December 8th, 2009

2009 Ohio Barrel Tasting Review

This post is written by our good friend, Aaron Fetters, and was originally posted on his personal website, Enjoying the First Miracle.  Aaron attended the Ohio River Valley Barrel tasting on Thanksgiving weekend and his review is below.

Thanksgiving Saturday was one of the most enjoyable days of the year for a local wine fan. For the last 4 years or so, several Southern Ohio wineries have gotten together and put on a Barrel tasting day on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Given that the wineries are all a bit spread out in location, we were only able to visit three of the six or seven participating, but we enjoyed every one.

kinkeadLet’s start with our first stop of the day, Kinkead Ridge in Ripley. Kinkead was sampling 4 varieties from their 2008 vintage all still aging in the barrels – Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot. I’ll start by noting, 2008 was an amazing growing year for grapes here in Southern Ohio – hot and dry with a late harvest. With that fact in mind, it’s no wonder all 4 of the wines Ron at Kinkead was sampling were absolute BOMBS. I tend to talk up Ohio wines probably more than I should, but for once I think it’s no exaggeration to say no one would ever believe these wines come from Ohio – they taste way more like huge reds from northern California. My personal favorite at this point was the Syrah which will be the first Kinkead has put it’s primary label on since 2005. Each of these wines will be released around Labor Day 2010 so be sure to make a note of it for future reference.

merandaFrom there we headed just up the road to Meranda Nixon winery. Meranda is located on a former tobacco farm which was converted over to grapes about 6 years ago. Each time I visit I continue to be impressed with winemaker (and owner) Seth’s Chardonnays. First he released an American Chardonnay that was produced from purchased California grapes and now he has moved on to making and bottling his own Estate grown Chardonnay. We tasted the 2009 which is obviously brand new and very young at this point but certainly showing great promise already. In addition we also tasted their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon which like Kinkead’s is already big and robust as well as a 2009 Norton. If you’re not familiar with it Norton is a true American grape and does well in areas like Ohio. This one was also very young and will continue to change dramatically over the next couple years of aging.

harmonyOur final stop of the day was at an old favorite, Harmony Hill in Bethel. The Hill was tasting 3 wines from the barrel as well – their 2009 Woodwind which is a Seyval Blanc, 2009 Rhapsody – a Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and the 2009 Ruboto – their crowd pleasing Chambourcin. Each wine was shaping up nicely and will be sure to be in high demand once bottled and available when Harmony Hill opens back up with live entertainment in the late spring.

All in all it was a great day in Southern Ohio wine country. Beautiful weather, some great wines, and some of the most friendly people you will come across. Each Ohio vintner really appreciates the art of winemaking and the art of making their visitors happy. I encourage everyone to get out and visit these wineries when you’re in the area.

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