Sparkling Month: Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant, 2014

Say hello to Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant!

mischief managed.

mischief managed.

This little doll is about as charming as they come. I’ve written about Division Wine Co. before, but this wine fresh from winemaker Kate Norris’ personal project, Gamine Wines. Gamine means a girl with a mischievous charm. As a lover of words in general, I’m a fan of this one.  This is an enchanting wine, starting with the fact that its made from Grenache: Grenache from Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Grenache is a grape I don’t typically associate with sparkling wine. There’s nothing specific that makes it wrong for sparkling (to me), but especially in a hot climate like Southern Oregon, it has the potential to turn into a hulking monster of a red wine. Alcohol contents can get super high in Grenache in general, which is what makes this wine such an altogether pleasant surprise!

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Delicate, girly, coy… and yes, a little mischievous. Pale pink, with a faint and fine bead. The nose is subtle at first, but becomes a bit more revealing after a few minutes. FullSizeRender (11)Strawberry, cherry pit, fragrant herbs & cantaloupe, leaving you with a fun zesty tingle on the tongue. Given its Pet Nat status, the sparkle that’s found here is a light one, but it doesn’t deflate and leave you wanting more- it maintains it’s fine effervescence. Actually, this wine also drinks well on day two! I opened it last night and kept it overnight with a bubble-topper, and its still razor-sharp. The actual bubbles are no longer with us, but at this point it drinks like  a light, clean, tart rosé. Which is never a bad thing.

Pet Nat sparkling has often been described as “rustic”, and with due reason- but in this case, while there is a touch of that little funk, its a very refined wine. It is sophisticated and ultra-feminine. Normally I resist the use of gender assignment when it comes to wine (because 2015), but this wine just speaks femininity to me. In all forms, not just the light, flirty, girly side of femininity- the general badass side, too. Like this:

... or maybe it's just what I'm listening to currently.

Her walk is mean, yo.

This wine will cost you a ridiculous $26. There’s no ‘this was a sample’ disclosure here. I crushed hard on this wine and bought a couple, along with the Gamine Syrah, which is likewise ridiculously good. That wine is so good, actually, that I don’t even want to tell you about it because I’m concerned it will sell out and I won’t get to have any more. I believe the PetNat was only about 70 cases made, so that too is something  you’re gonna want to get your paws on rather soon, IMO. I think this wine is a really fantastic step for Oregon sparkling in general. A year ago if you would have told me there was a PetNat Grenache Rosé coming out of Southern Oregon, I might’ve looked at you CRAYzy.

One last side note- I love these labels! And to no one’s surprise, the talented Maija Rebecca did the watercolors for the Gamine wines. Love. Her.

I love this wine. It reminds me of pale pink lipstick, parasols, dimples, muddy pink rain boots, a sunny field of lavender, beachy hair waves, and Queen Anne’s lace. How’s that for free-association?

Sparkling Month! Analemma Blanc de Noir, 2011

December is here! Naturally, the best time of the year to drink sparkling wine. Well, except February. That’s a good month, too- with that whole holiday that starts with a “V” occurring and all. Personally, I’ll drink sparkling just about any old month, but the craving has really come home to roost in the last few weeks. I think it really began when I was working on this article, and pouring over the Theise Sparkling Manifesto, and realizing just how painfully long it had been since I’d felt that searing acid slice across my tastebuds and the tingle of carbonation. I love the mouthwatering factor of sparkling wine more than anything. I especially love how just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Like now.

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I stole this picture from fellow writer, Tamara Belgard! It was better than mine.

But, hallelujah! There was a saving grace. The weekend of November 14th, I took a quick jaunt up to the Columbia Gorge to attend a release party for Analemma’s 2011 Atavus Blanc de Noir. Perfect! I thought. I’m unfamiliar with the Gorge area in general, still being a relative newbie, and I’ll treat it like a little vacation that’s only a day and a half long. Sold.

 

 

So what better time than December to throw together a little “Sparkling Month” on the blog? Admittedly, thus far I have slated only four Sparklers to tell you about- but they’re good ones, and they’re all very individual representations of Sparkling wine in the Pacific Northwest, and the cool directions its going in.

5.Kris_Steven_closeupWhere to start with the Analemma? There are so many cool facts about this wine. And, I have to lead by saying I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed by my experience there. Kris and Stephen are wonderfully authentic and talented people. A husband and wife team, Kris being the viticulturalist and Stephen the winemaker, they’ve really created a very special place at Analemma Wines. With some impressive notches on their belts, they had the opportunity to lease the Atavus Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge starting in 2010. The vineyard itself was planted in the 1960’s. A very high-elevation site, it sits at between 1600 and 1800 feet, making it absolutely ideal for grapes that thrive in cooler growing conditions. The resulting high acid spells perfection for sparkling grapes. 2011 was especially cold, so this wine was brought into the world at the right time. Three of the coolest things about this bubbly are: it is single varietal (Pinot Noir), single vineyard (Atavus) and single vintage (2011). Got all that?

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A sharp crispness dominates the palate, with really poignant aromas of granny smith apple, underripe red fruit, lemon peel, and a hint of sweet tarts. There are some beautifully woven baking spice notes in the background, accentuated by woodsy herbs and that salinity we all know and love in sparkling wine. Here’s the interesting thing about my experience tasting this wine for the first time. As soon as I tasted it, I thought… “Oh, wow. I *think* this is amazing,” but I didn’t have a chance to really bounce my thoughts off anyone at the time. I had read good press about the wine, so I knew it was well-respected, but sometimes when I first think something is too good initially, I like to test the waters and see if my thoughts fall in line with other people’s. Taste can easily be affected by your mood, your surroundings, etc. At least for me.

In any case, I didn’t trust myself 100%. But, as it turns out, I should have. One of my go-to Pacific Northwest palate’s is Michael Alberty at Storyteller wine in Portland. I love his tasting notes, and have the highest regard for his palate. Just a few days ago he featured this wine in his newsletter, and suffice to say- he likes it. Then I saw that Tamara over at Satiate PDX purchased a bottle at Storyteller just the other night, and she thought it was a rockstar as well. Then there’s the whole Top 100 Wines of 2014 thing, where the 2010 vintage had earned a rightful place. Kiddos, the wine’s good. These people are on to something.

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This is already super long, but I do want to make note that I also *loved * their Gewurztraminer. That thing was singin’! They weren’t kidding when they said this vineyard site was intended for Alsatian varietals. I’d love to feature it in the future at some point!

–Absolute. Last. Thing.– Wondering where the name Analemma comes from? Allow me to tell you! I love this. An analemma is a figure eight pattern that the sun creates across the sky during the course of a year. A specific location has a unique analemma- Beaune, France will have a different-looking analemma then Marlborough, New Zealand. Their logo is an artist’s rendering of the analemma at the Atavus vineyard. The top of the figure eight would occur roughly at the time of the Summer solstice. One of my favorite things about wine is that it is, in many ways, a physical representation of where it comes from. The background of the analemma itself and how it relates to the wine is pretty awesome, I think.

I’d love to thank Kris and Stephen for the really amazing, educational, and eye-opening visit. The Gorge AVA is pretty sick, y’all. I’ll be back.

 

 

 

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days: Day 1!

Happy New Year!

In honor of 2015 being an exciting year for me, I’m embarking on a little challenge this January! Since every year I resolve to blog more, and most years I only marginally succeed, I wanted to start out with a bang. Write about an Oregon wine a day for 30 days! It’s like those 30 day gym motivational challenges, except this one has WINE. So much better. Then I thought, I gotta make it a little harder (that’s what she said) and write about 30 Oregon wines that AREN’T Pinot Noir. Not that I don’t absolutely love Pinot Noir- I did move here, after all– but I think it’ll be super awesome to highlight some of the more under the radar grapes here in Oregon. So, BAM! #Oregon30in30 is born. Here goes.

Now, for the rules. These are all self-imposed. I have consulted no one. I am the master of my domain:

1.) Pinot Noir is only allowed if it’s been blended or turned into bubbles.

2.) Repeat grapes & wineries are acceptable, but no more than twice (ie, two different Rieslings, two wines from Willakenzie, etc).

3.) I have to have tasted (duh) the wine in question, but not necessarily purchased an entire bottle- can be written up based on a tasting room experience or bummed off a roommate, etc. My credit card would not thank me if I embarked on this having to purchase every single bottle, I ain’t gonna lie.

4.) When at all possible, these have to be wines I haven’t had before.

5.) I can combine a few wines into one post, at most once a week (ie- Gamay day, etc).

So, I think this will be fun! I hope you do, too! And if you’re someone who gets an email every time I write a post… well, don’t get all “my inbox is too cluttered!” and unsubscribe. I mean, you can if you want, but I’m sure once February rolls around I’ll be back to my once-a-week-maybe schedule.

Without further adieu, here is WINE NUMERO UNO! Kramer Vineyards Celebrate Müller-Thurgau, 2013…

Müller Bubbles. Mmm.

Müller Bubbles. Mmm.

So, I really enjoyed the 2011 Kramer Brut at the Southeast Wine Collective Dinner a few weeks ago and was itching to try another one of their sparklers. Also they have a tasting room that’s walking distance to my house, so I’m constantly looking at it and saying to myself, “man, I gotta get in there.”

Well, I didn’t this time, but I will. I bought this little guy at Roth’s in McMinnville on Monday knowing I’d want to drink it on New Years and that their tasting room would not be open before then. Oof. That was a lot of planning. #thisisyouinyourthirties.

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I like the intention behind this wine; to me, it’s essentially a Prosecco but its from Oregon and its much more fun. Titillating and flirty flavors of granny smith apple, fresh flowers, honeysuckle, apricot and a nice tingle of bright acidity. Fresh and ready to party. A wine that’s clearly meant to be consumed with joy, with friends, at parties, with nothing but whimsy in the air.

This wine was made bubbly using the tank method; stainless steel fermented, aged on the lees for 5 months, then transferred to a large stainless steel tank and infused with CO2. Whammo. Sparkling wine. This method is great for highlighting a wines natural delicacy and freshness, so this is a really fun little marriage. A charming little wine, I gotta say.

I gotta get in to that tasting room. First resolution of 2015, right there!

MY BUBBLES.

MY BUBBLES.

So here’s to a new year, a new state for me and lots of new wines to explore. I’m about to throw my black eyed peas in the crock pot, and sip on this bubbly while I clean the house and listen to 90’s music. If that ain’t a good way to start the new year, I don’t know what is.

Cheers! 

Sunday Funday: Sparkling Dinner at Southeast Wine Collective!

Warning! This post contains a vast amount of both food and wine porn. If you’re ready to drool, please read on, as I’m very excited to share the details of this awesome dinner I attended this past Tuesday. You’ve been warned!

If I had to pick a highlight of the time I’ve spent in Oregon, I’m pretty sure this dinner would be it! For several reasons; first, it was a very well-executed dinner- logistically and the food and wine were on point. Second, I haven’t had the good fortune to actually attend that many wine dinners in my day. Usually I was the one working them. Not in a “oh, poor me” sense, as I’ve had my fair share of amazing food and wine in my day. But to actually sit, relax, converse with fellow wine people, and be served is a real treat. So much preparation goes into an event like this, from portion size, seating, when to pour the next wine, menu planning… I could go on and on. So when I sit at a dinner like this, I remember all these little minute details and I appreciate the effort even more. So now, on with the show!

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The Urban Winery scene in Portland is new to me, but I really like the concept. The Southeast Wine Collective is a home for custom crush operations, coming together in like mind to grow their respective businesses. This dinner was the last of the year in their Supper Social series, and it featured first-ever Sparkling releases from members of the Collective and a handful of other Oregon winemakers. The food was courtesy of Kachka, an award-winning Russian restaurant in Southeast Portland. I was SO excited when I read that this dinner featured Russian food! I love experiencing food from a culture that I’m relatively unfamiliar with. And I like Sparkling wine, like, a lot.

The first sparklings served were the 2011 Kramer Vineyards Brut and the 2013 Bubbles by Enso. Paired alongside was a lavish display of appetizers. I arrived hungry.. not quite hangry, but hungry, so I immediately started sort of wishing that no one else would sit at our table so we could have all the apps to ourselves. Side note: this was an unnecessary concern on my part, as there was more than enough food AND the people we sat with were awesome.

Hey Cramer! You need to try this when you come visit!

Hey Cramer! You need to try this when you come visit!

enso

Sparkling Pinot Gris, courtesy of Enso.

I loved the sharpness of the Kramer Brut; it is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it has razor-like focus, clear delineation, and offers bright notes of orchard fruit, fresh flowers, citrus zest and pear. Excellent. The Bubbles by Enso were a study in experimentation, which I really appreciated! Made from 100% Pinot Gris, it was made using methode ancestrale– a labor of love, this wine was. To sum up the process, I’ll quote Enso’s Instagram account: “This is how we disgorge our BUBBLES by ENSO: Store upside down for a year, dunk in freezing cold water for a couple minutes, pop the cap to let the yeast fall out, flip and top off with more BUBBLES and recap! No sulfur. No fancy machinery.” There ya go! Relatively full-bodied, this bubbly is definitely interest-piquing and worth a try.

Bay Shrimp "Olivier", Assorted Pickles, Baltic Sprats.

Bay Shrimp “Olivier”, Assorted Pickles, Baltic Sprats.

I love smokey little fish- This Baltic Sprat with parsley mayo and pumpernickel toast was delicious.

I love smoky little fish- This Baltic Sprat with parsley mayo and pumpernickel toast was delicious.

House Cured Coho Salmon Roe with yeasted blini, chive, butter and sieved egg.

House Cured Coho Salmon Roe with yeasted blini, chive, butter and sieved egg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veal Tongue with daikon radish, pickled cranberries, horseradish cream.

Veal Tongue with daikon radish, pickled cranberries, horseradish cream.

Beautiful presentation of the Coho Salmon Roe.

Beautiful presentation of the Coho Salmon Roe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all that was just course ONE! Be still my heart. Next up we enjoyed the Division Wine Company’s 2013 Cremant de Portland. I really love the packaging on this one:

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This wine is just a baby- it hadn’t been in the bottle very long when we tried it. This wine is after my heart; it is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Gamay- three of my favorite grapes, and sort of an ode to the Loire/Burgundy regions of France that Kate and Tom are fond of. Its pinkish hue (which you can’t see here) is fleeting and delicate. The nose here is lightly floral, with hints of red fruit and a touch of spice. I can see these elements “marrying” quite nicely with some time in bottle.

Paired with this was probably my favorite dish of the night: Broth & Piroshky. A stunning crab broth with scallion and a Dungeness Crab Pillowy Bun. Crab. Pillowy. Bun?! I didn’t even know these things could be combined in such a way. Absolutely delicious. If anything would make someone break a gluten-free diet &/or experiment- this is it.

Pillowy Buns. Seriously. WUT.

Pillowy Buns. Seriously. WUT.

The next course was also impressive; 2011 J.K. Carriere Blanc de Noir paired with Mushroom Vareniki- a little dumpling filled with foraged mushroom duxelle and liberally dolloped with sour cream. Yeah, I Instagrammed that one. I couldn’t resist:

I'm a sucker for anything in dumpling form.

I’m a sucker for anything in dumpling form.

This is my new jam.

This is my new jam.

Kind of a show-stealer, the J.K. Carriere Blanc de Noir was perfection. If you’re a lover of Oregon wine, you gotta get your hands on this. Owner and winemaker Jim Prosser claims the process nearly killed him, but dude- if you gotta pick a way to go out… Sourced from the Temperance Hill Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills, this cool vintage provided perfect conditions for Sparkling wine production. The acid in this wine absolutely sings and is met with gorgeous notes of strawberry, red currant, hints of lees, and a vein of poignant spice and smoke. This wine underwent 28 months… 28 months! of riddling, creating an ultra-fine bead and to die for texture. If you’ve always held Argyle Brut Rosé and Soter Brut Rosé as your “standards” of Oregon Sparkling, go ahead and add this to your roster. I really can’t say enough about it. Get on it.

We finished with what else- meat! Latkes & Brisket paired with the 2009 Teutonic Wine Company Riesling Brut.

Loved it.

Loved it.

Braised Brisket served with (not pictured) potato latkes, applesauce, cabbage salad.

Braised Brisket served with (not pictured) potato latkes, applesauce, cabbage salad.

I am fond of Riesling Brut; I’m not entirely sure how many (if any) other producers in Willamette make a Riesling Brut other than Teutonic. They’re an Alsatian-style producer, and they’ve been sitting on this Brut for years! I enjoyed the touch of petrol on the forefront of this bubbly, it clearly distinguishes itself as being made out of Riesling. A background of golden apple, peaches & apricots. A tremendously fun wine to pair with food. Even if you’re so stuffed you can barely move. The applesauce accompaniment actually set this off very nicely. This is more of a wine-nerd wine, but a good one. For a really fun look at the making of this wine, check out Teutonic’s blog.

So, are you hungry? Thirsty? You must really be a glutton for punishment if you made it all the way to the end of this post! Fortunately, if you live in Portland or the surrounding area, you can go check out Kachka- it was recently awarded Restaurant of the Year by Eater and Willamette Week. Fear not, food-lovers. It is there and waiting for you.

This dinner was a total feast for the senses and I’m incredibly appreciative to have been included. Cheers!