Arts and Crafts Were Never This Fun

Sparkle and Fade

A Cabernet Experience

Exploring Terroir with Forgeron Cellars

Oregon's French Connection

Maison Louis Jadot's Résonance

The French Connection

Rhone to Columbia Valley: The Syrah Doctrine

C'mon Get Happy

New Growth at Matthews Winery

Who We Are

The staff of the Northwest Wine Anthem, we're good

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Find September 28th

Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.

Sequel doesn't mean equal.

It's hard to capture lightning in a bottle more than once, and on far too many occasions than we'd like to admit, that follow up, sophomore album or sequel just doesn't reach the heights of that first dance. Whether it's films like every film Kevin Smith made after Clerks, Major League 2 or pretty much everything that isn't God Father II and Empire Strikes Back hitting that high note twice is a challenge.

Once you've been proclaimed a genius it's hard to live up to that standard.  What you have going for you the first time is a lack of expectation. Ask Dave Chappelle, it's more or less what drove him to run away and disappear for a few years.  Once you've set the bar so high your good work can be dismissed simply because it didn't blow people's minds like that first go round.

You might find parallels in this week's Friday Find. The second vintage, though the name has been changed (I understand some copyright issues are to blame) from J Bookwalter Wines.  What was the Bookmark NV1, perhaps the value wine of the millennium last year is now the Notebook NV2.  In last year's iteration, the first release of the wine, we were treated to velvety darkness, wood spice and layer upon layer of dark fruit. Frankly, for less than $10 it was better than we deserved, much better.  It was a highlight on the Anthem for the entire year, and many of my friends thought I was a genius when I recommended this wine to them.

The Notebook is a helluva wine for less than $10 too, it's just not the Bookmark.  If you've never had the Bookmark you will be more than pleased. Subdued aromatics of earth and ripe blackberry and a palate with tart cherries and green herbs lead you into a spicy finish.  There's a touch of alcohol on the wine so open it up and let it breath a bit.  On day two (though I recognize you may not hold onto a $9 wine that long) flavors of anise and pepper become more prominent.

This is a really good wine and at $9 you're getting quality fruit from a number of vintages, it's non-vintage thus the NV. Enjoy it, buy a few, just don't compare it to it's older brother.  (The wine is available widely throughout Washington State.)

I bought this wine to participate in a virtual tasting hosted by Sean Sullivan of the Washington Wine Report. The event, held monthly via Twitter is a fantastic way for folks new to wine to commune with fellow wine drinkers and test out their palate as well as often ask questions, either of Sean or the winemakers.  Check out the next one in October.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SE Wine Collective Opens in Portland!

On Wednesday, Southeast Portland welcomed the new SE Wine Collective winery and tasting room to the heart of the neighborhood just off of SE Division and 35th Place!

The SE Wine Collective space is the new home to four of Portland’s urban winemakers: Division Winemaking Company, Bow & Arrow Wines, Helioterra Wines and Vincent Wine Company. These winemakers will produce their wines in the shared space and will offer pours in the tasting room in addition to other pours from local guest wineries and small plates to pair. Come to taste, eat and, during harvest season, observe the resident winemakers throughout the sorting, pressing and overall wine-making process. This gorgeous new venue is also available for special events and gatherings of all kinds.

SE Wine Collective
2425 SE 35th Place

Wednesday to Friday 3pm-10pm
Saturday 11am-10pm
Sunday 11am-7pm


This Saturday, September 29th, join winemakers Anne and Vincent of Helioterra and Vincent Wine Company for their 2011 Pinot Noir Release Party! Check out the new digs and the fresh Pinot from 1 – 5pm at the Collective.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Washington Wine Icon: Dick Boushey

There's only one Dick Boushey.

If there is a man whose name is on more bottles of Washington wine, and whose fruit is in even more of them... well, let's face it, there's not.  Dick Boushey is a lot of things to the Washington wine industry: he's a pioneer, an innovator and a benchmark for what quality wine growing in this state can be, he's a regional treasure.  But to boil it all down, Dick is first and foremost a farmer.

In 1975, Dick and his wife Luanne moved to a site a few miles north of the town of Grandview, Washington, where their home is to this day.  Reflecting back on it, Dick's not sure why they came there exactly, as at the time, it was only sagebrush and cheat grass. What has happened in those 36 years has been a revolution in Washington state agriculture and for wine drinkers.

Starting with cheat grass and sage and wending its way through apples and concord grapes before arriving at world class Syrah, the story behind Boushey Vineyards (there are five different vineyard sites) is a story of patience and collaboration. Dick's foray into wine growing is a block of Cabernet that is planted a stone's through from his home.  At an elevation of 1200 feet and nearly a constant slight breeze, Dick planted what is now "old vine" Cabernet in 1980.  A cooler site for Cabernet, particularly by Washington standards, "No one would plant Cab in a site this cool today" but Dick has no trouble what-so-ever selling the fruit from these vines.   The fruit from this site is higher in acidity and does not carry the big tannic structure or the ripe fruit character of say a Red Mountain Cabernet. Always picked later than the vineyards he's managing on Red Mountain this Cabernet block was harvested in mid November last year. At this site Dick poured for us two very different iterations of Boushey Cabernet; the Fall Line Red Blend Boushey Vineyard and the 2009 Fidelitas Boushey Vineyard Red. The two wines were in stark contrast and a perfect illustration of the stylistic range of wines that can be achieved with fruit from this block.

In 1993 Dick planted what has become his signature varietal, Syrah, with the help of Doug McCrea.  It has become an incredibly important grape in terms of what Washington wine can produce and while it's not necessarily synonymous with Dick's name, it's not far off.  The old, four acre block is a warm site, and is trellised in a bi-lateral cordon called a Scott Henry named for a wine grower from Oregon's Umpqua Valley.  This site and another further towards the Boushey home produce some of the most sought after Syrah in the state. Winemakers like Bob Betz, Ron Bunnel and Efeste's Brennon Leighton have long looked to Boushey Syrah to make some of their most acclaimed wines, and new Washington winery Avennia made it a priority to make a single vineyard designate from Boushey Vineyards.

As a new generation of Washington winemakers assumes the mantle, the growers remain old school veterans. "The wineries, winemakers are starting to become a little more competitive, a little less cooperative, but the growers still work together."  Dick said.  "We all share what we learn and we all know each other's business."  This includes which winemakers are getting what fruit, what they're paying for it, and how the weather, pests or cropping is impacting the vineyards.

As younger winemakers and growers inherit Washington's wine legacy, they'll rely on the Dick Bousheys and the founders of the industry and their decisions and directions to move the industry to its next level. For Dick he had to learn a lot of those lessons on his own.  "I read everything I could get my hands on, and hung out with Stan Clarke and Wade Wolfe."  In Dick's words, he and they learned everything the hard way.  "I made a lot of mistakes, and I've been learning and over the years I've been correcting those mistakes."

By anyone's standards Dick has gotten more of it right than he has wrong.  As an industry stalwart he will continue to push the boundaries in terms of growing, whether it's varietal selection, site selection or vineyard aspect. While he has plenty to teach in terms of know how, Dick's humility and approachability should be a lesson to those looking to make it in Washington wine. Success is one thing, success the right way is another and it's the way Dick Boushey has done and continues to do things.

*I was invited to attend a tour of Boushey Vineyards by the Wine Yakima Valley. The tour was a part of four different vineyard tours that occured each Saturday in July.  The Association promotes lots of events including the up-coming Catch the Crush event this Autumn.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Find, September 21

Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.

Call it laziness, (I prefer opportunistic) but the increasing number of urban winemakers, wineries, and tasting rooms is really working for my life right now, which is generally played out within the city limits. Don’t get me wrong, it is a total treat to make a daytrip out of visiting good ‘ole wine country, you know, fresh air and livestock and all that, but the PDX urban wine scene is something completely different and an altogether impressive, growing collection of great wines and good people.

The urban wine scene in Portland is a departure from the usual wine-tasting experience and has a connectedness made difficult outside of the city by the acreage and tradition in classic wine country. The community urban winemakers are working toward is truly coming together in Portland with networks such as PDX Urban Wineries and with more physical spots like the imminent SE Wine Collective, where several urban wineries will soon pour their wines in the shared space.  The urban wineries offer laidback, comfortable, and casual environments; they are your new neighborhood hangout, come as you are.

Enso Winery is owned and operated by Ryan Sharp and centrally located in NE Portland, just across from downtown via the Morrison Bridge. The name “Enso” is derived from the Japanese word for “circle” – the kind of circle made with a brush stroke, the kind of circle that is never the same, subtly altered each time around. This concept is deeply rooted in Ryan’s general winemaking philosophy, where he seeks to produce wines with slight, unique differences year-to-year.

Our Friday Find this week is for those of you clinging to the final days of summer - Enso’s Resonate White #4. I didn’t even have to take my first sip to know I was in total love with this one, no turning back. I want my house, my car and overall life to smell like Resonate #4, and it is a wine I will be sure to have on hand for parties or otherwise ordinary weeknight dinners. It is a completely approachable wine, regular wine-drinker or not, with a hint of sweet and a bright, crisp finish. At just $15 a bottle it is quite the steal, and for those of us in Portlandia, quite simply acquired. Resonate #4 and other Enso wines can be purchased from Enso’s Winery & Tasting Lounge on SE Stark between 14th & 15th Avenue. For those of you outside the Portland-area, you can purchase your Resonate White #4 online here.  

Note: Stock up Tuesday – Sunday! Enso is closed for business on Mondays.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Efeste Unleashes Wines for Winter

From guest blogger Lara Bain:

We’re experiencing one of those rare Seattle Septembers that feels like an Indian Summer. Leaves are holding onto their green hues and refusing to change until our Northwest skin can soak up a few last rays of sunshine. Fall hasn’t quite fallen yet, but EFESTE has enchanted us with their upcoming releases so much that we’re already looking forward to winter.

Last Wednesday, September 12, we were invited to attend EFESTE Unleashed – an intimate preview of upcoming releases Adrienne Chardonnay, Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc, and Nana Right Bank Bordeaux Blend. “Big Papa” might be front and center at the winery, but the women behind EFESTE command attention. Mother Helen Ferrelli and daughter Angela Taylor (co-owners along with their husbands) hosted our group and shared family history over bites and bottles. Favorite tale: When the family emigrated from Italy to Chicago, dinners were so large everyone was encouraged to bring their own silverware. The mother- daughter duo charmed us with their stories and conversation -- It’s no wonder that many of the EFESTE wines are named after EFESTE women.

Adrienne, in particular, is the lovely new Chardonnay companion to EFESTE’s reputable Lola. Named after two granddaughters with two different personalities, these whites exhibit their own unique characteristics. Adrienne’s richer flavor and lovely sweetness charmed us. Oak was more present than Lola when tasted side-by-side, but did not overwhelm. Lola and traditional Chardonnay lovers alike will revel in 2011 Adrienne, releasing in November 2012. The “Nana” Bordeaux blend complements EFESTE’s ”Big Papa” cabernet (named after her husband & owner Daniel Ferrelli). This complex and just-bottled blend features fruit from EFESTE’s estate vineyard. We look forward to the spring 2013 release of Nana in addition to Upright Merlot hitting the market (and hopefully wowing a certain Rex Pickett).

Our cool spring and warm August challenged EFESTE winemakers, where a transition is taking place with Brennon making a move to consultant) to continually taste the grapes for ripeness. According to them, this is a year based on flavors, not brix. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at Brennon Leighton, Peter Devison (Winemaker), and Ben Ferris (Asst. Winemaker) pressing Boushey Sauvignon Blanc grapes. As we tasted the 2011 Sauvage Sauv Blanc from Boushey (releasing Fall 2012). Wine waterfalls and sweet grape juice nectar make easing into fall more pleasurable. Throw in some home-cooked Italian food and we might hibernate in EFESTE’s beautiful Woodinville space for the winter. No doubt Nana and Papa would treat us like kings. Silverware included.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Find, September 14th

Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.

The Burger movement has me in it's grasp.  I should explain.

The foodie movement has taken back the burger. (I should state from the outset that I don't care for the term foodie.) Would you call someone into stamp collecting a stampie? Or a car nut a car-y? I don't think you would, why foodie is acceptable is beyond me. But these foodies, as poorly named as they may be have done good work.  They've made the average and the benign tasty again. Food trucks for example, long a staple of construction sites are now peddling the tastiest food options in town in many cases. And these oddly monikered foodies are to be thanked for a lot of these gastronomic gains.

In Seattle alone burgers abound, with some of the best one's I've had coming from Spring Hill, Bastille and the Virginia Inn. Even your standard burger joints like Red Mill are putting out the goodness.  And whomever invented the burger/bleu cheese combination should be canonized.

Since we've taken back burgers, it's time to take back "burger wines." Once thought of as a dismissive label the fact is this new high octane burgers need worthy burger wines. Today's Friday Find is a winner, winner, burger for dinner. The 2010 Primitivo from Angelvine Wine an Oregon winery producing Washington wines, delivers deep savory flavors and a robustness to stand up to a little char on that burger as well as that beautiful bleu cheese burger combination. This close cousin of Zinfandel is a ripe and robust one black plum, pepper, smoke and savory herbs with a long finish. The alcohol percentage is high, which is a common element of this varietal and a bit of heat on the wine will disappear if you let it sit for a few.  At the $20 mark this wine delivers a rarer bird from Washington and the Northwest but one you should surely enjoy...with a burger.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bright-eyed & Bushy-tailed: Young Winemakers of Oregon Tour Comes to PDX!

The Young Winemakers of Oregon are returning to PDX this Saturday, September 15th to showcase their winemaking talents. For just $10, taste up to 8 wines being produced by the freshies of A.F. Nichols Wines, Alchemy Wine Productions, Division Winemaking Company, and God King Slave Wines.

Come hang with the cool kids and experience these new labels from the very start – enjoy classic Pinot Noir, an inventive Syrah-Tempranillo blend, Grenache, and more. These up-and-coming winemakers will be pouring from 5 – 8PM at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Portland’s trendy Sellwood neighborhood this Saturday – come on by and experience the future of Oregon wine!

The future is now, or Saturday at least.

Corkscrew Wine Bar
1665 SE Bybee Blvd.
Portland, OR

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Find, September 7th

Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.

It hasn't rained for 47 days.  That's a long time.  The record for days without rain in Western Washington is 51, we're getting close.  What this has meant is a few things, the grass is dead, but then the grass is always dead in the summer. While the rest of the country has been gripped in a significant drought the Northwest has largely been spared and the very wet Spring has provided a substantial snow pack in the Cascades that has allowed irrigation and farming to continue successfully.  That however has not been the reality for the rest of the country with American farms getting hammered by drought and stories from the Midwest of fields of dead crops left out to wither.

Further that devastating drought in other parts of the country has led to a higher demand and higher prices for farmers here in the Northwest.  While it's never cool to celebrate the misfortune of others, it has been a bit of a banner year for farmers here in the Northwest.

This week's Friday Find is a nod to our farmers and the good year that they're having, it's the Smasne Cellars, 2010 Farm Girl White. This white Rhone style blend is mostly Roussane with substantial Viognier and a touch of Marsanne.  The current release is likely the 2011 but this wine is still bringing crisp and refreshing flavors and aromas to the game in the 10 vintage.  The stainless steel approach to the Rhone varietals retains great acidity and crisp citrus fruits. The Farm Girl exhibits aromatics of lemon zest and green apple and continues on with citrus and mineral flavors. It's a smaller production wine from Washington wine maker Robert Smasne at under 700 cases.  For $15 it's a great way to celebrate this extension of summer we seem to have been given. Thank you mother nature.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Thank Goodness for Fridays in Eugene; South Willamette Valley

From Kelsey Ivey:

No need to whine on Friday night after work because the wine options are pouring around Eugene in the South Willamette Valley. As the evening settles in around the region, six wineries roll out the night stars and Pinot Noir to savor the real beginning of the weekend.

Sparkling Nights at Domaine Meriwether

Illuminating the sky every Friday evening, Domaine Meriwether welcomes visitors for live music, delicious aged wine and a potluck meal. You’ll come as friends but leave as family – and not because you had too much to drink. The warm, open space makes mingling easy and the winery’s specialty sparkling wines bring the party out as the sun sets.

Friday Night Flights at LaVelle Vineyards

Bringing the rustic country charm to the high-end wine scene, LaVelle Vineyards keeps it classy on Friday nights. Sit out on the valley view deck and take in 360-degree views of the vineyards. Taste the honey of the vines, smell the soil and enjoy the crisp evening as darkness takes over the grounds. Really escape the busyness of the week with a quiet walk through their garden labyrinth to round out the night.

Twilight Tastings at Sweet Cheeks

With TGIF on your lips, pucker up for a late night at Sweet Cheeks Winery. As night rolls into their sunken vineyard valley and fog creeps in between the hills, enjoy their round, red cherry Pinot fusion or fun Rosy Cheeks with Oregon-made Artisan cheeses on their large, scenic patio.

Friday Night LIVE at Saginaw Winery

In a big red barn, turn up the tunes to bluegrass and throw back wines with a sweeter style on those Fridays when you really need to get out of the city - mind, body and palate. Hang out under their large, shady tree to sip their blueberry wine or curl up with someone special inside and savor their rich Marechal Foch.

Live Music at Territorial Vineyards

Catering to the townies, car-less, and night wine wanderers, Territorial Vineyards and Company pours for patrons looking for a groovy glass. Located in the Whiteaker Neighborhood, this urban winery stands apart from its wine country counterparts like the dread-locked, side-walk hippie to the sneaker clad hipsters, who both roam this whimsical block. With melodies flowing freely, unwind with their crisp Pinot Gris or luxurious Stone’s Throw Pinot Noir.

Sarver Winery’s Friday Night Fetes

On Friday nights, Sarver Winery not only wants to quench your thirst for the weekend but also feed your desire for delicious food. Serving up gourmet pizza, Sarver makes sure that you get your fill before the night ends. Pair their pizza with live music and a glass of their creamy, barrel-aged Pinot Gris or terroir-driven Estate Pinot noir for an all around food-wine coma take-over.