Sunday, September 13, 2009

Water Tower Fine Wines is Coming Soon

Tuesday September 22nd will usher in a new era in my life with the opening of our wine store in Mt Washington at 6136 Campus lane. I intend for this to be a different kind of wine store. My mantra is "It helps to know what it tastes like, if you want to buy it."
As such my goal will be to sample as much wine as possible to my customers, so there knowledge and appreciation of wine can be stretched. We will carry over 500 different wines including more than 50 sparkling wines. Our Friday wine tastings will start on October 2nd at 5:30 with the first 15 people being treated to a sample of whatever sparkling wine I open that night. The tasting will be a brown bag comparison of similar wines from different regions for $15. There will be a premium pour available for a separate charge. Food, made by my talented wife will be provided to complement the wines. This is very exciting for us and we hope that our enthusiasm is shared by our customers. Come see us and share joys of learning about wine and food.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Belated Twitter Taste (not so) Live

I know the Frederick Wildman Twitter Taste Live took place on Saturday night, but several things caused me not to be able to join. The primary issue was the temperature in Cincinnati, it was raw and in the low seventies, certainly far from ideal weather to sample such a fine selection of summer wines. So we tried them twice over the last two evenings and will finish them off tonight. That said, they were exceptional wines! I am not sure how many people read this blog, but I know that some other bloggers have gotten flack for not acknowledging freebies. I got these wine for free as samples.

The Sauv Blanc ,which is clearly marketed to the US market, called Attitude (2008) is a crisp clean wine from Pascal Jolivet. This wine was not grassy in the least, but rather had a refined tart pink grapefruit flavor that I find very refreshing. The wine has "racy acidity", which makes it very food friendly. My wife particularly liked it with asparagus. This wine was a hit with all of those who we sampled it with.

The next wine was a Chablis (2007) from Christian Moreau. This wine exhibited the lighter side of Chardonnay. It was simple and straight forward, with clean vanilla and honey notes. This was a very refreshing wine with hints of melon. For this often overlooked French stepchild of Chardonnay, often overlooked in the over oaked work of the American wine industry, this was very good.

From Burgundy we took a detour to Alsace and the Hugel 2007 Riesling. Hugel has always been one of my favorite Alsatian producers with just enough of the gravely flintiness of the region to make it refreshing, while not overpowering the wine. This wine had wonderful green apple notes complemented by melon and peach. I found just a hint of nuttiness on the finish. Again this was another wonderful wine!

Next we travel back to Burgundy for Olivier Leflaive's "Les Setilles" 2007, this was wonderful expression of chardonnay, with just the right amount of oak to give it creamy vanilla notes. It also exhibits the tropical fruits which are most associated with the grape in its unoaked form. This is a clean wine with fresh tart notes that I find to a great expression of the grape. There are hints of citrus, mango and guava. This is truly a summer wine, while many of the over oaked American expressions of the grape are better suited for steak and cold weather.

My favorite of the tasting was the next wine from the Rhone. The Parallel 45 Rose'from Paul Jaboulet. I must admit my wife and I have been on a serious Rose' kick this summer. That said it was still a really good wine. This wine had body and creaminess sometimes missing in Rose'. It had light refreshing notes of strawberry and is very thirst quenching. A great summer sipper.

Finally came the Gamay from Potel-Aviron 2008. Just as with the Rose' I must admit that I am not a big fan of Beaujolais. I was pleasantly surprised with this wine, it was good. While still not one of my favorite, I must say that this is a good red wine for the summer and even though I am not a fan of chilling red wines, I could see this wine with a slight chill on it. This is a good wine for anyone who likes wines on the fruitier side. Though heavy on the fruit this is still a clean and smooth tasting wine. I still cannot say that I really like Beaujolais wines, but I do have more respect for them after trying this example.

In closing I want to thank Frederick Wildman for providing these wines free for us to sample and review. They were all very nice. More importantly for most consumers they were affordable. The Rose' is $12, the Beaujplais is $13, the Sauv Blanc is $18 (though a little high for a sauv blanc, not so for a good Sancerre), the Hugel is $20 and worth it, and the two Chardonnays are $23. I think these are all affordable and worth the money. Obviously there are a lot of good summer time wines out here for those without a clue, these could be good starting points in each of their categories. I also want to say in closing that we will likely carry several of these wines in our new store when we open this fall, so Wildman will benefit from there sampling in more than one way. Thanks again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our new venture.

My wife and I have been busy the past week. We finally closed on a building, in the near in Cincinnati suburb of Mt Washington, where we will open Water Tower Fine Wines this fall. We have been talking about doing this for many years and now that we have actually embarked on the journey, it is very exciting. We have many ideas for what we want in our store, but I believe that customer input can be very useful and as such I am happy to take suggestions. If there are things that you feel must be included in a good wine store and tasting room let me know. If there are things that you dislike and would not want in the ideal store, also let us know. Obviously it is our store, but we will take to heart all ideas and incorporate as many as we can. Thanks to all that will join us in this exciting journey.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My wife's birthday

Last Friday we went to the Palace restaurant in the Cincinnatian for my wife's birthday. They have a Prix fixe menu with two savory items from the menu and one sweet for $44.00. We both ordered appetizers and I had a chicken dish and my wife had a salmon dish. The food was exceptional. We chose a Verdicchio to have with our meal. This is a wine comes from the Marche region of central Italy on the Adriatic. More specifically it comes from the zone Castelli di Jesi. This particular example comes from a wine maker named Maurizio Marchetti. This is a vibrant white wine light enough to pair well with fish and chicken, yet it has enough body to hold up well with rich sauces. We both very much enjoyed this wine and finished it in the room with out accompaniment and it was just as good without food. This is a nice change of pace for a summer sipper. The restaurant price was $35 and I think it perhaps could be had for as little as $10 to $12 dollars retail. For those with a bit of adventure give it a try.

Our New Venture

After getting the short of the end of the stick on an attempt to purchase an existing wine store in Cincinnati, my wife and I decided to look for a building and open a wine store and tasting room from scratch. We have found a building in Mt Washington and will close on it within several weeks. We have purchased a liquor license, that we are in the process of transferring to our business. We have begun jumping through all of the other hoops to get to our opening day. It is our hope to be open with our store by mid September or early October. I have established a Facebook fan page "Water Tower Fine Wines and Tasting Room" and a Twitter acct. "wtfinewines". Both sites will have updates with progress and the twitter acct will have information on what wines I am opening each day, that can be sampled for a small fee. Please visit and follow these pages for updates and We will look forward to seeing you once we are open.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Value

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join #TTL or twitter taste live. The featured winery was Clos LaChance and we were trying several of their entry level or Hummingbird series wines. Included were an unoaked Chardonnay Glittering- Throated Emerald 2008 Monterey Co., Cabernet Sauvignon Ruby - Throated 2006 Central Coast and finally Meritage Crimson Topaz 2007 Central Coast. First as a blogger, I was privileged enough to get these gratis. That said, I have no issues with pointing out if I do not like a wine, because what I may find a flaw may be desirable to others. First we tried the Chardonnay, which if tried blind all of those assembled would have sworn was a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. The wine had loads of citrus with hints of other tropical fruit, which to me was largely overridden by the grapefruit. I am not a fan of citrus/grassy sauv blancs, however this wine was very refreshing and would have been perfectly suited for a hot evening on the deck. Next we tried the Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was great,particularly for the money (under $20). There was rich black raspberry flavors that coated my tongue. This wine outshone it's price point and left me wondering what their more expensive wines are like. Finally we dug into the Meritage. This also was a treat, with traces of red, black and blue fruit all melded into a harmonious blend of flavors that also lingered nicely in my mouth. I was really impressed with these wines which priced out from mid teens to mid twenties.
To me good values and though the chardonnay tasted more like a sauv blanc to me that should not be an issue for those who appreciate grapefruit and grass in their white wines. If you come across these wines or any others from Clos LaChance, I would not hesitate to try them as long as the price is right for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

wine blogging wednesday

The topic this month is California Dreaming or remembering the first magical wine from California. My wife and I shared our development of wine appreciation. This was largely accomplished through a long series of tastings we attended at a now closed wine store in Cincinnati( The Mushroom ) from the mid 90's until they closed in the early 2000's. We were learning about wine at a time when California wines were still reasonable and when I look back at my tasting sheets from those days, I see many of the wines that today are considered cult wines and are substantially more expensive. The one wine that sticks out through all of that fantastic clutter is Bouchaine and their wonderful Carneros Pinot Noir. The wine, at the time was made by Eugenia Keegan, who is very highly respected as a wine maker. We had tried Bouchaine Pinot Noirs at 3 separate tasting and without remembering it, each time purchased another bottle. The price at the time was in the mid twenties, which was at the higher end for our wine buying habits of the time. Shortly after discovering the wine it changed dramatically and was almost not recognizable. We subsequently found that Eugenia Keegan had left the winery. There were many years were we stayed away from Bouchaine because it had changed so dramatically. Just last year however I attended a tasting of Bouchaine wines and was thrilled to find that the quality had returned and, though not the same as it had been, it was once again a very good Pinot Noir. Better still their base Pinot was still in the mid twenties price wise. This is still a special wine to my wife and I and will always hold a special place in the history of our wine enjoyment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A rare find

Yesterday, I had the pleasure f a attending a wine trade tasting, at which there were a lot of good wines in a variety of price points. There was one producer that stood out for me though. It was Bonaccorsi Wine Company and I had the pleasure of sampling three of their single vineyard Pinot Noirs and single vineyard Chardonnay.I had a nice conversation with the wine maker Jenne Lee Bonaccorsi. The wines were quite sophisticated. The chardonnay was lush with ripe tropical and rich mouth feel. All three Pinot Noirs were very good, but I was particularly fond of the 2004 Melville. There seemed to be a greater depth of flavor and lushness here that I have found with other premium small production Pinot Noirs after additional time in the bottle. I have found that these wines compare favorably with some of the fine burgundies, yet retain the playfulness often found in New World wines when compared to Old World siblings. It will be exciting to see where this young winery goes in it's next decade of wine making.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Rose' season! Maybe?

Last night we opened a bottle of 2006 David Girard Rose, which I bought at Arrow Wine in Dayton last year. I had tasted David Girard Red wines before and been very impressed, so when I saw this wine we decided to try it. Now that we have I have even more respect for this producer. The wine is a rose of blended Rhone varietals and has rich red fruit flavors usually associated with Red wines. There are hints of cedar and a great balance of tannin and acid. This was a very pleasant wine that even though it was theoretically over the hill for a Rose, it was still very fresh and vibrant, not the least bit washed out. I would be comfortable recommending this producer's Rose from newer vintages based on the quality of this older wine. As it warms up give it a try if you can find it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last weekend

Last weekend one of the local distributors had a meet and greet at his warehouse with Jim Anderson, who is part of the ownership/winemaking team at Patricia Green in Oregon. He and Patricia had previously been the wine making team at Tori Mor. We were treated to a great selection of their current vintages a one off sauvignon Blanc called Panama White 2006. This was a neat wine. The 2006 growing season had been very hot, so the winery team was occupied harvesting their Pinot Noir fruit when they would normally have been been picking the Sauv. Blanc. Thus this fruit was harvested at almost 20 brix and was destined to produce a really hot wine. It was decided to ferment the juice in neutral oak This gives the wine much more body than is normally found in Sauv Blanc and gives it a hint of creaminess while still maintaining some of the citrus more common to the grape. Though this wine is over 15% alcohol, it is smooth without a hint of the heat that one would expect. This, with the wonderful Pinots should have been enough, but Jim also brought six older vintages including a 1997 Balcombe vineyard from their time at Tori Mor. This twelve year old Pinot was still fantastic and still had great fruit. For all of you out there who were under the impression that Pinots did not age this wine shows that they can hold up beautifully. I am finding that there is a whole crop of American Pinot producers capable of making wines that will age. Let me know if you find a good age-able Pinot , I always enjoy finding new ones.

Not too old!

Last night we had dinner with my brother and his family. His birthday is later this week, but this was when the celebration would be at his home. Since he likes fine wines and new experiences, I brought over a bottle of Sequoia Grove Napa Cabernet vintage 1995. I checked Wine Spectator and in their consideration this wine was edging past it's prime. With this particular bottle, I would have to disagree. It still had a load of lush red fruit, granted it had mellowed. We did not decant, but let the wine open up in the glass and I feel this was the best course to take since the wine was fairly delicate. The wine paired well with the spaghetti with meat balls that was served. All in all, this wine attests to the quality of wine making that was found at Sequoia Grove. I believe that the current wine maker was apprenticed with the wine maker James Allen. If you have chance to try older vintages of Sequoia Grove try it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another dazzling Zin

Over the weekend my wife and I went to Louisville to attend the Humana Festival of new American plays. We always have some down time and of course we tend to enjoy wine and cheese during these brief periods. We took down a bottle of Vineyard 29 Aida Zin. I had been looking forward to trying this bottle since I purchased it late last year. This was a big Zin, rich and sophisticated, while not jammy, there is still a lot red raspberry and even a little strawberry. This is a wine that does not need food, but will handle anything thrown its way. With a whopping 15.8 % alcohol level one would expect an extremely hot wine. While I do not like these high alcohol beasts, I can at least accept them when there is good balance. Yes it is expensive ($92), but if you want to experience a really sophisticated Zin give it a try.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

a good cause and rose' from St John USVI

My wife and I have gotten to know Michelle over the past months and this cause is a great one to remember her sister in a positive way. We have donated 3 nice bottles of wine to the silent auction and hope to attend. If anyone reads the blog and sees this please let her know where you saw the mention.

Step Right Up! Get Your Tickets Now!
It's that time of year. Tickets are now on sale for the 2nd Annual Dinner and Silent Auction to benefit the Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship. We'll be having the event on April 18, 6-10 pm.

The Scholarship, for first time readers, is in memory of my little sister, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 21 almost a year and a half ago. We established the scholarship to help elementary education majors at Thomas More, just like her. Krystal loved kids.

Our goal is to raise $25,000 over the course of the next two years. Last year we raised almost $10,000 through the first benefit and a wine tasting.

Just like last year, we've got some great wine gift baskets in the Silent Auction, including a basket from David & Jan Lazarus's personal cellar, a beautiful French wine basket from The Party Source, wines from Kinkead Ridge, Hyde Park Wine & Spirits, and Harmony Hill. I hope to gather more wine donations as well before the benefit. There are also other goodies, including a free class at the Midwest Culinary Institute and a $25 gift card to the Summit, tickets to the Cincinnati Opera, tickets to the zoo and the museum centers, and more.

Last year I acquired a gorgeous necklace in the silent auction (Swarovski crystals shaped like a bunch of grapes) that everyone loves. Maybe you'll find something equally wonderful this year. In addition to the pretty awesome silent auction, there is also a raffle that proved immensely popular last year.

Dinner is included in the cost, as is the cost of beer and wine. The benefit is being held again at The Briarwood Reception Hall in Hebron, KY. (That's just out by the airport.)

I would love for my readers to show my family that you actually read my blog. Please come! You can purchase tickets online for $30 or at the door for $35. Your little ones, age 10 and under, are free.

Please tell everyone you know.

Thanks for your support.



> All the information is here:

Jan and I have been in St John on what may be the last big vacation we take for some time, since we will soon become wine shop owners and wedded to the business (Chateau Pomije wines in O'Bryonville). Anyway, we have enjoyed some nice wines that I brought down with us including Veraison Stagecoach cab and Fisher Cameron cab. I did purchase a really nice wine down here though that I had not had before. The Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc Oeil De Perdrix 2007. I have tried Belle Glos Pinots before, but not the rose'. This was a treat, bold full of strawberry with a hint of pencil lead. A rose' made for food to besure, but also friendly enough to enjoy on a hot night. Not your everyday wine, but as I have said before there are always special occasions. I am not sure how available it it is as many wines available in St John that are often unavailable anywhere, but the winery. If you can find it treat yourself.

Don't forget the Krystal Pepper event, it should be fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A good Zin

Last night we were having burgers and I though, what else goes with burgers than zinfandel. We have been getting Papapietro Perry Zins as part of our club shipment for the last few years and I had tried one shortly after we got it a couple of years ago and was not blown away. I got to thinking though that since the Pinots benefit from extra time in the bottle, perhaps the Zins also need an extra year. I selected a 2005 Elsbree vineyard. We popped the cork and were delighted. It had loads of fresh fruit flavors and hints of zesty spice. There is nice prickly black raspberry, that finishes with a pleasant tingle on the tongue. This is a Zin that benefits from some breathing time, with complexity which builds with several hours of air time. If you have patience the rewards will be great. In fact it would not hurt to open the bottle 24 hours before consumption and vacuvin the bottle. Just that introduction of oxygen to the wine allows it to develop beautifully. The Zins of Papapietro are certainly up to the quality of their Pinot Noirs.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An unusual grape

Last night we had broiled salmon and barley risotto and I opened a bottle of Les Brugueres, 2004 from Scala Dei. This Spanish wine is made from white Grenache and has a pleasant minerality with a hint of creaminess. I tried this wine several years ago, because it was different and I had never had a white Grenache before. I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity of the wine and the potential versatility that it offered. It has the body of a chardonnay or viogner paired with the crisp minerality usually found more in Alsatian whites or cool climate whites such as pinot gris from the pacific north west. This is a pricey wine at $25, but I think it is worth it for a new experience. Try something different and see what you think!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A very special bottle

Over the week end we tried a bottle of Sequoia Grove Semper V with some friends for Open that special bottle night. This is a Bordeaux blend that is only produced in exceptional vintages and to date has been made only in 1999 and 2002. I have one bottle of the '99 which we found in St John, Virgin Island several years ago and I had purchased two bottles of the 2002 on release from the winery. Since I am drawn to the fruit of California, this was a natural for the special bottle night. It did not disappoint, big bold and rich with some air. It is a pricey bottle, but if you can find it, well worth the money for that very special night.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

River Cellars (Kinkead Ridge second label)

A follow up to our vertical of Kinkead Ridge reds, We had about half of a bottle of the 2006 River Cellars Syrah and Cab Franc. Both were still holding up well 3 days later and may in fact have continued to mellow and get more complex. Bravo to Ron and Nancy. Splendid wines!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wine blogging wednesday: Piedmont

Enzo Boglietti Nebbiolo 2005 Langhe
This particular producer was recommended to me several years ago and I have purchased several vintages of their Dolcetto for my cellar, but have never actually tried any of their wines until now. Liquor Direct has been closing out the 05 nebbiolo below cost and I bought several bottles and decided it was time to try the wine. We had it with a rather unorthodox pairing of Mexican chicken tortilla casserole which was mildly spicy and very cheesy The wine held up to the spice and cheese very well the wine has a nose that might recall the pleasant aroma of damp tobacco. It is a rich full nose which follows through on the palate with notes of black cherry and white pepper. This is a lively wine with good acidity and mellow tannin, just a good balance. There is a lasting finish that reminds one of the tobacco that noted in the nose. Although this wine will probably be tasty for several more years, it is very nice right now. I am looking forward to trying some of the Dolcetto I have cellared to see how they have held up. This is a good introduction to the nebbiolo grape, which is the primary varietal used in both Barolos and Barberescos.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Something old, Something new

Last night we had dinner over at my brother's house and he has a nice wine cellar. We first finished a Chateau neuf de Pape that he had opened the night before. It was good with the strong cheese we had as an appetizer. When that was gone he let me select what we would open next. My choice was Chateau St Jean's Cinq Cepage 2000. This wine was drinking beautifully, with mellow red fruit and surprisingly went very well with the Turkey breast and dressing we had for dinner. I had never tried this storied wine and was very impressed with it. It is not inexpensive, but a good special occasion wine.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Taylor Peak

The last two nights we worked our way through a bottle of Taylor Peak Merlot 2002. This a high end Kendall- Jackson product and my wife and I found it very impressive wine with rich black raspberry and black cherry. There is a slight bit of smokiness. I purchase this as closeout several years ago, but retail would most likely be in the $40 neighborhood. Last night we had it with had sauteed pork cutlets in a lemon caper sauce, which married very well with this full bodied wine. It is a good choice for a spurge and though expensive a good value.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Good Rose'

Last night with an Indian inspired meal we opened a bottle of Rose from France, Mas Carlot vin de pays d'oc fro Robert Kacher. This is a Rose that is packed with strawberry. It is almost like biting into a ripe strawberry. It went beautifully with the exotic spices in the chicken dish. This was not a "hot" dish, but had lively seasoning and the wine went with it beautifully. The wine is a blend of Grenache 55%, Syrah 40% and Mouvedre 5% which explains the big fruit. This is just a great all around wine and is big enough to stand up to fairly heavy foods.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The last few days

First on New Years eve, we splurged with an exceptional bottle of Schramsberg, J Schram 2000 Brut Rose. This was a creamy sparklers with hints of citrus, nice floral notes, and vanilla. Just a great bottle of wine, as one would hope for at $125 a bottle. Saturday night we had some friends over and served a great Zinfandel from the Downing Family called "Fly by Night" 2006. This was a very sophisticated Zin with a lot of bright fruit, but subtle notes of cedar and bramble, it was particularly satisfying for being as young as it was. I would guess that it will improve even more with more time in the bottle. This wine is in the $30 price range, but I think it is worth it. Finally last night we went to a BYOB open house last night and I took a bottle of Vinum Slow Lane Cabernet 2002. For those of you not familiar with Vinum, these guys have a real sense of humor. They like to challenge the wine establishment. Slow lane came about through a challenge they set upon themselves; to create a reasonably priced age able Cabernet. 2002 is the second Slow lane, the first, 2001, retailed for around $20 and the wine is still below $25. The 02 was pretty tight when we opened it, with graphite and tar, but a couple hours after opening it had begun to open up and was showing good black fruit and just a hint of spiciness. This wine is a keeper and Vinum is on to something, as this wine clearly has a number of more years of life and for the money is a great bottle of wine.