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Tacos al Pastor and Fidelitas Malbec

I recently ventured up to Red Mountain to taste some wines, walk some vineyards and see old friends. There are few places in Washington that produce better wine, some say, some of the best in the world. But, for me it’s the people. The Williams’ family, the Holmes’, the Hedges’, the Hightower’s, the Frichette’s, the Pearson’s – Red Mountain is the smallest AVA in the state and it feels more like a neighborhood than an appellation.

If Red Mountain had football team Charlie Hoppes would be the head coach. He is the sergeant at arms, the baby whisperer, Charlie Hoppes is the Wine Boss.

Charlie Hoppes is one of the most respected winemakers in Washington State. A Yakima Valley native with a degree from UC Davis he got his start in 1988 working with Mike Januik at Snoqualmie Winery and followed him to Chateau Ste. Michelle in 1990 becoming the head red wine maker until 1999. After stints at Waterbrook in Walla Walla and Three Rivers he started his own winery Fidelitas. In 2007 he purchased his first 3 acres on Red Mountain and built a tasting room.

Did I mention that he has a degree in economics? Instead of taking up prime vineyard land on Red Mt he has a 30,000 sq ft production facility in nearby Richland – “Wine Boss”. There he produces his wines plus makes wine for a half dozen clients. The tasting room on Red Mountain has a beautiful panoramic view of the valley.


I first visited Charlie and the tasting room shortly after it was built. Tasting the wines with the “Wine Boss” himself and eating some of the best tacos I have ever had is one of my fondest memories. Charlie is one of the most generous, easy going and intelligent people working in the Washington wine industry. 2017 marks his 30th vintage, and in that time he has made quite a name for himself including being named Seattle Magazines Winemaker of the Year in 2013. His wine continue to garner high ratings from press – his 2012 Ciel du Cheval Cab rated 94 from Parker and the 2013 Quintessence was ranked #4 in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine Top 100. Recently 6 of his 2014 releases received 93 -95 pt scores from the Wine Advocate!

Did I mention every time I go to Red Mountain I end of having tacos? Just thinking about Red Mountain makes me crave Tacos.

So today I give you my  simplified recipe for Tacos Al pastor. Paired with some of Charlie Red Mountain Malbec and you have winner!

FIDELITAS MALBEC RED MOUNTAIN 2014 

Tacos al Pastor
________________________________________

*****Marinade
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried ground cumin seed
3 chipotle peppers, packed in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoon adobo sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
3 whole cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup pineapple juice from canned pineapple
½ cup water

3 pounds boneless Pork Shoulder

To Finish and Serve:
1 14 ounce canned pineapple diced
20 small flour or Corn tortillas, heated and kept warm
1 medium red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ounce Cotijo cheese
1 cup Pico de Gallo, salsa
3 to 4 limes, cut into 8 wedges each for serving

1. In bowl of blender combine the ingredients for the marinade. Puree until smooth about 3 minutes.
2. Cut Pork roast into 4 or 5 large pieces toss with marinade. Place into large roasting pan or Rondeau and cover.
3. Place into 275 degrees oven and roast for 4 hours.
4. Remove and let cool. When cool use two forks to pull pork apart. Stir to combine.
5. Serve meat and garnishes immediately with warmed tortillas, pineapple, onions, cilantro, salsa, cotijo, and lime wedges. Meat will be very moist and should be packed into double-stacked tortillas for serving

 

Taking Care of Each Other

Ashley Trout has been making waves throughout the Pacific Northwest after launching Vital Wines and March Cellars in 2016. Vital Wines is a community-driven, non-profit winery founded on providing better healthcare for vineyard and winery workers in the Walla Walla Valley. All profits are donated to the SOS Health Services of Walla Walla. A pioneer effort of its kind.

We were able to grab a couple cases of the rarely available Vital The Gifted for you.

Vital The Gifted $24.99

52% Cabernet Sauvignon 29% Malbec 10% Cinsault 10%Tinta Cao

Blackberry and plum, fig and woody thyme stems lead to cracked pepper and baking spices, dried papaya and rare white chocolate notes. An absolutely stunning Washington blend!

Join Ashley Trout as she pours Vital Winery + March Cellars wines on Friday from 4-7PM, at our tasting table, while supplies last

 

Esquin’s Exclusive Quilceda Tasting with Arnie Millan

Quilceda Creek has been producing celestial wines since its inception in 1978. Quilceda Creek produced its first commercially-released Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979. Owner, and winemaker, Alex Golitzin had the good fortune to have the assistance of legendary winemaker and uncle Andre Tchelistcheff who was a mentor to Alex in Quilceda Creek’s early days. Over the years, Quilceda has earned lavish praise from the world’s wine press, sometimes bordering hyperbole.

Today, Alex and son Paul have made Quilceda Creek one of the world’s greatest estates, racking up an amazingly consistent track record of 98-100 points scores over the past 15 years with no score lower than 96 points (only twice in 15 years) with their flagship Cabernet. Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon remains the benchmark for what can be achieved in Washington  – and dare we say, and the United States.

So imagine our excitement when we learned that my colleague Jeff Fournier and I, along with David Leclaire, had been invited to attend Quilceda’s release party for the 2014 Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and the 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet last month.

When we arrived, there was already a crowd. We quickly found the two tasting tables and made a beeline to the 2014 Columbia Valley Red Blend. Good thing we were early because the tasting room soon was filled to capacity. Amazing appetizers were tray-passed around the room. This was a party for the Seattle area wine trade, so we were able to hobnob with friends we hadn’t seen for months.

2014 is looking to be another outstanding vintage in Washington State and you can taste the concentration in both the Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and especially in their flagship Cabernet.

When we were done tasting, we went to the winery behind the tasting room to pick up our allocation of both wines. Thankfully, Jeff’s car was big enough to hold the cases of wine.

Below are my tasting notes.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Red $51.99/bottle

The 2014 Columbia Valley Red was beefier than the 2013. The fruit was noticeably darker and fuller bodied and the tannins were smooth and well-integrated. If I had to rate the wine, I’d give it 93 points.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $171.99/bottle

The big brother, the Columbia Valley Cabernet was outstanding. The wine is rich, intense and loaded with black currant and cassis fruit. The tannins were big and long on the finish accentuated by a contrail of that dark fruit. This wine needs some age to come together but I think it will be amazing in 7 to 10 years. I’d give it 97 – 98 points but I’m being very conservative because the Cab is in its infancy.

~ Arnie

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.

 

Saviah tasting with the winemaker Rich Funk

Richard Funk winemaker of Saviah Cellars has been crafting wines in Walla Walla Valley since 2000.  The winery strives to produce rich, artfully balanced wines that showcase unique soils and climate.  We are proud to say we have carried their wines since their first commercial vintage production.  You could say “we got that funk”!

Join us for our tasting with the winemaker event with Saviah and Rich Funk on March 15th, 6 -7:30pm, in the Sky Lounge.

$15 tasting fee, which can be used towards your purchase, space is limited RSVP by calling 206.682.7374

 

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