Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days: Day 2!

Day 2! Typically I would have broken at least one resolution by now, but I’m determined to see this project through. And what better way than with a barely recognizable varietal that you might not know exists- Adelsheim Auxerrois, 2013 Ribbon Springs Vineyard! 

Aux-sair-WHAT?

Aux-sair-WHAT?

Oak-sair-wah. There ya go. The nice folks at Adelsheim actually put that on the back of the bottle. Almost as if they saw that coming…

IMG_7850

So what’s the deal with Auxerrois? Its an Alsatian varietal, where its often blended with Pinot Blanc or used in sparkling Cremant d’Alsace production. I had an Alsatian wine that was labeled Pinot Blanc this Summer, and it was at least half Auxerrois. And it was damn good, as I recall.

Not much Auxerrois at all is planted in Oregon, and this vineyard in Ribbon Ridge may be the largest. Apparently there’s some to be found a bit further south in the Eola Amity Hills, in the Zenith vineyard (note to self: investigate this), and a producer called Elemental Cellars. Gotta track this down! I’d be curious to see how the grape behaved in a different vineyard. Anyway!

I think 2013 was a great year for Oregon whites; haven’t wrapped my head around why just yet, but there’s something noticeably perfect about a lot of whites I’ve tried from this vintage. This wine is as light and fresh as it gets. It plays a close fiddle to Pinot Blanc in the “what would I like to drink while I eat fresh, raw oysters” question. High minerality is offset by delicate fruit (green apple, pear and melon) and some herbal and fennel-y notes. I will say, this wine was pretty tightly wound on the first day I opened it. It actually relaxed a bit and softened into its structure on day two. While it doesn’t scream loudly, what it does have to say it says nicely and in a polite and refreshing fashion. Good clean fun right here.

Also, it didn’t suck that this was the view at Adelsheim on the day I bought this wine:

IMG_7779

A few fun facts for the hardcore wine people out there: they ferment just 9% of this wine in neutral oak barrels. The remaining 91% stay in stainless steel, and it undergoes no malolactic fermentation. Interesting. To me, at least. I like learning about all the little percentage details like this. So with that, I wrap up Day 2! Hope your brain feels just a bit bigger than it did when you started reading, and that now you have to satiate a craving for fresh oysters. Cheers!

I bought this juice for $25 at the Adelsheim tasting room located here

PS: Columbia SC peeps: this wine IS available in SC, so go talk to Ricky or Jennifer to see about ordering some!

One Wine to Rule Them All- Verso Rosso Salento, 2012 Italy

THIS is your big Winter Red!!

photo (2)

I’m 1000% serious.  This is absolutely THE wine you are gonna fall head over heels for during the chillier months that are upon us.  The best part?  You’ve probably never heard of these grapes.  You might not know how to say Verso or Salento (VAIR-so and sa-LAIN-to).  Heck, you might not have had an Italian wine quite like this before.  But trust me, YOU’RE GONNA FLIP!!

This wine is special for several reasons– first, it comes to us from one of my favorite portfolios, Small Vineyards.  In order to be included in Small Vineyards, the wine must be hand-harvested, from a family-owned estate, and be farmed in an ecologically friendly manner.  Note the word organic is not in use here; in my opinion it’s a bit irrelevant- you can trust that this wine comes from people that really cares about their impact on the environment as well as making the best wine possible, which I trust over a USDA certification eight days a week.

Raisins are tasty.

Raisins are tasty.

Second, this wine is big and sexy for a cool reason; a portion of the grapes (no, I’m not sure which ones) were allowed to “raisin”- which is exactly what it sounds like!  Also known as “appassimento”, it is a process of allowing the grapes to hang out and dry a bit- concentrating their sugars.  It is a labor-intensive process, which results in the reduction of the yield.  A labor of love, I would call it.  So it means they end up with LESS total wine to put into bottles, BUT the wine that results is so rich and flavorful it’ll leave you speechless- and (AND!) it it not weighed down with a high alcohol content!  This wine comes in at a solid 14% abv.  That’s a full 1.5-2 percentage points less than your average Cali Cab, Zin or Shriraz- the typical wines “big red” drinkers tend to like.  Balance, people- balance!  And it means you can drink a bit more of this guy without that thick, heady feeling you get after two glasses of Zinfandel.

Alright, so I got wine-nerdy there for a minute- so let’s get moving with HOW IT TASTES!  Because that’s what’s gonna keep you coming back for bottle after bottle.  But before I forget, this wine is a blend of 60% Negroamarao, 35% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel’s parent grape) and 15% Malvasia Nera.  A giant nose of figs, cloves, anise, vanilla, raisins (go figure), a hint of olives and black peppercorns, a nice lift of dried flowers and red berries and blueberry.  The texture is silky, polished and mouth-coating.  There’s some unique spicing at work here that I can’t quite pinpoint… I want to say it’s Sumac, but I can’t be positive.  It’s taunting me.  The wine finishes with elegance and a tangy little pop.

So I saved the BEST FOR LAST!  This bottle will cost ya just $16!!  

To add to the fun, this wine is available as part of TURKEY PACK #2 at Cellar on Greene this year!  That means you can have it along with three other swell bottles to take to your Thanksgiving feast quickly and effortlessly.  Never heard of a Turkey Pack?  Well, you must click here and check them out.  They’re only our most popular wine club item every year!  Good news is, you can absolutely grab them as a walk-in purchase- it’ll take 2 seconds for us to pack you one.  So you can leave it til last minute, if you’re at all like me!  

Happy Thanksgiving, wine-lovers!

Some New Whites!

Hey there, white wine.  Have I told you lately that I love you?  I do.  I do, I do, I do.  A whole lot.  Especially these two!  They are both unique and interesting blends that excel in versatility and have the added bonus of being extremely delicious!  Well, the delicious part should go without saying, because, really, when was the last time I suggested a wine to you that wasn’t delicious?  Never.

It looks to be another gorgeous Spring day here in SC, the sun’s out and there’s a lovely breeze.  This kind of day was meant for sipping a white wine late in the afternoon!  Especially on a Friday.  Beautiful Fridays have a special vibe to them; where you can feel that people have that itch to go out.  Or maybe an itch to stay in; either scenario calls for wine.  So let’s move on to these two new vinos- Sokol Blosser “Evolution” White blend from Oregon, and Elios Moschofilero/Chardonnay blend from GREECE!

Sokol Blosser Winery is pretty baller.  They occupy some of the most prime real estate in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, and they’ve been there since 1971.  They practice Organic farming and sustainable business practices.  Their philosophy is one of the more “whole-istic” that I’ve come across- meaning that they put a ton of effort into the whole picture; from preventing soil erosion to using natural pest-control.  Right down to the micro-detail.  I met a representative from the winery last week and was particularly struck by how down-to-earth and genuine she, and the winey, came across.  So this is a really feel good wine, not to be cheesy.  And it’s also freaking tasty!

So the fun facts about the Evolution white; it is a blend of up to nine grapes, but you don’t get to know the percentages of each.  I find that exciting.  There will not be a quiz later, but here are the varietals; Pinot Gris, Gewurz, Muscat, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sylvaner.  Phew!  Try listing that on a wine list.  You can’t!  That’s what makes it fun.  It’s an extremely aromatic wine, with a nose of tropical fruits, white flowers, golden apples, honey and bright tangerine/citrus.  Nice soft viscosity and a beautiful quenchy-acidic finish.  You could literally pair this wine with just about anything.  A salad with a tangy vinaigrette.  Spicy Thai.  Slightly sweet BBQ.  Fish.  Really anything.  It sips perfectly on it’s own, too.  This is also a Non-Vintage wine, and NO that doesn’t mean they throw last years leftovers into a bottle.  There’s a lot of intention here, as it states on the bottle.  And a little luck, it seems.  Try this wine!!  Don’t delay.  (Retail $15).

Next up is a fun and interesting wine called Elios that hails from the Mediterranean!  It also wins the hard-to-pronounce and I’ll-never-remember-the-names-of-these-grapes awards of the week.  Greek grapes have some of the strangest names.  This is a blend of Moschofilero, Chardonnay, Roditis and Savatiano.  Mos-coh-FEE-ler-oh is how you say the first one.  It’s one of the major white grapes in Greece, so it’s worth remembering.  Roditis, to me, sounds like an illness or a skin condition.  But who cares?  the wine is delish!

Incredibly fresh, clean and zesty, this is a perfect wine for a Sauvignon Blanc-lover or maybe an Albarino fan who wishes to branch out and try something new.  I doubt you will be disappointed!  A crisp palate of green apples, peaches, lemon and lime, followed by pretty floral hints and a touch of melon.  A very lively and balanced finish that makes it sublime for hot weather.  The best part?  It retails for $12!  A steal of an everyday wine.

Both of these babies are currently by-the-glass at Cellar, so they’re open for your tasting pleasure at all times.  Also, you could come to the Wine Sale tomorrow (5/12) and try them from 12-2, along with tons of other delicious juice!  Oh, and remember Mom?  She likes wine.  And if you’ve saved your Mother’s Day shopping til last minute, you can snag a quick bottle on Saturday and she’ll be none the wiser.  In fact, she might be quite thrilled!  Happy weekend and happy drinking!

Berger Zweigelt, 2010 Austria

Heh?  Zwei-what??  ZweiGELT!  here’s the best phonetic pronunciation guide I could invent- “Tsvye-gelt.”  But I promise not to make fun of you if you say “Zwy-gelt”.  Or you could get straight to the point and just say “gimmee the weird red with the bottle top!”

So what the heck IS Zweigelt?  Well, it’s Austrian for one.  It is, as I like to call them, a wine baby-  It was created as a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent (HA!  like those are ANY easier to remember!  way to go, Austria!).  I kid Austria.  I love Austrian wine!  Anyway, Zweigelt is Austria’s most planted red varietal.  It was created in 1922 by Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt.  I swear it’s true- I couldn’t make this up if I tried.  That just seems like something you would say because you actually had no idea who made it- an Austrian grape called Zweigelt?  Sure!  A dude named Friedrich invented it!  And people would believe you, because they all saw The Sound of Music and there was a kid named Friedrich, and HE was Austrian.  Can’t you just picture these two drinking Zweigelt?

So rugged and sexy.  Kind of like this wine.  Overall, it is a light-bodied wine, but it’s very sturdy, which is what makes me say it’s rugged.  If you’re searching for a point of reference for this one (ie something familiar to compare it to), I’d liken it to a Pinot Noir, at least in body and appearance.  Visually, and on first whiff, it is deceptively big-seeming- dark colored, and with a spicy, peppery nose and additional aromas of dark fruits- blackberries, plums, and pomegranate.  But once you taste it, the 12.5% alcohol content is obvious- its light, buoyant, and tart mouthfeel and high acidity is just plain lip-smacking!

Now that Fall is officially here, there is no time like the present to try this wine!  It’s really a perfect match for fall foods- roasted root veggies will pick up it’s earthy tones.  Anything with mushrooms will be winning.  And I personally think it beckons for cheese- any kind of sharp, pungent cheese.  Which is also an ideal match if you happen to make this a 3:30 wine (more about that here)- which is a perfectly logical idea, considering that it’s low in alcohol.  So what if it’s a 1 liter bottle?

But back to Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt for a minute.  I’ve decided (after accidentally drinking a full glass of this wine while typing) that he is like a  WW1- era Colonel William Stryker-meets-wine:  “In creating this cultivar, Fritz Zweigelt was looking for prolific grape-bearing, good deep colour, and resistance to disease. And Zweigelt is indeed  resistant to frost, drought, and to various ailments of the vine, but by crossing Blauf with SL, Dr Z came up with a grape that tastes like neither” (source).

Granted, Fritz here doesn’t have a secret desire to destroy all grapes the way Stryker wanted to destroy all mutants.  But let’s still liken the Berger Zweigelt to Wolverine.  Just for fun.  Okay, just so I can google some pictures of him.

Amazing how we’ve gone from Captain Von Trapp to Colonel Stryker and Wolverine in the span of one blog entry that is supposed to be about wine.  And we have this quiet overcast day and a bottle of Berger Zweigelt to thank!  So thank you, Berger.  I applaud you.  I applaud your versatility, uniqueness and coolness.  Thank you for starting my Saturday so beautifully.

Okay, I had best shut up now or who knows where we will end up next.  Try the Berger by-the-glass at Cellar on Greene, or take a bottle home for $14!  Happy weekend everyone!

Colterenzio Muller-Thurgau, 2009 Italy. Muller-Thur-what??

“Umm.. ex-squeeze me?”  The great Wayne and Garth get straight to the point.  Huh?  Muller?  Thurgau? 

So let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start, as Julie Andrews would say.  How the heck do you say this?  Well, to further confuse you, I’ve had two people in the business whose opinion I would trust pronounce it two different ways.  MULL-er Thur-gow and MEW-ler Turr-go.  The “u” is supposed to have an umlaut over it regardless, but I don’t know how to get my keyboard to do that.  My best guess would be that Mew-ler Turr-go is correct, if you were trying to be fancy about it, but that Mull-er is an acceptable Americanization that will not get you laughed at. 

Mew-ler grapes

 Here they is- cute little green grapes.  More about the actual grape- Muller is what I like to call a “test tube baby”- created in 1881 by a guy named Hermann Muller- who wanted the intensity and sharpness of Riesling, and an early ripening season.  Wikipedia says “…Although the resulting grape did not entirely attain these two qualities, it nonetheless became widely planted across many of the German wine-producing regions.”  Interesting!  I guess he just got lucky.  Must be nice.  Apparently many people think Muller is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner- but is in fact a cross between Riesling and “Madeline Royale”- which I never would have guessed was a grape.  Who would name a grape a person’s name?  Bizarre.  Anyhow, there you have it. 

Moving on, this Colterenzio Muller Thurgau has got to be one of my favorite whites that we’ve poured by the glass this year!  Now, to be fair- I am a total whore for unusual, offbeat, acidic white wines, and this is no exception.  It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in my effort to make everyone in the world appreciate the exact same wines I do (kidding), I wanted to write about this wine.  It hails from a little region in northern Italy called Alto Adige (AHL-to Ah-deejay).  This part of Italy used to be part of Austria which makes it a very unique spot.  Even the bottle- and all the Colterenzio bottles- have a distinct look to them that differentiates them from other Italian wines. 

This is such a beautiful wine.  I love a white wine that really captures a degree of elegance and purity, and this one is just that.  It would likely go overlooked at one of our Saturday wine sales, especially if it were placed next to something much more “new world” in style.  It takes a bit if concentration to appreciate this wine, because it’s not very forthcoming with it’s presence.  Light notes of wild flowers reveal themselves, especially after the wine warms up just a touch.  Honeysuckle and white peach show up as well, and the palate is steely, quenching and refreshing with citrus and minerality.  Fantastic. 

This wine makes me want to be here:

 And based on looking at photos of the Alto Adige region, this is pretty much what it looks like.  Green grass, wildflowers, mountains, clean air… and Julie Andrews basking in all of it.  Grab a bottle of this wine for just $13 next time you’re at Cellar!  Which will be soon, I hope….