Monday, May 28, 2018

Merlot: the little black bird

Named after a little black bird in France, merle or merlau, it was only fitting this dark blue-colored wine grape variety the little bird enjoyed dining on would be referred to as “merlot.”

As early as 1824, the name merlot referred to the second most popular grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France - following after its cousin cabernet sauvignon - a heartier and richer grape than merlot. In Bordeaux, the Left Bank region blends cabernet sauvignon as the dominant wine joining its cousin merlot, and at the Right Bank merlot is the featured wine blend.  
            
This French grape with notes of cherries, violets, and cigar box finally arrived in California in the mid-nineteenth century where it was shown off as a single bottled varietal instead of being traditionally blended with its French cousin cabernet sauvignon.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Label her "Mom"

Humans have been creating images of mothers since men, and of course women, who crudely etched with a jagged rock on the walls of caves. Through the centuries European artists like Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Claude Monet, and Gustav Klimpt to American artists such as James Whistler to Norman Rockwell painted portraits of mothers.                                                            
Dorothea Lange’s camera lens captured the destitution in the iconic 1936 black and white photo of Florence Thompson, known as the Migrant Mother; and Annie Leibovitz shocked the public with her controversial photos of pregnant celebrities posing in the nude.
   
And of course, last but certainly not least the many renditions of the most famous mom of all, the Virgin Mary’s images discovered from the early centuries in Rome and Syria.  
   
Images of mothers continue and today are lovingly and respectfully honored on bottles of fine wine. 

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Wine-and-chocolate pairing: Love them, love them not!

The verdict is in: Some wine lovers enjoy a bite of chocolate with a sip of red wine, and others do not. Opinions by winemakers and wine writers for loving or not loving these two luxurious “food groups” can be as contentious as ... well ... as the recent presidential election.
There are numerous articles claiming one must stop the “silliness” of pairing chocolate confections with wine, while other reviewers celebrate the union of these rich mates on the palate.
Some critics of wine-and-chocolate pairings even go as far as picking on the red-foil heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate gooey centers, nuts and chews. (I must admit, I rather love the tacky, nostalgic heart-shaped boxes.)
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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Story in a Bottle

Wine is personal. It’s personal when it comes to favored tastes and aromas, but there are often personal stories in a bottle of wine. Sometimes the stories are from the winemaker, and sometimes there are new stories and memories to be made by the collector of the bottle. Today, wine consumers want to know everything about a bottle of wine – and they want to hear the story.                           

In the Walla Walla Valley, there are many stories, and many wine labels reminiscent of memories right out of an old family scrapbook. One of these labels tell a story about a man who would eventually blaze a trail of history - - literally. 

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Mother Earth: Vines, Wines, and Moms

Studies have shown a mother’s impulse to love and protect her child appears to be hard-wired. This impulse is often referred to as “maternal instinct.” Is there a mother’s impulse to love and protect the wines and vines, as well?  In the Walla Walla Valley, it is certainly true. 
                                       
There are at least 1,200 people employed in the Walla Walla Valley wine industry. This number includes winemakers, production, hospitality, retail, and administration. Women are still under-represented in this industry, but they are certainly not excluded. 

In the U.S. there are roughly 10 percent of wineries that have female winemakers, yet the number is growing. In the Walla Walla Valley there are over a dozen women winemakers that are also mothers who wear that “purple badge” of honor on their hands – it’s the lingering stain of the grape that tends to make a mess of a new manicure or a favorite article of clothing.           

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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Keepers of the Vines

After a very long and unusually hard winter’s nap, the grapevines of the Walla Walla Valley are beginning to come alive.                                                                                                             

The Valley is home to 116 vineyards with a total combined of 3,100 acres of wine grapes. SeVein Vineyards, home of the original Seven Hills Vineyard first planted in 1980, is one of the first commercial vineyards in the area and is located on the southern border of the Walla Walla AVA in Oregon State.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rose': The Drink of Kings

Often known as a girlie drink because it's so pretty in pink... 

It was the drink fit for kings and aristocrats.

Provence is a historical province of southeastern France. It is known for its vast fields of lavender, as well as known for being the oldest wine growing region in France. It was in 600 B.C. when the Greeks founded the area and introduced the first grape vines. 

The first wines to be made in Provence were Rosés, and by the end of the 20th century, that lovely blushing wine would find its way to Walla Walla.                                                                                                       
Rosé – Rosato - Rosado, no matter in France, Italy, or Spain; the meanings are the same – pink. French-inspired Rosé wines are made from red grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, and Syrah; to name a few of the red grapes often used for Rosé wines, and even Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio), a white fleshed grape with a pinkish gray skin. In Italy their Rosato’s are typically produced from the popular red grapes, Sangiovese or Nebbiolo; and in Spain their Rosados are often produced from their widely grown red grape, Tempranillo.

And yes – to those who were entranced with the creation of “White Zinfandel,” a pink off-dry “blush” wine introduced in the mid-1970’s that would technically be considered a Rosé, and yes – it is made from the very dark red grape, Zinfandel. There are no pink or white Zinfandel grapes growing on the vines in California. 

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