Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turn the Wheel of Life with Glee


















There is perhaps no better reminder of the cycles of life than the budding of a grape. It proves the strength of the well-founded root, the necessity in any endeavor of a good foundation. It shows us the hope that pervades the miracle of renewal. It is a reminder that our ability to harness nature, in our own puny ways, carries an obligation to protect it.

The cycle of life idea carries through even to our careers, which made me recall this poem:

Turn the wheel of life with glee,

And choose happiness o'er the other,

For the challenges here are rich and free

And yours could be met by another.


(I wrote that in the 1980's, on a jet to somewhere on yet another business trip--kind of an instruction to myself, to not get discouraged)

PS-Those are my grapes. It's a late budbreak this year in the Willamette Valley, but who cares? Everything depends on the strength and length of summer, and we all know that doesn't begin until July 5.





Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Olympic Cellars; Joy's Bistro; Good wine in strange places


We found Olympic Cellars, totally by chance. It's in a converted barn on the highway between Sequim and Port Angeles. Where is that, you ask? Ah, it's not such a small world, after all, is it? It's on the Northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, where you might find yourself if you were taking the ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, B.C., to take tea with your spouse at the Empress Hotel, overlooking a beautiful city and bay.


Olympic Cellars makes the Working Girl label of wines, and we met one of THE Working Girls there, and she was, well, working. We greatly enjoyed these value wines, which I will soon offer to my email list, after a certain charity winetasting fundraiser is completed. The fruit is trucked in all the way from Walla Walla and Yakima. When we asked for a good spot for dinner, we were directed to Joy's Bistro. The Olympic Cellars winemaker, Benoit ("Ben-wah"), is Joy's spouse, and he was our waiter at Joy's, where we had a great dinner (in a ville that needs a few good restaurants). Anyway, Benoit was trained in enology at the University of Bordeaux, and he worked in some famous French wineries before coming here, finding Olympic Cellars in a remarkably out of the way place (seriously, how long since you've been in Sequim? ;) ("Squimm"), and falling in love. His presence there is your gain. Make plans to visit Olympic Cellars and eat at Joy's.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cocoa Velvet!

Hey, everybody,

We had a wonderful chocolate and wine tasting with Paul and Kristin Atkinson, a week ago: About 40 lucky folks came to our place and let P&K walk us through some really great tasting chocolates. Each one was from a different country, but made by the same French chocolatier. Then, we sampled truffles handmade by Cocoa Velvet; ooh la la! My favorite is either the salted caramel (divine with Lange Pinot gris) or the Pomogranate Green Tea Truffle. We enjoyed a sangio, some Dow ports (ruby and tawny), a Madeira (Miles Madeira's Rainwater), and some other reds (including some 2000 Bordeaux); it was surprising how well good chocolate pairs with dry wines! Chocolate-it's not just for port anymore. What a great event! Please give your support to Cocoa Velvet, and let's help them keep growing into a full-time business!

Recycle your corks!

This is from the Oregonian food section:

Exciting news for those of us who devote trash-can space to wine corks: We can now recycle corks (the ones made from real cork) at any Whole Foods Market in Oregon or Washington. Just take your stash to the wine section of your nearest store and look for the receptacle. The Cork ReHarvest program is a collaboration between Willamette Valley Vineyards and its distributors as well as Whole Foods Market, the Rainforest Alliance and Western Pulp Products, which will use the recycled cork to create wine-shipping inserts for cardboard boxes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

March 2009: Taste Walla Walla - Trade Tasting

This is a fun event every year, although it is getting harder and harder to participate--this year, I had to justify my business' authenticity and write an especially pleading letter, but at last I was in. The big benefit from the special scrutiny was that gone were the waitstaff who in past years got plastered and kind of clogged up the room, without any intention of buying wine.

I maintain that Walla Walla (and Tri Cities and Yakima) give better quality for the money than anywhere else in the USA. A tasting of Chateau Montelena (Calistoga; northern end of the Napa Valley) recently proved this, yet again, to me.

My favorite wine of the day was Cougar Crest's Cab franc. Wow! It's fantastic. Great fruit, super bouquet, tremendous balance. Couldn't convince any of my customers to try any, perhaps due to the recession.

Second fave was a tie between Seven Hills cab and their malbec. And Reininger cab is great. K Vintners is tempting, and all its wines got scored greater than 90 from Spectator, which is no doubt a first for just about any winery, but their wines have gotten too big for me--the Viognier is like drinking a sharp knife. Zerba's wines are still very good, but didn't ring the bell quite as much as they did last year. Five Star is teriffic. Dowsett Gewurztraminer was a special find--no lychee taste, but that's not bad--the wine is perfectly balanced and has everything you could want in a great white.

Walla Walla is the bomb--it's not just for onions anymore.