Category Archives: Wine Fellowship

Bring Your Own Bottle, Story and Snack Wine Tasting

–submitted by Mike Wilson

Group 2

The Wine Fellowship met at our home for a “Bring Your Own Bottle, Story and a Snack” tasting on January 29.  Thirteen tasters arrived with a bottle of wine and a snack together with the story.  Some of the stories included:

The best Syrah in my collection.
Please help me select a good wine for a “fancy pants” tasting.
A Michigan Pinot Noir.
Favorite best buys.

Each wine had a very interesting story.

Yuska  Wellensiek  Mixtacki

Photo 1: Ginny & Ken Yuska; Photo 2: Mary Janet & Karl Wellensiek; Photo 3: Meryl & Steve Mixtacki

All of the wines ranked well in quality (I rated them from 17.5 – 19.0 on a 20 point scale), no doubt assisted by the fun and gaiety had by all.

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Photo 1: Ellie & Paul Schatz; Photo 2: Cheryl Wittke & Ken Yuska; Photo 3: Meryl Mixtacki & Mary Janet Wellensiek

The pairings included:

A New Zealand and the very excellent Michigan Pinot Noir.
A Grenache and a Syrah.
Two Merlots.
A Bordeaux and a US Cabernet.

We feasted on multiple cheeses, a variety of crackers and breads, proscuitto and salami wrapped mozarella, hot quesadillas with salsa, spinach roll ups, spicy shrimp, and chocolate coated strawberries.

BrantWe welcomed new Rotarian Mark Brant and his wife, Tracy (pictured at left) to their first Wine Fellowship Event.  We were glad to have you with us!


From the Saone to the Mediterranean

–submitted by Mike Wilson, Co-Chair Rotary Wine Fellowship Group

photo34On Tuesday, the 11th of November, the Downtown Rotary Wine Fellowship Group went down to the Madison Club for a wine tasting themed, “From the Saone to the Mediterranean–Wines of Southern France.”  28 Rotarians and guests were present, and they had a great tasting.  14 glasses were placed on a 20 by 12 inch placemat that had all 14 wine labels reproduced in color, so each wine could be kept in the right place. Each taster could be sure which wine they tasted – and no “front and back” confusion occurring as is the case when tasting at the Wilson’s.

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In addition to the gigantic placemat resplendent with 14 glasses there was a five page description of the wines, with numerous other interesting stories and factoids.  A map of France’s wine regions (the focus of the tasting) was provided, and Kitty Bennett noted that if you split this map horizontally about halfway North and South through the country, then those regions above this line usually produced single varietal wines while those below this line usually produced blended varietal’s.  This was a fascinating observation.

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(Photo 1: Paul and Ellie Schatz; Photo: Tim Stadelman; Photo 3: Janet Piraino and Patty Wilson)

Also provided was an order sheet with the prices of each wine.  The cheapest wine turned out to be the wine most beloved by the tasting majority, costing $18 to purchase while the most expensive wine was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CNP) at $78, a bottle added to the samples by the Madison Club as the “Big Boy” wine of the night.

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(Photo 1: Ken and Ginny Yuska; Photo 2: Juli and Keith Baugartner; Photo 3: Mary Janet and Karl Wellensiek)

photo4We were all at the Madison Club as the Co-Chair of the Rotary Wine Fellowship group, Steve Mixtacki, had worked with Keith and Juli Baumgartner, regular attendees of both the Rotary and Madison Club wine tasting events, to see if Rotarians could have their own Madison Club tasting.  This event resulted from this collaboration.  The tasting was managed by Kitty Bennett (pictured at left).  Kitty is the the owner of PRIMA LLC, with a book of outstanding wines. Her portfolio has an emphasis on organically grown wines.   Mike Wilson had worked with Kitty in his Chez Michel days.

The first wine set the tone of the evening.  This was a Macon white from a great Pouilly Fuisse producer, and this Barraud Macon-Fuisse (a lesser version of Pouilly Fuisse) was a stunner.  At the end of the evening this was the rated as the “Best of the Bunch” by more than half the tasters – an extraordinary feat for such a large gathering and large number of wines tasted.  This wine cost only $18 but reflects the vineyards and winemakers of this superb winery.  The most expensive wine, the CNP, was rated best by several tasters.

Next, two red Burgundies of lesser appellations were tried – a Mercury and a Marsanny, with the latter having a true  “burgundian nose”.  We then tried two Beaujolais wines, both family run enterprises and classic benchmarks of their style.

photo24Now we slipped south into the Rhone.  We started with a white (Cairanne) and a Cotes-du-Rhone.  Next we tried two other Rhone wines, A Le Clos des Caillon CNP (home of the new French pope) and a Romaine de la Boissiere Gigondas.  Both were Rhone blends being south of that “horizontal” line described above.  CNP’s are required to have at least 6, and as many as 18, individual wine varieties. The Gigondas we tried had the typical Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre combination of this wine, a combination made famous as “GSM” by Australian marketing of their Antipodean blend. We also tried a Rhone Rose.

Next, we ventured into Provence and we had a another great Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carignan blend, and a Minervois made from old vine Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault.  The Minervois had Anne Gros as part of the winemaking, ownership team.  Anne is a legend in Burgundy, and as half of this winemaking team, reflects a really serious efforts in place to demonstrate the potential of these regional wines.

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Lastly we had a delightful story of a “sweetie” wine made from Grenache. I loved this 10 year old wine that is aged for a year in a glass demijohn outside – a traditional process that is followed by 6-10 (in this case 9) years aging in large oak casks.

photo5The food supplied was excellent, and even included pickled asparagus spears that I could not stop eating.  All in all, a wonderful evening was had by Madison Rotary Wine Fellowshippers, and we all thank Steve Mixtacki, the Baumgartners, and the Madison Club for this FINE WINE experience.


Rotary Wine Fellowshippers Enjoy Another Great Event on June 24

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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The Wine Fellowship Group had a Bring Your Own (BYO) Event at Mike and Patty Wilson’s on Tuesday the 24th of June. There were 15 attendees, and each Rotarian brought a bottle of wine, their story to go with it and a snack to accompany it. Great fun was had by all!  I rated every bottle of wine as excellent (17.75-18.5/20 on my scale),for an extraordinary fleet of wines.

From left: Nona Hagen, Dan Dieck, Mike Casey & Carolyn Casey

From left: Nona Hagen, Dan Dieck, Mike Casey & Carolyn Casey

They started with three cold wines: a Santinori Assyrtiko to accompany a tapenade; an Alsatian Pinot Gris (Rotenberg from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht) with a Greek dip; and a Rose of Sangiovese from Amorosa (called Goia) with the winery being a large “Napa Castle” which was viewed from their parking lot on the successful Wine Fellowship tour of Napa exactly one year ago.  These were accompanied by feta and watermelon kebabs.

Next, two beautifully soft Pinot Noirs were tasted:  Acrobat from Oregon and Husch from the Anderson Valley.  Both were paired with great artisanal Wisconsin cheeses and a basket of cherries.  Just like the cold wines described above, these were excellent, and the tasting group was evenly divided in preference.

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(Photo 1: Mike & Mandy McKay; Photo 2: Juli & Keith Baumgartner; Photo 3: Patty Wilson & Cheryl Wittke)

Two “racy reds” were then tasted:  A Domaine de la Janesse Cotes Du Rhone with a colorful story of how it came to be selected (Dan Dieck’s son had sent a case from France) and an A Venge wine called Scouts Honor (a dog story, not Baden-Powell) California blend (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Syrah).  Once again, the tasting group liked both equally well.

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(Photo 1: Steve & Meryl Mixtacki; Photo 2: Meryl Mixtacki & Mike Wilson; Photo 3: Mary Barbieri & Beverly Simone)

Finally the hosts provided two very different ports.  A 1960 Warre’s Vintage Porto as a traditional base, and a 1947 “Royal Reserve” Mazuran “Port” from New Zealand. This previously unknown vineyard in Henderson , NZ, has been producing Port for years.  The initial winemaker was a descendant of the Dalmatian Kauri tree gum diggers that emigrated to New Zealand early on for just this purpose, but when the Kauri trees were significantly reduced (now a protected tree) they switched to other work.  Dalmatia is near where the original Zinfandel vines have been located, and these immigrants formed the basis of the early New Zealand wine industry.  Chocolate covered strawberries and other chocolates were the accompanying snack made by Hostess Patty.  Here the New Zealand port was the absolute winner.  The 67 year old Royal Reserve is the very first Mazuran port Mike tried some 40 years ago, and was released for the visit of the young Queen Elizabeth in her 1952 tour of New Zealand as part of the new monarchs tour of the antipodean british Commonwealth.  Perhaps the Mazuran was rated so well as the tasters were informed that it now sells for NZ$700.

Our thanks to Mike & Patty Wilson for hosting another great event!

Our thanks to Mike & Patty Wilson for hosting another great event!

A great time was had by one and all!

Wine Fellowship Group Tasting on April 29

–submitted by Mike Wilson


The Wine Fellowship Group had a great tasting at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s house on April 29.  This time there were several new Wine Fellowship attendees, which everyone thought was great.

The theme was an ALL WHITE WINE tasting, in preparation for the long awaited spring season. We started with three sparkling wines: a Cremant from France but not from the Champagne appellation, a Spanish Cava made by the same Traditionale Methode and an Italian Proseco where the secondary fermentation (the source of sparkling wine bubble formation) occurs in steel tanks and then the sparkling wine is bottled, rather than the actual bottle being the site of bubble production as in the traditional Champagne method.  These wines represented different price points: $5-10, $11-20 and $20-30.  The Champion that evening by the vast majority of tasters was the Spanish cava of Juame Serra Cristalino extra-brut (made by the traditional method) with a retail price of between $6-7, a real bargain of a wine and well worth stocking up on for the short-term future.

We then tried New World/Old World Sauvignon Blancs, with the new world represented by New Zealand and California, and the old world by the Loire Valley in France.  The grapefruit aromas on the NZ wine was recorded as the best by the fellowship, and NZ Sauvignon Blancs have been accepted as the best of that grape varietal. The Loire version was more steely, and the Californian had some oak perceived on the palate, and both these tastes typify the respective regions.

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Then three unknown varietal’s were tried of a group called Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) and the Riesling was most recognizable being slightly sweet with a typical “petroleum” aroma.  The apricot-like Viognier was then recognized and by deduction when the three wines were revealed, the Portuguese (usually Spanish) Albarino was established by simple elimination when the other two wines were identified.  As far as the participants were concerned, there was similar preferences for favorite of each of these three very different wines.

The last part of the formal tasting was a selection of Mike Wilson’s Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnays from the 2006/2008/2010 vintages. These wines were quite old by Chardonnay standards, and it was revealing that the oldest 2006 vintage was the preferred wine.

Thank you to hosts Steve & Meryl Mixtacki!

Thank you to hosts Steve & Meryl Mixtacki!

Because the group was larger than usual Steve Mixtacki produced two spicy Gurwurtztraminers and Mike Wilson matched a Brut with the ExtraBrut Cristalino sparkler, to show the contrast in dryness’s (the brut was dryer than the Extra brut).

Four cheeses were provided by the Wilson’s: Manchego (Spanish hard sheep cheese), Brie, a German Triple Cream Blue Cambazola, and a cow cheese Dubliner.  Meryl Mixtacki provided nuts, fruit spears, proscuitto wrapped melon, chocolate coated strawberries,and a yellow citris cake.

A great time was had by all!  Many wines, many appetizers, some education, and particularly good fun was had by everyone.


Rotary Wine Event January 30 2014

–submitted by Mike Wilson


On the cool and snowy Thursday night of January 30, the Wine Fellowship Group met at the home of Mike & Patty Wilson. All 17 guests brought along a wine with a short description, together with a snack as part of a “BYO Night.” We had several of the regulars attending; the return of some that had not been to the Fellowship lately due to other commitments; and new Fellowshippers providing an excellent mix of individuals.  An extraordinary collection of wines and snacks also arrived, and Steve Mixtacki was able to put these together in groups for all to taste.

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Photo 1: Mary Janet & Karl Wellensiek; Photo 2: Rich & Joan Leffler

All of the wines were excellent and many had special meanings to the donors.  Most are available on the market but some were from personal collections and no longer available, or bought for a special personal event, but all were brought to share and celebrate with other Rotary Wine Fellowshippers.  An extraordinarily good time was had by all, and great fellowship occurred; the essence of the many different Rotary Fellowship groups.

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Photo 1: Juli & Keith Baumgartner; Photo 2: TeDee & Gail DeDee with Mike Casey; Photo 3: Patty Struck & her husband, Larry Bechler

Wine Fellowshippers Jump Start the Holiday on December 12

–submitted by Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson


Pictured from left: Meryl Mixtacki, Dick Pearson, Noel Pearson, Mike Casey, Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson

The Wine Fellowship Group met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home on a cold December night but a very warm event followed.  One very new member, Mike Casey, came along, together with 13 other Fellowshippers. The evening focused on Italian varietals selected from the cellars of Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson.  The wines were divided into four groups: Italian varietals from America, typical varietals from several regions of Italy, and then examples of the wines of the Piedmonte (Nebbiolo) and Central Tuscany (Montalcino).  They were all reds.

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

While Mike and Steve provided the wines, Mike’s wife, Patty, provided 5 cheeses and crackers to match with the wine and Steve’s wife, Meryl, provided bruschetta, breads, and chocolates to enhance the experience.  As a result, a good time was had by all.

The US-made wines included a Sangiovese from Napa, a Barbara from Alexander Valley, and a Super Tuscan from, of all places, Arizona.

Mike Wilson brought a favorite from Puglia in the “boot” of Italy (Negroamaro grape), another from the isle of Sicily (Nero d’Avola), and a lesser red wine from the Piedmont (Dolcetto). These are the classic common red drinking wines of these regions.  The first two wine bottles were signed by the vineyard owners, and there were tales of these characters from when they were promoting their wines in the States.  These wines were at the end of their useful shelf lives, but each was of good quality and tasting well.

Mike Wilson also brought some Nebbiolos from the Piedmont.  This grape is considered the King of Italian grapes and there are many regions where this is grown e.g. Langhe and Roero, and then there are other names used for different regions where better Nebbiolo’s are made e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco , Gattinara and Ghemme.  These are the wines that can be classified as DOCG (this Guaranteed classification has the wines tasted before release by a panel to ensure the quality).  We tried two Langhe (2002 and 2008) and ended up tasting two Barolo’s 2004 and 2009.


Photo 1: Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson; Photo 2: Ginny Yuska, Ken Yuska & Beverly Simone; Photo 3: Mike Casey & Dori Hosek

Three wines came from the Montalcino region in Tuscany.  Two were Brunello di Montalcinos, which are also DOCG wines, are the most well-known wine from the region, and are made from 100% from Sangiovese.  “Regular” Brunellos are not released until 50 months after harvest, while reserve Brunellos need to age an additional 12 months.  The third wine was a Rosso di Montalcino, sometimes referred to as a “baby Brunello,” which is also 100% Sangiovese, but only needs to be aged one year before release to earn a DOC classification, allowing producers to offer a less expensive wine and allow for some cash flow while the grapes from the same vintage are aging for Brunello.

The Wine Fellowship Group had a great evening socializing, learning about – and enjoying – Italian varietals, and getting a jump on some holiday celebration.


Dick Pearson

Happy Holidays
from the Rotary Club of Madison Wine Fellowship Group!