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Women in Wine in the Sky Lounge

Curated by Brass in Pocket, in support of the Walla Walla Community College, comes an event celebrating amazing women in Walla Walla wine history. Join us for appetizers and wine tasting on March 22nd, 5 – 8PM, in the Sky Lounge at Esquin Wine and Spirits!

Featuring:

Ashley Trout – VITAL WINES – Vital Wines produces wines that complete a circle. All proceeds go to the SOS clinic,  a free, non-profit health care clinic in the Walla Walla area dedicated to helping people get the healthcare they both need and deserve – no questions asked. These wines give back to those that provide us with beautiful wines throughout the Walla Walla valley.

Amy Alvarez-Wampfler – Abeja – With it’s namesake meaning Bee in Spanish, Abeja ‘ah -BAY – ha’ pays homage to the care of the land and the times when farming implied a respect for the environment . Abeja creates wines with the philosophy that each day we can make a difference in the quality of our care for the land.
Mary Derby – DAMA Wines – Started by Mary Tuuri Derby,  a visionary, artist, and dreamer, DAMA wines began with community and continues with love. Recognized for their bold, trailblazing wines, DAMA has been emerging from a small boutique winery to a power brand.
Selena Kritsonis – Woodward Canyon Winery – Along with a 14-acre Estate Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley, Woodward Canyon sources fruit from a handful of well-established Washington state growers including Champoux Vineyard, one of the older vineyards in the State.

Sabrina Lueck – College Cellars – A non-profit teaching winery located at the Center for Enology and Viticulture on the campus of the Walla Walla Community College. College Cellars wines are crafted by students as a part of their study of the science of wine making.

$40

100% of ticket sales support a scholarship for women in the Walla Walla Community College Enology & Viticulture program, additional donations accepted at the event.

 

Washington Exploration Series with Regina Daigneault

Washington Exploration Series with Regina Daigneault featuring wines from:

WT Vintners | Lauren Ashton | Otis Kenyon | Andrew Rich | VITAL 

March 8, 6-7:30PM, in the Sky Lounge

We welcome Regina (Reggie) Daigneault – for a tasting exploration series of the Pacific Northwest, beginning with Washington, in celebration of Washington Wine Month. Reggie has been a wine educator for the past 15 years, bringing together a respected following of wine lovers, foodies, and enthusiasts alike.

We begin our Washington Exploration Series by exploring the viticulture regions within Washington State. We will look at why the vineyards, climate, and soils differ from each other. We will explore the cooler climate wines from Columbia Gorge along the Columbia River, and taste the differences of the Walla Walla, Columbia, and Yakima Valleys. Guests will feel the soils and rocks of these regions, while noticing how geology can define the flavors of the grapes.

 

$15 tasting fee, which can be used towards your purchase

small eats will be provided

Space is limited, RSVP by calling 206.682.7374

 

Join us for the full exploration series:

California Series 4/19 6 – 7:30PM in the Sky Lounge

Oregon Series 5/10 6 – 7:30PM in the Sky Lounge

Steamed Clams with Chorizo and Palencia Albarino

To quote Hank Shaw, “There is nothing more Iberian – meaning Spanish, Basque or Portuguese – than the combination of shellfish and pork.” He even speculates that this classic combination was used to ferreting out Conversos during the inquisition. But, mostly I think it is because the combination is so delicious.

Today, I give my interpretation of Hank’s Steamed Clams with Chorizo. Other than some fresh clams, I get mine at Mutual Fish which is right down the street from my house, and good quality Spanish Chorizo, I get that at Big Johns PFI, the other key ingredient is Pimenton de la vera. Smoked Spanish Paprika is unlike the bitter grocery store paprika that your mother used to sprinkle on everything, Pimenton is sweet and smoky and adds a depth to any dish, and aside from saffron is what makes Paella taste like Paella.


I can think of no better pairing for this dish than a good Albarino. Albarino is the undisputed great white wine of Spain. Native to Galicia on northeastern coast the wine has been served with shellfish since the time of the Cluny Monks walking the Pilgrimage of the El Camino de Santiago in the twelfth century. For hundreds of years, Albariño vines could be found growing around the trunks of poplar trees and in bushes along the outside margins of a field. Today, the Albarinos of Rais Baixes are recognized as some of the best wines in Spain.


Recently an Albarino was awarded a Platinum Medal at the 17th annual Platinum Judging, conducted by Wine Press Northwest magazine. It is made by a young man Named Victor Palencia and is one of my favorite white wines produced in the state.

Palencia Winery 2015 Albarino, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $15.99 “This grape is native to the Iberian Peninsula, yet it thrives in the arid Columbia Basin. Aromas of dried pineapple and banana play out on the palate with hints of melon, gooseberry and lemon meringue. It earned gold medals in two Oregon judgings prior to its Platinum.” – Andy Perdue

“Clean, clear and bright with fresh white peach and tropical notes on the nose, a mélange of fruit opens on the palate; sweet cantaloupe, apple, peach, pear and lemon zest are framed with bright minerality and zippy acidity. A refreshing and delicious Galicia style Albarino.” – Lenny

Victor Palencia is barely in his thirties’ and has been making wine before he could legally drink! It was a New Times Article that first brought him to the attention of the public, A Vineyard Prodigy Too Young to Drink. Since then Victor has been named in “Americas Top 40 under 40” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and his wines consistently receive Gold Medals and praise from press and competitions. The future is bright for this young man who was born in Mexico and raised in Prosser, working with grapes since age 13. He says it was his destiny to make wine.

Spanish Style Steamed Clams with Chorizo 

1 pound Roasted potatoes 3 pounds small Manila Clams*

1/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced

1 cup white wine (Albarino)

2 teaspoons Pimenton De la Vera

1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

Big loaf of crusty bread

click here for printable recipe instructions

 

 

 

Weekend Wine Pairing – Spinach and Pesto Gnocchi w/ Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc

Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc is aromatic with hints of passion fruit and guava zesty with lime, gooseberry and green apple but this wine isn’t just about fruit it is a perfect balance of acid and fruit this wine has minerality and a slight savory note. Green herb notes on the palate with a nice clean finish.

The grapes come from two vineyards: Redford-Wetle in the Eola-Amity hills and Aurora Colony Vineyard in Aurora. If there is one last master of white winemaking for Matt to get tutored by it would be Myron Redford of Redford-Wetle Vineyard, founder of Amity Vineyards and white wine evangelist.

This wine is versatile and could pair with many different dishes – shellfish, vegetable dishes, pastas, salads of all kinds. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few wines that is perfectly suited to foil many tricky ingredients that are notoriously hard to pair like – artichokes, asparagus, green herbs, goat cheese.

Always a favorite the Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc really struts it stuff when paired to a dish like Spinach Gnocchi:

Spinach Gnocchi with Pesto

1 pound Roasted potatoes
½ cup Ricotta
4 ounces Spinach, cooked and chopped
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
2 each Egg Yolks
1 cup Flour or more as needed
1 tsp Salt
Pinch White Pepper
Pesto Sauce
Pecorino Romano for grating

Printable recipe w/ instructions

Eroica Riesling: A Retrospective

eroica riesling washington wine

Had the opportunity to take part in tasting a vertical of Eroica Riesling at Wild Ginger. This collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen from Germany is a benchmark for Washington Riesling. What started as a handshake deal between two winemakers has become a great partnership showcasing the potential for great Riesling in Washington State. We tasted the 2005, 2007, and 2010. I preferred the 07 as it (to me) had the most acidity. And thought it’s kind of a duh to say that Riesling is great with Asian cuisines, the wines really shifted to another level with the food. Especially noteworthy was the green papaya salad; it was put on this Earth to be enjoyed with Riesling!

The real show-stopper, however, was getting to try two vintages of the Eroica Single Berry Select. A TBA-style dessert wine of miniscule production, it’s a treat to try one let alone two vintages. (BTW, TBA is German for delicious, rare, nectar-like Riesling that’s picked berry-by-berry.) The 2001 (seen on the right in the above photo) was poured first and I have to say I was astonished by the color. It had already taken on a much deeper, darker color than the 2007 poured next to it. It was the Wine of the Day for me.

This special event was part of a larger, summer-long celebration of Riesling. Whether it’s from Washington or anywhere else in the world, I cannot recommend Riesling highly enough as one of the finest, most age-worthy, food-friendly wines.

Full Disclosure: This tasting and lunch was provided by the winery.

My Favorite Affordable White Wine

Cassagnoles Gros MansengI have to admit that I’ve been going a little crazy over this wine. (And I’m not the only one here; it’s a staff favorite as well.) And sure, there are a few obstacles to overcome when recommending this wine. Like, for starters, the name: 2010 Domaine des Cassagnoles Reserve Selection Cuvee Gros Manseng Cotes de Gascogne. Yikes! I’m already flummoxed. But let me council some patience.

Would it help to say, “Oh, it’s a Gros Manseng from Gascogny.” Umm…maybe not so much. But, as a champion of the obscure and delicious, I’d probably just mention that I love the white wines from Gascogny. Most are a cheap and cheerful blend of such grapes as the aforementioned Gros Manseng along with Ugni Blanc (!) and Colombard.

But this Gros Manseng distinguishes itself from the charming wines of Gascogny by having an unexpected golden richness and texture. And then it finishes very refreshing. For under $15, it’s hard to think of a wine that has so many layers and so much interest. What a pleasure to drink! I love finding wines that surprise you like the Cassagnoles. Every time I open a new bottle, I think, “Is this as good as I remember it?” And then I take my first (of many) sips and my response is always, “It’s even better than I remember it.”

Enjoy this wine with an ocean of crab and/or a pile of lobster rolls. Because you just saved all that dough on wine, right?

Hunting for Hunter Semillon: Tyrrell’s Vat 1

Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon
A legendary white wine from Australia.

For better or worse, in the mind of many wine-drinkers, Australia=Shiraz. Couldn’t blame you for thinking that way; a decade-plus ago, when I was first introduced to Aussie wine, I was guzzling oceans of Shiraz and little else from Down Under. Hell, I didn’t even know there was any wine besides Shiraz. My willful ignorance was cured when I discovered a world of wonderful dry Rieslings (criminally underrated) and great Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends reminiscent of good white Bordeaux. But the real gem, and one of the more collectible and age-worthy whites in the world, is Hunter Valley Semillon, particularly Tyrrell’s Vat 1.

Through a bit of providence I was able to get my hands on some of the 1999 vintage. And then, even better, got to drink some. I knew I was in for something good when I first poured the Vat 1, as aged Semillon takes on a hue that seemingly comes from the touch of King Midas. But what really blew me away was the freshness of this wine. An 12 year-old dry white wine has no business being so lively and exciting, but this Semillon was a smooth, delicious white reminiscent of a top quality dry Riesling. I had expected it to have developed some secondary characteristics, like a bit of nuttiness, but it was still quite primary. So it’s no shrinking violet; you could tuck it away in your cellar for years to come. (Though I’m not sure I could keep my hands off it, it’s so tasty right now.)

But don’t just take my word for it. One of my favorite wine writers (and customers), WINEcouver, had quite the experience with a bottle of the 1998. (Way to make me blush.)

http://twitter.com/#!/WINEcouver/status/21689785399648256

What regions or countries do you think have wines that aren’t getting their due or are a bit lost in the shuffle?

1999 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon $40 (limited)

Quintarelli: Great with Thai Food

Quintarelli WhiteLike Dal Forno Romano, the wines of Quintarelli will change your notions of the heights that great Valpolicella can reach. And, to my pleasant surprise, Quintarelli also makes a hell of a white wine.

The Secco Ca’ del Merlo is an unusual blend: Garganega, Trebbiano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin. (I have no idea what Saorin is.) Aromatic, medium-bodied, silky-textured, and refreshing as a mountain stream, it was pretty damn incredible with some Thai food we had delivered to the home of Esquin’s Wine Jedi, Arnie Milan. (I’m Luke to his Obi-Wan. Though I’d prefer to think of myself as more Han or Boba Fett. But I digress.)

And though I really love stylized wine labels, there is something really charming about Quintarelli’s scripted label. I love the unique look of his writing; I wish my chicken-scratch penmanship could hold a candle to it. Can someone please turn it into a font?

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2007 Quintarelli Secco Ca’ de Merlo: $52

Muscadet Built for the Cellar

Pepiere Muscadet Clos des BriordsAs a lover of the bracing whites of France’s Loire Valley, my introduction to Muscadet (made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape) was a welcome delight. And if you love oysters and (like me) have a budget far from unlimited, Muscadet is the ultimate bivalve wine. It’s the kind of wine you want to drink ultra-fresh and well-chilled. At least that’s what I thought until I was introduced to the Pepiere Muscadet Clos des Briords.*

Produced from vines planted in 1930, the Clos des Briords defies the typical profile of your everyday light and crisp Muscadet. It has remarkable depth and length and is certainly well-suited for the cellar. Last night I enjoyed a magnum (with friends; not by myself) of the 2005 and it was lovely. I feel slightly guilty for opening it up so soon, but the pleasure of enjoying it with friends washed away any misgivings.

If you are starting to cellar wine, or already do so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value in a wine you can easily lay down for a decade. And nothing is more fun than pulling a big bottle out of the cellar; magnums rule!

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*I must give praise and a lifetime of thanks to my former Triage sales rep, Tom, for introducing me to this wine and the fact that I could get it in magnums! Go have a pizza at his place in Seattle.

Viognier is Voluptuous

Lovely French ViognierIs there a wine that smells better than Viognier? It reaches its aromatic pinnacle in a tiny little sliver of the French wine world, Condrieu. This Northern Rhone appellation produces Viognier with truly ethereal properties: fragrant like blossoming fruit trees, with a textured richness recalling some kind of nectar only accessible to mythological gods or hummingbirds.

Condrieu and other transcendental white wines, unfortunately, come at a steep price. So I was thrilled to reacquaint myself with a lovely French Viognier that hints at Condrieu but at a third of the price. The Domaine Rougié Viognier is just a pretty, pretty wine to drink and requires no accompaniment other than a corkscrew and a glass. OK, maybe some butter-poached lobster and a fennel and apple salad. And a hot date.

This Viognier inspired me to pull my well-worn copy of Jay McInerney’s Bacchus & Me; his musings regarding “The Cult of Condrieu” make everything I’ve just written seem as passionate as a parking ticket. And he has a very logical justification for why you should shell out good money for this most fragrant of white wines: “Perfume is much more expensive, and it’s not potable.”

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(Oh, and the 02-09-2009 on the label is the date the grapes were harvested. Provincial American that I am, I wondered why they would pick grapes in February. Then it dawned on me that I was an idiot.)

(And when I say Viognier is voluptuous I’m thinking Rita Hayworth in Gilda)

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