Happy Easter

Wishing everyone and their families a Happy and Blessed Easter

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Lake Erie Wine Country Wine & Cheese Weekend

     Lake Erie Wine Country will be presenting its Wine & Cheese Weekend event the weekend of April 21-23, 2017. There will be twenty two wineries participating in this event. Tickets are only sold online and must be picked up at one of the six

Photo Courtesy: Lake Erie Wine Country

designated pick-up wineries along with your gift bag. Tickets will be available until Tuesday April, 18 at 10:00 a.m. A ticket allows you to visit all the wineries for food samples, each paired with a complementary wine. Also included is a $5 gift voucher, wine glass, booklet containing all the recipes of the food you’ll be tasting and additional tastings. The cheese for this event will be provided by sponsor Yancey’s Fancy. Event hours are Friday April, 21st 12-6pm, Saturday April, 22nd 10am-6pm and Sunday April, 23rd 10am-5pm. One regular $38 ticket is good for all three days. The Designated Driver ticket is $20 and includes everything for the purchaser as a regular ticket except the wine tastings plus the $5 voucher is included at no charge. Friday and Sunday “Only” tickets are $28 and have the same privileges as a regular ticket but can’t be used on Saturday. For more information and to buy tickets go to the event website: http://lakeeriewinecountry.org/events/4

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Bella Terra Vineyards

bella-terra     When Jay & Joanna Bell’s love for winemaking outgrew their basement they had a decision to make. They had to decide whether to restrain their passion for winemaking or dive head first into the vineyard and winery business. Luckily for us they chose the latter. They didn’t just dip their toes into the waters of the winemaking pond they built their own 3 acre lake on their 17 acre property in Hunker, Pa at 121 Sunny Lane. They also built a winery with a tasting room, a lakeside stage where bands perform, a large parking lot and planted a vineyard with 380 vines divided between 5 varieties. A planned event center is on the drawing board with a start date in the near future. That is quite an achievement considering they became Western Pennsylvania’s newest winery when they opened in September of 2016.

The first thing Jay pointed out as we entered the winery were the carboys filled with the wine he will be using to make his blends. They were neatly aligned and separated into reds and whites. In the corner of the winery stood a large stainless steel tank. When Jay lifted the lid to show me the contents the unmistakable aroma of yeast at work filled the room. The yeast in that tank was working to make Bella Terra’s Sweet Diamond wine. Jay turned and pointed at a barrel rack filled with American Oak barrels. With a smile he couldn’t contain he began to talk in glowing terms about the Chardonnay aging in those barrels as being something “Special” 

 

Bella Terra’s wine list offers 8 wines that range from the dry Peridot, Ives, Raspberry Cabernet and Reserve to a semi-sweet Riesling and finishing with their popular sweet offerings of Sunday Afternoon, Duvall and the best-selling Sweet Finlay, named after their adorable little daughter. While his young vineyard matures Jay sources his grapes from growers around Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York as well as a vineyard in the Napa Valley area of California.

Bella Terra Vineyards is now closed for the winter but will be reopening for its first full season on May 6th, 2017. More information is available online at these resources: Facebook  website:http://bellaterravineyards.com  Instagram: bellaterravineyards  Email: jay@bellaterravineyards.com

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“Down Under” Saperavi Tasting

When I was contacted by South Australian wine journalist Dan Traucki informing me that he was putting together a Saperavi tasting with wines from around the world I was intrigued. He had already gathered a diverse group of samples but was very interested in obtaining bottles from the “New World” producers here in North America. The North American entries were provided by the three pioneering wineries of the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York that have advanced the development of this versatile grape for decades. The wineries are McGregor, Dr. Konstantin Frank and Standing Stone. At last count Dan had received 33 bottles with more arriving daily.

This event will give us a good idea about how the Saperavi grape is adapting to the different growing regions that it has been introduced into and how it is expressing the nuances of the terriors.

I have high hopes for the North American Saperavi and its potential to impress when it has its turn in the spotlight. It is said that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” and I believe the FLX Saperavi will shine bright.

Dan had scheduled the tasting for Tuesday January 31, 2017 and you can follow his twitter @dandanwineman or mine @wpawinepirate for updates and links to any articles relate to this event.

McGregor Winery Saperavi Samples

McGregor Winery Saperavi Samples

Standing Stone Vineyards Saperavi Samples

Standing Stone Vineyards Saperavi Samples

Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi Samples

Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi Samples

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Cune “Crianza” Rioja 2012

     Cune “Crianza” Rioja is very popular in Spain and it is easy to see why after you tastecune-rioja-3 this very good “everyday” Rioja. C.V.N.E. ( Compañia Vinícola del Norte de España ) produces 4.5 million bottles of this well-crafted commercial Rioja in different lots to meet market demand. The 2012 vintage is a wine that again has proven to be a critical success garnering ratings of 91 points from Wine Spectator and 90 points from Wine Advocate.

Cune “Crianza” Rioja 2012 stays true to its winning formula of a Tempranillo-based blend with 15% Granacha Tinta and Mazuelo. This wine is aged one year in French and American oak to give it just the right amount of oak to enhance both taste and bouquet. Cherry red with a hint of violet in the glass its medium body brims with cherry and vanilla flavors plus spicy notes on the finish. Soft tannins and balanced acidity blend seamlessly into a classic Rioja profile.

     If you are looking an approachable Rioja that is easy to drink at a value price I suggest you give this Spanish favorite a try.   cune-rioja

       

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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

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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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