Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Meet the Winemaker Tasting at Rendez Vous Wine Bar

If you're looking to expand your wine horizons on a global scale, you don't have to go to the airport. Just get in your car and head to Rendez Vous Cafe and Wine Bar in O'Fallon, MO.  This local restaurant and wine bar offers patrons delicious dishes and a large variety of wines from around the world. They offer an assortment of wine classes, beer tastings, wine glass paintings and much more. We've gotten really excited about their Meet the Winemaker Tasting Events. We had the opportunity to meet Patricio Santos from Santos Vineyard in Argentina. His father was one of the first people to export Mablec in 1971 when it was still just considered a "second class" variety. Malbecs are extremely popular now and are a household man. Patricio sampled 6 of his wines, and Rendez Vous paired each sample with a delicious taste. We are really looking forward to the next event like this!

1. Terco Torrontes - floral bouquet, very similar to a Missouri Traminette, dry, buttery/oaky finish, thick mouth-feel, pairs well with spicy and garlicky foods (Side note: Torrontes make a good table grape) Paired with  buttery garlic shrimp.

2. Santos Semillion - light, crisp with hints of green apple, similar to a Missouri Vidal Blanc or Seyval Blanc, very refreshing and full-bodied. Paired with Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

3. Tercos Bonarda - lasting raspberry aroma, not oaked, jammy and smooth, similar to a Missouri St. Vincent, can be served chilled (Side note: This is the second most popular variety in Argentina, used mainly for blending) Paired with Jalapeños Cheese Dip and Tortilla Chips. 

4. Tercos Sangiovese - Italian varietal, fruit finish, balanced, no oak, but long finish, easy to drink. Paired with Tomatoes, Mozzarella with Balsamic Vinegar and Baguette. 

5. Santos Malbec - peppery, full-bodied, complex but balanced, "elegant style of wine" -Patricio Santos. Paired with a Chicken Empanada.

6. Santos Cabernet Sauvignon - Tobacco and leather aromas, full-bodied, intense flavors, very complex. Paired with a Chocolate Caramel Cupcake. 

Find out more about Rendez Vous Cafe and Wine Bar and other upcoming events here
Follow them on Facebook here


Thursday, September 10, 2015

5 Years of MO Winery Trips & Love

Five years ago on Labor Day Weekend, we headed across the state on a winery trip. This winery hop ended up being the start of something very special. We visited new wineries, drank lots of delicious Missouri wines, and by the end of the trip...we were engaged!

Our love for the Missouri wine industry and each other has grown exponentially from year to year. We may not be married yet, but we are just as in love as always. Every anniversary, we have this amazing winery trip tradition that is just perfect for us. We love wine, trying to new foods, adventure, and spending time together.

We're already planning next year's anniversary winery trip. And who knows... maybe one of the next trips will end in a marriage.  But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's recap the 2015 Labor Day Wine Trip!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vignoles Month: Recap

Happy Vignoles Month!

Day 1: West Winery, Duck Creek White 

Day 2: Noboleis Vineyards

Day 3: Mount Pleasant Winery 

Day 4: Les Bourgeois Vineyard and Winery 

Day 5: Baltimore Bend Winery 

Day 6: Blumenhof Winery 

Day 7: Montelle Winery

Day 8: Edg-Clif Winery 

Day 9: Hermanhof Winery 

Day 10: Heinrichhaus Winery  

Day 11: Robller Winery 

Day 12: Arcadian Moon Winery 

Day 13: Stone Hill Winery 

Day 14:
Twin Oaks Winery  

Day 15: Ladoga Ridge Winery 

Day 16: Crown Valley Winery 

Day 17: Adam Puchta Winery 

Day 18: Augusta Winery 

Day 19: White Mule Winery 

Day 20: Red Fox Winery 

Day 21: Sand Creek Winery 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vertical Wine Tasting: August Winery Chambourcin 2011 & 2012

By Davina Horton


The other day I was walking down the wine aisle of my local Schnucks store, browsing their Missouri wine collection when I noticed that they had Augusta Winery’s 2011 and 2012 Chambourcin. Well of course, I had to buy them both. This was the perfect opportunity to do a vertical wine tasting!

Here’s a little background on the Chambourcin grape. Nearly every Missouri winery using these grapes whether it be to blend with other grapes, turn into rosés, or use to make 100% Chambourcin wines. This grape is a French/American hybrid and produces light to medium bodied wines that tend to have very fruity aromas and earthy flavors. Chambourcin wines are notoriously paired with pork dishes, barbecue, and other grilled meals.

You may wonder why I was so excited to do a vertical tasting. Even more so, what exactly is a vertical tasting? To do this sort of taste, you’ll need the same wines from the same wineries but from different vintages (years they were produced). This allows you to focus on the changes in the wine from year to year. It can be hard to get your hands on bottles of the same wines from wineries because they usually sell out each year and don’t hold back bottles.

I was especially interested in tasting these two wines because I know that 2012 was a great year for Missouri grapes. It was a dry, hot summer which made for an ideal grape growing season. A great example of this is the Chardonel grape. Before trying a 2012 Chardonel, I was never a big fan of that varietal. However, when I started sampling the 2012 vintage, my mind got changed completely. Nearly every 2012 Chardonel wine I drink is spectacular, and I know it has so much to do with the climate that year. I was eager to see if Chambourcins were just as positively affected in 2012.

We started our Chambourcin Vertical tasting by comparing the look of the two wines. Both were a dark burgundy with lots of legs. The 2012 was slightly more translucent while the 2011 was a touch cloudy. The aroma of the 2011 was very toasty, the oak really came through on this wine. It was very nose-warming and reminiscent of moss and fig. The 2012’s aroma was much more jammy with just subtle oak notes. It had a very fruity nose which was quite different than the 2011.

Upon tasting the 2011, we were surprised at just how light-bodied it was. With such an intense aroma, we expected something with more mouth-feel. The oaky flavor of the wine was lingering, and it finished with hints of raspberry. We both agreed that this would be a great wine to serve with a steak, grilled pork, or heavier pasta dish. The 2012’s had a much rounder mouth-feel. The oak flavor was much less harsh and was only present on the finish. The wine was also more fruit-forward. This would be a great wine to sip on its own or pair with some Gouda and crackers.

The difference between these two wines was enormous. It was hard to believe these wines were made from the same grape, at the same winery just one year apart. Time and the difference in climate really affected how these wines turned out. We enjoyed both, but if we had to pick, we would go with the 2012 Chambourcin as our favorite. We really enjoy jammy wines that are lighter on oak.

Augusta Winery is located in downtown Augusta, MO and serves a large variety of stellar wines. I highly suggest you visit their tasting room which is open year-round. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable. If you can’t make it to the winery, check your Missouri wine section at your local grocery store or order off their website. Cheers!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Missouri Mead Mania

Originally published on VisitMO Spotlight
What’s all the buzz about meads? Mead (aka, “Nectar of the Gods”) is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water. Bees are a very integral part of our ecosystem, and mead has been made from honey since around 2000 BC, before beer or wine. It is thought to be the oldest form of alcoholic beverage on earth. It can be sweet, dry, sparkling or still. It is believed that the term “honeymoon” comes from the idea that mead was an aphrodisiac that newlyweds would drink on their wedding night.
Missouri wineries aren’t letting the mead trend go on without them. This sustainable beverage gives people a chance to support their local wineries, the ecosystem and enjoy a delicious, natural drink. If you’re looking for a new tasting adventure, mead offers a delightful array of flavors and styles. You can find Missouri meads throughout the state.
About 35 miles north of Kansas City, you’ll find Pirtle Winery in the quaint town of Weston. This winery is located in a building that was formerly the Lutheran Evangelical Church , built by German immigrants in 1867. They offer three tasty meads: blackberry, raspberry, and Pirtle Mead (100% orange blossom honey). The Blackberry Mead won the 2010 MO Governor’s Cup for Best Fruit Wine, and the Raspberry won the same award in 2012. The Pirtle Mead is a multi-International gold medal winner. This winery focuses greatly on quality, and it’s obvious they hold very high standards for their mead.
Southwest Missouri is home to Leaky Roof Meadery, named after the railroad line that brought together Kansas City, Clinton and Springfield known as the Leaky Roof Railroad. This meadery puts extra emphasis on empowering local agriculture and bringing the community together. You’ll usually find eight meads on tap, but the variety does vary based on the season and what the mead makers have up their sleeves. You can get their mead by the sample, pint, growler and even keg. Their flagship mead, KCC&S Cyser, is a slightly carbonated, semi-sweet mead made from blending honey and fresh pressed apple cider.
Next time you are venturing along the Hermann Wine Trail, be sure to stop at the Martin Brothers Winery to sample their impressive mead selection. Esther R. Martin runs this family business with her four sons who started making mead as a hobby. The winery is situated on a beautiful landscape of peaceful, rolling hills. This is a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon picnic complete with award-winning meads. You’ll be able to sample their unique Banana Mead and Prickly Pear Watermelon Mead, and hopefully chat with one the friendly Martin brothers.
Outside of Springfield, there is a winery that boasts a fairly large selection of meads. 7Cs Winery is off the beaten path and is full of country charm. They offer more than 10 meads, ranging from the more common, clover and raspberry, to the more exotic, jalapenos and habanero selections. You can take the green route and purchase most of their meads in recyclable pouches, which have less negative impact on the environment, and are lightweight and easy to carry.
Meads open up an all new tasting adventure while you’re out exploring Missouri Wine County. You’ll find meads at Wenwood Farm Winery in Bland and Windy Wine Companyin Osborn. Get on the mead bandwagon, and don’t be surprised if more meaderies pop up in Missouri.
For more Missouri mead see OOVVDA WineryHorst Vineyards, and Adam Puchta Winery.

"A horn of mead was never far from his hand." A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wine Pairing: Girl Scout Cookies

On my honor, I will try… to not spend my entire paycheck on Girl Scout cookies.

I came across this article by Thrillist which paired wine with Girl Scout cookies, so I decided to come up with Missouri wine pairings for my favorite cookies to share. I was a Girl Scout when I was growing up, so I’m a traditionalist when it comes to which cookies I eat. We limited our pairings to 5 cookies that have been around for years. (Really though, who wants Rah-Rah Raisin??)

Let’s begin with my favorite cookies, the Samoas! These bursts of caramel covered in coconut and chocolate also go by the name of Caramel deLites in some parts of the country. I suggest pairing these cookies with dry Missouri red wines, such as Chambourcin or Norton. I particularly enjoy them with Montelle’s Winery’s Chambourcin.

Likely the most popular Girl Scout cookie is the mint-flavored patty covered in chocolate, the Thin Mints. Pair this cookie with a smooth, semi-dry red, such as wines made with St. Vincent grapes that won’t overpower the mint. West Winery’s Little Red Caboose is a perfect pairing for your next cookie binge.

Peanut butter dipped in chocolate could only mean one cookie, Tagalongs (or Peanut Butter Patties)! I find that if you pair these cookies with a semi-sweet red, it creates a peanut butter and jelly flavor that is exquisite. One of my favorite semi-sweet blends is Ladoga Ridge Winery’s Toad-A-Lope Red. This light, fruity wine compliments this rich, flavorful cookie well.

Classic and sophisticated. Trefoils/Shortbread Cookies are the traditionalist of all the cookies. This perfectly simple, yet delicious cookie can only be made better by a glass of Missouri sparkling wine. Try my all-time favorite sparkling, Les Bourgeois Vineyard’s Brut! If you can’t get your hands on a sparkling, go for a semi-sweet white such as River Ridge Winery’s Nooner which is a blend of Vignoles and Seyval.

Last but not least, we have Do-Si-Dos/Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Grab a rosé or blush when you indulge in these crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookies with creamy peanut butter. Edg-Clif Farms Winery has an excellent semi-sweet blush, Sunset Chambourcin wine, full of strawberry and watermelon fragrances that enhance the peanutty goodness of Do-Si-Dos.

While you’re stocking up on Girl Scout Cookies this year, make sure you grab a couple bottles of Missouri wine to pair with your delicious treats!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wine Wednesday - Noboleis Vignoles

Noboleis Vineyards 2012 Dry Vignoles

This 2012 Dry Vignoles is an excellent example of what can be done with this malleable varietal. With natural fruit characteristics that are not lost via the fermentation process, do not hesitate to indulge (especially at $20 a bottle) when you dine and drink at Prasino in St. Charles, MO. 

With Hints of green apple, pineapple, and pear, this Noboleis wine is intoxicatingly fragrant. The kissable initial tartness smooths out as you are left thirsting for more. 

Prasino is one of our favorite local St. Charles spots for delicious eats, and they do their best to stay as local as possible when it comes to food, wine, beer and liquor. They also have a chic atmosphere and one of the best brunches in St. Louis. 

This Vignoles tames anything of spice and pairs well with the Short Rib Nachos or the Wood-Fired Wings. Enjoy your wine with a mountain of nachos or 8-12 wings for the happy hour price of only $6. Prasino's whole menu focuses on farm-free ingredients that really come through in their dishes. 

Want to support local, but are feeling a sip for the suds?  Prasino continues to show off its support for anything regional including $4 happy hour drafts from area breweries including: Charleville Microbrewery, Schlafly Bottleworks, Urban Chestnut Brewery Company, Civil Life Brewing Co., 4 Hands Brewery, Broadway Brewery, Excel Brewery and O'Fallon Brewery.  By the way, take note of their taps next time you're in, let us know if you see anything interesting!

If you want something harder, try Pickney Bend Distillery's Whiskey! (HINT: It's completely worth the trip to visit this distillery in New Haven, take the tour, and sample one of their phenomenal gin and tonics.)  Prasino also offers Chandler Hill Vineyard's Chambourcin Rosé with hints of strawberry and rhubarb leading the way in this delightfully, pleasant springtime reminder.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Missouri Wine Lover's Bucket List

There are a few things I believe every Missouri wine lover should experience in his or her lifetime. Get out there and experience all Missouri Wine Country has to offer!

1. Go on a Missouri Wine Trail Event
With over 125 wineries in Missouri, you may feel a little overwhelmed when you start to plan your excursion. Luckily, there are 9 very different wine trails that make planning a winery hop fun and easy, including The Hermann Wine Trail, Route du Vin, The Great Northwest Missouri Wine Trail, Missouri River Wine Trail, Kansas City Wine Trail, Missouri Weinstrasse, Ozark Mountain Trail, Mississippi River Hills Wine Trail, and Aux Arcs Wine Road. These trails host fun events throughout the year that usually involve theme wine and food pairing. It’s barhopping, winery style!

2. Visit Wineries Off the Beaten Trail

Trails may make planning a winery outing easy, but don’t limit yourself to only trail wineries. Some of the state’s hidden gems will take some hunting to find, but they are well worth the effort. Visiting these lone wineries will give you a chance to take in the Missouri country side and possibly discover new and exciting sites. Plan a road trip to Frankfurt, MO, and you’ll be delighted to find one of the state’s smallest wineries, Claymalnay Vineyard & Winery. It may be tiny, but the friendly owners and distinctive wines will leave a lasting impact.

3. Step Outside your Tasting Comfort Zone

My favorite part of visiting Missouri wineries is the chance to sample new wines. This isn't something you can do at the grocery store or even most restaurants, so you should take full advantage of tastings opportunities. Don’t be afraid to challenge your palate and indulge in a wine you don’t usually drink. Each winery leaves its own special characteristics on different varietals. Taste outside your comfort zone and discover how your preferences may change over time. Ask questions and engage with the person pouring your samples. They just might be the wine maker, like at Horst Vineyards.

4. Take Part in a Grape Stomp
This is your chance to become part of the winemaking process and all you need is a clean pair of feet! After harvest many wineries throw grape stomp celebrations and invite people to actively participate. You haven’t lived until you've had your feet dyed purple from Missouri grown grapes! Many of these events are free or the proceeds are donated to charity. Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Cave Hollow West Winery are just two of the wineries that throw large crush festivals.

5. Plan a Winery Weekend Getaway
Many wineries in this state have much more to offer than just wine. For example, a weekend at Chaumette Winery can be complete by renting out one of their classy villas, pampering yourself at the spa, sun bathing by the pool, dining at the Grapevine Grill, and of course sampling their wines in the tasting room. Don’t be afraid to book a room at a B&B, and explore what all a winery town has to offer. Your trip may start with wine, but it will end with an adventure!

6. Tour a Wine Cellar or Vineyard
Vineyards offer a spectacular view and perfect backdrop for a romantic picnic date. Take the time to experience where the wine you are drinking started its long journey to your glass. Most wineries that have vineyards are open to giving tours or allowing visitors to wander through their rows of vines. Historic wine cellars also give you an intimate glimpse into the wine making process as it dates back to pre-Prohibition times. Stone Hill Winery, Hermanhoff Vineyards, and Mount Pleasant Estates each have captivating cellars and offer tours. You may even get lucky and receive a barrel sample.

7. Join a Wine Club
If you love Missouri wine, the best way to capitalize on it is by joining a wine club. Wine clubs help you ensure your wine cabinet is always stocked with your favorite Missouri varietals. They come with great discounts, special offers and exclusive events. Many clubs offer the option for home delivery in case you don’t live near your beloved winery and who wouldn't love seeing a package of wine show up at their doorstep on a monthly or quarterly basis?

If you're looking for a club that offers a more hands on experience, I suggest Edg-Clif Farms & Vineyard's "Grape Friends" Wine Club.  Members are given the opportunity to volunteer and work in the vineyard alongside the owners and wine maker. The club also always access to wine making tutorials, opportunitiers to purchase grapes or juice (as available),  complimentary wine tastings, and many other perks.

Feel free to use my Bucket List as a jumping off point or create your own. Cheers!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Missouri Wines Pair Up with Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras Wine, Whiskey and Beer Tasting has been one of our favorite St. Louis events for many years now. It offers a plethora of international wines, craft beers, and unique whiskeys all under one roof. Mardi Gras brings in high-energy DJs to set the tone as well as traditional creole cuisine to put you in the Mard Gras spirit.

This year will provide an extra special experience for the event goers. For the first time, Missouri Wines will be included at the Wine, Whiskey, and Beer Taste! This is long overdue. I genuinely believe a large event like this, that brings in people from around the country, should highlight the local wines that make Missouri great!

Edg-Clif Farms and Vineyard, Westphalia Vineyards, and Peaceful Bend Vineyard will be sampling their wines this Friday night, and I couldn't be more pleased. Michael and I volunteer at this event every year and help pour the wines. This year we will definitely show up early to ensure that we get the honor of helping at one of these wineries' tables. Each of these wineries has award-winning, stellar wines that highlight the potential and depth of Missouri wineries.

If you've never attended this event, we highly suggest you give it a try. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door and include all the samples you can drink of beer, wine, and whiskey (over 50 vendors) from 7-11pm. Tickets also include complimentary samples of award-winning barbecue from Pappy’s, Bogart’s, Salt + Smoke, and Sugarfire from 7:30-9:30pm. Rockstar DJs will be supplying the tunes and getting the late night dance party started.

This year, they are also offering a VIP Experience which includes special whiskey and food pairings and hand-crafted Jack Daniel's cocktails for an additional $35.

Purchase your tickets here.