Monday, February 6, 2012

Old Biddy Breaks Out of Summit County!

For the first time in weeks, I escaped this Saturday to one of my favorite activities – wine tasting. Thanks to my friend Bev for getting me out of the house and to Western Reserve Wines for the nudge to visit their weekly $5 tastings.

In the past I’ve written about Western Reserve Wines up in Solon but it’s been a few months since I’ve gotten to travel up to one of their tastings. Last week they sent an email (as they always do as a temptation!) detailing the wines they would open on Saturday. This week they featured one of my favorite varietals – Malbec.

Wikipedia says “As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. The grape is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay in some regions such as the Loire Valley. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends. While acreage of Malbec is declining in France, in Argentina the grape is surging and has become a "national variety" of sort that is uniquely identified with Argentine wine. The success of Malbec in Argentina led some producers in neighboring Chile to try their hand at the varietal. Grown throughout the Central Valley, Chilean Malbec tends to be more tannic than its Argentine counterpart and is used primarily in Bordeaux-style blends.”

True to the description above, all the wines poured this week were from Argentina. Being a ‘big red wine’ fan, Malbec is a wine I turn to time and time again for my drinking pleasure. Here is a list of those bottles we sampled this week:
  • 2010 La Linda Torrontes (the only white in this week’s line up)
  • 2008 Antigal "Uno" Malbec
  • 2008 Luigi Bosca Reserve Malbec
  • 2007 Antucura Merlot/Cab/Malbec Blend
  • 2010 Amancaya Grand Reserva Malbec/Cab Blend
  • 2008 Vina Alicia Morena Cabernet Sauvignon

While each was drinkable, none of these triggered a purchase by Bev or myself. And funny that although I'm very partial to the Malbec, the only tru Cab on the bar got our enthusiastic thumbs up.  The Vina Alicia was by far our favorite and the Amancaya a close second.  But even with that glowing recommendation, generally we’ll wander out of the shop with at least 2-3 bottles but, sorry Kathi – not this week! We’ll definitely be back to try another group of wines soon.

One reason we love going to wine tastings is the opportunity to meet new people. The weekly tastings at Western Reserve are attended by many of the same group week after week, and after a while you tend to strike up conversations and become friendly. (Not that after sampling four or five wines it’s difficult to strike up a conversation with just about anyone!) Of course, most of these folks are wine lovers and many of them (OK, all of them) are far more wine-sophisticated than am I. It’s fun to get their take on the wines and to find out what other events they go to around the area.

One our way home, Bev and I stopped in Hudson to check out Heinen’s market. Kathi had served up a new cheese at the wine tasting called Blue Brie. Unfortunately, Kathi got this from a distributor rather than a local retailer, so Bev and I are on the lookout to find some to take home. We thought perhaps Heinen’s would carry this since they seem to use the same distributor, but no luck for us on the cheese hunting. We’ll continue to search since this was truly a scrumptious cheese and went really well with the intense wines.

After our fruitless search, we stopped to have dinner at Old Whedon Grille on Main Street. For old Hudson charm you can’t beat spending an evening here for dinner. Small and cozy with old creaky floors and an intimate bar, this a good place to hang out with friends. Their menu is not extensive, but what they do offer, they do well. They’re known for their burgers but I haven’t had anything on the menu that disappointed.

Bev and I ordered the BBQ chicken pizza and a Kobe beef burger to share and both were really delicious. The crust on the pizza was perfectly baked and the toppings weren’t overwhelming. The Kobe beef burger was cooked to perfection and so good I had to eat all of my half, even though I was stuffed to the gills.

Thanks Bev for a fun afternoon out and about.

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