Pinot Noir

#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!

Autumn Food & Wine Parings with Fine Wine Divas

Our Fine Wine Divas October event was all about this delicious season, Autumn Food & Wine Pairings.

We gathered at the fabulous new hotel and hot spot in Washington, DC, The Graham Georgetown, in their farm-to-table restaurant, A.G.B.

And our wine selection for the evening took us around the world:

  • NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner from Austria
  • 2012 Idiot’s Grace Riesling from Washington, USA
  • 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from California, USA
  • 2009 Domaine Rois Mages Rully Blanc “Les Callioux,” from France
  • 2003 Castello di Lucignano Chianti Classico Riserva from Italy
  • 2011 Venge Vineyards Scout’s Honor from California
  • 2003 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington

While we enjoyed all of the wines, our top two for the evening were:

NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner Sekt

Gruner

  • Variety: Grüner Veltliner (sparkling) from Kamptal Valley, Austria
  • Aroma: Blossoms and stone fruit
  • Taste: Lychee and citrus
  • Price: $23.99
  • Pair with: Salty or fried appetizers, or on its own as an apertif
  • My thoughts: This was a real treat! Not only did I enjoy this sparking wine from Austria but it reminded me I need to try more Grüner Veltliner as a refreshing white wine.

 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

  • Variety: Pinot Noir from Napa Valley, California
  • Aroma: Black raspberries, plum and forest floor
  • Taste: Creamy and spicy plums
  • Price: $70
  • Pair with: Anything with mushrooms, seafood and roast chicken
  • My thoughts: Elegant, smooth, and comforting, and a nice fuller bodied Pinot Noir.

While the Grüner was served on its own, it would also work well with the delicious charcuterie. The Pinot Noir was versatile enough to pair with everything, but we particularly enjoyed it with a savory mushroom and blue cheese crostini.

Our lovely host for the evening, The Graham Hotel, is Washington DC’s newest boutique hotel. The restaurant was delicious and cozy. The Observatory, the rooftop bar and lounge, offers guest panoramic views of the nation’s capital. It was the hot spot this summer as the only rooftop bar in Georgetown.

Everyone walked away with some great new ideas for wine and food pairings for the season.

Cheers to Autumn!

New Virginia Wine Lovers: Fine Wine Divas Trip to Early Mountain Vineyards

Our July Fine Wine Divas event took the Ladies on a field trip to Virginia wine country. As most live in the DC area, it was time to immerse them in this great wine region in their backyard. Most came in skeptical … all walked away convinced … Virginia has great things to offer wine lovers!

The Venue

We set out to Early Mountain Vineyards, about 90 miles south of DC, on Saturday. It’s a great spot to take anyone interested in Virginia wine. Not only can you taste Early Mountain’s great wines, but they also have the Best of Virginia program. Best of Virginia is an initiative created to celebrate and champion the finest wines of Virginia by featuring them in the tasting room. This is your virtual tour across the state. Their partner wineries include Thibaut-JanissonKing Family VineyardsLinden VineyardsBarboursville VineyardsChatham VineyardsBreaux Vineyards and Ankida Ridge Vineyards. Wines from the partner wineries are tasted in flights, offered by the glass and sold by the bottle, along with the local curated food program of panini, salad, cheese, charcuterie and sweets.

The History

On our ride down, we gave a little on the history of Virginia wine. It dates back four centuries to the original English settlers of Jamestown in 1607. They were required to grow 10 grapevines each of European origin when they arrived in Virginia, but diseased vines prevented anything from coming of it. Thomas Jefferson, with the help of his Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei, tried for over 30 years to grow vines at Monticello, but again wine was never produced. The mid-1800s showed promise when the Virginia Norton wine, made from Native American grapes, was named “best red wine of all nations” at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair and received a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Unfortunately Prohibition in the early 20th-century stopped all wine production. But in the 1970s with six new wineries, Virginia’s wine comeback began. Watch this great video from Virginia Wine for more details.

The Tasting

Early Mountain put together a fabulous wine tasting and food pairing afternoon for us. The Virginia wine tour included…

  • 2012 Early Mountain Pinot Gris
  • 2012 Lovingston Winery Seyval Blanc
  • 2012 King Family Vineyards Crosé
  • 2012 Early Mountain “Block 11” Petit Manseng
  • 2011 Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir
  • 2011 Early Mountain Handshake
  • 2011 Sunset Hills Vineyard Petit Verdot
  • 2012 Glen Manor Petit Manseng

And the top 3 favorites…

2011 Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Round black cherry and cassis
  • Taste: Fresh cherry and white pepper
  • Price: $42
  • My thoughts: This is a Virginia stand out. They say Virginia can’t grow Pinot Noir but Ankida Ridge shows they can. One of our Ladies is a huge Pinot fan and said, “Virginia has done well!”

2012 Early Mountain “Block 11” Petit Manseng

  • Variety: 65% Petit Manseng, 35% Muscat
  • Aroma: Apricot and floral
  • Taste: Honey and apricot
  • Price: $24
  • My thoughts: Everyone loved this wine! It’s fruit forward taste was also a great pairing with the foods.

2012 Lovingston Winery Seyval Blanc

  • Variety: 100% Seyval Blanc
  • Aroma: Citrus
  • Taste: Citrus and white fruits
  • Price: $20
  • My thoughts: As a cousin of Sauvignon Blanc, this is a great option to that wine. It’s got more floral and fruit notes then the typical Sauvignon Blanc’s grassy and citrus flavor.

This is also the first tasting I can remember that we’ve had several Ladies like each of the wines. Very good news for Virginia wine!

Cheers to Early Mountain for a fabulous afternoon! Mission accomplished..we have more Virginia wine ambassadors spreading the word!

Visit these pages for more on Grape Occasions on Virginia wine and Early Mountain Vineyards.

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: Red Speed Tasting at Wine Bloggers Conference 2012

As part of the 5th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, we had the opportunity to travel Oregon and around the world via wine glass.

During Live Wine Blogging sessions, think speed dating for discovering new favorite wines, we spent a fast paced hour of wineries visiting tables and giving several minute presentations on the one wine they were pouring. Our table for the Red session had ten wineries pour for us of the 31 pouring.

Here were my favorites, no surprise two lovely Oregon Pinot Noir, and where you can find them…

Alexana Winery 2009 Signature Pinot Noir

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley Dundee Hills, selected from Alexana’s top nine barrels
  • Aroma: Red fruit and molasses
  • Taste: Cola, cherry and molasses
  • Price: $75
  • My thoughts: This wine and the other two I tried at the conference are stunning in aroma and taste (2010 Alexana Pinot Noir – Revana Vineyard $42 and 2011 Pinot Gris Dundee Hills $26)! Alexana Winery is owned by Dr. Madaiah Revana, also of Revana Family Vineyard in Napa Valley, and the wines are made by Oregon’s famous winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash. Dr. Revana’s goal is to produce Pinot Noirs that rival those of Burgundy, France. The 80-acre property is unique in that it has eighteen soil types (great picture of this on their homepage). This wine, I believe, is only available for wine club members. You can order the others here.

J. Christopher 2010 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir from three of Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVAs: Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains, Eola Hills
  • Aroma: Big dark fruit
  • Taste: Dark fruit with a nice minerality
  • Price: $28
  • My thoughts: This wine is unfiltered making it very nice and fruit forward! J. Christopher, a small winery established in 1996 by Jay Somers, specializes in Pinot Noir made using the traditional methods of Burgundy, France. This passion for Pinot Noir formed a friendship between Jay and the famous German winemaker Ernst Loosen, Dr. Loosen and J.L. Wolf wines. In 2010 they formed a partnership building a winery and vineyard in Newberg, Oregon. The new venture produces wines under the already established “J. Christopher” brand. You can buy the wines online.

Seven of Hearts 2010 Chatte d’Avignon

  • Variety: Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre from the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge in the Columbia Valley AVA
  • Aroma: Leathery dark fruit
  • Taste: White pepper and raspberry
  • Price: $25
  • My thoughts: This red wine, inspired by France’s Rhône region reds, is yummy! Seven of Hearts is the passion of Byron Dooley and his wife Dana, started in 2006. It’s a great story! Visit their tasting room in Carlton, Oregon and order their wines online.

For more Live Wine Blogging, see my White & Rose article.

Cheers!