Tag Archives: Rotary Wine Fellowship

Wine Fellowship Event October 24

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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Our club’s Wine Fellowship met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s on Tuesday the 24th October – Polio Plus Day for Rotary International.  This was a “BYO bottle and snack to share” event with a charitable donation of $50 per person to go to Polio Plus.  A total of $1000 was raised with the entrance fees and a separate donation. Our club has a strong history of donating to Polio Plus with two major fundraisers in 1987 and 15 years later in 2002, raising a total of ~$280,000.  This Polio Plus Day in 2017 is 15 and 30 years after the original Polio Plus Day Campaign mentioned.  Now Rotary International and the Gates Foundation, with many other donor groups, believe they are finally approaching the time of eradication of Polio from the earth.  I remember as a kid having to stay on the porch at home and not leave the property or play with others – such was the curse of poliomyelitis.

We tried 7 wines and 3 “Ports”.  All the wines were excellent and the accompanying snacks too. We had two whites. a Riesling and a Condrieu (Viognier).  Next we tried a Meiomi Pinot Noir, a Vin Nobile di Montepulciano (recently carried back from Italy by Ellie and Paul Schatz), and  an Opolo Forte Zinfandel and all were excellent.  We then tried a Very Dry Red (labeled VDR) Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah blend and a Walla Walla Winery Cabernet Franc, again excellent drinking.  Most of these wines sold in the 20-35 dollar price range, and added ideas for our own collections. The snacks were as impressive as the wines.

Photo 1: Paul & Ellie Schatz; Photo 2: Becky Steinhoff & Steve Steinhoff; Photo 3: Juli & Keith Baumgartner

We finished with three “ports” and W & J Smith 20 year Tawny, a CharDotto Cabernet Franc version with Dell Dotto providing the red wine and Chateau Charbay (Napa) the brandy, and a Glunz version of Tawny Port. Ports have a higher alcohol content than red wines (~20%) which is added to the wine once it reaches the desired sweetness, and this stops the fermentation process and ups the alcohol content as about 30% of Port is brandy (usually purchased from South Africa in Port from Portugal). With this we had blue cheeses and chocolate coated strawberries – chocolate and blue cheese being excellent accompaniments of Port.

A good time was had by all, and Polio Plus benefitted on Polio Plus Day.

“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.

Wine Tasters Gather for Guigal Tasting

–submitted by Mike Wilson

The Madison Rotary Wine Fellowship met at Steve’s on University for a Guigal tasting on April 27.  The tasting was held in a side room, most recently the cheese room, but the room was initially created as a Tasting Room.

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The tasting started with a Bollinger NonVintage (NV) Special Cuvee Champagne.  This is the standard Bollinger champagne, with their other champagnes all being prestige versions or Rose.  This was a great wine.  I visited Bollinger in 2013 on an Ultimate Champagne Tasting Tour where we had a delightful lunch accompanied by the NV Rose, 2004 La Grande Rose, La Grande 2004, and NV Special Cuvee. On that trip I rated the Bollinger NV Special Cuvee (the same as the wine we drink today) as the best of the 17 NV samples tasted, and only 10% of the 71 vintage/premier champagnes were better.  This wine is 65% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay.  85% of all of the grapes used are from Premier and Grand Cru locations (very unusual) and 2/3 of the total grapes used in their Champagne production comes from land they own (also very very unusual). They remain one of the few remaining family owned champagne houses.

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(Photo 1: Juli & Keith Baumgartner; Photo 2: Peter & Leslie Overton; Photo 3: Ellie & Paul Schatz)

The Bollinger history dates back to 1829, and family members have run it for all of this time except in the last few years.  The most famous leader was Lilly Bollinger from 1941-1971, who is famously quoted as ” I drink champagne when I am happy and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink when I am alone.  When I have company I think it is obligatory.  I trifle with it when I am not hungry and drink it when I am.  Otherwise I never touch it unless I am thirsty.”  Other unique Bollinger features includes the fact that every bottle is hand riddled, and it is the champagne of “Bond” movies.

We then started the task at hand: assessing Guigal wines.  Whereas wine has been grown in the Northern Rhone for 2500 years there are no established great old wineries. The region reached it’s lowest acreage in the 1940’s when vineyards being turned into apricot orchards. Etienne Guigal is a late arrival to the region – 1930’s – and ended up being Maitre de Chai of Vidal Fleurie when it was the greatest local winery (now owned by Guigal). In 1946 he established his own Negotiant business.  As if to make up for this late arrival, Guigal became the leader of the Upper Rhone (Shiraz and Viognier) region, and currently makes 30% and 45% of the entire Cote Rotie and Condrieu appellations.  This is a remarkable feat, to be the most prestigious producer of the Rhone’s finest red and white wines.  He early on recognized the potential of the region, and tirelessly worked to acquire the best land and promote the product, that began to soar in the 1980’s.  In addition to the Cote Rotie and Condrieu regions Guigal owns excellent properties in Saint Joseph, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage.  They are major negotiant of the Southern Rhone and are reputed to produce the best Cotes du Rhone yet they do not own any property in the Southern Rhone, rather they buy in wine or grapes from select producers. The bulk of their 10,000,000 bottle wine sales come from this region.

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(Photo 1: Jennifer & Bob Winding; Photo 2: Jenny & Loie Badreddine; Photo 3: Steve & Meryl Mixtacki)

The way they make wine is uncompromising, and as a rule they continue to age their wines (estate and negotiant) long after other producers have already sold their entire vintage. Quality is their theme in all aspects of vine growing, and wine making. As Robert Parker says Guigal is “This planet’s greatest winemaker”.

We had 1 Rose, 3 Whites, and 5 Reds.  These wines were available to buy from $10.99 through $149.99. I rated the wines very well with the Bollinger champagne and the Cote Rote Chateau Ampuis 2010 being the best, and most of the others matching their 90/91 scores from reviewers being matched.  I will be buying the champagne, and did buy the cheaper Cotes Du Rhone Red and Rose for their fabulous value (90 pointers and <$10).  A great time was had by all and we had excellent wines and great mushrooms, cheese, bread, and pate snacks.

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First Wine Tasting for the Fall Season

–submitted by Mike Wilson

wine1On Thursday the 24th September the Wine Fellowship organized a tasting that included wines that would be sold by the Madison Rotary Wine Fellowship through UW Rotaract.  This fundraiser for the Mashambanzou Care Trust helps AIDs-affected families and orphans and has been performed annually for about a decade when the  Fellowship raises between $1000 and $1500 annually.  One year, Noel and Dick Pearson held the fundraiser when Mike Wilson was not available.  The official Mashambanzou tasting will follow with 14 wines, which will then be offered for sale.  Today’s “BYO and Snack” event included 6 wines that will not be in the upcoming donation Wine Fellowship event (20 wines would be far to may to try at once) yet needed to be evaluated for recommendation to the Fellowship sales event.

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(Photo 1: Paul & Ellie Schatz; Photo: Steve & Meryl Mixtacki; Photo 3: Carolyn & Mike Casey)

The “Mashambanzou” wines tasted included: Gruet Blanc de Noir, Mollydooker Shiraz, Hey Mambo Sultry Red, Catena Malbec of the more reasonable priced wines (all $12-28) and two excellent reds -Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Napa Cabernet Sauvignon @$53 and a Zenato Amarone @$70.  The consensus was that these were very suitable for purchase with Catena and Hey Mambo universally liked.  All these wines had excellent scores of 90, 91 and the latter two wines rated well above that.

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(Photo 1: Patty & Mike Wilson; Photo 2: Ellie Schatz & Cheryl Wittke; Photo 3: Juli & Kieth Baumgartner)

With the “business part of the event” ongoing, the BYO bottles were also universally liked with a great Virginia Gray Ghost Reserve oaked Chardonnay, a delicious Morgon Premier Cru Beaujolais, a Zaca Mesa GSM that was super, and a St. Francis (for the visiting pope no doubt) excellent single vineyard Old Vines Dry Creek Zinfandel.  All these were excellent and made for good company.

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Snacks brought by individuals to the BYO included the mandatory breads, crackers, nuts and cheeses provided by the Wilson’s, but also a quiche, collections of dried figs and meats, skewers with mozzarella, basil and balsamic dressing, and goat and cream cheese preparation topped with tomato.

As Patty Wilson had procured some macaroons and fresh figs from Whole Foods together with Maytag Blue cheese Mike Wilson pulled out an unusual sweet red wine (Amas Amiel 10 ans – stored outside in glass demijohns for a year, the fermentation ended with alcohol, then aged in oak for 9 years) that he had purchased at the Rotary Wine Fellowship tasting organized by Keith Baumgartner and held at the Madison Club (with record attendance) and this very interesting sweeter wine was a nice way to end the tasting.

Fun was had by all, excellent wines were tasted, and importantly we were able to establish that the six wines selected by Mike Wilson and Steve Mixtacki (Co-chairs of the Rotary Wine Fellowship) from an array of some 91 wines offered by the Purple Feet Wine Distributors (purchased by the Winebow Group) would be appropriate for adding to the 14 wines we will taste at a later fundraiser event for the Zimbabwe Mashambanzou Care Trust.