View from a glass at Pinot Days in Los Angeles.
Wine reviews coming up!
View from a glass at Pinot Days in Los Angeles.
Wine reviews coming up!
SHE SAYS: Well, here they come – more Pinot wine makers than you can even imagine serving up over 400 pinot wines. I’m trying hard to imagine it, but I won’t have to imagine it on Saturday as I’ll be in the “thick” of it experiencing it. The winemakers are unveiling their 2007 vintage and it is an acclaimed vintage.
Look at some of your options!
Thrs. Jan. 13 – The Winemakers “Table Hop” dinner
Thrs. Jan. 13 – Pinot 101 – at K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood (a free event)
Fri. Jan. 14 – “Meet the Winemakers” Night at West Restaurant at Hotel Angeleno
Sat. Jan. 15 – The Pinot Days Grand Festival Public Tasting
..and then there is grilled cheese and wine (yum), VIP Tour and lots more.
See all of your Pinot Days options here: http://bit.ly/PinotDays2011EventsList
With 125 producers of pinot noir, you’ll be able to sample up to 400 pinots (Who are we kidding? No, you won’t – I mean no one can sample that many in one day and be able to make any distinctions – but you will try as many as you can.)
From the Russian River Valley to the Santa Lucia Highlands, Oregon to Carneros, Anderson Valley to the Sonoma Coast and to the Santa Rita Hills (one of our personal favorites.) Taste the wines, talk with the wine makers and visit the specialty food purveyors who will be serving up the foods that pair well with pinot.
SHE says: The first Thanksgiving I spent with HE’s family was super-big. It was crowded with lots of relatives, but what I noticed more than anything was HE’s turkey was awesome. Super-moist. “How did he do that,” I wondered. He made me wait a WHOLE YEAR until Thanksgiving #2 to share the big turkey secrets. He knew it didn’t matter because I would never actually be cooking a turkey myself, so he made me wait. And now, I share “the big secrets” with you.
The big secrets for moist turkey?
#1 – SALT IT! Salt for 2-3 days. Use 1/4 cup of Kosher salt for every 20 lbs of turkey . Yep. Just clean the turkey, rub the salt inside the cavity and all over the bird. Set your salted turkey into a BIG plastic bag, tie the end and set it in your refrigerator (breast up) for 2-3 days. (3 days if you have the time.) Don’t be alarmed if after the first day there is some liquid in the bag. That liquid will be reabsorbed into the bird.
#2 – UPSIDE DOWN IT! The day you cook your turkey, rinse off the bird (inside and out), pat it dry and season per your favorite recipe w/stuffing if you like stuffing. THEN the first 30 minutes roast the turkey UPSIDE DOWN in a roaster at 425 degrees. The juices will head towards the turkey’s breast. Then, for the rest of your cooking time, turn the oven down to 325 with the turkey right side up. If your oven is small, you can protect the top w/a foil tent and in the final 30 minutes or so, take off the tin foil tent and let ‘er roast. You’ll have a truly beautifully roasted turkey! The upside down technique really works to make your turkey a juicy turkey.
And now… for the Thanksgiving wines...
HE SAYS: If you want a white wine, almost any Chardonnay you like will do. Personal recommendations for easy to find, easy to buy Chardonnays are below. Print this list out, take it to your nearby wine store and if they don’t have one of these exact wines, ask them for something similar. You’ll be a star dinner guest.
Chateau St. Michelle 2008 from Washington is (usually under $10) is a terrific Chardonnay. Socred a “90″ by those people who score wines.
2007 Qupe Reserve Bien Nacido – from Santa Barbara area, we’ve had Qupe many times and it is consistently good. (around $20)
Rombauer (approx $32/bottle)
Or a chardonnay from Longoria Wines for approx $35.
If you like red wines, Barrysentials recommends a Pinot Noir. Again, most of these are easily and readily available at a local wine store, a World Market store, Whole Foods or larger wine cave. Just print the list and take it with you and ask the sales person for assistance. Here are a few to try:
Melville Estate Pinot Noir (around $25) is reliable in almost any vintage and not too big to overpower your Thanksgiving feast.
2009 Redtree Pinot Noir (you might be able to find as low as $6/bottle) hard to believe it can sell for $6 but by now you’ve heard the market is a little flooded with wine. Don’t be afraid of that screw cap…it’s all the rage now creating a much stronger seal while the wine ages.
2008 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir from New Zealand ($15/bottle)
Good luck my friends! Let us know how it goes!
Torii Mor winery is in Dundee, Oregon. HE is foggy with his memory of visiting Torii Mor with Andy in 2001. HE remembers being lost on the road in Oregon wine country. There was a lot of fog, and he recalls thinking “This can’t be right…we are lost…this isn’t it…” and then voila! Like arriving at a retreat, he recalls. Nice thing about the fog – very few will brave the confusion and mystery all the way to the end, so they had the winery to themselves. A passageway to beautiful things as the Japanese name Torii Mor promises. To read complete details of the creation of this winery and the meaning of Torii Mor, the link is here: http://www.toriimorwinery.com/index.htm
And so, for the Torii Mor, 2007 Pinot Noir we share:
HE SAYS: Nice, nose. Rose petals and violet. Pleasant cherry flavors. Not big body though. nice and drinkable. Serve with: Dinner – pork with cranberry or apple sauce on the side.
SHE SAYS: A very sexy everyday wine. Serve with: A friend who likes to get nekked.
Torii Mor is busy organizing their operations in a way that respects the environment and is pursuing their LEED certification. If you’re in the Oregon wine country, why not stop in and check it out.
HE and SHE both say: This is a very special wine that we share with you. Melville Winery is a favorite spot of ours. Melville Winery is located in the Santa Rita Hills of Lompoc, California, in the Santa Ynez Valley. Got all that? Hills, Valley, Saints, California, Mediterranean architecture . . . traces of heaven, right? We’ve had a bottle of 2005 Melville every August for the last three years and every year it gets better. Find some if you can.
Do we have an ulterior motive? Indeed we do. We are sharing our joy with you. 2005 Melville wines were in the oak barrels Aug. 2006 when we celebrated our marriage with a wedding reception in the barrel room at Melville Winery. There were only 30 of us, but it felt like 300 and there was a ton of love, joy, dancing, good karma and laughter seeping into the barrels and “terroir” of Melville that day. When the 2005 wines were released, we bought a case — half pinot noir, half syrah — with the idea that we’d drink a bottle each year to celebrate our anniversary. When we decided we wanted to be married longer than 12 years, we went shopping for more. Uh, oh.
Now, back to the 2005 Melville Estate Pinot Noir, Verna’s
SHE drank her 2005 Melville Pinot with perfectly grilled lamb chops (medium rare, thank you), mashed potatoes, roasted heirloom tomatoes with eggplant, and Parma ham with melon and figs. HE drank his 2005 Melville Pinot with that same tremendous Parma ham, melon and fig appetizer — a pairing made in heaven — and veal saltimbocca topped with more Parma ham. Simply delicious.
HE SAYS: This wine was unbelievably good. From the very first smell to the glory of that first taste, all the way to the last swallow, this wine was outstanding. Beautiful color, with a lovely rose petal and violet scented nose, with a touch of mustiness. In the mouth, a most delicious bowl of strawberries and cherries. Very soft and well balanced, a real treat. We tasted this wine at Melville in May ’07 and my notes say “tasty, nice body, good balance” — a respectable 14+ in my ratings. No doubt the occasion and symbolism of the wine played a part, but this wine has grown up and developed into a seriously terrific wine. It was truly one of the finest California or Oregon pinot noirs I have ever tasted. It could be peaking now — gonna have to wait another year and see. A thundering 18+!
SHE SAYS: Wow. An 18+ Melville, are you reading? I hope he describes me like that someday. So to this lovely Pinot Noir, I say, “Mmmmmm. You are so sexy the way you sneak in and light my fire. Thank you!”
HE SAYS: One more note on Melville wines — I generally prefer their main line from Verna’s for pinot and syrah versus their Santa Rita Hills and other single vineyard designations. I find the fruit more forward and approachable in the Verna’s, which comes from their ranch in Los Alamos. Regardless, they consistently make very nice wines and their winery setting is just gorgeous. And if you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out Babcock right next door. SHE SAYS: That is way too much information for me. I just drink it.
HE and SHE both say: If you can find any 2005 Melville wines that were in the barrels that summer, we say pay whatever they want, just buy it!
Nov. 30, 2007, marked the 16th year of our blind wine tastings on the eve of the USC-UCLA football game. Venom and Vinum we coined it. Venom, referring to the sports rivalry, and vinum, the wine. The Trojans won again (they’ve now beaten the lowly Bruins 8 times in the last 9 years), but that’s another story. There is a secret wine group we’ve cultivated – we were 16 tasters this year – we get together and bring a bottle based on the evening’s theme. Most of the time we’ve gone with cabernets, but we’ve changed up the last few years and did zinfandel, then syrah, and this time pinot noir. The particulars are that everyone had to bring a bottle of 2005 pinot noir from anywhere in California, priced between $15 and $40. We do the tasting after dinner. The bottles are wrapped in foil so (presumably) no one knows which bottle is theirs, and we pour the wines one at a time. There were 9 wines, so everybody had to bring 9 glasses.
It was quite a sight to see a table of 16 with 9 glasses in front of everyone! Click here to see. 9 x 16 + 144 glasses After everyone has tasted all the wines and gone back to compare, we each rank them from best to worst and tally up the votes. To read the details on how He scores wines, click on the post titled He shoots, He Scores! Here are notes from He and She in the order the group ranked the 9 wines, from worst to first. Prices are what people paid in L.A. Scores and comments follow. 2005 Valley of the Moon Pinot Noir ($18)– He said: I gave this a 14 (avg). It has pretty good body, but was a bit acidic, which other tasters didn’t like. Not great. It placed 9th in the tasting. SHE Said: eh? (short and to the point) This means not particularly memorable to her. Sort of like the guy you made out with in the parking lot when you were in high school and he remembers it, and still talks about it, but even if you try, really, you’re sorry, but you just don’t recall. 2005 Chalone Pinot Noir (Monterey) ($35) – He said: I scored this 15+. This wine changed a lot in the first 5 minutes in the glass. It started out kind of funky, but with air it got much better. It had a good body and decent acid levels. The funky first tastes and acid probably led to lower scores from the group. I ranked it based on the final tastes and had it as my third best wine. SHE Said: A day in a dusty attic is what this wine is. A day in an empty, dusty attic. Way too dusty to be only 2 years old. 2005 J Pinot Noir (Sonoma-Russian River Valley) ($30) – He said: I gave it a 15. This was a nice, simple wine. Almost Carneros pinot style. Pleasant to drink, but in a big tasting like this it wasn’t big enough to stand out. SHE Said: It just disappears…like so many blind dates. Pfft. 2005 Hartford Family Vineyards Pinot Noir (Sonoma) ($40) – He said: 15 points. My friend had high hopes for this wine, basing it on tasting reviews. It had a very berry nose, was soft and easy drinking, but not as complex as some others. Similar to the Dierberg, but with more acid. You’d want to drink this wine soon. SHE Said: Strong on the tongue – and that’s all I’ll say about that one. 2005 Capieaux Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands) ($40) – He said: I gave it 14+. An earthy pinot with medium tannins. It was kind of dry. It was OK, but not great. Certainly not worth the high price tag. SHE said: What’s with the fizz? 2005 Dierberg (Santa Maria) ($37) – He said: I gave it 15+. This was a nice wine with great color and inviting berry flavors. It had decent acid, so it could age. The Dierberg vineyard has been one of the premier pinot vineyards in the Santa Barbara county, but this is the first time I’ve had a wine under their label. I’ve had several nice bottlings from other vineyards in year’s past, so it’s a very solid bet. SHE Said: I gave it a 5 on a scale of 1-10, but I’ll be darned if I can remember why. It came in 4th place, so it’s a decent wine.
2005 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir (La Encantada, Santa Rita Hills) ($40) – He said: Well, here’s the story on this one. This is the bottle I brought because I had tried it in the summer at the winery and thought it was terrific. Alma Rosa is the winery run by Richard Sanford, who put Sanford winery and much of the Santa Barbara wine region on the map. I gave it a 17 at the time, which is an outstanding score for me. It was a tremendously delicious wine with cherry berry fruits. Big, but approachable and happy. A wine to drink now or in 1-2 years. So, flash forward to the tasting, and the same wine I give a 13+ and have comments like “nothing special and thin.” How to explain this? I can’t. I’ve never had something like this happen before. The rest of the group scored it high enough to place it a respectable third. It couldn’t have been corked because it has a screw cap. Maybe it was me – I’d like to give this another try. SHE Said: I LOVE it! He finally spends $40 on a bottle of wine and he hates it. Oh the irony! Oh, the pain! It took him days to recover, poor thing. As for the wine, I loved it, it was one of my favorites of the evening. SHE’s final word on that wine, “O000h!…it’s like an interesting friend from Chicago…” 2005 Rusack Pinot Noir ($32) – He said: I gave this a 16. It was a very nice wine, easy drinking, good body. A very solid effort from this winery between Los Olivos and Solvang in the Santa Barbara region. This finished in second place for the group. SHE said: Nice, very interesting. But over time, just a bit too spicy. Like a dancer I knew who I thought would make a good friend. Over time, I was so very wrong. 2005 Orogeny (Sonoma, Green Valley) ($30) – He said: This wine earned a 17+, which is excellent/outstanding. The plus probably reflects that I had a bit too much to drink. But it was the clear winner in the group, earning the most number 1 votes by far. It is a yummy, delicious pinot noir. Lots of cherry/berry fruit, great balance. Simply terrific. I wrote that it is the Santa Barbara style (like wines 2-5), but it’s from Northern California. I’d never heard of this winery, but Manhattan Fine Wines was carrying it and recommended it and they were right on the nose with this. Orogeny, I learned from the label, is the greek word for a geologic term for mountain creation. Turns out their grapes are from the Dutton Ranch, which I knew was highly acclaimed for chardonnay, but I had never had pinot from them. Their first vintage release was 2002, so they’re relatively new, but they certainly are worth keeping an eye on. This 2005 pinot is worth seeking out and is the only wine that I think was well worth the price. Get some and enjoy. SHE said: Very nice. A happy wine, right from the start. Doesn’t make me work to hard to figure it out. Ahhhh, my new best friend.