I first met Tony Milhon around infancy, his father and my mother being colleagues at the local, rural hospital in the tiny town of Valentine, Nebraska, in which I spent the first 18 years of my life. Tony got out a little earlier, however, moving away to Kansas in the third grade. We lost touch over the years, and weren’t reunited until, after college, I got a Facebook account and managed somehow to locate him in the cybersphere and, more specifically, in Kansas City.
Since that time, we’ve been in pretty close touch. Tony became my financial advisor and our families have become friends. Whenever occasion or a craving for BBQ calls me to KC, we usually get together. Last weekend, Sonja and I took our little son, Titus, to see his first musical, and to taste his first KC BBQ. My former student and dear friend Patrick was starring in a production of Madagascar, and so Sonja and I took Titus, while Tony and his wife Melissa took their darling kids Izzy and Isaac. My family stayed with them over the weekend and, as houseguests, found it appropriate to provide some wine to pair with Melissa’s extraordinary culinary offerings.
I took several bottles, to be shared over the course of a few evenings, but one that really stood out was the Oliver Creekbend Vineyard Tawny, vintage 2013. A vibrant brown-to-red coloration and an attractive nose of candied nuts and sherry got this wine started on the right foot. On the assault, Tony had to confirm for me that what I was tasting was indeed buttered popcorn, but it was unmistakable. On the palate, caramelized nuts, walnut in particular, with dried red fruits and woody hints reminded me of some of the better vintage tawny’s I’ve had from Portugal, and also from prime producers in the Napa Valley such as Prager. Clean and smooth in the mouth, it’s composed of 50% Chambourcin, and 50% Vidal Blanc, two worthy, Midwestern varietals. 18% ABV, it paired well with a mango raspberry crisp that Melissa had baked, bringing out subtle notes of coffee on the finish. Overall, I found it to be a very nice take on tawny-style fortified wine.
It had been far too long since we had visited our friends in KC, and the catching-up was much needed. This wine helped to celebrate the evening, and will be a part of the fond memory for years to come. The Oliver Creekbend Vineyard Tawny 2013 is sold in a .375 format for a modest $20 per. It gets 92 points on my scale, and I highly recommend it.