frugal wine gal - Page 3

Cellar Basics


For many years I drank each bottle of wine right after I purchased it with little to no thought of aging or cellaring. Now that I’ve purchased a few special bottles that need a little time to properly age I’ve been working on keeping a cellar, without actually purchasing one. Cellaring wines doesn’t have to be a big to do or even very complicated. The most important part of aging wines properly is the right temperature. Fifty five degrees is just about the right number, but as long as it stays between 45 and 65 degrees it should be safe. Many people use a basement, or even a dark closet. Another way to ensure proper aging is to keep it out of the sunlight. Over time UV rays will effect the quality of a wine. Lastly it is important to keep these elements constant. Steady cold temperatures and a lack of sunlight rays will ensure wines can be at their best.


The good news here is that you don’t always have to wait to drink a bottle you’ve been dying to try. In fact, most wines are absolutely ready to drink at the time of purchase, especially white wines. So go ahead and pop that bottle open! But if you do decide to cellar a wine, keep it out of the sun and avoid fluctuating the temperature too much. Cheers!

Oregon Adventuring: Brandborg


On a rainy Oregon Saturday, I hopped in my car and headed south for a little wine adventure. Less than an hour later I arrived at Brandborg, a winery located in Elkton, OR (right off of highway 38). The selection at this winery was wonderful. They have an extensive selection of white wines, Pinot noirs, and big red varietals. I also had the privilege of trying the first wine with the Elkton AVA (American Viticulture Area) label. This is the newest AVA addition in Oregon, and it was so exciting to see this new label officially in action.


I tried quite a few wines here, but I highly recommend trying at least the 2012 Elkton AVA Riesling ($16) and the 2008 “Love Puppets” Pinot Noir ($30). These were two very different wines but both represented some of the amazing varietals that Brandborg creates. This was less than an hour drive from the heart of Eugene, and it was a beautiful drive indeed. Check out Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill and Cafe while you are there as well, they had some beautiful pastries and drool-worthy lunch options. Cheers to new adventures!

The Frugal Wine Gal: Argyle Chardonnay


Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are arguably the most popular varietals here in Oregon. However, many people might say a close third would be Chardonnay. This varietal is so versatile and can be found in many different styles.

My first experience with Chardonnay was probably similar to many other peoples, the buttery and rich versions that hail from California. Now, it is not fair to say that all Californian Chardonnay’s are of this style or that I don’t appreciate a good glass of this style of wine from time to time. Many of the Chardonnay’s that I’ve encountered from my home here in Oregon are of a different type; the crisp, fruity, cold climate style. This is what I discovered when I picked up a bottle of the 2012 Argyle Chardonnay. This wine was in our frugal budget, and truly representative of the Oregon cold climate style.


(Photo Credit: John Morgan)

Argyle Winery has a long history here in Oregon. Nestled in Dundee, right off of highway 99, this winery produces some incredible varietals. Since 1987, Argyle has been producing high end Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and “Methode Champenoise” style wines. They have many wines that have been rated 90 points and above by Wine Spectator magazine as well! Many of their wines are produced with grapes grown on one of their three vineyards; Knudsen, Lonestar, and Spirit Hill.

To ensure quality they even chill all of the fruit they pick overnight before they crush, to help preserve the fruit flavors. It is always exciting to try a wine that has so much love and care put into it. From the vineyard to the winery, and best of all to my glass.


On an especially crisp January evening, I grabbed my chilled bottle of Argyle Chardonnay from my fridge and screwed off the cap. Yes, they use screw caps versus a traditional cork. Personally, I love when wineries do this. The characteristics of the wine stay just the way they were when they were bottled (due to lack of oxygen contact) and it helps the wine stay longer in the fridge. On the off chance you don’t finish a bottle you can save it for just a tad longer. This Chardonnay poured a beautiful pale yellow, and had aromas of fresh pears. I knew immediately it was steel barrel aged because of the crisp scents it was giving off. First sip had flavors of ripe green apples and hints of white peaches. Overall, this wine was fresh, balanced, and had a mild acidity that would pair with so many things. Seafood, asian food, and anything with a hint of black pepper would be excellent options.

As for the cost, I picked this up on sale at my local market for around $16, but on average it will be about $20. Argyle produces very high quality wines that have been wowing us for years. This is a great winery for go-to delicious varietals for any occasion.They have also just released a 2013 Chardonnay for $20 that has a little bit of oak age added to it. I can’t wait to give it a try. Cheers!

Viognier: What a Grape


Viognier is a grape that is full of mystery for a lot of people. For one thing, if you’ve never heard it pronounced it might be a bit intimidating. The proper pronunciation is “Vee – own – yay”. I know I had to be taught how to say it properly! It is also one of my very favorite grapes. It is a medium bodied grape that is very fruit forward and lush. Ones I’ve tried in the past have been bursting with flavors of apricots, peaches, and even tropical flavors like melon and pineapple.

The Viognier grape on the vine (Photo Credit: “Viognier” by Anachronist – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Many local producers make this wine. Folin Cellars, Abacela, and J.Scott Cellars are just a few.  Most of these grapes are sourced from Southern Oregon (Viognier really likes warm temperatures!). However, it is easy to find this grape sourced from all over the state. It may not be as commonly found as a Pinot Gris, or even a Chardonnay but next time you are out wine tasting make sure and give this varietal a try. Cheers!

What’s in My Glass? Arch Terrace Syrah


On a recent outing to downtown Eugene I stopped by one of my favorite watering holes, The First National Taphouse. They always have some amazing beers on tap, but they also do wine on tap. Wine on tap is such a cool idea, especially for restaurants and bars that benefit from the lack of wasted wine at the end of the day. Only a select few wineries sell their product like this, although that number is growing all the time.

On this particular occasion I tried the 2010 Arch Terrace Syrah. The grapes for this wine were grown on the Terra Blanca Estate Vineyard in Benton City, Washington. This area is known for growing some amazing big red varietals. That is one of the things that really drew me to this wine.

The 2010 Arch Terrace Syrah

As you can see from the photo above, this wine was a beautiful color. Rich and dark, just like a Syrah should be. It was big bodied, and had lush flavors of black fruit, vanilla, and toasted nuts. It had thick tannins but had a nice smooth finish. What a treat. This wine is available at most local retailers and by the glass at the First National Taphouse (while supplies last!). Give it a try for yourself. Cheers!



The Clear Benefits of Glass Corks


There are many different sealing options out there for wineries to choose from. The traditional cork is the common one, along with screw caps, but what about something a little different. I recently stumbled upon a bottle that used a glass cork. What I loved about it was that it looked and felt just as appealing as a traditional cork. Screw caps seal wines really efficiently but it seems like some part of the experience of opening a bottle of wine is missing. You still get that “pop” sound with a glass cork, even if it’s a little hushed.

Sineann, a winery that uses glass corks instead of the tradition option

However, on of the largest appeals of the glass cork seems to be the lack of cork taint, the problem that many aged wines have. Any time a winery can guarantee that a wine will not be “corked” is a good thing. And finally, for us consumers, glass corks reseal. I opened a bottle on Friday and couldn’t finish it. When I went to revisit it on Monday it was still perfectly drinkable. That is a nice option to have for any wine drinker.

Traditional corks may always have peoples hearts, but at some point it is okay to look at other options as well. Cheers!

The Frugal Wine Gal: J.Scott Sauv Blanc


People often ask me what my favorite wine is. I always say that I do not discriminate against any one grape or wine out there. I like white, pink, and red wines almost equally. Wine is all about the experience, and each bottle is an opportunity to have a wonderful time with family and friends. Although, I have to admit the first time I tried a Sauvignon Blanc I didn’t quite get it. It was crisp, too acidic, and dare I say tasted a bit like cat pee. All of that changed when I tried J.Scott Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine blew any Sauvignon Blanc that I have tasted out of the water.


J.Scott Cellars is an urban winery located in West Eugene. It is nestled in right near the Noble Estate tasting room, and adjacent to the Viking Braggot Company. Jonathan Oberlander, head winemaker, produces varieties from all over Oregon. The reason why I love visiting their tasting room is the sheer amount of wine they make. They make everything from Pinot blanc to Petit syrah. He sources many grapes from Southern Oregon, and nearby in Junction City and Monroe. Being an urban winery can be a challenge because you have to find all the grapes you need from many different vineyards. J.Scott Cellars makes the best of it though and produces wines made from grapes sourced all over the state.

The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc in the glass – yum!

Sauvignon Blanc is a very interesting grape. Originally sourced in the Bordeaux region of France, it is a grape that has quite a long history. It also grows very well here in Oregon like many Bordeaux varieties. J.Scott’s 2013 version is the perfect example of the high quality grapes we are growing here. He sourced his grapes for this wine from vineyards all over the state. Southern Oregon, High Pass Vineyard in Eugene, and Silverton are all represented in this varietal.

The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc had initial scents of ripe citrus fruits and fresh cut grass. It reminded me of late Spring day. While I would describe this wine as dry, it was still very smooth and light bodied. It was very fruit forward with flavors of pineapple and pear popping out at me. It was just the right amount of tartness as well, extra crisp and refreshing. I usually drink Sauv Blanc with food but this time I went to it without accompaniment. It drank really well on it’s own, although pairing this with something light like local goat cheese, jam, and crackers would be delicious.

I picked up this wine straight from the source for only $18 at J.Scott Cellars. Their tasting room is open every Friday from 4 – 9 pm and Saturday from 1 – 9 pm. They also have an amazing 2013 Pinot Blanc that is in our frugal budget at $17. It won 90 points and editors choice from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It is definitely worth stopping by for a taste. Cheers!

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J.Scott Cellars wines aging beautifully in oak and steel barrels

What’s In the Glass?


I have had to privilege of taking the “Culinary Adventuring: Oregon Wine Country” class this term at Lane Community College. This is a class dedicated to talking about and meeting with different wine makers throughout Oregon. Basically, it is the class of my dreams. This past week we had the opportunity to hear Mark Nicholl of Oregon Wine Lab and William Rose Wines speak. What a great experience! He was so insightful on the wine industry in Australia (where he is from) and Oregon. I also had the opportunity to try a few new wines. One that really stuck out was the William Rose Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.


This blend was crisp, and full of grapefruit and lemon zest flavors. There were also hints of greenery, like fresh cut grass. It was fantastic. Meant to be an “Omage to the wines of Bordeaux”, I highly recommend trying this blend. Although we didn’t get to pair it with this, Mark highly recommends pairing it with Oysters and seafood in general. Cheers to new adventures!

What’s in My Glass? Lavelle Vineyards


Tasting rooms are such a fun place to meet other wine lovers like myself, and try all of the delicious varietals available from our local producers. Recently I made a pit stop to Lavelle Vineyards and discovered one of my new favorites: the 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.


This particular year was unseasonably warm, and with it came some very juicy wines. The 2012 Lavelle Pinot Noir was the perfect example of this. Grown on their own estate, this wine was full of dark berries, earthy notes, and a hint of smoke and spice. I really loved this wine. They have a few locations nearby Eugene that you can pick up this bottle. There is the tap room in Springfield (off of International way) or their tasting room in Elmira. The vines may be dormant right now, but it sure is beautiful.

Whatever you do, try this Pinot Noir. It was slightly above our frugal budget, but this local gem it is worth the splurge. Cheers!

Food Pairing Challenge: Pinot Noir


Oregon is known for some amazing Pinot Noir, especially from the Willamette Valley. Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile wines for food pairing. This wasn’t so much of a challenge in terms of finding something to pair with it, but it was the first time I cooked something specifically to drink this varietal with. My wine of choice was the Evesham Wood 2013 Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.


What a beautiful Pinot. Full of flavors of dark cherries and earthy notes throughout. This wine was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. It paired perfectly with my homemade creamy french onion soup as well. The sweetness of the soup brought out some smoky and peppery notes in the Pinot, creating a completely different and delicious experience. The Evesham Wood 2013 Pinot Noir sells for $20 a bottle, and I highly recommend whipping up your own batch of french onion soup to pair with it. Cheers!