Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Come to My "Un-Opening"

As you can see, besides loving wine, I also love to paint and print. I will be in New York during the first week of the show but we plan on having an un-opening when I get back. There WILL be wine;)

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Open Bottle: Abbelone '09 Pinot Noir

Today, after the tilers left, after I took Linda to the airport, and after I fed the cats, I went in to the cellar and poked around, looking for something I had not had very much time with.
I chose a bottle of 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir by Abbelone Wine, partly due to the label done by Jane West, who I used to show at my Portland Gallery years ago.
First Open: High notes of eucaliptus, cedar, and cool black fruit in the nose. Nice mouthfeel with black fruit and a little hard candy.
10 Minutes: Cedar and black caps with blueberry notes in the nose.  A little warm strawberry and blackberry with some notes of mint and earth.
30 Minutes: Ok, now we are open! Complex coffee, big black fruit, cedar in the top notes, and just a hint of Asian spice. The mouth-feel has become soft and delightful. Hints of jammy strawberry, a bit of Blueberry dancing around with cooked strawberry jam. Warm and inviting with a pleasant finish. . It is delicate and would not do well with spicy food.The acid balance lends itself to Salmon and lightly cooked veggies.
Here are the notes I did last year when we did a tasting at Travel Lane County's Adventure Center.
Very lovely wine.
You may find out more from South Willamette Wineries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Long Drive But Nice Rewards

Today I had a pleasant drive to Portland to pick up a framed painting at Pearl Framing. The frame stock for one of the works was back ordered so I must make a return trip next week. There are rewards you have to give yourself when things do not go just right so that life evens out. Today my reward was lunch at The Parish on NW 11th at Evert. A blossom of Louisiana nestled in the Pearl just waiting to be plucked.
I made a reservation on OpenTable and after a little visit to Powell's and Whole Foods, wandered in and was greeted by Sabrina, who showed me to a nice table with a view of 11th and handed me a menu. I watched the trolly pass and thought about the sights and sounds of New Orleans and riding the Streetcars there. The smells coming from the kitchen helped form the memory.
I was not looking to stuff myself so I found and ordered the Wedge Salad, a nice big quarter head of fresh crisp lettuce drizzled with a creamy buttermilk Ranch dressing and served with soft cooked egg. Then I added three pan fried oysters and topped it of with a glass of INOX, Chehalem's nice little '11 Chardonnay.
There are few wines that would have gone as well with the meal as this one did, perhaps Ghost Hill's Pinot Noir Blanc, but this is what they had and I was more than pleased. Crisp fruit with just that perfect hint of slate and a very smooth and delicate mouth feel. It worked with both the salad and the oysters, cutting the creamy dressing and enhancing the flavors of the fried oysters. This wine is one of the best of their INOX label that I have tasted. Unoaked and brilliant with ginger and white peach along the good minerals. Loved it!
The oysters were small, perfectly done, and lightly breaded in cornmeal and all the delicate flavors came shining through.
I enjoyed reading the New York Magazine while slowly cruising through the meal, letting the tastes mingle and enhance each other but alas, the meal was done and I had to move on. I thanked Tobias Hogan, one of the owners. He and his partner had another oyster bar called EaT in north Portland. When the cooking school, In Good Taste, closed after Barbara Dawson decided to combine it with her location in Lake Oswego, they stepped in and brought Portland a little more classy sample of Louisiana.
I highly recommend this place and let me tell you, from past visits, the rabbit and andouille jambalaya is out of this world, or at least out of Oregon.

A Little Flight Music

My friends at WildAire  Cellars have come up with a great idea to get us through the coming chill.

Bring your instruments by for a free wine tasting and relaxing hour on Sunday afternoons.  The rain has set in for the winter, here in Oregon.  It's feels good to sit around the fire and drink hot chocolate and watch football, for a weekend.  Let us tempt you out of the house.  Come play music with us, or just come sip a little wine and listen to the music.  For the past month, we have had some local Carlton musicians stop in at the shop to play on Sundays, and they would like some audience participation.  I know many of you strum a little guitar.  Please come out and support your local music scene.  They start playing at around 3:30 in the afternoon will will stay around until dinner. 

Our tasting room will be open in December up until Christmas, on Saturdays and Sundays.  It will close for the 2 weekends after Christmas and then open back up January 12th on the weekends through March

The wines they produce are really tasty, plus they are just great people, so stop by and bring your music, or just listen and have a flight.
 WildAire Cellars Tasting Room
Open September-April - Fri-Mon 12-5
May-August - Daily 12-5
May-October - Friday 12-7
or by appointment anytime call 503 883 3325

For more events and information contact

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Changes Coming at Wine Advocate

Eric Asimov writes about the changes coming to Parker's mag now that he is stepping aside a bit. His influence on the industry has been deep and wide. Not everyone agrees with his taste or approach but he has been one of the biggest influencing forces for many years.

For many wine lovers, the news that Robert M. Parker Jr. is planning to sell a portion of his influential newsletter, The Wine Advocate, to a group of Asian investors and step down as editor in chief does not so much signal an end of an era as acknowledges changes that have been under way for a decade.
The article, by Lettie Teague in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, also reports that the print edition of The Wine Advocate will soon be eliminated, and that Lisa Perrotti-Brown, a correspondent for The Wine Advocate based in Singapore, will take over editorial control. Mr. Parker will assume the role of chairman, and he will continue to write for the newsletter, primarily covering the wines of Bordeaux and the Rhône.
Mr. Parker is still the world’s most influential wine critic, at least in the sense that his words help set the prices of the top-flight Bordeaux market and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as well as the auction market for old benchmark wines. In a larger sense, though, the peak of Mr. Parker’s influence, when he along with other publications like Wine Spectator shaped how several generations of Americans thought about wine, has passed. The move recognizes a new reality, that the center of orbit for critics like Mr. Parker is now in Asia rather than North America. MORE

Friday, December 7, 2012

Oregon Wine Gets a Look in California

Eve Bushman, who writes Wine 101 and other wine articles, did an interview with me and published it in the West Ranch Beacon. Here is a link and an exert.

Last week readers were introduced to Oregon resident Robert Canaga. We covered much of his beginnings, his entrance into wine and his art. This week we will finish up our interview learning about Oregon wines. 2. What is unique about Oregon wines; for example what varietals are best produced with the terroir? I am not sure I understand the question as wine is produced and has terroir. That is the Umami of wine, that 5th taste that is indescribable but is obvious. Oregon has many wine regions. Of course the one that gets the most attention is the Willamette Valley, where I think we have 7 AVAs and many more unspecified areas for growth. Mostly Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay but now we are growing cold climate Syrah, and all kinds of colder climate grapes for blending and small release bottlings.
In the Umpqua AVA and its neighbor, Red Hills Douglas County (smallest AVA in Oregon, perhaps in the USA) they grow Pinot Noir, Italian reds, syrah, and even Pinotage, along with Rieslings, Muller-Thurgau, and some more little surprises, like Grüner Veltliner.
To the south we have the Rogue and Applegate Valleys where they grow hot weather grapes and also lots of Pinot Noir that is closer to Napa that Willamette Valley grapes.
Each specific area has its own terroir and after a while you can tell where the grape is grown just by the smell. A great example is Forris Vineyard’s Pinot Noir: It is grown in the coast ranges almost to the California border near Oregon Caves. The land is rich with organics and the deep volcanic soils. You can smell the forest floor and the wet rock and it adds to the complexity of the wine. Another example would be the different Syrahs grown here. The ones grown down in the Rogue Valley floor are hot, smoky, big fruit, and a bit harsh in some years where the ones grown just a few miles away up the valley are much more gentle and the fruits, while big and bold, are even more complex and you can pick out the details of the wine. MORE

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Little Late Night Nectar

A few weeks ago I had the occasion to shop the local Bi-Mart for bird seed and unsalted peanuts for my new friend the scrub Jay. I recalled what a large wine area they they used to have years ago so I wondered over for a look. There, on the highest shelf, a lone bottle, marked down to $11.99, was a bottle of Bradley Vineyard '07 Riesling. I picked it up, trying to act nonchalant as I placed it carefully in my cart and made for the register.
A little history: I was at Bradley in '08 when he released this one and he gave one to the "One Bottle Project" plus I bought one after tasting. I was light and crisp with nice German tones and I bit of that lovely petroleum hint on the nose. It was light and crisp then but it had a deep undertone of apple and white fruit. Now it is golden toned with a heady nose of baked apple, ripe pear, and honey. In the mouth it transforms with elegant pear and caramel with a tartness that is not at all unpleasant. Nice acid and sugar balance. Truly nectar of some god somewhere.
If you have not taken the time to drive off the freeway to Elkton, DO IT! There are three wonderful wineries there and each has won many awards. The micro climate there has its own unique way of developing the fruit.
Visit Brandborg, River's Edge, and Bradley and you will be charmed and amazed!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

$100 Blind Luck

We had an occasion to open a very good bottle of wine last night with dinner. I went to our small cellar and closed my eyes and picked up the first bottle I touched: '06 Cathy's Reserve Pinot Noir. Single vineyard Pommard, 147 cases produced. Oh my! Ceder, black fruit, outstanding balance with a mouth filling smoothness. It was so good it is hard to describe but it made every single thing in our simple repast elegant and sumptuous. It was an honor to have been given one of these bottles each year by Cathy for the "one bottle project" I did. Cathy passed away in November of last year.
Stoller has become one of the most respected wineries in Oregon and was noted in the December issue of Wine Spectator in the feature about Oregon wines.
The Reserve is only available at the tasting room and is not a low priced wine. This one is $100.