Archive for the ‘#AWineAWeek’ Category

another wine-ish weekend

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Passover is built around wine, right?

We needed to pick up our wine club shipment from Ardiri and they were having a trivia night, so we went there Friday night. Yes, the first night of Passover – we took some cheese and sausage and had some (store-bought, and unfortunately not very good) matzo ball soup when we got home. This club shipment includes their 2015 Pink Tractor rose and their 2012 Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. I’m not that fond of the Rose, at least not yet, but of course it may always mellow. After our tasting we ended up buying a bottle of a 2012 Pinot Noir, but I’m I think it was their usual Oregon Pinot, not the same Select as in the club shipment. I’m not completely sure because Ted bought it, and though we brought half the wine home and finished it later, it’s already gone out to the recycle bin. The one we bought was smooth and spicy, as usual – I say it’s the Oregon wine, because Ardiri generally has one wine from thhis part of Oregon, one from their California vineyard in Carneros, and one blend of the two. We did do fairly well in the trivia contest; I think most of the teams had more than our two people, but we were third or so. Trivia games always make me wish to have my family with me!

On Saturday, we went out to Gran Moraine for the release party for their 2014 Pinot Noir. It was a bit upscale, as their events tend to be. They were serving a Chardonnay and four Pinots Noir – their regular Pinot and their Estate Reserve, each in 2013 and 2014 incarnations. With these, they had several amuse-bouche-style pairings – things like a burrata cheese, lamb with a thing like an unfilled cream puff on top, a morsel of duck folded around a tiny mushroom with a strawberry on top, and so on. We bought a bottle of the 2014 (regular, not Reserve) to bring home for our not-quite-a-Seder roast chicken dinner. Ted’s still not sure, but I preferred the 2014 version to the 2013; it’s got a stronger fruit note and lacks an odd stone flavor that was very noticeable in the 2013. They’re both fairly young, though, so it will be interesting to see how they mature. Last year we really liked Gran Moraine’s Rose of Pinot Noir, but unfortunately that won’t be out until Memorial Day.

Gran Moraine
2014 Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon
bought at the vineyard
With roast chicken ad a roast potato/tomato salad with a mustard vinaigrette dressing. The wine has warm spice notes at the beginning that linger throughout, atop definite berry notes. Tannins build toward the finish. Ted thinks aging may improve the wine.
Paula: 4.0 – I think this was worth $25, though maybe not the $45 it actually cost
Ted: 3.0 at $20

catching up

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Oops – haven’t written here in a couple of weeks! Worse, some of the wines we drank in that time were at the lake house, and I forgot to write about them or take notes (or photograph the page) so I could write them up later. However, we do have a few wines I hadn’t written up including the one from tonight.

Keeler Estate
2015 Pinot Noir
Eola-Amity Hills, OR
from the vineyard, on our Dundee trip
Sweet baking spices in front, rich flavors but not the usual fruit; some effervescence on the palate (pétillant – I learned a new word!) with earth and subtle flavors on the finish. We actually bought this more because the woman at the vineyard was very forceful (and because by then we’d bought wine at every vineyard and hated to break our streak), but we like it more at home than we did on first tasting.
Ted: 3.6 Paula 4

2015 Pinot Noir Rose
Eola-Amity Hills, OR
from the vineyard, Dundee trip
Aaand this one we liked less than our orginal tasting (we’d had a *lot* of wine by then).
We drank this by itself, without food. (Actually, I got stuck in a meeting at work until 8PM and Ted texted me “I have declared this Rose Night. Better hurry home before it’s all gone!”) Smooth and slippery texture. Flavor week at the start, concentrated at the end, with tart flavors of oak and citrus.
Paula 2.5, Ted 2.8

2012 Merlot
Washington State
probably bought at New Seasons
With grilled flatiron state, grilled kale rabe, and homemade bread. Dark fruit flavors in front, which transition to unbalanced tannins. Smooth enough with food but unpleasantly tannic on its own. We’d had a Diversion wine we really liked and decided to try a few others, but this one is not stellar.
Paula 2.8 Ted 2.8

Next weekend we’re racing, so we’ll probably be going easy on the wines.

the weekend’s wines

Monday, March 28th, 2016

2012 Winemaker’s Red blend
Columbia Valley, WA
Bought at Fred Meyer
With spaghetti and meat sauce. Aroma is spicy, color is very dark. With food, this has flavors of raisins (or maybe just too much grape skin; when you drink this without food (after swishing water around your mouth, or just after you finish eating) there’s a harsh and unpleasant flavor that hits toward the rear sides of the tongue, followed by more spice flavors at the very finish. These red blends can be relatively inexpensive “house wines” that are great with food and not too fancy to have any time … but this isn’t a great one.
Ted: 2.6 (when drunk with food), Paula: 2.3

Dobbs Family Estate
2014 Pinot Noir ($28)
Willamette Valley OR (multiple vineyards)
We bought this at their tasting room, on the main street of Dundee.
With grilled shrimp and asparagus, as well as homemade bread. We had lemon butter to dip the shrimp and asparagus as well as seasoned olive oil to dip the bread in. This wine is darker in color but light in flavor. Well balanced, with rounded earth flavors. There’s a more bitter earth flavor that lingers at the end after the last swallow.
Paula: 3.2 Ted: 3.0 = “look for at the right price”, where the right price would be <$20 3/26: We didn't have wine with dinner, but we headed out to a couple of the vineyards we belong to - we had to pick up the biannual shipment from Montinore - this time it includes a white blend (Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, very dry), their new 2014 Pinot Noir, their first Sangiovese, last year's Rose, and their Reserve Gewurztraminer, which is surprisingly dry for a gewurz). We also picked up another Pinot Noir to age a year or two, as well as a couple of their Muller-Thurgaus, which are quite cheap ($8) and a great wine for someone who is not really used to wine or for anyone who prefers wine on the sweeter side. After that we stopped by Ardiri. They are having a 50% off sale on their 2011 Pinot Noir, which we've really been liking lately. I swear Ardiri wine changes more than most, even from week to week, but the 2011 should have settled down by now and I really like the warm spice nose it's developed. 3/27/2016 Sokol Blosser Evolution No vintage, sparkling white (doesn't say what grapes are included) Dundee, OR bought at the vineyard It's the weekend, let's have champagne! Well, ok, locally made sparkling wine according to the methode champagnoise. When we bought this one, we noted that it would be best with food, and we were right. We had this with Red Minestrone with Winter Greens Pesto, except this was actually yellow minestrone, since our CSA gave us yellow beets. I even used some of the champagne in the minestrone – why not? It called for a bit of white wine to deglaze the pot with, and I like to cook with whatever I’ll be drinking. Normally I think of sparkling wine as something to drink before or after a meal, but this actually went really well with the food. The flavors became more complex as the wine warms up a bit, after coming out of the fridge. Slightly sweet in front, with a tangy finish and flavors of apple and pear. Very effervescent.
Paula: 4 Ted: 3.4


birthday weekend in Dundee

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

We have a lot of stuff – two houses full of stuff, in fact. My yarn stash and my closet could both use some culling and thanks to my beadwork hobby, I have more jewelry than I can wear. So a few years back, Ted had a brilliant idea for my birthday, and surprised me with tickets for a trip to Venice (we were in the Netherlands at the time). Since then, we’ve made it a tradition, and have kept that up since returning to the US. Two years ago we went to Seattle, last year we went skiing in Jackson Hole. This year, he planned us a trip to a place most people out of Oregon have never heard of, that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while: Dundee, right in the heart of the Pinot Noir wine country. It’s only about 45 minutes away (if there isn’t much traffic) but being based there allowed us to to visit a lot more of the local wineries than we could easily do in a day trip.

We took the day off Friday and headed out in the morning, timing it to arrive around 11, when most of the tasting rooms open. That day we visited: Methven Family Vineyards; Brooks Wines; Grochau Cellars; Keeler Estate; and Coelho Winery. Then we checked in at our B&B for a nice nap. (Mostly just because we could, not because we absolutely needed it. With so many wines to taste – usually 3 to 5 at each place – we shared one tasting at each winery, and were careful to just taste and then pour out the rest.)

A few notes: I hated the Gamay wines at Methven, through their Pinots were decent. The Gamays had the strongest manifestation of a weird chemical flavor that we encountered on and off all weekend – maybe it’s something in the local soil. Brooks was one of our favorites of the whole trip; they have a beautiful tasting room and some excellent Pinots. Grochau Cellars was just reopening after being closed for three months, so I don’t think we got to taste everything they had to offer – I’m particularly curious about their red blend. We did taste their Mourvedre, a French grape we hadn’t tasted on its own before. (It was OK but not spectacular.) Keeler is more focused on their vineyard than their winemaking, but we’ll be having their grapes again, since they sell to Montinore, one of our favorite wineries nearer home. They have about 200 acres, of which only 40 or so are in grapes. Beautiful place. We finished with Coelho, who (we were told) makes wine in a Portuguese style – though we’ve mostly had heavier reds from Portugal, while the majority of these were Pinot Noir.

The B&B was in a 1908 house, furnished in period but comfortable, and featured some of the most amazing breakfasts I have ever seen. We were the only guests there, since this is low season, and the owners went out of their way to make us comfortable, including providing a half bottle of wine with a “Happy Birthday!” note and making me tea one evening when I was coughing (probably swallowed some dust!).

Dinner than night was at the Joel Palmer house, whose cooking is centered on wild mushrooms. Yum. Unfortunately I’d had a bit of an upset stomach the night before; the wine seemed to be sitting OK, but I didn’t want to overstress things, so Ted got the 5 course tasting menu so I got to taste everything without actually eating much. We ordered a bottle of wine from their private label, which turned out to be the worst Pinot Noir we had all weekend. Oops. But the food was excellent.

On Saturday we hit some of the tasting rooms in the middle of town: Argyle, Chapter 24, and Dobbs Family Winery. Then we headed a bit further out to Sokol Blosser. We were going to stop at Domaine Drouhin, but it was closed for a private event so we stopped nearby at Domaine Serene instead, then White Rose, and finished up just uphill from our B&B at Torii Mor.

More tasting notes: I really wanted to go to Argyle, because we’d had and liked their sparkling wines before. Those were good as expected, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for their excellent Pinots too. Their big new tasting room was crowded and noisy, though! That made it odder that Chapter 24, right next door, was empty except for us. This was a pure winery, who buy all their grapes from other people. They focus on blends that try to encapsulate the essence of the whole region, so that was interesting – bit pricy, though. Sokol Blosser was our highlight for Saturday. They do everything well: tasting room, reds, rose, whites, sparkling wines. It was fairly crowded; unfortunately it was pissing down rain all day, so no one could take advantage of the beautiful views from their terrace. Domaine Serene had an even bigger and prettier tasting room, but their prices seemed too high to be justified by their wines. White Rose is on top of a hill with fantastic views, but oddly, their tasting room has no windows. The room was dark and crowded and feels more like a rathskellar; the wines were good, but again, expensive. In fact, their 2013 White Rose Vineyard Pinot Noir set a new record for priciest wine we’ve ever tasted. Torii Mor is in the middle of forest, so has smaller views but a beautiful setting anyway. Their Pinots didn’t seem to be anything unique, but they’re doing some interesting experimenting; we brought home a bottle of their brandy.

Actually, quite a lot of wine followed us home; there were only about three places where we didn’t buy a bottle or three. Besides the brandy, we ended up with three bottles of sparkling wine, at least one white, a number of Pinots Noirs, and several rosé – we are finding that a good rosé de pinot noir is versatile, refreshing in summer, and often the bargain of the vineyard. And you see comparatively few of them in the supermarkets where we usually buy wine, so we stocked up. We tried to be good about making notes on the bottle for which wines are good to drink on the deck watching the sun set, vs the ones that will be best with more strongly-flavored foods.

Have some photos – click any image to make it bigger:
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three wines, plus cooking notes

Monday, March 7th, 2016

More recent wines – one fairly unlikeable, two pretty good. We probably need to stay away fro the wines for the rest of this week, because Friday we’ll be heading out to the town of Dundee, where you can’t throw a wineglass without hitting a vineyard, for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. (Ted’s comment today: “Well, I think I’ve narrowed it down from hundreds of wineries to about 25 – I’ve got different loops, just depending on what we want to do.”)

Thursday, 3/3/2016
Christopher Michael
2014 Pinot Noir
Tualitin, OR
bought at New Seasons
We had this with cod with a mustard caper sauce, Brussels Sprouts and sourdough bread. Cherry flavors up front transition to flavors of Liquid Smoke (well, it’s smoky and a bit chemical-y) on the palate. There’s a long finish with some other nasty flavors at the end – we couldn’t nail them down. This was one of those where, the more we drink, the less we like it – especially after we finished dinner and were drinking it on its own.
Paula: 2 Ted: 2.4
Note: though I can’t recommend this wine, I can really recommend the pan-fried cod with mustard-caper sauce. Cod isn’t my favorite fish, so I appreciate a strong sauce on it – and it’s an unusual and pleasant change to try a new recipe and have it be both tasty and quick and easy to make.

Friday, 3/4/2016
La Fiera
2014 Primitivo (basically the same as Zinfandel)
Salento, Italy
bought at New Seasons
With tapas (mostly an antipasto-type dinner – salami, proscuitto, cheeses, bressaola, veggies, stuffed mushrooms). Warm spice aromas, red berry flavors in front, with spice flavors coming in early on the palate. Mellow, medium-bodied and well balanced. Some tannins with a touch of bitterness on the finish.
Ted: 3.2 Paula: 3.2
Cooking note: I do not recommend using matzo meal as a subsitute for breadcrunbs in stuffed mushrooms – they drank all the oil I added but still didn’t want to stick together.

Saturday: No wine at dinner, because we just had mac’n’cheese – yes, basic Kraft Dinner in the blue box. I was on the Rose City Yarn Crawl in the limo set up by my local yarn store and after 10 (!) yarn stores I was wiped. We did have “champagne” in the limo – a bottle of Muller-Thurgau sparkling wine I brought (light, slightly sweet, perfect for day drinking) and some Cook’s someone else brought.

Sunday, 3/6/2016:
Elk Cove
2014 Pinot Blanc
Willamette Valley, Oregon
bought at the vineyard
With roast chicken, asparagus, and homemade bread. A little sweeter in the beginning with hints of pear that quickly transition to a burst of citrus with grapefruit flavors and an acidic flavor. Tart, but that’s less noticeable when drinking it with food.
Paula 2.9 Ted: 3
Cooking note: rubbed that onto the chicken breast and legs, under skin – it came out very tasty. Lately, also, I’ve been making my chicken soup from the carcass of roast chicken instead of from raw chicken, as my family’s tradition recipe says. It still makes good soup, and the chicken tastes much better before it’s been in soup than after.

catching up on the weekend’s wines

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

I spent last week in Arizona for work, and it was great – got to meet up with some of my favorite people and visit some of my favorite places there. (That’s why the last wine I blogged has four people rating it.) And then I came home, we headed down to the lake, and we made up for lost sleep and lost wine 🙂 So here are the weekend’s wines, and a few pictures.

The lake we rowed on in Tempe – that previous wine I rated was at Caffe Boa, about 5 minutes’ walk away:

Tempe Town Lake

The last day there, I got a coworker to come out to Chandler airport for lunch (no wine, it was a workday). This is where we did most of our pilot training, and the Hangar Cafe is right by the flightline, where you can watch the planes take off and land.

Chandler airport

I got back home Thursday night, and on Friday we headed out to our lake:

our lake

We had wine there on Friday and Saturday night:
Willakenzie Estate
2014 Pinot Gris
from the Yamhill-Carlton region, Oregon
bought at Fred Meyer
With sauteed shrimp and steamed broccoli. This wine has an acidic backbone (well, the label said that but we agree) with flavors of pear and hints of pomelo on the palate. (Pomelo is like grapefruit but milder.) A little heavy on the acidity / tartness.
Ted: 2.6 Paula 2.8

Grayson Cellars
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
California (labeled implied they use grapes from several vineyards)
bought at New Seasons
With grilled steaks, herbed new potatoes, tossed salad and bread. Low key, open front that rapidly transitions smoke and tobacco flavors on the finish. This wine only has two stages, front and back (not aroma, palate and finish) and the front is a bit watery but the finish is well balanced.
Paula 3.2 Ted: 3.4

Then we came back to Hillsboro, erged (it was raining too hard to row before we left the lake), and had a nice lazy Sunday afternoon, where we cracked open a sparkling wine just because.

2014, Rose of Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon (this is the region near us, by the way)
Bought at the wineyard
With popcorn and then by itself. This sparkling rose looks fancy but is easy to drink – good for a casual day. Not much complexity, very drinkable, not too dry or too sweet. A good sparkling wine for any time.
Paula: 3 (“buy at the right prince – the right price would be about $15) Ted: 3.2 at $15ish

Then on Monday we weren’t going to have still more wine, but we ended up making chicken Marsala (Paula) and salade caprese (Ted) – doesn’t this dinner cry out for wine to go with it? (Just one glass apiece, though!)

leap day dinner

El Cortijillo
2014, white
La Mancha region, Spain (where they probably get tired of Don Quixote jokes!)
bought at Fred Meyer
With chicken Marsala and salade caprese (wee above!). Very dry – like a vino verde without the fruit flavors. Drinkable, nothing wrong with it but nothing that jumps out and says “Drink me!”
Paula: 2.5 Ted: 2.8

San Giorgio white blend, Coelho Pinot Noir

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Finally, some wines from vineyards whose win clubs we don’t belong to.

San Giorgio
2014, white
55% Pinot Grigio, 45% Garganega
Venezie, Italy
Fred Meyer’s? Maybe New Seasons
With parmesan-crusted tilapia (bought pre-prepared from the store, and we were Not Impressed) , asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, and couscous. Fresh and well balanced. Soft apple flavors in front, with a pleasant tartness lingering after you swallow. Would be a good ‘house white’ – both relatively cheap and versatile.
Paula: 3.5 Ted: 3.4
(Ted had a really hard time rating this one – whites just aren’t his thing, but some meals demand it.

2013, Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, OR
bought at New Seasons
With roast chicken (also from New Seasons), tossed salad, sourdough bread. Very light pinot, in color and flavor. Not much flavor in front and a texture that is the opposite of syrupy (we tossed around words like “thin” or “airy” but couldn’t settle on one). Light earth flavors on the finish. Definitely didn’t overpower the chicken. Ted thought it had some unpleasant flavors on the finish but Paula disagreed, hence the divergent ratings.
Ted: 2.5 Paula 3.0

Also, the store-bought chicken didn’t have the weird artificial flavors of the ones from Fred Meyers, but was too dry, like the ones from Whole Foods. We still haven’t found one nearly as good as homemade – or even better, the raw but premarinated, ready-for-cooking ones we used to get from Albert Heijn back in the Netherlands.

Tomorrow: Valentine’s Day wine-blending event at Montinore.

Picpoul (and bonus Tempranillo)

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

We got some extra lake time this weekend; I was able to work from home today and ted took the day off, so we headed out on Thursday night instead of our usual Friday. On Thursday we had the rest of last Sunday’s pot roast, with some of Abacela’s Fiesta Tempranillo (the Fiesta is their lower end wine). Then Friday we had fish, and opens a bottle of Picpoul to go with it. This is one of the last few of a case we bought at Ardiri a couple years ago; at the time they had some kind of partnership with a French winemaker and sold their wines alongside their own. The interesting thing was that this wine tasted exactly like like the first bottle we had; it doesn’t seem to have changed at all over the couple years we’ve had it.

2012, red
Fiesta Tempranillo
Umpqua Valley, Oregon
From the wine club
With leftover pot roast, mashed potatoes, and homemade bread. Flavor progression goes through fruit, light tannins, tobacco, and harsher tannins. Finishes better than it starts. May age well.
Ted: 3.1. Paula: 3.0

Picpoul le Pinet
2912, white
Languedoc region, France
From Ardiri
Willed grilled tilapia with lemon/butter/wine sauce, sautéed kale, and tomato/mozzarella salad. This was a very good pairing. This wine has crisp favors and vibrancy similar to a Vinho Verde. Refreshing and just a bit tart; has a robust finish with flavor of oak. M probably has at least a few more good years in it.
Paula: 4. Ted: 3.8

Abacela head-to-head

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Ted asked me to make pot roast tonight, specifically so we’d have a dinner that could accompany our tasting of two full-bodied Abacela wines: the 2012 regular and Reserve Tempranillo wines.

Cooking notes: I tried to come to a compromise between the Pioneer Woman’s pot roast recipe and the one from the Food Lab; I mostly used the former, but added in slurry made of tomato paste, grated garlic and soy sauce from the latter. We ate it right away, not the next day as recommended by TFL. I have to say this came out more like TPW’s recipe, which is to say: it’s a good pot roast and I would be happy to serve it to company – but the company would not be completely bowled over and asking for the recipe as they were last time I made TFL’s pot roast. It’s good to have both recipes handy; TPW’s is much less work and can be eaten that night, but if it’s an occasion that merits extra work, or if you just feel like going all out, you want the Food Lab. Also, I did use carrot, but instead of potatoes I added in parsnips and turnips, since I had some from out CSA, and I’d definitely do that again – they add some nice complementary flavors.

2012 Abacela Estate Grown Tempranillo vs 2012 Abacela Tempranillo 2012 South East Block Reserve
Umpqua Valley
from the wine club
With pot roast (including carrots, parsnips, turnips) and sourdough bread.
Estate Grown is fruitier up front but harsher on the finish where you can’t really distinguish individual notes among the tannins, while the Reserve is more complex with vanilla and tobacco notes late into the finish. We feel that both will benefit from further aging, and Abacela agrees with us, since they say these are drinkable for a decade. Also, both need to be opned to aerate a while before you drink them, as is common with the bigger reds.
Ted: Estate Grown 3.2; Reserve 3.4
Paula: Estate Grown 3.2, Reserve 3.5

Is Alphabet City next to Suffragette City

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Another Montinore – but take heart! Tomorrow I am making pot roast and we’ll have a horizontal tasting of Abacela wines, and Sunday we plan to visit a few local wineries. This is one of Montinore’s special wines – they say it’s blended in small batches so they can use labor-intensive techniques like whole cluster, longer cool fermentations, and foot pigeage (I presume this means stomping).

2012 Alphabet City
Willamette Valley, OR
wine club (probably)
With bronzed grilled salmon (that’s when you don’t quite blacken it!), grilled leeks, steamed carrots, and sourdough bread. This one needs lots of aeration – it was better at the end of our meal than the start. The back of the wine is a little rough, with flavors of earth/tobacco/tannin; this would be gerat with a rounded fruity start, but unfortunately this wine’s start is shallow and has flavors of rust (or at least, more like that than anything else we can think of).
Ted: 2.8 Paula: 2.3, but I’d be curious to try it again and open it an hour or more before dinner.