All posts by brynn grimley

Thanksgiving – Feasting with Wines

Mary writes:

Thanksgiving launches the season of food centric get-togethers with family and friends. When you think of Thanksgiving, visions of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and a well set table surrounded by loved ones dance in your head. These visions of the great American feast require wines to make the dinner special.

More wine, in my experience, is sold for Thanksgiving Day dinner than for any other meal of the year. And with good reason, with so many different flavors and palates, your wine choices should be many. With the variety of strong flavors, whether cranberries, brussel sprouts, oyster dressing or green bean casserole, it’s smart to have several different all-American wines gracing the table.

Because the most important consideration is taste, there is only one hard and fast rule for selecting the right wines, buy what you like.  So here are some suggestions:

Always begin the feast with a sparkling wine as nothing says Celebrate! like the pop of a cork. As guests are arriving, with a bottle and a dish in hand, get them settled with a flute of Gruet Brut Sparkling, from New Mexico or my other go to sparkler, Woodbridge Extra Dry by Robert Mondavi, Napa, California. Gruet is a tart green apple bubbly and Woodbridge, being extra dry, is actually slightly sweeter than brut.

For the Whites:
The most popular grape in America, Chardonnay, is a no brainer so let’s consider other whites. For a feast of this magnitude, a refreshing, tangy and fruity Oregon Pinot Gris – Duck Pond is packed with flavor and easy on the wallet. Another easy white from California is Meridian Pinot Gris, easy to find, easy on the wallet and easy to sip.

Riesling and Gewurztraminer own the Thanksgiving Table. And none other than Washington State has some of the best to offer with lovely, complex fruit flavors, and a touch of minerality. Hogue Gewürztraminer has the stuffing with its lychee sweetness and crisp acidity. Pacific Rim’s Columbia Valley Riesling is also crisp and slightly sweeter, a lovely wine from a blend of vineyards around Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 3.1% RS.

The Reds:
You can serve red wine with turkey because you, your best friend and Uncle Jim love red wine. Younger wines with their buckets of plums, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries are better suited than aged bottles because they are distinctively fruity with crisp acidity.

And no other wine embodies this than  Zinfandel. I’m partial to Sonoma’s Cline Winery. Their Zinfandel is made the old fashioned way and has wonderful black cherries and enough body to pair well with the main course.

Grenache would be another good choice for its fruity personality. From Washington, Maryhill and Renegade. But the very best for flavor and price are red wine blends, IMHO. Love Maryhill’s, Marietta’s and Desert Wine’s Ruah.

For pumpkin pie, let’s go with this season’s most popular wine – Muscat. Versatile, sweet and sometimes slightly bubbly, this wine can make you and Momma smile. Go with the frizzante style that has a slight spritz that keeps the wine from being too cloying. With so many to choose from, I’d go with the pioneers of Early Muscat in Oregon, Sylvan Ridge. They’ve been making this wine for almost 15 years in a refreshing, semi-sparkling, sweet style reminiscent of the Moscato d’Asti from northwest Italy.

We have much to be thankful for.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Casa Santos Lima 2011 Lisboa Espiga Vinho Tinto

Mary writes

Remember when we said it was a good thing when there is a lot of real estate listed on the label pinpointing to specific vineyards?  Well, this wine, or vinho in Portuguese, doesn’t really have a lot of real estate on the label but it looks and tastes like one.1341229378espiga_red

This highly colored wine is made from a blend of 40% Castelão, widely planted all over Portugal,  15% Tinta Roriz, also known as Tempranillo, 15% Touriga Nacional, the base grape in port and %15 Syrah grapes.

Castelão is a hardy little grape that does well in desert like conditions – dry, sandy and hot – that are the norm around the Lisbon area.

The color is an extracted bright ruby from a long, cool maceration. Bright red fruits dominate the nose. It has concentrated dark cherry and blackberry flavors, and pleasant acidity with light toasty oak notes. It ends with smooth tannins and a fruity finish.

This well balanced wine has good aging potential and sells for $8 to $10.

Imported by Cavatappi Distribuzione, Seattle.

Late Harvest

Mary writes:

The 2013 Washington grape harvest begin in the hot days at the end of August. Remember how hot it was? By the end of October most of the vineyards have been picked – most. There are still some grapes on the vines. Winemakers and growers, especially in the cooler sites, leave the grapes on the vines hoping for late-harvest wines.

Late-harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual, allowing them to get riper and riper. The grapes lose water content to the sun, wind and possibly to botrytis. What you’re left with is pure concentration of aromas and flavors with a brilliant gold color.  220px-Botrytis_riesling

Riesling for Harvey’s Recipes

Mary writes:

Riesling was one of the first vinifera varieties planted in Washington, dating back to late 1880s. Much later, in the early 1970s, there were more acres planted to Riesling than there were Merlot.

Probably because Riesling is the most versatile, complex and food-friendly of all the noble grapes. And because back then, many, many people preferred a sweeter wine. In the next two decades, winemakers started making some Rieslings drier because of the demands of the market.  We can safely say that no other varietal has been crafted to express so many different styles from bone dry to ice wines and everything in between.

Rieslings have very floral aromas, a crisp, vibrant character with peach, citrus and apple flavors that morph into apricot as they age. When noble rot or botrytis attaches itself to the skins, the resulting wine is a concentration of sugars and flavors to produce a wine of incomparable intensity.

With Ann Vogel’s Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter recipes, the versatility of Riesling was the key that unlocked the synergy door. Riesling has just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to pair with apples, pork, pineapple, ham, red pepper flakes and cheesecake.

Riesling is all over the place when it comes to residual sugar (RS). It can have a ton of RS, making it a late harvest or ice wine. Or it can have as little as a Chardonnay – around .5% – and a crisp acidity for food friendliness.

Germany has been making some stunning Rieslings for a few centuries and it’s to Riesling what Bordeaux is to Cabernet and Merlot – the bench mark. That’s why it’s so cool when German winemakers come to Washington to make wine with Washington grapes.

Washington has 6,320 acres planted to Riesling. The most expensive is the Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Ice Wine at $85 for a half (375ml.) bottle. It’s made by one of my favorite German winemakers, Armin Diehl. This being a very special and labor intensive wine, it’s to be expected.

Other Washington Rieslings are as little as $3 for a 750 ml and continue up to around $20. These more expensive wines tend to have more work put into them and are generally drier.

There are three major Riesling producers in Washington State. Hogue, Ch. Ste. Michelle and Pacific Rim. All three have received numerous medals from around the world for their Rieslings.

For the Harvey’s Pork Chops with Apple Compote, try the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling. This wine is a blend of grapes from all around the Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 11% alcohol and 2.2% RS. $10.

Pacific Rim’s Columbia Valley Riesling is crisp and slightly sweeter, a lovely wine with fiery red pepper flakes and juicy sweet pineapple in the Harvey’s Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney. Another blend of grapes from around Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 11.5% alcohol and 3.1% RS.

Cheesecake was made to be paired with Riesling. That being said we’ll move to a Riesling from another longtime giant in the Washington wine industry, Hogue. Their Late Harvest Columbia Valley Riesling was picked mid-October through the first part of November. It has 11% alcohol and 5.4% RS and at $10 a bottle is a total bargain.

Making a Splash with Syrah

Mary writes:

Columbia Crest Syrah

Some time during the Merlot craze of the 90s, David Lake had a few acres of Syrah planted in Washington State. Lake, the winemaker at Columbia Winery, Master of Wine and firm believer in terrior, had a vision of what Syrah could become in Eastern Washington. In 1990, there were a mere 15 acres planted to Syrah; today, there are 3,103 acres of Syrah in the ground.

Washington’s Syrah are luscious and ready to drink upon release unlike Old World Syrah that typically require a few years’ aging.

While dining with a friend recently, a bottle of Columbia Crest Syrah was opened to pair with the grilled flank steak with Chimichurri sauce.

This gorgeous wine was flawless from start to finish. Elegant aromas of smoke, cinnamon, blackerrries and cedar, followed by flavors of pepper, blackberries and currants. It’s a big wine, though the tannins are silky and smooth.

Columbia Crest Winery, not to be confused with Columbia Winery that first planted Syrah, was established in 1983. They are part of Stimson Lane that includes Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The winery is located in the Horse Heaven Hills. And it is huge. It was described when I toured it in 1986 as being as large as four football fields and could store 27,000 59 gallon barrels.

Over the years, Columbia Crest Winery has been named Winery of the Year by numerous wine trade magazines. And now by this blog! At $12.00, it’s a lot of wine for the money.

Bull’s Blood

This is an intriguing name for a wine, don’t you think?
Bikaver is Hungarian for Bull’s Blood and after 1990 was used to designate a style of wine. This Hungarian treat was once exclusively produced by the state owned winery in Eger, Hungary.
The story goes that Eger’s castle, constructed in the l3th century, was defended by Captain Istvan Dobo and 2,000 soldiers who withstood a month-long siege from the onslaught of 150,000 Turks.
During the siege, the soldiers drank red wine. Being a little shaky, the wine spilled over their beards and onto their armor, coloring them blood red. As the fight against the invading Turks continued, word spread that the Hungarians were drinking bulls blood to make themselves strong and fierce. The superstitious Turks were terrified. And that defeated the Turks.
If you’re feeling brave, try the Egri Bikaver with a nice, hot dinner of Hungarian Goulash, a thick, rich, paprika infused stew made by the Hungarian Herdsmen.

Wine pair: Roasted pork tenderloin and full-bodied chardonnay

It’s hard to believe that it was only three years ago that Cheers to You came to life online with a simple blog post explaining what we hoped to accomplish with our pairing — a budding wine enthusiast looking to learn more and a seasoned wine aficionado looking to share her knowledge.

Since our first blog post on Aug. 3, 2010 we have expanded our weekly wine talks to include regular posts about wines we’re drinking, definitions of wine terms, and of course this beloved wine pairing column that has found a home in the Kitsap Life section twice a month.

Fortunately for you dear reader this column will continue to appear in print the first and third Sundays of the month, but after today’s column there will be one less face smiling back at you when you pick up the paper. Brynn’s last day with the Kitsap Sun, and Cheers to You, was Oct. 29. She left Kitsap for a new gig a little farther south in Tacoma.

To commemorate her departure and all the fun we’ve had since starting Cheers to You, we are recommending a wine for this week’s pairing that is a little more expensive than we normally would suggest. But don’t worry, we have your interests at heart, so we’re also going to recommend a second, more affordable wine.

Because this is Brynn’s last Cheers to You wine pairing, we felt it only appropriate that we recommend her favorite wine variety to match Ann Vogel’s recipe for roasted pork tenderloin with apples and onions: chardonnay.

Not only are we suggesting a chardonnay, we’re suggesting a creamy, oak-infused chardonnay from California’s prestigious Napa Valley.

A couple of years ago Mary gave Brynn a bottle of her coveted Shafer Chardonnay, sourced from a single vineyard at the northern tip of San Francisco Bay in the Carneros region. We pulled the cork on the bottle this summer and sat back to enjoy its exotic fruit flavors of kiwi, pineapple, lime, papaya, apricot and citrus zest.

As we sipped we discussed the complexity of this wine. It is layered with the crispness of citrus fruits, but balanced almost perfectly with caramelized notes and a crème brûlée finish that lingers. The winery uses wild yeast for its fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation. While the wine is full bodied and creamy, these rich notes don’t slap you in the face like some over-oaked California chardonnays.

At $50 this wine is likely not going to make it to many people’s dinner table, but if you have something to celebrate and feel like splurging, keep it on your list.

Sticking with chardonnay, but offering a much more budget-conscious bottle, we also think Waterbrook has a beautiful chardonnay that would pair just as well with the roasted pork tenderloin.

This Walla Walla winery’s 2011 chardonnay has fragrant pineapple and mango aromas with buttery notes. Dried apricots and apple give this wine a full mouthfeel with lingering toast notes on the finish. At $12 (and likely less if you find it on sale at the grocery store) this wine is a great addition to your fall table.

Winemakers dinner at Alderbrook Resort and Spa

Looking to splurge in November? Here’s the details for an upcoming event in Union at the Alderbrook Resort and Spa that highlights Dusted Valley Winery, named the 2013 Winery of the Year by Wine and Spirits Magazine.

The release sent by the resort has all the details:

Indulge in a unique culinary experience at Alderbrook Resort & Spa. On Saturday, November 16, guests are invited to an elegant dinner featuring varietals from Dusted Valley Winery, paired alongside exquisite dishes prepared with locally-sourced food from Alderbrook’s Executive Chef, Lucas Sautter.

Dusted Valley Winery, a locally owned and operated winery based out of the Walla Walla Valley helps set the stage for this festive, harvest meal. Dusted Valley’s winemaker will be onsite throughout the evening to answer any questions regarding the winery’s award-winning wines. Located alongside the breathtaking shores of Hood Canal, guests will dine on six courses prepared by Alderbrook’s renowned Chef Lucas Sautter, served with a red or white wine blend to complement its specific flavors.

Reservations can be made by calling (360) 898-5500. Want to stay the night and experience more of Alderbrook? Enjoy the full-service spa, get in a round on the 18-hole PGA-class golf course or come back for seconds at The Restaurant at Alderbrook. Room rates start at $179. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

What: Wine Maker’s Dinner with Dusted Valley Winery
Where: Alderbrook Resort & Spa, 10 E Alderbrook Drive, Union, WA 98592
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Time: Social begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner begins at 7 p.m.
Cost: $109 per person
Reservations: (360) 898-5500

What we’re drinking: Woodinville wines

Brynn writes:

On Sunday in the Kitsap Life section our getaways feature this month is going to be on Woodinville, written by your’s truly.

It’s fitting that my last Kitsap Life story would be on Western Washington’s wine country. (Yes, you read that correctly, my last story. My last day at the Sun will be Oct. 29.)

This post isn’t about my departure, it’s about all the great wineries you can experience with a short jaunt across the water (Puget Sound and Lake Washington) by exploring Woodinville.

I remember when Woodinville was known as the home to Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery and Red Hook Brewery. Now it’s home to more than 80 wineries and a number of great restaurants. It really does make a great day trip from Seattle, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get to Woodinville to go wine tasting than it is to drive across the mountains to Eastern Washington.

A month or so ago my husband and I found ourselves with a rare day off together and a babysitter eager to watch the kid (thanks grandma!) so we decided we’d take advantage of our good fortune and do a little wine tasting. With 80+ wineries to choose from it was a little daunting to figure out where we were going to go, but I just hopped online and started looking at the different wineries listed under the Woodinville Wine Country website. (Also look at the Warehouse District winery website when planning your trip because there are some great wineries in that area too.) Within an hour I had our Woodinville wine tour mapped out.

Here’s the list I created:

  • Airfield Estates
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  • Dusted Valley
  • J.Bookwalter
  • Otis Kenyon
  • Ross Andrew Winery

I didn’t expect us to make it to every winery, but I wanted a couple “fall backs” in case we went somewhere and it was busy. (Or if we really did make it through our top picks quickly, we’d have somewhere to go.) We ended up visiting (in this order): Ross Andrew, J.Bookwalter, Alexandria Nicole, Airfield Estates.

By the last winery we were maxed out and ready to head across the street to Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, where we had an excellent dinner.

If you’re planning a trip to Woodinville, do your homework before you go so you have a rough idea of what you want to see, but also know that once you get there there are so many wineries you can easily change your mind and pop into any storefront and likely have a great experience.

Of the wineries we visited, Alexandria Nicole is one not to be missed. The atmosphere is great and so are the people pouring wines. Plus their wines (in my opinion) are fantastic. We loved their 2012 Shepherd’s Mark, a blend of 65 percent Roussanne, 20 percent Marsanne and 15 percent Viognier. This wine won a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a double gold at the 2013 Seattle Wine Awards. This wine has notes of pineapple, pear, citrus and peach and the floral characteristics of Viognier come through on the nose. ($24)

The 2010 a Squared Cabernet Sauvignon was also good with its dark fruit flavors and hints of vanilla on the finish. This is a great fall/winter wine and would pair well with heavier meals like roasts and lamb. The blend is 86 percent cab, 6 percent cab franc, 6 percent malbec and 2 percent petit verdot. ($24)

I also loved J.Bookwalter’s Chardonnay, which had just the right balance of weight from its fermentation in barrels and stainless steel. The wine had aromas of pear and honeydew with a slightly nutty hint on the finish. This was a creamy wine that I am kicking myself for not purchasing while we were there.

I was excited to try Ross Andrew because I had not heard of this winery before, which is hard to believe because the winemaker has been in the business for a long time and studied under one of the best in the industry, Master of Wine Bob Betz. The tasting room was recently remodeled and is done in a minimalist, modern style. It’s in the same building complex as Pepper Bridge/Amavi Cellars, Mark Ryan and J.Bookwalter, and right across the parking lot from Alexandria Nicole. If you plan on heading to Woodinville you could spend your afternoon just cruising between these wineries without even having to move your car.

We enjoyed the 2011 Meadow White Wine (so much so we bought a bottle) and the 2012 Meadow Rose (again we bought a bottle). The Rose is the first Washington Rose I’ve tried that reminds me of the Provincial style Roses I drank while in France. It’s dry with a crisp finish. The white wine would be a perfect pair with crab, scallops or white fish. Both wines were $16.

If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Woodinville, check out my story in Sunday’s paper (or online). Now’s a good time to head over there because they’ve finished the craziness of crush and the craziness of the holidays hasn’t picked up yet.