Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Royal Treatment

Southern hospitality? Maybe I'm just keeping the right company here in Dallas. Our evening at Charlie Palmer's could not have been nicer. Upon arrival I scurried off to the restroom (you know I love a nice restroom!) I got back to our spot at the bar to find a coup of sparkling rosé waiting for me and Cassie and Rob enjoying their glasses. Apparently we were in sound hands with Gerald Cook, the fabulous sommelier. He was more than happy to show me his digital wine list with amazing search capabilities (a bit of a Kindle situation).

The wine selection at this restaurant is vast and to be able to find a wine based on country, region, varietal, price, food pairing and more was kinda next level. We fell in love with a 2007 Robert Foley Charbono, of which Gerald was eager to share.

It tasted even more divine with the salumi plate, salmon tartare and beet medallions we noshed on. The chilled sparkling red that followed was just the thing to wash down our peanut butter chocolate terrine. When in Texas!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oregon Love in the Big D

Texans loves them some Oregon wine! Cassie and I had lunch at an amazing cheese shop that stocks some of my local favorites. Our lunch of cheese galore was accompanied by a delicious semi-sweet sparkling muscato from Australia. My most delicious moment? A Rogue Blue followed by a sip of the muscato. Heaven.

Most interesting find at Scardello? Kefir marshmallows. Check em.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serious Discount

Looks like our friends at Dobbes Family Estate are being extra generous this year. On October 25th, one day only, friends and family (this is YOU) can enjoy 50% off cases of Grande Assemblage Pinot Noir, Grande Assemblage Syrah and Pinot Gris. This is the perfect excuse to get yourself to wine country, stock up on some great wine at a killer price and have your Thanksgiving elixir taken care of!

Do it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rain won't stop us

and it didn't yesterday. After a warm and sunny 11 mile run we made it home just in time-the rain came with a vengeance. Hervé and I dashed into the car and we were off. First stop was Hawks View Cellars. You might remember HVC from the photos I featured on an earlier post. We were excited to check out the Harvest open house, and catch some of the action. Sipping on some delicious Pinot Gris we got to check out the 2009 grapes doing their thing.

Can you tell which batch is Pinot Noir and which is Syrah?
Everyone is very excited about the 2009 harvest and from the sounds of it, the Pinot is going to be BIG. Hervé fell in love with 2008 PN of which he snagged a taste. I'm pretty sure we'll be back to pick up a bottle or 2 of this come spring.

Next stop? Winderlea in Dundee. I have been really curious about Winderlea, as several wineries have recommended swinging by. I was also impressed with the fact that the $10 tasting fee here is donated to Salud!, an organization dedicated to providing education and healthcare for vineyard workers and their families-very cool. The winery sits on a gorgeous piece of property with sloping hills and a terrific view. The tasting room was surely designed to highlight the surroundings, it is very modern and minimal, letting the view take center stage. Hervé and I grabbed our wine glasses and walked outside onto the terrace, enjoying a small reprive from the rain-it was lovely.

As a side note: Winderlea definitely wins in my book for best bathroom in wine country. Check it.

I was hoping we'd have a chance to hit Thistle this trip, but we were starving and it was only 3:30, Thistle doesn't open til 5. So it was back to Dundee Bistro. No complaints from this camp.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New acquisitions

What used to be additions to my closet has rapidly become additions to my wine cellar (or closet as it may be). I am just a sucker for the Wine Finds deals at CORK bottle shop. This week featured all Oregon wines, so I couldn't pass on some of these discounts. I chose the Ayres 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir for $18.90 (regular price $21) and the Patricia Green 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir at $22.50 (regular price $25). Normally I would save the Oregon wine purchases for my tasting room adventures, but both of these wineries are not open to the public, so there's my out!

who needs Manolos?

P.S. Get ready for a weekend post, Hervé and I will be heading down to check out some harvest action...and maybe even pop in at Thistle in McMinnville.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How much is too much?

I have taken a neutral to positive approach in documenting my wine findings and waxing on Oregon Wine Country in general. I believe this is the best position for me in this project for many reasons. BUT something has stuck in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, so I figure it is worth sharing. It has to do with the price of tastings. I am 100% behind charging a tasting fee at wineries and tasting rooms. For many in this business the profit margin is thin and the tasting fee can help offset the cost of keeping the doors open to the public. I believe the system of charging a fee that is waived with purchase is smart. It encourages patrons to buy wine, which is part of the point, right?
I spent a good week tasting wine in Sonoma in August and there were tasting fees at every winery we visited, almost all of them waived the fee with purchase. Shockingly, we came home with cases of wine in our trunk. The most expensive tasting we did on the trip was at the sparkling wine house Domaine Caneros (in Napa). It was $15 for a flight of 3 sparklings, with more expensive tasting options offered. I guess it is because of this relatively recent trip, and all of my Oregon wine research as of late that I am a bit put off by the $20 tasting fee at Bergstrom Winery in Newberg. It has been at the top of my list, but I just can't bring myself (or anyone who is with me) to pay that amount. I am not sure what the tasting includes, but I do know the price of a 2007 bottle of Pinot Noir ranges between $55 and $75. I realize this is a limited production winery, dedicated to producing exceptional wines, and there is no doubt in my mind they are exceptional, but $20?!!!! That is 4 tastings at several other wineries in the area.

I wonder, are the tasting fees a deterrent for people to visit Oregon Wine Country?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wine Bible Disclosed

I realize now I should probably share my Wine Bible with the rest of you, and honestly, Wine Trails of Oregon becomes more biblical in my world by the day.

I was perusing Powell's wine section earlier this summer and found 3 used books to help with my R & D. Before I went to check out I headed up to the travel section, where I inevitably wander on every trip to Powell's. It was here I saw Wine Trails of Oregon, it was on the "staff recommended" shelf. I had told myself used books only for this project, but when I saw this book-already substantiated by a discerning staff, I couldn't afford NOT to buy it. Simply put, Steve Roberts took on the daunting task of visiting all 200 open to the public wineries in Oregon and then neatly organized his journey in an easy to use, extremely comprehensive guidebook. Ask anyone who has sat shotgun with me to wine country, this book is essential. Check it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I like Thursdays!

Man, although wine country is all a flutter with harvest, I must say Meghan and I felt like we had the region to ourselves!

We were excited to check out Lenné in Yamhill. From what I have heard, this vineyard is producing top quality grapes and the Pinots are duly noted. We did some shuffling of schedule on our way and ended up at Lenné a little before noon. The long drive up to the tasting room was steep and I tried not to be distracted by all of the horses in the adjacent field. As luck would have it, the gates to the property were closed. We realized we were there before they opened. It was a great photo opp, so here you go!

Within a few minutes a car pulled up behind us and the proprietor of the estate let us eager beavers in. Let me tell you, this tasting room is stunning. Definitely an aesthetic I love, very French country home with a ton of Northwest accents. It sits on a gorgeous piece of land and it was nice to have it all to ourselves. Steve opened up the tasting room and the Pinot started flowing. I was excited about the Le Nez, french for nose, and a play on the name of the estate. Meghan did the tasting and from the looks of it, was very happy. Steve told us a lot about the evolution of Lenné and how they currently operate. I had read that for a time Steve and his team were looking for 15K investors to help take the business to the next level. At the time this was fairly public (I read it in my Wine Bible) . He told us, unsurprisingly that people really came out of the woodwork-lets face it, wine is sexy. If you've got 15K sitting around, it'd be nice to be associated with such a fun business.
After waxing on the erroneous way some (unmentioned) wine publications choose editorial features/ratings, it was time to move on. A bottle of Pinot each and we were off!

Next stop: Trisaetum. One thing I have noticed in all of this winery research is how many "combo" names are out there. Nearly every winery has a story behind the name and Trisaetum is no exception. A blend between Tristen and Tatum, the children of the vineyard owners. Trisaetum sits up on Ribbon Ridge Road, which is scattered with some notable wineries. Once again upon arrival, Meghan and I were the only ones there. Trisaetum is a new and very nice winery. The tasting room is vast and houses and art gallery which showcases the art of one of the owners James Frey (not to be confused with the author/embellisher). The art was interesting. A lot of it played off the terrior of Oregon wine country.
We were lucky enough to have Courtney, the tasting room gal offer to give us a cave tour. It was right below the tasting room and it was awesome! Of course the first question Meghan and I asked "Do you have parties down here?!" Answer being yes, BUT you must be a club member. This is a great perk if you ask me. She said they are hosting a dinner for 50 in a few weeks being catered by the Art of Catering. This no doubt will be fabulous. Although with the temperature hovering around 55 degrees, the dress code is very North Face meets Uggs.

We left Trisaetum with a bottle of dryish Reisling each (being stored for the next Racelette dinner party) and headed for Dundee Bistro for some much needed nourishment. The weather was gorgeous and we nabbed a table outside. Food per usual: excellent.

Another successful wine country voyage! Geez, at this rate I will have made my way through my wine bible in oh, 2 years?!

Lesson learned: Thursdays are a great day to go wine tasting-do it.

We're Off!

I'm on my way to pick up Meghan for another wine country adventure-stay tuned!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prepare for more tourists

Trip Advisor, the largest international trip planning community website (so it says) has recently published the top 10 wine country destinations in the US and Oregon shows up not once, but twice on the list. The Willamette Valley follows the easily guessed Napa and Sonoma to take the #3 spot.

Here it is. Trip Advisor does Wine


In Action

Harvest is in FULL swing! From the sounds of it, this is going to be an epic year for wine. I thought this video, from one of Oregon's coveted wine makers Ken Wright, was worth sharing. It's easy to overlook the massive amount of labor involved in getting just the right juice in a bottle.

Check it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oregon A Taste of Wine

I took an internet marketing class yesterday and as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I realized I knew one of the other students. When Janis started talking about his business as a world renowned photographer with clients like National Geographic under his belt, I was brought back to my babysitting days in Lake Oswego. I had watched this guys 2 boys a time or two. Well, fast forward a good 20 years. Janis's most recent project ironically is a beautiful book on Oregon Wine Country! Needless to say I ran straight to Powell's after class. I can honestly endorse this book, not only as a gorgeous lens into the vast beauty of wine country, but also a very informative book, as it contains interviews with many of the pioneers and key figures in the world of Oregon wine as it stands today. Oregon A Taste of Wine would make a great gift or, if you're like me, a great addition to an ever-growing library of books capturing the beauty of Oregon's Wine Country.

Check it. Janis Miglavs, Oregon A Taste of Wine

As an aside, you may have noticed that there is no wine country visit on the agenda this week. In preparation for the Portland marathon Sunday, I am abstaining from wine this week. This might actually trump the training!