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Working on my Oenophile Cred

Last Friday after adventuring for most of the afternoon, I stopped by Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY for their Easter wine tasting.   As regular readers know, I have no real oenophile cred (or even a clear idea of how to pronounce “oenophile”).  However, I love wine and I like giving a shout-out to a local business.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always educational for me, because Bronson, who owns Vintage Spirits, is very knowledgeable.   I suppose if I go to enough tastings there, I will eventually gain a few oenophile creds myself.  If I don’t drink too much wine and forget everything I hear (not at the tasting, of course, but, you know, if I buy a couple of bottles).

I started with Le Petit Rouviere Rose 2015 from Provence, France. I told Bronson how Steven and I often make the joke:   If I have a little red left in my glass but Steven is opening a bottle of white, I tell him to mix it and we’ll make Rose.  Of course that is not really how it is done.  Bronson explained how the wine skins are left in for a certain length of time to make the color.  I’m afraid I don’t remember the full explanation (yes, I purchased a couple of bottles; why do you ask?).

I though the Rose was tasty and would make a good summer wine.  Of course I am quite ready to sit out on my deck with a glass of wine, but so far the Mohawk Valley weather has not been cooperative.

Next I tried Heron Hill Dry Riesling 2013 from Keuka Lake, NY.  I like dry riesling and I am a huge fan of New York State wines (what a surprise), so I had high hopes for this one.  I was not disappointed.  It earned my ultimate accolade of “yummy.”  I made a further note that it was “New Yorky.”  I can’t describe exactly what I mean by “New Yorky.”  It’s one of those “I know it when I taste it” things.  This riesling was not entirely dry, and the description said it paired well with ham, so I felt confident in purchasing a bottle to bring to my parents’ house for Easter dinner.

I tried all the reds except the Fulkerson Red Zeppelin from Seneca Lake, NY.  I knew it was sweet, and I think I have tried it before.

In addition to the riesling, I picked up a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Noir, which is a very tasty wine, especially for the price.  Mom was cooking a rolled roast beef as well as the ham, so I thought some people might prefer a red.

Steven was working till six.  Thinking he had worked all day and would like a treat, I walked to his place of employment and brought him to the wine tasting, which ran till seven.  The nice people at Vintage Spirits did not mind that I tasted twice.  After Steven had tried everything, we purchased a bottle of the Rose.  Steven liked it, and I found I liked it even better on the second try.  Now if we could only get some good deck-sitting weather.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY.  Phone number is 315-866-6800.  You can also Like them on Facebook.


Tasty and Different Wines

Regular readers know I am something of an oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file, to give you an idea of my level of wine knowledge and snobbishness) (just to be extra clear: not high). I am always delighted to increase my knowledge and discover new wines when Vintage Spirits holds a wine tasting. Bronson, who usually does the pouring, is very knowledgeable, and he has good taste in wine.

The first wine I tasted was a Tangley Oaks Chardonnay from 2012. This is an unoaked (my computer seems to think unoaked is not a word; must not be an oenophile) California wine, which makes it an unusual California Chardonnay. I was pleased to hear this for two reasons: that Chardonnay is aged in oak or stainless and it makes a difference in the taste is one of my few bits of wine-making knowledge. Also, I like unoaked Chardonnay. I liked this one. I noted that it was tasty, light and bright.

I moved on to Laurent Miguel Chardonnay-Viognier 2013. It is 65% Chardonnay, 35% Viognier. I pronounced it yummy (my highest praise) and different. This is where I would like to educate my palate a little more, because I would like to be able to articulate how it was different. Bronson said the viognier gives the wine an apricot taste. I have not eaten an apricot in years (and the ones I ate then were dehydrated) so I had to take his word on that. Still, I enjoyed the differentness (I guess that’s not a word, but it says what I mean better than “difference”) (or should I say more betterly?).

Next I tasted CK Mondavi Blond Five 2013, another California wine. The five are Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It was sweeter that I usually like but tasty. I enjoyed that a lot of different flavors are present. Once again, I must educate my palate to describe it more clearly. For now I can only say, it tasted like a lot was going on.

The last white was Rosemont Estate Traminer-Riesling 2013. This Australian wine is 83% Gewurztraminer, 17% Riesling. It has a definite crispness to it. I pronounced it tasty and a little different as well. Once again a little sweet for my tastes, but I liked it.

The first red on the list was Lost Vineyard Rosso, an Italian wine. Sangiovese is the grape used. It is made in Italy and imported by a Rochester company, in case like me you’re a sucker for a New York State connection. I found it tasty but plain. Another taster pronounced it too light. Bronson agreed that it did not have a whole lot of depth. Steven liked it, as did other tasters who prefer a light wine.

I felt there was a little more to the Melini Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010. It also had the coolest shaped bottle. I pronounced this one tasty as well. Bronson warned me that the Estancia Reserve GSM 2012 was a little sweeter (he knows I like dry), but I liked it. It’s made from three grapes, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

The last wine had a cool-looking bare tree on the label. It was Old Soul Zinfandel 2012, made from old vines. Bronson told us that vines must be 25 years old to be considered old vines (that was my new bit of wine knowledge for the day). Some California vines date back to the 1860s. During the gold rush, Italian immigrants brought vines of “Primitivo,” which became Zinfandel. I thought the wine smelled sweet but did not taste overly sweet. Still, it was my least favorite wine of the day (although I did like that tree on the label). Tasters who preferred a sweet wine liked it best.

Vintage Spirits is located at 246 Mohawk St., Herkimer, NY. Phone number is 315-866-6800. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. For more information you can visit their website at or you can Like their Facebook page. You can also get on a email list to receive notifications of future tastings. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Wine Not?

Friday I attended a wine tasting at Vintage Spirits in Herkimer, NY.

And here is my usual disclaimer that this is not a wine blog and I am far from a knowledgeable oenophile (I pronounce it oh-nee-oh-file). But I did take notes, and I thought it might be fun to write about what I tried.

Tastings at Vintage Spirits are always fun, because Bronson IS a knowledgeable oenophile and can tell you all about what you’re tasting. I also like to interact with the other customers who are tasting, comparing opinions and making silly jokes.

I started out with the Cesari Rose Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2013. I’m not really familiar with roses. Sometimes if I’m switching from red wine to white of an evening, I suggest not rinsing the glass and making it be rose. That is a silly joke, of course, but it relates to what I learned about rose on Friday. In Europe, to call a wine rose, it must be made in the classic method: red grapes are used with the skins on from 20 minutes to two hours, then the skins are removed. They do NOT blend red and white wine together, as is allowed in the United States (yeah, we’re rebels in this country).

The Cesari is a classic European rose. I found it had a little sweetness to it and thought it a good summer wine. Another lady there found it too dry, but I think my tastes run very dry.

Next I tried the Rock Brook Chardonnay 2011, which I declared yummy (regular readers may recall that this is my ultimate accolade). I find I have been liking more Chardonnays in recent years. In general I prefer those aged in stainless to the ones aged in oak (my one bit of real oh-nee-oh-file knowledge) (ooh, but now I know the rose thing). This one was lightly oaked, I think. It was also an excellent price, so I purchased a bottle.

Next up was the Stone Fruit Reisling 2012 from the Pfatlz region of Germany. I found it sweet for me. I thought I might like it as a spritzer, which I make with seltzer water and fresh lemon. Chat de Manissey cotes du Rhone 2012 grew on me. I wasn’t too impressed with the first sip, then it got better. I’ll have to buy a bottle some time to check the effects of a full pour (and if I don’t like it, I can always cook with it).

My other favorite of the day was the Sarmento Irreverente 2010 from the Dao Region of Portugal. This is made from four different Touriga grape varieties, which is the local grape in Portugal. As usual, I love a good blend.

I also liked the Dreaming Tree crush 2011, which is 66% Merlot and 33% Zinfandel. I thought, what’s not to like? I finished my tastings with Naked Grape Pinot Noir, an unoaked wine. I figure with a name that includes the word “naked” this will be a fun wine to serve at a party.

I do enjoy tasting wines and mean to try to expand my wine-describing vocabulary beyond “yummy.” And if I learn a little bit more each time, perhaps one day I will be a knowledgeable oenophile.

Steve’s Birthday Dinner

As part of Steven’s Birthday Weekend, we enjoyed dinner out at PK’s Pub in Herkimer, NY. I’ve given PK’s shout-outs before, but I always like to give another, because it is always a good time and a great meal.

We arrived shortly after 4:30. Pete escorted us to the room with the fireplace. We chose a table by the window. I debated what kind of wine to order, because I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted for food. Then again, I am not that knowledgeable about food and wine pairings. I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough to notice a less than ideal combination. I finally settled on Cabernet Sauvignon. Steven had Merlot.

For food I got Chicken Riggies while Steven chose Chicken Marsala. Yes, we both had red wine with chicken. Wasn’t that bold of us? I said I don’t know much about wine and food, but I know the most basic rule of white wine with chicken, red wine with beef. Perhaps real oenophiles are horrified (I don’t even know how to pronounce oenophile), but I thought it tasted pretty good.

I did not eat all my entree, because I was saving room for dessert. That worked out pretty well, because I was able to heat up the leftovers as part of our dinner on Tuesday, when I was tired.

Desserts are always a highlight at PKs. I got chocolate chip cheesecake. I completely cannot remember what Steven’s dessert was called. I know, if I was a real blogger, I would have made a note of it at the time. Let’s not open that can of worms. It was a kind of cream pie with chocolate and nuts and other stuff. I know it was yummy, because he nicely gave me a bite.

PK’s Pub is located at 221 King St. in Herkimer, phone (315) 866-3494. They are open Tues. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. 4:30 to 9 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday. You can Like them on Facebook. I did.