frugal wine gal

Frugal Wine Gal: David Hill Farmhouse Red

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In the beautiful countryside just northwest of Forest Grove lies David Hill Winery. Nestled on some very historical land that dates back to the late 1800’s, this is a winery that makes a wide variety of wines from their large estate. The winery itself is named after a combination of an old family name in the Forest Grove area, the Frederick David Family, and the site where the winery is located. It has gone through many names since, but this hilly area was originally known as “winery hill”. They also have a farmhouse that was built in 1883 that they use for their tasting room. I love a winery with an interesting history!

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The gorgeous farmhouse (Photo Credit: Joshin Yamada)

The David Hill label was launched in 2000 and currently has 40 acres of grapes grown on their massive 140 acre property. They produce many varietals like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. For the most part they use their own estate grown grapes, but do have a couple of “bigger red” options from Southern Oregon and Washington. The wine I just had to share though, was the David Hill Farmhouse Red. This is their answer to a traditional table wine. The blend changes from year to year, but is always a delicious blend of robust red grapes grown in Washington.

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Wineries like David Hill make red blends for many reasons. One is that blending different varietals can help make a wine that is unique and highlights some of the best qualities of all the grapes used in the blend. Blending is the art of sitting down and putting together a mix that works well and creates a divine experience. This blend is a “non-vintage”, which means that wines from different years were mixed as well. Different varietals vary from year to year, which means that this wine is very distinct.

The Farmhouse blend consists of 40% Sangiovese, 40% Mouvedre, 10% Malbec, and 10% Barbera. These are of course grapess that do not grow so well here in the Willamette Valley, mostly due to the amount of heat we get. Sourcing these grapes from Washington is a great way to get these warmer climate grapes. Our neighbors up north get some crazy warm temperatures and we can benefit from those climate differences by creating beautiful blends.

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From the first moment this wine hit my glass, just based on the color, I was very excited. The color was dark and alluring. I could tell I was in for a bold drinking experience. The nose was full of rich chocolate, spice, and had a hint of smokiness. My initial sip had flavors of dark cherry and black fruits. Then notes of coca-cola and spicy pepper crept it. There were bold tannins, but they rounded out and ended very smooth. Vanilla and hints of oak were left behind on my palette. This is exactly what I want in a red blend! Bold, complex, and heavenly.

Table wines are a classic choice for any occasion. They are great on their own or with a big meal but are always meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. This wine paired perfectly with my evening of snuggling on the couch and watching a movie with my husband, dog, and cat. Not only was this wine really enjoyable, but the price point was amazing. At $12 a bottle, you really can’t beat the value you get here. You can find this bottle at most retailers, or at their tasting room in Forest Grove. Pick this up for yourself, you’ll love it. Cheers!

 

What’s In My Glass? Archery Summit

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The next time you are cruising along highway 99 through Dayton, Oregon and the see the blue sign leading to “Archery Summit Winery” – do yourself a favor and stop by. This winery has been producing some pretty amazing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the Willamette Valley since 1993. They have 120 acres of vineyard land in both the Dundee Hills and Red Ribbon AVA (American Viticulture Area), and were the first winery in Oregon to dig a cave to age their wines in.

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The top of Archery Summit’s Summit (Photo Credit: Ethan Prater)

On a drizzly evening I popped open a bottle of Archery Summit’s 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This wineries emphasis on “terroir”, low fruit yield for more complex flavors, and unique style of winemaking created a wonderful bottle of Pinot. It poured very dark in the glass and was very lush. It took a few minutes to open up but when it did it was bursting with flavors of rich, dark berries and toasted hazelnuts. It was very earthy and had a velvety mouthfeel. On the finish there were smooth tannins and notes of spice like licorice as well. This wine was pure heaven from beginning to finish.

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Check out Archery Summit’s amazing selection of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for yourself. They average above my usual frugal price range but are an excellent example of the beauty of Oregon Pinot Noir done right. It is totally worth the splurge. Cheers!

The Perfect Dish: Foris Fly Over Red Pot Roast

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The 2011 Foris Fly Over Red is one of my favorite red blends out there right now. It is a blend of 49% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Cabernet Franc. I loved it so much I used it cook a pot roast in my crock pot for over 10 hours! The result was phenomenal. The use of the wine added a richness to the juice and created an incredibly tender pot roast. Of course I had to pair this delicious dish a glass of Fly Over Red.

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This wine was big bodied and full of lush dark berry flavors with a hint of tannins on the end. The pairing of this with slow cooked beef and vegetables was delicious! The two complimented each other very well. Big red blends are great for cutting through some of the fat found on the pot roast.

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The recipe I used was simple. I openly admit cooking is not my forté so my crock pot saves me on a regular basis! I picked up a 3 – 4 pound chuck roast and cut up a couple of carrots, parsnips, red potatoes, and shallots (bigger portions were better for the vegetables since they cook so long). Simply season with salt, pepper, and a one cup of the 2011 Foris Fly Over Red (or another delicious red wine that has some body to it) and you are done! You could also add some fresh garlic or herbs from the garden if you want some extra flavor as well. Try it for yourself – it isn’t quite summer yet so it is the perfect time to eat this slow cooked dish. Cheers!

Oregon Pinot Noir: A Labor of Love

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Pinot Noir is a grape with a rich history. Obviously here in Oregon it is known as the grape that grows in our beautiful Willamette Valley, and has put us on the map in the world of wine. What is it about Pinot Noir that everyone is so drawn to? I have tried many, many Pinots in my time and I personally love them because of their complexity, earthy flavors, and how diverse they can be depending on where the grapes are grown. Each Pinot truly shows “terroir” (essentially the taste of where it came from), and the range of flavors that can be found is astounding.

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Pinot Grapes in the flesh

Pinot Noir is a very popular grape. It doesn’t grow in all climates though, and some may call this grape finicky. Thin skinned and low on phenolic content, this grape requires a long time on the vine with cooler temperatures for a slower ripening period. It is generally a lower yielding crop as well. There is definitely an art to growing Pinot. Oregon is well suited (as well as Burgandy, the Yarra Valley in Australia, and the Russian River AVA in California) to growing grapes due to the consistently colder climate and clay soils. We are very fortunate to have such an array of Pinots to choose from here!

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Pinots in the bottle – all different and all delicious

There are many clones and mutations of this grape. Pinot blanc and Pinot gris are both mutations, and there are many clones that are grown. A few popular ones that you’ll find in Oregon are “Pommard”, “Dijon 115”, and “Dijon 777”. Although the choice of clone varies greatly on the area where the grapes are being planted, and specifically the type of soil. Each clone produces different characteristics and flavors. That is what makes wine so fascinating – you can make a bad wine out of great grapes but you cannot make a great wine out of bad grapes.

The first Pinot grapes in Oregon were planted all the way back in 1961 by Richard Sommer (of HillCrest winery) in the Umpqua Valley. People literally thought he was crazy to move here from California to grow Pinot Noir. In the end, he was the one that started the craze here along with David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, Dick Erath of Erath Winery, and Dick Ponzi of Ponzi Wines. There are so many more people that have helped Oregon become the Pinot haven that it is now that it isn’t possible to list them all. However, all of these people followed the dream of planting the tricky grape that is the Pinot Noir. Without their “crazy” ideas we might not be where we are today!

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An Oregon Pinot Harvest a Crowley Vineyards (Photo Credit: Jim Fischer)

The next time you pop open a bottle of Oregon Pinot, no matter who produced it, remember that the bottle was made with love from first plantings to it’s creation in the winery. Oregon Pinot Noir is a labor of love, but luckily for us drinking it is far from that – in fact – it is heaven. Cheers!

 

Eugene’s New Cider House Rules

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Now I know I usually write about wine, but once I tried WildCraft Cider Works I just knew I had to share. This place is phenomenal! They produce all of their own ciders, using both pears and apples. Some of their diverse options include “Persimmon Cider”, “Nettle Cider”, or my personal favorite “Pioneer Perry”. Pioneer perry is made with pears, and has notes of hazelnuts and orange blossom honey. It is to die for.

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This is list of their delicious cocktails made with their house made ciders!

They also have some great food options like handmade crepes filled with roasted wild veggies or salmon, and brochettes. I can testify that the “Ham and Cheese” crepe filled with aged cheddar and pork belly is amazing!

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My flight

 

I loved all of the ciders that I tried, so you really can’t go wrong! It is located on 4th and Lincoln (very close to the Oregon Wine Lab). They are open from 4 – 11 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 3 – 12 on Friday and Saturday. Stop by this local gem and try some for yourself. Cheers!

Frugal Wine Gal: Silvan Ridge Viognier

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These past few days have been beautiful! It may be a little chilly, but it still feels nice to bring out some of my cold white varietals to sip on. This past week was the perfect time to bring out one of my favorite varietals: Viognier. This time I opted to try Silvan Ridge Winery’s 2011 Viognier from the Rogue Valley. Wow! The 2011 Viognier is the perfect example of some of the fantastic wines coming out of our beautiful state.

Silvan Ridge Winery (Source: Kari Haley)

Silvan Ridge Winery is a staple of our Southern Willamette Valley wineries. It originally opened in 1979 and has been producing high quality varietals since. Jonathan Oberlander of J.Scott Cellars was the winemaker there for many years before forming his own urban winery. The current winemaker, Juan Pablo “JP” Valot has quite a background. He hails from South America, and studied at University of Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. He has worked at wineries all over Argentina and Oregon alike. He has held down many jobs within the winery and vineyard setting. This experience has lead to him producing some pretty phenomenal varietals at Silvan Ridge since his start in 2012.

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Silvan Ridge Tasting Room (Source: silvanridge.com)

Viognier is a grape that I’ve loved for a long time. While not as common here in Oregon as other regions, mostly due to our colder climate, it’s presence here is growing. The grapes in the 2011 Viognier come from the Rogue Valley. This area grows some high quality warmer grape varietals. Many wineries buy grapes from this area to supplement their line up of wines with varietals that may not grow so well here. Although I will say there are some colder climate Viognier’s out there that I have enjoyed thoroughly as well. Generally speaking, a wine made with Viognier grapes will be similar in body to a Chardonnay. Many are extremely aromatic and have floral notes throughout.

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Viognier in the glass ready to be sipped!

I poured the Silvan Ridge 2011 Viognier on a beautiful sunny afternoon. While it was chilly outside, the cloudless blue skies and crisp air were the perfect back drop. The nose was very aromatic. Flavors of crisp, ripe pears hit my senses right away. When I took my first sip, it was apparent that this wine was bursting with fruit flavors like melon and peaches. I even got a hint of banana. It had a very tropical feel to it. I would describe the mouthfeel as smooth but light bodied. Exactly what I would want for a white wine, really. The finish had a slight tartness to it, but was creamy and left hints of vanilla on my palette. All in all, I couldn’t help but have another glass when I was finished with the first.

Given that this wine is produced so close to us here in Eugene, it is available at many places for purchase. I picked this up for $17 and plan on picking up some more very soon. This wine is a real steal, and so local! Do yourself a favor and stop by their tasting room as well, off of Briggs Hill road (right near Sweet Cheeks!). They have a nice line up of wines that are all dying to be drank. Cheers!

 

What’s in My Glass? Druid’s Fluid

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Druid’s Fluid is a wine that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Produced by the famous Troon Vineyards, I had heard from quite a few people that it was a great option in my frugal price range. I finally picked myself up a bottle from Sundance this past week, and popped it open.

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Zinfandel Grapes. (Photo Credit: Naotake Murayama)

 

The Druid’s Fluid is a big bodied red blend, just the way I like them. It is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. When they blend together they create a beautiful harmonious wine. All of these grapes were sourced from Grants Pass, where Troon Vineyards is located. Big red grapes from Southern Oregon always blow me away, and I’m so excited that with our state is diverse enough that there is a place we can get wines like this. I do love a good Pinot, but sometimes those voluptuous red grapes just hit the spot.

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Excuse the drips! Check out that color

 

From the moment this wine hit the glass I was excited. It poured a beautiful color. Very dark red with a hint of purple when it was swirled in the glass. This wine screamed masculinity with its notes of tobacco and leather in the aroma. Then when I took a first sip I immediately wanted a steak or something rich to eat with it. Notes of tart dark berries, like dark cherry hit my senses. The finish was slightly tannic but left flavors of vanilla and toasted walnuts. This wine is dying to be drank with food, but I really enjoyed it on its own as well.

Pick this bottle up at any market that specializes in local Oregon wines, it runs for under $20 and is a great bang for your buck. Cheers!

What a Grape: Grenache

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When I am asked my favorite wine I almost hardly ever have an answer. There are so many varietals that pair with many different things and add to an experience, that picking just one is hardly possible. However, I do have a grape that I would put in as a top contender: Grenache. Now this grape isn’t super common (at least here in Oregon) but it is produced at a few wineries throughout the state. Just what is Grenache? It is a red grape (there is also a blanc version but that is even more rare!) that is originally from Northern Spain, that is also called “Garnacha”.

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The Beautiful Grenache Grape. Photo Credit.

The first wine I ever tried and actually enjoyed was a 2008 Boedecker Cellars Grenache. I remember the velvety mouth feel, cherry and pepper notes, and the smooth finish. It was love at first sip. I might be a bit partial but I am drawn to this grapes high tannins and acidity that create a very balanced wine after aging. Usually this grape is very fruit forward with jam-like flavors and cherry, with a kick of spice on the end.

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Most of this varietal is grown in Southern Oregon, but you can find it throughout the state. J.Scott Cellars has a current release, as does Milbrandt Vineyards in Washington. Many times it is used in blends as well, like in Folin Cellars “Estate Misceo”. The next time you are wine tasting keep your eyes peeled for this medium bodied varietal. We have a few local options to choose from, and there are many more produced in France and Spain if you are feeling adventurous. Cheers!

 

Frugal Wine Gal: Desert Wind “Ruah”

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On a recent trip to Northern Washington I was perusing the wine aisle and saw a bottle that caught my attention. That bottle was the Desert Wind Winery’s “Ruah”. I was looking for something specifically from Washington, and what I found was a gem. The “Ruah” is a bordeaux style blend from Eastern Washington. Specifically Prosser, my old stomping grounds. Wines from this area are very distinct. It is a very warm area which means that big red grapes, like those used in the “Ruah” can really ripen.

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Merlot in the Barrels! (Photo Credit: Desert Wind Winery)

What exactly is a Bordeaux blend? Bordeaux blends are big bodied, complex blends. If it is a white bordeaux blend you might expect to see Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, or Semillion grapes. In wines like the “Ruah”, you’ll see Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Cabernet Franc. The Desert Winds blend is Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. It is the perfect example of a bordeaux blend.

The Desert Wind Winery has an interesting history. The brand was officially launched in 2001, and they set up a winery and vineyard in 2004. Before this venture though, the owners ran Duck Pond Cellars. This winery has been producing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris here in our very own Willamette Valley since 1994. Since 2004, Desert Wind has been producing primarily big red varietals – they grow so well there! They also occasionally make rosé, which I would love to try as well. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to go to this tasting room myself, you can bet it is on my list of things-to-do in 2015.

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Desert Winery Vineyards (Photo Credit: Desert Wind Winery)

It is no secret that I love red blends. There is something about mixing varietals that creates a full flavor experience, and it just gets me. I loved this wine. The “Ruah” is the perfect example of a red blend done well. It had a color of rich purple, and was just gorgeous. The nose smelled of coffee and had hints of coca cola. My initial impression was that this wine was a bit “masculine” but it really softened up. Flavors of chocolate, big berries, and dark cherry popped with each sip. Desert Wine Winery ages its red wines for 3 – 5 years in oak and with this wine that complexity shows. It left notes of cracked pepper, and smooth tannins rounded out the glass. Every second of this wine was enjoyable, a real treat.

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This bottle was right around the $20. For any of you red wine lovers – buy this! You’ll love every sip – just like me. Big bodied, complex reds don’t get any better. Cheers!

 

Local Winery Alert! Bennett Vineyards

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This past week in my Oregon wine class, I was able to try some wines from a winery I hadn’t tried before – how exciting! Bennett Vineyards is a relatively new winery. It was started in 2007 as a retirement plan for Gene and Lisa Bennett, who originally hail from San Diego. They picked this part of Oregon specifically so that they could plant some delicious Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. They planted 20 acres in Cheshire, Oregon and learned the trade of grape growing through hard work and a lot of love.

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A few of the Bennett’s selections. (Photo Credit: Bennett Vineyards Site)

 

For the most part they sell grapes to local wineries, but they do keep some of the grapes for themselves to make wine. Gene manages the vineyard himself, but has local winemakers come out and do what they do best. Ray Walsh and Matthew Lavelle both make the Bennett’s wines.

I had the privilege of trying a few wines from these fantastic producers, but one stuck out as my favorite, the 2014 White Pinot Noir. What is white pinot noir you may ask? It is a Pinot noir that has had minimal skin contact. It is very similar to a rosé, but had a lot less color than a rosé might have.

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In the Glass – I love that color!

 

I loved this wine from the minute it hit my glass. It poured a beautiful color that reminded me of a summer sunset. The nose was super aromatic and had notes of strawberries and cream. It smelled incredibly sweet, and while I was expecting it to taste sweet it was more on the dry side. It was well balanced with crisp green apple flavors. There was almost a hint of carbonation to it as well and it was extremely light but very fruit forward. This one is a must try!

Check out their tasting room in Cheshire, just a 25 minute drive from Eugene. They are open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 6 pm. I know I can’t wait to go check out all of their selections, and of course stock up on the 2014 White Pinot. Cheers!

 

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