Exploring Oregon’s Other Pinot

Throughout the next week or so, I am going to be featuring Oregon Pinot Gris.  When most people think of Oregon, they tend to think about Pinot Noir.  While they do produce an excellent style of Pinot Noir, the region also produces outstanding Pinot Gris. 

Pinot Gris is the second largest grape varietal grown in Oregon and I feel it is generally overlooked and underappreciated.  It is extremely food friendly and often full of complex flavors.  A group of wineries joined together to form a group that is helping to put Oregon Pinot Gris on the map and I happily accepted the opportunity to taste through some of their wines.  So, stay tuned for some delicious Pinot Gris and check out www.oregonpinotgris.org for more info!

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Mini-Review – 2010 Espelt Garnacha “Old Vines”

I picked up this wine from importer Eric Solomon because I really enjoyed one of his French wines a few weeks ago.  The wine, 100 % Garnacha, is biodynamically farmed from 91-year-old vines in Spain.

This tasty wine offers aromas of earth, raspberries, and currants.  The palate is rich and full of flavor.  There are tastes of raspberries, black cherries, rosemary, and anise with healthy acidity.  Intense and multidimensional, this is a great wine to pair with manchego cheese or lamb. (B+, $12)

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Taste Live with Thirsty Girl and HandCraft Wines!

Last Wednesday evening, I was among some of the lucky bloggers who got to participate in a live Twitter tasting with Thirsty Girl and HandCraft Wines.  HandCraft Wines are the creation of Cheryl Indelicato, who has been in the California wine industry for practically her entire life.  We tasted their 2010 Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.  The Petite Sirah was the standout of the night for me.  Below are my tasting notes!

Handcraft 2010 Pinot Noir

Aromas of cherries and spice mingle together in the nose.  The palate is loaded with jammy, red fruit, spice, and hints of vanilla followed with a silky finish.  A smooth drinking Pinot that won’t hurt your wallet! (B, $13)

Handcraft 2010 Petite Sirah

An inky, mouth staining purple with intoxicating aromas of smoke, blackberries, blueberries, and pepper.  The are bold, luscious tastes of plum, blueberries, black pepper, and dark chocolate.  A really nice wine for the price! (B+, $13)

*Media Samples

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Domaine du Tariquet 2011 Sauvignon

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that I have been tasting my way through some of Domaine du Tariquet’s wines.  The second wine I poured was their 2011 Sauvignon.  It is definitely a nice, refreshing wine for those of you who enjoy sweeter fruit in your whites!

About the Wine – From the Winery

Domaine du Tariquet 2011 Sauvignon is 100% Sauvignon from France.  It has 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $10.  For more information visit www.tariquet.com.

Now the Fun Part – Tasting the Wine

Domaine du Tariquet 2011 Sauvignon pours a pale gold in the glass.  It has pleasant floral and melons aromas and a palate full of sweet honeydew, citrus, and white pepper.  A simple, straightforward wine that is sure to please most crowds! (My rating – B)

Food Pairing Suggestions – Serve this Sauvignon as an aperitif or pair with mahi mahi or a fruit salad.

*Media Sample

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Mini-Review – 2010 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena

As I was perusing the wine aisles of Whole Foods for a few bottles of wine, I reached for a bottle of 2010 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena.  I was intrigued by the low price point and wanted to see if the bottle delivered a nice value because good, inexpensive wines are sometimes hard to find at Whole Foods.

2010 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena has aromas of tobacco, plum, and cherries.  The palate is smooth with flavors of berries, cherries, and a hint of spice.  Simple, clean flavors that are easy to sip with casual fare (think pizza or sirloin).  A decent wine for a very fair price! (B, $8, 12.5%)

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Domaine du Tariquet 2010 Chenin Chardonnay

This week I am going to be reviewing a few wines from Domaine du Tariquet.  They focus on white wines (9 white wines and 1 rose to be exact) and the estate is located the village of Ercé, which lies at the foot of the Pyrenees in France.  All of the wines they produce are priced very reasonably and, of the four I tasted, I did not experience one bad bottle!

About the Wine – From the Winery

Domaine du Tariquet 2010 Chenin Chardonnay is a blend of 75% Chenin and 25% Chardonnay.  It has 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $11.  For more information visit www.tariquet.com

Now the Fun Part – Tasting the Wine

Aromas of pineapple and honeydew are abundant in this bright gold wine.  There are crisp tastes of lemon, pear, vanilla, and spice with a healthy dose of acidity.  An easy sipper with a refreshing finish!

My Wine Rating – B

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with halibut, goat cheese, or veggie tacos.

*Media Sample

 

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Mini-Review – Qupe Central Coast Syrah 2010

Want a nice California Syrah for well under $20….then keep reading!  Over the last couple of days, I had a chance to try Qupe Central Coast Syrah 2010 from a bottle and on tap.  I was pleased with both glasses of wine (enjoyed the wine from the bottle a little more) and really think it is a great find for the price. 

The wine has bright aromas of strawberries and herbs.  The clean palate features red fruit, black pepper, and hint of minerals.  This is definitely not a rich, jammy Syrah, but instead has more of a light-bodied, elegant character.  Simple yet simply good! (B+, $13, 13.5%)

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Mini-Review – 2011 Andezon Côtes du Rhône Red

2011 Andezon Côtes du Rhône is blend of Syrah and Grenache from importer Eric Solomon.  I previously enjoyed wines from his portfolio so I was intrigued by this bottle that comes from a sustainably farmed parcel in Côtes du Rhône, France.

Caution….before you get started tasting, this wine needs a little time in the decanter (and it is definitely a food wine…think beef and game meats).  Andezon has earthy aromas of dark berries and spice with a bold palate of cherries, blackberries, licorice, and leather.  This unfined and unfiltered wine has drying tannins, healthy acidity, and definitely leaves a lasting (good) impression! (B+, $13)

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Wine and Food Pairings for the Football Season!

Every year I anxiously await the start of college and NFL football.  Each weekend (and pretty much every night of the week), I am glued to the television rooting for my favorite teams.  During the season, I love making delicious football fare and pairing it with incredible wines.  Although beer and football are often thought of as a match made in heaven, don’t underestimate pairing wine with your next game day.  Here are a few of my favorite combos!

Wings and Zinfandel

I have rarely gone to watch a game at a friend’s house without someone bringing wings.  If you want to drink a wine that will make your mouth-watering, sauced-up wings taste even better, grab a bottle of Zinfandel.  The spicy, red fruit can definitely hold its own against the bold flavors of the wings.  Try a bottle of Buehler 2010 Napa Valley Zinfandel.  Juicy, spicy, and a great value at $16. 

Pizza and Barbera

Whether you are ordering from Domino’s or making a pizza creation of your own, you pretty much can’t go wrong if you serve it with Barbera (well, maybe skip artichokes as a topping!).   Barbera generally has bright cherry flavors and healthy acidity, which makes it a great match for most pizzas.  Affordable ($15) and very tasty, Prunotto Barbera d’Asti 2009 is a great choice with pizza. 

Chips, Guacamole, and Grüner Veltliner

I am obsessed with chips and guacamole!  I can rarely make it through a Sunday of football without it.  A great wine to serve with tortilla chips and guac (and even a lot of other chips and dip combos) is Grüner Veltliner.  The lively acidity of the Grüner cuts through the fat in the avocados and the citrus and apple flavors work in perfect harmony with the lime, onions, and cilantro in the guacamole.  Try a bottle of 2011 Grooner from Austria.  It is an excellent bargain ($10) and will definitely work well with your guacamole! 

These are just a few suggestions and I will be posting more throughout the season.  Hope you decide to grab a couple of bottles of wine in addition to beer next time you turn on a game!

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Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos…Simply Delicious!

I wanted to wrap up a week of posts from our Santa Barbara trip with one of the best restaurants we have been to in a while…Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos.  If you are going to be anywhere near Santa Barbara wine country I suggest you make the drive to this quaint little town to taste what Flatbread is all about (and why there is often at least a one hour wait to get a table!).  I might even drool a little while I write this post!

Flatbread lies on Bell St., the main drag of Los Alamos.  They have a fantastic menu of flatbreads which are cooked to perfection in a stone hearth right in front of you.  In addition, they have a lengthy list of weekly specials, each looking better than the next as they came out of the kitchen.  During this visit, we started off with a lobster salad, which was one of the evening’s specials.  Huge chunks of lobster and fresh avocado (along with some other goodies) served over fried green tomatoes!  The tomatoes were reminiscent of those I often ate when I lived in Charleston, SC and the entire plate was delicious.

We followed up the special with their Smoke-Dried Tomato flatbread.  The toppings were so fresh and the pizza crust melted in your mouth. Flatbread definitely gives Pizzeria Mozza a run for their money!  In addition to the great food, Flatbread also features local, craft beers and a great wine list.  The wine list features wines from Santa Barbara producers such as Flying Goat Cellars and J Brix (I indulged in J Brix’s Riesling, which was very tasty!).

Flatbread was an amazing experience.  I can assure you, Brandon and I will never visit Santa Barbara wine country again without getting at least one meal at this wonderful restaurant!

 

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