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I love Oregon wines…and Oregon in general actually. Beautiful, green and lots of open spaces. Plus they make a KILLER pinot noir. Its been a few years since I’ve been back there but given my most recent experience with their produce, I desperately need to make it back.
I went to visit Scott Paul’s tasting room (literally just a room (albeit a pretty one) with very little on the walls and just wine – no cheesy trinkets) around 2006. They are a small boutique winery in Oregon’s Williamette Valley and are located in a little town which, when I visited, had very little going on except for 5 – 6 tasting rooms. I tasted a few of his Pinots (which was all he had on offer) and was impressed. The wines were quite expensive so I was a bit tentative to buy anything. While I was pondering they pulled a bottle from the back that was their top of the line. They had just 1 bottle left and it was only a few dollars more. I think wineries do this on purpose – its a marketing trick – and it always works. I bought the bottle, feeling like I’d won a prize, and happily sauntered on to my next tasting. Fast forward 5 years and I realise that I really did win a prize – this was an incredibly good bottle of wine. I opened the bottle over Christmas with my soon-to-be-mother-in-law. Yumm-O. Smooth, rich and deep. Everything a lightly aged high end Pinot Noir should be. I just wish now that I had been able to buy more of it…

Scott Paul 2005 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon
“Audrey”
A few notes from their website: Inspired by the cinematic icon of classic beauty and elegance, Audrey is a barrel selection of the finest, most elegant, silkiest wine of the vintage in our cellars. The 2005 bottling is sourced from our blocks of the Maresh Vineyard in Dundee Hills, originally planted in 1970.

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My dad turned 70 this year. He’s still incredible – lots of energy, if only a bit slower moving. As I live in London and my parents are in my hometown of Seattle, I wasn’t able to do anything for his birthday (other than send him a lame card…which even still I never ended up doing. I had it labeled and ready but I really am that big of an oaf that it never made its way to the postal box). In exchange for my complete failure as a daughter, I decided to put on a wine-tasting for him while I was home over the Christmas break. My soon-to-be-in-laws were in town as well so we had a party of 6, making for the perfect social evening! Also my dad loves wine…maybe not as much as I do but he was my initial inspiration for learning more about wine. He knows his Washington reds very well and takes pride in the quality of wine the WA vineyards are creating. I hoped to showcase this for him but also show him a few other examples.
To set the stage, I picked out my dad’s favorite wines – Cabernet (from WA), Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and to a lesser extent Malbec. I didn’t know the winemakers very well so left it up to chance. Some were huge successes – others were complete failures.
I opened the tasting with the WSET approved method for tasting wine (showing off my wine knowledge just a bit…). Look, Smell, Taste and Rate. I talked them through what to look for and told them some basics around the different varietals that we would be tasting.
Overall it was a huge success – though I had to temper my soon-to-be-father-in-law who insists on slugging every tasting measure and can’t help but poke fun at anything and everything…but that is actually a huge part of what made this such a great celebration for my dad. He loves people and loves laughter – mix that with a whole lot of yummy wine and he’s in heaven.
Below are the wines that we tried, listed by our opinion of them (made easy – Love, Like, Nope). Prices range from $8USD – $20USD per bottle at the supermarket.
Love:
Parkers Estate Old Vine Street 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Like:
Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Crest 2009
Renwood Syrah 2008
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009
Nope:
Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009
Espuela del Gaucho Malbec, Limited Edition Reserve 2010

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Today our little party train jet off to Leavenworth, WA for a few days of respite…and wine tasting!!!
Leavenworth has an incredible little strip of kitschy shops and restaurants (following the Bavarian theme that the town is famous for) as well as some great local wineries – all neatly stacked together on the 1/2 mile strip just off the highway. We like going there for the Christmas set-up (gorgeous) and the relaxation that only a few nights in the mountains can give you.

The wines themselves have never been much to write home about – though I have found a few standouts. 2003 Cabernet Franc from Icicle Ridge Winery. I could only afford one bottle at the time and it is still in my little make-shift cellar ( i.e. a box in my parents’ basement that maintains a perfect 50 degrees F year round – amazing!!) but the resounding flavor when I tasted it was LEATHER – like a big old leather strap. One day I will bring myself to open it and tell you all about it. For now, I will have to see if there are any other beauties up in the mountains that I can bring home.

Enjoy the last week of relaxation before the new year!

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So with my first proper wine course finished, I am proud to say that I am at last successfully navigating the world of French wine! Focusing mainly on red wine (because its just too good to deviate from) I have been trying Bordeaux, Burgundy and everything in between. I learn more each time I buy a wine and quiz myself to see if I can figure out what varietal the wine is (including right bank / left bank in Bordeaux!). I am convinced the reason people need to “study” wine is only to understand French wine!!
With all this “studying” I have decided that I absolutely love Cotes du Rhone – i.e. Syrah and Granache! I cannot get enough of the stuff – its smooth, more-ish and just heavy enough to show you its beauty. I must confess that I don’t have any favorite vineyards/producers at this stage – but really anything the £6- £10 range has my vote!!
Let us know if you have a favorite…

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What will be on my table this year:
– Majestic wines is having a sale on Lindauer Sparkling so I’ll be picking up a few bottles of their rose sparkling to start the evening off. It will have a bit of berry fruit and lots of big bubbles to make a delightful, festive start to the meal. We’ll be serving up salmon / cream cheese and onion dip w/ crinkle chips. YUMMO!

– I have also picked out a great New Zealand Pinot Noir to go with my meal (also on sale through Majestic. Don’t judge, its a bad economy!) – Wither Hills Pinot Noir, 2009. Its big, spicy and perfect for my roasted meat, sausage/sage stuffing and creamy potatoes.

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Checking back in…

Its been forever since I wrote…and I am trying to make a pre-new year, new year resolution to start writing again. I seem to always be “trying to get started again”.  Wish me luck!

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Using my new favorite wine delivery service to prepare for my in-laws coming into town this weekend, I bought a case of wine a week ago. My goal? Keep the cost per bottle to £5 on average (keeping a look out for deals). I also wanted to buy a mix of red wine and sparkling (red = easy to find cheap bottles, sparkling = difficult).
One of the bottles that was already reasonably priced at £6.99, but which was on sale for £4.99 if you bought two, was the Neblina Carmenere (which I previously blogged about as being a new favorite). Naturally, I had to sample my purchases prior to the in-laws visit!!! Unfortunately, I ended up enjoying this bottle of wine SO MUCH that out of the three that I bought, only 1/2 a bottle is left to share with them…
Me thinks I’ll be ordering this one again – a good staple wine for your table. Works any day of the week though its a big, plummy, juicy wine with a dry finish and semi-strong tanins. The bottle recommends pasta and fresh cheeses – I drank it this evening with a toasted cheese sandwich and a bowl of potato and leek soup (from a can…).

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