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WinosStoryline: George Heritier
Tasting Notes: Larry Meehan
Digital Painting: Stephen Goodfellow

If it’s February, then this must be Toledo…

…or something.

There’s a standing joke among our intrepid band of Midwestern winos that an arrangement of some kind should be made between ourselves and the local Chamber of Commerce, because as was the case last year and the year before, unseasonably warm weather followed us to Toledo for our annual gathering there. It MUST be us, right? Surely, some kind of rate adjustment (or outright waiver) could be made for our now-proven collective sunny disposition. Festivals and conventions could be scheduled to coincide with our annual wine weekend. Think of the financial benefits that could be reaped by Toledo and Lucas County!  

BradFlights of fantasy aside, it was a comfortable group this year, so comfortable, in fact, that we couldn’t get everyone to pose for a group picture.  (However, Stephen Goodfellow's fanciful digital artwork shown above is a fair approximation of this crowd.)  There were most of the usual suspects from the previous two years; Larry and Mary Meehan, Bill and Norma Paumen, Chris (Chairman Moe) and Cathy Gross, Andy and Linda Keillor, Jeff Faunce and Amy McClellen, Pam Patt and Jeff Gillikin, Scott Thiede, Tim Thomas, Kim Adams and this taster, along with new comers Brad Ballinger (above left) from the Twin Cities and Rick Dayan (below right) from Indianapolis. Ice Cream man Bob Graeter joined in on Saturday, while Mary Meehan returned home to tend to a business matter.

RickNo sooner had Kim and I arrived at the now familiar Courtyard Marriott with Scott Thiede in tow, than we quickly joined our compatriots in the mini-lounge between the Gross and Meehan quarters, where some whites were already being sampled.  I took no notes at that point, opting to dive into some crackers, kalamata tapenade, and "once crusted with volcanic ash" goat cheese, but Larry did the honors, so his impressions are as follows. (My only vivid recollection of the pale stuff was that the Caymus Conundrum was the most horribly overoaked wine I’ve had in many moons; I took one sip and poured my glass.)

1998 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo (11.5 alc) -- gold in color...all kinds of nuts on the nose -- almonds and hazelnuts jump out...smoke, stone and coconut as well. Comes across with a surprising "oaky" quality on the palate -- coconut milk and vanilla...some lemon tea and stone chips, too. Decent acidity...fairly long, smoky "ok" kind of wine.

1999 Feudi di San Gregorio "Pietracaida" Fiano di Avellino, VT -- DEEP gold color. Lots of wild flower/floral notes...lilac, lavender...expensive, perfumed soap. It comes across as light, fresh and clean on the palate, featuring really nice tangerine flavors and just a touch of smoke and mineral. Good acids...well balanced...finishes with a good dose of citrus sweetness.

1999 Jean Thomas "Ultimus" Sancerre -- featuring a nose of lime, stones and a light oak char. It seems light in the mouth...offering flavors of peach "fuzz", light gooseberry, and a green/herbal character that is not particularly pleasant. Charred wood aspects are prevalent in the short finish (perhaps thankfully hindered by a big dose of acid).

1998 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre -- citrus, peaches and weeds on the nose...perhaps some lingering mineral/chalk. Peach juice meets my tongue on the attack, but is quickly overtaken by lemon, lime and a wash of tart, acidic tones. Some more stone/mineral peaks through at the end, but in general, I find this wine to be showing too much acid (a bold statement from an "acid lover" like me ;-) to be enjoyable or particularly interesting at this time. No doubt food would help, but...

1998 Caymus "Conundrum" -- always seems to divide the crowd. One whiff tells me "large lumber" is on the way... but I'm brave...I trudge on. ;-) An interesting, albeit oaky nose of basil, herbs, peach, apple, baby powder, and time evolving toward peach, vanilla and basil as the dominant forces. Peach juice and an oaken char dominate the palate, accented by some lime and cream. A bit more acid than normal. Fairly popsicle stick-like on the finish. Perhaps the best Conundrum I've tried, but I still didn't like it.

I’d barely had time to sample a couple of these before it was announced that it was time to remove to the main lounge (once again turned over to us by the most gracious management for our use that weekend) for red wines and pizza. The pizza was excellent, but surprisingly, four of the wines were corked, three of them being Italian. Still, there were a number of interesting selections, and more than enough to go around. Here’s what I tasted.

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© Gang of Pour March, 2002