Hogue Cellars (reserve)

When checking out Yakima Valley awhile back, in the Prosser Region, we visited a relatively well known (I assume, because I see it fairly often) winery/wine maker — Hogue Cellars.

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Now jumping ahead a bit, I like splitting tastings because when you hit several wineries a day you’re going to taste a lot and drink a lot. You’re going to lose your taste and obviously have some alcohol… And somebody has to drive. But then, you start talking to these people. It’s a quiet day and they talk and talk, understand your love of wine and say ‘Oh, but you have to try this. And oh, but then…’ You don’t end up splitting a tasting.

We arrived, fairly quiet and opted to split the Reserve Tasting, for $5. You chose 5 of 9 wines you want to sip. These aren’t the wines you see on the store shelves with the label in the logo as noted above. They hold these labels:

We opted for:

2015 Terroir Viognier, Wahluke Slope — Our Viognier opens with fresh flora and exotic fruits aromas. Peach cobbler, citrus and a touch of pineapple intertwined with tropical mango and starfruit. It features a mouthfeel that is clean and crisp with soft acidity. $20 — Very nice nose, a bit sweet, definite starfruit taste (because you know, we know this off the bat because we eat it everyday).

2014 Terroir GSM Lonesome Springs Vineyard — 21% Grenache/40% Syrah/39% Mouverdre.  In the glass, the wine is young purple in color with a tint of red on the rim. Lively aromas of black raspberry, black pepper and spice with touches of vanilla cream. $28 — A bit oakey, chocolatey.

2013 Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley — This wine opens with aromas of wild strawberry, cherry, blueberry and dark meaty plum. Rich and weighty on the pallet with great structure and integrated oak. Flavors of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg linger with a lasting finish. $30 —  NICE!!!! Bought a bottle for later. Fruit on the nose. Very fresh and fruity on the tongue. I have always avoided this varietal because of the movie Bottleshock and I wish I didn’t have that in my mind. This grape can be good.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain — Our Cabernet Sauvignon has amazing color and depth, along with some unique and exciting fruit flavors. Dried cherry, cocoa, fig and nutmeg balance the huge earthy, minerality Red Mountain wine. $32 — Nice and light for a cab.

2013 Terroir Petit Verdot Horse Heaven Hills — The inky Petit Verdot has a pleasantly massive richness and vibrant acidity. This wine starts out with black fruit, plum and cassis. Gamey undertones, bacon, black pepper and spice round out the mid-pallet along with flavors of dark chocolate and creamy coffee. Silky tannins with a chewy finish. $32 100% Petit Verdot. This is an ooohhhh so smooth wine. Very creamy. I didn’t find that it had a very chewy finish. You tasted this wine from start to finish. Very nice.

These were the first 5 and then I didn’t scribble down notes on the balance of them. We were poured at least 3 or 4 more. In the end, my friend ended up joining the Wine Club, option for the 3 bottle option. With that you get 3 bottles of wine from the exclusive Terroir and Reserve tiers on a quarterly basis. Cheers to that. We also got our $5 tasting fee refunded. Cheers!

SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.

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Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.

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Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.

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Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.

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Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.

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Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.

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We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.

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Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.

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Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!

 

Screw Top Art

I can get crafty on the side and the past few years have been having fun.  For awhile I was making cork wreaths.  I sent notes out to all those I know to save those precious things some throw away when they open their lovely adult beverage and also went around to restaurants to collect them.  I made one wreath for myself and then was given 3 enormous bags of corks from a restaurant and gifted and gifted wreaths after hours of labor.  Also make cork trivets after buying the frames.

But, there is more fun…screw top wreaths.  First, though screw tops are becoming more common, when you try to collect/gather them, they don’t come nearly as quickly as corks.  It took me a long to gather enough to make a wreath.  Then, when wreath making began, *($%^.   There is not nearly the surface area of a cork!  This was not as much fun as I thought.  After a couple hours, I decided putting cotton balls in the screwtops would give me more surface area.  After many months of (more) off and on labor hours, the screw top wreath is complete!  I did this tonight while enjoying some great South African wine after just booking a trip to South Africa…there will be many food and wine reports to come in a few months.  The wine I enjoyed was one of my favorites, the Wolftrap Red Blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier.

 

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And, the original wreath I worked on a couple years ago…good old fashioned corks.

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Oregon Winery Tour

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted because I was in a wine lover’s paradise — Willamette Valley (OR) — for a couple days.  I visited some wineries, met some great people and enjoyed some phenomenal varietals.

To start off my trip, I booked a tour at penner-Ash.  Notice the typing on that.  The owners wanted something basic for the appearance of the name/logo, as in lower case, but Ash wanted his name capitalized.  But, when you read the logo it’s not the easiest to catch.

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While on my trip, it was high harvest season.  Grapes were being picked, processed, etc.  So, I got to see lots of good stuff!  Grapes fresh off the vines:

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One of the next processing steps — they start at the top, get pressed and move their way down:

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Grapes in the process of eventually making their way to us:

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Tasted five great wines while there.  All were amazing and it was tough to narrow down which ones to buy.

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The tasting room at penner-Ash is so nice — it overlooks fields and hills.  It was a beautiful day when I visited so I could see  so much landscape.  I recommend checking this place out next time you’re in the area.

New All Around

Had some friends over for dinner the other night and there were new tastes all around the table, from cheese to salad to wine.

For pre-dinner, my friend was kind enough to bring non-cow milk cheese to make the lactose intolerant person happy.  One of them was a Honey Goat Gouda from Trader Joe’s.  I normally can’t stand goat cheese but love gouda.  This was totally on the good side.  I highly recommend it!  The other was a manchego from TJ’s that I’ve had before that is equally as delicious!  Great way to kick off the night.

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We had three wines throughout the evening, kicking off with a Virginia white.  The first was Rappahannock Cellar’s Viognier.  It was a nice local grape, pairing nicely with the appetizers.

For dinner I made a recipe I had been wanting to try for awhile — Citrus-Avocado Salad.  It was AMAZING!  For the tamari almonds it calls for, a friend gave me the great idea of making them vs. buying them to save money.  All you need to do is toss the almonds in some soy sauce, a couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and a pinch of sugar.  You bake them at 250 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Done!  For the blood oranges, sometimes they are tough to find.  I came across red oranges at one grocery store.  Otherwise I was going to use grapefruit or just regular oranges.

With this salad I served some pan seared (vs grilled because I live in an apartment and can’t have a BBQ) chicken breasts and quinoa.

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The wines we enjoyed with this included two reds.  One from Virgina — First Colony Cab from a winery in Monticello — very nice.  Again, I’m finding Cabs I like — something is happening to me.  The second red is one I discovered/was introduced to a few years back — Eleven.  It’s from Washington and the specific varietal was the 2008 La Ronde.

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Recap:  Great dinner.  Rave reviews around the table.  Now I just keep thinking about what the next meal will bring.  Cheers.

Fly Away With More MD Wines

And the fun continued with more Maryland wines.  This time I was fortunate to have them be only a block away with a tasting at Vino Volo (that’s where part of the title came from).  The mostly airport-known wine chain is expanding and Bethesda, MD (suburb of Washington, DC) was the first town to be fortunate enough to not require a boarding pass, standing in endless lines (unless they are super packed), taking your shoes off, putting your bags in plastic bins, having everything scanned and walking through the security gates.  So much better — you just get to enjoy wine right away!  You don’t drink away the pain.  You enjoy it just to enjoy it.

Every week they have a tasting, from well known vintners (tears were rolling down my cheeks in a good way when Silver Oak was there…) to medium size ones to local ones that are working to make a name for themselves.  After visiting MD wineries last weekend, I was able to taste wines from another one that is less than an hour north of here — Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard.  They sampled four varietals and all of them blew me away, white and red.

The first one sampled was the Pinot Grigio.  Had some nice fruity notes — pineapple, grapefruit.

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Next was a Viognier — crisp, sharp.  I can’t put a finger on the flavor, I just liked overall how powerful, yet subtle, it was for a white.  Another sip, please.IMG_1414

Now, on to the big business, reds!  That is my favorite color.  I didn’t know there was good reason for this when I was under 21.  The first was a blend…AMAZING.  Yes, bring me my wine!  This was the best wine of the night…Comus.  Five varietals packed a huge punch to give amazing flavors and tastes that surround your nose and mouth with endless wine happiness.

At this point as I write this, the great Tim McGraw song “Fly Away” comes into my mind because of how good wine is, those non-country lovers, just fly away with Vino Volo, and all of us, just love our wine!  Go pour yourself a glass if you don’t have one, or at least picture yourself with one.  Ok, back to grapes…

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Last but not least was one of my least favorite varietals that I will say, is totally growing on me.  Good things come with age, right?  Both wine and intelligence, perhaps?  Anyway, it was a Cab(ernet Sauvignon).  Very deep and complex.  The couple next to me was torn between this and the prior as to which was their favorite, but opted for the Cab.  Many people were split.  But as mentioned, when I find a Cab I enjoy, I love it and I could have had much more of this, so I was thrilled, Cab and MD?  Dang!!!

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So to wrap up, Maryland, you are setting a name for yourself!  Two weekends in a row, I am beyond impressed.  I am not a national reviewer or commentator but I haven’t normally been a fan of this area.  This is not a political comment in any way, shape of form, but I might start leaning a bit right…geographically, when I drink my wine.

Masters of Golf = Mistress of the Kitchen

What a game, what a game!  Overall the Masters was phenomenal once again, but those last few holes were absolutely amazing.  Both Scott and Cabrera deserved the Green Jacket but in the end only one can wear it.  Congrats to the first Australian to win the Masters.

Backing up a bit, one must have good food to watch such a game.  So yesterday, I prepared (and bought) a nice mix of treats to stay entertained for several hours while enjoying the amazing golfers.  Last week, Whole Foods’ Friday special was halibut, so I found a Halibut Ceviche/Ceviche Verde recipe.  Unreal!  From the fish to avocados, tomatillos and green olives (do we sense the greens here…equating to the jacket…), it was delicious.  I highly recommend it!

With this, we nibbled on some great BBQ chicken from Rockland’s, chips, salsa, veggies, crackers, peanuts and dark chocolate covered pretzel slims.  The wine for the evening was Ferrari-Carrano’s Viognier from Sonoma (oh, had some New Belgium Dig while prepping).  A nice pairing to everything and a great evening all around.

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