Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
For more information definitely check out Walla Walla Wine Alliance. They provide a list of the participating wineries, hours and tasting fees. Heather at Walla Walla Wine News gives a summary of her "must see" wineries.
Check out what a couple of my wine blogging colleagues have to say about the weekend. Andy at The Wine Knows gives his list of recommendations. Most of the wineries on Andy’s list are newer wineries to consider, besides your personal favorites.
Thad at Beyond the Bottle gives a list of his personal recommendations of Walla Walla wineries he has visited in the last six months. Thad also gives suggestions on how to survive wine tasting weekend. Such as: eat solid meals, drink water, spit wine...
Me? My favorites and recommendations? I like ‘em all - - of course! ;-)
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Those wild 'n wacky chemists over at Berkeley have also designed a devise (a prototype for now) that can measure amines in your food and drink ahead of time. Eventually it may become a small devise that a diner could keep in their pocket or purse and take to a restaurant to analyze those pesky amines in their wines. However, if you have a headache after consuming several glasses of wine - perhaps it has nothing to do with amines. Like I tell anybody who sanctimoniously preaches to me about the evil chemicals and so-called additives found in wine and the need for more organic wines - - I remind them about the naturally made substance that has a higher percentage of anything else in a bottle of wine - alcohol. Alcohol has caused more aches and pain and created more fatalities than any sulfite or amines ever will. Duh!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Last week I had an opportunity to taste three newly released Cabernet Sauvignons that just happened to have a lot in common - all three Cabernets were produced in the Walla Walla Valley, all three are of the same vintage - 2005, and most of all -- all three Cabernets were produced by three winemakers that were my viticulture/enology classmates! It was exciting for me to taste their different styles and all three I recommend.
A true "509" wine (meaning all of the grapes are from the 509 area code - Walla Walla). This Cabernet Sauvignon was produced by winemaker, Troy Ledwick of Hence Cellars. At first glance of the bottle, as it was being poured, I noticed the thick glass and masculine style of the bottle that was appropriate for this masculine and hearty wine. Lots of dark fruit came through, as well of tones of dark cocoa. The tannins were definitely there, but not overpowering. A wine that I would be anxious to cellar, as I can image it is going to be very age worthy to the finest. Definitely a wine meant for pairing with beef.
Mostly "509" grapes (Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills), with a touch of Horse Heaven Hills appellation, went into this Cabernet Sauvignon made by Ryan Raber winemaker and owner of Tertulia Cellars. A touch of the Bordeaux-style with 12% Cabernet Franc and a touch of Merlot made this Cabernet Sauvignon full-bodied and very interesting. There were definite flavors of dark cherry, chocolate, spice and a bit of the cigar box. Soft tannins with a smooth finish that is going to pair quite nice with a variety of foods - prime rib to a meatball sandwich. This wine makes me think Black Forest chocolate cake with cherries - yum!
Friday, November 09, 2007
Just alone this week, where else in a small town of 30,000+ can you stop for a plate of spaghetti at a downtown deli, listen to live jazz during dinner and then head out to a lecture given by Salman Rushdie? In Walla Walla you can. And if you haven't noticed, none of the events have anything to do with the promotion of Walla Walla wines (Of course, if you are a wine lover and you add Walla Walla wine to your evening of events, it’s the icing on the cake).
Community classes at the local colleges and at Carnegie Art Center are on-going - pottery, watercolors, jewelry making, writing, woodcarving, cooking, yoga, wine making, welding, horse grooming...and the list goes on. Want to learn how to dance? You can choose from ballroom to belly dancing. Clubs? How many do you want to join? Fraternal, community service, kennel, prop twisters, gun, yacht, synchronized swimming, gem and mineral, and the arts. Not enough clubs for you? How about horses, kitefliers, civil air patrol, quilters, muzzle loaders, car (Corvette, Corvair, antique and four-wheel drives), books, fishing and hunting organizations. And grandmother's in Walla Walla can remain busy (and vocal) at the Grandmother's Roundtable - a group of women dedicated to community discussions and finding the answers to help shape it.
So now your argument is money. How about all of the local art galleries downtown? Carnegie Art Center provides monthly new exhibits with free admission. A total of 18 city parks and free tennis courts. And there is always volunteer work to be done - the museums, humane society, senior citizen center, children’s programs/sports, three hospitals, and numerous non-profits that need volunteers for their fund-raising committees. The Downtown Foundation offers free concerts in the summer and also at the Farmers Market.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Good news! She isn't going to die from drinking the wine! That "stuff" has a name - tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is an organic acid that naturally occurs in several plants, especially found in grapes. It can take form of a creamy residue, tiny crystals or flakes. You can place it on your finger tips and it will dissipate from the heat from your body. Taste it and it has the familiar taste and texture of "Sweet Tart" candies, but without the sugar. When the creamy residue dries on the bottom of the cork from a red wine, it will take form of tiny amethyst-looking crystals. Those sparkly little crystals, known as "wine diamonds", means nothing more than a natural evolution of tartaric acid in the wine. As the wine ages, tartaric acid (potassium bitartrate) can no longer be dissolved and so it solidifies. This acid doesn't hurt a thing and chemically it can create an environment where spoilage bacteria cannot live and can also act as a natural preservative.
And have you noticed clear crystals in the bottom of a bottle of white wine that has been in the refrigerator for awhile? No - - it isn't broken glass. That is also tartaric acid and some wineries will place the white wine in cold stabilization to prevent the crystals from appearing. So naturally a few might show up if you do your own stabilization in the fridge - or more like you forgot the white wine was stuffed in the back of your refrigerator.
Are traces of tartaric acids in wine considered a fault? Absolutely not! In our earlier New World wines, we have not seen many traces of tartaric acids as many of those wines have been overly fined and processed. In America, as we often do, we tend to over process something until it is perfect! In the mean time, America's largest producers of wine have been messing with the wine’s colloidal structure all in the name of "visual perfection." As the USA has progressed in the last 30 years in their winemaking craft, producing quality wines, chances are great that the wine consumer is seeing more traces of tartaric acids in their wines. Especially those wines that have been given some age. Many winemakers will tell you that the signs are tartaric acids are signs of high quality wines. And yes, it is the same "stuff" that you see in the bottom of a wine that has aged - sediments.
And one more thing - have you ever used a substance found in the spice aisle at the market labeled as "Cream of Tartar?" Originally discovered by the French, bakers use cream of tartar to give volume to meringues, souffles, angel food cakes and Snickerdoodle cookies. Well, those merchants of cream of tartar actually scoop the potassium bitartrites from the bottom of empty large holding tanks that once held wine.
"Wine diamonds" are indeed an indicator that grapes were given extra hang time on the vine for maximum sweetness and acids. It is also an indicator the winemaker crafted the wine slowly and very carefully. Therefore, when you are opening a bottle of wine and find the signs of wine diamonds, you can be sure that you are opening a great bottle of wine and most of all - - at the right time. The only bad thing I can say about wine diamonds is that you cannot wear them on a finger. Cheers!
Monday, November 05, 2007
Malbec is a medium to full-bodied wine and often very jammy in flavor. Usually flavors of dark fruit comes through, such as plums and blackberry. The tannins are there, but not so much like a Cabernet Sauvignon - - a bit tighter. And because this wine is often a bit rustic, it pairs well with the same type of "homey-style" foods such as - spaghetti, pizza, sausages, beef tacos, cajun dishes like jambalaya, and even beef stew. A French-style stew like Beef Bourguignon would make for a perfect pairing, especially if you used Malbec to marinade the beef instead of the traditional Burgandy.
Malbec is cropping up all over Walla Walla. In fact, this weekend I tasted two fine examples of Malbec - one from Walla Walla Vintners and also from their Mill Creek Upland neighbor, aˋMaurice Cellars.
The 2005 Malbec from Walla Walla Vintners was typical of the style of wine they produce - always dark in color, full-bodied and lots of flavor going on. Three vineyards were used (and in equal amounts) in the production of this 100% Malbec - Frazier Bluff, Sagemoor and Pepper Bridge. It was inky! It was spicy! It was jammy! Lots of plum and blackberry came through but it finished so velvety and kept on going. Nice - very nice.
Newly released, aˋMaurice Cellars Malbec - 2005, was deep red in color with aromas of bramble berries and vanilla jumping out of the glass. With one sip, you know the blackberries are definitely there, but so were the flavors of cassis and currants. Another sip gave me flavors of Chambord (raspberry liquor). A very delicate and elegant wine. A different style of Malbec from their neighbor's Malbec, but just as worthy. There are other wineries in the Walla Walla Valley producing Malbec and if I could make a prediction - I would predict there are vineyards in Washington State pulling out their Merlot vines to make room for Malbec. Cheers!