Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Buried Treasure: Buried Cane Malbec Rosé - 2011

It was a wine that was not suppose to be produced, but Brian Rudin winemaker for Cadaretta/Middleton Family Wines just knew he had to do it - - and he did.  It turns out Brian made the right decision because as of this last Friday, there were only three cases left at the winery and more than likely it went "bye-bye" over the weekend.  

This 100% Rosé of Malbec by Buried Cane Premium Wines from the Middleton Family is sourced from the vines of the Walla Walla Valley.

The color of the wine is sheer pink with light peach tones. A nose to  the glass brings out hints of rose petals, woodruff and burnt sugar. One sip tells me a story of watermelon, raspberries and just a wonderful lip-smacking tartness. Crisp! It tends to smooth out with a roundness of roasted marshmallows and ends with a bite of the Sweet Tart candies.  

It may be too late to grab a bottle for yourself, but something tells me that next season, it will be produced again - - and on purpose. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wine Blogging Wednesday #79: Summer Reading, Summer Wine



Yes, it's that time again. Third Wednesday of the month (actually the fourth, but the 4th of July was an exception) where on Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine bloggers everywhere gather to write their assigned theme. This month the chicks at "BrixChicks" are asking us to use our creative juices. The question from them is whether we remember our summer reading list as a chore or an opportunity to slow down and read for pleasure?  The chicks want want to know: What wine would your favorite fictional character drink?

We are to think of a favorite character using any genre, any timeline and any story. So what wine would our hero or heroine drink and extra credit if we work the wine into a scene.

When I was a youngster, I look back and think of myself as a big nerd as I looked forward to the summer so I could read all day, if I wanted. I remember many a sunny day sitting under a big ol' shade tree and reading my favorite books. However, back then my favorite character was Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House in the Big Woods series. Safe to say she would not have had a favorite wine or Pa would have taken her to the woodshed.

Now as an adult, I have many favorite characters but my long time favorite is Imogene "Idgie" Threadgoode. The dare -devilish tomboy from the novel, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," by Fannie Flagg.
"The Whistle Stop Cafe in Whistle Stop, Alabama was soon to open. Cafe owners and domestic partners, Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison were busy planning their menu and cafe hours.
Idgie was a tomboy and often dressed in men's white dress shirts, while using suspenders to hold up her pants. Ruth, on the other hand, was soft and frail. She always wore a dress and smelled like a field of wild flowers. Unfortunately, Idgie and Ruth were unable to add wine on their menu due to the puritanical and obsolete laws of the Alabama ABC (Alcohol Board of Control). 
From their supper menu, one could order southern favorites: fried green 'maters, fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast and gravy, catfish, chicken and dumplings, or the barbecue plate of the day. However those who were close to the diner, knew not to eat the barbecue. Idgie had a temper when people started messing with her family and loved ones. Too bad they never found Ruth's ex husband's body. That Frank Bennett was a mean man and use to beat on Miss Ruth.  
In the mean time, Idgie became frustrated with the Alabama liquor laws so she contacted her cousin Walter in Washington State to see if he could ship her a "case of olive oil." Idgie longed to have wine pairings along with her supper menu, or especially just to keep a few bottles hidden in the back pantry.
One day, Idgie received word that she had a package to pick up at the train station. Sure enough it was a case of wine and marked on the box in big red letters, "Fragile!" (Was "fra-jee-lee" an Italian word? Oh wait - - never mind, that's different story ...)
Once Idgie opened the box, she discovered a case of Dumas Station Cow Catcher Red! Ruth, being the more sophisticated one of the couple, explained to Idgie that in spite of the friendly label and affordable price, Cow Catcher Red was just as fine as any fancy French Bordeaux, and produced with all Walla Walla Valley fruit! This 2009 red was a blend of four Bordeaux varieties with just a splash of Syrah to make it as mysterious as the gossip that went on in cousin Opal Threadgoode's beauty parlor.
As Idgie opened the bottle with the heel of her boot, and poured the beautiful dark red liquid into a jelly jar, she discovered flavors of dark cherries and plums along with the smells of papa's old cigar box. She even picked up a hint of berries from the ol' bramble bush thicket down the hollar. 
There were also exotic notes from the wine that reminded Idgie of  the fancy Earl Grey tea from Miss Tilly's House of Tea on Main Street. There were wafts of new leather boots and green olives. Idgie had olives once at a fancy picnic hosted by her brother Cleo's wife, Juliann. Cleo repeated several times, with pride of his wife's good taste, that the shiny green and black olives were from Spain. 
It was hard for Idgie to express how much she loved this nectar from the Wild West, but she knew it was the perfect wine to pair with the meatloaf and the pot roast on the supper menu. Why this red blend would even pair with Ruth's fancy French chocolate mousse and her blackberry galettes. Idgie didn't understand why Ruth used such silly words when describing those little rustic one crust pies and especially puzzling as to why anyone would call chocolate pudding the name of a four legged creature with big antlers. 
After her third glass of Dumas Station Cow Catcher Red, Idgie started thinking about how the wine would also make a fine pairing with a plate of southern barbecue. Well, she knew that next week the ol' Alabama revenuer would pay her a visit and especially if he caught wind of her case of "olive oil" she picked up at the Whistle Stop train station - - and since she didn't want him to fetch the wine and dump it in the river - - perhaps out of satisfaction and curiosity, Idgie just might have to try her famous barbecue after all. TOWANDA!"  



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wine Blog Award Finalists for 2012

It's very seldom when I am at a loss for words.  I suppose it happens when I am surprised, overwhelmed, and rather humbled. 

A loss of words came yesterday morning when I received several Twitter messages conveying their congratulations. After I finished my first cup of coffee, I did some sleuthing. I discovered I was nominated as one of six finalists for "Best Wine Writing on a Wine Blog" category on the Wine Blog Awards - 2012.

A panel of illustrious wine writers evaluated the wine blogs and voted for their top five-six wine blogs in each category. Now the public will assist the judges in the outcome - the winner. Just look for the shiny red "Vote" button to cast your vote.  

For me personally, it isn't just about my wine blog, but it is more about the Walla Walla Valley and her wines, because without them - - I wouldn't have anything to blog about.  And with that said - -  

It tickles me that the state of Washington made a great showing in the nominations, as my friends and fellow Washington wine bloggers, Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report  and Paul Gregutt of PaulGregutt.com were both nominated for "Best Single Subject Wine Blog" and Seattle-ite Jameson Fink of JamesonFink.com was nominated for "Best Overall Wine Blog."

Many thanks to all of you and for your consideration.
C~

Tip My Hat to Nine Hats Riesling - 2011

Last week I discovered a nice surprise - a perfect summer wine that can be carried through to your next Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham. Not only is the wine packaged for a picnic with the handy-dandy screw cap, but it's affordable. too. It's also such a nice surprise when you consider the producer.  

Nine Hats stands for nine renowned winemakers from the distinguished wines and vineyards of Long Shadows. Nine Hats Riesling - 2011 is a second label from Long Shadows. While it cannot be purchased from the winery, Nine Hats wines are produced to only be distributed to wine retailers and restaurants.

The Nine Hats label appeared when the winery discovered after each harvest that a percentage of their signature wine was often more than they required for their final blends and bottling. These extra barrels of wine are our gain when you consider the value of these distinctive wines - - and grapes.

The fruit sourced for the Nine Hats Riesling - 2011 is from The Benches Vineyard at Horse Heaven Hills - - and bringing in 10% from the Underwood Mountain Vineyard at the Gorge. Planted in 2004, The Benches Riesling are German clones selected to showcase the minerality and complexity, while the fruit from the Gorge vineyard provides bright acidity.

It's a sip of honey, and a mouth full of peaches and pears, while leaving a finish on the palate that is bright and clean. Yes indeed, when chilled this is a porch sippin' kind of wine, and at the same time can hold up to the most exotic of meals. Bring on the falafels with the creamy tzatziki sauce, spicy chicken curry and the camarones diablo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Brut

No, Brut is not what "Hollywood Joe" Namath, former quarterback and Superbowl Champ, used to sell on TV commercials. 

Brut (pronounced "broot") is a French term used in wine to mean "very dry" and not sweet. It is used to describe dry Champagnes, ciders, and other sparkling wines. So, with that said, what is the proper degree of "dry"?

Brut sparkling wine has less than 15 grams of sugar per litre. "Extra" Brut has 0-6 grams of sugar per litre.  

Brut wines when perfectly chilled are typically clean, crisp and refreshing. "POP!"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Music to My Ears: Abeja Chardonnay - 2010

Are you like I am? Typically I am a red wine drinker, but as soon as the summer solstice strikes midnight, my palate changes and I am ready for a palate quenching crisp and bright white wine or even a lip smacking chilled rose. So you sit down on the deck, uncork a chilled bottle and you just want to relax. Maybe turn on a little music? You're in luck if you are drinking a wine from Abeja. It's important to know, like with good food, wines from Abeja are meant to be paired with music.  

As long as I can remember John Abbott's wine making career in Walla Walla, he has set the benchmark on quality wines. During his tenure at Canoe Ridge, I remember his wine tasting notes, not only made suggestions for food pairings, but also music pairings. John's wine notes haven't changed since he joined forces at Abeja, either. Here is a suggestion of  food and music from John's tasting notes of his recent Abeja Chardonnay - 2010
We have had some delicious Cajun staff lunches during harvest ... which along with these autumn days, have me thinking about soups and alligator - maybe an odd combination. The potatoes are fresh and delicious right now. We dig them straight from the garden, and make a simple potato-based garden soup. Alligator (if you can find it) is also nicely suited for Chardonnay. You can prepare it many ways and one that comes to mind is picatta – fried, with tomatoes and capers. We haven’t tried it in soup yet, but I’m pretty sure winter and an alligator stew are both in our future. 
Given our harvest lunch scene, it follows that we have been listening to Cajun and Zydeco. Clifton Chenier, Wayne Toups, and Doug Kershaw are all musicians that we have enjoyed. - - John Abbott, winemaker
I am totally down with this food, wine and music pairing - - all except the alligator. However, since I understand that alligator tastes like chicken, perhaps a chicken picatta would be a better pairing for me with the Abeja's Chardonnay.
The fruit sourced for this vintage came from the Conner Lee Vineyard at Othello and Abeja's estate, Mill Creek Vineyard. After the fruit was treated to 100% French oak (40% new oak) and a 100% malolactic conversion, the result is a great pairing for a classic French chilled potato and leek soup -  vichyssoise.

The nose shows off pears and brings to the palate other orchard fruit such as apricots and white peaches. The crisp and bright acids are a match for the tangy alli - - chicken picatta's reduction sauce made from browned butter, lemon juice, capers and even a splash of Abeja's Chardonnay to round it all out.

Whether I am sitting on my deck or dining on this fine food pairing, I am ready  for sipping on Abeja's Chardonnay while listening to Buckwheat Zydeco and his accordion wailing out "Waitin' on my Ya Ya ... " 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays


The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Saignée

Sure, you could cheat and simply blend red and white wine together to get those beautiful shades of pink, but that would not follow old world tradition. The best of rosés are produced by a method known as saignée (pronounced “sen-yay”), a French word that means “to bleed.” 

While the concept of "bleeding" may not sound particularly appealing, however it makes perfect sense. After the beautiful red grapes have been macerated, their lovely pink colored juice are "bled" out of the fermentation tank and separated from their skins.

This saignée method has also been referred to as "cap and drain."  Why? Well again - - after the red grapes have been macerated, the grape skins begin to separate from their juice and the grapes will rise to the top of their fermentation tank/bin to form a "cap" - - a cap of skins. Typically a winemaker would regularly punch down the cap into the juice to intensify the red color of the wine. However, a producer of rosé wants to keep the beautiful pink color of the juice - basically a by-product of the red wine. So before the red color intensifies, the luscious pink juice is separated from the skins and drained (or “bled”) off into barrels or tanks to continue fermentation.

The beauty of rosés are they give you all of the flavor of the red wine grapes that we love, but the lightness of our chilled summer whites. Yes - we can have it all.  

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tertulia Cellars Lonesome Spring Vineyard Rosé


You won't be lonesome with this bottle of rosé from Tertulia Cellars in Walla Walla.  
Winemaker Ryan Raber, a self described hedonist and always thinking about his next meal, produced this rosé bend of 73% Mourvedre, 24% Counoise and 3% Grenache. 

It was with one sip, I soon discovered that Ryan no doubt produced this wine thinking it should be enjoyed with his next light summer meal, as well. In fact, everyone's next light summer meal of salads with organic greens and sliced strawberries, grilled chicken sandwiches, cold grilled salmon with a light cucumber and dill sauce, and even grilled fruit or cobblers.  
The nose presented itself of berries and rose petals. A girl sure could smell pretty with a splash behind the ear. A sip on the palate reminded me of apples - - like the glossy red spicy candy apples that you see at the county fair. And sure enough it ended with more apples, but this time with a crisp bite of green apples and ending with a creaminess like caramel apples.

Once again, Walla Walla isn't producing those rosés that your  grandma sipped during her bridge games - - and Tertulia Cellars Lonesome Spring Vineyard Rosé isn't any different. These traditional Rhone-style varieties sat 10 hours on their skins and fermented dry in neutral oak barrels.  

The grapes sourced for this 2011 vintage, that shows off its pretty pink color with shades of a new copper penny, are from The Lonesome Spring Ranch vineyard located in the warm Rattlesnake Mountain bench near Benton City, WA. Sitting at 1000 feet of elevation, the "old vines" established in 1996, enjoy a southern exposure while the silt loam soil shows through in the fruit with bright and crisp mineral notes. It's this character that gives the rosé its resemblance to the traditional and beautiful rosés of Provence. Well done Mr. Raber.