A weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the week in the categories of wine, food, and travel.
With the exception of our lunar eclipse wine (bottom) we spent this week focusing on California wines. For someone who spends a good deal of her time focusing on Oregon Pinot Noir I did tend to notice how heavy, bold, and ripe many of the Pinots were we tasted (some of them intensely!). But the ones below represent some of the most balanced of the lot (of more than a case tasted).
Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir 2013 (Russian River Valley, CA)
Leaning towards the bolder side this one showed lots of black cherry along with some big rich ripe berry fruit. Mostly black fruit and dark berries with some sweet toasty oak and spice. The balance came in the finish; it was quite silky. Not gonna lie, this is a good one to sip on late in the evening while catching up on Fear the Walking Dead and planning your apocalypse survival plan. 14.5% abv | $25 (sample)
Davis Bynum “Jane’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2013 (Russian River Valley, CA)
Davis Bynum is the first winery to produce a single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley back in 1973 and that’s what they still focus on today. This one is red berry focused, with just a hint of dark berries in the background, with lots of sweet vanilla and baking spices throughout (cinnamon and nutmeg stand out the most). This was refreshingly light in style though fairly ripe in fruit. Awesome with smoked pork tenderloin! 14.5% abv | $35 (sample)
Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 (Sonoma Coast, CA)
Gundlach-Bundschu is the very first winery I ever visited on my very first trip to Sonoma back around 2001-ish (meeeeemories… sing it with me!). I was hooked at first sip; hooked on the wine country experience that is. Flash forward nearly fifteen years (damn that makes me feel old!) it was nice to check up their wines with this Pinot, since I haven’t had them in awhile. This one was pretty tasty. It was big and rich for Pinot (at least the Pinots I’m used to here in OR), but not as much ripe berry fruit as some of the others from the region we tried. It had a nice balance of mild blueberry and dark black cherry flavors with some baking spice. I think I’m ready for a G-B reunion trip. 14.4% abv | $37 (sample)
SIMI Dry Rosé 2014 (Sonoma County, CA)
I’m actually going to stretch this one a bit, since I didn’t “technically” taste it this week. It was a few weeks ago when I popped this bad boy open, but I did want to mention it because I truly enjoyed it.
Though bold in color and aromas, it was remarkably fresh with some candied strawberry notes, yet not “candied (sweet or tart)” on the palate at all. The strawberries were still there, but balanced with some bright tropical flavors. It was dry, very dry, but with balanced acidity, and those ripe candy flavors stole the show along with a lingering savoriness on the finish. We had it with some smoked pork ribs (no sauce, just a simple dry rub) and the bold flavors held up well with the flavorful dry rub and smoked meat. 13.5% abv | $18
What to drink with this awesome soup?
SIMI Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (Russian River Valley, CA)
Now we’re entering Smoked Butternut Squash Soup territory (as in the wines we tested with my new favorite soup, pictured above). From the same producers as the rosé mentioned earlier, this Chardonnay is richly oaked and full of spice. It had a distinctly sweet and savory crème brûlée flavor with undertones of tropical fruit, baked apples, and baking spices, with a creamy mouthfeel. This is definitely that bigger oaked style but done well. Sometimes big oak can be delicious, as long as it’s used wisely and has some fruit to balance out the oak, which this one certainly did! 14.5% | $30 (sample)
Rodney Strong Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2013 (Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, CA)
This one has quite a bit of sweet toasty oak on the nose with some crisp apple and citrus undertones. Creamy mouthfeel, with a little savory on the back of the tongue I also get some dried sweet fruits and a touch of caramel. This was also a good candidate for that Smoked Butternut Squash Soup. The rich flavors of the soup brought out the fruit in the wine, which had been hiding behind the oak. I could also see this with some squash ravioli tossed with a sage butter sauce. Bring on the fall foods! $25 (sample)
Qupé Marsanne 2013 (Santa Barbara County, CA)
This Rhone-style blend from Qupé (pronounced kyoo-pay) is comprised of 75% Marsanne 25% Rousanne. I really dug this wine! It started with some citrusy (and sweet) lemon at first, then some juicy tropical pineapple and peach and even some pear flavors. Juicy on the palate, though dry on the finish, this has a nice roundness to it and a lingering savoriness. Pair with a richer fish dish or roast chicken. In fact, I’m sure it would stand up quite well to this smoked whole chicken. Mmm yum! 12.5% | $20 (sample)
Wine of the Week
Treana White Wine 2013 (Central Coast, CA)
This blend of 50% Marsanne, 50% Viognier wins this week’s wine of the week because of how much it held my interest over the last couple days. When I first opened it, the wine was pretty ripe pear dominated. But that changes, and evolves into much more complex profile full of pineapple, apricot, and juicy pear flavors. Then honey starts to enter the picture of this lush and juicy wine, with interesting mineral notes finishing with lively acidity. I tried it again last night with the remainder of the Smoked Butternut Squash Soup from earlier this week and, wow, this had to be the best match for the soup yet. The soup brought out some spicy notes and the bold flavors of the wine stood up like a champion to the intensity of the soup. Lush, with intense flavors in the mouth. 14.5% abv | $24
Smoked! at Feast Portland
Though Feast was a couple weeks ago I had to include it in this week’s favorites since we skipped last week.
New to Feast Portland this year was Smoked!, an evening celebrating all things wood fired cooking. Of course an event focusing on our favorite style of cuisine caught our attention and we had to attend! I’m so glad we did.
Smoked! featured some of Portland’s best chefs who came up with recipes all cooked over open flame. While we saw very few actual smokers (a-hem I think Ember and Vine may be available next year ;), most did an incredibly impressive job coming up with some creative and delicious dishes.
My highlight of the night was the Tomahawk Steak from Country Cat — Grilled Ribeye with butter, parsley, butter, corn, red pepper, green beans (OMG!). A close second was the Rabbit Paella by the talented folks at Crown Paella (not pictured). I also want to give a shout-out to the Twister Turtle Bars from Kyra’s Bake Shop — Smoked shortbread with bacon-pecan honey caramel and smoked Fiji dark chocolate with a toasted bourbon marshmallow. Wow. Just wow!
Please, for the love of fire and the amazing things it can do to food, put this event on your calendar for next year! I’ll be there.
Moment of the Week
Supermoon Lunar Eclipse
We thought we’d be able to see the eclipse from earlier this week from our backyard. We let the kids stay up late, put on cozy clothes, and made a small fire in the backyard. When 7:30 hit (the eclipse was supposed to start at 7:45) we quickly realized we had zero visibility over the old growth trees that surround our neighborhood. We made a split second decision to jump in the car and drive to the local high school to watch it in the open football field (along with at least a hundred other members of our community). I’ve never seen anything like it! Since we left the house so abruptly I forgot to grab a proper lens to capture the beauty of the moment, but if you’ve been on the internet this week for more than five seconds I’m sure you’ve seen some captivating photos. This is all I got! But it’s all I need. As soon as it ended we came back to continue that fire, and drink this wine…
Soter Vineyards “Mineral Springs Ranch” Pinot Noir 2013 (Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon)
The fruit from this wine comes from one of the most peaceful spots in Yamhill Valley — Mineral Springs Ranch. This wine is filled with dark black cherry and black berry fruit and has an incredible silky texture and is fairly full-bodied for this region. Drinking it outside on a cool fall evening by a mesmerizing fire pit is the perfect way to spend a peaceful night. $60 (purchased)
How was your week?
Do you have any favorite wine, food, or travel stories to share? I’d love to hear!
Until then, this little fella wants to wish you a happy weekend!