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.)