Wine Archives

April 13, 2004

Amarone Tasting

Our wine tasting group also known as 'winers' is having a wine tasting this week. It is almost always the third Thursday of the month. Our group has been meeting since 1996 and originally started as a group of co-workers who wanted to know what to serve at Thanksgiving. Our group has expanded and the co-workers have dispersed due to layoffs but wine has kept us together. It has been a great group and we publish our tastings.

This month we are tasting Amarone and Ripasso. It is a group purchase and I'm responsible for the selections. I have been studying Dean's Amarone notes from Slow Traveler and SlowTalk messages on Valpolicella . I've been cruising the wine stores in downtown Seattle. I picked up an Allegrini Amorone at Pike and Western Wines and looking for others for the group to taste. I've gotten some help from J but it is still a daunting task. Well see what I end up with on Thurs.

On the dinner plate: Shrimp Quesidilla
In the wine glass: Kim Crawford Dry Riesling
On the turntable: Afterglow by Sarah McLachlan
On the nightstand: In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

September 1, 2004

World Wide Wine Blogging Wednesday

I don't remember exactly where I first came across Lenndevous blog bug I've subscribed to it for a couple of months. Lenn proposed have a monthly blog wine tasting event similar to the monthly cooking even "Is My Blog Burning?". My blog isn't oriented toward food but I do enjoy drinking wine so I thought I'd grab a bottle and join in.

I wanted to select a Chilean Merlot because we recently visited Chile in December 2003. In planning for the trip, we tried several Chilean wines. I enjoyed the wines. They were always a good economical wine but I never found anything really stellar.

My wine was Veramonte 2002 Merlot Casablanca Valley. I purchased it at my local grocer, Larry's Market, which has a good selection of wines. It was on sale at $7.99; $3.00 off the normal price of $10.99.

The tasting notes on the bottle;
"Deep berry flavors merge with a velvety smooth mouthfeel, hints of chocolate and sweet oak."

Larry's had a tag above the wine from Wine Enthusiast rating the wine 90. I looked it up on-line and that was the rating for the 2000 vintage. Don't you just hate it when they promote the wine with the rating and review from a different year! The 2002 vintage is rated 86;

"Bright in the glass, with a ruby tint. The nose offers good berry fruit and some plum, while the palate is basic and pure, with mild tannins and round fruit. Quite simple yet satisfying."

The inital taste was very berry. As it opened up, I could taste more undertones of chocolate along with berry and plum. It was medium bodied with some tannins. The aroma changed throughout the evening. At one point the aroma was of cranberries and later more leather. It was interesting throughout the evening.

It went well with dinner. I had a home-made burger and G had a portabello mushroom burger with feta cheese. Oven roasted fries was the side.

I don't particularly like Merlot. I prefer spicier reds such as a Rhone Syrah or a Zinfandel. Merlots tend to be too soft and somewhat boring to me. I did enjoy this wine and would recommend it to others who were looking for a good buy on a Merlot. I probably would not purchase it again mainly because I don't care much for Merlot.

October 6, 2004

WBW2 - Spanish Reds

My wine this month is a Rioja, Langaza 2001 by Telmo Rodríguez. To select the wine, I made a trip to my favorite wine store in Seattle, Pike and Western Wines, and asked for a recommendation. I have to admit I was also influenced by the cool label art. It was priced around $22.00.

There were no tasting notes on the label. It took a bit of searching to find something on the wine. I did find some notes from Wine Spectator.
"This plush red is rich with chocolate-scented oak, which enrobes ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry. Full tannins give way and spicy chocolate notes linger on the finish." Rated: 87 points.

I did find more on the wine maker, Telmo Rodríguez. He is one of the new young generation of winemakers in Spain. rioja_label.jpg
He is the former winemaker from Remelluri and is now involved with many project throught the wine regions in Spain. He makes three Riojas, Altos Langaza, Langaza and LZ. The August 2000 Wine Enthusiast Magazine has a good quote on his philosophy on making great wines. Here in the US, his white Rueda Basa has been written up several times as a good inexpensive white.

I took the wine to a lamb roast this weekend. It paired well with the roast lamb and spicy Paella. I didnt like the wine much at first. There was a strong woody flavor to start. Several of the other tasters felt it was "stemmy". This rough flavor eased a bit after it had been opened and more of the berry ahd fruit tones emerged. But it never really lost the woody earthy flavor. It had good tannins and would have improved with a year or two of aging. Overall, it was not bad but I wouldn't go out of my way to select it again.

lamb.jpgThe lamb roast is an annual event. The organizer started the tradition in California in the mid-70's and has held it for friends every year. I've met the organizer through our wine tasting group (friend of a friend) and I've only made it the last three years.

The lamb is purchased as three boneless roasts. Garlic is poked through the roast and the outside is wrapped with stems of rosemary. It is then roasted outdoors over a large dirt pit which is lined with cinder block. paella.jpg
The roasts are skqered on large polls of rebar. Blocks of wood at put at the end of the rebar to turn the roasts. They are roasted until rare internal temperature. It is then set aside to rest while the Paella is made over the coals. The chorizo from the Spanish Table was the star ingredient.

Great food and wine. The perfect way to end summer and welcome fall.

More lamb roast pictures on SlowTrips Website

November 3, 2004

Wine Blogging Wednesday #3


I was worried that I would not be able to participate in this month's WBW. I am currently in Leiden Netherlands for work. I am visiting our European office. This is my fourth trip to the Netherlands for work. I have been provided an apartment in a small city, Voorschoten, just outside of Leiden.

I checked out the wine (wijn in Dutch) in the local supermarket. I didn't find any from Australia. On Saturday, I spent some time in Leiden and I found a wine store near the Saturday Market. I visited the store on Tuesday to find an Australian Shiraz. They had a limited selection. Many of the Australian wines that were stocked in the store were Shiraz/Cabernet blends or Merlot. I also didn't recognize that many labels. So I took guess and purchased a bottle of Capel Vale Western Australia Shiraz 2000.

I did a little bit of research on the web. They seem to have a limited presence in the US and are actually sold under a different brand, Sheldrake Winery, to avoid a conflict of trademark name. The cost was 14.95 Euros (~19US).

The label says

" Shiraz grapes from our vineyards in South West Australia show pronounced cool climate 'black pepper' characters softened with a generous spicy nutmeg mid palate. This wine has been aged for 12-18 months in oak barriques and although ideal to drink now, will benefit from cellaring for up to 10 years."

I found this to be a very tasty wine. I love Rhone wines and I normally do not like Australia Shiraz. I find Australian Shiraz have an over powering berry flavor and fruitiness. I prefer a more spicy wine. This Shiraz is more close to the style I like. I particularly like pepper and slight vanilla tones. It has started to mellow and will be nice in a couple of years. I would definitely buy this wine again.

My apartment has full cooking facilities. I was pretty tired after work so I ended up with having the wine with a boned chicken breast, porcini ravioli with butter and a endive/lollo rosso green salad accented with some goat cheese. It would have been better with the great lamb that I have found here in the Netherlands. Lamb in the Netherlands is more flavorful and tender compared with what I have found in the US.

December 1, 2004

Wine Blogging Wednesday #4


Riesling, one of my favorites. It is such a great wine to pair with food especially seafood. Riesling grows well here in the Northwest but for a long time it has not been well done. It was often an over powering sweet wine.

But recently, there has an effort to improve the Riesling produced in the Pacific Northwest and make it more 'serious'. And it has been very successful. The most well known is Eroica made by St Michele and Ernst Loosen from Bernkastel in Mosel valley Germany. It has been highly rated and is excellent. There is also a group of winemakers which has been formed to promote Oregon Rieslings. Dave McIntyre's WineLine describes their efforts and the unfortunate recent death of winemaker Jim Brooks of Maysara who also made some very interesting Rieslings.

So I went in search of a Riesling from the Pacific Northwest and found the Amity 2001 Oregon Dry Riesling. The label says:

Our Riesling is made in a clean, crisp style that is excellent for sipping or with a meal. It is the perfect match with fresh crab, scallops, shrimp and ham. Although excellent now, it benefits from bottle aging. Vineyard profile: 59% Amity, Amity, 40% at Sunnyside, Salem and 1% at Bois Jolie, Amity. The 958 Cases of 750-ml bottles and 130 cases of 375-ml bottles were bottled in May 2002. The alcohol is 10.5%, the acidity is 7.7 g/L, the pH is 2.98 and the residual sugar is 1.05g/l.

Further notes

The 2001 Dry Riesling is a pretty, delicate wine. The nose has hints of peach, apple and honey, while the palette starts with tart apple that leads into honeyed peach.

It was perfect with our Sunday dinner of a fresh cracked Dunguness crab, sourdough bread and green salad. It had a good balance with some sweetness. You could also tell had been aged and mellowed. There were flavors of citrus and honey with mineral undertones. The color was golden. I would definitely purchase this one again ($14).

Several years ago I visited their winery located south of McMinnville in the Eola hills of Yamhill Valley. It is a great location with wonderful vistas over the surrounding hillside. I highly recommend stopping by the winery if you are touring the Yamhill Valley.

January 26, 2005

Dunham Cellars Three Legged Red Washington 2003

Wow! Is this already the 5th WBW?

Okay, I have to admit that I wasn't crazy about the selection of wacky-named wines for Wine Blogging Wednesday 5. Too often cute named wines are some strange blend that not are ... to be honest... pretty bad.

I decided one of my personal criterias for the selection was to choose a wine from Washington State. I asked my local wine expert at work for a suggestion. He thought Sinister Hand by Owen Roe might be a good choice. Yeah... try to find it. This year's supply seems to be sold out in the Seattle area.

I spent a few days cruising the local stores. Hubby came across the Frontier Red by Fess Parker but I couldn't get myself to buy it. Too cute. (Did you know that Frass Winery in Sideways is the Fess Parker winery? And did you know that frass means excrement produced by insects?)

But I did find my wine for the tasting; Three Legged Red 2003 by Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla. Walla Walla is an outstanding region for serious reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. I was anxious to give it a try.

The wine is named as a tribute to the winemaker's Eric Dunham's dog, Port.

It was a sunny day in the summer of '94 when I met Port. Outside I heard the distinct sound of an animal in distress. It took only moments to realize what was happening across the field from my house - a very small animal had fallen into harm's way and was being attacked by a Pit Bull. I ran to the scene, broke up the fight and found that the small animal was a puppy that was very badly injured. Instinctively, I wrapped him up and took him to the veterinarian. I agreed to pay for the emergency surgery and recovery. The puppy had lost a leg, but found a home. With only three legs, and two on the port side, I named him Port, and he is my best friend.

Being a cat person, I didn't realize there was such a dog following in the wine business. A little sniffing around on the web dug up this article from the SF Chronicle about the dog friendly wineries and wines named for dogs. I wonder if anyone found "Chateau La Paws Coats du Bone Rone" from Rosenblum?

Wine Spectator rated the 2002 release an 87.
"Open, generous style has a layer of floral flavors around the generous plum and berry fruit, all mingling nicely with toasty notes on the round finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2005.

The StatemanJournal from Salem Oregon recently wrote up an article on second labels and says the following on the wine:

"Dunham Cellars of Walla Walla, Wash., purveyors of high end wines, mostly cabernet sauvignon, first created a mid-level tier of wines with Trey Marie.

And then they dug a little lower to find this winner, Dunham Cellars, 2003 Three Legged Red, $15. It's a tough little thing, almost as tough as the three-legged dog on the label (if you have 150 or higher reading glasses, you might want to read the heart-wrenching -- or heart-warming -- story on the back label). Aromas start with earth, ash, and high-pitched berry aromas, leading to flavors of raspberry, blackberry and spice. Substantial tannins."

The winemaker, Eric Dunham, pedigree is also pretty good. He interned at Hogue Cellars and then was assistant winemaker at L'Ecole No 41 for four years. He has been producing award winning Cabernet Sauvignons including a "Best of Show"! Dunham Syrahs are also showing promise.

Dunham's Three Legged Red is quite good. It is a blend of Cabernet, merlot and syrah. I can definitely taste the syrah spicing up the blend and the merlot softening it. Hubby felt it was good but not complex. It definitely has a strong berry flavor but there is another taste that I can't definitely identify. Several of the reviews mention items like ash and smoke. That might be it. At $16, it also a great value.

I served it with a spicy puttanesca style pasta and my favorite winter salad; Oranges, radishes, onions, olives and avocado served on a bed of lettuce with a light sherry vinagrette. A nice way to spend a mild NW winter night. Ruff!

February 16, 2005

WBW #6 - Warwick "Old Bush Vines" Pinotage 2003


I almost didn't think I'd make this month's tasting. Sunday I was attacked with some pretty bad malware/spyware. I've worked on it for the past four evenings and I think I've finally got my computer cleaned up. I'll post later the sad story and lessons learned.

My wine for this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday is a bottle of Warwick "Old Bush Vines" Pinotage. I want to thank Cook Sister! for hosting it.

I am very interested in knowing more about wines from South Africa. We are planning a trip to South Africa to see the wildflowers in September. We are planning on doing a tasting or two and I need to know more. I plan on checking Cook Sister! blog more to learn about South Africa.

This is my second tasting of the Warwick Pinotage. It is from the Stellenbosch region. The price was $18.00.

Label Notes:

Pinotage is a uniquely South African variety which was born and raised in our valley. Pinotage is particularly concentrated and full bodied when grown on 'old bush vines'. This wine displays an alluring array of mouth-filling dark fruit flavors, a lush seductive texture and a lingering finish enhanced by carefully managed oak maturation. This is a wine to enjoy now or in the next 4-5 years. Warwick Cellar is on the premium red wine slopes of Simonsberg, near Stellenbosch. Established in 1770, the winemaking tradition was revived in 1964 by the Ratcliffe family.

Tasting Notes:

I really enjoyed this wine. Immediately after opening, it had a slightly smokey flavor which left after it had been opened for a while. It has a nice garnet color. I definitely agree that it has a strong flavor of black fruits such as berries and black cherry. It is a little tannic but still very drinkable. It is slightly soft but yet has a very full texture.

I had it with a couple of thick lamb chops seasoned with rosemary ang garlic. For a vegetable, I roasted some fresh aspargus and carrots. It stood up well to the asparagus. After dinner, I had a nice aged cheddar from Fiscalini Farmstead.

March 8, 2005

2001 Château de Perron, Madiran. France

The theme for this month's WBW tasting is "Wine Rummage". I don't think I'd call it a rummage but more like a great opportunity for exploring the exotic world of red grapes. What a fun idea!

The challenge was to come up with something that would intrigue me. I have recently tasted several of the obscure varieties suggested by Andrew. Our winers group recently tasted Barolo and we are planning a tasting of Duero. I really didn't want to do another tasting of Malbec or Carmenère from Chile. I regularly drink Mourvèdre and Grenache blends from Southern France. I mulled over some of the southern Italy varieties but what caught my fancy was Madiran from France. Perfect!

I had tasted this variety twice. "Heart of Darkness" from Bonny Doon Vineyards is a good introduction. We also had a bottle when we ate at Le Pichet here in Seattle. But I knew nothing about it or the tannet grape.

madiran.jpg I found this wine at my local Whole Foods for $12. It is imported by Kermit Lynch. I've learned a lot about southern French wines by drinking his selections and almost always love his choices.

There were no notes on on the label and few on the web. One site said:

Full bodied with concentrated, extracted fruit flavors. There are focused berry flavors and earthy notes of herbs. This bottle shows how well the sun ripens in the southern reaches of France. The acid and tannins offer up a mouthwatering experience.

The label in the store said it had flavors of licorice and spice. I'm not certain if it is 100% Tannat grapes. Notes from the 2003 vintage said:

This deep red wine is made from 65% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is from the village of Madiran in southwest France. The cellars at Chateau de Perron date back to 1734 and have not seen any modifications since that time.

The Tannat grape is grown in the Madiran area, a wine region from the Southwestern area of France. It is produces a very dark, thick and tannic wine. It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The soil area is hard, chalky clay soil and the wine definite takes on the flavor of the terroir. It also surprised me to find out that it is grown in Uruguay. Now that is an obscure source for wine!

I opened the bottle and there was a whiff of 'brett'; a light odor of sweat and leather. So I decanted a bit off and let it breath while I started dinner. I was pretty certain the earthiness would 'blow off'. It was very dark in color reminding me of black cherries.

After about an hour, I poured a glass. The sweaty odor had disappeared. There were hints of berry, cherry and licorice. I bought a piece of Le Vieux Berger Roquefort cheese. The smooth salty flavor was a perfect foil for the thick chalky flavor of the wine. Heart of Darkness is a perfect description for this style of wine.

I served it with a rib-eye steak, sauteed mushrooms, blue cheese, and green beans with almonds. I served my non-meat eating partner a piece of wild sturgeon that had been marinated in a little balsamic vinegar. It was a little light for this heavy red.

I really enjoyed this wine. I love tannin thick reds that are influenced by their environment and Madiran is definitely a winner for my tastes.

March 13, 2005

WBW 7 wrapup = Obsure red wines varieties

I'm just back from a quick trip to see the spring desert wildflowers in Arizona. Andrew has posted his wrap-up for the obscure red varieties. What a turnout! We even had our first PodCast. Lots of interesting varieties to try. A big thank you to Andrew for hosting and the great tasting!

April 13, 2005

WBW #8: Regaleali 2002 Nero D'Avola

Sicily has been on my list of places to visit for a long while. I read the memoir "On Persphone's Island" by Mary Taylor Simeti and I was hooked. Later someone on the SlowTalk message board mentioned a cooking school at a winery in Sicily. The winery was Regaleali. They have not only wine tastings but also accomodations and a cooking school conducted by Anna Tasca Lanza. Every so often I dream of visiting and taking the class.

Regaleali is also the maker of my first Sicilian wine. One hot summer, I was drinking Rose wines. I had run out of different French Roses to taste came across a bottle of Regaleali Rose. It was perfect for a warm summer day. Bright with the taste of rasberries.

I found a bottle of the Nero D'Avola by Regaleali and decided to give it a try for Wine Blogging Wednesday #8 - Sicilian Reds tasting selected by Ron at LoveSicily. It is imported by Winebow and is one of the Leonardo LoCascio Selections. I couldn't find the exact wine on the Winebow website and I think it may have originally been called Regaleali Rosso.

There are no tasting notes on the label but if it is the Rosso, there are several tasting notes on the Winebow site. Wine Enthusiast- February 2005 gave it 88 pts and said the following of the Rosso:

"Nice and jammy; the quintessential ripe, easy quaffer. Plenty of black fruit and licorice cover the bouquet, followed by deep plum and black-cherry fruit. The finish is fat, full and continuous. A fine effort for its type."

I was very disappointed with the wine. It was very tight when I opened it and I could taste a little amount of the fruit over the alcohol. I let it sit open while I cooked dinner and it improved a little bit. It was fine with the food but did not 'Wow' me. I would not buy it again.

But the dinner was a great success. I wanted to make a sicilian influenced dish. One idea was to make a pasta with eggplant and tomatoes but I really didn't have time to prepare the eggplant. But what about Swordfish? I needed a sauce that would use sicilian ingredients. A little cruising on Epicurious and I found Swordfish Stemperata; a sauce of green olives, onion, raisins, capers and mint. Perfect.

What was not so perfect was for Comcast to have DNS issues just when I tried to get back online to print the recipe. I knew the ingredients but not the proportions or how to cook. I decided to just improvise and it worked. G loved it and is still raving about it. I only used a little bit of mint - maybe a tablespoon and it didn't overwhelm the dish or the wine. I pan fried the swordfish steaks and spooned the sauce on the side. I also served a salad of cucumber, tomato, onion and feta. A nice Mediterranean break.

May 11, 2005

WBW# 9 - Chateau de Trinquevedel Rosé 2002

dunham1.jpg A warm summer evening in perched village in Southern France; that is the memory that always comes to mind when I drink a glass of Rosé.
To many, a pink wine means a sweet blush wine such as White Zinfandel. That's what I thought. I would run away when ever anyone suggested serving me a blush wine. It was too sweet.

A dry Rosé is quite a different wine from the cheap blush wines. I discovered the dry Rosé wines of southern France on a 1996 trip to Nice and Corsica. We were sitting on the Cours Saleya having dinner and I noticed everyone was drinking a bottle of pink wine. What the hell, when in France do as the French do. We ordered a Rosé and it changed my drinking habits.

Every summer I search out Rosé wines. The selection is often limited to a few bottles. My favorites always end up being from France, usually Rhone or Provence. Needless to say, I was very happy when I saw that Becks and Posh’s choice for WBW #9 was Pink wine.

tavel.jpgFrench Rosés are just arriving here in Seattle. I was fortunate enough to fine a nice Rosé from Tavel; Chateau de Trinquevedel 2002 imported by Kermit Lynch.

The Tavel appellation is located in Southern Rhône northwest of Avignon. It is the best known region in France for rosé and is a rosé-only appellation. Tavel wines are a blend of up to 7 different grapes. Grenache is the primary grape with up to 60% of the wine made up of Grenache. Cinault is the next primary grape with no less than 15%. The other red grapes used Carignan, Mourvedre, Syrah and white grapes used are Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picoupol and Calitor.

I found this nice write up of in the New Pioneer Co-op newsletter from Iowa!

Chateau De Trinquevedel Tavel ’02. If you have never found a Rosé wine that you liked, this will be the wine to change your mind. Hands down, this is the single best Rosé that has ever passed my lips and made a joyous pilgrimage to my gullet. Upon leaving the winery we were presented with a case of this elixir, and a select group of us chose to slake out thirst for the next six nights before dinner by guzzling a few glasses. It knocked the dust right out of our throats. There are nine grapes permitted in the blend and the Demoulin family, God bless, use each and every one of them.

This wine is very rich in color. It certainly is the heaviest and reddest looking Rosé that I have encountered. It has a massive nose of crushed strawberries and watermelon. It is fat, ripe, rich and decadent in the mouth, and then comes a long, cleansing finish. This wine is simply a delight to drink, and as I have said about fun wines before, if you don’t like this wine you’re probably the kind of person that kicks puppies and likes to make small children cry. Shame on you!

The wine is dark pink in color. You can immediately smell the red fruit. The taste is strawberry-watermelon with good balance of minerals and acidity. Crisp and dry. Drinking a glass felt like summer. This wine is light enough for appetizers but also strong enough to stand up to salmon or cheese. But do watch out for the alcohol level. It is a high 14%! Cost $15.

I had to get a jump on the upcoming salmon season. For dinner, I had a pan-friend filet of sockeye salmon, a caprese salad of organic grape tomatoes and mozzarella and some bi-colored corn on the cob. Time to roll out the BBQ.

June 8, 2005

WBW #10 - Belle Pente Reserve Pinot Gris 2003

The door opened and my husband walked in.

“Hello… How was your day?” He looked down at the sauce pan I was stirring.

“Is that a cube of butter? Oh my god what are we having for dinner?”

“It is Wine Blogging Wednesday. I’m making the dish for us to taste with the wine. Sturgeon with beurre blanc sauce. It will be perfect with the Belle Pente Pinot Gris”.

This is the 10th Wine Blogging Wednesday tasting. The tasting is White Pinot hosted by Alice of My Adventures in the Breadbox.

I’ve got to put WWB in my calendar. I didn’t remember until Lenn blogged the reminder. Last Saturday, I prepared some fresh Taylor Shellfish mussels from University farmer’s market which would have been perfect with a Pinot Gris but I forgot.

I knew exactly what I would taste; an Oregon Pinot Gris. Oregon has been making stellar Pinot Gris since the varietal was first introduced to the state back in 1965. Oregon’s climate is similar Alsace with long northern summer days and a cool autumn. The Oregon style is between the Italian Pinot Grigio which is light and acidy and the more rich floral Tokay-Pinot Gris style of Alsace. I love them! Plus there are many Oregon Pinot Gris available here in the Pacific NW.

The harder task was to decide which one to taste. Adelsheim, Chehalem, A to Z, King Estate, Willakenzie are all great Pinot Gris which I have tasted. But I wanted to try something new. Avalon Wine has a great site on Oregon wines and includes a great write up on Oregon Pinot Gris. Their write up on Pinot Gris also includes several interesting recipes. The Stark Street Sturgeon recipe caught my eye. Perfect, I decided to swing by our local Whole Food's Market to pick up the sturgeon and an Oregon Pinot Gris.

They had several interesting ones. The wine buyer said that the Belle Pente would be good with halibut, salmon and even pork topped with applesauce. Perfect. Sturgeon tastes similar to pork.

pinot2.jpgMy wine is Belle Pente Reserve Pinot Gris 2003 - Willamette Valley. I was intrigued to find out that the winery is located in Carlton. My uncle Chris lived in Carlton and my family spent several summer vacations visiting Carlton when I was in high school. This was back in 1971 just as the area was starting to plant grapes in the Yamhill Valley.

Some information about the winery from the label:

Belle Pente (bell-pont) means “beautiful slope” – a perfect description for our south-southwest facing hillside overlooking the misty shrouds of Oregon’s coast range mountains. Our vineyards are planted with the traditional grapes of Burgundy and Alsace, and wines are made gently and naturally to highlight varietal fruit flavors and unique characteristics of each vineyard site.

The tasting notes on the back of the bottle:

Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Gris is blended from the finest blocks of our Estate and other specially selected Yamhill County vineyards. The grapes are harvested late to achieve a high degree of ripeness and maturity. Following a long cool fermentation in large oak ovals and neutral oak barrels, the wine is aged sur lie to gain body and complexity.

Their website has some notes on the 2002 release. They model their wine after the Grand Cru Alsace style. And they do it well.

The color is golden yellow. There is good fruit with hints of pear and tropical fruit with some hint of mineral. There has a medium body and good balance of alcohol which makes the wine stand up to well to food. It is excellent wine and I highly recommend it.

And the sauce? It was very good. Even hubby who was originally aghast loved it. The wine and the dinner made an ordinary weekday special.

July 8, 2005

I missed WBW #11

I am so bummed. I totally missed WBW #11. (note to Marta - mark it on the calendar!). I spent a few days in Victoria BC with good friends and it completely slipped my mind. Too bad because I could have had them participate. From Beau of BasicJuice's wrap-up, it sounds like another good tasting.

Oh well. I've marked WBW #12 (the first anniversary) on the calendar and I'm locating my closest winery. Hmmmm... now which one will I choose?

July 11, 2005

Preston Vineyards Sirah-Syrah 1985

My interest in wine goes back to my early days of college at UC Berkeley. I spent time hanging out at a local liquore store on University Avenue learning about wines. Being low on funds, my favorites were the low cost undiscovered varieties such as Zinfiandel, Syrah, and Barbera. California wineries were experimenting with these at the time.

preston.jpg I got a bit more serious in the mid-1980's and started reading Wine Spectator. I set aside a few bottles. I've drunk most of them through the years. I ended up with one bottle left from those learning years, a Preston Vineyards Sirah-Syrah 1985. Funny to see the price tag still on the bottle. It was a $10.49 from Safeway.

I decided to open it for my birthday. It was probably the best one to save for 20 years since Petit Sirah is long aging varietal. Lou Preston was an early producer of Syrah in the Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg. One of his neighbors recommended that he plant Petit Sirah along with Syrah. From those early experiements, he started bottling a blend between the two. He still makes the blend but it is now mostly syrah.

Petit Sirah is a different grape from syrah and has a long history of plantings in California. It is a thick tannic grape which makes for a long aging wine. It has lots of spice and berry.

cap.jpg The 1985 bottling was 54% Petit Sirah and 46% Syrah. The cork was in good shape with a small buildup of crystals. Not much sediment in the bottle but I didn't take any chances and decanted part of it. The color was still deep purple with a slight maroon color from age. Not at all what I expected of a 20 year bottle. The arma was good. The taste was outstanding. Smooth with a nice heavy body and a wondeful flavor of black cherries. The fruit was so surpising. I did not expect it. The flavor did weaken after a little airing. Fortunately, I did not decant it all so it was still fresh on a second pour.

Overall, a very enjoyable way to celebrate a birthday.

August 10, 2005

WBW#12 - Chatter Creek Clifton HIlls Vineyard Syrah 2002

wbw12.jpg For the first year anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday, Lenn suggested we Drink local, Real local. That is definitely not very hard for me to do even here in western Washington state. Woodinville, the home of several wineries including Chateau St. Michelle, is located just a short 10 miles away from my home.

My wine tasting group had a special tasting this month of a small winery in Seattle, Chatter Creek, which is just a tad bit farther (11 miles) than a few of the wineries in Woodinville. I know I'm stretching the rules a little but I decided to highlight this winery for this month’s tasting.

Several members of my wine group happen to know Gordy Rawson, the wine maker/owner of Chatter Creek. He makes his wines in his garage in Seattle and they have been there for tastings. Gordy has been involved in wines for over 20 years including almost 10 years experience at Columbia Winery as Cellarmaster. He started making wines at home and eventually started his own winery in 2000. The Seattle Times had a good piece on Gordy in February 2005. You can also read how he got started at his New York distributor, Voss Selections. Recently he opened a tasting room in Woodinville.

After looking over a list of Chatter Creek wines, we decided on a Rhone themed tasting. Our group was very excited to taste his single vineyard Syrahs side by side. Syrah is a “hot” varietal here in Washington State. The Walla Walla area is especially good as is the area around Yakima. I have always been surprised to find that the Rhone varietals do well here in Washington. I thought Washington was too far north until I compared the latitude of Walla Walla (46 degrees north) to the Rhone valley (43-44 degrees North). The latitude is much more similar than some of the Shiraz areas of Adelaide Australia which are at 34 degrees south.

We started the tasting with the 2004 Viognier ($15). A great summer wine with floral tones and the flavor of a crisp apple. Next we tried the 2004 Grenache. It is light in color and body but with good fruit and strawberry flavors typical of a Grenache. Another good sip for the summer.

Both wines were perfect warm ups for the three single vineyard Syrah wines. We started with the Lonesome Spring Ranch 2002 Syrah. The vineyard is located in the lower part of Yakima valley in a warmer region of the valley. This wine got good marks in the June 2005 New York Times tasting of Washington State Syrahs. It had good fruit but not as much spice as I like in a Syrah. It would be good choice if I wanted a more fruity flavored Syrah. Notes from the winery:

This was vintage that produced very concentrated fruit. The wine shows this with its deep purple, hugely extracted color. Blackberry, Sage, and white pepper creep out on this somewhat shy nose, opening with time in the glass. Racy acid at the attack propels this richly extracted well-balanced classic Syrah, with black plum, blackberry, cassis, and rosemary, elements across the palate. Firm tannins hold the experience in balance without being austere. The long balanced finish hangs on until finally giving way to a silky hint of toasted nuts.

The second Syrah was from a vineyard a bit farther north; Jack Jones Vineyard 2002 Syrah. This vineyard has a very different soil. The soil is made up of stony gravel soil that does not hold a lot of water. The plants struggle more in this terroir. The wine was very different from the first wine although both were made in the same manner. You could definitely tell the effect of the soil. The wine was more minerally and more interesting. I enjoyed the mineral flavors along with more chocolate. It was a nice contrast from the first wine. The tasting notes from the web site:

The 2002 vintage was a concentrated vintage and this is a big wine. The wine starts a bit shy but opens with time in the glass with a savory nose dominated by bay leaf, rosemary, ripe blueberries, and fresh roasted coffee. A warm, weighty attack is full of blackberry, black plum, grilled meats, dark chocolate, and mocha notes. A high glycerin, almost creamy, mid-palette unfolds to a lingering, sexy cocoa, port-like finish.

The final Syrah was my favorite, Clifton Hills Vineyard 2002 Syrah. This syrah was made differently from the first two and has some Viognier blended in. To me, this was the closest to the style that I like. It had a lot of spicy flavors along with chocolate, coffee and berry fruit. It won a double gold at the 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine competition. I bought a bottle of this one. The tasting notes from the web site:

The 2002 vintage was a concentrated vintage and this is a big wine. One look at this wine and you know you’re in for a ride. Dark ruby with a purple edge, it appears viscous in the glass. The nose is a savory mix of cedar, citrus, and berry. As it opens, you begin to experience nutmeg, allspice, and coffee. A warm, weighty attack is full of blackberry, black plum, grilled meats, dark chocolate, and mineral notes. A high glycerin, almost creamy, mid-palate unfolds to a lingering, sexy cocoa, port-like finish.

It was a very nice evening spent tasting some great wines. It was lovely having the opportunity to get to know the wine maker and learn how the wines were made.

August 17, 2005

WBW#12 Roundup

Today was a zoo at work but I finally got a chance to check my feeds. I see that Lenn published the roundup for WBW #12 - Drink Local - Real Local. Great job Lenn. Thanks for hosting the First anniversary and coming up with the original concept for the monthly tasting.

Hmmm... I suspect I'll miss next month's tasting since I'll be in South Africa. I'll toast Lenn and the websphere group of WBW tasters from Paarl or Stellenbosch.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Postcards from the Trail in the Wine category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Turkey is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33
© 2004 - 2014 Slow Travel