San Juan Vineyards Siegerrebe

March is Washington Wine Month, and is the perfect excuse to try different wines from all over Washington State. And what better place to start than the beautiful San Juan Islands and a bottle of San Juan Vineyards 2012 Siegerrebe.

I had never heard of Siegerrebe until I tried this wine, prompting me to find out a little more about this varietal. Siegerrebe is German and means “Victory Vine”.  The grape is grown primarily in Germany, but is also grown in a few other spots around the world, including Washington State.  It also grows well in a colder climate, making the San Juans a good spot. This grape is also very high in sugar, and is similar to the muscat grape.

san juan vineyardsThe wine was very light yellow, almost clear, with a nose of honey and citrus.  But there was more to it, I also felt like the wine smelled almost green, like spring, as well as an almost mildew odor. *Odd, I know.* I can be pretty sensitive to smell, and the mildew really threw me off.

The wine tasted delicious, it was light and fruity, with hints of tangerine and citrus. But I honestly could not get past the mildew nose. I have a feeling this is part of the grape, and is where it starts to be reminiscent of the muscat grape.

I don’t mean to talk bad about the wine either.  The flavor was wonderful, but for some reason my sensitivity to the smell made it hard for me to enjoy. I really think this was just me, as everyone else in my party seemed to enjoy the wine.

I will have to try another bottle of Siegerrebe in the future to see if I have the same experience or if the wine has a bit different nose to it.

Chicken Spiedini, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a little Treveri to ring in the New Year

Continuing my virtual journey through Italy, I incorporated a little bit of Italian cuisine into our holiday meal.  One of my favorite meals that my husband prepares is Chicken Spiedini, which hails from the Garozzo’s in Kansas City (and the Abruzzo region in Italy)

Chicken Spiedini

Chicken Spiedini

Spiedini basically means “skewered meat” and while it can be prepared many ways, my husband prepares it a la Garozzo with a lemon marinade, and serves it with a red sauce.  Quite a tasty meal and what better to pair it with than with wine from that region: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Why did I chose a red wine to go with chicken? My research all pointed to pairing the wine to go with the sauce.  In this case, the chicken is covered in a red sauce, make a red wine a better choice.

MasciarelliI chose a 2011 Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  A lovely ruby-red wine with a nose of tart cherries and slight citrus (perfect for the chicken marinade).  There were also hints of leather and warm plums.  It was a medium bodied wine with a palette of tart cherries and mild spices. It paired nicely with my meal, playing off the marinade and the marinara sauce.

After celebrating Christmas with an Italian twist, I decided to ring in the New Year with something local and popped open a bottle of Treveri Cellars sparkling wine.

Treveri CellarsI chose the Blanc de Blanc Brut. The wine is made from primarily chardonnay grapes from the Columbia Valley, using the Methode Champenoise. The wine had a fruity almost lemon curd nose with a dry, tart palette.  It was light and airy, the perfect mix of tart and fruit.  Very refreshing and a great way to ring in the new year.

I have to say, 2013 included many great wines and great meals.  I am looking forward to what I will discover in 2014.

Lunch at the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in Seattle – Good Food and Wine

My brother, Seth and I decided to treat ourselves to a lunch and a glass of wine.  After all, we have been working pretty hard lately and a little treat was much-needed.  We chose Purple Café & Wine bar – a restaurant here in Seattle known for its healthy wine list.

Purple Café has a few different locations, but we chose the one in Downtown Seattle, closest to our respective homes.  We took the ferry across the water to downtown and then walked to the restaurant.  It was the perfect way to enjoy the sun and to thoroughly enjoy our treat.

When you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by a big spiral staircase that wraps around their tower of wine.  It is reminiscent of those restaurants in Las Vegas that have “wine angels” and such.

wine staircase at Purple Cafe


We both ordered a glass of white to start – I had the Tempus Cellars Evergreen Vineyard Riesling.  It was crisp and fruity, but not too sweet.  My brother had a glass of Montinore Estate Müller Thürgau which to me was reminiscent of a hard cider.  And was also quite delicious.

For lunch, we both settled on the “Painted Hills Burger”.  Also quite delicious.  Funny that we were drinking white wines with red meat, but I didn’t really notice it to be a bad combination.

Seth ordered a glass of the Woodward Canyon ‘Nelms Road’ Merlot from Walla Walla.  I loved the nose on this wine, it was warm and smelled of cardamom and nutmeg.  It reminded me of Christmas.

Enjoying Lunch

The food was good, the wine was good and the service was good.  We had a very nice lunch and never felt unattended.  I also learned that Purple Café was named one of the “100 Best Wine Restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine – and I can see why, the wine selection alone had something for everyone. An experience I recommend trying!




Washington State Riesling, A Refreshing Summer Drink

I recently learned that Riesling is the #1 grape grown in Washington State.  And for that I am very thankful – to me Riesling is just the right combination of sweet and cool – the perfect summer drink. It is also somewhat versatile.  It goes nicely with spicy food (think spicy Thai food) or with crisp salad or even on its own.

kung fu girlTonight I had a glass with my dinner of a bastardized version pasta pomodor0 – using fresh cherry tomatoes that came in my weekly produce delivery.

I recently enjoyed two different Rieslings of note – Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith and Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Riesling.  I have to admit, I didn’t take tasting Chateau Ste Michellenotes on either, I opened the bottle, poured myself a glass and enjoyed.  I can tell you that I liked both equally, that I thought high enough of the Kung Fu Girl enough to share it with my wine-sophisticated family (but then again, I am a self-proclaimed Charles Smith Groupie) and I enjoyed most of the Chateau Ste. Michelle just for myself over this weekend.

I can also tell you that both bottles were right around $10 each and worth every penny.  If I had to describe both of these wines in one word, it would be refreshing.  It has been non-stop summer hot and after a long day of work, a glass of cool, crisp wine really makes life nice.

And that is all she wrote tonight – I am back out to the sun!


Superbowl, BBQ Chicken and The Velvet Devil

the vevlet devilFor Superbowl Sunday, my goal was to minimize time in the kitchen and spend more time watching the game.  I pulled out my handy slow cooker and made BBQ chicken.  My sides were just as simple – smashed yams and salad.

I decided to pair my meal with The Velvet Devil Merlot.  Over the summer I drank both Charles Smith’s Red Devil and Charles and Charles Rosé, and really enjoyed both.  I knew going into this meal, that my wine selection would not disappoint.  The fruits and tannins of the wine stood up nicely to my rich, flavorful meal.

To be honest, I have yet to try a Charles Smith wine that I didn’t like and I hope to be able to go visit his winery soon.

…and now back to the game!


Ribera Del Duero and Lopez Cristobal Tinto Roble

lopez cristobal and cheeseThe Ribera Del Duero region of Spain is fairly new on a world-wide scale.  While there has been wine produced there for quite some time, it didn’t really get global acknowledgement until the 1980s.  And it doesn’t sound like it is the easiest region to grow grapes in either.  According to what I read in Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, the climate is harsh and the soil is even harsher.

With that knowledge, I expected the wine to be toothy, tough and pretty hard-core.  In my quest to find a wine from Ribera Del Duero, I stumbled upon a bottle of 2011 Lopez Cristobal Tinto Roble, and decided to give it a try.  Lopez Cristobal is a smaller winery in Ribera Del Duero, but has won quite a few awards. A winery worth checking out (in my humble opinion).

The renowned cuisine in Ribera Del Duero is Lechazo (baby lamb).  Since I am not a lamb fan, I opted for some sheep milk cheese – Manchego – to nibble on while I sipped.

Contrary to my expectations, the Tinto Roble was delicate and light.  I was expecting a heavy wine and was very happy that it was the exact opposite.  Burgundy in color, the wine had a very light nose – I could smell alcohols, cherries and plums, as well as hints of strawberries.  The palette was also very light and pleasant – a bit tart, I could taste the cherries with hints of acids.

The wine was not sweet, but fruity and lovely.  I really, truly enjoyed my glass.

I also wonder what the wine might taste like after it has time to sit in a cellar for a few years.  I am thinking of buying a bottle to hang onto for a few years.  I was so very pleased by my find – and am looking forward to trying other wines from this region and from Spain.

Barrister Winery Sauvignon Blanc and Roasted Chicken – Easing Into Fall the Right Way

Fall is here, as much as I hate to admit it, and the rain is moving in.  In my mind, nothing cures the dull-drums like roasted chicken.  I love the way the cooking chicken fills the kitchen and the house with warm flavors.

Another great thing about roasted chicken: it pairs well with white wine.  I had a bottle of Barrister Winery2011 Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.  I have a soft spot for Barrister Winery.  Last April, I went on a wonderful tour of the winery and have savored that experience.

The Sauvignon Blanc was faint yellow, almost clear and had a very light lemony smell.  The wine had a lovely lemon and grapefruit palette, with a sweet finish. It paired nicely with the chicken, and rounded out my meal nicely.

It also got me wondering – why am I just putting up pictures of wine, when I should include my meal too – after all, it may be more entertaining to readers to see pictures of something yummy…hmm…food for thought I guess.

Anyway, I was very pleased with the Barrister Sauvignon Blanc and that I succeeded in a nice pairing.  But then again, can you really go wrong with wine and chicken?

Charles Smith Wine – I think I may be a Charles Smith Groupie

This summer I was introduced to Charles Smith Wine.  I must say, I was very please to have met the wine.

Charles Smith was at one time a manager for Scandinavian Rock Bands, and he has the hair to prove it. He also has a great motto: “it is just wine, drink it”. Even though his rock-and-roll days are over, he now owns a winery in Walla Walla, Washington, offering many different labels and many different wines.  The two I have tasted so far, I have very much liked.

The first wine I tried was called “The Red Devil“.  It is a 2009 Merlot, and was quite delicious. While I normally find Merlot to be earthy, this glass was fresh, flavorful and paired nicely with my vegan pizza.

The next wine I tried was the Charles & Charles Rose.  It was a hot day, and I was ready for a refreshing drink.  The Rose smelled of raspberry and white grapes and had sweet and savory taste.  Very nice.

I am looking forward to my next glass of Charles Smith – I think I may be a Charles Smith Groupie.

Raising A Glass to the Marketplace Wine Bar in Spokane, WA

Sometimes, you just need a glass of wine on a hot day.  On on this hot day, we went to the Marketplace Wine Bar – for a glass of wine and a cool place to sit.  The original catalyst for visiting the Marketplace Wine Bar was to use an expired Groupon.  The original deal was for two glasses of wine and a cheese plate, but instead we opted for two glasses of wine and to purchase a bottle for later.

The Marketplace Wine Bar serves exclusively BridgePress Cellars and Emvy Cellars wine, and offers a few snacks.  On that hot day, I opted for a glass of their BridgePress Rosé.  The Rosé has a wonderful, light and fruity scent, and had a slight sweetness on the palette.  It was a very refreshing glass of wine – something I would call a “porch wine”.  I could see myself easily drinking a glass while sitting on the porch or the dock, just enjoying the moment.

My brother had a glass of the BridgePress 600 (600 denotes the fact that they are the State’s 600th winery – go team!).  This red was robust and made a [good] statement.  It was definitely the opposite of my Rose and would do well with a grilled steak.

The staff at the Marketplace Wine Bar was very helpful and very patient.  And the wine bar is connected to Spokane’s farmers market.  So after enjoying our glass of wine, we wandered through the booths.  It made for a very nice Saturday afternoon, and possibly a nice new habit.

Arbor Crest Merlot – A Terrific Pairing and Ingredient

It was a cool, rainy June day, so my husband put a 7-bone roast into our slow cooker. When we go home from work, the house smelled delicious and dinner was ready.

I had a bottle of Arbor Crest 2008 Merlot (Four Vineyards/Columbia Valley) that I had been wanting to try, and this was the perfect opportunity.

To be honest, I was a little wary of the Merlot, so far, the Merlot’s I have tried have an earthy palette (like a mouthful of mushrooms and dirt), which is not something I prefer.  I was pleasantly surprised with this bottle.

The wine was a dark red – almost like black cherries, and the nose had hints of dark cherries, blackberries, with a slight earthy undertone.  The palette was surprising to me and was not at all as I expected, but was tart, spicy and had the slightest hint of cherry.

The wine paired nicely with the roast and made for a complete and comforting meal.

We had some leftover Merlot from our meal and I did not want it to go to waste.  In my eyes, it was the perfect opportunity to make marinara.  I had been wanting to make homemade sauce for quite some time, so the leftover wine forced the issue.

My husband went to culinary school, so I had him do all the cooking, while I observed and tried to take it all in (with the goal of making marinara on my own next time).  We chopped and sautéed onions and garlic, and then added tomato paste before de-glazing the pan with the Merlot.

What struck me was the smell when the Merlot hit the hot pan and began to mix in with the tomato paste and onion and garlic – it actually had meaty smell – and smelled quite delicious.

We finished off our sauce with crushed tomatoes, herbs and a little bit more Merlot. And after the sauce had simmered about an hour, we poured it over hot pasta.  A wonderful meal and a great way to finish off a bottle of good wine.