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 indeed...it 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 though...it'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.)