Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay Arthur 2011

If you find yourself in the Dundee Hills area of Oregon, Domaine Drouhin is a great place to stop in for a tasting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With a huge deck that offers stunning views on clear sunny days, you’ll find you have good company to share the experience with too. Call in advance if you’re stopping by on a weekday and you can reserve a picnic spot on the patio. It can be hard to find a good picnic spot in the valley so I find this to be an excellent bonus.

IMG_20131129_195132I mentioned in an earlier post that Oregon was starting to produce more Chardonnay, and I think the Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay Arthur 2011 is a good example of why you’ll continue to hear more in the coming years. Half fermented in French Oak barrels (30% new) and the other half fermented and aged in stainless steel, the nose and palate both offer a mineral quality that I enjoy. I also find notes of tropical fruit and citrus on the nose. On the palate, this wine starts with a nice burst of acidity but finishes with a wonderful sweetness. It’s the finish that makes me love this wine the most, and I rate it 4 stars out of 5.  I purchased this at Domaine Drouhin for about $ 20. They only produced 2,200 cases so you may have to try the 2012 instead.

For more on Domaine Drouhin, visit http://www.domainedrouhin.com/en/

 

 

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Gift Ideas for the Wine Lover

I’ve searched far and wide (okay, I did some Google searches) for the best wine-related gifts to give this holiday season. I’ll leave it up to you whether you really just end up buying these for yourself or for others. No judgement. Unlike all of those annoying magazines who claim to have “budget” gift ideas that are almost all over $100, there is NOTHING here over $100 and plenty of stocking stuffers. Photos for each item shown at the end in order listed.

Kikkerland Dapper ‘Staches Silicone Drink Markers
$5.47 on amazon.com

Men are pretty much impossible to shop for. but I think most men would agree that a mustache is just what their wine glass needs. They work not only for wine glasses, but would also look great on a beer mug or whiskey tumbler. Set of 6.

Wine Enthusiast 3-Pack Wine Glass Writer Metallic Pen
$19.50 on amazon.com
Instead of wine charms, have your guests write their name on their glass instead. If they’re anything like my friends, someone is sure to draw or write something inappropriate that’ll be good for a laugh.

Wine Tasting Chocolates
$29.95 on crateandbarrel.com
A set of six European chocolates created with the intention of pairing with wine. If you’d rather buy from a local chocolate shop, ask them for recommendations based on what bottle you plan to gift with the chocolates. I personally like Cabernet Franc with dark chocolate.

GoVino Wine Glass Flexible Shatterproof Recyclable
$12.96 on amazon.com
We bought these this summer for a camping trip, and I have to say it really was so much better than the usual red Solo cup. They’re unbreakable making them perfect for any type of outdoor drinking. Set of 4.

Monogrammed Wine Glasses
Around $59.95 for a set of 2 depending on glass style
on williams-sonoma.com
For the classy people in your life or the newlyweds. Monogramming is about $7 additional depending on what you want done.

Williams-Sonoma Wine Chilling Wands, Set of 2
$39.95 on williams-sonoma.com
Had a rough day and need to get your drink on right away? Keep these handy chilling wands in the freezer, and they’ll bring your glass of wine to the perfect temperature in no time.

“Wine Bites” Cookbook
$24.95 on crateandbarrel.com
Plenty of simple appetizers with a wine pairing suggestion for each recipe. This cookbook is ideal if you like entertaining. It’s also great for a date night at home because you have small children and you’re too cheap to hire a babysitter (or too exhausted) and actually go out. That can’t be just me.

Circles Wall-Mount Wine Rack
On sale for $63.99 on potterybarn.com
Holds up to 20 bottles of wine and would look perfect on the wall in a kitchen or elsewhere depending on your home decor. I keep looking around our house trying to figure out where I can put this.

Oak Leaf Bottle Stopper
$7.95 on crateandbarrel.com
An elegant way to keep open wine fresh.

The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts
$12.92 on amazon.com
This sounds like a joke, but the book is written by Richard Betts who happens to be a master sommelier. If you hate wine snob speak, you’ll love this book and probably learn a good bit about wine too. I’ve also seen this at Target.

Wine Tasting Notebook, Hardcover
$10.77 on amazon.com 

After seeing this wine tasting notebook, I’m ditching my current one and getting this. This makes taking tasting notes so easy and quick and gives nice prompts for those new to wine too.

If you’ve seen any great wine gifts, I’d love to hear about them!

Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Revana Vineyard

I was so excited when Wine Spectator recently announced their “Top 100 of 2013” list and the Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard was listed as number 17. My first visit to Alexana was in September of 2012, and since then, it’s been one of my favorites in the Willamette Valley. In addition to the specific Pinot Noir I review in this post, Alexana also makes a Riesling that isn’t as sweet as Rieslings typically tend to be, Chardonnay, and a few other Pinot Noirs. The tasting room in Newberg, OR is only a couple of years old with warm wood throughout, a bar layered with the regions various soil types for display (so cool!), and sweeping views of the Willamette Valley; it’s as gorgeous and inviting as it sounds.

Alexana was created by a cardiologist with a love for wine, Dr. Madaiah Revana, and named after his daughter, Alexandra. In 2005, Dr. Revana sought out the ideal region and an experienced winemaker to make his Pinot Noir. He found what he was looking for in Oregon, where he met Lynn Penner-Ash. Lynn helped Dr. Revana find the property which is now the Revana Vineyard in the Dundee Hills of Oregon, and the first production came in 2006. Penner-Ash wines are ranked among the finest in Oregon by the wine press year after year. You may recognize the name from Rex Hill and also from Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. I have to say that I personally agree with all the buzz and think it’s well-deserved.

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Now that you know a bit about Alexana, let’s get down to the
tasting notes of the Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard. On the nose you’ll get notes of dark berries, cherry, and vanilla. On the palate, I immediately get the dark fruit followed by the vanilla with a black pepper finish. It doesn’t have the rich earth nose and taste that’s more typical of a Oregon Pinot Noir, which I usually prefer, but with this Pinot, I don’t find myself missing that characteristic. Complex, well-layered, and nicely balanced, I rate this wine 5 stars out of 5.  At just $42, this wine is an incredible value. If you see this while wine shopping, snatch it up before they’re all gone and enjoy. Once a wine is published on a list like this, it’s sure to sell out fast if it hasn’t already. If you can’t find it, don’t hesitate to try the 2011 vintage.

For more information on Alexana Winery, visit http://www.alexanawinery.com/.

To see the full list of the “Top 100 of 2013” by Wine Spectator, visit  http://2013.top100.winespectator.com/.

Stories from the Vineyard Presented by the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation

If you’re wondering what sarcoma is, I wondered the same thing when my doctor called me on January 2nd of this year to tell me I had it. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in certain tissues like bone or muscle, and it can be found anywhere in the body. What a way to bring in a new year, huh? You never think it will happen to you, and especially not when you’re in otherwise great health and just 30-years-old. It’s rare in adults making up roughly just 1% of all cancers but more prevalent in children making up 15% of childhood cancers. Sarcoma is sometimes curable by surgery (about 20%), or by surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation (about 30%), but about half the time they are totally resistant to all of these approaches, which means there is an extreme need for new therapeutic approaches.

Thankfully for all of us sarcoma cancer warriors and our families, there are organizations like the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation who work hard to help patients and their families while also funding important research to improve cure rates. As a fundraising effort, the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation presents an annual gala called Stories from the Vineyard that alternates each year between Seattle and Portland. The event features regional area wineries with wine tastings, raffles, and hors d’oeuvres.

I had the pleasure of attending the second event in the Stories from the Vineyard series this past Sunday at The Wine Cellar on the west side of Portland. They were pouring wines from Buty Winery, Tamarack Cellars, and Long Shadows Distinguished Wineries & Vineyards out of Walla Walla, WA. Quite honestly, there wasn’t one wine that disappointed. Here are notes on my favorite wine from each of the three featured wineries:

2009 Saggi from Long Shadows– a smooth yet bold Tuscan Italian style blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah with lots of dark fruit and a bit of cocoa. This instantly brought back memories of my summer in Italy when I first fell in love with wine. Random, but I have to say I love the owl on the label too! I rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.  Available at The Wine Cellar for $49.*

Buty 2010 Redivivia of the Stones – Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon (with a bit of Mourvedre too) blend with bold flavors of spice and earth as well as floral notes and dark fruit on the palate. This one is ready to drink right now and it’s lovely. I’d also rate this one 4.5 stars out of 5.  Retails at The Wine Cellar for $58.*    

Tamarack Cellars 2012 Chardonnay – Pear and tropical fruit on the nose and just a touch of butterscotch on the finish, this Chardonnay is barrel-fermented and aged in neutral French oak making it bright and crisp. I rate 4 stars out of 5. An incredible value available at The Wine Cellar for $16.50.* 

The next and final event is this Sunday, November 17th from 1 to 6 pm at Enso Winery. If you don’t have plans this Sunday, I encourage you to attend. You’ll not only be helping to support a great cause, but you’ll also get to experience a really nice event with some fantastic food and wine!

To purchase your tickets, visit http://www.nwsarcoma.org/events/stories-from-the-vineyard.

For more information on The Wine Cellar, visit http://portlandwinecellar.com/. I know I’ll be planning our next date night here!

By the way, I’m happy to share that I’m currently cancer-free and optimistic about my future. I hope some day soon a cure can be found, and until then, better treatment options.

*Note for all the wines mentioned that they may have had special pricing the day of the event so please be aware that pricing could vary. 

Ardiri Winery & Vineyard – Cornelius, OR

A mere 30 miles west of Portland lies Ardiri Winery & Vineyard in Cornelius, OR. The atmosphere is hard to beat with a view of Mt. Hood on sunny days and fire pits, cozy seating and oversized blankets for the more typical cool and rainy days. The bar is located inside but the entire tasting room has roll-up windowed doors for an indoor/outdoor experience. Bring a picnic basket and enjoy the afternoon with some fabulous wines no matter the weather.

If that alone doesn’t convince you Ardiri is one to visit, then let’s talk about the wine. They produce Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc blends with the grapes coming from 5 acres down in Carneros, Napa Valley, California as well as a 15 acre vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon. So whether you prefer Oregon Pinot Noir or Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Ardiri has you covered!

The staff at Ardiri is well-informed and unpretentious, and I always enjoy talking with them while tasting. I find nice people in the tasting room always add to my experience. Speaking of tasting, here’s a look at their current tasting flight, which costs $10 and is refunded with a two bottle purchase:

First Pour: Picpoul de Pinet 2012, Coteaux du Languedoc, Le Chevalier de Novato
Price: $19 Retail (this is at the winery pricing and will be for all that are listed below too)
Notes: Ardiri ran out of their delicious Chalem Gold Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc blend fairly early in the summer so they imported this wine from France to have a white. This wine is light and crisp with lots of citrus on the nose and mouth. This goes nicely with a salad.
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Second Pour: Pinot Noir 2010, Willamette Valley
Price: $29 Retail
Notes: The quintessential Oregon Pinot Noir with bright cherry, smoke, and rich earth on the nose. Very smooth in the mouth. This one is probably my favorite wine they are pouring right now, and it will pair nicely with a large variety of foods.
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Third Pour: Pinot Noir 2010, Los Carneros, Napa Valley
Price: $29 Retail
Notes: I love having the Oregon Pinot Noir first followed up by the Los Carneros Napa Pinot Noir to be able to compare the two side-by-side. This one is much more fruit forward as well as lighter and brighter.
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Fourth Pour: Pinot Noir 2009, Los Carneros, Napa Valley
Price: $29 Retail
Notes: I also enjoyed having the 2010 Carneros followed by this 2009. It’s amazing how wines can vary each year. This one is really nice on the nose with more spice than the others. Tart raspberry in the mouth.
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5. My husband would give this 4 stars out of 5. I mention this because we all have different palates and preferences. Be your own judge and drink what you like!

Fifth Pour: Pinot Noir 2009, Willamette Valley
Retail: $29
Notes: Bright yet bold, earthy with notes of cherry. This is a complex wine and it’s difficult to pick out exactly what you smell and taste, but it’s delicious. The Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs are my preference here at Ardiri.
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Not a part of the tasting flight is my new obsession called Due Stati (shown in one of the photos above). This is a 50/50 blend with half of the grapes coming from the Carneros region and the other half from the Willamette Valley; Oregon and California playing VERY nicely. Retails for $38 at the winery or $43 online. Be extra friendly in the tasting room and you’ll probably be able to score a pour of this one too.

For more information on Ardiri Winery & Vineyard, visit http://www.ardiriwine.com/.

Cana’s Feast Two Rivers 2009 Columbia Valley Washington

If you’re drawn to the wines of Southwestern France and Italy, look for Cana’s Feast Two Rivers Bordeaux-style red blend for a bit of Europe right here in the Pacific Northwest. Cana’s Feast Winery is currently producing Italian varietals including Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Primitivo, along with Bordeaux-style blends and varietal bottlings of Syrah, Counoise and Pinot Noir. They also have what is likely to be the first ever domestic production of Chinato.

IMG_20131102_195902Cana’s Feast Two Rivers 2009 offers notes of tart cherries, plums, and chocolate. The cherries in particular on the palate and the chocolate more on the nose. A full-bodied wine at 14.8% alcohol, I rate this wine 3 stars out of 5.  I think it lacks a touch of depth and complexity, but overall, it’s a nice wine and a safe bet to take to a dinner party. I paid $20 for this one, but I’ve seen it elsewhere for slightly less.

A little tip for the upcoming holiday season, a red blend is almost always a good choice when ordering for a group or bringing a wine to someone’s home. They tend to be well-liked and are easy to pair with a variety of foods.

While this particular wine uses Washington grapes, you can visit Cana’s Feast at their tasting room located in Carlton, OR. For more information on Cana’s Feast Winery, visit http://www.canasfeastwinery.com.

7 Deadly Zins 2009

Skip the candy this Halloween and enjoy a class of 7 Deadly Zins while your children run around in all their sugar buzz craziness. If you feel like you should really take some of that chocolate for yourself, you know, so the kids don’t get a tummy ache or anything, it will go nicely with this wine too! 

IMG_20131031_1345087 Deadly Zins is easy to find at most grocery stores with a decent wine selection retailing on average for $15. It’s a bold, full-bodied Zinfandel with lots of dark fruit flavors mixed with notes of spice and smoke. I rate it 3.5 stars out of 5. I particularly like this one for Halloween because of the fun name and label. At 15% alcohol, it’s also going to keep you warm!

For more information on this wine, vinted and bottled by Michael and David Phillips out of Graton, CA, visit http://www.michaeldavidwinery.com/story/.