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June 22, 2023
The historic Cedar-Lee neighborhood in Cleveland Heights is home to our winery in a 100-year old former auto repair garage near the intersections of Cedar and Lee Roads. A portion of the profits from the sale of this wine are donated to local non-profit organizations such as Future Heights and Dobama Theatre which make Cleveland Heights a culturally and economically vibrant place to call home. Our crisp, complex unoaked Chardonnay, with balanced acidity, velvety mouth feel and flavors and aromas of green apple and pear, honors this neighborhood of charming homes, friendly people, welcoming businesses and fabulous food, drinks, art and cultural venues.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular grapes in the world. In fact, it's the most planted white grape globally. It has fresh, bright acidity with flavors that are highly influenced by the climate in which the grapes are grown. For example, in warmer climates, the flavors tend to be of pineapple and mango while in cooler climates, the flavors usually lean more towards apple and citrus. We sourced these grapes from the Yakima Valley of Washington, a cooler but arid climate. This wine was fermented in stainless steel, so it is crisp and clean on the palate as a result.
Chardonnay grapes can be versatile, and the resulting wines can be very different based on the wine making techniques and tools chosen. For instance, Chardonnay that is fermented and/or aged in oak barrels imparts flavors and aromas of vanilla and caramel. A secondary fermentation often used in Chardonnay production, malolactic fermentation, creates a buttery flavor profile as this process converts crisp malic acid into creamy lactic acid in the wine. Our Cedar-Lee Chardonnay does not have any oak influence and did not go through malolactic fermentation; therefore it is not oaky or buttery.
In June 2023, we released the 2022 vintage of our Cedar-Lee Chardonnay (two bottles of it) as the featured wine for our Community Wine Club. It is the perfect wine for summer! We released this new vintage, which recently won a GOLD MEDAL in the 2023 Ohio Wine Competition, to our Wine Club VIPs first at our Wine Club Pick-Up Parties on June 13th, 14th and 15th, and it is now available for everyone to enjoy in the Tasting Room. Our Cedar-Lee Chardonnays from prior vintages also won Ohio Wine Competition Gold Medals in 2019 and 2021 - a three-peat!
From this same Chardonnay juice as our 2021 vintage Cedar-Lee Chardonnay, we also made our Sixth City Chardonnay. This "sister wine" was fermented and aged in French oak barrels. Of note, the 2021 vintage Sixth City Chardonnay was also awarded a GOLD MEDAL in the 2023 Ohio Wine Competition! These wines are very different, even though they started with exactly the same Chardonnay grape juice! The difference in the wines reflect the tools, techniques, and magic our Head Winemaker, Dave Mazzone, used to create them. Try them both side by side and evaluate the difference.
Each month, we offer our Wine Club VIPs a seated food and wine pairing and educational presentation with our featured wines, lovingly prepared by our owner, Destiny. At our Wine Club Pick-Up Parties in June, she featured both a sweet and a savory pairing for the Cedar-Lee Chardonnay, made specifically to compliment this light, bright and crisp white wine. Here are the recipes and food pairing notes:
SWEET Pairing: Homemade Granny Smith Apple Sauce
I love to pair a sweet summer dessert, such as apple pie, peach cobbler, or caramel cheesecake, with a dry white wine like our Cedar-Lee Chardonnay. There are both matching and complementary elements to this pairing. The matching element of this pairing is the tart apple flavors - you'll find these both in the apple sauce and in the wine. When matching flavors in the food and the wine come together on the palate, the flavors intensify each other! The complementary element of this pairing is the sweetness of the apple sauce and the crisp acidity in the wine. When these two elements combine, they balance each other - the sweetness tames the acidity, and the acidity reduces the sweetness on the palate.
This recipe is so easy to make - and it also freezes beautifully if you make it in large batches! Here's the recipe:
Peel, core and chop four Granny Smith apples. Combine in a saucepan with ¾ cup water, ¼ cup sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon. Cover and cook over medium heat until apples are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Allow the apple mixture to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher until it is a consistency you like. This applesauce tastes great with roast pork! I served this at the Wine Club Party with a little crunchy cinnamon granola on top for flavor and texture. Serve warm or cold.
SAVORY: Apple Salsa and Chips
When I was trying to think of a savory pairing that would have matching qualities with the Cedar-Lee Chardonnay, I came up with this fresh salsa than essentially replaces the tomatoes with apples. I used two kinds of apples in this recipe: Granny Smith (which match beautifully with the Cedar-Lee Chardonnay) and Red Delicious, which added a little more sweetness. The apple-to-apple matching flavors between the salsa and the wine intensifies the refreshing, sweet apple notes. But the real matching quality of this pairing is in the lime juice and honey dressing and the bright, crisp acidity in the wine... when those two elements come together on the palate, the bite is so bright and refreshing!
This is a wonderful recipe to make for a summer picnic or potluck - it is super easy and crows-pleasingly delicious. The hardest part is just cutting everything up! Here's the recipe:
Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl: ½ cup red bell pepper (or other colors), seeded and diced, ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, 1/3 cup diced red onion, ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced, 2 large applies, cored and diced (you can peel them or leave the peels on – your choice). In a separate bowl, combine 2 limes, juiced, 1 tsp honey and S&P to taste to make a dressing. Pour the dressing over the salsa and toss - the lime juice will help keep the apples from browning. Store covered in the refrigerator - it will keep for several days. Serve with tortilla chips.
This is the type of fun wine tasting and education that Destiny treats our Community Wine Club VIPs to each and every month! If you want to become part of the club, check out the details at Community Wine Club (Monthly: Pick Up Only) - CLE Urban Winery. Cheers!
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