Tag Archives: Kentucky

Winery Visit: Talon

Along with Elk Creek, I also visited Talon Winery in Kentucky. My earlier travelogue post has general details about the trip.

My hosts for the weekend are members of the Talon wine club, so we got discounted tasting. Most 1 ounce tastes at Talon are $1, or 6 tastes for $5. A few of their premium wines are $2 for a taste. I tasted a combination of vitis vinifera and hybrid grapes. Most of their wines are still non-vintage dated.

Moondance Pinot Grigio (NV) Kentucky – $21/bottle. Gunsmoke and flint aromas, with an oily body – very Alsatian in style. Some citrus on the tongue. Finishes a little quickly, but still nice.

Traminette (NV) Kentucky – $16/bottle. A spicy/sweet Gewurztraminer-style nose. Off dry with a good, full body. Nice spice notes plus lychee and orange peel, and a touch of star anise. I bought a bottle – recommended.

Reserve Chambourcin (NV) Kentucky – $25/bottle. The reserve bottling of this variety indicates a longer fementation. This has a heady nose with some licorice. A good body for the grape – balanced acidity and berry fruit. Nice.

Syrah (NV) Kentucky – $30/bottle. Some heat on the nose. This is medium bodied, with lots of pepper.  I’d consider it a good $10 bottle, but $30 is asking too much.

Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) Kentucky – $29/bottle. Some smoke and bacon on the nose. A medium body for a Cabernet, not particularly fruit-forward. Nothing special.

Monarch Cabernet Franc (2008) Kentucky – $25/bottle. A classic pepper and cedar nose. Too tart on the palate, however. Disappointing.

We hung out for a while at the picnic tables with an afternoon snack, and passed around a bottle of the Coyote Red.  This is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin; darker than a rosé, so the Chambourcin is the dominant grape in the blend. Very interesting to see how it got sweeter at lower temperatures. A fun wine for $17 a bottle, with great notes of rhubarb – this would be a great wine to have with strawberry shortcake or other fruity summer desserts. I purchased a bottle for the cellar.

My overall impression is that they need to work on concentration of fruit in their reds – their land is flatter, and they may need to do something else with pruning or green cropping to boost the intensity of flavor.



Winery Visit: Elk Creek

Here are my tasting notes for Elk Creek in Kentucky from my visit last week. For more info on the winery, see my earlier travelogue post.

I purchase the $15 Premium flight – 2 ounces each of 5 wines, vitis vinifera with a combination of estate and purchased fruit.

Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay (2009) Kentucky – $18/bottle.  This had a toasty nose; not too much heavy butter or butterscotch. Good acidity and pretty well-balanced for an new producer. The finish is just a little short. Nice.

Kentucky Blue Pinot Grigio (NV) USA – $15/bottle [they were out of the estate Pinot Grigio, which would normally be on the flight, and substituted this instead]. Crisp, with notes of melon – not a thin, tart Italian style at all. Very nice – I bought a bottle.  Can’t wait to visit again and see what the Estate Pinot Grigio will be like!

Sangiovese (2008) Kentucky – $25/bottle. A nice color and an absolutely classic nose – I’ve never run across a Sangiovese east of the Rockies before and was very interested in this one. Unfortunately, it’s thin on the palate. Disappointing, especially for the price.

Merlot (2009) Kentucky – $25/bottle. Standard Merlot styling, but some nice notes of blueberry. This needed air – it was too tart and thin on the mid-palate, but opened up after 10 or 15 minutes. Not bad, but pricey.

Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) Kentucky – $25/bottle. A little stemmy – either picked early or pressed a little too hard to maximize yield. It got a little softer with air, but there wasn’t much fruit in it at all. Not recommended.

I also tried a sip of their Riesling from one of my friends’ tasting – oy! So sweet that you can put that in your hummingbird feeder!

The estate Merlot was also on the table – it had a lot more body for only $5 more.  Might be something to consider on the next trip, by the glass or to stock the cellar.

Overall verdict – their whites are superior, and priced appropriately as well. They make a Cabernet Franc (which I consider to be the most promising grape for the Ohio Valley and the associated limestone formations from the Ohio south to the Appalachian Piedmont) but it wasn’t open for tasting.

As I mentioned in my travelogue post, it’s a very comfortable place with great views and nice food. Something to consider if you’re road-tripping down I-75. I’ll definitely have to hit them again!


Road Trip – Elk Creek and Tallin, Kentucky

I took a road trip last weekend to a friend’s condo on Cumberland Lake in south-central Kentucky – thanks Lora & Joe!  On the way down Friday, we stopped at two vineyards – here’s the general road trip and impressions of each place; detailed wine-tasting reports will follow later. The weather was iffy, with lots of heavy rain.  But we got lucky; every time we stepped out of the car, we had dry weather.

Elk Creek is about 10 miles from I-75, an hour south of Cincinnati. It’s a large property, with steep hillside vineyards – they almost looked steep enough to plant vertically, like they do in parts of Germany. There’s a large, multi-level tasting room with extensive indoor and outdoor seating, and a selection of local art on display upstairs. The property also features a covered amphitheatre for concerts, events, and weddings. And Elk Creek also runs a skeet-shooting operation on the other side of the ridge! The small deli in the tasting room has a quite nice selection of cheeses, fruit, and made-to-order sandwiches.

Talon lies farther south, in more open, rolling terrain to the south of Lexington – it’s definitely horse country. Tasting is in a converted plantation house, with several rooms set up for tasting and merchandise. They have live music on the back porch most weekends.  Talon also has several event venues on the property, secluded in the midst of the grapes. Talon does not offer food, but picnic baskets are welcome.

Photo Gallery

As is typical for young wineries in this part of the country, both operations use a combination of estate and purchased fruit. Although they have vitis vinifera plantings (including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio), they also feature a number of hybrid grapes and more than a few fruit wines. I only tasted a few of the sweet offerings – but I bought a bottle of one!  More details in later posts.