Sometimes I like to go back and taste wines that I drank often years ago but somehow moved on from or just lost interest in. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling is one of those wines. When I revisit certain wines I realize why I don’t buy them anymore but with some like this Riesling, they seem to hold up and remind me how my tastes have and have not evolved.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling has been a reliable white wine from Washington’s Columbia Valley for years and because it is widely available it can be easily overlooked as a very drinkable option for the money. Riesling is often referred to as a “wine lovers grape” because with all of it’s outstanding qualities and punctuated by the fact it might be the most food-friendly of all wines it has never gained acceptance with causal wine drinkers. I once heard a CEO of Altria, the corporation that owns Chateau Ste. Michelle, describe the wineries in that group as ” a string of pearls”. Quite a fitting compliment when you consider they have managed to maintain a level of quality and consistency that is extremely difficult when you consider the scale of the operation.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2018 Columbia Valley is not dry by any means but isn’t sweet either. This wine offers ample body, flavors of peach and citrus that are enhanced by just enough acidity to tie it all together. It’s a solid choice when your dinner guests usually don’t drink wine with their meal and you need an approachable wine everyone can enjoy.
If you are unsure of what white wine to serve at any of your gathers play it safe and pick up some bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.
With Thanksgiving only a few days away the question of what wine to serve at dinner looms as large as the Garfield balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Over the years the traditional menu for this holiday has evolved for many but the problem of what wine pairs well with everything remains. The answer is that no single wine pairs well with everything. The solution: Buy several different wines and buy more than enough of each without going over your budget. My advice is the same as it would be if you were going bowling, ” Just roll it down the middle”. Here are four suggestions that will certainly score you some points with your friends and family this holiday season.
Loosen Dr. L. Riesling is a great introductory German Riesling from Mosel. It’s not
too dry or too sweet classic style means this low alcohol (8.5%) Riesling pairs well with a Thanksgiving dinner and @ around $13 it won’t “Break the bank”.
Leonard Kreusch-Zeller Schwarze Katz Riesling. This is a very approachable Riesling from a legendary German producer in the Mosel river village of Zell. Fruity, crisp and easy to drink. You can find it for around $10 a bottle so stock up
South Shore Gruner Veltliner is an excellent
Pennsylvania Lake Erie Wine Country wine. Fresh aromas and bright acidity make this a very food-friendly wine and a bargain at around $13.
Breitenbach Cranberry wine is both sweet and tart. This wine is always a hit especially with your guests that usually don’t drink wine. These seasonal
offerings can be a little hard to find but worth the extra effort. You should be able to find one of these seasonal wines in the $15-$20 range.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and may the good things of life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.
Saperavi is dramatically expanding its footprint in North America as more vintners add vines to their vineyards and long-term plans. Growers are taking advantage of the increase in Saperavi vines on the market as other nurseries join Amberg Grape Vines (formerly Grafted Grapevines) to boost the supply of Saperavi stock. A special thanks to Jim Baker at Chateau Niagara for helping me in my search for American Saperavi producers. If
you are or know of a Saperavi producer please contact me at email@example.com.
The first stop on our quest for new Saperavi vineyards takes us to Fort Defiance in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where Tim Jordan is planting an acre of Saperavi this Spring (2019). Tim is the former head winemaker at Barren Ridge Vineyards and a PhD. of Entomology from Virginia Tech.He is planning to add four acres of hybrids and Saperavi to the existing six acres of vinifera in his family’s vineyard. He intends is to implement as many organic and biodynamic viticulture practices as possible in his new vineyard. He has partnered with his brother, Ben Jordan who is the head wine maker at Early Mountain Vineyards. They are bonded but not producing on site yet as they are “bootstrapping” the winery as they go. So goes the “Glamorous Life” of wine making without the deep pockets of corporate investors. Isn’t this what it is all about? Having a dream of getting to make all the decisions while charting your own course even if it is uncertain at times. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your dreams become reality. Although their stories are unique this is a shared truth for all wine makers. Tim’s 2016 block varietals are Chardonnay, Riesling, Petit Manseng, Blaufrankish, Cabernet Franc and Noiret. His 2019 plantings will be Chardonel, Regent, Chambourcin and Saperavi. Follow Tim on Instagram @valley.vines
Justin Falco is the winemaker/proprietor of Montifalco Vineyard in Ruckersville, Va and one of the ambitious growers that will be planting a Saperavi vineyard this Spring. Justin has always loved the wines of Eastern Europe, France and Switzerland. Because of all the friends and family he has abroad he wanted his winery to reflect his memories of the wine and culture there. It is little surprise that he will be adding 2000 Saperavi vines to his Central Virginia vineyard that already boasts plantings of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Rkatsitelli. http://montifalcovneyard.com Instagram @montifalcovineyard
I have followed the Saperavi vineyard that Dr. Rik Obiso planted three years ago at White Barrel in Christiansburg with great interest. This Fall will be the first harvest for those
vines and will set the benchmark for what we can expect from Virginia Saperavi. Rik is involved with several research projects that will further the understanding of how “Old World” Saperavi can be best used in Virginia. http://whitebarrel.com Instagram @whitebarrel
42º North latitude is ground zero for Saperavi in North America. That is exactly where the Saperavi vines of Shalestone Vineyards in Lodi, NY call home. Shalestone is on the east side of Seneca Lake in the “Banana Belt” and has a memorable tag line “RED IS
ALL WE DO”. They prove that statement to be true with the makeup of their vineyard. Rob and Kate Thomas have 6.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Lemberger, Pinot Noir. Their 400 Saperavi vines occupy a 1/2 acre plot within the vineyard. http://shalestonevineyards.com
Jeff Sawyer is following his passion for wine making in Sterling Valley, NY. He is well on his way to seeing his vision become reality with the establishment of Wellspring Vineyards. He planted 275 Saperavi vines in 2016, less than he wanted to because his original order for 600 plants couldn’t be fulfilled because of a shortage of vines. The following year brought a change of direction with Jeff planting 300 Dornfelder and 250 Gewurztraminer. Wellspring Vineyards now has 1900 vines comprised of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grurztraminer, Dornfelder and Saperavi growing on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. With the first part of his plan in place Jeff is moving forward with his goal of starting a winery. He said in four or five years they will be known as Wellspring Winery. The proposed site is the perfect setting for a winery/tasting room and will have a great view for his guests. Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Occasionally someone will ask me for my thoughts on a wine pairing for a dinner party or a casual evening of grilling in the backyard with friends. I would always make the same mistake of only thinking about pairing the wine to the menu and budget. The problem with that approach is that I was overlooking the most important part of the equation, the guests themselves.
I now consider who will be attending first before trying to choose a wine that will satisfy the criteria of both food pairing and budget. It is difficult to completely concentrate on the wine at these gatherings because there are so many distractions. With that thought in mind I attempt to please the most people I can by “Painting with a broad brush, using bold strokes”.
J. Lohr is one of California’s more dependable large, mid-priced producers and one of my favorite go to wineries in situations like these. The 2015 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid choice in the settings I have described. 2015 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine that is not elegant but has enough character to fulfill the expectations of your guest. It is an easy drinking Cab from Paso Robles with mellow oak, medium tannins and cherry/blackberry flavors that evolve into a lingering fruit finish which is very typical of a Paso Robles Cabernet. Pricing in the $15-$20 range makes it an outstanding value for a wine of this quality. If you can’t find it in your area you should have little problem substituting another J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cab vintage as a replacement to fit your needs.
Are you planning a party and want to serve something new? J. Lohr can help with free recipe booklets which include wine pairings that you can download and print. Go to http://jlohr.com click: “life”, then click: “entertaining”.
If you are feeling adventurous and have a few extra dollars to spend you might want to explore J. Lohr’s artisan Cabernet Sauvignon label “Hilltop”. Hilltop is a bigger Cab with a slightly higher price of $35. Like all J.Lohr wines it displays the benefits gained from J. Lohr practicing Bordeaux winegrowing techniques in their Central California Coast vineyards.
Chateau Niagara Winery will be hosting a wine pairing dinner that will feature some of their recently released wines paired with a menu prepared and presented by personal chef and owner of Fit N Fresh catering, Melissa Rakvica. Winemaker Jim Baker will be discussing his wines that will be poured and Chef Rakvica will describe the exciting dishes she has prepared to complement the wine. Jim and Melissa have an incredible dinner planned for you on Friday November 10th, 2017 from 6PM – 8:30 PM at the Chateau Niagara Winery 2466 West Creek Rd. New Fane, NY. Tickets are $60 each and with only 40 being sold they will sell out fast. To purchase tickets and view the menu visit: SOLD OUThttp://chateauniagarawinery.com