Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oregon Bubbles Over With Fun

For one week only, Oregon celebrates sparkling wine with the second annual Bubbles Week 2014. This year, it's May 4th - May 11th. I say, why just a week? Why not Bubbles Month? Bubbles Year? Ok, my bubble bursts, it's only for a week. But what a gloriously fizzy week. With events all over Portland featuring Argyle sparkling wines paired with everything from oysters to tapas and from dinner to dessert, there's something for everyone.

All Week May 4-11, 2014
  • Library sparkling wine tasting in the Argyle Tasting Room
  • Bubbles happy hour menu at The Parish and EaT: An Oyster Bar (M-Su)
  • Bubbles pairing menu at Bar Avignon (M-F)
  • Special Argyle glass pour at Ambonnay (M-Sa)
  • Complementary pours in the Portland Opera VIP Lounge
  • Tastings at Zupan’s, New Seasons and Fred Meyer stores
Sunday, May 4
  • Bubbles cocktail workshop at Raven & Rose. Mixings with Sparkling Wine featuring Argyle Bubbles. Ticket includes four cocktails and a light snack. (20 tickets, $50 per person, 3 p.m.)
  • All day happy hour menu at The Bent Brick
Monday, May 5
  • Bubbles pairing dinner at Park Kitchen (6 p.m., $80 per person + gratuity, limit 16 guests, call 503-223-7275 for reservations)
    • Sunflower salad with cheddar crisps and trumpet mushrooms
    • Lamb sausage, rhubarb pickles and shallots
    • Blackened steelhead trout, toasted barley dashi, pea shoots
    • Buttermilk panna cotta, rhubarb, toasted butter 
Tuesday, May 6
  •  Encore! A bubbles and desserts pairing competition at Union/Pine where five of Portland’s top dessert maestros will compete for the best dessert as judged by ticket holders. Ticket holders will enjoy five desserts and five paired Argyle sparkling wines (200 tickets, $25 per person, 7:30-9 p.m.). Featuring:
    • Petunia's Pies & Pastries
    • Pix Patisserie
    • Raven & Rose
    • Salt & Straw
    •  Xocolatl de David
  • Bubbles pairing dinner at The Bent Brick (6 p.m., $80 per person + gratuity, limit 16 guests, call 503-688-1655 for reservations)
    • Butter poached halibut, pocha beans, nettle puree, pickled ginger, country ham
    • Agnolutti, nettles, toasted filberts, house made ricotta
    • Payne Family pork, early morels, sheboygen style bratwurst, bread pudding
    • Rhubarb crisp, cornmeal & filbert topping 
Wednesday, May 7
  • Shucked! An Oyster mignonette and  bubbles pairing competition at Union Pine where five of Portland’s top chefs will compete for the best dressed oyster as judged by ticket holders. Ticket holders will enjoy five oysters and five paired Argyle sparkling wines (200 tickets, $25 per person, 6-8 p.m.). Featuring:
    •  The Parish - Ethan Powell
    • Andina - Hank Costello
    •  Imperial - Benjamin Bettinger
    • DOC - Brian Scibetta
    • Branch Whiskey Bar - Scott Shampine
  •  Bubbles tasting at Urban Farmer
  • Bubbles pairing at Cia Vito: Shrimp, Squid & Manilla Clams on the plancha tossed with preserved Meyer lemon, pickled peppers, mint and toasted almonds. Paired with Argyle Vintage Brut. (W-Su) 
Thursday, May 8
  • Complementary Argyle bubbles tasting at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Bubbles pairing menu at Bar Avignon
  • Pre-performance bubbles tasting at Portland Center Stage’s production of “Othello” (7:30 p.m., for Othello ticket holders only)
Friday, May 9
  • Limited edition Argyle Brut Mimosa Sherbert at Salt & Straw (F-Su)
  • Library magnum tasting at Ambonnay (5-7 p.m.)
  • Complimentary bubbles pours in the Portland Opera VIP Lounge at Fri and Sunday performances
  • Portland Bubbles Week Wine Dinner at Wilf’s (6:30 p.m., $80 per person, call 503-223-0070 by May 6 for reservations)
    • 2010 Argyle Vintage Brut with Grilled radicchio, melted brie, balsamic, crostini
    • 2011 Argyle Chardonnay with Wilf's Dungeness crab meat, Oregon bay shrimp, romaine
    • 2010 Argyle Brut Rosé with Caramelized onion, roasted cauliflower and Rogue gorgonzola tart, spring pea coulis
    •  2011 Nuthouse Pinot Noir with Double R Ranch filet mignon, spring vegetables
    • Chef's cheese plate, assorted cookies, dried fruit and nuts
Saturday, May 10
  • Bubbles & Tapas: Enjoy a free tapa with every glass of Argyle sparkling wine purchased at Bar Vivant (Sat-Sun all day)

Sunday, May 11 – Mother’s Day
  • Special Edition Mother’s Day Tea with Argyle Bubbles at PIX Patisserie: Special selection of 10 sweet and savory bite-sized treats, a pot of Townsend’s Tea and a glass of Argyle 2010 Brut for $30. Plus, a special kid’s version of six sweet and savory treats with non-alcoholic beverage of their choice will be offered for $16. ($30; $16 for kids version)
  •  Bubbles tasting in the Rookery (11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) and bubbles cocktails for Mother’s Day brunch and dinner at Raven & Rose (call 503-222-7673 for more info and reservations)
  •  Oysters and bubbles special at EaT: An Oyster Bar
Some events are already sold out. If your interested in joining in the fun, tickets for the week's events can be found at http://www.pdxbubbles.com/. 

Use the hashtag #pdxbubbles to share your photos and virtually toast with your friends. Hope to see you there, we can raise our glasses in celebration of Oregon bubbles. Let's bubble over together.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Elegant Dance: Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Noir

2011 Pinot Noir Cuvée

Elegant, complex and classic in style. Its dance is like a ballerina; strong, lithe, yet restrained and Old World.

The first thing to jump out is the dark, blood red color. Though the wine is young, it is already showing a brownish tinge, signifying an age it did not yet possess.

On the nose there is a dusty minerality with floral notes of violets, tobacco, cocoa powder, mocha and charcuterie. In the mouth, the experience is tangy rhubarb, root beer, lovely and juicy acidity with soft and velvety tannins. It’s a wine that’s smooth like a women’s silky skin.

Intriguing and practically beguiling. Your head might doing pirouettes long before the bottle’s gone. The strong, masculine nose draws you in, yet one drink and you discover the feminine characteristics; the elegance, the finesse, the grace and balance. I love how straightforward this wine is, it’s not over-manipulated or over-extracted; it’s a lovely and vibrant expression of the vintage and a pleasure to drink, with or without food.

Drink now and enjoy long into the night. If you're interested in food pairings, I'd try this wine with a fennel and garlic pork roast, butternut squash bisque, leek and pecorino flatbread pizzas or wild mushroom bruschetta. Or just enjoy it all on its own, it's that good.

Chambers' labels are simple, clean with a striking and memorable blue butterfly honoring the winemaker's mother who encouraged her to pursue her winemaking passion. Chambers also makes a Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir that would probably be worth checking out (I think I love practically anything from the Shea Vineyard). This is Elizabeth Chambers’ first vintage, I look forward to seeing what comes out of her cellar next.

Monday, April 7, 2014

11 Things You'll Never Hear a Wine Lover Say

A wine lover says many things. He or she may talk of laying bottles down, aging wine, wine flights, wine keys or even wine sabers. The following however, are expressions you'll never hear the wineaux in your life utter. 

My list went on and on, but I limited to my favorite Top 11. Please add your own to the comment stream and keep the fun going. Cheers!
  1. I think this glass is too big.
  2. Let me sniff the cork to see if the wine is good.
  3. One corkscrew in my drawer is enough.
  4. Here, let's just use these plastic cups.
  5. The best wines really come from Iowa.
  6. No wine for me thanks, I'd like a Miller Light instead.
  7. Not right now, I think I'll wait for dinner.
  8. God I love Manishewitz.
  9. May I please have glass of Sutter Home?
  10. Really? Wine, on a picnic?
  11. We shouldn't open that bottle, we'll never be able to finish it tonight.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Taste of Syrah is a Taste You'll Remember

Coming up next weekend is an event like no other. Yeah, it's located on the fabulous McMennamin's Edgefield property, which is always a plus, but weekend The Celebration of Syrah event, features so much more than just delicious Syrahs from Oregon and Washington and more than just the Grand Tasting on Saturday, April 12 from 4-7pm.

Kick-off the celebration weekend out with a bang at the Syrah Dinner and Rhone White Reception. The evening begins with a taste of delectably aromatic Viogniers at 6:30pm on Friday April 11th, and is followed by an elegant feast prepared by Black Rabbit Executive Chef Kenny Giambalvo paired with seven Northwest Syrahs (which happen to be hosted by the winemakers themselves). Look at the following lineup and tell me you don't want to go. $95 per person (tickets available on their website).

Particpating Wineries:
McCrea Cellars  – Seattle, Washington – 2008 Syrah Cuvee Orleans
Quady North – Jacksonville, Oregon – 2009 Steelhead Run Syrah
AniChe Cellars – Underwood, Washington – 2011 Atticus Syrah
Lady Hill Winery – St. Paul, Oregon – 2011 Ad Lucem Syrah
Tertulia Cellars – Walla Walla, Washington – 2008 Patina Vineyard Syrah
Andrew Rich – Carlton, Oregon – 2010 Prometheus Syrah
McMenamins Edgefield Winery – Troutdale, Oregon – 2007 Fireside Syrah (dessert wine) and 2011 Syrah Chukar Ridge Vineyard

On Saturday, April 12, at 11am, explore other varietals from the Rhone region at a lovely lunch under a canopy of trees in the Little Red Shed Fir Grove (weather permitting… fingers crossed). Enjoy a mouth-watering menu inspired by the dishes from the South of France, paired with wines from that region (think Viognier, Syrah, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache, etc). Just $45 per person and worth every penny (tickets available on their website).

Particpating Wineries:
McCrea Cellars  – Seattle, Washington
Quady North – Jacksonville, Oregon 
AniChe Cellars – Underwood, Washington 
Lady Hill Winery – St. Paul, Oregon
Domaine Poillon – Lyle, Washington
McMenamins Edgefield Winery – Troutdale, Oregon

These events all lead up to the grand event, the grande finale. Top off your Syrah celebration with a Grand Syrah Tasting on Saturday April 12th, from 4-7pm. You'll have the opportunity to tast over 70 Syrah and Rhone style wines. You'll not only see selections from Washington and Oregon, but West Coast, French and even Australian wineries will be making their presence known as well. The wines will be paired with hors d'oeuvres in classic McMenamins style. $45 per person (tickets available on their website).

Overnight stays are also available, always a good option after a party like this. Check out different lodging packages here and keep in mind that proceeds from the silent auction at the Grand Tasting go to Salud! to provide healthcare benefits to seasonal vineyard workers and their families. Bid away, it's a worthy cause to get behind.

Hope to see you there!