By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 11:20 am   |   Leave a Comment »

A year ago I was in Pommard in Burgundy. The weather was intensely hot, so hot my wife and I sought shade whenever we could. Our hostess in Chateau de Pommard told us about the sculptures in the courtyard from under the cover of an entrance gate. We abandoned thoughts of a walk in the vineyards.

Today Burgundians are estimating that some 80% of all regional vineyards have been affected by horrific frost, the most extreme since 1981, with Pommard absorbing some of the worst damage. When I wrote last week about the frosts in the Loire Valley, I had not yet heard about the frosts hitting Burgundy, Beaujolais, and the Maconnaise, though I had heard about the hail in Macon in early April.

A Burgundy Wine Bureau report said the frost has caused a “great deal of stress,” but  those still assessing damage are already convinced that not only will this year’s harvest be severely short but so also will the 2017 yields because the frosts hit during bud break and some vines may not survive.

A year ago in Pommard and Meursault and Macon, frost was the last thing on our minds. We welcomed the coolness (as well as the wines) of Christine Mathieu’s Domaine Luquet Cellars in Fuisse where we all hoped the intense heat would not “cook” the budding grapes. It did not, as it turned out, and the fall harvest proved quite successful.

As I wish the vignerons well this spring, I recall the words I heard in Bordeaux many years ago and which I mentioned last week: “It’s crazy to grow grapes outside.”

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By Maria McKinley   |   Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 11:34 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

When I began writing this column a year ago, I didn’t want it to be necessarily about what I knew or what I liked, although that’s happened on some occasions. Instead, I wanted to answer questions, explore topics, and look for “believe it or not” wine topics that someone might want to read. Like England’s Prince Charles using wine to fuel his sports car. Who knew!

Looking at my own wine experiences, I wondered if I had become close-minded. When my friends wanted to order a bottle of semi-sweet wine at a restaurant, I would turn up my nose, beg off, and order a glass of something dry. When I offered to bring wine to a dinner party, the host often said, “now you like Red, right?” As if there’s something wrong with that. It reminded me of those who only drink Coca-Cola products vs. those who cling to Pepsi. Ya can’t get um to budge.

I examined my wine choices and here’s what I learned. I enjoy certain varietals from particular vineyards. I am a seasonal snob. More whites in warm weather, more reds in cooler temps. Some wines are better for drinking on their own, others belong with food.  Food should match up with the characteristics of the wine and I need to get off my high-horse of only drinking dry wines! There’s no way a dry Cabernet Sauvignon is going to pair well with sweet and sour chicken.

I know it can be daunting when you enter a wine shop. But hey, when you only prefer certain colors, particular grapes, and a few countries, it really narrows down your choices. And I learned I’ve been missing out. Here are three wines I recently tried and  liked, all available locally for purchase.

2012 Monteagrelo Bressia, Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina
I love the cabernet franc grape (when it’s from France), and I love Argentinian wines. A great combination that is reasonably priced.

2013 Les Moulins de Turquant, Chenin Blanc, Saumur, France
I never drink chenin blanc. Until now. This particular white wine is dry but the thing about the chenin blanc grape is that, depending on the wine making process, it can be either sweet or dry which makes it perfect for sweet and sour chicken.

2014 Altitudes, Cotes du Roussillon, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
A meritage that is 45% Carignan, 30% Grenache, 25% Syrah
What the heck is Carignan? Wine Folly calls it the perfect grape for food and I agree.

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By Maria McKinley   |   Friday, April 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Summer-time and the food and wine festivals abound. Here are a few suggestions you might consider putting on your calendar.

The 17th annual Vintage Food and Wine Festival takes place in downtown Indianapolis, Military Park, on June 4th from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Twenty-five Indiana wineries are signed up to attend with such favorites as Traders Point, French Lick, Ertel, and Butler. Participating restaurants will include Bazbeaux Pizza, Port-a-Pit of Indy, Blue Lagoon, and The Flying Cupcake.  Live musical entertainment is scheduled throughout the afternoon and arts and craft booths round out the venue. Tickets in advance are $25, $35 at the gate. This is a 21 years of age and older event. Check out their website for more information at vintageindiana.com.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, head west to the Hermann Wine Trail in central Missouri. The Berries & BarBQ wine event will be July 30-31 and covers seven wineries which you may visit at your leisure, in any order, on any or both of those two days. Each winery will have food pairings with their wines that meld into the theme of berries and/or barbecue. If last year’s menus are an indication of what’s in store for 2016, it should be amazing! Add in the quaint vineyard settings and the beautiful countryside meandering along the Missouri River, and you’ve got a great weekend ahead. Advance ticket purchase is required online at hermannwinetrail.com.

Vevay, Indiana is located in Switzerland County on the Ohio River. The 44th Swiss Wine Festival will be held August 25-28 and will offer live bands, Ohio River paddle boat rides and dinner cruises, grape stomps, a Grand Parade, fireworks, a wine pavilion (Indiana wines) and beer garden. The food booths have been rated the fourth best food festival in Best of Indiana. If you’re a foodie, you gotta check out the list of vendors on the website. Nothing short of awesomely delicious!  Ticket prices vary, depending on the activities and there’s plenty of free activities for the kids. Browse the website to plan your trip at swisswinefestival.com.

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