Saturday, August 6, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Lake Erie Wine Tasting

John Christ Winery 
Along with going to grocery stores, checking out wineries is one of my favorite ways of getting to know a new place.  You get to meet local people, find out things about the area, and drink wine.   Since my July trip to Ohio was my third, I thought it would be fun to check one out, and the Sandusky, Huron, Avon Lake, and Lakewood area have quite a few.  After some scouting on Catch Wine, I found a place, John Christ Winery, which would be on the Route 6 drive from Sandusky to Lakewood, Ohio.

The winery is a pleasant space with a large tasting room and both an indoor and outdoor seating area.  The reviews on Catch Wine had talked about the great atmosphere and it would be a good place to come, have a snack, and hang out with a glass of wine.
The tasting is $.50 per taste for all the wines except the ice wine, which is $1.00.  This could be a great set-up for people who like to only get whites or reds, but I prefer doing the guided flight for one lump sum.  This is mainly because there have been times that I have liked the wines I would never have thought to choose and hated the wine that I thought I would like. 

For whites, I tried the Pinot Grigio, Vignoles, and Vidal Blanc Ice Wine.  The whites were a one-note flop and just a little sweet, overall.  The Pinot Grigio, in particular, had an unpleasant aftertaste of grass instead of the pleasant “lingering spicy finish” as the description boasted.  I knew the Ice Wine would be sweet, but found it more syrupy and honey-like.  In short, the sweet was too overpowering.  The Vignoles, marked as medium sweet, was again too saccharine: the bright nose and citrus notes simply couldn’t balance it out.  I did appreciate the tasting notes’ suggestion that the Vignoles is a great breakfast wine: I’m guessing it pairs well with Trix. 

The reds were only a little better.  The Special Blend, a gold medal winner and the #1 seller, is a blend of concord and Niagara grapes and is marked as a sweet wine.  It is a beautiful red; but, it reminded me of wine coolers.   The Claret had potential, except that it has a lot of smoke and not enough fruit.  The Merlot, which also had a smoky nose, was a little sour.  The best of the bunch was the Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dennis and I each had a glass to enjoy the outdoor seating area.  The Cabernet starts sweet but gets spicy with each sip.  Unfortunately, I found drinking a whole glass weakened my initial judgment.  The main reason is the more I drank of it, the more I realized that it was one note and that one note was clove.

With only doing one winery tasting in Ohio and having only sampled bottles from two other vineyards, I can’t speak with any conviction or authority about Ohio wines.  However, I am going to make the statement that at this point, Ohio wine is not for me.  Most of my encounters have been flat and too sweet.  Nevertheless, I am sure there are other Ohio trips in my future, and I am more than ready to keep testing my impressions.  
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