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28 November 2005

Cure for the post-Turkey Blues


7 6-Veggie Couscous+ Chunky Onion Harissa (I forgot the Lima beans)
This easy-to-make dish contains none of the following ingredients: turkey, yams, cranberries, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, candy corn, pilgrim hats, Indian head-dresses

Yup. There's nothing in there to remind you of you 5,000+ caloric intake last Thursday. Just lots of veggies to make you feel healthy again (of course there is that cup of olive oil...).

Wine Pairing: Edgefield Viognier 2001 (available in some McMenamins' properties). An uncomplicated Viognier will work here - it'll add some floral & fruity tones to the tangy-oniony-spicy flavor combination of the couscous & harissa (which will still linger the following morning. Ahhh garlic & onions..)

14 November 2005

I Got Schooled in Portland

Welcome_2Welcome to the Kennedy School in Portland Oregon.  To help you enjoy your stay, the school offers a theater, a restaurant, several bars, and a soaking pool (megasized hot tub).

On a recent trip to Portland, I wanted to stay someplace unique.  And unique doesn't begin to describe McMenamins' Kennedy School.  It opened as a primary school in 1915 and educated the young uns of Portland's northeast suburbs until 1975.  Then it was condemmed to the rubble heap.  The McMenamin brothers saved the school and revitalized it - infusing it with historical artwork reflecting the histories of Kennedy's students and teachers.




Continue reading "I Got Schooled in Portland" »

30 October 2005

Shallow Pinot

Have you ever sampled a wine that looked good, smelled good, but then didn't deliver the 'goods'?  I find it rare that I enjoy looking at and sniffing a wine, but then don't discover much to love about its in-the-mouth activities.  Sadly, this was my experience with Chehalem's Rion Reserve Pinot Noir...

The Skinny

Chehalem_rionresChehalem Rion Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 ($50)

  • From Oregon's Willamette Valley
  • Semi-opaque ruby in color with a light copper rim
  • Enticing scents of strawberry, eucalyptus, mushroom, and vanilla
  • In the mouth, Rion Reserve started out impressively with tart cherry and cocoa flavors.  However, in the mid-palette, the wine began to lose its grip.  It is a medium-bodied wine, but the tannins seemed light & sparse.  Then, sadly the wine was done.  Finished.  Now I'm not one to hope for Pinot Noir fruit bombs.  I enjoy delicate Oregon Pinot.  Yet the lack of acidity, structure, and complexity in this wine left me a bit disappointed (especially considering the fifty-buck price tag).

**.5 (2.5 stars out of 5)

In spite of the let down in my mouth, this Pinot was quite good with Ms. Juice's roasted duck and my grilled prawns.

I've not tasted other vintages of the Rion Reserve.  I would be curious if others have, and what their experience was.

11 August 2005

That Winey Fresh Taste

I have an irrational fear of young wine.  So far this year, I've purchased a grand total of two bottles from the 2004 vintage.  I even mildly avoid wines from 2003.  What is wrong with me?

I am a subconscious wine snob. 

Fresh_1Somehow when I see a bottle of young wine, I don't take it seriously.  I treat it like some kind of gimmicky nouveau/novello.  But guess what?  Most wine is consumed shortly after it's purchased.  It's not intended to be aged for decades.  The Stormhoekers say it best:

"Contrary to popular belief, most wines do not improve with age. Sure, the great wines of Bordeaux and the Burgundies often do, as do certain others, but these are not the wines that most of us are buying most of the time."

Amen to that.

My recent experience with a young (2004), Kiwi Riesling was grand.  And, surprise surprise, my weekend dalliance with Elk Cove's 2004 Pinot Blanc (see below) was altogether grand.

Starting today, I plan on embracing and enjoying more one- and two-year old wine.

Continue reading "That Winey Fresh Taste" »

01 August 2005

Argyle: A Basic Chardonnay

Too often value-priced wines in the $8-$12 range try to be something else.  They pretend to be more upscale.  In the case of Chardonnay, this often results in heavy, syrupy, artificial-tasting wine.  Lucky for me, the folks at Argyle winery in Oregon understand what a $10 Chardonnay should be:  It should be simple and crisp, with a hint of creaminess and/or spiciness that lets the average wine drinker know s/he is drinking Chardonnay.  In other words, A Basic Chardonnay.

The Skinny
ArgylewvchardArgyle Chardonnay Willamette Valley, '02 [keep in mind the 2003 vintage was much hotter, as a result, the '03 Chardonnay is bigger & bolder] ($10)

  • From Oregon's Willamette Valley
  • Light gold in color - a delicate-looking Chardonnay
  • Simple scents of pear and apple, along with a hint of cream, vanilla, and  cinnamon/clove spice
  • Medium body with a crisp attack in the mouth, followed by a full, pleasant finish

***.5 (3.5 stars out of 5)

If you've given up on Chardonnay for whatever reason.  Come back to Char' with Argyle - you'll be happy.  In addition to being simply good-tasting, Argyle Chardonnay is extraordinarily flexible.  Try it with poultry, fish, or even a sun-dried tomato pizza.

04 July 2005

3 for the 4th

Revflagw_2A Red, a White, and a Bubbly for Independence Day

  • Carneros Creek Pinot Noir Reserve, '01 ($20) (California) - Fairly straightforward, fruit-centric Pinot.  Yet Carneros Creek squeezes a little more depth into the bottle.  A very nice P.Noir
  • Elk Cove Pinot Gris, '04 ($15) (Oregon) - This wine laughs at all those watery Pinot Grigios out there.  Pear, citrus, honeysuckle blossoms.  A great find; I guaran-damn-tee it
  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, '01 ($32) (California) - See what a 100% Chardonnay-based bubbly can do.  Pear, pineapple, peach, almond, and a little yeastiness.  Celebrate in style

08 June 2005

WBW#10: People's Pinot

I'm sitting this edition of WineBloggingWednesday out.  Well, not exactly.  Instead of giving my take on a White Pinot, I simply acted as scribe to a small tasting panel (size = 3).  First, the details on the candidate Pinot:

Adelsheim_pg_1Adelsheim Oregon Pinot Gris, '03 ($14)
Most of the grapes (93%) are from the Chehalem Mountains and the remainder from the Dundee Hills.

And now for the panel discussion...

Continue reading "WBW#10: People's Pinot" »

21 May 2005

P-A Rubeo. Or, "Where's the Pinot?"

Penner-Ash touts its '03 Rubeo as an "irreverent blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah."  My curiosity was piqued enough to get over my snobbish horror that Pinot Noir was being 'defiled' with Syrah (OK, perhaps defiled is too strong a term).

First, the details:
26% Syrah; 74% Pinot Noir

Without knowing anything other than this, I suspected that the wine would taste like a heavy, or perhaps, peppery Pinot.  I was wrong.

RubeoThe Skinny
Penner-Ash Rubeo, '03 ($18)

  • From Oregon (no AVA/region specified)
  • Deep, inky indigo in color with a narrow, pink rim
  • Red and black cherry scents coupled with toasty, vanilla, oak-driven aromas.  There's also scents of tar and black pepper that remind me of Aussie Shiraz.
  • Full-bodied with heavy-duty concentrated fruit flavors of dark fruits (black plums, blackberries, etc.).  Heavy? Yes; perhaps approaching fruit bomb territory, but balanced enough to play nicely with assertive food (e.g. pasta w/spicy tomato sauce).  Just don't expect it to pair harmoniously with shrimp in Beurre Blanc

*** (3 stars out of 5)

I can't say that this wine possesses any distinctly Pinot qualities.  It reminds me of a New World Rhone blend (something along the lines of Syrah + Grenache).  Nevertheless, a nice, exuberant wine at, perhaps, a slightly high price.

04 February 2005

Trois Vin Vignettes: #1 Red is the Color

Dear b.Juicers,

Cupid2Valentine’s Day isn’t about wine.  It’s about love.  Of course, you might wish to add wine and enhance cupid’s holiday.  In honor of this legendarily romantic day, I present “Trois Vin Vignettes.”  Or “Three Wine Scenes.”  Enjoy.

 Red is the Color

StarringArgyle Pinot Noir Reserve, ‘02 ($28) – Willamette Valley, Oregon
The scene:  A quiet evening at home, Nina Simone’s “Black is the color” plays softly in the background

Mike:  I’m home.
Samantha:  (bounding down the stairs) Happy Valentine’s Day lover!
Mike:  Thanks babe.  Too bad my hair isn’t black like Nina’s lover; otherwise you could serenade me.
Samantha:  I adore your red hair. (sings) Red is the color of my true love’s hair.
Mike: Keep singing.  I’ll have a sip of your wine. (sniffs wine)  Wow, this smells like black cherries.  Mmm.  It hits the spot.
Samantha:  Are you sure it doesn’t smell like red cherries?
Mike:   (playfully) I do declare Madame; it appears as if you’re flirting with me.
Samantha:  (singing) Red is the color..  (whispers) And would that be so wrong?
Samantha takes Mike’s hand
Samantha:  Follow me
The two glide up the staircase.

Fade to black.  Or perhaps redRedclose_2

24 January 2005


Clust_pinotnoir_1Pinot Noir grapes can best be described using a nursery rhyme I learned as a child:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very very good
But when she was bad
She was horrid

Simply substitute "grape" for "girl" and you have the Cliffs Notes version of Pinot Noir's legendary finicky-ness.

A group of folks at Argyle Winery in Oregon have seemingly cracked the Pinot Noir code.

Argyle_pnresThe Skinny
Argyle Pinot Noir Reserve, '02 ($28)

  • Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Deep ruby color with a salmon colored rim
  • "Very good" Pinot scents: ripe strawberry, dark chocolate, rose, and subtle spice hints
  • Medium-bodied; nice balance of acidity, fruit flavor, and alcohol.  Age this baby for 3-4 years and reap the rewards of a well-made, age-worthy wine

****.5 (4.5 stars out of 5)

Very food-friendly.  Try it with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted mushrooms, grilled tuna steak, or a dish infused with truffle oil

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