26 December 2011
23 December 2011
we hope that you don't have to drive too much and that if you do that the streets are safe and free of people driving and texting "gotta go. driving. going into next lane. lol."
09 December 2011
02 December 2011
30 November 2011
Among Great Wines, Plenty of Choice
By ERIC ASIMOV
Published: November 29, 2011
I HAVE never been one of those people who feel they live in the wrong era. I am eternally grateful, for example, to draw breath in the age of anesthesia. But I have occasionally lamented that I was born just a few years too late.
Noah Berger for The New York Times
If I’d learned about wine in the 1960s rather than the ’80s, perhaps I, too, could regale you with annoying stories of buying cases of ’59 Lafite and ’61 Latour for $8 a bottle. Maybe my cellar, such as it is, would be bulging with grand cru Burgundy that I got for a song because, after all, who back then cared about Burgundy?
By the time I had some money and the inclination to splurge on wine, these historic benchmark wines had become absurdly, ridiculously overpriced.
Consider that back in 1975, Kermit Lynch, the importer and shop owner in Berkeley, Calif., was retailing a case of Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet 1972 for $125, not cheap then by any means, but doable for the determined. Adjusted for inflation, this excellent white Burgundy from a decent vintage would be the equivalent of $500 today. How quaint. Now, at Sherry-Lehmann in New York, a case from the 2008 vintage runs about $4,800.
Generations of wine lovers learned firsthand of the gorgeous polychromatic potential of wine by drinking those bottles that are almost universally believed to represent the heights of achievement: the first-growth Bordeaux and grand cru Burgundies. Yet an entire younger generation of wine lovers, say those 40-ish and younger, may grow old never having savored a great Musigny or a classic Château Latour, unless they are extremely wealthy or very lucky.
Sad, yes. Yet just as certain, we live in the greatest time ever to be wine lovers, with access to more high-quality wine in more different styles from a greater diversity of places than ever before. Just possibly, this wealth of wonderful choices is due partly to the soaring cost of those reference points for greatness.
Years ago, a great wine list was essentially a great Bordeaux list, or a great Burgundy list. Sometimes it was both, with a few more selections, of course. In the early 20th century, you would find Champagne, sherry and, if the obstacle of world wars could be skirted, some German riesling and possibly something from Alsace. Later on you’d also find some wines from Napa Valley and Tuscany, depending on the restaurant’s cuisine.
Nowadays, the possibilities seem endless. One reason, I submit, is that with little access to the classically great wines, yet with a public thirst for greatness that far exceeds that of 30 years ago, importers, distributors, sommeliers and consumers themselves have been compelled to seek out wines that nobody paid attention to 25 years ago, if they even existed.
Mr. Lynch, in a telephone conversation, argued against including Burgundy in this equation, saying that barely a thimbleful of grand cru is made each year compared with the rivers of top-flight Bordeaux. But he agreed that the attention diverted from Bordeaux had moved to many formerly esoteric regions, and that this new attention was critical to maintaining diversity in the future.
“In the old days, nobody wanted to hear a word about cabernet francs from the Loire,” he said. “Today, it’s a big market for me.”
Who, back in 1991, was buying 20-year-old Rioja gran reservas? Not a lot of Americans. Nowadays, we prize a ’91 gran reserva from a producer like R. López de Heredia for its aromatic nuances, grace and gentle power.
Sure, back then, the Mosel had its secret admiration society, in which a select few indulged its fascination with the incremental variations in slate-based terroir, as revealed in profound detail by these German rieslings. Nowadays, rieslings have gotten a lot more popular, partly because of the proselytizing of importers and sommeliers. Would they all have been so enthusiastic if these wines had not been so relatively reasonably priced?
What about the Jura? Nobody in this country drank wines from this oddball backwater 25 years ago, beyond the occasional novelty of a vin jaune. But the wonderful savagnins, trousseaus and poulsards now lend vinous street cred to the hippest sommeliers.
The story repeats itself all over the Old World. Priorat, Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra in Spain. The Valle d’Aoste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valtellina in northern Italy. Campania, Basilicata and Sicily in the south. If we could buy the best of Burgundy and Bordeaux, would we still be fascinated by the potential of Mount Etna, where vineyards of nerello mascalese, in the hands of risk takers like Salvo Foti and Ciro Biondi, give expression to the terroir of a living volcano?
Would we also care about the assyrtikos of Santorini, and the dry furmints of Hungary, and rejoice when we find them on a wine list? Would we be as curious about the tannats of Uruguay? The malbecs of the Loire — I mean the côts, as they are called there?
In the New World, the transition hasn’t been as smooth. Driven by the extravagant pricing of cult cabernets and a desire to keep up with Bordeaux, even mediocre Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons can cost more than $100. Many consumers take refuge in Argentina or Chile, not indefensible choices, or cheap imitation Napa cabs, no excuses for that. But there are some genuinely distinctive alternatives.
Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains is better known for chardonnays, but it makes superb cabernets that are relative steals for under $50, especially if you value grace and restraint as well as intensity. Arnot-Roberts is known for syrahs, but I love its fresh, tobacco-scented Santa Cruz cabernet from Fellom Ranch. Napa may be the benchmark, but I’ll settle for the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I’ve got plenty of wonderful wines to drink. So you old-timers can keep your memories of great cheap Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa Valley. I don’t need them. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.
23 November 2011
18 November 2011
i'm particularly excited about the dublin dr pepper and the traquair scottish ale. two great products that i suspect i'll be sitting on for a while because they're a little 'spensive. but, since i know the product, i'm still pricing them below industry standard mark-up and at a price that i would feel comfortable paying if i were to encounter them out there in the world which, in columbia, i can't.
15 November 2011
11 November 2011
07 November 2011
04 November 2011
28 October 2011
so if you come to the restaurant and see that there's no pinot grigio it's because our fuller bodied, spicier-finished pinot gris is an expression of the same grape that's more consistent with our food's anima.
14 October 2011
this is a temporary change and we'll resume our normal pinot noir activity next week but i want to see how it goes over this week. perhaps i am a fool. or perhaps i'm a visionary; a beacon of hope to the gamay producers of the world who fight the stigma that duboeuf has wrought upon them. perhaps i'm both. perhaps i'm neither. perhaps i should stop thinking about it.
10 October 2011
this little beauty earned me $2.00. the assignment was "write a 1000 word article on camping in comfort." there actually is some good advice buried in there.
23 September 2011
the j.k.'s scrumpy is that great, classic, soft, and oh so appley pure expression of apple cider that we like to get every autumn. organic and out of michigan.
and the samichlaus helles.
like the darker version it's almost liqueur-like. sweet malt. apples. honey. and that 14% alc/vol warms me like a hug.
if i liked hugs.
16 September 2011
03 September 2011
these among a litany of the other items on our menu aren't as difficult sells but i like to keep track of my pet bottles that find homes.
(the aroma of something lightly peanutty and delicious smelling just wafted over. pad thai, it smells like.)
02 September 2011
this is something i tried a number of years ago and it was met with indifference.
and i'll try not to drink them when i get bored but it's difficult because the format is so damn convenient for knocking one back by yourself. which is one of the main reasons i want to bring these in. that and so many of our customers really enjoy tasting a variety of wines during their visits with us so this should facilitate that desire pretty well.
19 August 2011
will this lirac from the rhone valley be our new structured, meaty red?
or will it disappoint me and make me project my disappointment in myself for choosing it onto the bottle and irrationally blame it for all of my own failures?
only time and drinking it will tell...
02 August 2011
Wine as kisses. the similarities. the nuance. how there's room for a broad array of either, depending on what you're looking for. how the memory of them can instantly conjure a time and a place and an emotion.
the disappointing clumsy, wet kisses of a cheap jug pinot grigio.
30 July 2011
29 July 2011
strawberryish, watermelonish, nicely acidic and dry pinot noir rose from oregon.
slightly spicy and rich (but still restrained) merlot/malbec from hawkes bay in the north island of new zealand
all mine if you don't drink it so... everybody wins.
26 July 2011
22 July 2011
11 July 2011
in one of those fantastic and gratifying moments of seeing somebody work hard and be recognized for it, his truck will be featured on tv's eat st this saturday the 16th!
so, business as usual (though more exciting) this saturday brunch with misting hoses to help cool you for the cameras.
our mimosas will be there as well as our spicy, thai/sake bloody mary, beer float, and one to two interesting and thirst quenching wine cocktails.
30 June 2011
it's just that we need a little time to ourselves.
you know, a break.
a little bit of breathing room.
and i'm sure that, after a little while, we'll work just that much better when we do come back! i'm sure of it!
starting tuesday, july the 5th we'll be closed a week and we'll re-open tuesday the 12th.
...i don't know...maybe do a little work on ourselves during that time....
(and, you know, we don't mind if you see other restaurants next week. really! it's cool. we encourage you to!)
27 June 2011
so, figuring that few people would notice, and wanting to amuse myself, i began writing quick little stories and poems that would express something about the beer. maybe not a descriptor but a feeling or a vibe that i got from that specific selection. this format then got noticed and lauded so, for a couple of years, i pursued how to take advantage of that.
every 6 months or so there would be a new menu with another method of presenting the beers and then it got to a point where i was having difficulty topping myself. i kept having to get more elaborate which was, admittedly, a fun challenge but it also locked me into a steady list and i got more fun out of changing the list weekly.
so i abandoned the project.
it pleases me that every so often a customer will still come up to the bar and ask for an old menu to show their friends.
as you can see, i didn't really get far but here's the beginning.
24 June 2011
for many years i've had a tendency to suck the fun out of some things by over-intellectualizing them or trying to glean a lesson or by trying too hard to get the edges to align. (only some, not all, of the ways i might ruin something.)
So we recently found this wine that we all found incredibly refreshing. the grape, jacquere, is from the rhone alpes in france and is not what anybody would call a well-known grape but in the equivalent of four days we went through roughly nine bottles. these were primarily hand sells (as most of our wines sales must be, really, given how little-known so many of the wines are) which consist usually of a combination of enthusiasm and dispensation of little tastes of wine.
and we flew through it! and it wasn't the cheapest thing on the menu, either.
naturally, i was jazzed about this because i love it when we can introduce something new to columbia and watch it be embraced but the fact that so many people got it because of a visceral response got me thinking.
it reminded me of a time when a rep blind tasted me on a wine on which i spent a good while dissecting in an attempt to figure out the grapes. it had some plump, juicy redness so maybe this grape and it had some earthy notes so it could be this or that. there's something on the finish i'm not understanding (i'll take the third part last) and the color would suggest this but the acid suggests that. i spent so long deciphering two out of three grapes and marveling over the unexpected third grape and then going back to try to taste or smell what the third grape had to offer that, when the rep asked me how i liked it, i didn't have an answer. i'd thought all the feeling out of it and i had to taste it again to taste for enjoyment.
this seems like a shame.
now i don't know how to finish this post without getting heavy handed. (see? suckin' out the energy.)
i feel like this guy's got it all figured out...
23 June 2011
10 June 2011
our own mix has sambal, oyster sauce, garlic, and basil to give you that thai vibe and, since we don't have a liquor license, we're using a junmai ginjo sake as the alcohol.
also, for tomorrow, we'll have another permutation of our mimosa, this time with watermelon in a sparkly rose and san pelligrino orange-ade.
07 June 2011
06 June 2011
the baked turkey wing was tender with a flavorful skin. the meatloaf, though a touch dry in some places, was pleasantly beefy with a nice tomato-base sauce on it. collards, jive rice, black-eyed peas, and green beans were all solid. and the hotdogs were nicely done, i thought. the bun and the hotdogs were grilled, adding some pleasant caramelization to them. and the chili was nice and beany.
they have posted in several places: "let us know about any dietary issues: diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol. we season with no added salt!"
given the richness of flavors i'm frankly surprised that it was healthy.
next time i think i'll try their turkey burger.
03 June 2011
malty and crisp (i use that word a lot but i like to surround myself with beverages that are crisp) with a touch of fruitiness at the end (light pear and apple. nothing sweet, really, just hints.)
nice and smooth and easy, easy drinking. and at only 5.2% alcohol one can drink more than one should. like eating 3 times as many low-fat cookies thereby mitigating their low-fattiness.
just having fun. check the by updated wine lists for details.
31 May 2011
Wine Notes: The dirt on Willamette Valley soil types
Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 9:39 AM Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 9:54 AM
Just about every wine in Oregon these days comes with its own "tech sheet" -- that is, a summary of detailed information that may or may not have any resonance for the consumer.
Unless you're a geeky wine insider, it's difficult to see why knowing the harvest date, clonal selection or cooperage should make any difference in your appreciation of the wine. (And if you're not sure what a clone or a cooper is, don't worry; you're not alone.)
That said, there are a few areas where a bit of knowledge can benefit us in our appreciation of wine. And one of those might well be the nerdiest bit of info on that tech sheet: soil type.
I recently met with some folks who spend a lot of time thinking about soil. Jim Anderson is co-owner of Patricia Green Cellars; father-and-daughter team Howard Mozeico and Jessica Mozeico-Blair run Et Fille; both wineries are near Newberg.
At Patricia Green Cellars, the quest to capture a sense of place in each bottle of pinot noir borders on the obsessive: The winery releases between 18 and 20 pinots each year in an effort to express the distinct characteristics of various sites. At a Patricia Green Cellars open house, you'll find wines arranged on tables according to the location of the vineyard they're derived from.
For its part, Et Fille produces between five and six single-vineyard pinot noirs annually, with an emphasis on representing as diverse a range of soil types as possible. Attend an event where Mozeico-Blair is pouring, and she'll set up a row of glass urns filled with soils so that you can smell, touch (and taste, if you like) the dirt while you sample the wines.
Just three to know
Although Oregon wine country encompasses a wide variety of soil types, the most attention and deliberation over soil in this state happens in the Willamette Valley.
Here, the delicate pinot noir grape -- arguably the red best-suited to expressing the differences between sites -- has a cultish following among collectors who buy multiple single-vineyard releases from their favorite producers and taste "horizontals" (a variety of site-specific bottlings from the same producer in the same year) to compare and contrast the effect that vineyard location has on a wine's aroma and flavor.
But you don't have to blow the rent on a catalog of limited-edition single-vineyard releases to discover the difference soil type can make in pinot noir.
"It's very common for people to walk into one of our tastings saying, 'I don't know anything about soil types,' then walk out having tasted the differences very clearly," Mozeico says. For him, just two or three bottles -- representing the three major soil types outlined below -- can relay the diverse range of overarching characteristics found in Willamette Valley pinots.
Why we should care
Why is it important to familiarize yourself with the valley's various soil types?
First, it goes a long way toward explaining why so many wineries bottle single-vineyard pinot noirs. Winemakers believe that the differences between wines grown on different soils are so stark that they often don't blend them.
Conversely, another reason many local wineries source from so many different vineyards is that having such a diverse array of wines to choose from can be a helpful tool in creating a harmonious blend.
So there's no shame in preferring the basic "Willamette Valley" pinot noir when you visit a tasting room; it's simply a representation of multiple soil types.
But do taste single-vineyard bottlings, and ask about soil types while you do. Because, if you maintain an awareness of this issue, you might find you prefer the pinots of one soil type over another.
Mozeico-Blair says that when she conducts tastings and explains the differences the soils make in the aromas and flavors in the resulting wines, her customers come away equally divided as to which type they prefer: Of the three main types, each appeals to about a third of her customers.
So, here's a challenge: If you are visiting your favorite winery this weekend, try to taste a bottle of juice derived from each of the following soil types. If the winemaking method was the same for all three, you may discover that you prefer one soil type over another.
The Willamette Valley's flagship dirt is Jory, the basalt-based volcanic soil found in most vineyard sites in the Dundee Hills (the most prominent sub-appellation in the valley).
High in clay content and iron, Jory is reddish in color and nutrient-rich. "You could grow anything in volcanic soil," Anderson says. "It is lush." It holds water well; smash it between your fingers and it will stick together.
"I can pick out a Dundee Hills wine pretty consistently in a blind tasting," Mozeico says. "There is a minerality to it, especially on the finish, with a bright cherry and red-fruit flavor profile." Mozeico-Blair says she always finds that this silty clay-loam imparts a "dusty earthiness" to pinot noir.
Name to remember: Jory is the Willamette Valley's most prominent volcanic soil.
A taste of geology: Many millions of years ago, fissures near what is now the Washington-Idaho border released unimaginably massive lava eruptions that blanketed huge portions of Washington and Oregon with basalt. Between approximately 15 million and 6 million years ago, these flows spread through the northern Willamette Valley, leaving basalt that would later be exposed on hillsides.
Rub a sedimentary soil between your fingers, and it feels "like talcum powder," Anderson says. "It's really super-dry." That makes more work for the vine-tender, who must enrich the brittle dirt with plenty of compost and cover crops.
The payoff: That difficult soil yields "powerful, more structured wines," according to Anderson, especially if the vines are older.
After a couple of decades, these vines "have these incredible roots systems because they've gone down deep in search of water and minerals," Anderson says.
Mozeico describes typical sedimentary-soil characteristics in pinot noir as dark color, black fruit, cola, coffee and chocolate.
(Fans of the Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton District and McMinnville appellations of the Willamette Valley will be nodding their heads here, as these regions are primarily composed of sedimentary soils.)
Winemakers might wait longer to bottle pinot noirs from sedimentary soils because they tend to be less approachable when young; by the same token, these wines benefit from cellar age.
"They are slow-developing, a little more austere," Anderson says. "It might take people a little longer to wrap their heads around these wines."
Name to remember: The mustard-tinted Willakenzie is the best-known sedimentary soil in the Willamette Valley.
A taste of geology: Western Oregon was once the floor of an 8,000-foot-deep sea. Starting -- as with the aforementioned lava flows -- about 15 million years ago, the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collided, lifting up this ocean floor and creating the Coast Range and the Cascade Mountains.
Willakenzie soil is composed of the marine sediment of that former seafloor. As the collisions continued, the hills of the Willamette Valley were formed, with the top layer of volcanic soil exposed in some places and the lower layer of sedimentary soil revealed in others.
Loess, or windblown silty loam, is the shallowest of our three main soil types.
"There is always something underlying," Mozeico says. Brown and ashy, its texture is somewhere in between sticky volcanic and dusty sedimentary. It tends to be fertile, but it drains well and erodes easily, which requires careful vineyard management.
The pinot noirs that come from this soil "tend to have brighter red fruit, with an earthiness to them, and sometimes a little bit of white pepper on the finish," Mozeico says; the soil also may contribute to a brighter acidity in the wine. Loess sites are relatively rare in the Willamette Valley but can be found in the Chehalem Mountains.
Name to remember: Brown and fertile LaurelWood is the region's key loess-type soil.
A taste of geology: The youngest of our three main soil types, loess is composed of silt, left by the retreat of Ice Age glaciers, that was blown onto the valley's hillsides between 1 million and 50,000 years ago.
Follow Oregon's wine scene with Katherine Cole on Twitter at twitter.com/kcoleuncorked and on YouTube at youtube.com/kcoleuncorked. E-mail her at