Friday, March 30, 2007

Cork Decor - Is it a good thing, Martha?

I wonder what Martha Stewart does with all of her wine corks? I have kept a limit on the decorative crafty-busy-hands-happy-heart cork projects in my house, but I am still hanging on to corks. Why? Some of them tell stories of wines during great events in my life - - memories.

On my kitchen island, I keep a vintage blue canning jar to hold the corks of many past opened bottles of wine. Eventually, when the jar gets full, they go into a box to start over. So far, out of the box has come a few kitchen cork trivits glued in the shape of grape clusters and one wine cork bulletin board displaying several local Walla Walla wine corks, as well as corks from memorable wine events.

While web surfing arts and crafts, I discovered a world of cork crafting beyond my imagination and the majority of the projects I will never do. There are also the handy and useful tips such as mix separated corks into your garden mulch to help keep soil moist longer or start a fire with them. Soak wine corks in a glass jar of mineral spirits - toss two or three of them in the fireplace or grill and you will get a fire going in no time. Use corks for fixing bathroom and kitchen plumbing leaks. Lose an earring backing - cut out a piece of wine cork to fit.

Dazzle your dinner guests with charger plate covered with corks and matching cork napkin ties. Drill a hole in the center of a wine cork. Glue in the hole colored 3/16 cording about 12" long and voila - napkin ties for entertaining! Add wine cork place cards - slice a single slit on the opposite side of the cork and it holds a name tag to place on a guest table.

Do you want to make gifts with corks? Make wreaths! Birdhouses! Christmas ornaments - angels, reindeer and Santas! Fashionable houte couture! Candle decor (see above photo)!

Make corks a part of your house with cork baseboards. Glue corks on your kitchen wall as a back splash coating them with three coats of polyurethane. Why stop there? Make a whole wall out of corks!

Or you can do what I do - - I toss them on the floor and let my cats, Crosby and Nash, bat them around the floor. Cheap cat toy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Russell Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - 2002

Okay - I am dating myself here, but back in the late 80's I remember being invited to a few crush parties at the home of Dr. Roy Fowler in Walla Walla. Dr. Fowler had a few grapes in front of his country home and in the fall, a few of the local "garagistas" would gather for crushing of the grapes. Besides the crush, there was always lots of wine and fabulous food designed by Dr. Fowler's chef-daughter.

If memory serves me well, one of those garagistas was now-winemaker Larry Krivoshein of Russell Creek Winery. Larry's original wine label was named "Diggers." The name "Diggers" was a tongue in check regarding Larry's profession at the time. In fact, I remember having a bottle of Diggers red wine in our wine collection. My former husband and Larry were professional colleagues. If you haven't figured out yet where the name "Digger" comes from, does a funeral director come to mind? Okay and that was another time many moons ago. Now to the wine ---

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a glass of Russell Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - 2002 at Vintage Cellars downtown Walla Walla. Russell Creek Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Walla Walla and Columbia Valley grapes. In the nose I picked up a little earth and cedar. A mouthful of semi-sweet chocolate, a bit of mocha and dark brambleberries. I would say that it typifies some of the big tannic "monsters" that Walla Walla has been known for. This is definitely a food wine (the glass of wine begged for a thick slice of prime rib or medallions of beef with a wild mushroom ragout) and a wine that I feel is going to age very well. It's also a great value for the quality at $28 a bottle. Sante!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Wine ...

If Willie drank wine for pleasure instead of sipping bourbon and smoking from the bong, he would lament these words with his guitar.

Alder Yarrow at Vineography could not have said it any better. Men, Please Don't Be Wine Assholes. The blog gave me a chuckle, then brought forth repressed stories of my own experiences with the notorious WA.

Vineography directs us to a story from the United Kingdom, Men Pretend To Be Wine Buffs To Impress: new research shows that nearly 22 percent of men admit to embellishing their expertise about wine in order to impress their dates. Among 19 to 30 year-olds, that number jumps to 29%. And 35% of men refuse to let their partner choose wine in a restaurant because they do not trust them to make the appropriate choice, according to the British study. It's 2007 and we're supposed to be well beyond all that, but you'd never know it from these kinds of men.

In my experience you never know when the WA will strike. It might be a WA trying to impress his date in a tasting room or a wine newbie being trained in wine working environment who in three days becomes the wine expert and dismisses any woman's knowledge on the subject (especially the woman who trained him!).

In the tasting room environment I have seen more than my share of WAs, though, if anything, they give me great stories to share later. What I discovered is the majority of the WAs come into the winery after sitting in a bathtub filled with his favorite aftershave. So everyone in the tasting room, with no choice in the matter, gets to sample his "Ralph Lauren Polo Cabernet Reserve." Now, any wine aficionado knows that you either use little to zero fragrances on your body when tasting wine. This is out of respect to other wine tasters, of course.

Sometimes the WA travels in packs, dropping names and demanding special discounts or library wines not for sale. Sometimes the WA announces for all in the tasting room to hear that he "doesn't do white wines" and in his mind he thinks it means his tastebuds are superior to whites. Sometimes the WA states out loud that a wine others have been enjoying all day "is just overloaded with brett," meaning brettanomyces, when brett isn't even visible (Brettanomyces is a natural species of yeast that begins to make its presence known in red wines after fermentation. It is largely responsible for the earthy qualities long associated almost exclusively with European wines. A controversial little wild yeastie and while it can be considered faulty, others covet it and in small quanities it can compliment the flavors in wine.).

One of my favorite WA stories involves a man who walked into the tasting room with a woman who, it became obvious, knew nothing about wine. Also clear: this was their first date. So the WA couldn't resist the temptation to dazzle the "little lady" with his wine knowledge. The breadsticks we kept on the counter for cleansing the palette were not good enough for the WA; he asked if we had any bread instead to cleanse his palate. We didn't, so he went to his car and brought back his own bread along with a bread board and knife. Of course, he insisted on clean glasses with every wine he tasted instead of rinsing or leaving the leftover wine residue in the glass. I watched the show with fascination and the more he talked about wine, the less he really knew. In my opinion, if this woman is still seeing the WA and picked up any wine knowledge from him, all the WA did was create another WA -- a female one.

Which brings me to the point of the WA. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages and gender. Women are not exempt from holding the title of WA. In my opinion, being a WA really is about our insecurities with wine, especially when we want to squash someone else's knowledge about the subject to shine the light on us. Somewhere along the line of wine conversations, I have no doubt of my own guilt.

I've been fortunate, though, that none of the important men in my life has been a WA, at least in my presence. There is mutual respect. My father fermented anything he could get his hands on, and he took me along in his fermenting adventures. I learned a great deal from him about fruit and chemistry; he never thought I was too young or too inexperienced or too "girly" to learn. From my significant relationships and from wine educators I have always received respect for my opinions and, most of all, for my sensory evaluations when ordering wine in a restaurant, blind tasting events or in a blending committee.

And that's just the thing: People who are secure in their wine knowledge always respect the opinions and judgments of others, because true wine aficionados are always ready to learn something new about wine. You never know who might teach you something new, or what the occasion might be. The best wine consumers I know -- the people with the most knowledge, the best palates, and the most respect for wine as well as for their companions -- never try to impress anyone. When you show off, you lose an opportunity to learn, and true wine aficionados would never miss one of those. But WAs always do.

The more I think about this, maybe a WA is just an asshole no matter what.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval Vintage Red - 2004

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to visit with Kirsten of Seven Hills Winery and to sample the 2004 Ciel du Cheval Vintage Red Wine from Red Mountain. Okay, I am stretching this a bit - it was more than a sample. It was at least two glasses -- and I wanted more.

Estatlished in 1988, Seven Hills Winery was one of the first five original wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. Using only top-tier vineyards, they produce less than 10,000 cases a year. The Red Mountain appellation is one of the most distinctive viticultural areas in the state of Washington and home to one of the most prestigious and renowned vineyards in the state, Ciel du Cheval (French for "Horse Heaven").

To sum this wine up in one word - "elegant." I really do not need to say much more than this. No need to give any descriptions of nose, taste, awards or points. "Elegant" says it all. A unique blend of 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, and 13% Petit Verdot and cellared in the finest French oak.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

~March Cooking With Washington Wines~

Okay, so you didn't have a Jewish bubbe growing up - but you can still enjoy some savory and celebratory meals as if you had a bubbe without the kvetching and getting all ferklempt, furblungit and appearing like a real goyishke kup.

Chicken liver pate does not touch my lips, but this recipe is reminiscent of chopped liver in the very best vegetarian way and you will look like a mavin in your kitchen. Serve along side a very kreftig soup (see my matzo ball soup recipe) or perhaps for just a little nosh and I guarantee that you will kvell. My mishpacha loved it! Pair with a variety of wines such as a Walla Walla Merlot, Washington Riesling or Chardonnay. That's a real good chochmeh and will bring glick to you and your chevra.

Veggie Walnut Pate

1/2 cup walnuts
8 - 10 button mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups of a combination of carrots and/or red and/or green peppers
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix all of the ingredients (except the olive oil and lemon juice) in a food processor to the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and sauté the mixture for 6-8 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Serve warm or cold with matzoh or water crackers. Makes 2-3 cups.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Merlot: Go For the Good Ones - Follow Up

The last couple of days, while drafting the blog on Merlot: Go for the Good Ones, I decided to follow my own advice and opened up a couple bottles of Washington State Merlot. Both wines contained Walla Walla grapes, but different vintages and the biggest difference - price. I wanted to see if the price fit the bottle while still keeping the quality.

The first bottle opened was a Lecole No 41 Walla Walla Merlot - 1999. Note that this is a library wine, but I believe if it is still available in limited quanities (Contact Jaimie at Lecole and tell her I sent you). The Lecole was priced at $33. It contained 95% Merlot with 5% Cabernet Franc. I was wise to let it stay open for a second day because it just - got - better. I was surprised that with 8 years behind it, this Merlot still had a lot of structure - the tannins were very visible as well as the acidity. This wine really deserved a good beef steak, but at least I was able to pair it with a good piece of chocolate. Lots of cherry, plum and deep rich cocoa on the taste buds with some cigar box on the nose. Surprisingly I could still pick up some oak. If Parker Points interest you, 91-WS and 92 -WE.

The second wine was Sagelands Vineyard Merlot Four Corners - 2003. This label is owned by the Chalone group and bottled in Walla Walla. The "Four Corners" has to do with the four appellations that went into the bottle - Wahluke, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake and Walla Walla. What a great value this wine is at $13.00! Softer than the Lecole, but still a perfect everyday sipping wine. The nose was very strong of graham cracker and marshmallows. Lots of ripe cherry in flavor and ending with a spicy finish. Do I think it will have the aging power that the Lecole Merlot had? No, but that’s okay. Some of us cannot afford to open a bottle of Lecole library wine for every day sipping (you know - that daily heart medicine that our doctors have prescribed for us). For the quality and the dollar - it’s a great wine for evening patio sipping and I would pair it with a piece of salmon and even smoked salmon for brunch or snacking. Parker Points on that 87-WS and 91-WE and WE gave it a "Best Buy."

So the point of this exercise is indeed, when it comes to Merlot, go for the good ones and they will be from Washington State. And no matter the price - you cannot go wrong.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Merlot: Go For The Good Ones

Newton's Third Law of Motion: For every action there's an opposite and equal reaction. Catie's Addendum: In wine too!

A new article in the Wine Enthusiast, Merlot: The Best Red You're Not Drinking, not only lists some of Walla Walla's finest Merlots, it tells the interesting recent history of Merlot sales in the United States. In the 1990s it was fashionable to ask for a glass of Merlot; in 2004, a Hollywood movie brought Merlot sales down. The general Merlot rule, advises the article, is "Go for the good ones."

The piece reminded me of my own personal experiences with Merlot. Growing up, I don't remember seeing a bottle of Bordeaux in the house. We may have had one, but I remember mostly the Italian and Spanish varietals as well as some home-fermented wine. Oh and let's not forget the unopened bottle of Thunderbird in the back of the fridge that Dad kept for a joke. Yes, call it corny, but Dad got a kick out of asking guests if they would like a glass of fine wine and then bringing out that same bottle every time. But in the '80s Merlot took off in the State of Washington. Almost every spring we would wander across the state, often making stops at wineries during the Spring Release weekends. Sometimes we would revisit the memorable wineries in December in search of our Christmas wine. Merlot was everywhere, and I developed the taste for a good Merlot. Sometimes I sampled the California Merlots I found in the supermarket, but they just didn't compare to a good Washington Merlot.

In the '90s I joined an online community of authors, journalists, programmers and activists. Many were wine aficionados. The majority were California-based, and oh how they scoffed and ridiculed me whenever I mentioned I had tasted a good Washington Merlot! As far as some of them were concerned, Merlot was no more than a weak blending grape. (I guess they'd never heard of, say, Petrus.) Like Miles, the Merlot-loathing character in "Sideways," many of my online colleagues had not tasted the fruit of Washington. Well, no longer do they scoff, and I wonder if it has to do with the positive publicity that Washington has received for its Merlot. The land in Washington state is vast and abundant; the air's fresh and the water's clean, and we're at the same latitude as France's premier viticultural areas: Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhone. In fact, young French winemakers are making their mark in our Northwest state. Perhaps my critics from the online comunity are now enjoying a glass of hearty and rich Washington Merlot with their plate of crow?

Here are recommendations by members of the Wine Enthusiast Tasting Panel for some of the best Walla Walla Merlots available at various price points. They were organized into four categories and based on retail price.

Everyday Merlots ($15 and under at retail):

Couvillion Winery 2004 Merlot (Columbia Valley); $15. (note: Jill's Merlot is sold out. We were fortunate enough to get in on a few bottles when we did. In my opinion, this was priced way too low for the quality. )

Weekend Merlots ($15 to $40):

James Leigh 2003 ‘Spofford Station’ Merlot (Walla Walla Valley); $32

Abeja 2004 Merlot (Columbia Valley); $35

Beresan 2004 Merlot (Columbia Valley); $29

Splurge Merlots ($40 to $100):

Dunham Cellars 2004 Lewis Vineyard Merlot (Columbia Valley); $75

Expense Account ($100 and up):

(No listing)

If a "Sideways" sequel is ever made, maybe Miles and his dinner companions could order a glass of %$*&#! Merlot, but this time I advise them: Go Washington! I bet he would stay and enjoy a glass.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guest Blog: Eight Reasons To Kill the 100-Point System

Imagine there are no wine scores.

To borrow from John Lennon: It’s easy if you try. Imagine no 95-point Bordeaux. Imagine no 92-point Cabernet, no 94-point Syrah. Imagine a wine market that encourages people to educate and develop their own palates rather than depend on a 100-point shortcut. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but imagine people thinking…even tasting… for themselves.

The 100-point scoring system, which is usually credited to famous (or infamous, your choice) wine critic Robert Parker, is used by Parker at his Wine Advocate newsletter as well as by the Wine Spectator, among other publications, to rank wines by quality irregardless of cost. In a market as complex and confusing as wine -- and confusing, frankly, even to experienced wine consumers -- any tool that helps sort out the choices is welcome indeed. As a result, the scoring system has become enormously influential. But lately, industry observers including Paul Gregutt and Tom Wark have begun to doubt the system’s value. Me too.

Here are eight reasons why I’d like to kill it:

1) It’s Not Really a 100-Point System. Parker and the Spectator automatically give any wine, including the stuff Grandpa stews in the basement, 50 points just for being made. But as Gregutt points out, that’s not even the half of it: it’s really a 10-point system. Very, very few wines rate at or better than 95 points, the Spectator’s threshold for “classic” wines. At the same time, few wines rate 85 or below, which may be still what the magazine calls a “good” wine but for all intents and purposes is the point of no return for wine shoppers. Yet within this narrow 10-point span, fortunes and reputations are made and lost quicker than in the stock market.

2) The Arbitrary Benchmark. Can anyone truly distinguish an 89-point wine from a 90-point wine? Yet in the market, 90 has become the crucial benchmark, the equivalent of .300 in a baseball batting average. Above it you’re golden, below it you’re merely plain.

3) The Entrance of Evil. Such is the power of 90 that a wine consultancy in California for wineries, Enologix, will guarantee, for a price (a winemaker friend told me it can be as high as $100,000), that your wine will earn 90 points or better if you follow Enologix’s advice. In effect, Enologix tells you how to make a wine that panders to the taste buds of Mr. Parker and those who let him do their thinking for them. That disrespects the intelligence of wine consumers. It pegs the definition of “quality” to an arbitrary number that has no relation to a full wine experience. It’s evil.

4) The Value Equation. Shoppers calculate value with every purchase. So which is the better value: the $15 88-pointer from South Africa or the $30 90-point wine from the Napa Valley? How about the $20 89-point wine from Walla Walla? A value calculation for wine should be based on cost measured beside quality and context, which is to say beside winemaking, vineyards, regions, style, taste, and the occasion. Dividing cost by score is like calculating the value of a ballgame just by hits, runs and outs.

5) Rating Versus Marketing. The wine industry itself has shamelessly used wine scores for a purpose -- marketing -- for which they weren’t originally intended. Wine ads in the connoisseur magazines trumpet 90 scores and better; no one brags about an 86. That’s why few wine shoppers bother with wines scoring 85 or below no matter how inexpensive they may be. The industry tells us they’re no good.

6) Food’s Left Out. The 100-point system can’t measure how a particular wine will pair with a particular food. And that, of course, is the whole point to drinking wine -- or, at least, ought to be the whole point in a wine-world gone wine-right. Fact: An 87-point wine matched with the right food in the right social situation will give you a much more transcendent and memorable experience than a 92-point wine paired badly with food or shared with the wrong company.

7) Male Versus Female. Any system that rates or measures power -- and in the wine industry, high scores equal power -- is a male system, created by men to measure and compare, well, whatever it is men must compare. Yet survey after survey shows that more than half of wine shoppers are women. I once asked a female sommelier at a fine restaurant if she looked at wine scores. No, she said, never. How, then, does she choose wines for her list? By tasting them and learning about the winery and vineyards, she told me. By learning about the region the wine was made in and by building a relationship with the winemaker, by gaining an understanding of what they were trying to accomplish with their wine. Oh, and by testing the wines with the foods her chef prepared. She’s not the only woman to tell me the same thing. Fact: Women choose wine according to context; men rate wine according to a set of power scores.

8) The Real Issue. Wine scores are a short-hand cover-up for the fact that many, if not most, wine consumers find wine descriptions baffling and useless. “A strong undercurrent of rich loganberry layered with dark chocolate and hints of blue-stone minerals” -- this means what, exactly? For all practical purposes it’s nonsense, and it tells you absolutely nothing about what food to pair this “strong undercurrent of rich loganberry” with. With very, very few exceptions, wine writing has not achieved the graceful combination of art and meaning that the best food writing has, or the best music writing, or the best art criticism. Fact: Wine scores have gained outsized importance by default. Wine shoppers have nothing, really, to help them make a wine decision except a number. That’s not their fault, and it’s not really the industry’s fault. It’s our fault -- the writers.

What we need to provide wine consumers and ourselves is more better wine experiences. We can do that with words rather than numbers -- it may not be easy, but it’s worth trying. And that is how the world will better live as one, as Mr. Lennon might’ve said if he and Yoko had bedded down for peace inside the Wine Spectator’s offices.


Steve Bjerklie reports for The Economist and many other publications about wine, food, politics and cultural and historical subjects. Last year he wrote about Walla Walla's now-famous French winemakers for The Economist as well as for Mid-Columbian Magazine.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Marcus Whitman Hotel

When I was a youngster growing up in Walla Walla, three words meant magic: Marcus Whitman Hotel. When our parents said them, my siblings and I knew they were talking about something special, a place of monumental grandeur.

In 1927 the city fathers of Walla Walla decided to construct a luxury hotel to attract visitors and conventions. Not only did this hotel become the tallest building in the city, but it hosted many dignitaries and celebrities, including Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, trumpeter Louis Armstrong, actress and diplomat Shirley Temple, and my maternal grandmother’s cousin "Ike", or as he's sometimes called, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The proud citizens of Walla Walla named their hotel after local and historical missionary Marcus Whitman.

The hotel was the big-night place to go for everyone in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. During the Swing Era all the touring big bands stopped by to play dances. It was a business destination too: dozens of important agreements that would determine Walla Walla's future -- including its wine future -- were made over lunch or dinner at the Marcus Whitman. In the mid-1970s the hotel housed a chain restaurant/bar, the Black Angus. The bar back then was a kind of disco paradise: smoky glass windows, a stainless steel dance floor, a big mirrored disco ball -- the preferred dress for men was a leisure suit in pastel. Many of the hotel rooms became luxury condos. But after the restaurant closed, slowly the grand Marcus Whitman hotel slid into a neglect and disrepair. By the early 1990's, the beautiful antique furnishings that once decorated the lobby were stripped clean, and the wallpaper was torn and stained. There were rumblings about bringing in the wrecking ball for a mercy demolition.

Then, in 1999, Kyle Mussman bought the historic structure. Sharing a community vision with the City and Port of Walla Walla, he restored the beautiful hotel and expanded it, and after the $35 million renovation the elegance was back -- indeed, the hotel is better now than even in its heyday, with cutting-edge technology for today's needs. Now known as "The Marc," it has become a splendid home away from home for many wine tourists while locals once again enjoy fine dining at the hotel. Back in the day, steak was king of the grill in The Marc's dining room, but now the menu highlights fresh regional foods and our terrific local wines. And every time I visit The Marc I see Kyle Mussman greeting guests or even serving in the restaurant. It impresses me that he is a visible and a hands-on host/owner.

Last week, the local wine industry were Kyle's guests for an industry mixer held in one of the conference rooms. Kyle, Executive Chef "Bear" Ullman and staff were available for questions, and the Whitman staff spoke to us about the exciting new changes to their menus. There will be more emphasis on "fresh," with meats from locally raised livestock and wild-caught rather than farm-raised fish. At the mixer, samples from the new menu were served along with a very large assortment of local wines (I have pages and pages of wine notes to be blogged for you on another day soon). It was a wonderful evening, a chance to catch up with old wine friends, make new wine friends and most of all to visit with Kyle, who has become a true Walla Walla hero to me. Living here means a lot to me; it's my birthplace and home. I have hundreds of wonderful memories, including many of the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Kyle has my gratitude for saving a landmark that the people of Walla Walla can be proud of once again.

(PS - After the mixer, a few evenings in a row were spent at the Marc's Vineyard Lounge enjoying some very smooth and tasty vodka martinis and choices from the new bar menu, including fresh handmade potato chips, pulled pork sandwiches, and a seriously delicious watercress and watermelon salad. The service was attentive and charming. The cocktails were smooth, generous and served in stylish glasses. The food was full of flavor and, well, just damn delicious!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Washington Women and Wine

Lately, there seems to be too many articles claiming wine-buying-women do not have a clue on what they are buying. While we are the in the largest percentage of wine buyers, according to these articles it appears that we buy wines based on cute puppy-dog labels instead of the content in the bottle. Hmmm... that sounds like another ranting blog to me, but in the mean time let's focus on last night because in New York City there was a celebration for women who know their wine!

Chef Amanda Zimlich of The Madison Park Café, a French style neighborhood bistro in Seattle, and winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla were invited to the James Beard House in New York City to create a “Washington Women and Wine” dinner. Chef Amanda Zimlich's menu highlighted local Northwest ingredients to create French bistro cuisine, both “old school” and “new school", designed to compliment the wines of winemaker, Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla. The menu for the evening:

Hors d’oeuvres-
• Wild King Salmon Gravlax with Meyer Lemon Gremolata
• Caramelized Walla Walla Onion & Gruyere Tartlets
• Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Pickled Currants & Preserved Walnuts
• Chilled Cream of White Asparagus with Parmesan & Thyme

• Penn Cove Mussel Bisque with American Sturgeon Caviar & Celery Leaves
Forgeron Chardonnay, Columbia Valley,2005
• Full Circle Farms Organic Red Beets with Blood Orange Vinaigrette, Crushed Oregon Hazelnuts & Mount Townsend Seastack Goat Cheese
Forgeron Vinfinity,Columbia Valley, 2002
• Eaton Farms Braised Oxtail with Celery Root Purée & Washington Black Truffles
Forgeron Cabernet Sauvignon, Pepper Bridge Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, 2003
• Sonoma Artisan Roasted Moulard Duck Breast with Bluebird Farms Farro, Confit of Spring Onions & Spiced Wild Huckleberry Jus
Forgeron Syrah, Columbia Valley, 2002
• Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta with Compote of Yakima Rhubarb & Vanilla Crème Chantilly
Forgeron Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, Yakima Valley, 2005

French born and educated with a Masters in Viticulture and Enology at the University of Dijon, winemaker, Marie-Eve Gilla has extensive experience as a winemaker, in the Burgundy region of France, Oregon, and Washington. Under Marie-Eve's direction, Forgeron Cellars focuses on producing true varietal wines. Marie-Eve says, "My wines have a sense of place, they reflect their terroir, which is composite of the vine location and the grower dedication. I practice minimal intervention winemaking, enabling each grape to fully express itself. Using this winemaking philosophy allows me to craft food-friendly wines of great character."

Chef Amanda Zimlich is a Seattle native who began her culinary career at an early age by picking herbs for her neighborhood catering company and graduated summa cum laude from the four-year Bachelor of Professional Studies Program at CIA in New York. In Missouri, she helped create a much needed and highly successful Culinary Arts Program within the public school system. In Seattle, she was the Executive Sous Chef at Barking Frog in Woodinville for three years before becoming chef of The Madison Park Café a year ago.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wine Matchmaker, Make Me A Match!

Are you tired of spending Saturday nights alone watching 'Sideways' with your six cats? Do you wish you had someone to share your Pouilly Fuisse, Cayuga, Walla Walla Bionic Frog, Cap Classique and your Trockenbeerenauslese with? Wanting to find that perfect person who will appreciate your 1787 Chateau d'Yquem? Or do you just need a listening ear and broad shoulders who will understand the anguish you felt when you discovered you had tri-chloroanisole? If the answer is 'yes' to one or more of these questions -- have we got the perfect dating site for you!

WineLoversMeet is a new concept in online dating for winelovers - from the serious wine-geeks to the wine novice. Meeting new people and dating isn't that easy, so they've narrowed down the wine-bar-playing-field for you. Wine Lovers Meet even offers wine education to refine your wine knowledge so you can look like Robert Parker's and Jancis Robinson's love child and dazzle your prospectives with your enology brillance. Cheers!

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Wine Toast To My Readers

It is time to give many thanks to my readers. Whether you are a first time visitor or check in every day, I appreciate your time and your kind words that I receive in email.

I started Through the Grape Vine in June of 2005 as sort of a personal diary. "Write what you know," they say, which I might modify to "Write about what you love," because I surely love Walla Walla and I love wine. But who knew wineblogging would grow as much as it has? When I first started wine blogging, I was just one of the maybe 100 winebloggers out there. Now the rate of wine blogging is growing leaps and bounds --300+ and counting. If you are a wine drinker, then you are a wine critic. People have a lot to say about wine, and we are now seeing the professional wine writers, such as Harvey Steiman (Wine Spectator), Paul Gregutt (Seattle Times), and Eric Asimov ( New York Times) blogging about wine apart from what they write for their publications. More over, quite a few wineries are taking time from their busy days and blogging for their customers. This is all good: more wine blogging means more wine education = more wine consumers.

What makes me unique, I think, from other wine bloggers is that I chose to be limited - limited, that is, to a focus on wines from the Walla Walla Valley. Once in awhile I will blog wine information that can affect or enhance the Walla Walla wine-drinking experience. But there are days when it is all I can do to find the time to write about Walla Walla wines and to keep up with them. I can't imagine trying to cover the whole wine universe.

You need to know there are no exact times when I publish or an exact number of blogs I write each. My time available varies -- and sometimes there's just not a lot to say, and I don't want to bore you with a post that was written just because I thought I had to meet a deadline. Seems to me that readers deserve quality rather than frequency, at least here. On the occasions when you don't see a fresh blog from me, you might want to check the archives. Maybe there's something there you've not read before. Of course, other times there's much to say and the new posts come fast.

Besides knowing that I have you, the readers, it also makes my blogging day when I receive links, syndication, emails and comments. At this time I am ranked no. 49 in the 100 Top Wine Blogs through AlaWine. Also, if you enjoy what you are reading, you can let Local Wine know at Local Wine Events or at Local Wine Events Blogs. I am listed twice.

Again, many, many thanks to all of you. If you were all here, I would treat you to a glass (or two) of Walla Walla wine. Cheers to my friends and in the mean time, I will keep on blogging.
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