Category Archives: Wine Fellowship

Wine Fellowship Gathering on April 8

–photos and summary submitted by Mike Wilson

Wine Event 6 April 2019

On Monday, the 8th of April, our club’s Wine Fellowship Group met at Mike Wilson’s home to compare six wines with a wine-cocktail counterpart.  Two of the wine cocktails we tried were similar to some I had tried at local restaurants that were similar promoting these and another was recently published in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Wine Event 1 April 2019We started with a Manzanilla from one of the corners of the Sherry triangle in Spain.  This was La Guita (about $10 per half bottle) – a famous one.  It was a very agreeable Dry Sherry.  The cocktail contained the same wine plus Cointreau, Tequila and lime juice for a wine version of a Margarita.  We next had a red fortified wine, Kopkes’s Fine Red Ruby Port, which was excellent and reasonably priced ($9.99 + tax per half bottle).  This was compared to a Port Manhattan that was made with this Port and Maker’s Mark Bourbon and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.  The wine became the vermouth substitute.  In both these comparisons, the wine cocktail was preferred.

Next we had two white wines: a 95 pointer Doisey Daene 2014 Barsac – botrytis (noble rot) infected grapes that result in a honeyed wine.  This was the most expensive wine ($45 + tax) tasted and was excellent.  With this we had an Ice Wine Martini (Ice Wines are from Niagara and Germany, but French Sauternes and Barsac can be used interchangeably).  We added Vodka to make the wine a martini.  Next was a 92-93 Pointer Moscatini where we made a martini with Moscato (frizzante white wine from the Piedmonte region of Italy) with Plymouth Gin (least aromatic gin).  The wine alone was preferred – but experimentation made the wine cocktail much better.  Tasters added a little more of the wine to the cocktail from their wine sample and it significantly improved.

Lastly we tried two inexpensive Italian red wines – a Valpolicella (from the Veneto) and an Aglianico (from Campania), two favorites of the host.  The Italian Red Wine Cocktail was Valpolicella with half the volume of Maker’s Mark Bourbon added.  The other was an Aglianico Sour where copious amounts of simple syrup and lemon juice were added to Mile High Rye from Utah, and then the red wine was layered on top of the cocktail components which made for an interestingly layered visual appearance and the sensation of drinking the cocktail portion through the thin layer of red wine.  Both the cocktail versions were preferred by the attendees.

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Photo 1: Jennifer & Bob Winding; Photo 2: Tim Muldowney & Jackie Hank; Photo 3: Keith Baumgartner & Peggy Lescrenier

Currently there is a real surge in Cocktails in the beverage industry while wine drinking has stalled. In 5 of the wine/cocktail comparisons the wine cocktail was preferred by our serious Rotary Wine Fellowshipper wine drinkers. The tasting provided excellent means of showing everyone how enjoyable these wine cocktails are, and minimal changes in the formulation of additional wine to the cocktail significantly modified the wine cocktail enjoyment to many attendees.  There is room for considerable experimentation in this exploration of wine cocktails so that every wine drinker can enjoy them.

The tasting provided everyone with the drink formulas so the attendees could replicate them at home.  It was of noted that the Wine Fellowshippers preferred the wine cocktail over the wine in 5 of the 6 pairings.

A great time was had by all, and excellent Fellowship resulted.

Best Summer Barbecue Wine Pairings

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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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.

“Brown Bag Tasting” on June 29

–article and photos by Mike Wilson


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.

“Fun in the Sun”day on June 19

–submitted by Mike Wilson

The Wine Fellowship met on a Hot Sunday Afternoon to try drinks designed for a Hot Sunday Afternoon.  The temperature was 85 degrees outside, so the conditions were perfect.  The tasting topic had been suggested by Meryl Mixtacki.

Photo1We started with three Roses: A Rhone from Jean Luc Colombo; a Kermit Lynch Tavel (AOC devoted entirely to Roses); and a Sancerre with 100% Pinot Noir.  The resounding best was the Sancerre L’Authentique by Thomas Labaille in the Loire, sourced from Steve’s Liquor on University Avenue at a cost of $20.


Next we had bubbles, a typical heat re-mediating wine, all made by the Methode Traditionale, but no actual Champagne.  The first was a french sparkler made the traditional way – Blanquette de Limoux.  The claim to fame of this region is that that is where reports of bubbly wine made here 100 years prior to bubbles from the Champagne region.  This wine is made from the Mauzac grape known as Blanquette, and they tend not to remove the sediment (lees) so the wine could be cloudy.  Next we tried a Cremant (name for French wines made in the traditional champagne method but not in the Champagne region) de Bourgogne.  Finally from the Antipodes we tried a Tasmanian sparkler, made in the traditional method that Downunder they call “Tasmanois”.  The winning wine was the Limoux by St. Hillaire with a nearly 100% winning rate.  This wine was a little unusual as the other sparklers were NV, but this was a 2014 vintage and the company is one of the top 5 rated Limoux annually ~ a top 100 WS rating and the cheapest of all these sparklers.

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We then shifted to still whites, and had a European mixture. First, from the Sudtirol, Elena Walch’s mild Gurwerztraminer that we had had before at a Wine Table tasting, and this wine is made by the Queen of Gurwertztraminer, Elena.  This was followed by an Alsation Pinot Gris, then an Albarino from Nessa in the Rias Baixus of Spain.  The Unanimous winner was the Pinot Gris from Pierre Sparr.  This is interesting as Pinot Gris is identical genetically to Pinot Grigio just made differently, and this is especially so in Alsace where all Pinot Grigio is marketed as Pinot gris where secondary fermentation and the use of oak aging is common making the wine more complex than the usual acidic Italian Pinot Grigio. It is interesting that Pinot Gris (and Grigio) and Pinot Blanc, are all point mutstions of the very old Pinot Noir (1000 year history of cultivation compared to 200 years of Cabernet Sauvignon) so they are white wines very similar genetically to Pinot Noir.  Also, this maker is a very old Alsation winemaking house that fell on poor times and winemaking, so the local vineyards grower cooperative decided to buy the winemaking facility to ensure their grapes were well made, and the winemaking improved.  All these wines were excellent but this wine was superb – obtained at Steve’s at about $18.

The best was kept to last.  The idea had been to try Sangria and Shandies.  Meryl told the story of Glunz Winery making most of the money they needed to run their winery from the sale of Sangria to CostCo, and when the Mixtackis and Wilsons had visited Glunz in Paso Robles, we met the winemaker AND his dog.  Mike Wilson adapted the mixture, by adding 10% of a blood orange liqueur to the Sangria and forgoing all the fruit typical of a Sangria as the winemaker has added all that effect already – this was a crowdpleaser and at <$10 for the de la costa Sangria by Glunz Cellars and ~$27 for the Solero Blood Orange liqueur (one bottle allows for innumerable sangrias given the liqueur dosage is 10% of the entire drink (10:1 ratio of Sangria mix:liqueur).

Photo11We also tried two Shandy’s; a Pitosi lemonade beer and a grapefruit Schofferhoffer, which were very good.  Back home in NZ 50 years ago we added lemonade to our favorite beer on a hot afternoon to get a refreshing drink.  Here in America you can add Sierra Mist to your favorite beer or just purchase these Summer Shaddies.  A Good Time Was Had By All.

All in all, an excellent “Fun in the Sun”day, and while all the wines and drinks were excellent there were clear winners to everyone, and everyone agreed with that.

Wine Fellowship Event on January 18

–submitted by Mike Wilson; photos by Mike Wilson


Our club’s Wine Fellowship met at Mike Wilson’s home for a BYO wine tasting on Monday the 18th January 2016.  We snacked on bread (Whole Food’s; Italian, Ancient Grain, and cranberry/walnut) and crackers, with grapes and chocolate-covered strawberries.  We also had some Beautiful Bruschetta’s, warm Rachel Ray spiced shrimp on sticks, two Marvellous Marieke Gouda cheeses, a triple cream beautiful Brie served with sliced apples, an artichoke dip (with some tasters requesting the recipe) and salami/pepperoni wrapped Mozzarella straws.

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Photo 1: Becky Steinhoff, Sandy Corbett, Joy Gander & Cheryl Wittke; Photo 2: Karl Wellensiek, Mary Janet Wellensiek, Meryl Mixtacki & Steve Mixtacki; Photo 3: Dana Corbett, Bob Winding, Mike McKay & Mandy McKay

Going with these were some marvelous wines sorted into groups.  These included an Alsatian Pinot Gris and a Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, followed by a Miner Chardonnay and a Guigal Cotes du Rhone white blend.  We next tried an Unti Segromigno (Sangiovese and Montepulciano), an Adelaida Cinsaut, and a Gnarly Head Merlot that were all Wonderful Wines.  The last series was Owen Roe Ex Umbris Columbia Valley Syrah and an old (2002) Amon-Ra Shiraz from Australia (hence Shiraz and not Syrah), and a Decoy Zinfandel.

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I rated 4 of the wines as exceptional and the rest as excellent quality, and we all had a great time.

Recent Summer Rotary Events

Saying “Aloha” to Bruna Perez on July 24


Our thanks to Dick and Noel Pearson for hosting a Going Away Party for Bruna Perez, our Rotary Youth Exchange student who attended Edgewood High School during the past school year.  Her host families were: Terry & Liz Heinrichs, Lynne & Paul Myers, and Trey & Shelly Sprinkman.  Bruna traveled back to her home in Brazil this week.

Bike Tour de Madison led by Paul Riehemann on July 25


Thirteen members and their guests gathered for a bike ride on July 25 – the weather was beautiful!  Was followed by lunch at Bluephies on Monroe Street.  Much of the ride was in the Arboretum and on bike paths.  Flats – 0; Smiles – hundreds.

Hope you can join us on our next ride! …..August 8, Madison to Paoli, meet at   Break Away SportsCenter at 10am. Until then……

Wine Fellowshippers Gathered at Mixtacki Home on July 28


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(Photo 1: Meryl & Steve Mixtacki; Photo 2: John & Jane Wegenke; Photo 3: Ann Cardinale; Photo 4: Donna Wittke & Cheryl Wittke)

Twelve gathered at the Mixtacki residence to taste wine including Rotarians, spouses, friends, and family.  Meryl Mixtacki had prepared breads, cheese, cold cuts, an olive preparation and chocolate coated strawberries.  These were marvelously displayed and enjoyed by all, complementing the wines tasted.

Three Oregon wines by the Teutonic Wine Company were followed by Fingerlake Region wines of Konstantin Frank fame. Then we switched to the Okanagan valley of British Columbia where we tried three reds and three whites the had been sourced by Mixtacki and Wilson following their visit last year to the region with the Wellensiek’s.

The Oregon white wines included a Pinot gris and two white blends.  One blend contained 60-70% red Pinot noir according to vintage and had a pink blush with small portions of Muller Thurgau, Chasselas and Silvaner.  The other had only had 25% Pinot Noir and the white wine grapes were 50% Scheurebe (Riesling and unknown grape possibly a wild cross and Huxelrebe, another cross).  These two crosses were developed by Scheu in the early 1900’s with rebe meaning wine hence Scheurebe, while Hexelrebe was to honor the grape vine distributor – I guess you cannot have too many wines named after you.  The fascinating thing about the Teutonic Wine Company is their success at being a real little German Winery in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

Next we traveled to the opposite side of America, to the Fingerlakes district that the Mixtacki’s had visited some time ago.  We tried a semidry and dry Riesling and a Rose, from Konstantin Frank.  Konstantin had migrated from Russia in 1951 with a Ph.D. from Odessa, with his thesis being about Vitis Vinifera in the cold climate.  At that time the Fingerlakes district was firmly in the hands of the Hybrid varieties Crossings of the Vitis Vinifera [the cultivated vines] and an American native [wild vine] Vitis Lambrusca) allowed for the early wine industry to develop in the cold eastern states. In hybrids the european Vitus [species vine] Vinifera [wine yielding vine] provides the quality taste, while the American native wild [noncultivated/wild vitis/vine] provides the weather and disease resistance that is natural to wild American vine species given their millennia of local development.

As we know every Colony of early, and therefore Eastern America, had been charged with producing wine, silk and olive oil for supply back to the Homeland, and despite valiant attempts, including that of Thomas Jefferson, the european Vitis Vinifera just could not be established there.  In 1938 Mr Wagner (newspaper editor, write and amateur vintner) wrote the first book in English on grape growing and wine making – and he was to be the champion of Hybrid grapes that could grow in the cold climate and this resulted in an “East of the Rockies” wine industry.  There developed a prolonged war between Wagner and Konstantin Frank as Frank began to establish that vinifera could grow in the cold Eastern America. Konstantin Frank was said to be stubborn, but he indeed did demonstrate that vinifera could grow in New York.  Four Frank generations have made wine from Vitis Vinifera in the Fingerlakes. His son started the first local quality Method Champenoise under the Chateau Frank label, a grandson developed a second label wine label – Salmon Run. The family wineries won 129 medals in wine competitions in 2013 alone.  Now a Great Granddaughter has an MBA in wine from Adelaide University (Barossa Country of Australia) continuing as the 4th generation of a historic winemaking family.  Meagan Frank is mentioned in the latest Wine Enthusiast N.Y. Wine Country Supplement that arrived today!

Next we moved to the Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, Canada.  This region makes all vinifera wines well and Wine Spectator recently described it as the second best wine region of the world to visit.  Both Steve and Mike had independently tried these wines when visiting Vancouver and this was the basis of the Rotary trio visiting.  We tried three whites, all Chardonnay.  These included two Meyer’s, their standard and a named vineyard.  We also tried NK’MIP (Inkameep) chardonnay, and all were excellent.  In keeping with the underlying theme of this tasting, this Indian tribe winery was the first to transition to Vitus Vinifera from Hybrid vines in the 1970’s with now a complete displacement of the hybrid vines.

Finally we tried three red wines.  First, a Meyer Pinot Noir that I believe has rekindled my love of Pinot Noir so good was the typical Burgundian Pinot Noir nose.  Next we tried a Laughing Stock Blind Trust red blend with the actual blend under a special flap that needed to be lifted to see the wine balance.  Unfortunately this wine was slightly “corked” so everyone had an chance to see an example of why wines can be returned in a restaurant.  Then we tried a Painted Rock Red Icon, and everyone was told the new winery was indeed an icon (we saw it the day they had a wedding due, and the building and site was glorious).  The owner looks like an icon, with an appearance similar to  Richard Gere.  This man was the person who told us of a way to obtain Okanagan wines as only one winery officially ships to the US.  Using I have been able to get continuing supplies, but I think you may have to contact them to display that part of their portfolio.

As expected everyone left after an evening of fun and fellowship.