Wit Cellars

When visiting WA wine country, I was pointed to a new winery by an established one. This new venture is Wit Cellars, which is just about a year old. They are not a huge winery, producing about 3,500 cases of wine a year and are located in the Prosser Wine Community of Yakima Valley. Their name comes from ‘We’re in It Together.’

The tasting room is in a sort of hidden place. Not in the middle of beautiful vineyards, but more of a ‘strip mall’ of tasting rooms.

Yakima

(photo source: wineyakimavalley.org)

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When we arrived (early in the day — strong wine drinkers!), there was only one other group in the tasting room. So one of the employees came over to help. With a tasting you get to sample eight wines, oh yes, half a dozen plus two (though one was out of stock). He was a bit concerned because he had been called in that morning to work, and was the husband of one of the owners and didn’t know all the info to a tee on the wine. Fast forward…he was quite good.

So as previously mentioned, the guy pouring us our wine ‘didn’t know a ton about them,’ so he was looking through some notes to tell us what they were supposed to taste like, etc. We ended up having a great conversation about each one and talking about them sometimes before and after he told us what the notes said. One of the best tastings you could have as the three of us were bouncing comments off each other as he had to enjoy some of the wine, too. What was great is that he gave us his history — former college football player, then in the Marine Corps, now in some IT/security/networking (he lost me after that) gig and part time in the wine industry because his wife is an owner.

So, what we enjoyed (info is directly from website, my notes in bold italic)

2015 Rose
The beautiful coral color will put you in a festive mood. On the nose you will be greeted with notes of strawberry, rhubarb and pink grapefruit. The lively acidity plays on the palate, while hints of spice and dried herbs round out this lively and refreshing summer sipper.
Price: $14.00

Light and crisp.

 

2015 Pinot Gris
Light bodied fresh and lively summer sipper possess hints of mandarin orange, honeydew melon, bosc pear, and green apple. Ancient Lakes is a cool site which lends itself to aromatic whites. You can literally taste the tortuous past of these prehistoric soils. A gravely minerality mixes with citrus notes and dazzling acidity, to create a unique gem true to its sense of place.
Price $18.00

Minerality!  LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Left with a bottle.

2015 Chardonnay
The feast of reason and the flow of soul brought us to the Ancient Lakes Appellation to source aromatic whites of exceptional quality. The vines struggle in high elevation silt loam vineyards on fractured caliche and basalt. This extraordinary example of Chardonnay possesses hints of green apple and pear. The saline minerality and focused fruit void of white noise; set this wine apart from any other. This wine is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of Wit.
Price $22.00

Unoaked, cheddar on the nose. Neutral oak barrels. I would give it ‘crisp oak’, Very unique.

2014 Riesling
Again the Ancient Lakes Appellation shines with Riesling. We were able to create a Riesling of exceptional quality. Bright acidity mixes with clove, peach, apricot, spice, honey-suckle and clover blossoms. Of course, the underlining feature of this wine is the gravely minerality brought by the tortured prehistoric soils of this majestic appellation. This racy gem is not for the faint of heart, but for the quick of wit.
Price $18.00

Not syrupy like a Riesling could be, but it was still a Riesling.

2013 Red Blend
The colors of this wine are the deepest shades of inky purple and red.

The enchanted flavors of raspberry liquor, vibrant pepper, baking spice, blackberry, graphite and gravel will tantalize your taste buds. This is an extraordinary elegant wine with silky smooth texture and lingering finish. I found that this wine leaves me fully satisfied, but longing for one more taste.
Price $45.00

Nice nose. Melt in your mouth. Just so much good stuff happening. Left with a bottle.

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2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
We were drawn to Elephant Mountain Cabernet because it showcases the vibrancy of the site. Only at the extreme margins of this black beast can you detect a deep garnet color. An abundance of black currant, wild cherry, raspberry and cedar greet your nose and caress your pallet. The lingering finish will provide hints of anise, vanilla, toasted hazelnuts and roasted coffee which are balanced by gravelly earthy notes. This is a particularly well balanced and beautiful wine. Your first sip will leave you wanting more.
Price $50.00

Jammy, but not overkill, and not too chewy.

2013 L’armonia Red Blend
This is a big wine with an abundance of dark beautiful fruits that blend harmoniously with it’s ample body and structure.
The integrated tannins dance across your palate while flavors of huckleberry cobbler, vanilla and brown sugar tempt your taste buds. By combining classical Bordeaux varietals we believe that each individual piece of this red blend has come together to sing.
Blend: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 14% Malbec, 3% Merlot
Price $60.00

I got tastes of coffee, kahlua and fruit. Unique.

 

As you can see, I left with two bottles. One was enjoyed that night when we returned to a friend’s house in Seattle, and the other the following night at the same house. Of course these guys/this winery can’t be kind and sell in stores on the east coast, let alone in stores in their area. It’s all direct from them. They do have have three wine clubs, though. The requirements aren’t super demanding, on them either. So I might have to join down the road. Overall, spent well over an hour there. I can easily see these guys getting into some of the big wine magazines in the coming years as an up and coming winery. Cheers!

 

We Love to … and it Shows

Well, I love to travel, and it shows. You can see my loads of pictures, hear my stories, look at my passport when it’s international (though it’s not stamped as much as many of my friends). And, sometimes see my wine rack (and the blog).

A lot of travel requires flying. Things happen. I don’t really have anything to say about what has happened in the flight world the past several weeks. When I have traveled recently a friend gave me drink coupons to receive free vino on my flights with the airline associated with the recent media…score! On my flight outbound, I had mentioned something to the flight attendant about wine and she said ‘I don’t want your drink ticket. Why should I take it, we both love wine?’ Don’t have to say that to me twice. She also gave the guy across the aisle a free beer because he had helped with something. Cool.

On my way back I asked what the premium wines were. The flight attendant said Malbec. And the premiums are twice as much as the ‘normal,’ so didn’t know if I would need to provide two tickets. He just handed me this split of wine, a nice plastic cup and pushed that cart on its merry way. And, note, the price might be twice as much but you also get twice the volume (a split vs a one-glass size).

I might be the lucky one, I don’t know if an airline is working hard to repair something. I have a friend who works for this company and don’t know how that person is doing. But, right then and there, I was loving enjoying my Malbec and it showed (don’t take that in some crazy inappropriate way) thanks to the service. Cheers!

Side note, as a bonus, the person I met for a getaway weekend was flying home to a different destination. We saw that at a gate next to mine there was a flight leaving to her destination two hours earlier than the flight she was slated to be on. I told her to go ask if she could get on that flight. Success with zero change fee! Simple things.

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Brassicas Bowls

When I make birthday dinners for friends I always aim for new recipes. I was flipping through a Bon Appetit and there was a recipe at the very beginning that was from a chef or that somebody had submitted. It just sounded great and was definitely up my friend’s alley based on ingredients — you can’t go wrong with stuff like hummus, kale, Brussels sprouts, avocado (a lot of green here) and more… It was Brassicas Bowl.

Ingredients
4 Servings

4 large eggs (I didn’t use these as I opted to serve the dish with pan seared tuna)
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
½ bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds, divided (great to grab them from salad bars if you don’t want a whole bunch)
½ cup hummus
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

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Preparation

Cook eggs in a large saucepan of boiling water for 7 minutes (whites will be set and yolks still slightly soft). Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool. Drain; peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500°. Toss broccolini with 1 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, mustard, and remaining 4 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl (large bowl is key because of all the other ingredients you’re going to add — I had to change the bowl several times because of the volume of greens!) until emulsified; season with salt. Add kale and Brussels sprouts and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Massage kale until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add roasted broccolini and 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds; toss again.

Swipe some hummus along the inside of each bowl with a spoon. Divide salad among bowls and add an avocado wedge and 2 reserved egg halves to each. Top with chives, sesame seeds, and remaining sunflower seeds; sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

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This salad was delicious. So many flavors and very hearty. The tuna on top was great, so much more flavor than an egg! Will definitely be making this again. And it was enjoyed with a bubbly red (one of my favorite types of wines, and hard to find sometimes). It was the I Quercioli Dolce Reggiano Lambrusco DOC.  Some nice bubbles, not overly sweet and some nice fruit notes.

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Sour Grapes

I was recently told about a wine documentary released last year, Sour Grapes.

            image source: sourgrapesfilm.com

 

What’s it about? Straight from the site (love to copy & paste):

With pockets full of cash, charisma and a preternatural memory for vintages, an unassuming young Rudy Kurniawan earns the reputation of a wine savant, surrounding himself with some of high society’s most fervent wine connoisseurs. But when Bill Koch, a top US collector,and, Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundian wine producer, discover suspicious bottles, a humorous and suspenseful investigation begins into one of the most ingenious cons of our time.

I will say, I buy affordable wine. I know each person has their own definition of this. The most expensive bottle I’ve purchased is $75, my normal price $10-$20. This movie was fascinating about the prices people spend on wine, what Rudy was blowing away on vino and the investigation into his family. When they were talking to Koch and Ponsot it was amazing. Then some of the jobs the people have investigating labels. Dang!

Totally worth checking this flick out. If you don’t have NetFlix, go to a friend’s place who does and take a bottle of wine to enjoy while watching.

NY Wine

We have wineries across across the country and New York is ranked #3 in the country size-wise in grape production per Wikipedia (where is Oregon?? — CA and WA are 1 & 2).  Commercial production started in the state the 19th century. Also, some fun tidbits from Wikipedia — New York is home to the first bonded winery in the US, Pleasant Valley Wine Company. It is also home to America’s oldest continuously operating winery, Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson Valley, which has been making wine for almost 175 years.

I visit the Finger Lakes area annually and last year, after not having gone for a decade (at least), stopped by the New York Wine & Culinary Institute in Canandaigua. In addition to the cooking school and restaurant, they have a tasting room.

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There were 3 of us there so we opted to each get different flights so we could get a good feel for the current stance of NY wines. Out of the 15 wines we tasted, I would say maybe 4-5 were decent/good. And the downside is they aren’t wallet-friendly ones for what they offer — $20+. New York wines are still generally very sweet, both reds and whites. Two of us were more red people and one was an oaky chard lover so there was a bit of a difference in tastes, but overall, same thought on NY wines.

We did, however, try some of the their of sparkling wines, and left with 2 bottles. That was quite good and was enjoyed later in the evening.

Overall for the day, very fun location to visit and worth the time.

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Barrel Oak Winery

After a weekend of hiking at Dolly Sods, ziplining at Nelson Rocks and hiking at Seneca Rocks, one must reward oneself!

 

So on the way home from WV, there are several wineries off of 66. We decided to stop at Barrel Oak (BOW) to kick back and relax. The tasting room is quite large, with several outdoor areas with fireplaces, some lofts, couches, tables and the counters.

There were 3 of us so we figured we’d get a bottle. We weren’t sure what we wanted to enjoy, though. The great person at the counter said — well, you can buy a tasting flight, or, you can get 3 tastes for free since you’re going to buy a bottle. And, since there were 3 of us, we figured that would work just fine to cover any considerations we had from the menu. Oh, when you taste they also have both oyster crackers AND dark chocolate!!!

So, after going through the menu, we decided on the, amazingly, Merlot. I say amazingly on my end. Not something I usually get. It had a nice body with some good fruit and light spice.

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We sat outside to enjoy that bottle on an amazing evening. The weather was perfect and could not have asked for more. We just did not want to go home. We had to get something else. We went inside and then there was just a perfect fire in the fireplace. We had to sit there. We then grabbed a bottle of their Cab Franc. Just as nice, with difference fruit and spice tastes. What was great is that two of us were able to enjoy more of this because the driver (1) was being very responsible and (2) isn’t as big of a wine lover as the other two of us.

This is a fun place to visit if you’re a dog lover, too, because it is a dog-crazy place! Totally take your furry friend there if you want to go. Or if you’re going through dog withdrawal, you’ll do so well there with wine & pups.

Definitely one of the good VA winery and worth a nice weekend day trip for wine, relaxing (and dogs). And, if you need more wine glasses, you get to bring the one you use home with you.

Just Bubbles

Went to a Champagne tasting recently and found a new bottle of bubbles that was just wonderful. And when it comes in a split, it can be even better when you’re enjoying it solo! You don’t want the stuff to go flat.

This was the Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve. It’s made of 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. It has some nice fruit notes while still carrying the dry/brut taste. The split was about $20 so it was perfect. Great was to say cheers before the New Year.

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Bubbling over work

I have side gigs to help fund my travel and wine rack. One of them is working wine tastings. I had one yesterday afternoon, New Year’s Eve, at Bassin’s/MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC. And, oh darn, I had to pour bubbly! One was sparkling wine from CA the other three were veritable Champagne.

#1 Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley. This is the an estate/winery Louis Reoderer (next on the list) opened in the US. $20. It’s a sparkling wine, since it’s CA vs. France. This is roughly 60% Chard, 40% Pinot Noir. Some nice fruit notes for bubbly, especially compared to other bubblies (aka champagnes). And, at least half the cost.

#2 Louis Roederer Champagne, Brut Premier. $40. This is a blend of roughly 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier. Traditional Champagne taste. I would put it ‘medium’ toast, nice and soft.

#3 Taittinger Champagne. $40. This is a blend of roughly 40% Chardonnay, 60% of Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier. Medium bubbles, soft toast taste, just rolls around the mouth and down your tongue to give you pure happiness.  I am partial because it’s one of my favorites.

#4 Comtes de Champagnes, Taittinger, Blanc de Blanc 2006. $129 (yes, that price is correct). 100% Chardonnay. Very nice taste all around, and while it was definitely a better taste than the prior 3, it would be tough (for me) to spend that much. However, 3 people did buy bottles. All personal choice.

Cheers to 2017!

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Santa Came Early

Got a great Christmas present recently. A stocking stuffed with wine. Box wine, removed from the box, stuffed in the stocking, and the tip of the stocking had been removed. Perfect! Just press the button and your wine glass gets filled. And since box wine has improved a lot, this is a great way to enjoy the holiday season!

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Pour Me Some White

Love my part time wine tasting gigs. Last weekend during one of them I had all whites.  Ironic because it was freezing cold outside because of the 15-20mph winds and mid-50 temps. But, I guess you can sip your pain away, right?

I was sharing the delights of:

La Marca Prosecco — one of my favorites. You cannot go wrong with this stuff. You can find it for $10-$15/bottle. Just crisp and and perfect bubbles with tiny hints of citrus. Need I say more?

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc — I love the SB from New Zealand.  Gimme some grapefruit! This one was a bit milder than my favorite.  Awesome notes of citrus all around with a nice finish. Low teens on the cost.

William Hill Chardonnay — if you like (traditional) oaked Chard, this one’s for you.  It’s from the North Coast of CA and has some definite tropical fruit notes in it while giving you that oaked, buttery taste. This one runs in the mid-teens per bottle.

Sip on, my friends.

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