Another Wine Blog’s First Friday Celebrates Pacific Northwest Wines

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Another Wine Blog’s third First Friday event celebrated wines from the Pacific Northwest. Pairings for the Washington and Oregon wines included Puget Sound Smoked Salmon with Pancetta in aioli sauce, Washington State Honeycrisp Apples, and Bosc pears from Oregon. Various meats like Wild Boar sausage, Black Forest, Parmacotto and Serrano Hams, Prosciutto di Parma, Hungarian salami, among others were complemented with Apple Juniper Mostarda from Carlton, Oregon-based Republic of Jam.

Sheep, goat and cow’s milk cheese, both domestic and international was included. We paired Manchego and Romao from Spain, Cocoa Cardona and Applewood Smoked Cheddar from Wisconsin, Extra Creamy Danish Blue, Brie Rocastin de Berger and Coston Bassett Stilton from Nottinghamshire.

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The great thing about wines from Washington and Oregon is that we can choose any number of them from our favorite producers and pair just about anything given the selection. This month we featured wines from the Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, Willamette Valley, Horse Heaven Hills and Yamill-Carlton AVAs.

Our white wine selections from the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon included:

Pacific Rim Dauenhauer Vineyard Riesling 2007
Columbia Valley, Washington

This German Kabinett-style, single-vineyard Riesling offers honey and petrol on the nose. Labeled as “dry,” some of our guests still found it sweet. We loved the mineral notes. Most will note it’s not the usual bottle shape, or label found when looking for Pacific Rim Riesling – this one is reserved for Pacific Rim’s single vineyard wines. Wonderful with grilled pork or German-style recipes. Alcohol by Volume (ABV) 8.8%, Suggested Retail Price (SRP) $19

AWB First Friday Pacific NW White WinesMonks Gate Vineyard Riesling 2011
Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon

We love to tell the story of our visit to Carlton, when we were “arrested.” It was such a surprise welcome to their little town that even the townspeople weren’t forewarned. Some were horrified at what they were certain would be a PR disaster. Imagine rolling into what you thought would be a lovely little wine tour, only to have your bus stopped in the middle of the road by the local police, who then instruct you to collect your things and disembark because the bus was being confiscated! (check out the video) A few of us were invited back to Carlton for a post-conference Blogger weekend, and I got to visit with the folks from Monks Gate.

Ron and Linda Moore were great hosts, and Linda shared her recipe for Blue Cheese Biscuits. Alas, I did not have time to make them for our tasting, but our First Friday guests did enjoy a bottle of their wine. Apple Cider on the nose, with a hint of petrol, it reminds me of our trips to the orchards in Michigan and Ohio just after the leaves turned. A perfect pairing for pork loin or smoked turkey. Priced at $23, this is the Moore’s first bottling from their Riesling vineyard. ABV 11.3%

Sokol Blosser Evolution White – 16th Edition
Dundee Hills Willamette Valley, Oregon

Sokol Blosser was one of the first wineries to put Oregon on the map when it came to wine. To celebrate our first night in Portland, we ordered a Sokol Blosser Evolution White. It had been a long day “flying about the country” with Southwest Airlines, so we wanted something crisp and refreshing. The Evolution white is a blend of 9 grapes — Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. One of our “go-to” whites, it is available nearly everywhere in Houston (Specs, Randall’s Central Market) so it is a natural choice to include in our line-up. ABV 12%, SRV is $15.

Alexandria Nicole 2011 Shepherd’s Mark – Destiny Ridge Vineyards
Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

We first encountered Alexandria Nicole Cellars on our WBC or Bust Road to Walla Walla return trip from the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. Ali and Jarrod Boyle make incredible small lot wines from their Destiny Ridge Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. Ali is gracious and Jarrod humble; “I’m just a farmer,” he said when we raved about the wines. Shepherd’s Mark is a Rhone-style blend of 68% Roussanne, 16% Marsanne, 16% Viognier. It’s 100% delicious and a perfect pairing with dried figs. While we purchased a case when we visited, and Jarrod sent some samples subsequently, this particular bottle was a sample given to us at the WBC Portland event. We had been saving it for something special, and First Friday Pacific Northwest Wines seemed like the perfect opportunity to share Alexandria Nicole Cellars with our guests. If you don’t live in a backwards state that is protecting the local distributors sitting on its State Alcohol Board, and your state allows direct shipping, you can purchase Alexandria Nicole Cellars wines here. ABV 13.5% SRP $24.

Treveri Sparkling Rose
Columbia Valley, Washington

Our friend Isabel brought a lovely sparkling wine to celebrate my and Wendell’s shared birthdays. Sparkling wines are not only great for celebrations, they are delightful as apertifs, before the meal; or disgestifs, to help prevent heartburn and aid in digestion. Sparkling wines are the perfect palate cleanser, to remove lingering flavors in the mouth and prepare it for the next course. Treveri Cellars opened in late 2010 by Jeurgen Grieb, a winemaker born and raised in Trier, Germany. Treveri wine has been served at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York. The Treveri Rose is a blend of Chardonnay and Syrah, produced “Methode Champenoise,” like that of the France region of Champagne. 12% ABV, SRP $18.

Cheers! to Pacific Northwest White Wines

Cheers! to Pacific Northwest Wines

Pacific Northwest Red Wines – What? No Pinot Noir?

Now you might notice something about our red selections – there are no Pinot Noirs among them. That is not to say there are not some fabulous Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest. On the contrary, some of our favorite Pinot Noir wines come from Oregon. But because there are so many different expressions of Pinot Noir, we decided to give that wine its own night, so we can choose and experience wines from various AVAs for comparison.

Our Pacific Northwest Red wines from Washington and Orgeon states for First Friday, May, included

Sokol Blosser Evolution Red – 2nd Edition
Dundee, Oregon

We first learned about Sokol Blosser when I read “At Home in the Vineyard” by Susan Sokol Blosser. When we met Co-President Alison Sokol Blosser us out for dinner and a portfolio tasting at Ned Ludd in Portland, it felt like meeting someone I already knew. It was here that we first tried Sokol Blosser Evolution Red. Just bottled in April 2012, we were interested in tasting this Syrah-based blend’s 2nd Edition. It pairs with pizza, to grilled anything to pancetta and pork noodles. ABV 13%. A great value at only $15.

L’Ecole No. 41 2009 Columbia Valley Red Blend
Columbia Valley, Washington

We love all the L’Ecole No. 41 wines we have had so far, which is why three appear in our lineup. L’Ecole No. 41 takes its name from the historic Frenchtown schoolhouse that houses the winery. When we first tasted L’Ecole No. 41 wines, the bottles sported a brightly colored label featuring a chalkboard and a watercolor rendition of the schoolhouse created in 1984 by then 8-year old cousin Ryan Campbell, following a contest among the elementary school children in the founders’ extended family. After 25 years and the emergence of Washington State as a premier wine country, the winery adopted a new label. The winery explains the change:

The image on our current label is a painting of the Frenchtown Schoolhouse based on a photograph taken in 1915, when it was newly-built. It features an original painting which is a sepia-tone illustration of the school, capturing the heart and soul of the winery’s heritage and underscoring the winery’s historical roots in the Walla Walla Valley.

This image reflects the strengths of the winery today. L’Ecole is an authentic, hand-crafted artisan Washington brand, built on experience and innovation, and known for reliable, consistent quality wines. We have adopted this historical rendition of the Schoolhouse for the labels across our entire wine portfolio.This image reflects the strengths of the winery today. L’Ecole is an authentic, hand-crafted artisan Washington brand, built on experience and innovation, and known for reliable, consistent quality wines. We have adopted this historical rendition of the Schoolhouse for the labels across our entire wine portfolio.

L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Red Wine 2010 Vintage is 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Syrah and 13% Cabernet Franc blended from select Columbia Valley vineyards, including press fractions from each of their Columbia Valley and Walla Walla vineyard lots. We found this one at Central Market, Houston. ABV 14.5% SRV $19.

L’Ecole No. 41 2009 Columbia Valley Merlot
Columbia Valley, Washington

This blend follows a Right-bank Bordeaux style, combining Merlot (76%) Cabernet Franc (10%) Cabernet Sauvignon (7%) Malbec (4%) and Petit Verdot (3%). The folks at L’Ecole No. 41 call it “dark and brooding.” But our guests loved the aromas of plum, nutmeg, and clove with notes of blackberry and black cherry. Available in Houston at Specs and Central Market, to name a few. ABV 14.5% SRP $24.

L’Ecole No. 41 2009 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley, Washington

We love it when we can find good, food-friendly Cabs that don’t break the bank. Fruit for this vintage comes from the Bacchus & Dionysus, Stone Tree, Alder Ridge, Candy Mountain, Klipsun, Pepper Bridge, Stillwater Creek, and Estate Seven Hills vineyards. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine layers dark fruit of plum and black cherry with cocoa, earth and chalky leather tannins. 14.5% ABV, SRP $31.

Pacific Northwest Red Wines for First Friday May

Charles Smith’s The Velvet Devil 2011 Washington State Merlot
Columbia Valley, Washington

Charles Smith is almost synonymous with Walla Walla wines, especially his K Syrahs. And he throws a helluva party complete with bands and the burlesque-stylings of Tristan Risk aka Little Miss Risk. He also sues people who comment on blogs. That being said, his wines are perfectly drinkable and you can find them everywhere. They have catchy names, and cool labels, including his The Velvet Devil Merlot. 13.5 % ABV $12.

Columbia Crest H3 Les Chevaux Red Blend
Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

Columbia Crest winesmaker Juan Munoz Oca tells a funny story about the perils of being a father and a winemaker. His small children like to follow him about the vineyard while he is tasting grapes. Juan said once we got a call from his young daughter’s school. It seemed that she was spitting out grapes after she tasted them. Just like her father did in the vineyard. Les Chevaux is French for “the horses” a reference to the wild horses that one roamed the area. H3 is, of course, Horse Heaven Hills. I first tasted this wine while at a winemaker dinner at Haven where Chef Randy prepared grilled pork loin and filet of beef for pairing. The blend of 80% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Syrah balances fruit and tannin, and is an incredible value at $15. ABV 14.5%

Syncline Wine Cellars 2011 Subduction Red Blend
Columbia Valley, Washington

SubRedlabelJoe loves his Côtes du Rhône, and this is Syncline’s Washington version of a Cotes-du-Rhone Villages wine. Fruit represents an exploration of the Columbia Valley, sourced from slopes in Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain. A synergy of 39% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 9% Carignan, 7% Counoise and 2% Cinsault, it is a vivid ruby color with black cherry, raspberry, baking spice and black pepper aromas and flavors. I love the story of Syncline Wine Cellars:

Poppie and James met during the harvest of 1997 while working together in the cellar at LaVelle Vineyards (Willamette Valley, Oregon). Shortly after, they had fallen madly in love, married and began plans for a new endeavor: a winery of their own.

Syncline wines are available in 11 U.S. states (California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington) Alberta and Quebec. Sebduction Red is sold in Central Market across Texas for around $20.

Waters 2008 Pepper Bridge Syrah
Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Waters Winery Tasting room windowWhile visiting Walla Walla, Washington we were guests for lunch at Waters, an artisanal boutique winery that makes both New World and Old World-style wines. The modern, yet rustic-in-character Tasting Room (Occupancy 32 – says a sign over the door) has large open windows that look out onto the lawn and vineyards beyond. The Pepper Bridge vineyard is located in the Cottonwood Glen area of the eastern edge of the Walla Walla Valley, nearly on top of the Oregon state line.

We love their Syrahs, and we’re obviously not the only ones. The bottle we served was the last on the shelves at our Downtown Specs, and it seems the 2008 vintage is also Sold Out at the winery. Always a favorite, this vintage is deep in flavors of Rhubarb pie, with aromas of coffee, dark cherries and baking spices. We don’t mind paying a bit for a fabulous Syrah, and enjoyed sharing it with our guests. SRP $45, 14.1% ABV.

Republic of Jam
Carlton, Oregon

KickOutTheJamsOur post-Portland visit to Carlton, Oregon, was set up by the delightful purveyors of Republic of Jam. They run their jam store just like a wine tasting room, and we were all treated to a wonderful selection of jams and other fruit preserves, as well as tasty cocktails made from Oregon Whisky and Republic of Jam Culinary syrups. Available flavors of jam, preserves and syrups change often as produced, but everything is always tasty.

We use them for breakfast toast, meat and cheese condiments. We even make our own RoJ cocktails. The Republic of Jam folks have plenty of recipes using their products on their website. when we visited, each of us got a great little gift bag, but we ordered more when once we got home. If you cannot get to Carton, Oregon, in person (and we really, really think you should), just visit their website, and check out their latest offerings.

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2004 Château d’Yquem
Sauternes, Graves, France

ChdYYes, we know that Château d’Yquem is not produced in the Pacific Northwest. It comes from the Sauternes, Gironde region in the southern part of the Bordeaux vineyards known as Graves. It is a Premier Cru Supérieur, or Superior First Growth, a distinction given the wine in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It was the only Sauternes given this rating, indicating its perceived superiority and higher prices over all other wines of its type. The wine’s success comes largely from the site’s susceptibility to  “noble rot.”

The wine, a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc, is not necessarily produced every year. In a poor vintage, the entire crop is deemed unworthy of bearing the Château’s name. We’re told this happened nine times in the 20th century: 1910, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974, and 1992. And only once to date this century: the 2012 harvest.

Château d’Yquem Sauternes is an exquisitely sweet dessert wine, with a golden-hour hue. It is enjoyed best served chilled, with a creamy Stilton, or any number of blue cheeses. By itself, some might find it a bit too sweet.

We had been talking about Château d’Yquem since Joe and Iris took their International Sommelier Guild Certification classes in 2007. When I saw Wendell and Iris at a Veuve Clicquot tasting last month, I promised them I would open it to celebrate Wendell’s and my shared birthday.

Château d’Yquem is a wine we reserve for celebration. It is most often sold in a 375 ml half bottle. Price depends upon the vintage, and after market prices can be outrageous. In July 2011, an 1811 bottle of Château d’Yquem sold for £75,000 ($117,000) at the Ritz in London to a private collector, Christian Vanneque, to become the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold. The 2004 Vintage will run you about $150 for a 375 ml half bottle.

First Friday, June 7: Pinot Noir

Our Next First Friday is June 7, where we will be celebrating different expressions of both Old World and New World Pinot Noir (also known as Burgundy.) We have a number of wines from our own collection already in mind. If you represent a winery that would like to be included in our event, please email me at WineWonkette@gmail.com to get more information about sending samples.

Cheers!

The Winewonkette