Category Archives: 4. Fellowship Groups

LHS Celebrates 10th Anniversary

–submitted by Founder Moses Altsech; photos by Brian Basken

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Pictured above from left: Phyllis Lovrien, Jed Engeler, Annette Hellmer, Haley Saalsaa, Beth Prochaska & Lew Harned

The Lew Harned Society marked its 10th anniversary on September 18 with a special event hosted by Founder and Dear Leader Moses Altsech.  Founded in 2007, the Scotch Whisky Fellowship was renamed in 2009 in honor of our great friend General Lew Harned, who has been there from the very first meeting.  We enjoyed great homemade food (presumably prepared at the caterer’s home), and music by a barbershop quarter courtesy of Ken Yuska–which coincidentally included someone who had served with Lew in Operation Desert Storm.

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All guests received a gift box of Quintessential single malt Scotch-filled chocolates.  The selection of eight rare single malts included the Mackinlay, a Scotch salvaged from Sir Ernest Shackleton after the wreck of the Endurance, rediscovered in 2007, and faithfully recreated.

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But as much as we like Scotch whisky, the Lew Harned Society is about much more than that.  It’s about Lew: How great a guy do you have to be for your friends to name a group after you?  It’s about friends: Our long-time regulars who are a standard staple, without whom we couldn’t imagine our gatherings, and new friends who want to join a group that’s fun and welcoming to all.  At Rotary we often talk about member engagement–and this is what member engagement is made of.  Goodwill, better friendships and Scotch.  Our group has the best-looking Rotarians, its very own General who’s always in a festive mood, and enough Scotch to keep us alive two weeks past the end of Western civilization.

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If you want to join our second decade, contact the Rotary office at once: Space is probably not limited, but why risk it?

Best Summer Barbecue Wine Pairings

–submitted by Mike Wilson

Aug 28 17 Wine7

The Madison Rotary Wine Fellowship met at Wilson’s for a Barbecue/Grilling tasting on August 28. We initially were to try some wines that are said to go well with these particular barbecue types.

We started with tasting wines that went with Fish, Vegetables and Mushrooms, and tried an Australian Drover’s Hut Dugan Chardonnay, a New Zealand Nautilus 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2012 Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose (we tried this at the Steve’s tasting with Guigal representative from Chicago last year).  The Chardonnay was the preferred wine by most of the group – I am not sure of the current availability as this, like most of the wines, came from my collection.

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We next considered Grilled Chicken where the important consideration is whether you are having white or dark meat;  Chardonnay is good for white meat while America’s Zinfandel is appropriate for dark meat, and we tried a  2014 Paso Robles Ridge version.

With Beef and Burgers the important consideration is whether the meat or the toppings/sauce is the dominant feature of the burger or steak. If meat is the important feature then a Cabernet Sauvignon is great.  If there is a spicy additive in the topping (i.e. Blue cheese or Onions or the sauce you add) then a Cab/Syrah would work.  We tried a 2008 Cask Cabernet Sauvignon (a special purchase years ago as this Rutherford wine is very special with a little Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot Blended). This tasted like the 94 points from WS the wine is rated at. We also tried a Cabernet/Syrah blend from Tobin James (Patty and I are members of this largest wine club in the world). The cask 2008 was the pick of the bunch and I still have two bottles left.

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(Photo 1: Mike & Mandy McKay; Photo 2: Leslie & Peter Overton; Photo 3: Sandy & Dana Corbett)

Now the tasting changes as Mike and Patty Wilson had decided in the last few days to add actual BBQ’s to the wine tastings.  This came as when I discussed the tasting with Mike McKay at Rotary last week when he raised the possibility of someone grilling steak and having cubes to taste.  Patty and I talked about this, and went out and brought back BBQ’s from two local restaurants with their different sauces to see what could be done.  As the tasting details had already been sent out, we decided to cover the cost of this as a late addition to the tasting as we wanted to give a number of good wines from our cellar for the tasting.  Indeed the only wine we bought was the 2016 NZ Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc.

We also arranged for three different sauces with the BBQ’s: at one of the restaurants we liked their South Carolina Mustard sauce, and at the other we liked their Sweet and Spicy sauces.  Each of these sauces has different wine requirements, complicating the tasting.

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(Photo 1: Roth & Lynne Judd; Photo 2: Jennifer & Bob Winding)

At this time there was a little confusion in the tasting and those present were able to modify the sequencing without undue stress.  So we had a sequence of BBQ’s and sauces to go with wines that Mike Wilson had decided on.

We started with a Polish Kielbasa and participants could add up to three sauces and I preferred the Mustard and Spicy sauces, and blended together it was GREAT.  The three wines samples were a 2012 Guigal Cotes du Rhone, a Three vineyards 2011 Petite Sirah, and a Australian 2008 Stanley Lambert Zinfandel. The latter two wines were old friends of Patty and I.  The consensus rating was that the Guigal Cote du Rhone was preferred – much cheaper than the other wines.  If you slathered the sausage in hot sauce then the petite Sirah would have been great given the spiciness of the sausage.

Next we tried the Brisket.  This cut of beef is the Pectoralis Major and Minor, which supports 60% of the weight of the cow when standing. Note the cow does not have a clavicle so these muscles are more important in the cows mobility.  The typical sauce in Texas is mustard based and this cut of beef is the basis of BBQ brisket. Brisket is used in Ireland’s Corned beef and cabbage, the meat of New England’s Pot Roast, Boiled on Jewish Holidays, and the basis of Pastrami.  What a wonderful cut, one of the nine primal beef cuts. We tried a 2012 Calcareous Syrah, a 2002 Seghesio Aglianico, and a Haven’s 2001 Bourriquot Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend.  The latter was the most preferred wine.

Last we tried the Pulled Pork. Here we had two Peterson wines and an Aussie Shiraz (not Syrah although it is the same grape). The Peterson Winery is from the Dry Creek region of California. This is a winemaker whose name comes up repeatedly when talking about old Zinfandel vines, and is a sleeper in Zinfandel production.  His wines are especially spicy and nice. One wine was Zero manipulation, a 2012 Carignan/Shiraz/Grenache blend where the winemaker plays little with the grapes and the other was a 2012 Zinfandel.  The Australian wine was a 2003 Glen Eldon Dry Bore Shiraz and I prepared that it might be too old with a replacement ready, but the wine was great and had a WS rating of 93 – and it tasted like that too.  This was the consensus wine.

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(From left: Patty Wilson, Steve Mixtacki, Meryl Mixtacki & Mike Wilson)

All in all, the wines were fantastic and there were comments that this looked like one of the best tastings we had ever had even with 15 different wines reviewed.  The barbecues were also terrific also. Virtually no-one had a chocolate coated strawberry, as prepared by Patty, and unfortunately the Hosts did not ask everyone to take some of the BBQ’s or strawberries home.  Virtually all the wines seemed to have been drunk.

A Gem of a Hike: Table Bluff on Ice Age Trail July 15

–submitted by Leigh Richardson; photos by Jeff Tews

IMG_2524“Embarking on the back road journey 2 miles north of Cross Plains, members of the Rotary Hiking Fellowship had no idea this pristine gem awaited. Towering forests, chin-high rainbows of prairie flowers, and the grand finale– a shelter perched overlooking the driftless region. A view to rival Blue Mounds State Park.

At the bi-section of the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail lies the 460-acre “Swamplovers Nature Preserve.”  Even our seasoned hikers were unaware of its existence.

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When rounding a wooded curve, we even encountered an alligator in a bikini!  It elicited frightened gasps until we realized it was merely a lawn statue planted trailside by the lighthearted Swamplovers’ group.

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Thank you, hike coordinator, Andrea Kaminski, for sharing this lovely find!”

“Brown Bag Tasting” on June 29

–article and photos by Mike Wilson

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The Rotary Wine fellowship met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home for one of Steve’s iconic “Brown Bag Tastings”.  Bread, multiple cheeses, fruits, crackers and chocolate truffles were supplied to supplement the extraordinary wines. The organization was superb.  Mike Wilson and Steve Mixtacki engaged in their eternal discussion about glass position terminology on the tasting placemat.

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(Photo 1: Steve Mixtacki; Photo 2: Mary Janet & Karl Wellensiek; Photo 3: Juli and Keith Baumgartner)

The first three wines were “Wondering about Whites.”  These were from Italy, Israel and Spain – and the two most liked wines were the Italian Vernaccia and the Spanish Godello. Next we tried “Shades of Pink” explaining the gradation from tawny to pink to just plain “Red Rose” colors. The first was a Guigal Cotes du Rhone that the fellowship group had tasted at Steve’s on University tasting, and this won the honors with most liking this wine.  The pink sweet rose was a Beringer, an infamous White Zinfandel, that had been presented to Steve when he retired from WARF earlier in June, and the other was a Rosata from Petroni.  Petroni of Sonoma is a winery famous for being allowed to have the name Brunello on their label because of the extraordinary quality of wine made by them from the Sangiovese grape taken from Brunello cuttings. The Guigal was preferred by ~60% of tasters.

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(Photo 1: Jane & John Wegenke; Photo 2: Mike & Mandy McKay)

The next trio was “What is the Country” and included three fabulous red Italian wines, all DCOG (G meaning guaranteed quality – where else do you see such endorsement). One was a 20 year old Sangiovese (Brunello di Montalcino, Il Poggione), a 2000 Biscardi Amarone with the producer scion’s signature and date of signing on the bottle, and a fine 2011 Barolo.  Three of the finest wines that Italy offers, with the Brunello preferred by 47% despite the sediment.  These were all $60 wines.

Steve had prepared two interesting groupings next.  Three variations on a theme with blends of Rhone grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (all of the land of OZ GSM fame).  These were all Californian examples poured from light to dark red in color.  These were from Unti (71% Grenache and 29% Mouvedre), Cline Cashmere (50% Mouvedre with lesser amounts of Grenache and Syrah), and Summerwood Diosa 2013 (80% Syrah and lesser Mouvedre and Grenache). The darker Syrah was preferred, with the Mouvedre a close followup.

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(Photo 1: Mike & Patty Wilson & Guest; Photo 2: Bob & Jennifer Winding)

Lastly, Steve arranged for three Californian Rhone wines of the same varietals, but the “Even Greater Specificity” meaning each was a 100% single grape Rhone based wines.  Here the Adelaida Mouvedre was preferred, with the Grenache from Cline a close followup.  Incidentally the color followed the rule above; the lightest being Grenache, Mouvedre the next “reddest”, and the Syrah the dark red – perhaps a clue for future Brown Bag Blind tastings.

A great evening was had by all.  Thank you Meryl and Steve Mixtacki.

Nowruz – A Celebration of the Iranian New Year

–submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Ted & Joan Ballweg

Iranian New Year Celebration 016Who could not use some Nowruz (celebration of spring and annual renewal)?  Majid Sarmadi brought the rich Iranian new year celebration to the Cultural Awareness Fellowship Group and their guests in this year of 2595.  This 3000 year Persian tradition is a celebration of renewal and hope with prepared foods that represent the seven angelic heralds.  Hyacinth (one of the first flowers of spring) brings beauty and its fragrance permeated the room.  The eloquently set table was a sight to behold.  Garlic bulbs decorated with a string of tiny pearls bring good health; vinegar takes a long time to make and requires patience; a beautiful tureen of sprouts (lentils) prosperity—good harvest and a year without hunger; elaborately decorated eggs promise fertility–rebirth; goldfish swimming in a bowl, a symbol of life; the illumination of candle-light brings happiness—good over evil; fresh fruit and sweets bring joy; and we ended with a taste of ground sweet sumac.  A book of poetry lay open reminding us of the eloquent Persian language.  This was the experience of haft sin and only the beginning of the evening.

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After an enthralling slide show of Iran–the culture, the geography, and its people—we traveled the gastronomic route.  Appetizers of eggplant paté, and hummus; a table display of basmati rice with saffron, casserole of assorted beans, braised eggplant with filet mignon; saffron chicken; and basmati rice with lima beans and dill—all of which were as sumptuous as they were beautiful.  All of these delicacies were entirely prepared by Majid.  Oh yes, the desserts!  Cream puffs (made earlier in the day), fresh fruit, rice-flour cookies, cardamom muffins, sohan (almond toffee), were enjoyed with a cup of tea.  At the end of the evening Majid gave us a gift to extend the evening.  We each received a freshly pressed one-dollar bill for good luck.

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We became Majid’s extended family and together we celebrated the joy of friendship in the Persian tradition and are richer for the experience.

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Wine Fellowship Event March 12, 2017

 

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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Mike & Patty Wilson

The Rotary Wine Fellowship Group met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s home to taste wine to compare the major French wine regions with their new world protogees.  We had white and red Burgundy, Bordeaux, as well as Northern and Southern Rhone wines and virtually all were selected from the Wilson wine cellar.  The examples were nearly all very well rated by respected rating organizations (88 – 95 points, mean score 92) and many of the vineyards were very old (one wine from Australia where the vineyard was planted 124 years ago and several others over 100 years, and yet others the oldest regional vines available.

We tried a 2014 white Puligny Montrachet from Pernot, and discussed the Burgundian village (now just used to house workers) and that the area included the greatest white wines of the world (e.g. Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet). This wine is still available at Steve’s for a modest sum.  This was compared with a Robert Young Vineyard Alexander 2013 Chardonnay ranked among the best of California that year, and a Wilson favorite.  We also compared it with a 1995 Kalin chardonnay Cuvee W which is the current release of Kalin having being kept by the owner for 20 years before releasing to the public for purchase – an extraordinary practice for a business given that now even the great wineries now make their wine for immediate sale and early consumption. At Kalin cellars the owners are microbiologists (Terrence and Frances Leighton) and the sole winemakers, that make all their own wines from bought grapes.  They produce about 7000 cases per year, and are credited with being the first Californians to pioneer the unfiltered Sur Lies approach to white wines.  Kalin also champions the fifth taste – Umami (the meaty brothy taste that is represented by MSG Wine March 12 2017 Ebut without the MSG salt contribution). They seek this out in their wines before release.  The Puligny narrowly wins as the best tasting compared to the quintessential Robert Young Vineyards and the very different Kalin.

Next we tried the red Burgundy and I had selected a Premier Cru Nuits-St-Georges Les Pruliers by Lucien Boillet where the grapes were planted in 1911.  Nuits-St-George is considered the main village of this region and is slightly smaller than Beaune to the North.  Nuits-St-Georges has no Grand cru vineyards but there are 41 Premier Cru vineyards of which Les Pruliers is one.  This wine was compared to similarly rated 2006 Oregon Pinot from Belle Pente Murto Vineyard and a 1995 Kalin Cuvee DD bottled in 2000 (some 17 years ago, and this is the current release vintage).  The Oregon Pinot Noir was considered the best of the bunch.

Wine March 12 2017 AWe had two 2000 Bordeaux blend wines and compared this to a 2006 Rubicon Estate
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Bordeaux were a Chateau Talbot and Grand-Puy-La-Coste, respectively 4th and 5th Growth wines in the 1855 Classification of the Haut-Medoc region that includes 61 wines and is the current quality standard of these wines. The 2000 vintage was considered an excellent vintage on both the left (Graves, Medoc, and Haut-Medoc) and right (Pomerol and St. Emilion) banks, a unique situation in the history of these wine regions. This vintage is considered one of the Great vintages because of this, and is one of the few vintages that the price has never fallen below the pre-release prices (when I bought these 2000 wines). The clear winner was the eminently drinkable Californian Cabernet despite it’s lower point assessment (90/91 compared to the Bordeaux: 93 and 94/95 ratings).

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From left: Beth & Rob Van den Berg; Chris & Elaine Rich; Jennifer & Bob Winding

We tried the Upper Rhone (Syrah only red grape allowed) 2009 Cote-Rotie La Landonne by Rene Rostaing and this was compared to an Australian Barossa Valley Shiraz that come from a vineyard initially planted in 1893, and a 1998 Hanna Sonoma Syrah.  While the Cote Rotie was the winner, it was scored at less than the Australian Shiraz (93/94 vs 95) in recent accepted tastings.  The Cote Rotie is interesting as Etienne Guigal (a Rotary tasting will be at Steve’s on University on the 27th April that will assess Guigal’s wines – wait for the call for signup) came to the region, recognized the potential of the wine, restored the reputation of these wines. In the 1940’s when the AOC was created there were only 40 hectares left in grapes, the rest having been converted to Apricot trees. The land was converted back to vineyards as the quality returned to it’s former glory and the apricot trees were removed to get the total acreage back to 210 Hectares.  The vines had been uprooted as the slopes approach 60 degrees and concrete walls and terraces need constant maintenance for tending the vines and picking the grapes.

Wine March 12 2017 BThe last wine we tried was a Chateauneuf-du-pape (CNP) which is from the southern Rhone and has mainly Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (the GSM label made famous by Australia with their exports of this blend). Other red and white grapes provide an AOC appellation requirement minimum of six different varietals while the appellation allows at least 9 red and 6 white wines.  The ground here is different, having huge heat retention stones (galets) extending from fist sized examples to huge boulders. When Patty and I visited Ch. Beaucastel in the mid 1980’s we wondered how they could even plant the vines in those “rock fields”.

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From left: Leslie & Peter Overton; Ken Yuska; Sandy & Dana Corbett

We tried a Chateau Beaucastel Famille Perrin 2011, the most expensive wine of the tasting. Ch. Beaucastel always uses 13 grapes in their CNP.  We tried it against a 2011 Paso Robles Tablas Creek Esprit GSM with additional Cunoise, and the interesting fact is that Ch. Beaucastel (Perrin family) co-own this Paso Robles property with their US importer (Robert Haas). They found a property, stocked it with 8 vines from Ch. Beaucastel, waited out the 3 year quarantine, and now sell the Rhone wines and the Rhone vines from their USA winery. The Esprit de Tablas is the second best wine from Tablas Creek and the Famille Perrin is Beaucastel’s second best CNP, so it was a good comparison altho the wine from France would have much older vines. We also tried a GSM from Adelaida, also the same year.  All were excellent, all were well rated and there was no definite winner, just personal favorites, with no one wine getting a majority vote.

Wine March 12 2017 CThis was a great tasting and we had 5 cheeses (3 of which are pictured here) selected for these wines and chocolate covered strawberries made by Patty. These included a local Mozzarella on melba toast, with Normandy Brie also on Melba Toast.   We had Dubliner (invented by an Irish UW faculty while getting his PH.D. in Ireland – now sold by Kerrygold (but not currently banned like the butter). We had Cambozola, and Wensleydale cranberry cheese (another story of old English cheese slowly disappearing until owner of the last factory sold to the management who regenerated the business). The Mozzarella and Brie went well with the white and lighter Pinot Noir, while the other cheeses and chocolate strawberries stood up to the reds.  Overall, the tasting was great fun for everyone.

 

Winter Hike Near Lake Wingra

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Herman Baumann

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From left: Ted Waldbillig, Mike Crane, Cindy Waldbillig, Leslie Overton, Katie Ryan & Andrea Kaminski

It was 37 degrees when we got to Wingra Park Saturday morning. The ice conditions looked poor, yet people were fishing on the lake. Then again, people who fish through the ice are a particularly intrepid lot, and they are not burdened by the pesky survival instincts that keep the rest of us on terra firma or even indoors in the winter. The surface ice had thawed and refrozen a couple of times, leaving a slippery surface and there were large patches that were covered by water. Although some members of our group were willing to try it, we decided instead to hike a wooded trail that leads from Wingra Park to the duck pond at the northern tip of the Nakoma golf course. This led us over an open, spring-fed stream with a crop of fresh, green watercress. The spring rises from a rock outcrop called Council Ring, which was designed in the early 20th century by landscape architect Jens Jensen. We all managed to stay upright, thanks to cleats on our boots, walking sticks from a store or the forest floor, or a combination of skill and luck. Then six of us piled around a table for four at Colectivo for coffee and treats.