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President’s Column

by Averill Shepps

Historical wine trivia can be interesting reading. For instance: The Irish believe that fairies are extremely fond of good wine. The proof of this assertion is that in the olden days, royalty would leave a keg of wine out for them at night. Sure enough, it was always gone by morning.

Part of a manuscript leaf from a manual for the instruction and guidance of young monks written in a German monastery a thousand years ago: Punishment of drunk monks – 15 days on bread and water if one drank so much that one vomited; 30 days on bread and water if one, when drunk, encouraged others to get drunk; 40 days on bread and water if, through drunkenness, one vomited the communion wine and wafer.

Thomas Jefferson’s salary was $25,000 a year. In 1801 he spent $6,500 for provisions and groceries, $2,700 for servants, and $300 for wine! Jefferson stocked the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents.

The bill for a celebration party for the 55 drafters of the US Constitution was for 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of Port, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and 7 bowls of alcohol punch large enough that a ‘duck could swim in them.”

Charles Baudelaire – “If wine were to disappear from human production, I believe it would cause an absence, a failure in health and intellect, a void much more terrifying that all the recesses and deviations for which the wine is regarded as responsible.

And someone is always counting. The longest recorded champagne cork flight was 177 feet and 9 inches, four feet from the ground at Woodbury Vineyards in New York State.

Our Trip to Barolo and Barbaresco

by Scott Casper

My wife and I had been looking forward to a wine trip to Italy since 2012. Every year we were hoping to go but every year something came up so we couldn’t…until this past June.

The focal point of our trip was the fine wine country of Piedmont in northwest Italy, specifically Barolo and Barbaresco, two of the greatest wine appellations in the world. We went with La Dolce Vita Wine Tours. It was a six-day wine tour in beautiful country including lunch at a cheese farm in the Alta Langhe (the high Langhe hills, too high to grow wine grapes).   They took us to thirteen high-end wineries for tastings they had to schedule well in advance. Only one winery had a public tasting room. The other twelve don’t do public tastings. Those tastings have to be arranged by someone in the wine trade. La Dolce Vita also secured various wines at the restaurants where we had lunch and dinner so we could taste specific wines with paired Piedmontese dishes.

Over four-fifths of the wineries in Barolo are family owned. All of the wineries had interesting stories.   At Altare, Silvia, a fifth generation owner and winemaker told us how her father, Elio, was one of the “Barolo Boys,” a half-dozen young producers who revolutionized Barolo. He and the others frequently shared information and collaborated in their winemaking techniques to produce the finest Barolos we enjoy today. We also went to Domenico Clerico, Damilano, G.D. Vajra, Aldo Conterno, Brezza, Marchesi di Barolo, and Cavallotto.

Next, we went to Barbaresco and visited Marchesi di Gresy and Produttori del Barbaresco. The Produttori also has a very interesting history. It is one of the few cooperatives in Barolo and Barbaresco. It has a long history that was interrupted by Mussolini and the Fascists who thought that cooperatives were too close to a Communist system so they broke them up and outlawed them. Historically, Barbaresco had always been a poor area but the Second World War devastated their meager economy. In 1952, the village priest, pharmacist and the one vineyard owner who was the most literate, came together to help the village. They brought back the cooperative, called it Produttori del Barbaresco and decided to make only fine Barbaresco. They did just that and saved their village.

Join PWS in November to enjoy their 2011 Barbaresco rated 93 points by Wine Spectator – sign up now for “The Italy Cup.”

 

President’s Column

by Averill Shepps

I have had a lot of responses from members who enjoyed my column about wine quotations. Since I probably have as much fun researching the subject as you have reading it, it’s an easy decision to bring more of them to you. Note the wide range of thoughts on the subject – Religion, philosophy, astronomy, romance , humor, food. There are so many reasons to enjoy wine!

“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”   Ernest Hemingway

“Wine is to women as duct tape is to men. It fixes everything.”   Tanya Masse

“A German wine label is one of the things life is too short for.”   Kingsley Amis

“At least with the Catholics you know that when someone hands you a cracker ,

there’s gonna be wine in the mix at some point.”   James Joyce

“The first kiss and the first glass of wine are the best.”   Marty Rubin

“A meal without wine is called breakfast.”   Anon

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more.”   Anon

“The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.”   Leonardo da Vinci

“Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.”   Pope John Paul II

 

“Wine enters through the mouth,

Love the eyes

I raise my glass to my mouth,

I look at you

                         I sigh.”         W. B. Yeats

 

Spain

by Natalie Scavo

 

France, Italy, Austria and Germany are the makers of our most favorite wines. Let us face the fact that they are our “go-to” regions that we’ve grown so accustomed to. Conveniently, they are the wines we choose to have when dining at home with family and friends, as well as the wines we look for on a menu when dining out. Often incorporated into our most beloved occasions because they are tried and true, and of course, familiar to mostly everyone.

But I’ve been inspired to investigate an overlooked area on Europe’s Iberian peninsula that is home to several grape varieties, some familiar, some not. A region that in 2014 was the leading wine exporter in the world, Spain. Spain has 22 red grape varieties and 25 white. The wines that I chose to taste were reds. A Tempranillo from Rioja, a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and a Monastrell from the Jumilia region.

First, the Tempranillo Rioja Licenciado Reserva 2008 was smooth and balanced with notes of vanilla, cherry and even some licorice. This wine regularly priced at $50 was found at a bargain for only $20.

Next, the Valdubon Ribera del Duero 2003 was bright with subtle sweetness on the nose. It had notes of vanilla and more of ripe cherries on the nose. I got some black pepper on this as well. This was priced around $52.

Last, the Jumilia Carmine Monastrell 2009 was a really nice drinkable wine with cherry notes, some spice and like the Rioja, it had licorice on the nose.The price on this was $16.

I found all three of these wines very pleasant to drink and also found each of them to be of great value. Each wine has its own personality and although they share similar qualities, they really are three different wines. The one I enjoyed the most from this tasting was the Rioja. I’ll revisit this wine again and look forward to pairing it with a tasty bite. So now it’s time to move on but before moving on to more reds, I think I’ll visit Spain’s world of whites.

With Spain’s diverse geography, climate and culture and the many grape varieties the country has to offer, I’m certain this is going to be a delicious and exciting adventure!

SALUDOS!!!

President’s Column 

by Averill Shepps

 

I have a follow-up to my last column and the Harold McGee suggestion for fixing corked wine.  At a recent PWS Board meeting, one of the wines we tried was corked.  I took it home at the end of the evening and put some into 2 separate plastic bags, a sandwich bag and a bag made of much thinner plastic.  I tried the samples a couple of hours later and found that the sandwich bag sample was fine and did not taste corked, the other was not.  I left them until the next morning and tasted them again.  The sandwich bag sample was still good, the other was terrible. I have to note that the sandwich bag was sealed while the other was not.  Science works.

Yes, we do taste wines at Board meetings.  Members bring them to share with the other members.  This can be regarded as one of the perks of being a Board member.  I experienced another recently (although this was because I had the added responsibility of running the tasting) when I was given an autographed copy of Kermit Lynch’s book, Adventures on the Wine Route.  I have already quoted from that book, but it was from my dog-eared, paper-backed copy. I mention both of these perks to give you some of the advantages of serving on the Board.  Learning still more about what has to be one of your favorite subjects is the biggest perk; learning how to run a tasting is surely another.  You get to read about the wines to be presented, learn about them in detail, about where they are from, what goes into growing the grapes and making the wines.  While you hear these facts from the speakers, they will stay in your memory far better when you research the subject. We do not have elections until December, but if you are interested in knowing more about being on the Board, contact me or another board member.

 

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV – WINNER

WINNER:  Mazza Vineyards – Vidal Ice Wine 2013

PWS PA EX XIV Winner 1 Mazza vineyards 2-28-2016

Robert Mazza of Mazza Vineyards accepting award from PWS President, Averill Shepps for their Vidal Ice Wine 2013.

Mazza Vidal Ice Wine 2013 – Gorgeous, complex apricot, peach and botrytis aromas in the nose that carry through on the palate.  Fantastic balance between the beautiful fruit and the lively acidity.  This wine cries for Creme Brule.

 

Top Rated Red Wine: Waltz Vineyards – Stiegel Rose 2014

PWS PA EX XIV Winner 2 Waltz vineyards 2-28-2016

Jan Waltz of Waltz vinyards accepting award from PWS President, Averill Shepps for top-rated red wine.

Stiegal Rose 2014 – Complex Aromas of strawberry and orange blossom. Medium body, well balanced acidity. Excellent food wine showing the great potential for dry Rose in PA.

 

 

PWS PA EX 14 wine short list 2-28-2016

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV Tasting list included

  • Armstrong Moscato 2014
  • Nissley Estate Vidal 2014
  • Crosswinds Semi-dry Riesling 2012
  • Penns Woods Traminette 2014
  • Waltz Chardonnay Reserve 2013
  • Waltz Rose 2014
  • Vynecrest Lemberger 2014
  • Chaddsford Artisian Chambourin 2013
  • Armstrong Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
  • Mazza Vidal Ice Wine 2013

Pennsylvania Wine Excellence XIV Honorable Mentions

  • Presque Isle Wine Cellars – Carmine Lake Erie NV
  • Penns Woods Winery – Merlot 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards – Fusion 2014
  • Presque Isle Wine Cellars – Gewurztraminer 2013
  • Naylor Wine Cellars – Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Pinnacle Ridge – Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Penns Woods Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards  – Crow Woods Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Penns Woods Winery – Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012
  • Waltz Vineyards – Cherry Tree Merlot 2013

 

 

The BYOB Insider: by Bill Beeson

 

MX Cocina

2308 Patton Road Harrisburg, PA 17112;

phone: (717) 412-7076; hours: Mon-Sat 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Closed Sunday

Sometimes great food can be found in the least pretentious environments. This is certainly the case with MX Cocina! The experience is much like a gourmet food truck, with climate controlled spacious seating and four walls. Guests order and pick up food at the counter, utensils are disposable, and the only water is bottled. Wine glasses however are available upon request! What about the food, you ask. The menu is short, but the many fresh individual ingredients may be combined in any way you wish!

The selections sound traditional Mexican (with the addition of tofu) and everything is fresh and skillfully prepared by caring hands. This is what absolutely distinguishes MX Cocina from virtually all local “Mexican” (actually Tex-Mex) establishments. The delicious food is the antithesis of the canned, frozen, and pre-prepared food service found in chain restaurants (and sadly also many non-chains these days). Your first choice is selecting a “format”: burritos, salad, nachos, tacos, burrito bowl, plain bowl, or quesadillas (my favorite). The next choice is in the base: chicken, steak, beef barbacoa, pork carnitas, tofu or mixed vegetables (my favorite). You may select white, brown or Spanish rice; refried beans or black beans. And you can top everything with all the usual suspects: salsa, corn, guacamole, sour cream, roasted peppers (delicious), cilantro, cheese, and more – fresh every day. There are also a number of sides (not that you’d need a side with the abundant portions – but it is fun to try things).

From my description alone, I have probably not made it sufficiently clear that MX Cocina serves food distinctively superior to that of other local restaurants with similar-sounding (but not even close to similar tasting) menus. The difference lies in the quality of ingredients, perfect seasoning, and traditional preparation. This is real home-style cooking if home is Mexico. You owe it to your taste buds to try it. We’ve found hearty, non-tannic reds to match best – Malbec, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Merlot. Arrive early to not miss this – remembering closing is at 8 p.m.

President’s Column: by Averill Shepps

February 2016 – Many of us are still reeling from the Riedel glassware tasting where we were exposed to how wines taste in different glasses. It turns out that the basic concept is very correct – that how the wine aroma is delivered to your nose and how the wine itself is delivered to your mouth, tongue and taste buds is very important to the wine experience. For some it was a revelation. Others, who were somewhat aware of this were still amazed at the intensity of aroma or the depth of flavors that could be gained from the appropriately shaped glass.

Unfortunately one needs several glasses to get the ultimate experience from the multitude of wines out there, and the Riedel catalog has many, many selections. I suggested that we all need to get second jobs to pay for the glasses and the cabinet(s) in which to store them! The best way to make sense of it is to start with glasses for the wines you drink most often and move on from there as you are able.

Alternately you can try a specific wine in several wine glasses that you might have at home, repeating the experiment to see what works best. You might invite a wine-loving friend or two to bring over their glasses and share in the experiment, and thus the knowledge gained from it. For those who get second jobs or have the self-control to save up for it, we will be giving members another opportunity in the future to get Riedel at a discount. The company is treating us as they do a wholesaler as long as we order in sufficient volume. Thanks to Dave Williams for planning and arranging the Riedel event, and his co-host Lynne Beeson for figuring out the details of the first glass orders and glassware delivery, and to both of them for getting those glasses to the individuals who ordered.