Pinot Gris

#pinkiesdown: it’s wine in a can

Love that hashtag. You’ll find it on Union Wine Company’s Underwood Pinot in a Can. It sums up their approach to wine and wine making…making crafted wines from Oregon that are affordable.

Underwood is just one of three wine brands from Union Wine Company.  They also have Kings Ridge and Alchemist.

Union Wine Company

Underwood draws from the diverse palette of vineyards and wine growing regions that Oregon offers to create approachable everyday drinking wine.

I’d been interested in trying the wine in a can since it came out and finally came across it at Cordial Wine in DC’s Union Market. And boy was it fun popping a can of wine. 🙂

Underwood Pinot in a Can

Underwood Pinot Gris

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Gris
  • Aroma: Peach and grapefruit
  • Taste: Peach, grapefruit, pear
  • Price: $24 for a 4 pack one their website. One can is 375ml so half a bottle.
  • My thoughts: Loved it! Definitely gonna order more of this for the summer…perfect for the beach, picnics, concerts in the park. You can smell the goodness in the can and the taste is right on Oregon Pinot Gris.

Underwood Pinot Noir

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Cherry
  • Taste: Cherry, raspberry, hints of cocoa
  • Price: $24 for a 4 pack on their website. One can is 375ml so half a bottle.
  • My thoughts: Picked up a little cherry on the nose in the can. Taste had much more depth but a light Pinot Noir. Still a great summer red option…would be great with a slight chill.

Also ordering their Underwood Rosé bottle. Looks gorgeous and only $12.

You can’t go wrong with Oregon Pinot! #pinkiesdown cheers!

West Coast Book Tour Wine & Travel Adventures: Sarver Winery

One of the great things about a West Coast Book Launch Tour (for my new book, KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Paris, France) was the great travel and wine experiences to be had…from Washington to Oregon to California!

After Washington, we hit Oregon and THE region for Pinot Noir in the U.S….Willamette Valley. Sarver Winery was our stop outside Eugene as they hosted our Oregon launch event.

We had story times and activities for the kids, and the adults enjoyed the fabulous wines and beautiful vistas at this family owned winery. It’s the perfect family destination with Erin and Chris as wonderful hosts.

Elhanan Vineyard at Sarver Winery was established in 1984 as one of the first growers of premium Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes in the southern Willamette Valley. Chris and Erin took it over in winter 2008.

At the end of our event, I was able to taste through their incredible wine line up…2011 Estate Stainless Pinot Gris, 2011 Estate Barrel-Aged Pinot Gris, 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé (bottle and on tap), 2010 Estate Grown Pinot Noir, 2009 Cuvée (blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Syrah), 2011 Gewürztraminer, 2011 Estate Riesling and 2007 Porto “Syrato.” Truly all the wines were outstanding, but I had to pick a few to take home …

Sarver Winery 2011 Estate Stainless Pinot Gris

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Gris
  • Aroma: Floral, citrus
  • Taste: White flowers, lemongrass
  • Price: $15.00
  • My thoughts: You can’t beat a Pinot Gris from Oregon and this is the perfect example!

Sarver Winery 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Summer berries
  • Taste: Strawberry, raspberry with hints of earthiness
  • Price: $19.00
  • My thoughts: This was my favorite! They were serving it from the bottle and on tap, giving it a little CO2 and effervescence…fun but I preferred it straight from the bottle. Perfect for the start of summer!

With summer coming, I went with these, but I will definitely be ordering their Estate Grown Pinot Noir for Autumn!

Special thank you to Wine Julia for the suggestion, coordination and all the promotion!

Cheers to Sarver Winery, the amazing Pinot Noir they are growing, and the Willamette Valley!

More to come from the West Coast Book Tour Wine & Travel Adventures.

Wine Discoveries: White & Rosé Speed Tasting at Wine Bloggers Conference 2012

In addition to visiting three fabulous wineries at the 5th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, we had the opportunity to travel Oregon and around the world via wine glass.

One lively tasting opportunity was the Live Wine Blogging, think speed dating for discovering new favorite wines. This fast paced hour has wineries visiting tables and giving several minute presentations on the one wine they are pouring. Our table for the Whites & Rosés session had 9 wineries pour for us of the 29 pouring. Here were my favorites and where you can find them…

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Va de Vi

  • Variety: 89% Pinot Noir, 8% Chardonnay, 3% Muscat from Sonoma, California
  • Aroma: Apple and pear notes
  • Taste: Vanilla peach with hints of citrus
  • Price: $22
  • My thoughts: In Barcelona they say, “Va de Vi!”, “it’s about the wine!” This new sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer, the first sparkling wine house in California’s Carneros region, celebrates their Spanish heritage. I really liked the mouth feel of this wine…small bubbles and velvety with a touch of sweetness. You can order it here.


Recuerdo Wines 2010 Torrontés 

  • Variety: 100% Torrontés from Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina
  • Aroma: Floral and citrus
  • Taste: Crisp honeysuckle and peach
  • Price: $15
  • My thoughts: New white grape discovery for me. As the team sampling said, “It’s the new Sauvignon Blanc.” Perfect as I’m a Sauvignon Blanc fan. This wine “captures the best of Argentina’s unique terroir.” Recuerdo Wines, which means ‘memory’ or ‘momento’ in Spanish, is an interesting partnership between Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley and The Vines of Mendoza in Argentina. You can order this wine and their Malbec here.

Benton-Lane 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Gris from Monroe, Oregon
  • Aroma: Honeysuckle and grapefruit
  • Taste: Crisp refreshing honeydew melon, peach and hints of lime
  • Price: $17
  • My thoughts: 2011 was one of the coolest growing seasons on record for Oregon but it produced perfect fruit for Benton-Lane’s Pinot Gris. They predominately make Pinot Noir, which is very nice, but I loved this Pinot Gris. Benton-Lane is family-owned, and since their first vintage in 1992, have produced estate grown fruit using sustainable farming practices. They have received more Top 100 Wines of the World than any other Oregon winery. You can order their wines here.

Next Live Wine Blogging, Reds!

The King of Oregon Wine: King Estate Winery

My first sip of King Estate wine was back in 2004 living in Seattle. Since then, they’ve been on my ‘must visit wineries’ list. When this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, to be held in Oregon, announced a pre-conference trip to Eugene with a King Estate Winery visit, I finally had my excuse to visit the King of Oregon wine.

As our bus came around the bend on a gorgeous unseasonably warm August day, you could see the winery sitting on top of the hill among the vineyards. The beauty, very reminiscent of Bordeaux vineyards and château, was complete as we arrived to scents of lavender and the late afternoon sun amplifying the green of the vines.

Founded in 1992 by Ed King Jr, King Estate Winery sits at the bottom of Oregon’s largest AVA, the Willamette Valley. The winery is 1,033 certified organic acres…470 is planted, 300 of that is Pinot Gris. The first vintage from their estate fruit was 1994. They are the largest winery in Oregon producing 250,000 cases per year under three labels.

  • Domaine: made exclusively with organically grown grapes from their estate vineyard
  • Signature: based on a core of organically grown estate fruit with additional fruit sourced from sustainably grown vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley
  • Acrobat: born to introduce even more people to the power and grace of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Grown responsibly in the gorgeous hills and valleys of Western Oregon.

To support this the large quantities, they also buy grapes from 40 other vineyards in the state. The other brand in their portfolio is NxNW which represents wines made from inland grape growing appellations of the Columbia River Basin of Oregon and Washington.

Our first stop at the winery, after we pulled ourselves away from the photogenic grounds, was the side patio of the Restaurant and Tasting Room for a glass of their 2011 Acrobat Pinot Gris and a yummy selection of local cheeses. The Pinot Gris came from the new ‘on tap’ keg system which “makes every pour taste like the first crack of the bottle.”

The tour, which is open to the public, took us through the 100,000-square-foot winery including the enormous underground barrel rooms. We even climbed the tower stairs for sweeping views of the vineyards. It’s hard to believe the little room at the base used to be the tasting room!

Back in the beautiful restaurant, opened in 2006, we were treated to a three-course dinner including Oregon Dungeness Crab Cakes, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Cannelloni, and French Meringue with locally harvested blackberries, lavender syrup and basil ice cream. Over dinner we had their 2009 Domaine Pinot Gris, 2009 NxNW Syrah and Vin Glacé 2011.

Saturday night at the Wine Blogger Awards in Portland, we enjoyed another dinner from King Estate with all the conference attendees. They brought their kitchen and restaurant crew north to create a dinner showcasing their local and sustainable farms and ranches focus in their restaurant. A great micro-site was created to support dinner giving us all the details of the recipes and ingredient sourcing. Pairings with each course included 2011 NxNw Horse Heaven Hills Riesling, 2011 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris, 2010 King Estate Signature Pinot Noir, 2009 NxNw Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2010 King Estate Riesling Vin Glacé.

My favorite wine of their ten tasted over the weekend…

2009 Domaine Pinot Gris

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Gris, blend of five different clones
  • Aroma: Tropical fruit and citrus
  • Taste: Pineapple, mango and honey
  • Price: $25
  • My thoughts: I’m a big fan of all King Estate Pinot Gris but you can tell this one is special…lots of depth and complexity. This wine was whole cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented.

Which leads me to what I think is one of the greatest things about King Estate…they make fabulous wines that are a great introduction to Oregon wine and it’s specialty, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Because of their size and impressive distribution, it is easy to find their wines in the U.S. and they are also international. With three King Estate labels, there is something for every price level.

Once people taste these great examples of Oregon wine, they realize this is a wine region with something special to offer the wine world. I speak from experience.

Cheers to King Estate Winery, the King of Oregon wine!

World of Oregon Wine: Wine Bloggers Conference 2012

Wine bloggers of the world have descended on Oregon this week to explore the state’s wine offerings. For those of you that haven’t tried an Oregon Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir, get out there and get one!

Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll share more about the world of Oregon wine. I spent the last few days in the Eugene area, southern part of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine region, visiting the world-renowned King Estate Winery and a spectacular boutique winery Pfeiffer Vineyards. We also tried some lovely wines at Heidi Tunnell’s gorgeous barn alongside her catering company‘s yummy offerings.

Now in Portland, last night’s Welcome Reception kicked off the three days of festivities. I sampled some incredible wines from Alexana Winery and Anne Amie Vineyards among others.

Stay tuned for more updates. On Twitter follow me @GrapeOccasions and #WBC12 for all the fun.

Cheers to Oregon wine!