Don and Nicole with their family of future winemakers.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
1. "I only buy wines from France, because they do not contain any sulfites."
After a while, these well-meaning but misinformed comments begin to sound like the "wha-wha-wha" noise that the adults speak in "Peanuts" television cartoons.
Tannins are the flavonoids in wine that make one’s mouth pucker. Researchers conducted several well-controlled experiments showing that tannins cause the release of serotonin, and high levels of serotonin can cause headaches. However, it is rare to hear complaints about tea, soy, coffee or chocolate headaches, which all contain tannins. If you have ever squeezed a tea bag of orange and black pekoe tea releasing the most bitter and concentrated part of the tea, then you have seen tannins. The inside white bitter pith of a bananna peel? Tannins.
It is important to know that wines must have less than 1 mg/liter to have a label that says "No Sulfites." According to FDA, an organic wine is now defined as "a wine made from organically grown grapes and without any added sulfites." However, with this restriction, wines that have been called "organic wines" must now be referred to as "wines made from organic grapes" (or organically grown grapes), as they are allowed to contain up to 100 ppm of added sulfites from the winery.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Entertaining well does not mean you have to spend a lot of money, either. Look around your garden. Decorate and dine with rose petals, fresh herbs, and organic edible flowers. "Posies" can elevate any dish with color and unique flavors. To enhance cocktails, freeze rose petals or violets in ice cubes and float them in your favorite drink or sparkling wine punch.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This delightful and thoughtfully made wine comes from the estate winery of Morrison Lane in the Walla Walla Valley. The Cotes du Rhone-style red is a blend of 33.3% Counoise, 33.3% Syrah and 33.3% Viognier. I enjoyed it the other night sitting under a big blue sky surrounded by rolling green hills at the country home of Jill and Craig Noble (yes, winemakers like to drink other winemaker's wine).
The nose had a hint of floral and the taste was -- well, it was one of those tastes that -- to be honest? I could have drank the whole bottle! However, the 14.7% alcohol by volume stopped me at 1.5 glasses, while I would have preferred to have 3.3 glasses. The taste was full and lush and well -- I could have poured it over waffles! It was like a mouthful of blueberries! (Note: I am a fan of any Syrah from any winery made with Morrison Lane fruit.)
"33 1/3" is available for purchase and guess for how much? $33.33, of course!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Colvin Vineyards is a small family-owned winery. They have been producing red varietals and unique blends since 1999. Colvin Vineyards is also one of the few producers of Carmenere in the Valley. In fact, their Carmenere has done very well showing in competitions, as well.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
So my task is that I am to find and taste a red wine that does not exceed 12.5% in alcohol. In the Walla Walla Valley most of our red wines are at an average of 14%. Since I feature mostly Walla Walla Valley wines, my quest was to find such a wine.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!! In Walla Walla?
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
1 pound thinly sliced steak
5 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves finely chopped garlic (or crushed)
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp Mirin (sweet sake, optional)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 cup split green onions
2 cups thinly sliced carrots (optional)
The consensus of this group? They thought it was an excellent wine and a perfect dining choice.
Friday, June 09, 2006
As you might remember, the winter of 2004 was a tough time for the vineyards in Washington state, but Isenhower Cellars really pulled through with their search of finding vines to make this silky Bordeaux-style wine. A composition of 52% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc makes this wine very complex, yet very food friendly. My palate picked up plum, chocolate covered cherries, and cigar box (cherries and cigar box are qualities in Merlot that I love!), as well as a light undertone of "green" (could this be the Thyme?). It finished with vanilla and creme brulee. Rather buttery to my lips.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
While visiting with the Scribners, and trying to decide what I wanted from the menu, owner Bob Parrish came to our table to greet us. Of course, he is an old friend to Tom and Margo and happened to remember me as the "Wine Blogger" from the recent newspaper article. Whenever I have been in this restaurant I noticed that Bob finds his way to the tables to greet his guests.
After we placed our order, Bob motioned for me to join him. We took a walk through the kitchen and down the stairs - - I knew exactly where we were headed - - the wine cellar. It was a most impressive wine cellar with about 250-300 bottles at any given time. 80% of the wines are from the Walla Walla Valley. Bob has an impressive collection of Champagne and domestic sparklers on the menu and priced very affordable. I noticed that many of the wines in the cellar, as I perused down the extensive wine list, were tagged with affordable restaurant prices. One of the most impressive elements of this cellar was not just the prices or the vast assortment of valley wines, but the collections of specific wines.
The Quilceda Creek 02 and 03 Cabernet Sauvignon immediately caught my eye knowing that Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator recently gave the 2003 Cabernet a 95. This knowledge was fresh in my brain as Steve (my sweetie and journalist) had recently visited with Mr. Steiman on the phone and this world-class wine was one of the topics.
The cellar also held a fine collection of the Long Shadows Wines. It appeared to me that Bob held all of their current released wines, which are now sold-out at the Long Shadows winery. I recommend that if you are curious about these sought-after wines, go to the BackStage Bistro and check them out.
The biggest surprise of all was the complete verticle of Woodward Canyon's Artist series of Cabernet Sauvignon from 1992 to 2003. This is really a fine collection of wines and some of the vintages are no longer available through the winery. The complete verticle is offered for sale. I think this would make a wonderful evening tasting event amongst friends.
To start the evening, we were tempted with crispy little Thai spring rolls that held morsels of chicken, veggies, and cashews with a spicy dipping sauce. My dinner was a steak salad - 8 oz Angus flatiron steak slices over a mixture of fresh greens with a sweet spicy Asian style dressing and topped with sesame seeds. It was delicious and I have been smacking my lips ever since. It was a satisfying light meal that was full of flavors! As we were walking to the cellar, Bob said with a frown, he noticed I had ordered my steak well-done. I said, okay-okay leave some pink. The steak arrived pink and tasted perfect. To accompany my steak salad, I chose the Bee Keepers Blend. It is a red wine from Abeja Winery. The dark bright fruit with the light tannins and buttery finish really rounded out the spiciness of the salad dressing.
As I looked around at the plates of food coming from the kitchen, the first thing I noticed that everything looked so fresh. The Scribners dined on salmon and it looked perfectly prepared with the side of fresh asparagus (As I walked through the kitchen, on my way down to the cellar, I noticed the flat of fresh local asparagus ). Delicious breads are served fresh from the local and popular John's Wheatland Bakery. In fact, John happened to be dining at the restaurant and later joined us. A couple of generous slices of fresh ciabatta bread came with my meal. Okay, so if you ever want to know what is the baker's favorite bread, John mentioned the ciabatta was one of his favorites. How's that for a hint of what bread to buy when visiting his bakery? I really only needed one piece, so I shared the other slice of ciabatta bread with the baker of this fine chewy and crusty-topped creation.
In the evenings, on my way home from work, I drive by this popular bistro. It always looks busy! As a child I remember when this great old structure was Thrifty Drugstore. We would visit it on our way to the summer matinees. Later the building would hold several businesses - an office supply store, a gift boutique and later a gallery/frame shop. I like that the building now holds the Backstage Bistro and I hope Bob will be there for many years to come as this bistro is a great dining asset to the valley.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
The Folonari Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Italy (1825) and has contributed to write the history of Italian wines. Their first wine from Washington State will be a Sangiovese-based wine - 2005 vintage. It will be released next year.
Friday, June 02, 2006
In typical Walla Walla fashion, these rainy days bring out the same two-sentence conversations. You will not only hear it, but catch yourself speaking them to store clerks and bank tellers. It will become part of your vocabulary when running unexpectedly into friends and acquaintances. It is the same two lines we have been using now in the valley for over a 100 years:
"Can you believe all this rain?"
Yes. So, the wheat farmers are happy but what about the wine grapes? We don't need no stinkin' juicy plump grapes! What about the strawberries? This is the time of the year for our valley berries to be harvested. I think about Kirk Klicker and his famous Klicker Strawberries. School ends next week and there are many kids who are depending on picking berries for their summer earnings. What about the Walla Walla Sweet Onions? Will they turn into water-logged spherical objects? We need those crispy sweet globes of goodness for our grilled burgers and famous onion sandwiches!
Rain or sunshine, Summer will leave just as quick as it came. For the month of June I am going to be busy. First of all, we have a couple of birthdays - me and my son's. A couple of weekends will be absorbed with working at the winery and a few proctor gigs at the college. One of these June weekends, we want to go camping up at our family's private camp-site on the Touchet River by Ski Bluewood. We take camping to a different level. We pack good wines, good food and I sleep well in my mauve and taupe colored designer tent that sleeps four - - well, until I get my queen-size blow-up mattress in there. I believe in roughing it.
Somehow I will find the time to do some "wine blogging." There is a lot going on and I have many wine stained notes sitting at my desk. I have a couple of restaurants to report on, several new wines to blog, a new winery/tasting room to write about, besides a recipe, and a "cherry pick" wine suggestion. The national "Wine Blog Wednesday #22" is coming up and this month's proposal is to blog about a red wine that is 12.5% in alcohol. In Walla Walla? Hahahahahaha - don't make me laugh! Seriously, if you know of a local red wine that is low in alcohol, send me an email - quick! I will even blog about one from the Prosser/Yakima/Tri-City areas.
Jill at Couvillion Cellars called me this afternoon. She ran out of her Merlot! She has sold half of the Hoobie Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon is moving steady. This was Jill's first Spring Release, her first year in business and she is happy! I am not surprised about the Merlot moving out the door - - a very rich and silky Merlot priced at $15.00! This is great news! Last weekend I worked at the winery and we were busy with out-of-towners in spite of the over cast and rain drizzles.