By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Monday, May 25, 2015 at 10:27 am   |   Leave a Comment »

Though I will be spending most of today involved in Memorial Day ceremonies — even being in a parade — I have not forgotten that some have designated May 25 as either International Wine Day or National Wine Day. Neither should be confused with International Drink Wine Day, always held in February, usually on the Friday just before the U.S.President’s Day weekend.

As readers have reason to surmise, every day is drink wine day in my household. I don’t really know the origin of these designated days, but I do know that reverence for and appreciation of wine goes back a long way. The ancient Greeks, as we know, had a god of wine, that’s how important wine was to them. And Christ’s Mother asked her Son to do something about the shortage of wine at a wedding feast in Cana. Wine has had a lot of respect for a very long time.

In Armistice Day and World War II Surrender Day commemorations in England and France, I have been served a vin de l’honneur, proof that wine belongs at very special occasions.

Most of our states now have a State Wine, just as they have a state flower or bird or nickname. (Some states even have a state gun!) The Indiana State Wine is Traminette, a lovely white wine that can be vinified sweet, dry, or shades between.

But having a designated wine day is a good thing. Probably, at least in America, tagging it on to our solemn Memorial Day activities is also a good thing, giving us a chance to have a wine of honor to honor those who kept it possible for us in Europe and North America to continue enjoying wine. As soon as we stack arms after today’s programs, I shall offer up a white wine from Alsace, a red wine from California to symbolize an alliance not just of peace-making and liberty creating, but also for producing our world’s noblest beverage.

Nor do I intend to wait till the end of August to enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon on its designated day. Wine days are good.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 11:59 am   |   Leave a Comment »

Though I have been these past four weeks treading the vineyards of France, I have not forgotten my roots and am proud of what Hoosiers have done with wine production in recent decades (less proud of what our General Assembly has done for the wine industry), and I call attention to the 16th annual Vintage Indiana Festival scheduled for Saturday, June 6 in downtown Indianapolis.

Indiana has earned an American Viticultural Area designation and has more than 70 active wineries, more than half of which will be pouring (and selling) at the 2015 Vintage Indiana Festival. Past festivals have attracted some 10,000 visitors, so the event is a big deal. Besides wine tents, some of the city’s best restaurants will have food booths, and on stage all day long will be all kinds of music for sipping, singing, and dancing.

Vintage Indiana will be open from 12:00 noon till 6:00 pm, though for $50.00 you can get an early admission ticket which lets you in at 11:00 — allowing for getting the best seats in the entertainment area — and gives you your very own glass and lanyard. Tickets at the gate are $35.00 ($25.00 if you get them in advance) and only $10.00 for your designated driver.

Complete information is available at www.vintageindiana.com, and if you feel a need to call, 1-800-832-WINE. Red, white, sweet, dry, sparkling — it’ll all be there on June 6 in Military Park.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

The first time I sampled Canadian wine, I didn’t know it was Canadian. It was a Pinot Noir served in a carafe in a tiny Montreal restaurant, and I was not convinced when the server told me in French that it was Canadian. That was almost twenty years ago. Not long after, while traveling in British Columbia, I encountered Canadian Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, this time convinced that fine wines north of the border are not limited to Ice.

Driving across Quebec and Ontario last week after nearly a month in France, I sought local wines with meals along the way. They were of the same noble grapes we all experience in France, California, and the Pacific Northwest, and they were all quite distinctive. Tasting blind, I would have guessed Oregon for the Pinot Noir, Washington State for the Cabernet. One of them, a Pinot Noir, had come from a winery just out of Windsor I had driven past without stopping, partly because the road was undergoing construction, frustrating us drivers, and partly because I had not included a wine stop in my time table.

More’s the pity. The Viewpoint Estate offers wine reflective of the century-old tradition of wines along the north shore of Lake Erie. Only three years in bottle, its tannins were muted, its fruit still ripe, its finish affectionate. Next time off the Ambassador Bridge, I will head directly to Harrow in Essex County for a full-blown visit.

In Sault Sainte-Marie I was stricken by a label — No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates. Vaguely, I remembered something about the “Great One” producing wine, but here was the reality of that recall. If my bottle of 2013 No 99 Cabernet-Merlot is typical of his VQA Niagara Peninsula wines, Gretsky is as gifted with wine production as he was on the rink.

After decades of pursuing wines, I have finally found another region to heed. I don’t know what took me so long.

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