By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Anyone who has accumulated a collection of wines is undoubtedly going to experience a pleasant surprise every once in a while by noticing a bottle almost forgotten. Subconsciously we know it’s there, but we just haven’t thought about it for a while. So it was with me earlier this month.

Hot weather and problems with a cooling system had caused me to relocate several bottles I had had for a while. While I hadn’t really forgotten them, I had put them out of mind because I felt I should review them but yet was reluctant to do so because they are generally not available across the nation and, frankly, I couldn’t remember how I happened to have them.

One, I am sure, was a gift of a house guest who left several bottles that were put aside without careful scrutiny. The other I vaguely recall buying at a tasting shop in Napa. They both have informative and easy-to-navigate websites.

The 2009 Cabernet from La Jota Vinyards on Howell Mountain must have come from that friend, because he and I had traipsed all over the Howell Mountain AVA a couple years ago.  That was when I discovered that the best Howell Mountain wines grow above the fog line that blankets the valley on many mornings. This Cab blends only Bordeaux varietals and suggests the pleasant bittersweet finish of classic Bordeaux. According to its website, La Jota will not ship to Indiana, and I did not find a distributor for it.

John Anthony Truchard’s 2009 Cabernet is a blend of Bordeaux varietals from small sites he owns in Oak Knoll and Carneros. At 15.2% it has a body slightly more formidable than La Jota (14.8%), but in spite of their strength — or perhaps because of it — both are fine sipping wines. As far as I could learn, the John Anthony is not available outside California.

So why write about them? This column is less intended to be about specific bottles and more about the experience of re-discovering something in your collection you had set aside for a while. Followers of this column know that the experience of wine is what we are about. There are plenty of wine reviews, shelf notes, and ratings around, but our love of wine is the enjoyment and use of it, where it’s found, what it’s about, and how it impacts on our lives.

Even so, these two wines are worth stumbling across. May you do so.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Monday, July 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

I learned to spell Cincinnati as a childhood baseball fan of the Chicago Cubs. Even before television, I knew how many n’s and t’s go into the name and where to put them. By age 7, I could spell cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Brooklyn. The baseball teams, I knew; the dining scene I did not.

As I grew up, I learned that this Ohio queen city was famous for chile. Later I learned that some of the best wines in early America were grown and produced on both banks of the river not far from Cincinnati. Hard times and Prohibition stymied the wine business for a very long time, but in recent years it has returned to the Ohio Valley. And lately, the city has been host to one of the most expansive wine weekends in the Midwest.

Now it plans to celebrate its food and wine heritage. The Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic is coming to Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine on September 12-13.  I haven’t seen a final program yet, but what I have seen is impressive. Two Grand Tasting evenings with book signings, wine seminars, and a chance to meet the most recognized chefs in the city. It’s been called a crowning “Culinary Tourism” event.

Tickets are available at $125 for one of the Grand Tastings, $390 for a two-day VIP pass which includes after parties.  For tickets and more information:

But I haven’t checked the baseball schedule to see if the Reds are hosting the Cubs on that weekend!

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By Sue Shelden   |   Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

As an event coordinator, I am constantly exposed to drinks of all kinds. A few weeks ago, there was the wine produced by the groom’s family. The labels showed photos of the bride and groom, along with the family name and the type of wine. There were five types: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Moscato–all produced by the family. They not only produced enough bottles for the wedding rehearsal and reception, but also enough for each family to take a bottle home. Much better than most wedding favors, for sure!

I tried all five–just a sip of each, and knew before I did so that I’d like the Moscato, best. The family was kind enough to give me a bottle, which I enjoyed, later, when I could share it with my husband.

At another wedding, years ago, the bride produced bottles of limoncello and arancello to give as favors–a bottle of each for each couple. Talk about a labor of love. But with her Italian background, and with vases filled with sunflowers and lavender, these bottles of Italian inspired liqueurs were a perfect and meaningful favor, or, as the Italians would say, “ricardo” of the special day.

Yesterday’s wedding had a signature drink of muddled blackberries and mint–fabulous! Today’s wedding ceremony included the pouring of a red wine with a white to symbolize the marriage. I have seen lots of instances using sand, flowers and candles, but the wine ceremony was new to me and I think a fabulous idea. AND the Mother of the Bride presented me with a lovely bottle of El Molino de Puellas, a Spanish red wine, which made my day even more eventful!

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