety, not knowing much about how it grew, how it worked as a wine, and whether anyone would like it. Sometimes – you get lucky! Saperavi is now our most favored dry red variety – and we are just starting to learn enough about how it grows and works to shepherd it into wine. We will start with the current vintage in the barrel, and go backwards 5 vintages. Then we will pull out one of the oldest vintages from this farmstead. Do we agree with the Georgians that this wine can age for 50 years? Since this varietal did originate in the Republic of Georgia. Find out for yourself. Do not wait – this is always a sellout event. There are two Vertical Tastings scheduled for 12:30pm and 3:30pm on Saturday, October 29th and Sunday, October 30th with tickets $25 a person. Advanced reservations are required as space is limited. Please call the winery or head to our reservation page to book your seats.

http://standingstonewines.com/reservation/        Phone: 607-582-6051                       

 email:ssvny@standingstonewines.com     http://http://standingstonewines.com

saperavi-front-200x200

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BranCliff Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada

     My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque small town on the eastern tip of the Niagara brancljff-innPeninsula where the Niagara River enters Lake Ontario after flowing over Niagara Falls several miles upstream. The Niagara Peninsula is known for its agricultural production of fruits and vegetables but it was the sprawling vineyards of wine grapes that attracted us to the region. I will be discussing my experiences at the wineries in later posts but today I would like to tell you about the fabulous bed and breakfast we stayed at during our visit.

    The BranCliff Inn is a meticulously renovated school house that dates back to 1859. The inn has six rooms, one on the first floor with the other five on the second. We stayed in the spacious Cranberry suite that featured a loft bedroom. The BranCliff Inn is ideally located at 40 Platoff Street, making it a short walk to Dining/Shopping on Queen St (Downtown), Shaw Theaters, parks and the lakeshore. Owner Debbie Laufs-Tataryn will be your host and what a warm and welcoming host she is. Debbie always wanted to own a B&B so she and her husband bought the BranCliff Inn and moved to NOTL from Toronto. This B&B passes our most important test which means it is clean, clean, clean. The breakfast is buffet-style in the dining room with an offering of cold and hot choices. Everyday Debbie makes a different fruit inspired pancake that you just have to try. We enjoyed banana, peach and apple during our stay. When you stay at the BranCliff Inn you have a parking spot for your vehicle. This is a perk that is very convenient especially during high season. The inn also provides coupons for free wine tastings at local wineries and discounts for various restaurants in town.

We had a wonderful stay at the BranCliff Inn and a great time in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. If you are planning a trip there be sure to consider staying at the BranCliff Inn. I hope you enjoy these photos we took during our stay. http://brancliffinn.com

bc-frtdining-roomlight-brancliff

 

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Eat Drink S F Festival

sea-city-mountains-landmark-medium     I have become fascinated with the proliferation of food and wine festivals across the U.S. The well-known events take place in cities with a strong identity that form an immediate visual image of what you might expect to encounter there. When I say Nashville, Miami, New York or Newport your mind immediately goes to you impression of those areas. Now when I say Eat Drink San Francisco what comes to mind.

Eat Drink S F is being billed as San Francisco’s premier food and drink festival. The event will be at Fort Mason, San Francisco, California on August 25-28, 2016. The Grand tastings at EDSF can’t be described they have to be experienced. Thirty six of San Francisco’s best restaurants will be under the festival pavilion roof at Fort Mason. You will  sample delicious dishes from all of them plus drinks from over 70 beer, wine and spirit makers. Demonstrations on the main and food stages, as well as, beverage classes will be lead by experts in their own field of interest. This type of gathering brings together “Like-minded” people. When I say “Like-minded” people I mean people who enjoy good food and drink. After that there is a world of new ideas and opinions to be exposed to.

Tickets are $119.00+$7.97 fee for the GA Grand Tastings and $209.00+11.80fee for the V.I.P. Grand Tastings. Click here for a list of participating restaurants http://eatdrink-sf.com/talent/restaurants Click here for the list of chefs that will be appearing http://eatdrink-sf.com/talent/chefs EDSF is a 21+ event. Your ticket is good for admission and everything you care to eat and drink at the festival so can have fun and keep your wallet in your pocket. To buy tickets go to the festival website http://eatdrink-sf.com This event is using #EDSF for social media posts about it.

 

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Music City Food & Wine Festival 2016

Photo courtesy of Music City Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Music City Food & Wine Festival

     Pull out your Tony Lama’s and pack your best pair of jeans then head on over to Nashville, Tennessee the weekend of September 17th & 18th for the 2016 Music City Food & Wine Festival. Nashville is a fabulous city to visit on any weekend with its legendary music venues and world-class attractions. When you add the 2016 Music City Food & Wine Festival into the mix this weekend will be off the charts both musically and gastronomically.

This event is packed full of appearances by celebrity chefs and personalities with the likes of Jonathan Waxman, Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez and Ludo Lefebvre, to name a VERY few. When planning to attend Music City F&W it is essential that you visit musiccityfoodwine.com for a complete schedule of dates and times for activities being offered to maximize your festival experience.

     Tickets are $150 for Saturday 9/17/2016, $150 for Sunday 9/18/2016, $275 for Harvest Night Festivities Saturday 9/17/2016 7pm-11pm and $500 for All-In-Weekend. For ticket info. visit their website or call 888-512-7469. Music City F&W is a 21+ event.

Other helpful websites: visitmusiccity.com      Instagram @musiccityfw 

everfest.com  also for tickets.

 

 

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Ridge Runner Distillery

     When I promised Sharon Klay that I would visit her son Christian’s newly opened Ridge Runner Distillery I had no idea that it would take me more than a year to keep that promise. Christian Klay built his distillery directly across the road from the Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, Pa with the idea of not only providing the Laurel Highlands with a top-notch attraction but also to take advantage of a great synergy with the family winery.

     My wife and I made our drive to Fayette County under brilliant blue Western Pennsylvania skies. As we topped the Summit on Route 40 near Uniontown I was reminded of the comments of first-time visitors to the Laurel Highland about the deep verdant color of the landscape. I was also reminded of the lyrics from a classic bluegrass song which I sang out with my best “Grand Ole Opry” twang “On the sunny side of the mountain where the ripplin waters fall.” It seemed appropriate for the time and place🙂

Ridge Runner Distillery offers free tastings of all their products. I would suggest starting with their menu of moonshine which is composed of two flavored 50 proof spirits, Apple Pie Moonshine and Peach Pie Moonshine and the 100 proof straight corn mash  Ridge Runner Moonshine. These moonshine are easy to drink and polished making them a far cry from the backwoods “Shine” of folklore that was of unknown origin and made its rounds in old plastic milk jugs. {Or so I have heard :-)} While you are there you shouldn’t pass up the chance to taste their own 80 proof Vodka and Rum.

Thanks to Ridge Runner Distillery for the quality product and the friendly and knowledgeable staff that made our trip over the mountain well worth it!

RRD sign2

 

 

Our tasting guides Tia & Melissa.

Our tasting guides Tia & Melissa.

Bottles of Moonshine, Rum and Vodka for sale @ Ridge Runner Distillery

Bottles of Moonshine, Rum and Vodka for sale @ Ridge Runner Distillery

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DeChaunac Anyone?

DeChaunac Wine Grape: Photo Courtesy: doubleavineyards.com

DeChaunac Wine Grape: Photo Courtesy: doubleavineyards.com

     If you have ever tasted or even heard of DeChaunac you probably have been to the Northeastern U.S., Nova Scotia or Ontario, Canada. DeChaunac is a French-American hybrid red wine grape developed by legendary French hybridizer Albert Seibel (1844-1935). This grape is also known as Seibel 9549 and is believed to be a cross between Seibel 5163 and Siebel 793. It was named after Ontario, Canada wine industry pioneer Adhemar de Chaunac, but in a strange twist of fate, may not be bottled as a varietal under Canada’s VQA system.

     When you first see DeChaunac your eyes will deceive you. After seeing this wines very dark and inky color in your glass you will be surprised by the light to medium body of such a dark wine. In my opinion a well-made DeChaunac will have a solid structure to carry complex flavors of black and red cherries, blackberry and prune with a bit of a musty nose.

     This wine can be blended with other wine to impart an “aged” characteristic but the blend must be kept at or below 7% or it can through the wine off according to J. Stephen Casscels, author of “Wine Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada”http://flintminepress.com

    Now that we have explored the heritage of the DeChaunac wine grape and discussed the wines made from it you might be curious about how it tastes. DeChaunac is not produced as widely as it once was but with a little research you can still find some excellent product.  Here are two examples of how a wine made from the same variety of grapes in different styles can yield wines with similar but unique characteristics. The following are two fine Pennsylvania grown and made DeChaunac.

Ripepi DeChaunac: Dry oak-aged red wine made in a Chianti-style with medium body displaying flavors of black fruit complemented by velvety tannins and a lingering finish.    

Ripepi Winery 93 Van Voorhis Lane  Monongahela, Pa http://ripepiwine.com

Narcisi 2015 DeChaunac: Slightly sweet medium-bodied wine with flavors of oranges, plum and cherries. Balanced acidity and a tart finish

Narcisi Winery 4578 Gibsonia Road  Gibsonia, Pa http://narcisiwinery.com

 

 

 

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Pittsburgh Wine Festival

Heinz field

Heinz Field Pittsburgh Pa

     The 2016 Pittsburgh Wine Festival will be held Thursday May 5th, 2016 at Heinz Field East and West Club lounges. The 14th annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival will be pouring more than 500 wines and will be hosting several celebrity wine makers. Among the celebrities appearing will be Lida Bastianich and Charles Woodson. Lida will be signing copies of her latest cookbook “Lida’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine”. A tasting of specialties from her restaurant Lidia’s Pittsburgh will be offered as will a tasting of wines from her family’s winery in Italy, Azienda Agricola Bastianich. Former Oakland Raider Charles Woodson will be presenting a tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from his Napa Valley boutique winery, Twenty Four Wines.

Tickets are $250 for V.I.P. Tasting and $125 for Grand Tasting. Tip! Grand Tasting tickets are available for 1/2 price for a limited time. Tickets and event details can be found at http://pittsburghwinefestival.com

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