Goin’ Goin’, Back Back, to Oregon!

Sometimes inspiration is hard to find, friends. 

That’s a lesson I’ve repeatedly learned throughout the course of writing this blog. It’s really easy to fall into the rabbit hole of non-creativity and lack of motivation (for me) when it comes to writing. It’s almost like when you put off doing a specific task for a few weeks, even though you know you’ll feel great once you do it. Then one day? You wake up and just FEEL like doing it! It’s miraculous. Like today!

It also helps to have a friend tell you: “WTF? You’re not blogging! You suck.” She meant that with love, honestly.

#OregonNerd

#OregonNerd

The OTHER thing that helps is having two wines arrive a day apart from each other that are SO marvelously Oregon that they inspire you beyond words. And that happened this week! You’ll definitely want to check these out at the Wine Sale tomorrow, March 1st from 12-2. Yeah, I know there’s Mardi Gras stuff going on tomorrow, but there’s plenty of time to do both, mmmkay?

First up is the brand-spanking new vintage of Walnut City Wineworks Pinot Gris, 2013 Willamette Valley. What is it about a really nicely balanced and well-priced Oregon Pinot Gris? When they hit the nail on the head, they’re just the ultimate go-to wine. But some of them speak to me more than others- usually I look for an ultra thirst-quenching bite on the finish, and I like fun accents of florality. Is that a word? Maybe. Plus I LOVE their label art:

photo (14)

So this is an effortless little drinker that is everything it should be; crisp, clean and fragrant with notes of kiwi, lime zest, white flowers (gardenias, maybe) and something vaguely soapy and lovely. I like the slight addition of tropical fruit flavors, which you could pick up nicely with whatever you choose to dine on- a tropical fruit salsa? Atop a salad with goat cheese and even some grilled salmon? Oh, I do think I just planned a meal for you… how easy was that? This wine retails for $15, and you can also find it on Cellar on Greene’s by-the-glass list for the time being!

Next up is definitely my favorite 2012 Willamette Pinot that I’ve had in a minute- Left Coast Cellars “Cali’s Cuvee”. I believe this wine is relatively new to South Carolina (I might be wrong on that, but at the very least I had never had nor seen it until just before the holidays). Lemee tellya, this stuff is perfect. I’ll always support the merits of 2011 Oregon Pinots- I embrace the light, cooler vintages as much as a warmer one like 2012. But coming off of 2011, this wine is such a welcome change! It really captures fullness and ripeness without sacrificing the overall “cool” nature of Oregon Pinot Noir in general. It has a nice depth of color- and offers more of the blue fruit spectrum- blueberry, black cherries; as opposed to the lean cranberry/pomegranate palate. The finish is undeniably sexy- warm and soft, with lingering vanilla and French oak. A touch of strawberries n’ cream, almost. But not like a nasty strawberries n’ cream candy bar- like actual fresh strawberries with a mound of freshly whipped cream on top. Did I mention that I had the best strawberries of my *life* last summer in Oregon? I thought I knew strawberries. They were life-changing.

photo (15)

 

But back to the wine: hints of Asian five spice and a touch of clove are flirtatious and fun. This wine won a Double Gold at the Oregon Wine Awards for it’s 2011 vintage. I literally cannot get enough of it. The other thing I’ll say about this wine is that our staff at Cellar LOVES it. I take pride in this, because they, at the ripe ages of around 23-26, actually DO know a killer wine when they taste one. They might not be able to tell you exactly why (yet), but they know it’s good. I like that. It’s that you-can’t-quite-pinpoint-why kind of love. Like when you meet a person and you KNOW you instantly like them, even though you don’t know every single thing about them yet. Evidently I’ve had too much wine before lunch, so I will quit my rambling right about now.

BUT the BEST part of this wine? It’s freaking $22! That, my friends, is an absolute steal for such a high-quality Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. I insist you try it.

Also, here’s a screenshot of yet another source of inspiration that got me pumped to write about wine today. And don’t you judge my station list… Sometimes one needs Mariah Carey Radio.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 12.05.40 PM

That’s all I got for today- see y’all at the WINE SALE TOMORROW! 

 

Advertisements

Vaughn Duffy Rose, 12 Sonoma

So this is a new thing for me, and I feel like a bit of a celebrity.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this wine was received as a sample from one of my Twitter followers, @wineclubguy, aka Mark Aseltine.  Turns out, upon inspection, that he is a co-founder of Uncorked Ventures, a site that in addition to having several convenient wine club options, offers pretty neat lookin’ wine gift baskets.

photo 1 (19)

#goesgreatwith… Sriracha?

So this is a Rose of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Syrah from Sonoma County.  I’m fairly certain that @wineclubguy saw one of my many tweets about my love for Rose, and that was how this sample bottle ended up in my life.  Did a little research, and I’m pretty impressed with some of the buzz about this wine.  Evidently not a lot of it makes it out of California (not too surprising given that it’s just 600 cases made). Sarah Vaughn and Matt Duffy were named  on a list of Seven Winemakers to Watch in 2012 by the Insider’s Guide to San Francisco in 2012.  Their 2010 Rose of Pinot was listed as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2011.  There are also some impressive scores for several of their Pinot Noirs- here is where I got this info- worth checking out.  Could they be the next members of the “new school” of California winemakers?  Matthiasson, Lioco, Arnot-Roberts?  Perhaps.

photo 2 (22)

So a bit more about the wine, as I’m trying to keep this post short n’ sweet; it’s a pretty delicious little quaff, and price-wise ($17 is looking like average retail), it is very decent for a small-production, boutique-y Cali Rose.  I would pay it.  It has a bright nose of freshly grated orange peel, wild strawberry, watermelon and tropical fruit.  Nice acid is combined with a juicy mouthfeel, and a nice thirst quenching, easy-going palate.  They describe it on their website as a porch sipper, and it’s pretty darn hard to argue with that.  Who doesn’t need a porch-sipper?  Or in my case, a couch-sipper?  A Monday night watching Jurassic Park-sipper?  (this movie is fantastic by the way.  don’t even argue with me.)

Truth be told, I’m pretty impressed with the quality of this wine, and I can only assume it is representative of the wines available through Uncorked Ventures (note- this wine was included in their “Explorations” wine club shipment). Since I am super-spoiled and hardly ever have to purchase wine in a retail capacity, I’d say my trust-factor isn’t terribly high on internet wine purchases.  But this might have earned my trust, and in my opinion that’s about 75% of the battle.  Kudos, fellas.

I don’t think I’ll be making the switch to big-time-online-wine-reviewer anytime soon, but this was a fun departure from my norm.

NoCo Pinot Noir, 2010 California, Chalone

“One of these things is not like the others…”

“one of these things just doesn’t belong…”

“…can you tell me which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish my song?”

Doesn’t everyone remember that song from Sesame Street?  As a child of the 80’s, I often find myself spontaneously remembering songs from Sesame Street and parroting them out at random times.  (exhibit B: “one!  two!…. AH-AH-AH!!”)  The only KEY to this time is that this wine definitely DOES BELONG!  But it’s not like the others!  And by others, I mean so many other California Pinot Noirs out there in the market.  And for this, I applaud it.  And love it.

So the NoCo label is owned by two hella’ cool dudes that also own LIOCO wines.  I’ve written about their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (remains gorgeous with every vintage) and their microscopically produced (and alas- not to be made again) Pinot Blanc in past posts.  Without going in to too much detail, they focus on site-specific, non-interventionalist winemaking- AKA, they like to let the grapes be themselves and reflect from whence they come, rather than trying to make them into something else.  You could also call that terroir, if you wanted to be fancy.

Back to my point; here’s why I like this wine, in a nutshell: it’s unique AND delicious!  It’s bright, radiant and really pops more than most Cali Pinots I taste in an average week, or month.  It is sort of a palate/mind-expander.  This is crucial, in my opinion, if you’re gonna be a wine nerd.  You have to periodically taste things that stretch and expand your palate’s ability to recognize flavors.  I believe there’s some science behind that, actually.  Remember how when you were a kid you hated beets? (or insert some other food you hated as a kid).  And then one day you tried them when you were in your 20’s and you realized they were delicious?  It’s because your taste buds mature, and become more responsive to different tastes as you get older.  Same is true of wine.  When you first start drinking reds, you might find too much tannin to be, literally, offensive to your taste buds.  But just keep drinkin’, folks.  As your buds get used to tannins, they won’t offend as much.  Then you’ll start to like them.  Of course, it’s always possible that you just don’t like some things, and never will- but the important thing is to keep trying!  Plus, it’s fun.

But let’s move back to the wine itself.  It has a very bright, tangy and pronounced palate of pomegranate, redcurrant, sour cherry, black tea, five spice, rhubarb, orange peel, and a touch of flintiness and cherry pits.  Finishes with a push of minerality, a bit of soft fruit, girly flowers, and a pleasant ZING of acid- it’s low in alcohol at just 13.5%.  It’s a truly fantastic representation of the Chalone AVA- which is a unique little spot.  High in elevation, with soil rich with limestone and granite, the grapey grapes come of age in low humidity and intense bouts of unfiltered sunlight.  This really comes across in this wine, because there is a definitive quality of purity and unrestrained clarity in this juice.  I would even go so far as to say this wine is verging on the precipice of genius, and at the forefront of what it means to make wine and appreciate wine.  Feel free to disagree with me; but I gave that a lot of thought and I stand by it.

This juice is currently by the glass at Cellar, or you can stop in and buy a bottle to take home for $21.  I also heard Noah over at Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Lexington is holding onto some, if you’re from that side of town.  Oh, and this wine also got 89 Points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar!  Woop woop!  Get you some!

Oh and go Gamecocks.  or whatever.  I’m over it.

Villa Wolf Rose of Pinot Noir, 2011

First of all, a sincere apology.  I’ve been a very bad blogger of late.  I can’t believe it’s been since March 12th since I’ve written anything.  You may remember I went to Vegas a few days after I wrote that post, and life has been moving at warp speed since then.  First of all, we had a few weeks of summer.  Where did that come from??  Can’t say I was a fan.  And it really threw me off; my Rose obsession kicked in way too early, but I didn’t want to jump the gun and give in to the obsession full-force.  So I felt I was in a holding pattern of sorts.  There have been a ton of wines that I’ve been *this* close to sitting down and writing about, but somehow it just never happened.  Se la vie.

Image

But here I sit, on my freshly cleaned patio on a gorgeous April day with the doors and windows open, after an extremely productive day off and a feeling of immense satisfaction.  My hands and feet are dirty from planting herbs and a few succulents, I have dinner made and in the fridge and laundry in the dryer.  And this is when it really hits me; ROSE.  RoseRoseRose.  Need it.  Have to have it.  I am owed this pleasure.

Image

Also, I am listening to Kesha on Pandora.  I’d love to lie and say I’m listening to something cool and amazing like Esperanza Spalding (which I did listen to the other day), but my Kesha Pandora station has been fine-tuned after many trips to the gym, and it just makes me happy.  So judge all you want, Judgey Wudgies.  I’m loving it.  I love that she is unapologetic in her trashiness, and that she literally goes out in public looking a hot mess and, by all appearances, high as a kite.  Honey Badger don’t care.  And neither do I.

So there ya go- a picture of an average Monday evening at my casa.  And this has all been my way of introducing you to this wine.  Oh, this gorgeous wine.  It was built for RIGHT. NOW.  Villa Wolf Rose of Pinot Noir, 2011 vintage hails from the Pfalz region of Germany, a warm, sunny and serendipitous little place where Riesling and various other grapes like to grow.  I believe Pinot Noir to be one of the only reds that does fairly well here, but I may be remiss in making that statement.  In any case, this wine is made from Pinot and it’s stunning.  I absolutely love a very dry Rose, but this one, while not sweet, is not supremely dry.  It’s more flirty, soft, and round.  But with gorgeous acidic balance, and a touch of fizz on first sip.  What I look for in any Rose is quench.  I want it to quench my thirst.  Because Rose is really what I drink when I want to be refreshed and relaxed and rejuvenated.  Which is…. kind of all the time.  So, I suppose we have just narrowed down why I like Rose so much.  Refresh and relax.  Who doesn’t like these things?  And who doesn’t want to do that right NOW, at 6pm on a Monday?  Why delay gratification?

Back to the wine.  Soft, round, flirty- we got that far.  Aromatics are owned by the berries- strawberry, raspberry, and bright cherry.  A juicy yet crisp palate with hints of apple and red plum.  It’s fruit, fruit, fruit and finishes with zing.  That is the most succinct description I can come up with.  Speaking of fruit, look what popped up on my strawberry plant recently?!

Image

I know, a strawberry!  Shocking, right?!  Well, the shocking thing is that this plant seems to have thrived on neglect.  I haven’t watered it or done anything to it since last summer.  But it has returned.  So I replanted him today and vowed to care more for my plants this summer.  For an awfully responsible person, sometimes I shun plants after my excitement for them has worn off.  Not my best personality characteristic.  Maybe that’s why I’m single.  Huh.  Interesting.  Fascinating, the things that occur to me after a bit of wine and some rambling.

Some quick stats before I big you adieu; Villa Wolf is currently by the glass at Cellar, so you’re cordially invited to swing in and taste it at your convenience.  You can also take a bottle home for $13.  How ’bout dem apples??  Now that’s a Monday wine.  Or you could stop in and see myself and the Cellar girls this Saturday (4/21) at the Wine Sale from 12-2, and have some then!  Oh and PS: LAS LILAS ROSE IS BACK TOO!  Oh, happy day.

Also, be sure to check out Villa Wolf’s parent company, Dr. Loosen Wines- they have an active twitter feed worth a follow, too- @drloosenwines.  They’ve tweeted me a few times and I feel special.

Have a great week, thanks for reading, and I am strengthening my resolve to be a good (ok, better) blogger!

A Saturday afternoon quickie…

A beautiful Saturday was spent by me at Cellar on Greene, with the doors wide open and my favorite Pandora stations on rotation all afternoon.  No wine sale today, so it was a fairly quiet day.  So what made it even better?  Ricky showed up at 5:00 with an open bottle of the 2008 Migration Pinot Noir, which MIGRATED (get it??!) all the way from Solstice to Five Points just to see me!

Actually, there was a wine sale this morning at Solstice, which is why this open bottle of Migration arrived at my doorstep.  I got lucky and scored some leftovers!  Anyway, this is a nice little treat for a warm Saturday afternoon.  For anyone that doesn’t know, this is a second label to the celebrated winery Goldeneye, and since I can remember we have sold the bejeezus out of every vintage!  This wine is perfect for that person you know that just LOVES Pinot Noir.  Which is a lotta people.  I guess that’s sort of an obvious statement on my part, but it’s true.  I personally go through wine “phases” as I know many of you probably do.  Can’t you think of one friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, granny, who-ever that is in that phase where they feel like they’re the ONLY ones in the world who know about how awesome Pinot Noir is??  It’s like when you rediscover an old band and go around for days (weeks, even) convinced that you’re the only person on the planet who TRULY appreciates it.  Well, I’m sure their birthday is probably coming right up, isn’t it?  They would love this.  It’s a special bottle, but it won’t break the bank at $28. 

Moving on to the most important part- TASTE!  It’s a delightfully smokey little pinot, with fabulous notes of roasted herbs, mushrooms, violets, cherry cola, and a juicy backbone of red fruits.  It’s classy without being overbearing.  It has a nice “bang” of lush aroma, but not in a “I’m trying to be a Syrah” sort of way.  It’s firm in it’s identity as a Pinot Noir.  Which reminds me- here’s a hilarious “Dear Pinot Noir” letter, which might only be funny in a wine-nerdy sort of way, but I think it’s fantastic.  Go figure.  

I’m off to Vegas next week to drink wine for four days straight!  Follw me on twitter @winesnobsc and I’ll be posting whatever I’m drinking.  Not because I’m such a social media whore, but it’s probably the only way I’ll  have a chance of remembering what the heck I drank while I was there.  Stop in to Cellar on Greene to grab a bottle of Migration!  Or email us an order at cellarongreene@gmail.com!  If you mention that you read about it on The Wine Snob, you can have it for $26 a bottle, how’s that?  Sounds good.  Happy drinking!

Patricia Green Reserve Pinot Noir, 2009 Willamette

I dreamed a little dream of an Oregon Pinot Noir… and it tasted JUST like the ’09 Reserve from Patty Green!   This here is a truly exceptional expression of Willamette Valley at a can’t-be-beat cost.  I love this winery.  Where else would you see a shirt like this?

I stole this from their website. Nice shirt!

It says Women Taste Better for the “I can’t find my glasses!” crowd.  I actually own one of these t-shirts, as I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend a wine dinner last year with co-owner and winemaker at Patricia Green Cellars, Jim Anderson.  I won’t brag about all the wines I had, but I did get to try the last vintage of their Chardonnay AND a special little late harvest Muscat that they only make a tiny bit of.  And let’s just say- everything they make at Patricia Green, they make well! 

The 2009 Reserve of which I write has yet to receive an “official” rating from Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate, but if you look at the last several vintages, there is barely a rating below 90 points for the last couple years.  Many of their single vineyard selections are built to last (I sampled an ’04 at the dinner that was still a giant), but this ’09 Reserve is absolutely perfect as a young’in!  Basically the idea behind the Reserve bottling is- in simple terms- they take a bunch of wine from all the different single vineyards, put ’em together, wave their magic wand and POOF!  it is born. 

Okay, maybe not JUST like that.  But yes, the ’09 Reserve is made up of fruit from all the single vineyards (Ana, Croft, Four Winds, etc).  The juice that ends up in the Reserve isn’t of poor quality, before you leap to that conclusion.  No, they don’t just take the schwag juice and throw it in a bottle to sell.  They take tremendous care with all their fruit, and in particular they make sure that each vineyards specific qualities are expressed to their best potential.  So let’s say Vineyard A typically produces smokier fruit, just as an example.  If there’s a portion of Vineyard A that isn’t quite as smoky, WHOOSH- off it goes to be bottled under the Reserve label.  Kapiche?  Hopefully that makes sense. 

But enough about that, let’s hear about how it tastes!  Oh, darn… would you look at that… my glass seems to have been emptied since I started writing!  Funny how that happens.  I’ll need to top myself off, since I wouldn’t want to forget how it tastes…. 

Now, where was I?  Right.  Ripe, plentiful fruit greets you at the nose- cherries- both sour and black,  plums, and a pleasant hint of red fruit snacks (red fruit snacks can really be any one of a number of fruits).  After this wine introduces herself to you with the fruit content, her second act consists of notes of spice  box, cedar, savory herbs, and a little rose petal.  An  acidic backbone rounds it out and gives it a nice lift.  You almost want to smack your lips after you take a sip, it is so pleasant.  This would go so perfectly with so many foods, it makes my mind race… DUCK!  duckduckduck.  With any kind of fruit-based sauce like a cherry-balsamic glaze, or an herb bordelaise.  Topped with GOAT CHEESE!  Duck and goat cheese together are sublime.  If not Duck, easily Salmon.  Two of the most versatile species to prepare. 

Currently we’re pouring this gem of a wine at ALL THREE of our restaurants!  That would be Cellar on Greene, Mr. Friendly’s, and Solstice Kitchen & Wine Bar.  See my links/shoutouts page if you so desire.  You can also purchase a bottle to take home from us at Cellar for $27!  email us at cellarongreene@gmail.com if you’d like to order some!  Chances are it will be open for tasting at the Wine Sale next Saturday (February 5th from 12-2) as well.  Now, if that doesn’t give you many opportunities to taste and/or buy it, I don’t know what does.  Please stop in for a glass, we’d love to have you try it!  Hope everyone’s enjoying this 60+ degree day!

Wine Sale Bargains!

Yes, ma’am- we’re still having a wine sale tomorrow (10-30), depsite the fact that there is a noon football game!  We’re just hoping that there’s enough of you out there that like wine more than football… or at the very least- wine BEFORE football- that it won’t just be us employees standing around looking at each other from 12-2 tomorrow.  Please, please don’t make us do this!  So today’s post will be short, sweet and to the point- bargains, bargains & more bargains!  Well just five, actually.  But they’re good!!

hot kitchen photo shoot

Here they all are, posing together.  First is Ca’Lunghetta Pinot Grigio, 2009 Italy.  Normally around $10-11 online or at your average Wine-o-rama store, we’re selling for $8 tomorrow!  Here’s all you need to know about this one- it’s light, bright, crisp, and it goes down reallll easy.  Or, in more polite terms, it’s “easy to drink!”  Refreshing flavors of green apple, citrus, melon, and a pleasant zesty finish.  You’re bound to love it.  It’s hard not to find it at the very least, quaffable. 

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Pinot Gris, 2008 California.  If there was one phrase that I would’ve seriously doubted would ever enter this blog it would be Kendall Jackson.  I doubt if I ever would have picked this one up at a store for the simple reason that I tend to stay away from the Big Cali Hype… but okay I’ll level with you- it’s actually very nice!  Brighter and not as “wet” as an Oregon Pinot Gris, it offers some pleasant flavors of apple, spice, lemon zest and nice floral aromatics.  Upon further investigation, it turns out this wine is 88% Pinot Gris, and the rest is made up of various percentages of Roussane, Gewurtz, Viognier, Muscat, Chardonnay & Riesling.  Go figure!  A prettt cool little blend.  Average price- $17, tomorrow for $13!

 

Time for some REDS!!  Two Pinot’s for all you Pinot-lovers out there… Dante Pinot Noir, 2009 California, just $10!  This is a Michael Pozzan wine, which I did not know until just now when I googled looking for images.  This wine is very competatively priced- it’s price range matches- IE $10 at your average grocery store- don’t even hold a candle to it, as it easily drinks in the $14 range.  Not super new-worldy, it’s a touch more earthy and gamey than you usually find in California.  Sour cherry, cloves, leather, and an easy-going palate.  Not the most complex wine on the planet, but who doesn’t love a good Wednesday wine for $10 that would taste great with a frozen pizza?  I sure do. 

Then we skip to the little “Superstar” of today’s post- J Pinot Noir, 2007 Russian River Valley!  Now we’re stepping up to $22 a bottle for this one, but given that it averages at least $30 a bottle, that ain’t bad!  Plus, this is some great Russian River juice- classic raspberry and strawberry, but with interesting additions like hints of mint, wintergreen, cinnamon, cloves, and lovely dark, rich black cherry.  100% French Oak aged.  This one will be a welcome addition to the “grown up” wine shelf in your house, for when you need something just a bit more, but aren’t willing to break out the reserve wines just yet.  Save those for when it’s December 23rd and you haven’t finished your Holiday shopping.  You’ll need them. 

And last but not least, our old friend the L’Oca Ciuca “The Drunken Goose” Sangiovese-Merlot-Syrah, 2006 Italy.  This has been a staple around here for quite a while and folks seem to really like it.  Maybe it’s the name, who knows!  This little goose is awfully cute, too.  The long and the short of this wine is that we’ve sold it for $10 a bottle in the past, but this weekend we’re marking it down to $8!!  What could be better than a good wine for $10, but a good wine for $8?!  Especially one you know you like.  But if you’ve never had it, remember you can try it on Saturday!  It’s very smooth, versatile, and is more fruit-forward than you might expect from the Chianti region. 

So come check these bad boys out!  Actually, if you come to the sale on Saturday and mention that you read this blog- or at least this post- I might hook you up with a little gift.  I’m something of a baker, didn’t you know?  Can’t turn that down, can you?