Tag Archives: Rotary Wine Fellowship Group

Wine Fellowship – Pinot Noir Tasting on June 21

submitted by Mike Wilson

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From left: Carolyn Casey, Mike Casey, Ray Bandziulis, Ann Cardinale, Steve Mixtacki & Meryl Mixtacki

Our club’s Wine Fellowship met at the Wilson’s on Thursday, June 21, to taste Pinot Noir.  These wines had been selected from Mike Wilson’s cellar, and the tasting was divided into groups of three wines.  After a description of the Pinot Noir story that emphasized the really long history of Pinot Noir, one of the four oldest vinifera wines (there are said to have been 6000 Vitis Vinifera in the last 6000 years), and one of the most important.  This is emphasized as Pinot Noir was the first fruit and second food where the genome was mapped.  Pinot Noir is related to virtually 60% of wines used these days, being a sibling or parent of all of these wines.  In general the lighter colors, red brick rim seen on older pinots (we had a lot to sample in this tasting) and the fact that they age quite well (one wine was 41 years old – a Bouchard Le Corton, and we tasted three 1999 wines).

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We tried great Red Burgundies (one Grand Cru and four premier Crus) the creme de la creme of Pinot Noir. These 5 wines represent the top 5% of Red Burgundies.  The first three wines were from the first ten years of this century, a 2002 Nuit St George and a Charmes Chambertin, and a 2007 Bouchard Beaune Marconnets.  We then tried three different Californian AVA’s (2010 Artesa, 2005 Flowers & Woodenhead) followed by three Oregon Pinots of the same period all from the Dundee Hills AVA (2007 Winderlea, and 2008 Lange & Scott Paul) so with good age on them. Next we tried three from the British Empire: two from NZ and one from the Okanagon Valley, and two of these wines were actually brought back from overseas.  These latter wines were still a little younger, being only 4-8 years old.

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(Photo 1: from left: Patty Wilson, Cheryl Wittke, Becky Steinhoff, Ellie Schatz & Paul Schatz; Photo 2: from left: Julie Swenson, Peggy Lescrenier and Leslie Overton)

We then had three older wines: a 1999 Truchard from Sonoma, a 1999 Nuit St. George and 1977 Le Corton both from Burgundy.  We cleaned our palate with a Gruet Blanc de Noir (a white Methode Champenoise also made from Pinot Noir).  I had anticipated at least one of these three last century wines would be over the hill, but none were – a testament to Pinot Noir’s longevity.

Onee among the three wine groupings, a particular Pinot, was preferred only once. As all these wines were good, then the individual taster’s palate determined the most liked, i.e personal preference reigned supreme. The cheeses all went great with the wine and included a Compte, Gruyere, Mozzarella, White Cheddar and Cambazola, as did the breads and crackers. A good time was had by all.  A pity we will never be able to repeat this tasting.

Wine Fellowshippers at Tasting on October 30

–submitted by Mike Wilson


We had 18 people at the Rotary Wine Fellowship tasting at the Wilson’s on Sunday, October 30th, 2016.  We tried Loire wines as a result of an earlier BYO Rotary Fellowship tasting at Steve Mixtacki’s home when Erin Luken brought a Loire Chenin Blanc that tickled my fancy and made me look into the region.  In several instances we tried the Loire wine against a New World version for contrast.

The region is very old wine-wise, having been established in the Roman era.  It has a good proportion of all of the French AOC’s and is characterized by having famous red (Cabernet Franc, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir) and white (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadet) wines.  The most famous is the Sauvignon Blanc, and a selection of good ones is a requirement of a good restaurant.

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Photo 1: Jane & John Wegenke; Photos 2: Meryl Mixtacki & Ann Cardinale; Photo 3: Becky Steinhoff & Mike McKay

First we tried two Muscadets (unique to the Loire, and grown only in the Coastal Loire) and a Loire Sparkler made with Chenin Blanc.  All were very well liked with no definite favorite.  The sparkler (Methode Champenoise – Champagne wants us to call this MethodeTraditionale, so there is no mention of Champagne on the label at all) was very nice.  Next we had two Sauvignon Blancs: a Sancerre – the great Sauvignon Blanc of the Upper Loire – and an example from the Touraine – the Mid Loire – which much like the Mid Loire Anjou Region – grows the 4 major Loire grapes: Chenin Blanc. Gamay Beaujolais, Cabernet franc, and Sauvignon Blanc.  We contrasted this with a NZ Sauvignon Blanc as the New World comparison, where the fruit expression dominates the effect of the terroir.  The fruit was best detected in the NZ version, but tasters were again equally divided in their preference for a particular style.

We then tried Chenin Blancs.  We had one from the Anjou-Saumur, and one from Vouvray (the more famous Chenin Blanc region).  Vouvray specializes in Chenin Blanc and is surrounded upstream by the Anjou-Suamar and downstream by the Touraine-Chinon.  We contrasted this with a Washington State version.  Again all were liked without a marked preference.

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Next we tried Cabernet Francs – a Bordeaux varietal famous in the Loire,  We tried one from Saumur and one from the more famous Cabernet Franc Chinon region that specializes in this red varietal. We contrasted these with a Paso Robles from Adelaida from Mike’s cellar that was older and rated well by Robert Parker.  All were nice, but this sequence demonstrated the winner of the tasting, with the New World wine being the winner by a significant majority vote.  This wine was significantly older and more expensive than the Loire counterparts, no doubt the explanation of it’s preference by most attendees.

At the end we had two Noble Chenin Blancs where the grape is desiccated by Botryitis fungus and we end up with a wine that is concentrated, sweet, and with a unique honeyed flavor.  We tried a 2002 Coteaux du Layon (a special appellation within Anjou) and a Quarts de Chaume (a special region within the Coteaux du Layon).  These wines are said to last forever!  These were the most expensive wines in the Loire, and were my personal favorite with the latter being the best, and rated variously as 95-96/100.  The latter was the most expensive wine ($43 for a 500 ml bottle).


Mike & Patty Wilson

The tasting was excellent.  Most attendees said that it was really the best collection of wines they ever had at one of our tastings.  The majority of these wines were suggested by the staff of Steve’s Liquor on University Avenue and were included in the tasting without Mike tasting them.  This is confirmation of the role of the individual sales persons in good wine shops, who can provide specialized advice even to frequent wine shoppers where you can get to know a salesperson with similar taste and also have access to sales regional sub-specialists.

Brown Bag Blind Wine Tasting April 24

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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On Sunday April 24th, in the late, wonderful Spring afternoon, 17 Rotary Wine Fellowshippers met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home for a Brown Bag Blind Tasting of 12 wines selected by Steve Mixtacki.

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The first round was of three whites; a 2014 Moscofilero from Greece (a wine we tried at the last wine fellowship at Table Wine), a 2014 Vernaccia from Italy and a 2014 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  The costs of these were similar at about $15, and the Vernaccia was the most popular among the tasters.

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The second round of bagged wines were Chardonnays with a broad price difference, with two at ~$9 and one $33.  The grand Winner was the Hess Select at $9.

wine photo9The next round was a red wine presentation of Spanish Wines. Two were Rioja’s and the other a  Priorat, and these regions represent the only regional DO’s with quality (i.e. DOCa) as classified by Spain.  Both represent regional blends with Rioja’s having ~60% Tempranillo with additional Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  The Priorat has more Garnacha but no Tempranillo but with the other wines also.  We tried a 2009 Rioja Crianza (1 year in oak) at $20 and a 2009 Reserva (at least one year in oak and another year in oak or in the bottle) at $28.  Incidentally there is a Gran Reserva with at least 2 years in oak and 3 years in bottle before release. The Priorat which is from the Catalonia region was a 2008 example at $30. These wines were very good and represent some of the best from Spain. All were very nice with no clear winner as I recall.

wine photo16Lastly we tried 3 very different red wines – a 2013 Catena Malbec from Argentina ($15), a 2010 Napa Watermark Cabernet Sauvignon of great quality, and a 2013 Unti Zinfandel from California (~$30). The most impressive was the Watermark with ~2/3 of the group preferring that wine.  Unfortunately this is not available for purchase locally.

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Photo 1: Maria & Jim Fitzpatrick; Photo 2: Mary Janet & Karl Wellensiek; Photo 3: Jennifer & Bob Winding

All in all, a very impressive tasting, with some very clear winners, and some of these at reasonable cost.


Pictured here from left: Ginny Yuska, Mike Wilson & Patty Wilson

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.