Thursday, September 27, 2007

Portland continues to receive nationwide attention for its FOOD SCENE

The New York Times just releases a sensational article on the food scene in Portland, OR. Please check it out. Many of my favorites are mentioned: Le Pigeon, Pok Pok, Paley's place...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Verdicchio dei Castelli Di Jesi, Marotto Campi

Verdicchio is a great central Italian wine (from the Marche region) that is gaining popularity abroad. It typically has a slightly lemon-green color, lively acidity, with lemon and almond flavors. This Verdicchio, the 2006 Marotto Campi is from the Castelli Di Jesi DOC. There are two Verdicchio DOC and this one is the largest and therefore most common. Some consider the Matelica DOC to be better because of it's lower yields and steeper hillsides (this makes it more full-bodied). But I have absolutely no complaints about this one. It had quite a full body which really helped smooth out the bright acid. A very nutty character as well...made me wonder if or how much time it spent on it's lees (the old world method was to ferment the grapes on their skins, and in their own yeast). The wine also had a lot of tiny bubbles which dissipated after an hour or so. On the palette you'll taste some lemon bread, almonds, and wheat grass. The bubbles didn't go unnoticed in the mouth as they popped ever so slightly on the tongue. I really like this type of wine. It's full bodied, with lots of fruit and mineral notes, but has the balancing acidity to feel "alive". This wine was on sale at Wild Oats for $10!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Santa Barbara County Trip Part 1

I ventured down south to Santa Barbara a few weeks ago. This was just a short trip to visit my wife and her Pacifica Grad Classmates, and of course to visit the nearby wineries. This was my second trip there so I had a pretty good idea of my itinerary. My first visit was to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto (to see why it's called that check out Fiddlehead's facade, below). I had to visit my favorite Pinot Grigio spot Palmina, as well as the famed Fiddlehead.

Instead of wring about every single wine I had at each winery, I'm just going to mention the ones that I thought were really good, okay? Cool.

Palmina was featuring 5 wines - two white, three red. They focus on Italian only varietals, so this is fairly unique for this mostly Pinot Noir area. I actually didn't care too much for the Pinot Grigio this time around...after speaking with Joan, the nice tasting room lady (who didn't want her picture taken) she said I may have previously tasted the Pinot Grigio Santa Barbara County (non-vineyard specific). This wine was supposed to be a richer bodied wine with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, rounded out by a nice orange custardy finish. This sounded more up my alley so I bought a couple bottles, despite not being able to taste them.

Their 2006 Dolcetto, Santa Barbara County, was really quite nice. A very easy drinking, medium bodied wine. Red fruits and floral notes, smooth texture. $20. I also enjoyed their 2005 Barbera, Santa Barbara County. This is 100% barbera, blended from three vineyards (Honea, Alisos, Zotovich). This is a bigger wine, with hearty but smooth tannins. Dark rasberries, pepper, and a little mint. $22. Palmina produces less than 5000 cases a year (total production) so you'll like need to order online or visit their tasting room to get some.

Fiddlehead got a little surge a few years ago because they were featured in Sideways. There was that scene where Miles and Jack met Mia and Stephanie for dinner. Miles sat down in front of Mia and asked what she was drinking, he tried it and said, "That's good. That's really good." That would be the Fiddlehead Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc. This is really good stuff actually. I tried the 2005. A very well balanced wine. This has a little more body than most sauv blancs, but it remains crisp and lively. I got a lot of pear and honey on the nose and palate, with hints of grass and cloves. $24. I also enjoyed their 2004 Pinot Noir, Oldsville Reserve. Very supple mouthfeel. Dark Cherry with a little cedar and possibly currant. Aged for 15 months in french oak, 35% new. Interesting thing about this wine is that the grapes are from Willamette valley! No wonder I liked it. I got to speak with winemaker Kathy Joseph about the process of getting the grapes down to her winery in Lompoc. She said there's a lot of care and precision to make sure the delicate grapes are not damaged in any way. Judging from how the wine tasted, it sounds like she did a bang up job. More on my conversation with her in another post. We got to talking about winery direct shipments and the changing landscape of wine sales.

Lastly, Sanford. Nestled in the Santa Rita Valley, this is one of the first (maybe THE first) wineries in this area. Sanford was also featured in the movie Sideways. The tasting room guy with the long hair is no longer there. (He is now at Alma Rosa, which coincidentally is where the Sanfords are as well. They sold the Sanford Winery and name in the last couple years to another wine mogul.)

I sampled 7 of their wines. Which by the way let me say that any wineries reading this - can you please limit your wines to five or seven at the most? One winery who won't be named had 12 (!) wines on their tasting list. You don't have to sample ALL your wines ALL the time. Standouts were their 2005 Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County. Intense and rich stone fruits, bright and lively, with a little floral finish. At $17 a very good deal! Another favorite for me was their 2006 Pinot Noir Vin Gris, Santa Barbara County. This is rosé . I saw a few folks naming rosés vin gris. Maybe it's a marketing thing since rosé is still a little passé to many. The juice is in contact with the skins for 3 - 5 hours before it is tank fermented. It's then aged in french oak (neutral) for 4 months. Lots of cranberry and some melon for good measure. Great balance. Great summertime shiznit. $14!

Monday, August 6, 2007

New Wine Label Laws

Wine labels may be changing in the near future. The Bush Administration is proposing one of those standard nutrition facts labels on every bottle of wine. That would certainly take a lot of the romanticism out of the bottle. But it would also provide useful information for diabetics, or other extremely health conscious persons. There's an interesting discourse on this topic at the Fermentation blog. A couple people pointed out that the nutrition facts for a bottle of wine are somewhat similar to an apple. They're all pretty much the same. Someone else suggested those peel-back labels found on mouthwash bottles. So maybe there's an equitable solution here.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pudding River 2006 Chardonnay, Willamette Valley

I had the opportunity to help winemaker Sean Driggers and his wife represent Pudding River Wine Cellars at the 2007 Portland Indie Wine Festival. There was a lot of buzz around their table, I think in part because so many other wineries were showing their reds, primarily pinot noir (we are indeed in pinot country). I couldn't taste the wines because I was working the show, but picked up a bottle of each to try at home.

Their 2006 chardonnay is somewhat unique in that it has a little residual sugar (1.2% to be exact). It's also fermented in 100% stainless steel, and goes through no malolactic fermentation. Quite an interesting wine. It has a fairly hefty body, but without the gravity that many chardonnays do that go through malo and oak ageing. I think the body here comes from the quality of the grapes, the residual sugar, and the higher than average alcohol content (14%). The wine has aromas of spiced pear, ripe apple, pie crust...a compote! The spice here reminds me of light mulled wine - nutmeg, cinnamon, that sort of thing. Really tasty in the mouth. The sweetness doesn't get in the way and is quite enjoyable, so long as the wine is served cool. As the night wore on and the temperature of the wine came up to near 70, it became a bit syrupy. No fault of the wine, just the wrong temperature to drink it. A really enjoyable wine. Only 12 cases of this were made, so this is truly indie wine material. If they still have some, go get it. $18 a bottle is a steal.
Remember to support the independent and small wineries!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Best Pinot Grigio I've Had (so far)

Preparing for a visit down to Santa Barbara next week, I began to plan out my winery visits and got to thinking about what I enjoyed most about that trip. There was this little tiny winery in Lompoc that I could never remember the name of except that it started with a "P". It was located in what's called the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, a series of warehouse/office units situated in an industrial part of Lompoc. Apparently the rent is cheap and the warehouses stay naturally cool, which cuts down on the electricity bills. The winery...Palmina! The wine: 2006 Pinot Grigio, Alisos Vineyard. It was so refreshingly fresh, and the fruit, which centered around sweet meyer lemon and stone fruits, was amazingly vibrant and rich. $20 a bottle. Because I was stupid, I didn't pick up a bottle or ten, so now this is going to be one of my first stops when I get back to this area.

Nearby there are some other great wineries, including Fiddlehead, which you must check out if you're ever in the area. They make some great Pinot Noirs. But Palmina stood out, not only because of the Pinot Grigio, but because they decided to focus on only Italian varietals, which is very unique in this Pinot Noir laden area.

Hey by the way, if you know if any other great wines from Santa Barbara County, please let me know. I'll check it out and write about it in an upcoming post.

Napa Prognosis: Corporate BS

Napa has been moving toward corporate-adult-disneyland for the last few years. Last year Mondavi sold out to Constellation for $1.36 billion, making Constellation the largest wine company in the U.S. This seemed to signal a straying away from the original family owned and operated winery of previous decadades, and a definitive momentum toward corporate conglomerate ownership. Well I think now it's very official. Warren Winiarski, the famed winemaker who taught the world (old and new) a thing or two about Cabernet by winning the Paris tasting in 1976, sold his Stag's Leap Wine Cellars for $185 million. Who to? Italy's Antinori and their U.S. importer, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, who just happens to be the 10th largest wine producer in the country.

Corporate ownership takes the quirky yet beautiful nature of the family winery style and turns it into freaking disneyland. Go visit Mondavi or Sterling in Napa and you'll see what I mean. I'm sure Winiarski had good intentions when he said, "I think it's not the end of an era, it's the transition to a new era. It's a transition to continuity." What the %^$& is that supposed to mean? I can't afford Winiarski's wines, but I've tried some and they're truly great. And his story of success is a beautiful one (read The Judgement of Paris). I just hope that the new folks in charge don't mess with his brand, his wine, or his winery.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ah...Ice Cold White Wine...not

People of the U.S. unite: Stop drinking your white wines so freaking cold. You know why? Because when it's cold all you taste and smell is....Cold! When you bring your wine closer to room temperature (65 - 68 degrees) you bring out the best in your wine. Humor me and read Eric Asimov's post: The Big Chill . I agree that the only thing that should be served cold is sparkling wine, or a cheap rosé on a hot summer day. Or, if you have a white wine that sucks, it'll be better served'll hide it's flaws.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Careers in Wine Symposium - Sat Aug 4

If you're hankering to get into the Oregon wine biz, the Careers in Wine Symposium may be a good networking opportunity, or at least a way to learn a few things about what makes it tick. It's Saturday, Aug 4. And it's only $20. It's hosted by the Oregon chapter of WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust). I took their advanced course a couple months ago - fun times. Fun times. It was worth it though. I learned a ton and met some really great people. Cheers.

Torii Mor Vineyard and Winery

On a brief trip to McMinnville, OR, to wish my father-in-law a happy birthday, I convinced Brenda to take a little side trip to Torii Mor Vineyards and Winery. I'd heard a lot of good things about their wine from the local wine-geek squad and figured I better get in on the action. The drive, as expected, was gorgeous. It was a beautiful day in July, the sun was out and a little breeze made it comfortable. The tasting room was small, but cozy. The staff was very friendly, knowledgeable, and buzzing with energy. We decided to get the full meal deal and taste all the wines, a total of 8, for $12.

I won't bore you with the details of each, but just mention the highlights: The 2005 Reserve Pinot Gris and 2005 Anden Vineyard Chardonnay. Yes, the white wines blew us away. The pinot noirs (there were three) were certainly acceptable, but at $29 - $60 a bottle, I felt was a bit steep for my economic taste buds. It's true they were young (all were 2005), so they tended to be a bit tight, but even so I didn't sense that they were extremely age-worthy. They seemed a bit out of balance and...enough about that...I'll go back and try them again to be sure. Now, the tasty wines.

The 2005 Reserve Pinot Gris ($21 a bottle) was astounding. As I sniffed, bright aromas of honeysuckle, peach, and melon slapped me upside the head. Taking the backseat was just a hint of grass. I took it for a whirl, whoa...the high acid instantly awakened the taste buds. The fruit on the nose stuck with me in the mouth. This wine had a rich, enveloping mouthfeel, which gave it a lusciousness that worked very well with the huge amount of fruit in the glass. Very good, very well-balanced.
The 2005 Anden Vineyard Chardonnay ($34 a bottle). I'm not a huge chard fan, so it takes a lot to impress me. I like mine rich and buttery, with bright tropical fruit, but easy on the toast. This one had a fair amount of toast, but it didn't bother me. I think because the fruit, which brought apples and a hint of lemon, was very lively. The mouthfeel, which maintained a bit higher acidity than I would expect for a wine of this richness, was very well-balanced and never felt over the top. On the finish there was a tiny bit of dill herb bathed in warm butter and apple spice.

The grounds here are beautiful. You can take your glass of vino and meditate in the Japanese-inspired garden, or stroll through the nearby vineyard. A really nice place. I'll be excited to come back again when they re-open in their new state-of-the-art gravity fed winery and tasting room.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Terroir - New PDX Restaurant Getting Bad Rap

The restaurant's been open 6 or 7 weeks now. Is that enough time for a restaurant to get their shit together? You tell me. It seems like it should be. Terroir had a lot of press going into their opening, which could be a blessing or a curse. So far for them it's leaning towards a curse. The site really chewed them a new one. And maybe for good reason. My wife was telling me about the review, and so I had to go in, just for a drink and a snack, to see if what she was talking about was true. She opted out of eating anything there, despite the fact that she had last eaten at 2pm and it was now 10pm. That's how much the review freaked her out. I ordered a Portland Stormy cocktail, which is Rogue Distillery dark rum, Clear Creek brandy, some ginger ale and lime. Uh, it was okay. It was certainly strong, but definitely NOT inspired. There was no stirring, shaking, or general massaging of the liquid to give it a froth or any texture. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt - they are advertised as a wine bar after all. I ordered the french fries and she a martini. The bartender was very nice so we talked with her for a bit. She doesn't drink. At all? "No, never." Of course she tastes, so she can recommend appropriate wine and cocktail choices with food. Brenda had a Kettle One martini. Half a shot of that normal? Tasted a bit sweet. And again, the texture was off - maybe not enough stirring. The fries had lots of salt. I like salt. This should be a good thing. But this was way over the top! The zinfandel ketchup was unevenly textured (a little chunky and watery at the same time).

Enough about the fries. We started talking to the bartender some more - she was so nice. "Every wine I taste tastes like either grass, or dirt...". REALLY? I love a nice person as much as the next, but the choice to have a non-drinking bartender who doesn't understand wine (employed at a wine bar) seems like yet another poorly aligned step for a chef/owner who's already getting a really bad rap.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Alan Rickman = Severus Snape = Steven Spurrier?

If you don't know all those names, not to worry. I had to google the name of the conniving semi-evil professor from Harry Potter (that would be Severus Snape). I know Alan Rickman...and he's actually a pretty damn good actor. One of his next roles will be Steven Spurrier in "The Judgement of Paris". In case you didn't know, Steven Spurrier was a wine-loving Englishman living in Paris. He coordinated the most famous wine taste-off in history. The year was 1976. Steven recruited a bunch of french wine experts to get together for a blind tasting, pitting some of California's (at the time) little known wines, including Stag's Leap and Chateau Montelena, against some old (and very expensive) Frenchy standbys like Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild. California won, and forever changed the wine world and especially the old world perception of superiority.

80% of Adult Population Legal for Winery Direct Shipments

Winery's across the country need to focus on their online wine sales. Steve Gross, the Wine Institute director of state relations, reported that the latest figures indicate that it is now legal to ship wine direcly to 80% of the US drinking population. This comes after a supreme court decision two years ago making it unconstitutional to treat out-of-state wineries and in-state wineries the same. At that time, the legally ship-able population was just 52%. However, with this greater marketing freedom comes more compliance regulations as each state develops their own permit system. But with the right education, and tools such as ShipCompliant and Inertia Beverage's forthcoming REthinkCompliance engine, wineries can still focus on sales and marketing and allow the software to help weed through all the compliance B.S.

I think this means that wineries need to get web-savvy. Check out your favorite shopping carts ( for example) and learn from the pros. Make it simple, secure, and if possible, pretty. Then start to track your web conversion and statistics with something like Google Analytics. That way you can make educated decisions when you tinker with your shopping experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Indy Wineries Get Direct-Shipment Compliance Program...Free!

The internet is alive with the sound sales! With much momentum gaining on the side of the consumer, most small, independent wineries still have problems getting over the hurdle of all the complicated wine-shipping laws within each state. Each state requires a different set of compliance reports for proof of age, volume limits, sales and excise tax, among others. Well, thanks to Inertia Beverage Group, all wineries will soon be able to more easily get over the hurdle of interstate wine shipping laws with the use of a free software program that automates compliance with each state's unique wine-shipping laws. The winery merely uploads their sales data and the program will generate all the compliance reports necessary, for each state.

Why is such a great service free? There's a catch, but not a huge one: Inertia also markets a "REThink Engine", a complete direct sales software program that handles POS, CRM, inventory, website management, and email-marketing. They want everyone to know about it so the compliance tool becomes sort of the loss leader in the hopes of more REThink Engine sales. If I were a winery I wouldn't complain. But we'll have to wait and see. The Compliance tool won't be released until later this quarter, probably near the end of August, just before the holiday rush.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Best Nachos In Town

Suffice it to say that you can't get these at any restaurant. No, this entree of the highest order is only available at Ben and Brenda's house. This house is in N Portland. And if you're in the neighborhood on a random Sunday evening, you're welcome to stop by for long as you're clean and well-groomed and bring me $100. If you need help making great nachos, look no further...

The main ingredients:
  • Restaurant-style tortilla chips (any will do but the crunchier the better)
  • Grated jack and cheddar cheese (or maybe some pepper jack, no?)
  • Spicy ground chicken from Wild Oats (or use your favorite ground meat...turkey or hamburger etc. - just make sure it's not too oily)
  • Sliced olives
  • Diced green chiles
  1. Cook the protein (i.e. meat of your choice) with some diced onions. Add some cumin, salt, pepper, and chile powder to taste.
  2. Spread the chips into a small haystack in the center of a cookie sheet.
  3. Pile on the meat.
  4. Then pile on the cheese (this way the cheese will help the meat stay on the chip).
  5. Sprinkle the olives and green chiles over the soon-to-be nachos.
  6. Put in the oven at 425 for about 15 minutes, (until the cheese is beginning to get a golden brown edge.)
  7. Add some fresh diced tomatoes and cilantro. ¡Buen apetito!
For extra kicks, make up some fresh guacamole. And add a side of Frontera Salsa and some nice organic sour cream.

The beverage to accompany this fine ensemble? A nice Sokol Blosser Rose of Pinot Noir. $12 at New Seasons. (Of course, margaritas go quite excellently as well.)


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rosé Wine A Hit

See I told you so: Pink is in. Sales of rosé wine are up 45% across the country over last year. As the summer heats up, people are finding out that pink wine doesn't have to mean sweet wine. And they seem to like that. Read the article.

Monday, June 25, 2007

D.F. Mexican Restaurant

D.F. - prounounced "Day Effay" - the official name of Mexico City and now a rather young Mexican restaurant located in Portland's Pearl District- is attempting to take traditional Mexican cuisine and enliven it with the modern urban themes of Mexico City. A number of local foodies having been raving about the place for the last year, so it was time to check it out. I went with a group of about 10, Sunday June 17 2007.
We started out with guacamole and margaritas. If you use really fresh ingredients, it hard to make bad guac, and this one didn't disappoint. The chips were light and crispy, but I didn't get the sense that they were freshly made just for me, like they seem to be at Por Que No?. The "Tradicional" margarita was bright and cheery, and literally intoxicating. Good. There was a trio of dips to accompany the chips. There were two runny sauces (a red and a green) that I assume were reflective of traditional sauces served in Mexico City. Don't get me wrong, they were very flavorful, but some more Americanized folk may long for some straight up chunky salsa. The third item was a pickled relish with jalapenos, carrots, and onions. Really really good.

Our main entree was the Mole Amarillo. This is a pork chop. A really freaking huge pork chop. It's served with a mildly spicy brick red mole made from amarillo chiles. The chop was seared and cooked to perfection. It must have been about 3 inches thick. It was a monster and it was delicious. Some of their house rice was served to tie it all together. This was a delicious chop, and I really, really, want to go back for another. I had a glass of Faustino IV 2004 Rioja and it washed the chop down tremendously.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pineau # 2 - Bernard Boutinet

This is my second Pineau Des Charantes. This one is from Bernard Boutinet, a small cognac producer who's family has been in business for 150 years. There's not much information on the usually-informative world wide web, but I did gather that it's a father-son production, and that they have about 68 acres of vineyards. A small producer makes sense there's not a lot of information out there.

Tasting Note: Lighter in body and color, this Pineau lacks the carmelized, oxidized tones I enjoyed so much in the Prunier I tried a few weeks ago. But what I think is very nice about this one is that the lightness, accompanied by a slightly less-sweet flavor and high acidity, is possibly more enjoyable as an aperitif. I really enjoyed it chilled, while snacking on BBQ-roasted red peppers, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms. Underneath a very bright "grape-i-ness", it had aromas of tropical fruit such as pineapple and mango. The cognac flavors and aromas where also more present on this one.

I picked this up in NW Portland at Liner & Elsen for $20. ( I should clarify this was a 750ml bottle. The Prunier I sampled was a 375ml at $13-15.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rejoice Yet Again: The Benefits of Red Wine

A new Harvard University study discovered that men who drink 4 - 7 glasses of red wine per week are 52% less likely to get prostate cancer than non-drinkers. Read the full article.

No one really knows why red wine is beneficial, but scientists believe that natural antioxidants, such as flavanoids and resveratrol, have something to do with it.
Drink up. In Moderation.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rosé + Summer = A Renewed Trend

If you haven't noticed, Rosé is seeing a pretty big resurgence right now. Visit any Whole Foods or other hip and healthy grocer, and you'll likely see shitloads of pink bottles at the end of every aisle. Why? Fads change. Rosé hasn't been popular since perhaps the days of Ruinite . So it's due it's time in the spotlight. The stuff, when made right, is actually really good.

La Vieelle Ferme, Cotes Du Ventoux, Rosé , 2006 -
I chose this particular rosé because it was french and had chickens on the label, and it was only $8. A cheap experiment. It's from the Cotes Du Ventoux [koht deu vawn-TOO] region of the Rhone Valley, which is just east of the more famous Chateauneuf de Pape. The producer is the Perrin family, which is also responsible for the Chateau de Beaucastel (one of the famous Chateauneuf producers). This wine is a blend of 50% cinsault, 40% grenache, 10% syrah.

Tasting Note: Watery watermelon color, aka dark pink. On the nose, waves of cranberries and crushed Bing cherries. The flavors on the mouth maintain the aromas that were on the nose, but add a slight Provencal spice to the finish. Very dry and crisp. It's a serviceable wine....there's certainly better out there. But this one will certainly do for a paltry $8. It definitely went well with my tater tots and buffalo wings!

I picked up mine at Whole Foods Market in the Pearl.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Austrian Reds!

If you like rich, earthy Pinot Noirs, then you owe it to yourself to broaden your scope and try some truly interesting Austrian Reds. Austria is typically more known for it's complex, minerally whites (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Veltliner), but I think recently the reds are starting to become vogue among the trendsetters in the wine world (yeah, I'm one of those damnit). These trendsetters are the ones who are absolutely sick of Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are some many other great varieties and blends out there. But more on that later.

So the Austrian Reds. Blaufränkisch [blouw-FRAHN-keesh] and zweigelt [zuh-VIE-gelt]. You can probably figure out why these tongue-twisters haven't reached the masses yet. Of the two, blaufränkisch (pictured above) is the richer more complex one, with more age-ability, although both are considered lighter reds. Personally I've had more blaufränkisch so I'm going to talk about that for now. The most recent one I've had is the 2003 Peter Schandl Blaufränkisch. Schandl's vineyards and winery are in the small town of Rust, which is in the Burgenland anbaugebiet (or region). The district (or bereich) within this region is called Neusiedlersee-Hügelland. By the way, the blaufränkisch grape is known as kekfrankos in Hungary, and Lemberger in Germany and the U.S.

Tasting Note: Aromas of berries, spice, and wet earth. The dry, medium soft tannins wrap around the mouth creating a rich mouthfeel, all the while remaining quite bright and crisp. This vintage is sold out, but I'm sure there will be future vintages from this great producer. Price is around $20 a bottle. Goes great with seasoned lamb, roast game, and gooey earthy smelling cheeses.

For more information on blaufränkisch and zweigelt check out this great article in the NYT. They rave more about the lighter zweigelt, which explains why they're from NYC. :)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Picpoul De Pinet, Saint Peyre 2006 cheap cheap

Wine Geeks Rejoice: Picpoul blanc is the grape, and Pinet is the village. This small village is located near the sandy shores of the Bassin de Thau, a lagoon well-known for its Bouzigues oysters. The soil here is a combination of limestone, sand, and clay. Picpoul De Pinet has Cru status within the very large Coteaux Du Languedoc AC. Picpoul translates into "lip stinger" because of the high acidity of the must. On another note, the Languedoc, along the Mediterranean coastline, is well known for rosé and nude bathers this time of year which makes this wine that much more enjoyable (at least that's what RP told me).

Tasting Note: On the nose there are white pears and white peach, green apples, and a hint of white peppery spice. On the palette you notice right away the brightness. This is a very high acid wine, which means it's a great aperitif, and goes with many white-meat and shelfish dishes. Crisp, crisp! The body is suprisingly full, and the wine has a lingering yet crisp finish. Perfect summer-time shiz-bit.

Be prepared for sticker shock on this one's an appalling $8. In town you can pick it up at:


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pineau Des Charentes - Sweet Precious Liquid From Cognac

Pronounced "pee-NOH day shah-RAHNT". This stuff is delicious. I recently discovered it at a new Portland wine bar on Mississippi Ave, Lupa.

This particular Pineau Des Charentes was the "Blanc" version, from Maison Prunier (great website eh?), an independent family producer know more for his excellent brandies.

The Tasting Note: Slightly oxidized aromas of hazel nuts, honey, and apricots. The wine is certainly sweet, but the high acidity cuts it nicely (it's not too BIG). Because of this, you may choose to have Pineau as an aperitif rather than for dessert. The finish leads into popcorn flavors, while maintaining the peachy fruits. I later discovered that slightly drier (less sweet) Pineaux are very nice when chilled (think elegant back yard bbq's on a hot summer day). This one is on the sweeter side of things so try it either way and decide for yourself.

If you get a bottle, resist the urge to drink the whole thing at once. Like Port and other dessert wines, Pineau can last a week or so after opening. But you may just say, "No, I'm drinking the whole thing NOW." And that's okay, because this stuff is addictive and delicious. In Portland, you can pick up a bottle for $13 - $15.

Find it at these stores:
[What is Pineau Des Charantes? Well, since you asked....It's a style of Vin De Liqueur from France's Cognac Region. The Vin De Liqueur term simply means that the drink is made from unfermented grape juice and at least one year-old cognac, and will usually have an alcohol level between 16 - 18%. The mixture must be aged in cask until at least the July following the harvest. The grape juice is made from the local varieties of the Cognac region, ugni blanc and columbard. Pineau Des Charentes is a certified AOC (appellation d'origine controlee) meaning that there are appellational laws as to how this stuff is made. One of the interesting laws is that the grape juice and the cognac must come from the same estate. There are a number of Pineau Des Charentes producers ( I counted at least 31), and I plan on providing future tasting notes on as many as I can get my hands on.]

Friday, June 1, 2007

Dear (new) Reader:

Ah shucks my first post.

This is to inform all readers that I plan on writing a kick-ass blog about the WORLD OF WINE. I will also be focusing on wine and food trends in Portland, OR, where I reside. Things to expect:

  1. Reviews of some of the best valued wines out there

  2. Panel discussions on the wine world

  3. monologues on trends in the wine business

  4. Reviews of local establishments
I will be seasoning each blog post with with either a photo, vlog (video blog), or both. Neat! Now go out and drink some freaking wine already. It's noon.

(The lovely picture above was taken by yours truly outside Melville Winery in Santa Barbara County. April 2007.)