LESSON LEARNED – When you think you ‘know’ a place and their wines so skip it for several years, return and make sure! I love a good surprise and you’ll get one at Laurello’s.
Larry and Kim Laurello own 10 acres of estate-grown vineyards, producing wines that reflect the uniqueness of the Grand River Valley and Lake Erie region. I’ve been there before about 6-7 years ago. I have stopped going to Geneva as the wines carried too much residual sugar to me and I’m not a fan of Concord, Niagra and Chambourcin …. still probably not a fan of the first two, but my taste buds and mind received a shock visiting Laurello’s and learning how much has changed in this old-time resident of Geneva-On-The-Lake and Grand River Valley area. https://www.laurellovineyards.com/
We had the wonderful pleasure to meet directly with Brad Indoe, the winemaker and spend at least 2 hours with him and fellow team member Bob. Brad passed by when I was asking a question and he ended up taking over the tasting presentation when he learned I was blogging the experience and spent more than an hour of concentrated attention of me and my friend to sample and teach us about their wines.
We learned he studied with Ed Trebets of The Urban Vitner and formerly Grand River Cellars. I blogged separately in my WineSageReview.com blogs (https://www.urbanvintner.net). We were later joined by another wine-making team-member, Bob Wilhelm. Both are passionate and enthusiastic sharing what they know and love about making wines, and especially proud of their many awards being accumulated, including out-of-State recognition in Miami and coveted San Francisco (pretty amazing to be included in a recognition list there!). In fact, they are joining a “Best of Show” Ohio competition soon at The Spire to see who has the best wines in Ohio!
Started with the Sparkling Wine, a classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It is Charmat method (infused bubbles). Their Sparkling Wine is bright, fruity and pleasing teasing bubbles. Very easy drinking for a general palate so works well for a celebration wine. Reasonably priced at $25
Because the oaked Chardonnay is not released yet, we tried the unoaked Chardonnay. It was nice, but not my palate preference as it is tarter fruit in this unoaked version. This acidity will probably be relaxed with the oak, especially since they favor my favorite type of oak, French — adding the oak and developing this base wine, rounding the acidity into creamy edges and adding toasty sweet flavors of oak will probably change my mine on the chardonnay. That’s not to say it’s not good, it’s just not my preference and those who prefer the fresh fruity flavors without oak will like this version.
Viognier. I usually like the bright fresh yet light flavors of yellow apple and lemon curd of Viognier and Laurello’s version doesn’t disappoint. It is fresh, lemony, fruity and just lovely.
Pinot Grigio, 2019. I detected a nice bouquet and flavor of white flowers (but no one else did), and lemon citrus verses grapefruit, which is my preference in Pinot Grigio. I avoid the grapefruit flavors of many PGs, but Laurello’s leans more towards lemon and is easy-drinking. Not surprising, this was the one4 was recognized in San Francisco, California competition for a silver award. Pretty amazing to stand out in that crowded arena.
Pinot Noir Rose was the next wine that won a silver medal in an Ohio competition. This wine is 1/2 the base of the Sparkling. Remember a Rose is a red grape base and the skin contact is removed or reduced, allowing limited skin contact to create a light pinkish-tinge. The wine was light bodied with pleasant bright tart cherry flavors but NOT a ‘sweet tart”, only slightly sweet. It had a balanced and nice acidy level. I detected slight low tannin and powerful acidity with the salivation factor making me think of food pairings. Balancing the bright acidity, this would pair well with a meal I make of rosemary + carmelized onions with a red wine reduction for pork or chicken! It would also pair well with creamy pasta and chicken that has spice, or could cool down a spicy Asian meal.
2019 Chambourcin WAS A SHOCKER! I have NEVER liked a chambourcin, ever. They are always too tart, too thin, often carrying an aftertaste I didn’t like. I LOVED Laurello’s version, the first time ever. In fact, we bought some.
Brad discussed how they made it. The fruit was over ripe and they were concerned about the sugar content, so told their pickers to “cut 1/3 fruit out” and instead they accidentally cut 1/2 fruit. At first they were bummed, but this helped the wine become more concentrated and lovely. THEN they took this base wine and matured it in my favorite oak, FRENCH OAK! It was aged 6 months in french oak. Even more complexity was gained from using medium-toasted barrels, bringing some flavors of light smoke and pleasant acidity reduction. This wine is still bright and ripe-cherry, but rounded and balanced. THIS WINE IS A STEAL at $15. Since we bought some, I look forward to opening it again with food.
Cosmo, named after the owners Grandfather, is a called a “Super Tuscan”, which usually has Sangiovese as a primary grape, but instead they are using Montepulciano. Also includes cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit syrah. ANOTHER GREAT WINE that reverses my former impression that Laurello’s produces overly sweet Ohio products! This wine is very dry and contains lovely ripe red fruit flavors.
While we ended-up buying the barrel-aged version (next) due to added complexity; later at Alessandro’s Restaurant in Ashtabula, they offered the Cosmo so we ordered it with dinner. It paired beautifully with both the red sauce of lasagna and my creamy capers-olive laced chicken. We had no trouble finishing the bottle with dinner after sharing some with a nearby table! :). $19 at the winery.
Bourbon-Barrell Cosmo — we expected to like the barrel-version since we liked the base Cosmo, but I LOVED the powerful impact of this wine. Brad, the winemaker, again placed the wine in my favorite French Oak for one full-year and it did what Emeril says “BAM” ratcheting-up the intensity. Taking the unoaked Cosmo and punching-up both the acidity and flavor complexity creates an intense and pleasurable combination of racy acidity and tannin and darker rich fruit flavors all blending together in an impactful impression. This wine shows amazing completely. Definitely can be paired with food to apply the tannin and acidity, and can’t wait to open the couple of bottles we bought with food. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE. Even though to some $22 it’s a great buy for this complexity and richness compared to mass produced options. I bet I’ll be returning for more!
Cabernet Franc has gained respect from me lately. I didn’t used to like it, but having tried several unique versions when visiting Washington State, I’m now open to trying them. This one has flavors of bright raspberry and light spiciness. Brad said it doesn’t produce as rich a color because of the cold climate, but the flavors are bigger than the color and body. The wine is nice, with a light tangy spiciness that would also pair well with food. $28.00.
Montepulciano, imported from Temecula, California, the grapes were a ‘find’ for Brad and the Laurello’s wine-making team. The wine is a deep garnet color. Brad explained the story behind the California import. They hurriedly took advantage of the grape import (whole grapes not juice) without understanding the brix or quality of the grapes. Then they learned it has 31 Brix, an extremely high content which would make a very ‘hot’ too high alcoholic wine if not cut. They cut it with water to keep the alcohol under 15% at 14.5%. I did NOT notice the alcohol or heat at all until discussed which goes to show what happens when great fruit and flavors present their power first. First thought “WOW — what big tannins this wine has”. Flavors followed the tannin-punch with ripe black cherry flavors. Of course, the flavors were improved and made more complex with French barrel aging and it becomes everything I like. $27.00. Bought two. 🙂
CONCLUSION — So, if you think you know a winery from ‘way back’ and haven’t revisited and tasted, GO BACK, especially to Laurello’s. My former impression of only ‘one’ blended wine with out-of-State grapes that I could ‘tolerate’ has been reversed as this Ohio winery is no longer producing only formerly experienced sweet Ohio products! For those who like the sweeter and expected Ohio varietals, they do have them, but for those of us who are world-wine experienced, go back and try these featured wines and be prepared for surprises! I love a good surprise! 🙂
Located at 4573 State Rt. 307E, Geneva, OH 44041 and email is email@example.com