Sparkling Wines Take Oregon’s Willamette Valley by Storm

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BubblefestPoster_v1Come on, who doesn’t love bubbly? It’s like a party in your mouth!

A simple bottle of sparkling wine evokes fabulous images of romance, merriment, success, luxury and most definitely ceremony. And though it should be enjoyed daily?year-round, it’s always the perfect libation for kicking off celebrations, holidays, enjoying with a festive meal or just lifting the darkest spirits.

And yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be in love or even a part of couple to enjoy a bubbly celebration. So, brighten your Valentine’s weekend (coupled or not) and discover who’s making the best sparkling wine in the Willamette Valley at Anne Amie’s 2nd annual Bubbles Fest.

February 13th, 2016
11am to 4pm
6580 NE Mineral Springs Rd., Carlton

Tickets: $45 – Click here to purchase

Raise your glass and toast to Anne Amie?s incredible view and convivial ambiance, while sipping from 12 extraordinary small production local producers you might not even know?craft sparkling wines. Small bites and live music are an added bonus.

Anne Amie
Division Wine Co.
Native Flora
R. Stuart
Raptor Ridge
Sokol Blosser

Hedges 2012 Red Mountain? Your Go-To Red Blend

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

2012 Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain

From the first sip to the empty bottle, flavors and aromas of this wine unfold like your favorite fable, rich with tone and texture. The story opens with pleasant pie spice and powerful cigar box aromas capturing your attention and compelling you on. Close your eyes and you may think you’re lounging somewhere in France, savoring each chapter at some luxurious chateau; the old world feel of this wine goes far beyond the label. And though that label may say 60% cabernet sauvignon, the 4% cabernet franc somehow dominates becoming not only?the main character but the hero of the story.

If you’re looking for a wine that’s interesting and structured enough to impress your wine snob friends without breaking the bank, one that develops in complexity as it opens up, and tastes as good on its own as it does with with a hearty, meaty meal, Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2012?sure to become your go-to wine.

Each sip washes a wave of silk and fruit over your mouth. You’ll?find yourself?charmed?by the?obvious impressions of tobacco supported by the strong and masculine backbone of smoke, and leather. Further exploration uncovers layers of spicy clove, allspice, sandalwood, succulent and tart, concentrated blueberries and lingering whispers of sweet black licorice.

Hands down, this is one of the best domestic Bordeaux style blends I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in quite some time. And at this price point, my best advice is to buy it by the case if you can, it’ll only improve over the next decade.

60% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 8% syrah, 4% cabernet franc, 2% malbec
Red Mountain AVA – Washington
A steal at $26.99

Furioso: Furiously Good Pinot Noir

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

New wineries seem to be popping up in Oregon like wildflowers; beautiful blooms that add fragrance and color to the already magnificent landscape. As if we thought it couldn?t get any better.

I am hoping to visit them all and share their stories here.

The first, in the roundup on recents is La Linea Furioso, located in Dundee Oregon. As the name is a bit of a mouthful, and I?d like to focus the mouthful on the wine, so we?ll just call them Furioso and hope they won’t mind too terribly.

Furioso, owned by Giorgio Furioso, purchased the old Crumbled Rock site to create a new winery and reclaim his Italian winemaking family?s heritage. Mission accomplished

There is a new tasting room to explore as well as?the first commercial vintage of 2014 pinot noir. I hear from winemaker Dominique Mahe, that there is chardonnay in the works and that they have just planted friulano (which is quite rare in the Willamette Valley). Though it?s a good three years before we see the fruiliano, my interest is most definitely piqued.

2014 L?Altra Linea Furioso Pinot Noir
This wine is ripe and truly authentic to the warmer vintage. It?s also rich, young and fruity with a mouthful of tart cranberry relish reminiscent of turkey dinner, sweet blackberry jam and hints of spice that’s all wrapped up in warm supple leather. The balance of sweetness, acidity and smooth tannins make this a wine that plays well with food. Let it linger long like a welcome friend.?$45

The Cuv?e Weekend at The Allison Inn & Spa

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

In conjunction with the fifth annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration,??The Allison Inn & Spa, Willamette Valley?s luxury wine country destination, proudly hosts?The Cuv?e Weekend?on February 26-27. The weekend celebration entices Northwest wine and food lovers to trade in?the urban gray for the colorful and closeby?Oregon wine country to indulge in delicious tastings and intimate chardonnay wine paired dinners. Beginning on Friday with the?Cuv?e Stroll, from?5?7:30 pm,?guests will enjoy tasting through 15 wineries and 20 artisan food and beverage purveyors in an uncrowded and unhurried atmosphere.?Cost is a?$25 donation to ?Salud!, which is the unique collaboration between Oregon winemakers?and healthcare professionals to provide access to healthcare services for Oregon?s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, visitors can?partake in a four-course wine paired, prix fixe dinner featuring the region?s top wineries. For each dinner, JORY executive chef Sunny Jin, 2015 James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef Northwest, will collaborate with one of our region?s brightest culinary talents. On February 26, chef Vitaly Paley of Portland?s Paley?s Place and Imperial is at the helm, and on February 27, chef Holly Smith of Seattle?s Caf? Juanita will create a dinner designed to marry with Oregon Chardonnay. The four-course dinners are $85 per person, with a $65 wine pairing available. Reservations for either?Cuv?e?dinner may be made by contacting JORY directly at 503-554-2526.

RSVP for the Cuv?e Stroll by emailing
Reservations for both four-course wine dinners can be made by contacting JORY directly at 503-554-2526.
Friday, February 26th, 2016
Chardonnay Dinner with Chef Vitaly Paley (Paley’s Place, Oregon) and JORY Executive Chef Sunny Jin
Featuring: Brittan Vineyards, Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Trisaetum
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Chardonnay Dinner with Chef Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita, Seattle) and?JORY Executive Chef Sunny Jin
Featuring: ROCO Winery, Stoller Family Estate and Winderlea Vineyard & Winery
Stroll Wineries,?February 26

Alloro Vineyard
Rain Dance Vineyards
Bergstr?m Wines
Brittan Vineyards
Chapter 24 Vineyards
Coeur de Terre Vineyard
Domaine Drouhin Oregon
Panther Creek Cellars
Ponzi Vineyards
ROCO Winery
Stoller Family Estate
Winderlea Vineyard & Winery

Stroll Purveyors include (more coming!):

Raven & Rose featuring a special cocktail by David Shenaut
Jacobsen Salt Co.
Face Rock Creamery
Long Brewing
Victoria’s Lavender
Vincent Family Cranberries
Republic of Jam
Bee Local
SP Provisions
Provvista Specialty Foods Inc.
Even Pull Farm
B&P Hill Farm
Briar Rose Creamery
Red Hills Market
Poplandia Artisan Popcorn
St. Cupcake
Rain Dance Markeplace
Allison Inn Spa

??Vermouth ? Potent Potables

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Vermouth has a long history whose origins can be traced to Turin, Italy where it was created as a medicinal tonic. The name actually comes from the German word for wormwood, Wermut, which is a primary ingredient. Originally, the herbal infusions were prescribed by the local apothecary as a daily elixir; the potent aromatics?would mask the sharp flavor of the malaria-fighting quinine it contained.?But what was once a common curative?has become a backbone to some of my favorite cocktails?Martinis, Manhattans and Negronis, oh my! (Click here for my recipe variation on the traditional Manhattan).

Comprised of fortified wine (either white or red depending on the style and where it is produced), Vermouth is wine infused with grape neutral spirits and a variety of aromatic botanicals like roots, bark, flowers, seeds herbs and spices.

Vermouth?s qualities go way beyond quinine and alcoholic concoctions. It is pure magic. Served over ice with a simple twist of citrus, it becomes either a delicious and elegant apertif or a restorative digestif (calming the digestive system). One sip and you?ll be spellbound, so don?t say I didn?t warn you. And because of the liquor component, it can keep in the refrigerator for a month or so, allowing you to slow down and savor the bottle. Nothing this good should be hurried.

A few captivating Vermouths (explore at your leisure):

Imbue Cellars:?Highly aromatic, with essences of honeyed pear, elderflower, vanilla and classic herbs de Provence that was over your mouth like a refreshing ocean wave. Slightly sweet with a pleasant hint of lingering bitterness that invigorates and satisfies.?Made from Oregon Pinot gris, infused with Clear Creek Distilled Pinot Gris Brandy and a selection of dried botanicals. 16.5% alcohol.

IMG_1605Priorat Natur Vermut:?The Spanish brown Vermouth is more like grown-up dessert: all honeyed herbs, spices, and bitter green tobacco leaves.?I first tasted this at Shift Bar in downtown Portland, where it was listed as ?Drinking Tobacco?. This wine and I? Well, let?s just say it was love at first taste. I was utterly captivated and liked it so much, I took a bottle home.

Grapes from Priorat are infused with indigenous herbs and aromatics. Bottling is done in small quantities; just 700 cases are made every year. Made from?White Carncha, ?Macabeu, Pedro Ximenez (no wonder I love it). You?ll find it hyponotically fragrant, luxuriously smooth and perfectly balanced on the palate, a bittersweet symphony with just enough honey sweetness to compliment the accompanying bitter citrus. A good match with anything salty or savory, especially with appetizers (like olives or clams).

?Hammer & Tongs: P. Andrew Taylor is a brilliant alchemist who has clearly?succumbed to the magic powers of Vermouth. Both way ahead of his time and an old soul, Taylor?has succeeded in harnessing the curative effects of the medicinal tonic used in days of yore and combining that with the restorative elements of cocktails found in the Happy Hour crowds?to produce a potable that crosses over into a whole new dimension.

The Hammer & Tongs Sac’R?sine is pure herbalicious ? The foundation of Pinot Blanc provides both floral and citrusy qualities like grapefruit, green apple, licorice and pine, while the L’Afrique is the polar opposite. Syrah based, it?s inky dark in color and sweet with cherry cola, cedar, bergamot tea and cocoa.

WillaKenzie Gamay Noir – Even Pinot Lovers Will Love

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

For those who love Pinot Noir,?I give you WillaKenzie Estate Gamay Noir.

Gamay noir (primarily known as Beaujolais) is something like zinfandel, in that cheap, poorly made yet widely distributed versions have damaged our impressions of what should be a great wine. Let this wine?dispel any negative opinions you may have.

WillaKenzie 2012 Gamay Noir is notable with its bright and food friendly acidity, subtle minerality and fruity presence. Brandied sour cherries make the first impression while crushed raspberries and bacon (yes bacon!) sneak in from behind. Laced with an elegant yet subtle perfume of violets and the hypnotic aromas of cassis, the complexity is astounding.

A cross between pinot noir and gouais blanc, gamay noir is one of those varieties that is still flying under the radar, making it a more affordable alternative to its more grown up and sophisticated cousin (pinot noir). When it’s crafted like an honorable and traditional red Burgundy, the wines rich color, deep flavors and smooth tannins are elevated exactly as they should be.

Red Wine Poached Pears

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

pears_wineMy dear friend Claudia is one of those natural cooks, the kind you envy in their effortless way about the kitchen. She?doesn?t need to follow recipes, just cooks by instinct and experience. I could start a food blog for her recipes alone ?Cooking with Claudia? (hmmmmmm, idea engine turning).

When she made this dessert for Christmas Eve dinner, I knew it was one of those recipes I?d make again and again. The color is gorgeous, the simplicity is impressive, the taste is decadent and delicious, and well, it?s made with wine. And since it?s easy, elegant and even somewhat healthy, I begged her for the recipe and am excited to share it?with you now.

First and foremost, don’t skimp on the wine.?The recipe calls for pinot noir, but any light bodied?red with good?acidity will do. I used this bright and exciting WillaKenzie Estate Gamay Noir (full review here), but you could most certainly use a pinot meunier also. If you?re looking for a lighter variation (say for an all seafood dinner), use a dry white wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc. You?ll be missing the lovely color, but none of the flavor.

Ideal recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo diets.

Other phenomenal Oregon reds to consider using:
Teutonic Pinot Meunier
The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Meunier
Brickhouse Gamay Noir
Division Wines Gamay Noir
Chehalem Gamay Noir
Evening Lands Gamay Noir

Red Wine Poached Pears
Print Recipe
Red Wine Poached Pears
Print Recipe
  1. In a saucepan (large enough to hold 4 pears), combine the wine, the orange juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Add the pears and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, turning the pears occasionally, until they're easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Using a spoon, gently transfer the pears to individual plates or bowls (don't make the same mistake I did by using tongs).
  3. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and cloves. Return the liquid to a simmer and cook until syrupy and reduced by two-thirds, about 15 minutes, depending on size of pan.
  4. Let sauce cool and then spoon over the pears.
  5. Garnish with orange or lemon twist.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream (optional)
  7. Enjoy!
Share this Recipe