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Pinot Gris


Thanksgiving Wine Selection - made easy!


Thanksgiving Day is the ONLY holiday every single American celebrates.  It is a day observed ladling up traditions at every opportunity; even if you're not doing what historically you have done, admit it - you're thinking or reminiscing about those things! But when it comes to wine selection there tends to be less tradition in play. For some that is the best part of the holiday - the vinous world is your playground! For others, what to serve or what to bring can overwhelm. We get it.

As part of our "made easy" series, we are offering up a few suggestions for going home with a winner or two.

If we can help with your specific feast or preferences, whether a consultation or shopping or both, don't hesitate to Click 2 Inquire. We relish overturning every rock (no minerality pun intended) to find stellar wines perfect for this time of year. And our holiday special is in play NOW through December 31, 2014!

Winning Whites

Noble white varietals are thought the darlings of Thanksgiving. The best hail from cooler climates, offer mesmerizing aromatics which lure you in, are lower in alcohol, a tiny bit "fleshy," yet deliver a crisp, mouthwatering brightness.

- Et Fille "Deux Vert Vineyard" Viognier ~ Willamette Valley, OR

- Szoke "Mantra" Pinot Gris ~ Hungary

Weinguut Jurgen Leiner "Handwerk" Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) ~ Pfalz, Germany

Gundlach Bundschu DRY Gewurtztraminer ~ Sonoma, California

Rabble-Rousing Reds

We hang our hat on discovering earthy, lightER bodied reds - with backbone. Beware of selecting a wine that's too big, which will just weigh you down given all of the food before you.

- Ravines Pinot Noir ~ Fingerlakes, NY

- Dominique Piron Coteaux Bourguignons ~ Burgundy, France

- Elena Walch Schiava ~ Alto Adige, Italy

- Ameztoi "Stimatum" Txakolina ~ Getariako Txakolina, Spain

Remember, with such a big, intense meal with so many different parts and varied traditions, there are countless wines to choose from. When it come to Food & Wine Pairing, the endgame is BALANCE!



Oregon Pinot Camp (OPC) 2011

"On the road again... Just can't wait 'til I get on the road again..." Oh, wait. I'm back! More or less just back from Oregon Pinot Camp 2011, a select, annual, trade, invite-only conference out in the Willamette Valley. That's (said) Willamette, damn it! and about an hour south of Portland, Oregon, where (arguably) the country's finest Pinot Noir wines are made. The goal of the conference? To bring together about 250 representatives of the restaurant and retail wine biz to learn more about the area and why great Pinot Noir is made there. They also (smartly) provide a great opportunity to explore "The Great American Whites", Oregon style, which may go more routinely overlooked, simply because Pinot Noir is the young region's claim to fame. I last visited the region in 2005 and was thrilled to have the 'excuse' to go back and delve in further to this great wine producing region.

My personal adventure began a bit further south of the Willamette  - 5+ hours south, though still in Oregon - at Foris Vineyards. Foris invited me and 11 others from across the country to come in advance of Camp and explore what southern Oregon wine country has to offer. I've worked with Foris' wines in the past (and in particular their Muscat frizzante) and was happy to have the chance to meet the owners, Ted and his wife Terri, winemaker Bryan and his sidekick Steve and the rest of the gang. They are salt of the earth people, with tremendous vision; I was lucky to start my trip with them and whet my whistle and appetite for Rogue Valley wines!

The next morning we were up bright and early to travel to Camp. We enjoyed a late "lunch" on Willamette Chardonnay and Crab, hosted at Argyle and further attended by folks like Chahalem, Ponzi, and Domaine Drouhin Oregon. What a way to begin! Soon enough we were checked in to our hotel and being shuttled (in yellow school buses) to the opening "games". All 50 participating OPC 2011 wineries - an elite bunch - offered two wines to introduce campers to their latest releases while we 'snacked' on incredibly fresh and satisfying local fare. (This general theme happily presented itself throughout the trip.)

The next two days were a whirlwind of tasting, sharing, comparing and learning - each ending with a large-format tasting reception and dinner (dancing optional). I tromped through soil pits at Penner Ash, discovered the "multiple personalities of Pinot Noir" at Domain Drouhin Oregon with winemaker-led, blind tasting workshops that delved into questions of vintage variation and the range of styles that exist, learned more about biodynamics/organics, and farming for quality at Elk Cove and enjoyed a panel discussion about Oregon whites at Torii Mor.Camp was interactive bliss.

Long, love story short my affair with Oregon wines will continue. And in the coming months in particular, it will continue with Anne Amie (best in show, best QPR) specifically, but also as I seek out and enjoy the area's 2010 whites that are coming to market now. They are spectacular, consistently delicious, vibrant, edgy, expressive wines - from Riesling to Pinot Blanc to Pinot Gris (Chard still hasn't quite won me over wholeheartedly, though Chehalem is a strong exception). These whites will certainly tide me over this summer and early fall as the immature 2009 Pinot Noirs enter the market; these wines are NOT yet at their best and will continue to evolve into the best versions of themselves in the years to come. I encourage you to wait with me - and enjoy as many 2007s as you can find in the meantime. Like good Burgundy, these wines will be worth the wait!

A big thanks to all of the OPC organizers and the many attendees, new friends, who made the experience so memorable.



Wines for Thanksgiving!

Schloss Mulenhoff Dornfelder 07With only one weekend before Thanksgiving remaining, no doubt wine lovers throughout the country will be out and about buying wines for the big event. Indeed, it's up there as far as important wine events go! For your drinking (and reading) pleasure, it seemed prudent to round up a few of my favorite picks for the e-roster. Wheeee!!


2007 Schloss Muhlenhof Dornfelder - This bad boy comes in a 1L size. I hosted a small affair last weekend and it could have easily been the only wine I poured (it was gone WAY too quickly!) - offering great, concentrated red berry fruit flavors (cherries, raspberries) in a smooth, sultry package. Generally speaking, this grape (Dornfelder, that is) is a German red wine phenomenon for those who like a lot of fruit, a bit of "lift" and a welcome bit of earthy, mineral-driven nuance to their wines. No lie, Scholss Muhlenhof's is THE BEST I've ever encountered (so great is my love I'm tempted to buy a full case of the stuff to have on hand "just in case..." this winter). The extra glass the 1L size offers will NOT be wasted.  Only $15!

2006 Bethel Heights Eola-Amity Cuvee Pinot Noir -  A careful blend of 6 different vineyard sites, the  is a tremendous, mouth-filling example of Oregon Pinot Noir. Think of this wine as a smooth, deeply earthy Belgian truffle, filled with cherry and raspberry fruits. Truly a well-integrated, delicious wine worth the gentle splurge. (A winner destined for my own table.) About $31.

2007 Clos la Coutale Cahors - With the (worthy) Malbec craze stemming from the success of this grape in Argentina, many consumers forget Malbec is actually a French varietal. Many more do not know that arguably the best, single bottling Malbecs in France come from the Cahors region – and are labeled simply as such. This wine is  remarkably succulent, juicy and approachable. Enjoy black raspberry and blackberry flavors complemented with fresh strawberries! A touch of earthy rusticity makes this Malbec uniquely French. This one is a "bigger" wine than "traditional" Thanskgiving recommendations and would be a particularly good match for rosemary/garlic encrusted roast hen, or the like. About $17.


Schoenheitz NV Edelzwicker - Edelzwicker means "noble blend". Indeed this wine includes as many as seven different varieties from Auxerrois to Sylvaner. The result is suprisingly coherent and delightfully flavorful. Well balanced, dry Alsatian goodness, this is another wine that comes in the 1 litre size bottle. About $15.

2006 Clos de Rochers Pinot Gris - While Alsace, France has long been the place for rich, but dry Pinot Gris, this Luxembourg beauty beats them at their own game. Ripe pears and yellow flowers abound on the nose and coat the palette while brisk minerality keeps things dry and balanced. This wine is absolutely worth the splurge – and certainly a great conversation topic if the family gets a bit unruly. (This one will also be on my own table!)  About $22.

2007 Anne Amie Cuvee A Mueller Thurgau -Leave it to the folks at well-known Anne Amie Vineyards to deliver an exceptional, if not lesser known, wine. The Cuvee A Mueller Thurgau’s tropical and floral aromas could very easily be bottled on their own and used by aroma therapists to rejuvenate clients. Pineapple, melon and white peach flavors comingle with a perky taste of fresh lemon juice. About $15.


Villa di Corlo NV Grasparossa Lambrusco - Versatile, slightly sparkling, fresh, fruity goodness. Lambrusco is pink - and the best are oh-so-dry. This is a wine for guests who deserve and enjoy a break from the norm. This particular offering shows ripe raspberry fruit backed by a coy minerality. Perfect simply when you want to dazzle without effort. About $17.

Poema NV Brut Cava - Today, if you look for it, exceptional Cava is available at a fraction of the price of Champagne. Case in point: the Poema makes drinking bubbly every day (or in a large party format) oh-so-easy and affordable! This is a fun and versatile bubbly with subtle flavors of peach, pear and warm, toasted bread. A bit of orange rind on the finish adds additional intrigue and nuance. Enjoy this one before, during or after your meal. About $11.

Which one of these is likely to grace your table? Is there another you have in mind for the big day??



November's Wicked Wines Uncorked!

Wicked Wines Nov 09Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate the little things in life. Some folks are inclined to do so by picking out one very special bottle of wine to share with friends; for others it is a time to uncork several celebratory bottles (and keeping the average price a bit lower doesn’t hurt). Pinot Noir and Gamay (Beaujolais Nuveau) are the darlings of Thanksgiving reds, offering a delicious pairing with turkey and cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and other earthy, root vegetables. But with the Pour Favor mini-series on Pinot Noir about to hit full stride Monday's this month, it seems only fair to give a few whites (and one incredible rosé) a fair shot at gracing your dining room table! Head over to Wicked Local to find out where the fun begins this Thanksgiving!

Which one of these selections most catches your attention? Will it contribute to your festivities this Thanksgiving?



a bit on bubbly: prosecco

If you recall, last Wednesday we launched my December series "a bit on bubbly" and talked about Growers Champagne. I didn't go much into the production process - or the flavors, for that matter - spending more time talking about the technicalities (and economics) of what makes Growers Champagne special and distinct from the bigger houses' offerings. I promise to circle back to these lovely wines before we ring in the New Year - because I definitely was inspired by many of the wines I was privileged to taste last week, and you really only get the "excuse" to buy expensive bubbly once in a while! But in the meantime, I think its important we move on to a different sparkling wine: Prosecco. Prosecco is Italian for bubbly. Well, nearly... Asti is the better known of the two predominant sparkling wines the Italians produce; but increasingly Americans have figured out Prosecco equates quality bubbly from Italy, at an affordable price. Venetians, for their part, turn to it daily; lucky devils!

This wine is named for the largest proportion of grapes used to produce it (with small amounts of Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio permitted for blending, if the winemaker chooses) and hails from the northeast Veneto region. It is widely considered more fruit forward than traditional Champagne, allowing those who sip it to revel in its dominant, crisp, apple flavors. It is also made in a slightly different way, using the Charmant method. Unlike the Champagne method, secondary fermentation (necessary to "trap" the CO2 and create those lovely, flavor-filled bubbles) occurs in large, pressurized tanks rather than in the bottle. This keeps the wine fresher (best drunk within 6 months to a year of purchase) and affordable. Yippee!

There are two Prosecco's I am quite enamored with at the moment: Santome Prosecco Extra Dry NV (~$13); and the higher-end, Adami Giardino Prosecco (~$19). The Santome is a steal. There are no two ways about it. I am happy to have it on its own, lapping up every pearl of ripe apple goodness, but have no qualms making a good mimosa with it either given its affordable price. It is "Extra Dry", which traditionally means slightly sweet (or off-dry); I find it errs on the drier side, therefore making it even more versatile and food-friendly.

As for the Adami, well, now we're cooking with gas! Adami has been making Prosecco for nearly a century and is considered one of the country's top producers - with good reason! The Giardino is straw-gold in color, which almost deceives its incredibly rich, almost a-typical, velvety mouthfeel. Flavors of apples and peaches remain refreshingly crisp though, with a touch of minerality coming through particularly well on the finish. It's hard to complain when something so lush is on offer! Last time I had it, I paired it with sushi. Cheers to that match!

These two favorites aside, there are many worthy Prosecco's on the market that easily transport you to Venice.  So, tell us, which is your passport Prosecco?



No need to stress: Tips for Turkey wine success

I'm cooking a harvest-themed feast for a few friends this year and couldn't be more thankful to avoid the madness of travel including, but not limited to: airport delays; someone else's Aunt Tilda and her generous supply of lipstick and perfume; and the screaming baby in the seat across the aisle. I'm not a Bah Humbug for Christmas, but I've lived through too many challenging Thanksgiving trips to want to head elsewhere for the otherwise great event.  An entertaining parade that inspires nostalgia, football (no matter how bizarre the match-up), a feast chock full of friends and good humor and a great bottle of wine (or two or three) are all the ingredients I need for a lovely day of giving thanks. If you haven't made it to your wine shop to select a bottle of wine this year, today might be a good day to drop by. It will only get trickier to navigate the aisles as mid-week approaches. And if you don't already have a favorite Pinot Gris, Riesling, Beaujolais Villages, or Pinot Noir picked out, remember to consult your shop's wine buyer. There are some fun things on the market this year you won't want to miss. (Two that come to mind are the Michlits Frizzante Pinot Noir (the winemaker made it for her wedding a few years ago and it was so amazing, her importer asked her to make it a regular in her repertoir) or the Clos de Rochers Pinot Gris, a very cool, slightly sweet Pinot Gris from Luxembourg - you don't see that everyday!) No doubt having a little one-on-one help will certainly ease your pre-holiday stress.

But even if you wait to the last minute or the wine managers on duty are helping other customers, for heaven's sake, don't panic! There is too much parking lot drama at every grocery store and fine wines shop this time of year, you don't need to add a little something I like to call "Bottle Stress" to your life. Even if you are meeting your boy/girlfriend's family for the first time, here are two stress-reducing strategies for Thanksgiving Wine-Selecting Success:

Option A: Simply stick to one of the classic Turkey varietals I listed above. You'll be A-OK on optimal food pairings.

Option B: If those varietals aren't your bag, select a bottle or grape YOU like; it's probably just the balm you need! (Eric Asimov and his eno-friends recently reiterated the point beautifully (and comically) at The Pour....)

For those of you ahead of the rest, won't you help your friends with a little insight? What do you plan to pour this Thanksgiving?



Wines for fall: don't forget about white blends!

White wines aren't just a summer thang. (One of the best turkey wines is actually Pinot Gris from Alsace or Oregon!) And this time of year it can be really fun to expand your white wine horizons by looking into fabulous white blends. Think of old favorites like Evolution 9. Conundrum. Luna Freakout. The list goes on and on! The trick is finding fun white blends that have a little extra oomph to get you through the colder nights. A little residual sugar might not hurt either (think Anne Amie Cuvee Amrit!). Since last week we talked about the awsome red blend SNAFU put out by the Local Wine Company, its only fair for me to let you in on the goodness that is their white wine blend: '06 JuneHog Oregon White. Yum. Oh wait, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself...

Ever heard of Mueller Thurgau? Mueller is another one of the man-made varietals we've talked about lately. Back in the late 19th Century Dr. Thurgau created this hybrid varietal. His goal was to create a grape with the intensity of Riesling but with the ability to ripen earlier; he used Sylvaner to achieve the latter.  He didn't quite get an A+ on his project, but he didn't do too badly either. Mueller wines are fruity, but low in acidity. They are medium sweet, too, and very smooth.  This varietal makes up the greatest component of the JuneHog, coming in at 33% of the wine's juice.

The next largest component of the JuneHog is Gewurtztraminer, or the "spicy white grape" that actually got its start in Traminer, Italy, but happens to have a German name. Go figure! Gewurtz is sweet, spicy, fruity, full-figured and has gorgeous floral aromas. (Trade "secret": Gewurtz is actually sweeter than Riesling!) This grape brings 22% of the juice to the JuneHog blend.

The third largest component of this fun blend is Pinot Gris (21%). Recall from earlier posts Pinot Gris is the genetic mutant of Pinot Noir. Alsatian-style Pinot Gris is full bodied and offers ripe-fruit sweetness on the palate.  These wines are down right lovely on their own, let alone in a blend!

Pinot Blanc clocks in at 16% of the June Hog blend, which gets finished off with just a touch of Riesling (5%, if I've done the math right). I'm not sure how much time we've spent on Pinot Blanc together. But the thing to know is when winemakers don't oak it, or stir it on the lees or otherwise "interfere" with it, PB offers terrific apple and almond flavors. As such, it can be one of the softest yet lightest (read: high acid) white wines on offer. A treat on their own and perhaps even better in some blends.

What do all these various components mean for the JuneHog experience? Let's put it this way: this is the wine I want to drink on a cool fall day when I'm sitting in my Adirondack chair on some beach or even on my front porch - glass of wine in hand, a blanket at the ready and my book propped on my lap. Something mouthfilling yet clean you don't have to think twice to enjoy. Warm sun, crisp air, relaxation. (Snacks optional - but with this wine you won't go wrong with the pairing you choose!)

What's your favorite fall white (blend) this year?