Browsing the archives for the Washington tag

L’Ecole No.41 – 2007 Columbia Valley Chardonnay

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Tasting Note

You’ll find the L’Ecole No.41 Winery in a restored schoolhouse in the historic Walla Walla community of Frenchtown.  L’Ecole No.41 is a family run operation started by Jean and Baker Ferguson.  It now belongs to their daughter, Megan and her husband Martin Clubb.

The winery may be in Walla Walla, but the fruit for L’Ecole No.41′s Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($19) comes from several vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley appellation.  This part of the state lies near the 46th parallel giving it a similar amount of sunlight to the French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Combine the climate and volcanic soils with good drainage and poor nutrients, and you have ideal conditions for growing grapes.  The French winemaking traditions brought by French-Canadian pioneers that settled this region are echoed in this Burgundian-style chardonnay.

Tasting Notes

Barrel fermented with a backbone of nevry acidity and complex mineral notes, this wine reminded me of the fine white burgundies from Meursault. Pronounced aromas of apple and pear are layered with the slightest hints of pineapple.  Seven month of sur lie aging in French oak barrels gives this elegant wine a rich creamy texture and a long nutty finish.

We paired this one with a great recipe Sue found in Real Simple Magazine.  This chardonnay with the Potato, Leek and Feta Tart is fantastic!

Ten for 2010 – Sparkling Wines on a Budget

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News and Events

The economy has effected all of this year in one way or another.  Job losses and pay cuts are commonplace, but that is no reason to stop your next holiday celebration.  We can still embrace the new year and celebrate the promise of a brighter future, even if we find ourselves on a limited budget.

My recommendation this year is to buy domestic!  As much as  I enjoy French Champagne, there are plenty of American sparkling wines that a just as enjoyable at a fraction of the price. Let’s create our own stimulus package by supporting the wineries and vineyards here at home!

The following are ten budget-friendly sparkling wines (all under $25) that will fit in nicely at your next celebration.  Enjoy!

Korbel Brut Rose ($10) – From California’s Russian River Valley, this is a light-tasting and crisp, strawberry-flavored bubbly has just a hint of sweetness.

Gruet Brut Sparkling Wine ($14)- This is one of the more unusual wines on the list. Not because of how it is made or how it tastes, but where it is made – New Mexico!  This brut style sparkler is crisp, and full-bodied with fine bubbles and sophisticated apple and citrus flavors.

Domaine Ste Michelle Non-Vintage Blanc De Blanc ($15) - Blanc de Blancs are made from chardonnay and this one shows it off beautifully, with gorgeous pear and pineapple aromas and crisp green apple flavors.  A very affordable choice from the Columbia Valley in the state of Washington.

Domaine Chandon Brut ($15) - This wine scored highly with both the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.  It has rich and intense flavors of pear and citrus with a fine texture of crisp bubbles.

Gloria Ferrer Brut ($15) – Listed as one  Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009, this is a lively sparkler with soft pear and citrus aromas.  Yeasty flavors of apples, spice, and minerals dance on your palate.

Piper Sonoma Brut Non-Vintage ($16)- This brut is crisp and bright, with distinct yeasty character. Packed with rich pear and apple flavors, it has a little more acidity than its peers.  This blend is primarily pinot noir, giving this wine nice body and good aging potential.

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($19)- Northern California’s soil and cool climate are well suited for sparkling wine, good reasons for French champagne house, Louis Roederer, to expand operations to the US. Roederer’s style of sparkling wine offers rich apple aromas with hints of yeast and spice.  Complex flavors of vanilla and strawberries are laced with minerals and firm acidity.

Schramsberg “Mirabelle” North Coast Rosé ($20)- One of California’s oldest estates, started in 1862, Schramsberg make numerous styles of sparkling wine.  This rosé sparkler has a delicate pink hue with floral aromas of strawberry and spice. Crisp flavors of raspberries and apples, match well with undertones of toast and creamy vanilla.

2005 Domaine Carneros Brut  ($20)- Domaine Carneros, like Roederer Estate,  is also operated by a famous champagne house, Taittiger.   The brut style sparkling wine is a sophisticated blend of apple and raspberry aromas.  Crisp flavors of lemon and lime finish with lingering notes of yeast and minerals.

J Vineyards“Cuvée 20″ ($22) - Cuvée 20 was made in celebration of J Vineyard’s 20th anniversary.  Aromas of  lemon peel and honeysuckle  fill out the bouquet. Crisp green apple and tart grapefruit flavors are followed with notes of toasty almonds and finishes with a great balance of fruit and acidity.

2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling

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Tasting Note

I heard about this flavorful Riesling on a Wine for Newbies podcast and recently saw it again in the July 2009 issue of Food & Wine. The partnership between CSM and the Mosel region’s Dr. Ernst Loosen sounded interesting and the description of the wine’s fruity aromas and zesty acidity were equally intriguing.

My wife, Sue, makes a fantastic chicken dish that calls for both Riesling and Cognac! Could life be any rougher? ;) Anyway, to make a long short, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to sample this popular Riesling. After Sue used what she needed for the chicken, I got the rest (She’s not a big Riesling fan). I’ll save the Cognac for later!

The pale straw color was what I expected of a young Riesling. The familiar aromas of green apple and grapefruit and possibly a little orange peel were quite evident from the first taste. Over the course of a few hours the flavors evolved into sweeter “appley” notes with hints of honey. The light acidity offered a creamy mouthfeel that I was not expecting. Overall, this was a very pleasant wine that should pair well with spicy seafood or Asian-inspired dishes.

2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling ($18)

  • 100% Riesling
  • A blend from several Washington State vineyards
  • CSM Fact Sheet