Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wine Wednesday: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali Wine Quote

Love his surrealist artwork, admire or denigrate his politics, there is no question in my mind that Dali could turn a phrase. Happy Wine Wednesday!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

World Malbec Day Winechat

Last week was World Malbec Day and, if you participated, on hell of a wine chat featuring Argentine Malbecs. With seemingly endless bottles being discussed, the banter was fast and furious, easily one of the quickest hours I've spent discussing wine.

Famiglia Bianchi 2011 Malbec

There is no one style of Malbec wine, though a hallmark is its earthiness and ability to pair with heavier meat dishes. Some of the highlights from wines we tasted: organically grown grapes, high altitude (750 meters above sea level) vineyards; native yeasts used; aged in oak; blackberry, dark plum, mushroom, and vanilla aromas; smoky plum, cola, unripe berry, red plum and raspberry flavors; medium mouthfeel; tannic finishes. Most of the wines clocked in at or above 14% ABV, but were well-balanced, so not an issue. 

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lenne Estate #Winechat

I think it's very cool that Stephen Lutz, owner of Lenne Estate, manages all the vineyard, winemaking and business aspects. Lutz previously worked at Beringer, Franciscan, Inglenook, Vichon, Merryvale (Napa) and Chateau Benoit and Anne Amie (Oregon), so he has a wide range of experience and it shows in the wine.

Lenne Estate Pinot Noir

The Lenne Estate vineyard shares a ridge with Willakenzie Estate, Deux Vert, Shea, Solena, Roots and Penner-Ash. We had the opportunity to taste a few of the others at a Portfolio tasting earlier this week, and there seems to be some similarities between them, in a very positive way. The vineyard was planted between 2001-2004 at an elevation of 375-575 feet, with 2,084 vines per acre. The philosophy from the beginning has been to dry farm, forcing the roots deep to look for water and nutrients.

Tasting Notes:
2010 Pinot Noir: cold soaked 5 days; fermented, then aged for 11 months in French oak barrels; ruby red color with mahogany edges; violet, tomato, green tea, and earthy aromas; rhubarb, oregano, olive and mushroom flavors into a cinnamon and black pepper on finish; satiny texture with moderate tannins; cork closure; 225 cases produced;  SRP $45.00. Could probably use a few years in bottle, if not more - this is one to buy and lay down to taste the progression.
In a related matter, if you love Oregon wine, you can become an investor in a proposed 12,000 case custom crush wine facility at Lenné. More information on the Lenne Estate Investment webpage.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recommended Reads: Craft Beer and Provence

We get offered a variety of books to review, some interesting, some not so much. Pretty much anything food, wine, or craft beer has the possibility of transporting you to places you want to be. These books were a welcome source of escapism this brutal winter, along with teaching me a bunch about what they were written about.

Hoosier Beer

Hoosier Beer: Tapping Into Indiana Brewing History, by Bob Ostrander and Derrick Morris, is one of the most fastidiously researched books I've ever read, full of minutiae, facts, and stories. Even with such an esoteric subject, this seems as comprehensive as a school textbook, with a minimum of the possibly dryness. See where and how beer was brewed in Indiana, and what that also meant to the surrounding states.

Chicago by the Pint

Chicago By the Pint: A Craft Beer History of the Windy City, by Denese Neu, is almost a disappointment at first, because it's not about the beer, but then you realize how much history surrounds the locations of these breweries and it turns out to be pretty interesting. As the author points out, this is a history book to be read while sitting in the brewery tasting room and contemplating one's surroundings.

Audacity of Hops

Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution, by Tom Acitelli, is far and away the best single book I've read about the history of craft beer making in the United States. Part research paper, part oral history, the author takes us step by step from the very humble beginnings of a few out there guys who wanted to bring back good beer to the now confusing world of what exactly is an American craft beer. Amazingly researched, deeply addictive reading, this is a craft beer primer that every aficionado should read and then re-read.

Provence Food and Wine

Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living, by Francois Millo and Viktorija Todorovska, is exactly what the doctor ordered to dispel any gloominess brought on by the polar vortices experienced this Midwestern winter. Beyond being a beautiful little paperback book, it's a useful primer on the land, wines, and food of this dream land in the south of France. If you're not inspired to live a more gracious life after reading this treat of a book, you may be too far gone to be rescued.

Disclaimer: These books were provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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