Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chandler Hill Vineyards, Defiance Mo

Feb 28, 2010: Okay, two words really - really awesome!  We went back to Chandler Hill today.  They have three generous packages for wine tastings, and as we wanted one of their glasses for our collection - we tried the middle one, $10 with a glass to take home for your very own (very nice, large, etched with their logo) for 8 tastings - 1 oz each.  Of course we tried the Missouri wines the Lake Hawk Vignoles (very very nice with a great banana creme, kiwi nose and a crisp yet honied finish.  Also the Great Heron Vidal Blanc and then we tried several West Coast wines, several of which blew us away.  Most notably the 2008 Oregon Pinot Gris - worth every penny of the $22.99 price let me say!  This pleasing wine has a golden straw color, a fruity nose with a hint of exotic citrus, and a lasting honey finish - smooth and velvety on the tongue.  Also, a pleasant surprise and one we would not mind having at home for a porch wine, or with food the 2007 Lodi Syrah, made by the Chandler Hill West vineyards.  This wine took home several of the Ca best in state awards, and one taste will tell you why -  the berry bouquet with just a touch of oak combines with white pepper finish is a win in our book!  We enjoyed a sunny day on the glassed in terrace watching the sunset with yet another glass of the 2007 Crimson Arrow Port - made in the best tradition of the finest Portuegese ports, and closed the day in fine fashion despite the chill in the wind. All of this brought to us by the letter J- FOR JAMIE OUR WINE CONNISEUR FOR THE DAY (also the same fine fellow that served us just last week).  We meet the nicest people tasting wines!

Feb 21, 2010 Today One word - Beautiful! Today we went to Chandler Hill Vineyards - a lovely place to be, if I do say so myself.  The Brew Crew and I arrived to find several couples enjoying a live musician (and a very good one too), a well appointed tasting room, smiling faces and in spite of the cold rainy day - breathtaking views.Obviously with its rich decor, comfortable furnishings, and spectacular views this would be a wonderful place to enjoy a day alone with someone you love, a family celebration or even to host a corporate event. This destination winery also offers private motor coach transportation to and from the winery - according to the website (of course we did not need to be accomodated in this way since we have our own ride, and driver too!). My crew and I declined to do the tastings offered.  They had three tastings, at the $5, $10 and $15 dollar levels.  Since for the most part on our forays out into the local countryside we prefer local wines, and this one offered a limited selection of them - mostly drys - we opted instead for a nice glass of 2007 Crimson Arrow Port to enjoy the music instead, and I must say this PORT did not disappoint in any way.  The portion was generous, the wine delicious, full bodied and well rounded - and at $29.00 for a full size 750 ML - a genuine value in my book!While enjoying the port (did I mention the generous portion?) we also surveyed the menu and had we not been hungry for a steak with all the fixings we might have stayed too.  The menu had a very tempting selection of appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches.  We noted several of our fellow revelers enjoying varying selections from the menu - all generously portioned, and looked downright tasty too!The crew and I will DEFINITELY go back to this beautiful winery again, and hopefully very soon!

Sugar Creek Vineyards and Winery, Defiance Mo.

Hello all! So sorry for the long delay between postings, but you know how CRAZY THE HOLIDAYS can make you! Yes you do, don't EVEN lie to yourself! ANYWAY...

So, today we went out a foraging again, close to home, but new to me and the Brew Crew nonetheless. Sugar Creek was our proposed destination and we did make the trip, arriving about 3 on a lazy, cold rainy afternoon. Driving in we found a lovely winding drive, that driver said he would not want to negotiate on a slick day, but it was picturesque! The facility is lovely, with a brick patio, and judging from the grounds (beautiful wall mural by the way)and the ambiance, would be a wonderful place to spend a lazy sunny afternoon. The signage says that they host a live band every weekend from April to October, and our hostess reminded us that they were also one of the two remaining area wineries that will allow you to bring in your own food for a lawn picnic too! We, of course left with our favorite bottle and two lovely etched tasters for the collection at home, man that is one full cupboard and getting fuller each week!!

We found the wines to be quite pleasant and tasty too! We started with the Semi Dry's - La Rustica White, Birdlegs Blush and Sunset Red. Of the three I must say I preferred the LaRustica White, a blend of Vidal and Seyval grapes fermented in stainless steel, leaving a crisp, dry finish without the added oakiness that I just dont need. However, as a side note the lovely pale Birdlegs Blush was a nice Chambourcin surprise too!

Moving on we tasted the Semi Sweet Boone Country White (this is right in the heart of none other than Daniel Boone country), finding the blend of Delaware and Chardonel, again fermented in stainless to be very pleasing and a nice taste change from the midwest wines we have become accustomed to. Me and the Brew Crew feel that we may have to keep some of this around the house for a porch sipping wine (that season is coming soon you know!). LaRustica Red was also a nice sweet wine full of cherry and berry flavors, this one would go nicely with any spicy fare.

As for the Sweets, they offer three, Peach Hollow (like fresh off the tree, you can positively taste the fuzz) - Raspberry Patch (the absolute BEST RASPBERRY we have encountered to date) - and Blackberry Thicket (would be a great spritzer with a splash of club soda). The Raspberry Patch is the bottle we brought home, this will be great cold, or mulled, we just can hardly wait to choose the occasion!

We also tasted (of course, you know driver) the Port. For our taste this port was a bit heavy on the brandy, but a fine port in its own right. Our hostess Vi told us that this was a $150 per gallon brandy from California. This port is offered in a split.

All in all I would have to say this will be one to go back to, with a blanket a picnic basket and the Crew to enjoy on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon. This being a boutique winery, they have small production runs and are only sold in select small locations. You cannot find these wines in the large grocery and stores, but they are sold in several smaller stores in the area, like Friar Tucks, Bombay Wine and Spirits and even Lucas Liquors!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Sept 27, 2009. Years ago, when this tiger was new to the Winery scene, on a trip through Illinois following a family gathering, we discovered Cameo. Following a weekend of close family frivolity and a long stressful drive, Cameo offered a welcome respite, a cool glass of refreshing wine, and a view to die for in a rocker on the porch.

We had to go back, so on our recent winequest to Il., this was the destination winery. This beautiful little winery, in a circa 1900's pin oak barn surrounded by vines is sure to please with its personal customer service making it obvious that your enjoyment of the fruits of their labors is their number one goal. Cameo offers a good selection of Dry, Semi Sweet and Sweet wines, and recently has added a very nice dessert port style wine that is sure to please.

Their Dry Wines include a Seyval Blanc - with citrus flavors and distinctive aromas; a Chardonel from Cameo grown grapes that is very pleasand and fruity and delicious chilled; a red blend - Rivers Edge - that is rich with a medium body; and a Norton made from Illinois grapes, rich and full bodies and full of character.

Cameo has a wonderful selection of Semi-Sweet Wines too. This being one of my favorite categories and also of course that of my staff, we had to try all that was offered. We were not disappointed - except to find the Vidal Blanc was sold out on the day we last visited. Casa Loma is a nice red made from Chambourcin grapes grown at Cameo but among the reds National Road Red was our Semi Sweet fav this time. National Road Red with its grapey finish would be perfect to have tucked into a picnic basket for those afternoons lazing in the sun on a blanket with someone you enjoy. Also a crowd pleaser and our favorite among the Semi-Sweet white offerings is Kissingbridge, with a tropical nose and a citrus finish. We loved this one last time we visited and found that we had not changed our mind, both visits we purchased a glass of this wine and sat for a spell on the porch in a rocker contemplating our good fortunes. However, all that being said, if you are in the mood for a nice Cherry wine, try this one, a tart wine with a nutmeg spice flavor.

Everyone knows Nietzsche loves Sweet Wine. Cameo sweets are some of my favorites! Here you will find they have a great Country Concord that reminds you of grandma's garden grapes; Niagra - a crowd pleasing white sure to be a favorite at your next gathering bursting with traditional grape flavor and a pleasing sweetness on the tongue; Embarras Blush - a fruity wine that will place you in mind of a white zin; Powder Hill White made from Vignoles with a peachy apricot flavor; and last but not least Highwater Red - the Port Style dessert wine we mentioned earlier. This wine would go well with any chocolate or chocolate dessert, it is sweet sweet and fortified to a whopping 21% alcohol with a smooth sherry like finish. If you like Port Style dessert wines, this is the one to try - in spite of the 375ml bottle size, we had to bring a couple of these home!

For those of you that are eager to try this tiger trail out for yourself, visit their website at, get directions, set aside an afternoon and sit a spell, you will not be disappointed, we promise.


September 27, 2007 - Vahling Vineyards was a recent stop on a lovely Sunday Winequest through Illinois. Dennis, owner of the establishment was away for the day. In his stead, Jenny our lovely hostess met us at the counter with a smile and many bottles of their lively wine to assist us in our tastings and musings.

Since my staff don't tend to favor the dry wines as much, I indulged their whims and we decided to start with the semi-dry Traminette - finding it to be pleasant on the pallette, and for those of you with a nose for the posies, this one has rich flowery bouquetm with a hint of spice. Next, we went on to Friar's Favorite, a soft red berry flavored wine with a distinct oaky flavor, (Driver liked this one very much). The Bachelors Best made from Rougeon grape (a new one for us), was pleasant as well and a nice new taste sensation for us all.

I must admit I have a sweet tooth, and the Semi Sweet wines offered here were for the most part light and crisp. Prairie Mist had a fresh crisp vignole/citrusy flavor, Steuben offered a dark blush and a smooth but light taste, and the Old Red Wine had a smooth rich feel in our mouths. With all of that being said, of all the wines in this category we tasted - my staff and I agreed that the Country Red was our favorite. Country Red is a pleasant light red wine with a strawberry finish that offers a light fruity delight to your tongue!

Did I mention I have a sweet tooth? Well, then it should be of no surprise to any of you that the next category Sweet Wines was one of my favorites, so I had to try all they had to offer! Prairie Dawn, a fruity sweet wine had a nice light Niagra finish. Moonlight Bliss was a bit sweeter to my taste and had a clean refreshing flavor, with a hint of lemon on the nose - this one would be nice on a warm summer evening beneath the stars. Rose Red was a dark, heavy wine for those of you looking for a fuller body, but of all the sweets wines we tasted - Sweet Delight had a beautiful pink hue, a light sweet taste and was our absolute favorite - two paws up!

Vahling has a rich selection of Fruit Wines for those of you that crave this taste delight. They offer a nice apple wine - Grandma's Delight - that is smooth, very fruity, and made with a well selected blend of apples. The Blackberry wine, made with a blend of tame and wild blackberries was a dry wine with a very rich fruit flavor. For a taste of a tart Thanksgiving day cherry pie, crack open a bottle of their Cherry wine, or if you prefer the wonders of Rhubarb this winery offers this delight in a bottle too. The Honey Mead had a zing to it, and a great light taste sure to please the Mead lovers among us, but in this category our favorite hands down was the Strawberry Wine. The Strawberry wine made from fresh strawberries grown in Shelby County was sweet without being overwhelming and had a full rich strawberry flavor that made me put me in mind of all those warm summer afternoons in the strawberry patches of my youth, paws and whiskers stained with strawberry juice, lying on my back like a fat tiger in the sun. Without a doubt this is one of my all time to date favorite strawberry wines, I shall speak to my staff about keeping a case of this around the old homestead!

Vahling offers a Ice Wine made from grapes that were artificially frozen called Sunset. I know what you are thinking and I must admit, I did too, but life is an adventure and this tiger wont miss out on anything at the risk of being labelled a purist! This feline enjoys ice wines very much and this ice wine is among the best I have had. Sunset is a blush ice with a plum jam taste, and a hint of mint - like jelly in a glass! If Ice Wine is a favorite of yours, you must try this one!

This was a trip well worth the drive, for those of you that would like to follow in our footsteps, the directions and more can be found at the Vahling Vineyards website - enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome New Friends!

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Nietzsche the Traveling Tiger,. I love to travel, explore, discover and write about all the places I've seen, the Brews I have sampled, and the people I meet along the way. Sign in and come along, join me in the adventures of my choosing! Together we shall explore the wide wonderful world of Brews (I just love the Brews)! I shall visit, sample, evaluate, postulate, and post about the most glorious of elixirs as one can find in the nooks and crannies, hills and dales of this great nation of ours.

Oh yes, I must warn you, I can be a bit opinionated (and often am), and over indulgent, and even at times, effusive! I have also been told I sometimes act a bit spoiled. To this I say, balderdash!

However, you have my solemn promise that I will never intentionally lead you astray and I will always attempt to give you my most solemn opinion about the ambiance, the brews, and the crews I encounter on my grand adventures into the wonderful world of brews!! I may have mentioned this once before, but, I just love the BREWS!

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." Friedrich Nietzsche