Oregon's OTHER pinot!

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We’ve had a bit of a false spring here in the Bay Area.  Well, until recently that is.  Brr!  Today it’s dark and rainy, and this week has been chilly.  But, when the weather heats up, or it’s just warm enough to enjoy something other than a red wine, I reach for white wines with a slant.  As a card carrying member of the ABC Club (Anything But overoaked buttery Chardonnay), one of my favorite alternative whites is Pinot Gris.  As my friend (wineaux in training) put it, “it’s got all the flavor of that Sauvignon Blanc but not all the acid!”  As she has been imbibing on the NZ Savvy, this is the ultimate swing away from the typically high acid and grassy wines of NZ. Oregon is well known for it’s Pinot Noir.  In fact, I plan to go a bit crazy in August when I’m visiting for the Wine Bloggers Conference this summer.  That said, they do make more than Pinot Noir, and one of the other famous wines is Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris  is believed to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape.  The name gris means grey in French, and grape can range from gray-blue to white, but it all produces lovely white juice.  Yes, this is the same grape that is used to make Pinot Grigio but my oh my is Pinot Gris different! The good people from the Oregon Pinot Gris marketing association sent me some samples, and so far, I’ve enjoyed three.  As soon as the weather warms up, I aim to enjoy the rest! First up: 2008 Oak Knoll Pinot Gris which was filled with buttery lemon curd,  nectarines and preserved lemons.  There was a hint of tropical mango and pineapple, followed by sandlewood.  While this wine was fermented in stainless steel, I found a touch of sandlewood and wood flavors, which aren’t my favorite.  Still, well worth trying at the low low price of $12.  TRY Next, we have the 2009 Arlie Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley.  This is a pre-release sample, but it was my favorite of the three that I tried in the first tasting batch.  This won had  tons of fresh peach and apple flavors, with a touch of minerality to finish.  The nose had some terrific floral aromas, though not as strong as a viognier.  The viscosity of the wine coats your mouth and the flavors linger, while the acid cuts through the richness.  Fermented in stainless steel, this gives this wine a crispness that oak aged Pinot Gris doensn’t have.   I was a bit sad to see the last of this bottle in my glass!  RUN OUT AND BUY A CASE with excellent QPR at $14 And rounding up this trio I tasted the 2010 David Hill Pinot Gris.  This was a bit higher in acid, with more citruis fruit, but also lovely.  I tasted asian pear, Granny Smith apple, and meyer lemon.  This wine is also stainless steel fermented, which lends a nice crispness.  Here here for stainless steel!  TRY […]

A Whole lot of great wine!

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It’s that time of year!  well almostl.  Here, it’s been chilly and rainy.  Not that San Francisco summer fog rain, but RAIN rain.  Such a bummer.  I think finally, however the sun has come out!  Morning fog is the norm in July, but I’ll take it – the sun usually peeps out around 11am or so.   Elsewhere in the Universe, there actually IS summer!  So when Whole Foods approached me and asked me if I’d like to taste their six featured summer sippers, I said HELL YEAH!  not only are these affordable wines, but they are available at whole Foods – a national chain of gourmet, organic, and otherwise excellent food.  No, I don’t normally shop at Whole Paycheck (mostly because while I adore tomatoes that taste like … tomatoes, I don’t have a $500 week food budget), I do buy some things there are a regular basis, and have been known to purchase some of the wine selected by store staff. Whole Foods does an excellent job at picking diverse wines, in all price ranges.  I have had a lot of success trying new wines that were staff selections. Tonight, we are having turkey burgers, so I opened the 2010 Perrin Nature Côtes du Rhône.  I love Rhone; the flavor profiles of the south of France are just delicious.  This is a delcious wine with lots of dark fruit, meaty notes, with lots of blackberries and dark earth.  It has a ton of character and complexity in every sip without being overly heavy.  It’s a country wine, but elegantly so.  While it’s a baby, you can enjoy this now, or age it for a bit.  It will come together nicely.  I would not recommend leaving this wine open for more than a few hours howeve,r as it can loose it’s interesting notes and become flat. This wine is a SCREAMING deal for a BBQ and those summer parties at about $12-15 and is available at Whole Foods stores.  EXTREME VALUE ALERT! Run out RIGHT NOW and buy this!  I know I will be buying more, even though I have enough wine to keep every one of my friends and family very happy in the next apocalypse.   Please tune in to Twitter for a live tasting of more summer values from Whole Foods, tomorrow – June 9th – at 5pm PDT. Follow us using the hashtag #WFMWine Follow @WholeFoods for the latest updates!        

Send me your Kiwis, your Brie, and more!

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Have you ever wanted to experience more wines from aruond the world, without getting your Sommelier credential?  If you’re like me, you might know a lot about a small area but not so much about other areas.  The international Wine of the Month club is a great way to experience more of the world of wine.  The 12 person professional tasting panel selects 2 wines of various price points or styles, and expands your tasting selections monthly. Starting at $30 a month for 2 bottle or red or white, or one of each, you can commit to as little as 2 months to try things out.  this is a great feature, since many wine clubs these days ask for at least a year commitment.  The wines included in each of the shipments are less distributed wines that you might not discover in your local wine shop,a dn can be great values. In my sample shipment, I received a New Zeland Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon from California, both of wihch retail for ~$13. The Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir hails from one of the most famous New Zeland areas for Pinot Noir, Marlborough.  They owners, Dayne & Jill Sherwood, have been making wine since the 1980s, and were early adopters in the region and are creating Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from this area.  The Pinot has tons of cherry and strawberry fruit, and is light to medium bodied.  It’s chewy plum note is a bit bold, backed by lots of spice.  A swirl in the soiree and the strawberry raspberry juice pops out, with a racy acid wash (think Bon Jovi in 1988).  This would be great with chicken salad, it’s lacking some of the nuance that you expect in or fruit.  It lacks the nuance of a more expensive bottle of wine, but it would make an excellent party wine at a fair price point. The 2007 Cannoncall Cabernet Sauvignon intrigues me.  I am always somewhat dubious of kitchy labels, and am particularly wary of a California appellation wine – given that I drink primarily California wines, I have come to expect more AVA specific bottlings.  But here goes.  The nose comes across with anise, black pepper and baking spice with blackberry, plum tart and duck in cherry glaze.  The flavors are lost a bit under a perfumed sawdust, but the bright plum, cassis and blackberry shines through.  Again, the oak is overpowering, and the tannins need to mellow out a bit.  Another great party wine, i might bring this to a BBQ and let it open up a bit.  After pouring my 2nd taste through the trusty soiree, the tannins have softened up.  I still think there is too much dusty oak, but the dark black fruit is shining through with a bit of toasty finish.  This would be great with ribs or hamburgers and is a great everyday value. The International Wine club is a great idea for someone who wants to explore – and might not have a […]