Monday, August 27, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
Now I know I've waited a bit before releasing my observations about this recent Wine Bloggers Conference. For many, they like to strike while the iron is hot and honestly who can blame them. But I wanted to take a few more days to think about the experience. And yes, it was an experience to take it all in and then let it all go, oozing all over an unsuspecting drooling herd of vino-sapiens [as if there was such a thing]. But that said, I've think I have at least ten observations that I hope will inspire others to attend in the future, makes me think about what could have been and perhaps encourage others to take a deeper look into the Oregon wine-scene, so here we go.
1. This great [well-oiled-machine] event we've all come to know and appreciate as the Wine Bloggers Conference, gave
2. For me, I was surprised and humbled by many who counted me as inspiration, a helping hand or as a blogger cited as "doing-it" right. Wow, thanks so much to everyone for publicly stating those favorable impressions. It's with big thanks and mucho gratitude to Shawn Burgert [aka, A Wandering Wino], Kim Johnson [aka, D’ Vine Wine Time] and Heather Unwin, representing the Red Mountain AVA that I say, thank you and to everyone else who has given me a virtual-high five over the years.
3. Having been to the Oregon Wine Scene once before this conference, more than a few years back, there have been many changes and many new producers who have joined the fray. All of which I'm so glad to see. But that said, I'd have to say that while I appreciated sampling the efforts of many new producers, a few of the old guard as well, some of my favorites, what I call the "heavy-hitters' were absent from the conversation. So for you folks who possibly are wondering "what did I miss" or you're relatively new to Oregon wine, may I suggest checking out the likes of Ken Wright Cellars, Beaux Freres, Patricia Green Cellars, Bergstrom Wines and lastly a trip to the Carlton Winemakers Studio is a must for any vino-sapien in the audience. If I left any off of this very short list please feel free to mention them in the comments below.
4. Again, like I said before in contrast to where I live here in
6. I discovered what I know will become a favorite to anyone else who experiences their wine; a new favorite producer on the Orgundian Wine Trail and that producer is Hawks View Cellars. After our bus load of bloggers finished piling into their well-appointed and comfortable tasting room, located in
8. The excursions, oh the pre-conference excursions, folks honestly if you go to these conferences and you don't take the excursions, you're missing the boat. Nearly everyone I spoke with and nearly every conversation I overheard was super positive about the pre-conference excursions. Are they perfect, umm no, but do the positives far out-weigh the negatives, hell yeah they do. I only wish there had been a post conference excursion as well, like the one to
9. Many [not all] the wineries were on the ball with invites to bloggers for extracurricular activities, before during and after the conference. A hardy round of virtual applause to you all, I'm sorry I was not able to attend all the many wonderful events that were planned. Now that said, one of the events I was able to attend was what I have dubbed as "Blend Camp" at R. Stuart and Co. and thank you Maria. Why, well I like to name things, I like to give folks, friends, events and other stuff in my life nick names. Anyway, a group of about 25 bloggers attended a post conference event where we had a very tasty lunch and then were invited to work with a group of other bloggers to come up with our very own blend to have shipped home. This was a highly fascinating and fun event that involved what it really takes to come up with a blend, no easy task, as many other teams found out.
10. "We don't need no stinking badges" sorry to disagree with the pot-prophets from the eighties, but we really need to change the badge format in my opinion. The name badges are so small and could have really emphasized the twitter handles a lot more prominently than they did. For me, I really only know most folks by their twitter handle; it would have made recognizing most folks much easier.
The writing was pretty small and obscured by the background image, so small in fact, I really had to look at each one more than once to know who I was talking with, a bit embarrassing. Second, geez I hope those badges will get steam-cleaned or something, because I know those badges went places most folks may not want to talk about.
Well folk that’s it for today, but after creating a list like this, it leaves me wondering what your own observations were. I'd really like to hear from many as you as possible, about your own experiences, positive or negative no matter. I really enjoyed seeing everyone again this year and I can't wait to see some of you again next year or hopefully before that if at all possible. If any of you find yourself in my wonderful little town of
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Having recently been a guest with McMendamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon, I was surprised by its theme, making me immediately think that the Beatles may have taken part of their inspiration for the Magical Mystical Tour by staying here.
As one walks down the hallways of this 1930's era hotel on the way to the room you're greeted by whimsy and mysterious characters on just about every wall, door and even the plumbing stare back at you with a sense of odd, nonsensical humor.
Now supposedly there's a haunted element to this place, it's rumored that if you suddenly get an unexplainable whiff of lavender, that you are perhaps in the presence of the Lavender Lady. Stories abound of various locations throughout the property that folks have been witness to alleged paranormal and unexplained activities. I should have been, I did stay in the Lavender Lady's room.
Her image painted on the wall in "her" guest room, is one which I forgot to photograph. But it's one that seems burns a hole in your head, as she stares right at you, no matter where you move about in the room. It's something which is more than a little creepy. I remember waking in the middle of night, thinking "what the bleep was that?" But I nodded-off right back to dream-land, but I don't recall any lavender aromas or seeing whisps of smoke floating about in the room. But if you've been reading this blog for awhile, then you know I'm pretty skeptical, so I really didn't give it another thought to be honest.
Here above you can see the ramp that leads up to the second story rooms, where there's a nice sized movie theatre and the only air conditioned room in the entire building. Just below and to the right is the main lobby and front desk. There's also a great bar, just behind the front desk, just incase you get thirsty.
For the ladies in particular, there's a cozy spa to melt away the stress of travel. I didn't go in for a visit myself, but as you can see from the hallway the whimsical nature of the lodge is everywhere. In the picture below is a typical room, which only has a sink, the toilets and showers are "Euro-Style" meaning it's a shared space down the hall from your room. But hey not to worry, each room is
furnished with a deluxe fluffy-white bathrobe, to help you get-about without too much embarrassment. But it strikes me as funny seeing others roaming about the hallways in their bath-robes, it kind of conjures up for me images from the movie, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" I kept looking over my shoulder for Nurse Ratched.
In the picture above is what you can expect to find in a typical room. Now on a hot day, like the one I experienced, when visiting just last weekend, these rooms are pretty uncomfortable on warm weather days. There's no A/C in any of the rooms, but you do get a deluxe box-fan to put in the window. You can find it stashed in the musty closet. Be careful when placing the fan, as there is nothing to really restrain it from falling out of the window and crashing against the side of building at 2:00 am oh-my. Also there are no screens on the windows to keep unwanted visitors [mosquitoes] from reaching you while you sleep.
And not to worry kids yes, they do have a pool one which they call the wonderful Euro soaking-pool. While not so great on a hot-summers day, because unlike most pools this one is heated to well-over 90 degrees, leaving one feeling like the proverbial frog in the pan of water. I could see on a cold-cold winters day; that a pool such as this would be a welcome relief for sore muscles after a long day on the wine-trail.
While they do have a couple dining destinations right there on the property; may I recommend one which does have A/C if you dine inside, just a few blocks from McMenamins. Where I experienced a superb dining menu, they also have a large comfortable patio dining area if you need room for a large groups. It's called 1910 Main American Bistro [with a nice wine list]. But if you wanted to do BYOB before dining or you just wanted to get your wine-on before hand, then in the next image below you will find a great little wine-bar, which unfortunately I was not able to visit, but again is just blocks from 1910.
It's called the Urban Decanter, a great place to stop by for lunch or even a light dinner. If wine is not your thing, no problem they have a great selection of Orgundian craft beer waiting to tempt you. This place looks like it has it all and too bad I missed the opportunity for a visit. But if you live in the area or you happen to be staying at the supposedly haunted McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove be sure to stop in, say hello and chat with the locals about what's hot and what's not.
Well that's all I have for you today, I hope that what ever you do in life, that you always make allowance for the opportunity to travel. It will change your perspective and help you see the world we live in a whole new way. At the very least that has been my experience over the last nine years, but I've just begun to wet my appetite for travel and have barely scratched the surface of what the world has to offer. I look forward to hearing from you about your own experience via the comment section below. Until next folk, please continue to sip long and prosper cheers!
Friday, August 10, 2012
"The friendliness is natural, it's regional and it's contagious.”It's a little bit of
I hope the state of
Yes, I say
Going back to the first paragraph regarding the "friendliness" to be found while traveling through the Oregon wine-scene, he's so right on point, it should be said with an exclamation point. When Mrs. Cuvee and I first traveled to Oregon to get our Pinot-on, it wasn't long before we remarked to each other, "Wow, this place is really friendly" in a Mayberry kind of way. We were strangers and we were from the Californication down south, but no matter we were treated like welcomed guests and it's a memory that lives with my wife and I every time, we pop the cork on one of the many Orgundian gems we brought home from that trip.
While many folks who have never visited
Lastly I wanted to highlight a great producer who graciously shipped me a couple samples of what's new [or at least new to me] on the Orgundian wine scene. These wines come to me from a producer of whom I was not familiar with and one of the very first producers from
Now that said, it's with no further ado, that I introduce you to R. Stuart and Co. Winery and Winebar located in the delightful town of
2009 Big Fire Pinot Noir: Once in the glass you'll find a lightly colored garnet core, which fades effortlessly to the rim. Sticking my fat nose in the glass, I easily found wafting up out of the glass, inviting aromas of raspberry, dried cherries with a hint of gentle spices. Taking in my first big-gulp, warm rich-earth, dark plum, ripe strawberry and just a splash of cranberry, spills across my palate with nice length and precision. This PN weighs in 13.4% abv, has a palate pleasing fruit to acid balance, representing wonderful Oregundian effort for the budget-conscious vino-sapien. This wine sells for SRP of $19 and I scored this wine 90 points.
2008 Autograph Pinot Noir: Wowsers, this wine is multi-layered, a Pinot Noir reminding me of my newly found love for the "Blues" via Buddy Guy and other similar super-stars. This is the kind of music and the kind of wine, that gives you time to think, as you watch the wine evolve, the music will strike a deep chord in your thirsty soul. This is the kind of wine that puts me in my ambitious-boy recliner, with over-sized head-phones on, melting away all the days’ activities. This wine, this Pinot Noir is a blend of too-many to name here relatively young vineyards [exciting].
Once you pop the glass-closure off the top of the bottle and pour yourself a glass, you'll find a bit more here than may be anticipated. This wine sells for $38 and I scored it 92 points.
Look: This Pinot Noir glistened and shimmered in the glass like gentle rose petals falling upon a silk-pillow, conjures vic-secret commercials [oh-my] and staring back at me from the glass; a lithe shade of crimson in the core fading to a silky cerise rim [no really].
Smell: The aromas of barnyard type rustic smells wafted effortlessly from my glass, with a strong under currant of rich spices and fragrant red berries enveloping my senses and tempting my palate, like the coming attractions of summer blockbuster.
Taste: So after I finally take a sinfully huge gulp, my palate is struck by rich black cherry, raspberry, dusted rich vineyard earthiness. The key word on this wine is seamless, immediately expressive rich sandalwood spice, black cherry, fruit tart explosion and a really nice balance, acidity and elegant mouth-feel, departing with a wondrously long finish. A fab wine, that will make a believer out of you, enjoy.
Mrs. Cuvee and I are super excited about the upcoming conference and I can't wait to meet all our new friends, especially the many folks I only know through twitter, get reacquainted with others, hob-nob with great producers, thank all the folks that helped make this years event possible, listen to some great talks from folks I admire in the wine-biz, mingle with old-friends who've known for years now, seeing this is going to be my fourth conference, let's light this candle.
I hope all the folks who can't make it this year will tune-in on the #WBC12 hashtag to see all fun conversations and impressions from this years attendees. For everyone else who will be there, I look forward to seeing you all very soon, cheers!
Monday, August 6, 2012
good girls go bad... and it gets crazy!” ― Rachel Thompson
Well summer is still here folks, what many call the "dog-days" and I know many of you're still reeling from the unforgiving summer heat, but being in San Diego, we've staved off most of the nasty awful tropical moisture exported to us from our friends in the south until just this week. But now that August has peeked its head in the door, with a bit of dragons breath, it's high-time to think about wines to help you keep your cool in the last official month of summer, although here in San Diego our summer tends to stretch far into November.
So what do I have on deck for today's review, two entirely different bottles of Pinot Grigio, both sent to me as samples, both from Italy and both come from easily recognized producers. The first one in the review spotlight is from the folks at Attems. This wine rests nicely in glass, sporting a light hay-colored core. I'd drink this wine at cool 57 degrees to keep it from becoming nearly monolithic at warmer temps. After the first slurp, crisp and edgy minerality, wet stone, a touch of ripe apple and fresh almonds, await the thirsty vino-sapiens who dig this style of Pinot Grigio.
Many find this style of wine to be "An innocuous, uninteresting wine, that lends itself for easy pairings with pasta, chicken and fish" ~ Lettie Teague and I would have to say in the case of this wine, I too must concur with that statement. Ms. Teague does however go onto defend this often maligned grape variety rather nicely, so feel free to click over to this article to get the rest of the story.
Regarding my impressions of the Attems Pinot Grigio, [this is my second sample] it's a well made wine, comes under cork, with no apparent flaws. It's an high acid wine, thin yet very delicate white wine. It does surprisingly sell quite well and is very similar in style to what I believe is another over-priced Pinot Grigio, Santa Margarita. A wine that ironically even most in folks in Italy don't like, [or so I've heard] but for some reason these wines have become nearly "cult" faves for many die-hard fans here in the U.S. proving that this wine is obviously floating someones boat.
Especially, on many restaurants wine lists where wines like this will fetch a pretty-price [$50] and retails for about $20 in most Costco locations and maybe higher elsewhere. Again not a wine made in a style that's appealing to me, but one that folks in the Anti-flavor league would find very interesting. I scored this wine 86 points, good but not compelling enough for me to part with $20.
For folks not familiar with Pinot Grigio, [aka, Pinot Gris] it’s a white wine grape variety of the species known as Vitis vinifera [aka, the wine bearing grape]. In wondering how in the world this grape came into being in the first place, many believe it’s a “mutant” clone of the Pinot Noir grape. Now this may come as a shock to you, but it’s a grape which normally has a grayish-blue, pink or some cases leaning toward light yellow fruit. If you want to learn more about this grape and its many different styles, please check out a piece I wrote "To Gris or not to Grigio" where I generalize just a bit, on the differences please feel free to click here.
The next wine in today’s Summer White Wine Spotlight, a tasty wine from the great folks at Banfi, the 2010 San Angelo Pinot Grigio. A mouth watering example in my book, about how utterly tasty a Pinot Grigio can be, especially on a warm summer evening, it's quite refreshing.
After pouring it my glass and allowing it to warm a bit, I found it to have a pale straw colored core with greenish hues reaching out toward a watery rim. The nose is big, bright and beaming with tropical fruit and flowery aromas, just delightful.
After taking a big slurp of this lightly chilled Pinot Grigio, I found it brimming with green apple and tropical fruit flavors, a wine which nicely quenched my thirst, the low-hanging fruit is plumbed with firm acidity, white flowers and citrus give it nice overall balance.
Are you wondering, what’s my score for this wine? I gave it 90 thirst quenching points, a great wine to have while sitting pool-side with the family or friends. This wines pairs harmoniously with many food choices [like Sushi] and easy on the wallet at $12.95. So honestly what are you waiting for; pick up those keys and head down to your favorite wine store to score a few bottles, you can thank me later, until next times cheers everyone!
Friday, August 3, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Time for another wine of the week and this time it's a fantastic
This quote from the book comes in the context where he's attempting to explain the sale of the Big House and Cardinal Zin brands that went down in 2009; a sale which caused no small amount of confusion to many familiar with Bonny Doon Vineyards.
Mr. Graham explained his lament about many folks confusion over the sale and the new direction of the Bonny Doon brand explained it this way in the book; "Been Doon So Long" [one I highly recommend reading] "The wines we are now producing are much better and more “serious” – if by that we mean as winegrowers we are more focused and attentive – but I fear my reputation as a jocular marketer may forever-doom (or doon) my chances of the world ever taking the wines themselves seriously." Not in my book, Mr. Graham, not in my book.
I for one, having recently received a sample of the 2010 Le Cigare Blanc, a true Rhone style white wine from planet Earth, I can emphatically say with absolutely no reservation, folks you need to take this wine serious. This is some very tasty juice, a great white wine which I highly recommend to you. But for those of you in the anti-flavor league, [you know who you are =p] you may just want to skip this wine, as you'll be more than overwhelmed by a deft-palate of flavors and enticing aromas, that far exceed the stony minerality and uber high acid style many point to as the pinnacle of all things great in white wines.
This wine is produced from the grape of the Beeswax Vineyard, proudly announced on the label, the wine which comes under a screw-cap for ultra-easy access is a blend of 55% Rousanne and 45% Grenache Blanc. This wine has great body, superb structure and is complimented with a zippy acidity that is plumbed into the fruit, made in a style which is immediately approachable. So if you are sick of oakey-dokey California Chardonnay, looking for a departure from the ordinary-everyday ho-hum Sauvignon Blanc, than folks this wine is for you.
Tasting Note: This wine grace your glass with hay-colored finesse, easily finds that great balance on the hire-wire act between tension and lavishness. Flat-out fun beeswax flavors, this wine has real Roussanne depth, gobs-smacks of honey, ripe peach and tropical flavors dancing with overripe sliced mango, wrapped in some nice floral flavors. This wine has some great acidity and a wound-up minerality that ties the whole thing up in a pretty package and yet a wine that pushes the limits, and succeeds at every turn.
Pairing Questions: If you’re like me; I'm always on the prowl for recommendations on what to pair, so if you're are looking for some great pairing ideas, I think I've found just the place for finding that perfect pairing with this wine, just click over here to find one that will work for you.
Price and Points: It sells for just $18 -$20 most places, that I've seen online and it looks like I may have been one of the first to review this new vintage. I scored this wine a delicious 91 points and I further award it the highly coveted "drink now and drink often" recommendation. So what are you waiting for? Order some today, you won't be disappointed.
If you consider yourself a cork-dork of any stripe or you're just the average vino-sapien looking for a great read, you'll also want to get a copy of his book, Been Doon So Long. Until next time folks, please sip long and prosper. By the way, please remember not to drink this wine too cold, or you'll miss out on all the wonderful layers of complexity just waiting to unfold in your glass. Cheers!