A few years ago, I tried a port wine and was very unimpressed. Since then, I turned down tastes of port when they were offered at a winery. Last year, however, my husband and I tasted Heaven’s View Port made by John Doty at French Lick Winery in Indiana, with his ripest Norton grapes. To our surprise, we both enjoyed it. We’ve tried other Ports and enjoyed them as well.
Port wines are fortified with brandy. Their alcohol content is higher than wines, usually about 20% (Wines have somewhere between 12 and 14% .), and are rather sweet. Ports are best for sipping after dinner.
Several other Indiana wineries are making excellent ports. Along with Heaven’s View Port, I recommend Vintage Port made by Chateau Thomas Winery, Maximum Port made by Oliver Winery, and Old Barrel Port made by Brown County Winery. A small glass of one of these ports is an excellent way to relax before bedtime.
Also known as Pinot Gris, this white vinifera grape is widely grown and produces a highly popular wine. The name comes from the French. Pinot is derived from a word which means pine cone, which is often how the grape is shaped. Gris is for the word gray; the fruit often has a gray tint. In Italy the grape is known as Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Grigio wines are generally dry, straw-colored, with the aroma of tropical fruits, melons and pears. The wines are generally intended to be consumed early. The wines are usually acidic, so they pair better with foods with little acid themselves. A glass of Pinot is excellent with light pastas or cheese and crackers.
I first encountered Pinot Grigio wine at Barboursville Winery in Virginia . It is done in an Italian style and is one of their most popular white wines. Having developed a taste for this light, yet spirited wine, I was anxious to try it at other wineries. Oliver winery in Indiana offers a very good Pinot Grigio. But, of course, I was pleased to discover this varietal at Kentucky wineries. The two that I have tried and recommend are Grimes Mill Winery and Elk Creek Vineyards and Winery. Grimes Mill’s Pinot Grigio is a crisp white that pairs well with fish dishes. Elk Creek’s Pinot Grigio has aromas and flavors of sweet citrus, peach and honeysuckle.
For a light, but favorable white wine, you can’t go wrong with Pinot Grigio.by admin
In Kentucky, Prodigy offers Lemberger wine. This wine grape goes by many other names: Limberger in Germany, Blaufränkisch in Austria, Franconia in Friuli and Kekfrankos in Hungary. Those who are familiar with the Hungarian Egri Bikavér, or Bull’s Blood will recognize the taste of Kekfrankos. Whatever it is called, the wine is a medium-bodied, dry red, with earthy, fruit flavors of black currant, and cherry and dark garnet colors.
Our first taste of the grape came a few years ago at Winzerwald Winery in southern Indiana. They offer tastes of Blaufränkisch, as well as other German and Swiss style wines. We enjoyed the flavors, aromas, and deep color of the wine. Later, we were served Egri Bikavér at the Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana. Egri Bikavér, or Bull’s Blood, is a blend that uses Kekfrankos along with other reds such as Merlot or Syrah.
It was pleasant to find that same grape being used to make wine in Kentucky. Prodigy Vineyards and Winery has won medals with their Lemberger at the Kentucky State Fair competition and at the Kentucky Derby Festival Winefest. Lemberger is a favorite wine.by admin
This week I decided to write about a rather obscure wine. I’ve found it only at one winery but it is an excellent wine. Chateau Thomas Winery in Indianapolis, and their tasting room in Nashville, Indiana, offer visitors a taste of Teroldego described as Dragon’s Blood. The grapes come from Lodi, California.
The Teroldego reference to Dragon’s Blood is because of the legend often associated with the grape in its original home of Trentino, Italy. In the legend a knight slew a dragon that had been killing virgins in the area. Drops of the dragon’s blood fell to the ground and the first Teroldego grapes sprouted.
Teroldego is a deep purple colored wine with dark spice, cherry, and blackberry flavors. The aromas are of herbs and floral undertones. The wine is well-balanced with a mellow finish.
Chateau Thomas’s label offers suggestions for food to accompany Teroldego, such as, red meats, cheeses, and roasted dragon. Sounds yummy!
Possibly the most recognizable flavor of grape is the Concord. Many of the grapes grown in back yards and gardens are Concord. This is the grape associated with childhood and jelly sandwiches or the ever popular peanut butter and jelly. Most children and adults are familiar with Welch’s grape juices. When some individuals taste wine, they are looking for that taste.
Historically, Concord grapes are the product of a man named Ephraim Wales Bull, in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1849. According to the Concord Grape Association, Bull planted over twenty thousand seedlings hoping to produce the ideal grape. In the late 1860s, Thomas Bramwell Welch and his son Charles produced unfermented grape juice to use for their communion service. Today, the Welch Company produces over 400 grape products.
The Concord grapes, dark-skinned with a lighter colored bloom that rubs off, have a rather large seed and are very aromatic. Concord, though cultivated, is a Vitis labrusca, or Native American grape. Some believe that another native grape, Catawba, is a parent grape. Others believe it might have developed from other sources; some even suggest a Vitis vinifera or European grape. The characteristics of the Concord grape, the foxy, musky flavor and candied grape aroma seem to be more representative of Native American grapes. Foxy does not refer to an animal flavor as the term suggests. Grapes found in the United States in the 1800s, such as Concord, were referred to as fox grapes, hence the description.
Most Kentucky wineries produce a Concord wine and they are generally quite popular. Visitors are reminded of the grape they remember from childhood. Concord wines are usually a sweeter wine. Acres of Land Winery, in Richmond, produces a Concord that has won multiple awards, StoneBrook Winery and Wight-Meyer are just two of the other wineries that produce Concord wines.by admin
For many, Cabernet Franc is only the grape that blends well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create a Meritage and other Bordeaux style wines. It often is described as inferior to a robust, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It was long believed that Cabernet Franc was a distant, less regal cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon. Recent research, however, has asserted that Cabernet Sauvignon is the progeny of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Today some wineries are recognizing the subtle tannins, the spicy aromas, and berry flavors and are offering the grape as a varietal on its own. Cabernet Franc is a thin-skinned red grape that grows well in cooler climates. Most Virginia wineries are offering Cabernet Franc selections. It was in Virginia, that I first tasted and grew to love Cabernet Franc.
Many Kentucky wineries offer a Cabernet Franc wine, such as Prodigy Vineyards and Winery, Purple Toad Winery, StoneBrook Winery, and Elk Creek Vineyards. The flavors of luscious berries blend with the flavors of fruits such as cherries or plums. The wine is a clear deep garnet with a fragrant aroma of spices. Not only is the wine to be recommended, the grapes themselves are some of the most beautiful. While visiting Purple Toad Winery in Paducah, and Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia, I couldn’t resist the lure of the beauty of the Cabernet Franc grapes vineyard.
With blackberry season approaching, it seemed like a good time to discuss one of the most popular non-grape wines. Early Americans produced their own wines with whatever fruits they had available to them. One of the most familiar is blackberry wine. Blackberry vines have been known in history to grow wild and have been found on all continents except for Australia and Antarctica. They are popular because of their sweet fruit. Blackberries have many uses, from desserts to jellies, jams, and preserves. Those early Americans were quick to recognize that blackberries made a very tasty wine. Many people are familiar with homemade blackberry wine. Wineries are making blackberry wine and for many it is one of their best sellers.
Blackberry wines are often sweet and are lovely to serve with desserts. Others are more dry and used as an aperitif. Most Kentucky wineries offer a blackberry wine. While I’m not usually a fan of the sweeter wines, some blackberry wines are appealing to me because I love blackberries. Wight-Meyer offers an aged blackberry wine, aged for three years in oak barrels. Lovers Leap produces a blackberry wine and had a blackberry wine fudge created by a Kentucky candy company. Chrisman Mill’s blackberry wine goes well with many desserts.
Blackberry wine is excellent for cooking as well. One of my favorite recipes (which I shared earlier) is a blackberry jam cake. The wine gives it a deeper, richer flavor.
For those who remember the delight of picking a fresh blackberry and popping in your mouth, blackberry wine will be appealing.
Occasionally, I do enjoy a light, white wine. One of my favorite white wines is Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is generally aged in stainless steel allowing the flavor and the aroma of the grape to show through. Sauvignon Blancs have the aromas of tropical fruits, herbs, and freshly mown hay and exhibit flavors of peach and melon. Some have less positive reviews of the wine including unripe fruit, asparagus, and cat’s pee. I must say I’ve never noticed those unappealing aromas.
Sauvignon Blanc has a long history. The word sauvignon appears to come from the French word meaning wild. Many believe that the grape was originally found growing wild. The grape has been recognized for centuries, found first in the Loire valley in France. Today Sauvignon Blanc is found in many regions of the world, from Europe to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and the United States. In California, the wines are often known as Fumé Blanc.
My favorite Sauvignon Blancs come from Barboursville Vineyard in Virginia and Oliver Winery in Indiana. Some Kentucky vineyards, such as Grimes Mill Winery in Lexington have planted Sauvignon Blanc grapes, but I have not tasted a Sauvignon Blanc wine produced in Kentucky yet. I’m looking forward to trying one.by admin
Many wine drinkers are familiar with the Sangiovese grape without realizing it. Sangiovese is the predominant grape in Chianti blends. Those rustic looking bottles one finds at their favorite Italian restaurants are most likely made with this grape. Sangiovese is the primary grape of the Tuscan region of Italy.
My favorite Sangiovese comes from Barboursville Vineyard and Winery in Virginia. Their winemaker blends Sangiovese with up to 25% of other varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot; and after fermentation in stainless steel, it is aged for 6-8 months in French Oak Barrels. The result is a light-bodied wine with a lingering finish with flavors of plums and red berries.
I’ve also enjoyed a Kentucky Sangiovese produced by Elk Creek Vineyards and Winery. Elk Creek’s Sangiovese is a soft, dry medium-bodied red. Recently we also tried their Estate Sangiovese. Estate wines are made from grapes grown at the vineyard. It was very good and is a good example of the high quality of grapes grown in Kentucky.
Sangiovese wines are excellent and I recommend them, even to someone who does not usually choose a dry red.by admin
Even though Malbec originated in France, it is best known in Argentina. Wines made from the Malbec grape are deep in color and intensely flavored. Tasters generally recognize blackberry, plum, pepper, or leather flavors. Most Malbecs are aged in oak barrels, but some vintners choose to age it in stainless steel to bring out the fruit flavor.
This week I had the pleasure of drinking a Malbec from the vineyard of Gabriele Rausse, of Virginia. The wine was robust and mellow at the same time, inky in color, flavors of strong black fruits and pepper, with a spicy aroma. Wines produced by Rausse reflect his Italian heritage and are some of the premier wines of Virginia.
Some Kentucky wineries are producing Malbec wines. I was quite impressed with the Malbec offered at Grimes Mill Winery in Lexington.
Due to the intense flavors and tannins, Malbec is favored by those who enjoy big reds. Beef, Italian foods, as well as Chili would pair well.by admin