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St. Croix, St. Vincent, LaCrosse, Foch, and Chambourcin: Drinking Wine in the Mid-West

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This past week we took a road trip from Silver Spring, Maryland to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit Aaron, Julie, and their family.  We took the slightly southern route heading out on I-70 through Columbus, Ohio to Indianapolis, Indiana followed by I-74 through Galesburg, Illinois to join I-80.  Heading back we took the northern route on I-80 through Chicago, Illinois and Toledo, Ohio route.  Throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa we drove past countless roadside attraction signs pointing out nearby wineries.  Even the Amana Colonies has a few wineries.  We could have punctuated all of our days with winery visits but we were interested in spending as much time as possible in Lincoln.  Jenn thought it would be fun to taste wine from the states we drove through.  We managed to pick up wines from Illinois and Iowa with Julie buying selections from Nebraska.  I did stop at one store in Ohio but the shelves were full of Michigan wines.  In the end we tasted through 11 different wines.  Some of these wines are made from local estate fruit whereas many are made using fruit shipped in from California or New York.  The two Nebraskan wines were purchased from Meier’s Cork ‘n Bottle in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Illinois bottle from the Vintages Tasting Room in Galesburg, Illinois and the rest from Tastings in Amana, Iowa.

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Some wines were outright off putting and others simply odd.  In the end there were just a few enjoyable wines which we all drank.  My clear favorite was the NV Stone Cliff, Cabernet Sauvignon, Classic Series.  This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from California and Baco from Iowa so it is classified as an American wine.  It is priced under $12 and is a perfectly drinkable wine.  Next up I preferred the 2010 Glacial Till Vineyard, Chambourcin produced from estate fruit in Nebraska.  This is an intelligently made wine which makes me want to taste future vintages.  I had hoped to taste a few decent wines on my trip but never suspected an estate wine from Nebraska would be one of them.

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NV Miletta Vista Winery, EdelWeiss, Nebraska –
This wine is 100% Edelweiss.  The color was light gold.  The nose was very subtle.  This was a sweet white wine with flavors of pungent, ripe  white fruit with lots of acidity at the start.  It was a little racy with a sweet finish, and an aftertaste of dried herbs and dried apricots.  Not my style of wine but decently made.  Now.

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NV Stone Cliff, Chardonnay, Classic Series, Iowa, American – $15
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  This was a light, yellow gold.  In the mouth there was a little, yellow fruited Chardonnay start than ripe and sweet, tropical fruit came out.  It was a little smooth with some underlying acidity, though it could have used some more.  It was a little racy in the finish.  * Now.

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2007 Park Farm Winery, La Fume, Iowa – $23
This wine is a blend of 72% LaCrosse and 28% LaCrescent which was barrel fermented. Alcohol 13%.  The nose was sweet-smelling with tropical aromas, apricots, and strange perfume.  In the mouth it was surprisingly thinner and sharper with firm acidity.  There were old, dirty flavors.  Poor Now.

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NV Collver Family Winery, Ramaja, Illinois – $18
The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The nose smelled poopy at first then aromas of old perfume came out.  In the mouth there was tart, acidic black fruit which became thin and sour.  The finish had lots of lipstick like flavors.  With air it shook off the stink and improved but not one to drink.  Poor Now.

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2010 Glacial Till Vineyard, Chambourcin, Nebraska – ~$18
This wine is a blend of 77% Chambourcin, 20% St. Vincent, and 3% Fosh which were planted in 2003.  It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged for one month in oak barrels.   Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium+ purple ruby.  In the mouth there was black fruit then ripe red fruit.  It tasted like a hybrid in the middle with a tight integration of acidity and some wood like notes.  The red fruit flavors turned a little light and hollow in the finish.  There were some wood notes. * Now.

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NV Cedar Ridge Vineyards, St. Croix, Iowa – $14.89
This wine is 100% St. Croix which was barrel aged.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light garnet which looked aged.  The nose was strange at first before aromas of old perfume and not-ripe fruit came out.  In the mouth there was tart red fruit which was round in the mouth, integrated acidity, a different perfume, black fruit, and a popsicle note.  * Now.

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2009 Park Farm Winery, Marechal Foch, Vintner’s Reserve, Iowa – $18.50
This wine is 100% Marechal Foch which was aged for 22 months in seasoned oak barrels. Alcohol 12%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The nose smell of crispy, veggie straws.  In the mouth there was tart red fruit and lipstick then an odd middle with odd flavors.  The wine itself was balanced between mouth feel and acidity.  Poor Now.

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NV Stone Cliff, Cabernet Sauvignon, Classic Series, Iowa, American – $11.59
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from California and Baco from Iowa.  There were flavors of blue and black fruit which was a little racy and well made.  It had some grip, acidity, and structure with good lip-coating tannins in the finish.  A little cassis and blackberry jam came out with air.  Definitely drinkable.  ** Now-2015.

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NV Fireside Winery, Hearthstone, Iowa, American – $14
This wine is a blend of 66% Chambourcin and 45% Chancellor sourced from the Fine Lakes Region, New York.  It spent four weeks with medium toast French oak chips.  Alcohol 13.2%.  There was an odd, off putting nose.  In the mouth the flavors were tart on the tongue tip with a little spritz.  There was red fruit, odd perfumed flavors followed by flavors in the finish reminiscent of the  odd nose.  Poor Now.

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NV (2009) Fireside Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, CoCo, Iowa, American – $14.59
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Lake County, California.  This underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for one year in neutral French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The mouth had tart red fruit with supportive acidity and notes of red candy.  This moderate bodied wine showed balance and integrated acidity.  It was a little short in the finish with some spicy flavors of raspberry.  * Now.

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NV (2008/2009) Fireside Winery, Zinfandel, Cordovau, Iowa, American – $18
This wine is 100% Zinfandel sourced from Lake County, California.  It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for one year in medium-toast French oak. Alcohol 14%. There was a light nose of higher-toned jammy berries and raspberry.  In the mouth there were sweet, forward flavors of red berries and integrated, but minimal acidity.  It was tart with some structure and stewed fruit in the finish.  Poor Now.

I Try Cups of Copa Di Vino

For a recent look at Copa Di Vino and other single serve wine please read Wine in Small Servings: From Unpleasant Reactions to Red and Black Fruit.

Seriously Tasting Copa Di Vino

I held back on publishing my post on wine at the National Mall because I wanted to find an appropriate wine suggestion.  The DC Metro area has a wide selection of wine in a box, wine in a big juice pack, large flasks, Go-Vino cups, but none of these seemed quite right for a concession stand.  When my friend John reported seeing wine in a cup for sale at a gas station I immediately asked him to pick up a few for me.  These two selections were purchased from a Sheetz gas station in Virginia.  He reports that the displays are sometimes located by the registers and other times they are in the walk-in cooler.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Copa Di Vino was created by James and Molli Martin after seeing single-serve wine sold on the trains in France.  For those who watch Shark Tank these names might be familiar for James Martin has twice appeared on the show.  Today Copa Di Vino is a partnership between the Martin family winery, Quenett Winery in Oregon, and OneGlassWine in France.  Two years ago the first version of Copa Di Vino contained French wine.  Now the Martin’s source wine from Columbia Valley producers then “glass” it at their Oregon facility.  The Martin’s established and patented their bottling line at the historic Sunshine Mill on the Columbia River.  The bottling line is mobile but has yet to move as there is enough demand for the Copa brand alone.  However, there is nothing to say other wineries may not work with the Martins.

Peeling Back the Foil

While any initial wine selections at the National Mall (or other National Parks for that matter) could feature the Copa wine it would be more dynamic to offer an evolving selection of wines from throughout the country.  The National Mall draws visitors from all over the world so why not offer wine from not just Maryland, Virginia, New York but New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and others.  The “labels” are screened on so those could be varied.

No Mess!

The actual Copa Di Vino is a 187ml sealed polyethylene cup which makes it one-quarter of a bottle.  At $3 per cup that works out to $12 per bottle.  The wine is filled almost to the top, sealed with an oxygen proof foil, then covered with a plastic cap.  Once the foil is removed the cap may be put on for safety.  A tiny bit of wine may drip out but the seal is good enough to protect against major spills.

Drinking from the Copa

With the wine reaching the top of the cup I tasted these two selections by pouring them into my standard Spiegelau wine glass.  I was thoroughly surprised by the Merlot.  It was actually quite good for an hour or so.  I preferred the palate where there was good flavors, texture, acidity, and sweet tannins.  I certainly thought this was a pleasing wine for the price.  The Cabernet Sauvignon was a step down, perhaps underperforming, it was inoffensive but not as inspired as the Merlot.  When I revisited the Merlot several hours later it was started to recede and thin-out.  I suspect drinking these wines over such a long period will be a rare occurence.  The true potential lies with the single-serve cup.  If I were a winery I would be contacting the Martins then bugging the concession stands to sell your wine.  Step the wine up to the $4 or $5 per serving and I will certainly pass on that large soda!

NV Copa Di Vino, Cabernet Sauvignon, American – $3
This has some Washington state fruit in it.  The color is light to medium purple ruby.  The flavors are a touch herbal with tart red fruit, soft black cherry, and some sweet tannins.  Inoffensive.  * Now.

NV Copa Di Vino, Merlot, American – $3
This has some Columbia Valley Merlot in it.  The nose revealed fresh red fruit, greenhouse aromas, and a little texture.  In the mouth this medium-bodied wine had cherry flavors, a bright aspect with a little dark, inky layer underneath.  The tannins were sweet and mixed with plenty of acidity as the flavors turned to blacker fruits in the finish.  * Almost ** Now.