Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The Most Delightful Champagne - Happy New Year
- 1999 Roederer Crystal
- 1996 Dom Perignon
- NV Krug Grand Cuvee
More Delightful Champagne - Happy New Year
- Hemard "Origine"
- Charles Heidsick
- Piper Heidsick
- Pol Roger
- Veuve Clicquot
Delightful Champagne - Happy New Year
Delightful (under $30)
- Zardetto Prosecco - Not actually Champagne, but a delightful light sparkling wine from the Veneto region of Italy ( about $10)
- Freixenet - From Spain, this one is basic, but does the trick, when nothing else is available (about $10)
- Mumm Napa Valley Brut Prestige - Great for big events or family gatherings, nicely balanced ($15-$20)
- Domaine Chandon Brut- Another California bubbly made by a famous champagne house. Slightly drier than the Mumm's, very close to French Champagne ($15-$20)
- Roederer Estate - A third French Champagne house making sparklers in California. This one is a little softer and rounder than the others, almost creamy ($15-$2
A Herring Tasting For The New Year
Hint: For Russian herring, check out the European Grocery on Aurora at 135th, just behind Blockbuster, or try University Seafood and Poultry for Scandinavian style.
To flesh out your silvery feast, you could add Sprats from Latvia, cold or hot smoked salmon, smoked trout, smoked sturgeon, smoked whitefish, Olympia or Quilcene Oysters, Carr's biscuits or dark rye as vehicles to convey your delicacies to your taste buds and ice cold spirits to wash it down. No wine with this feast! Try Norwegian Linie Aquaavit, Dutch Bols Ginever, or Stolychnaya from Russia.
Happy New Year!
Monday, December 26, 2005
The Search For Caviar In Seattle
American Sturgeon caviar is the best alternative to Caspian Caviar. You can get farm-raised American sturgeon caviar from Seattle Caviar or Columbia River sturgeon caviar from University Seafood and Poultry. This stuff is delicious and getting more expensive every year. American Paddlefish caviar isn't bad, either. Red caviar from Northwest salmon is the best relatively inexpensive option. Called Ikura in Japanese, salmon caviar is usually fresh and makes a nice pop in your mouth. Caviar can be taken straight or accompanied by chopped cooked egg whites, chopped cooked yolk, parboiled minced onion, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, toast, dark rye, or crackers. If you are a vegetarian ,try Roumanian Eggplant "caviar." Another option is the herring tasting described in the next post. Vodka and gin go great with caviar, but, of course, the classic pairing is with Champagne. See the reposted caviar suggestions which follow.
Where to search? In addition to Seattle Caviar and University Seafood, Uwajamaya has "Ikura," Trader Joe's has a nice selection, and one guy I know raves about the Swedish caviar at Ikea.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Costco Ruling A Potential Win For Consumers
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Washington Wine Favorites of 2005
Here are our favorites for the year in no particular order:
- Union Bay Cafe
- Malay Hut
Favorite Wine Shop
- La Cantina
Favorite Wine Shop Owner
- Stephanie Ninaud
- DiLille "D2"
Favorite Seattle Winery
Favorite New Seattle Winery
- Fall Line
Favorite New Washington State Winery
- Saint Laurent
Favorite Walla Walla Winery
Favorite Yakima Valley Winery
Favorite Red Mountain Winery
- Terra Blanca
Favorite Puget Sound Winery
Favorite Winery Name
- Jean Francois Pellet at Pepper Bridge
Favorite Cabernet Sauvignon
Favorite Cabernet Franc
- Willow Crest
Favorite Bordeaux Style Blend
- Cadence "Belle Canto"
- Apex Cellars
- Dusted Valley
- Boushay Vineyard
Favorite Wine Auction
- Poncho Wine Auction
Favorite Seattle Wine Event
- Seattle Wine Society Judges Dinner
Favorite Wine Event
- Rhone Rangers
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
NEWLY AVAILABLE -2004 VIN DU TABLE DU VAUCLUSE ROUGE
For example, three of my favorite wine shops are La Cantina in Laurelhurst and Pike & Western in the Pike Place Market and Champion Cellars near the Seattle Center. Mike Dodson at La Cantina, Michael Teer at Pike & Western , and Stephanie Ninaud at Champion have been advising wine lovers for close to thirty years and they continue to do so with expertise and enthusiasm. Mike has a particularly nice selection of French Burgundy based on his tasting trips to France. Michael has just the right wine to take home for dinner that night. Stephanie Ninaud, at Champion Wine Cellars near the Seattle Center will help you find that special bottle of French wine you can't find anywhere else.
There are lots of other great wine shops in the Seattle area. What are your favorites?
Monday, December 19, 2005
Buying Holiday Wine in Seattle - WSLCB
- 2002 Columbia Crest Chardonnay
- 2002 Gordon Brothers Chardonnay
- 2004 Barnard Griffin Chardonnay
- 2003 Hogue Chardonnay
- 2004 Clos du Bois Chardonnay
- 2003 Montinore Pinot Gris
- 2003 Barnard Griffin Cabernet Suavignon
- 2002 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2002 Barnard Griffin Merlot
- 2002 Red Diamond Merlot
- 2004 Willamette Vineyards Pinot Noir
- 2002 Archery Summit Pinot Noir
- 2001 Reininger Red Table Wine
- 2003 Dusted Valley "Stain Tooth" Syrah
- 2001 Northstar Merlot
- 2001 Pepper Bridge Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2003 L'Ecole Merlot
- 2004 L'Ecole Chardonnay
- 2003 Dusted Valley Viognier ( the perfect Turkey wine)
More Holiday Gifts-Wine Judges Dinner III-Redux
- 2002 Amavi Cellars
- 2001 Apex Cellars
- 2002 Zerba Cellars
- 2002 Foolish Oak
- 2001 Reininger Winery
- 2002 Chandler's Reach - Parris Estate Reserve
- 2002 Maysara Winery - Estate Cuvee
- 2003 La Valle Vineyards
Any of the wines we recommend in Parts I -III would make a great gift for a friend or yourself. A membership in the Seattle Wine Society would be a great gift, too. Go to: http://www.seattlewinesociety.org
Mr. & Mrs. Blogg
More Holiday Gifts -Wine Judges Dinner II - Redux
What did we like at the Seattle Wine Society Dinner? We loved the reds and besides we didn't get to taste any whites which disappeared before we got there. Well, I did taste the 2004 Amavi Semillon and the 2003 L'Ecole Seven Hills Semillon. They were great - fresh and crisp with just the right amount of fruit. Saint Laurent was clearly the winner among new wineries in our opinion. Wow! Check it out. Syrah and Bordeaux-style blends were among our favorites. We also liked the Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Here are our favorite Syrahs and Bordeaux-style Blends from the Seattle Wine Society Competition.
Syrah - Hottest Washington State Red ( about $30-$40)
- 2003 Amavi Cellars
- 2001 Apex Cellars
- 2003 L'Ecole Seven Hills
- 2002 Reininger Winery
- 2003 Saint Laurent
Bordeaux Style Blends- Blend of two or more of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot ( about $40-$50)
- 2002 Cave B Estate - Cuvee du Soleil
- 2002 Chandler Reach - Monte Regalio
- 2002 Colvin Vineyards - Allegresse
- 2002 L'Ecole No.41 - Perigee
- 2002 Northstar Cellars - Stella Maris
- 2001 Saint Laurent - Sole' Riche' Blend
- 2002Three Rivers- Meritage Red Wine
- 2002 Whitman - Narcissa Red
To be continued.
More Holiday Gifts - Wine Judges Dinner I - Redux
It was not "My Dinner with Andre", nor was it "Babette's Feast", not even "Sideways", but it was interesting. Tasting the almost 200 wines that were submitted to the Seattle Wine Society's wine competition was a rare opportunity. Five judges spent the better part of two days tasting Northwest Wines from old standbys such as Hogue, Columbia Winery and Barnard Griffin and newbies such as Saint Laurent, Foolish Oak, and Alexandria Nicole. Approximately 60% of the wines won a medal. Go to: http://www.seattlewinesociety.org for a complete list.
Golds were given to 2003 Zerba Cellars Walla Walla Cabernet, 2002 Cuvee du Soleil from Cave B Estate Winery, Amavi Cellars 2004 Semillon, and 2002 Columbia Crest Syrah Reserve, among others. Some other day we'll talk about the difficulties with wine judging. For now, two facts about wine competitions - 1) a medal usually just means that the wine was not bad ("pas mal", as they say in French), and 2) tasting wine blind (not knowing what winery it's from) can be an eye-opener! Suffice it to say, that we didn't always agree with the judges, but, then that's what this event was all about - a chance to compare your palate with the "experts." [By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I am on the board of the Seattle Wine Society.] What did we like? See part II.
Friday, December 16, 2005
My Holiday Wine Gifts
This year I am giving 2003 Beaume de Venise Red from Durban, a full, fruity, spicy blend of red grapes from the Rhone Valley of France. Some other lucky people will receive 2003 Rulo "Silo" Syrah or 2003 Chateau Lascaux from the Languedoc region of France. Those with a sweet tooth will get, you guessed it if you read "The Perfect Port...", 2000 Taylor Late Bottled Vintage Port.
I just order cases from the winery or a local retailer and I'm all set. It's a little late to order wine from the winery, but good places to look are Costco, Trader Joe's, Pete's, Central Market, Larry's, or Metropolitan Market. Wine shops carry interesting wines, sometimes hand picked by the proprietor, that may be hard to find elsewhere.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
A Perfect Port For A Perfect Storm
In the old days, English gentlemen passed the port clockwise, or was it counterclockwise, to the accompaniment, perhaps, of fine Havana cigars, discussing such heavy topics as "shares" and railroad bonds. For most of us, Port is just as confusing as Finance. What's the difference between Ruby Port and Tawny Port? Isn't Tawny Port older the Vintage Port? Or is it visa versa? And what is Late Bottled Port anyway?
Port is a fascinating and confusing topic. It is a delicious beverage. Like, Champagne, and unlike Pinot Noir, the overall quality and consistency of Port is fairly high, so you can be fairly comfortable picking a bottle off the shelf, but some Port is definitely better than others. Some day, we will go into much greater detail and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Port and more.
For now, here is a quick and easy guide, so you can buy Port for holiday gifting now. Porto is made from grapes grown in the Douro region of northern Portugal. The "Porto" name can only be used for wine made in Portugal. "Port" can be used for almost any wine where the fermentation has been stopped by the addition of brandy thus leaving some residual sugar and, hence, sweetness in the wine. Thus, "Port" can be made anywhere, from any grape or combination of grapes such as Merlot or Zinfandel. "Porto" is made from grapes particular to the Douro such as Mourisco, Tinta, and Tourigas. We will concentrate on Portuguese Porto.
Much of the wine used to be shipped to England in casks where it was aged and bottled by English wine merchants. Other Port was made and bottled in Portugal by Portuguese merchants. Now, all Porto is made and bottled in Portugal, but the English merchants are still just as involved as they have been for the past several hundred years. The great English Port names are the most reliable: Taylor, Fonseca, Graham, Dow, Croft, and Warre's. Sandeman, also.
Ruby and Tawny Port are aged in wood and stop ageing once they are bottled. They are non-vintage and relatively light-bodied. Tawny is supposedly older and "tawnier" in color than Ruby but this is ill defined. Sandeman "Warrior's" Port is a good example.
Non-vintage Tawny Port that has been aged in wood for ten, twenty, thirty years or more can be an eye opener. The exquisitely subtle mahogany color combined with the flavor of toasted nuts and vanilla is indeed an experience of bliss, especially in front of a warming fire. Try Taylor. It should say "Ten Year", etc., on the label. These wines are expensive and hard to find, but worth it, if you have the bread. As I think about it, I think I would buy this as a gift for myself, if I could.
Finally, the last kind of Port that stops ageing once it is bottled is Late-Bottled Vintage Port or LBV. This one is aged in wood and the grapes all come from a single year, thus there is a date on the bottle, but it is not Vintage Port. You will see why in a minute. This wine, all from the same vintage, is aged in wood and bottled after a varying amount of time. It tastes like a cross between Ruby Port and Vintage Port. A good example, and the perfect holiday gift, is 2000 Taylor Late-Bottled Port which is available at Trader Joe's and other retailers for about $20. Other than Vintage Port, this may be the best Port I've had in quite a while. It is perfectly balanced, smooth, luscious, and satisfying. The quintessential Port, you might say. Just a reminder, all of these will not age in the bottle, so no point in keeping them! Drink up!
Vintage Port! This ages for years - twenty, thirty, forty years, if you have a cool place to store it undisturbed and you have the patience or will power not to drink it too early. In contrast to Late-Bottled Port, this stuff is always aged in wood for exactly two years, then bottled, and keeps on getting better in the bottle. But, please, if you should be so fortunate as to receive a bottle as a gift, don't save it standing up in that warm cabinet over the fridge. Lay it down in the coolest place you can find. This elixir is expensive ($50 -$150), but worth it. Buy it for your boss, or better yet, have your spouse buy you a bottle. Somewhat less expensive is Quinta port. A quinta is a ranch or vineyard, so this is a vintage port from a specific vineyard, usually the best vineyard owned by the port house. These are usually lighter than regular vintage port and somewhat less expensive. Quinta port will be named "Quinta do ---(vineyard name)." Vintage Port is mouthfilling, even after a sip, and you should sip. Vintage port is truly bottled pleasure. The best producers are: Taylor, Fonseca, Graham, Dow, Croft and Warre. Churchill and Quinta do Noval are excellent, too. The best years are: 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1992, 1994, 2000, and 2003.
Well, that was quick and easy wasn't it? The French have a saying, "Why make it simple, if you can make it complicated?" Oh, well! The bottom line? Buy 2000 Taylor Late-Bottled Vintage Port for everyone, including yourself! It's the perfect Port for a Perfect Storm!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Yes, Arizona has a wine industry. Wine has been produced in Southeast Arizona since the 1600s when Spanish missionaries planted the first vines. In the 1970s, commercial vinifera production started from experimental plantings by Dr. Gordon Dutt at the University of Arizona. Most of the wineries are concentrated around the small town of Elgin.
Callaghan produces some of the best wines in Arizona. The Callaghan Backlot was big and jammy with nearly overripe fruit producing a hint of raisin or prune flavors. The finish was slightly hot, but, on the whole, it was an excellent blend of Zin, Syrah and Mourvedre that went great with our Chicken Tamale Tart. Sonoita Vineyards, the first commercial vineyard in Arizona,is also known for its well regarded reds.
The Rum Runner, on Speedway Avenue, had as good a selection of wine as any wine shop in Seattle - a very strong California section and a surprisingly strong selection of Bordeaux and Burgundy. We spied some L'Ecole Merlot and some Andrew Rich from the Northwest. The little bistro and wine bar next door is rated "28" by Zagat. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a table.
We did, however, get a table at Acacia where the Magret of Duck Breast was tender and cooked to perfection, better than most presentations in France. The 2002 Trefethan "Double T" Meritage was absolutely a perfect pairing with the duck. Black fruit followed by a hint of creosote and tannin gave it a structure somewhat reminiscent of a big Bordeaux.
The Ostrich at Fuego was served rare and went well with the flight of California Pinot Noir. The 2003 Echelon Pinot Noir was more than adequate, but a bit on the light side.The 2003 Edna Valley had a little more substance, but the Acacia from Carneros and the Chalone from the Santa Cruz were the pleasure of the evening with balanced full fruit flavors and good body. Definitely HWP.
The restaurant at our Tucson hotel, The Lodge on the Desert, served duck from Washington which was delicious, but, I'm afraid, a bit tough! The Eola Hills Pinot Noir went well with the excellent Jerked Boneless Pork Chops and the Rosemary Veal Chop.
Since we were driving, we didn't have wine with our lunch at the hip Ibizia Cafe and wine bar, just south of downtown Scottsdale, but the food was outstanding. We both started with an exquisite Gazpacho which had the texture of a coulis of tomato, but the flavor of a very refined Gazpacho. Chopped tomato, onion, and cucumber were served on the side with small croutons. Diane had the Kizbah Salad of baby spinach, lemon oregano dressing, feta, oranges, artichokes, red onion, and olives. Each ingredient was fresh and distinct, yet melded together into a flavorful mouthful. I had Empanadas Tarazona, flaky puff pastry empanadas with sweet and spicy barbacoa beef. The chef really new what he was doing. Tucson and Phoenix may be in the desert, but they certainly are no desert when it comes to food and wine.