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The Frugal Wine Gal: Holiday Wine Guide

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The holidays are a time of year meant for family, friends, and good times. The years keep coming faster and faster it seems, and now more than ever it is important to make time for those who matter most. It is also one of the busiest times of the year for most people. Every weekend fills up with parties, celebrations, and shopping for our loved ones. I know sometimes that I can get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of holiday madness, but it is so important to slow down and enjoy the small things. Like a delicious glass of local Oregon wine perhaps?

JD Hancock Flickr
(JD Hancock)

One of the best parts of this time of year though is the food. There is good food everywhere. From the slow cooked stews coming out of our crock pots, to big dinners with all of our extended family. Endless sweets and treats are presented to us on a daily basis it seems! There is of course always good spirits as well. Wine is the perfect accompaniment to any occasion. One of the hardest things to do though is pick wine for many different people. I’ve found that some people only like red wine, or just white. They may even go as specific as liking one varietal – either dry or sweet. There are so many options out there, it can be a tough decision to just pick one or two.

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(Sam Howzit)

As a big wine lover, I’m trusted pick out wines a lot of the time. I like to think of it as a great honor. I’ve found that there are some specific guidelines I like to go by – especially for the holidays. My first rule of thumb is always have some bubbly on hand. I really enjoy anything by Domaine Meriwether myself, but Argyle Winery and Sokol Blosser also have some great options in the under $30 range. During the holidays, and especially for bubbles, it is worth going a little bit above the $20 range. The reason why bubbles are so nice is that it is indicative of a special occasion. Sparkling wines are great for any celebration, but especially ones around this time of year. Family and friends getting together is also a great reason to pop that special bottle you’ve been saving and treasure it together. After all, even our most anticipated wines from our cellars are meant to be enjoyed.

Not in the mood for bubbles? That’s okay because there are plenty of big bodied reds that make good options as well. This frigid cold weather really brings out the flavors in those reds and makes snuggling on the couch watching christmas movies that much better. A few of my go to red varieties are Cabernet sauvignon – like the Del Rio Vineyards Cabernet I reviewed hereJ.Scott Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes sourced from Southern Oregon is also an excellent choice. It is a little out of our frugal budget but worth every penny. Another great option to pick up is a classic red blend. Now there are thousands of these available from all over Oregon, it can be a hard decision to pick just one!

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(Brendan DeBrincat)

Red blends are a fantastic option for any get together because they bring a few different varietals together and create a very different experience than you might have in a single varietal wine. During the cold winter months red blends are just what is needed to warm up any evening. Although there are many options and quite a price range for these wines, there a few must tries that I have to share. Three Wives “Remy’s Red” is one of my favorite go-to red blends. The varietals chosen vary from year to year, but they are always produced with italian grapes and aged in an old world style. Oaky, fruit forward, and smooth, Remy’s Red is an excellent blend good for any old occasion. Another great option is Grochau Cellars “Tinto” blend of Tempranillo and Syrah. With red blends you can really get a good bang for your buck. It is so easy to find phenomenal wines made within our great state that will add to any holiday celebration.

Planning a big meal with all the fixings is a part of holiday traditions all over the world. Whether you roast a big turkey or slow cook a honey ham, there is a wine that will pair well with your meal. One of the biggest issues that I’ve run into during large meals like this is that sometimes I just want something on the lighter side to go with it. That is where rosé comes in. Rosé is a great choice for any occasion really, but during the holidays it is an excellent pairing. Rosé wines are made from red grapes that have as little contact as possible with the skins. They are light, flavorful, and excellent for nearly any weather or occasion. I could make a list a mile long of my favorite rosés if I’m perfectly honest, but for all intents and purposes there are a couple that I feel pair best with holiday feast and celebrations.


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Adelsheim Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir Rosé is one my new favorite finds. Very fruit forward and light, this wine is perfect for a Christmas Eve celebration or a big feast. It will compliment most anything it is paired with. Another fantastic option is the William Rose 2013 Prohibition Rosé. This rosé is 100% Sangiovese. It is crisp, fruity, and good even on its own. I like this one because of its beautiful pale pink color as well.

Wine choice may seem like just one choice in a line of many during the holiday season, but it is much more than that. Wine brings us together, helps us connect, and encourages celebration. After all the craziness during pre-holiday preparation, pop open a bottle and pour yourself a nice glass of whatever makes you happy. Bubbles, big reds, and rosé wines are all great options, but it is all about what you enjoy the most. I wish you all the happiest holidays, and cheers to another great year!

Nick Harris Flickr
(Nick Harris)

 

 

 

 

The Frugal Wine Gal: Adelsheim Pinot Gris

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During my exploration of Oregon wine, I have encountered many wineries that excite me when I see their bottle in my frugal price range. Adelsheim Vineyards is of of those wineries. I’ve had some fantastic wines that they have made over the years. Just recently I tried their 2012 Pinot Noir and absolutely fell in love with it. So when I saw their 2013 Pinot Gris was released and at a great price point – I of course had to try it.

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Adelsheim’s Bryant Creek Vineyard

Adelsheim Vineyards is a winery with a long history. They planted their first acres of grapes all the way back in 1972. They initially started with Pinot noir, Reisling, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris. At the time, the amount of vineyards planted in Oregon was about 35 acres total. This makes Adelsheim Vineyards one of the founding wineries in Oregon. Fast forward to 2013, the winery has planted upwards of 229 acres of grapes ranging from Pinot noir, Pinot blanc, and Chardonnay. Still owned today by David and Ginny Adelsheim, this vineyard produces high quality wines that are truly representative of the Willamette Valley.

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Adelsheim Barrel Cave

Pinot gris is a staple of many Oregon wineries, especially in the Willamette Valley. We are known for growing some amazing grapes. Adelsheim was one of the first wineries in Oregon to plant the grape and it has truly excelled. The 2013 Pinot Gris is the 30th edition of the grape to be produced by the winery. It shows some true style.

On the nose, this wine had scents of crisp green apples and a fresh fall day. The color was beautiful, reminiscent of a golden sunrise. The best part was the flavor profile of this wine. It had full flavors of white fruit; like apples, pears, and a hint of peaches. The mouthfeel was smooth and ended with a slight crispness that kept it from being too sweet. What a fantastic wine overall. I paired this wine with Hawaiian style pork served over rice and topped with a bit of Sriracha. It was the perfect match. Spicy food pairs really well with this selection.

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I picked this wine up from my local grocery store for $16. It may be red wine season, but this wine was the perfect choice even with the chilly evening. I would highly recommend pairing it with something spicy, or thai food. Enjoy on a warm summer day while barbecuing, or a brisk November evening. It’s great either way. Cheers!

 

The Frugal Wino: Evolution Red

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From the very start of my wine journey – I’ve always loved red wines. Especially red blends. In addition to growing excellent pinot noir, Oregon can impress with it’s large bodied reds. There are many big red varietals (i.e. cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, or merlot) that are grown in Southern Oregon because of the warmer climate. However, today’s selection is from a little further north.

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Sokol Blosser is a winery with a long history. They are one of the founding wineries of Oregon, having released their first vintage back in 1977. Since the beginning of their production, they have been known for high quality wines and for their green approach to production. They are LIVE certified (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), and were one of the first wineries to be pronounced “salmon safe” by not using harmful pesticides that hurt the salmon population.

Sixteen years ago, Sokol Blosser released the first edition of a wine called “Evolution”. It was a white blend made from 9 different grapes and was an immediate hit. I did a review (Read it here) about a year ago and fell in love with it. It had the right amount of sweetness and a slight bubbly mouth feel – so good. When I saw they had made a red version properly titled “Evolution Red”, it was a no brainer. I had to try it.

The great thing about red blends is that they usually are a great price point, and the mixing of different varietals can be very complimentary. The Evolution Red is a blend of Syrah, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano (a grape originally from the Abruzzo region in the east-central part of italy). Now any blend that has Syrah in it is going to a be big bodied treat. This wine definitely delivered.

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In the glass it poured a deep, rich, purple color. It was beautiful. On the nose it had hints of cracked pepper and blackberries, and crisp minerality. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to be too sweet which for me was a real plus. The first sip was medium bodied, with flavors of dark cherry and white pepper popping through. It had hint of dryness from the remaining tannins but all in all was a smooth finish.

As per usual, I drank this wine solo while watching a new flick on Netfix, but this wine is dying to be eaten with food. The dark berry flavors mixed with the perfect amount of tannins would pair really well with many different options. A rich lamb stew would be my vote though. This wine would cut through the fat and be the perfect fit. The best part of this whole experience was the price point. For only $15 a bottle, this was wine was a great deal. So versatile, and perfect for the upcoming winter months. I know I’ll be stocking up. Cheers!

The Frugal Wino: Come Here Sweet Cheeks

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On a rainy thursday afternoon while picking up my groceries at my nearby grocery store, I found a local wine that not only was in my price range, but fantastic as well. Sweet Cheeks 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was the gem I found. This wine is as local as it gets, located just a few miles outside of Eugene.

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Sweet Cheeks opened its doors in 2005 and has been creating a wide selection of wines ever since. This wine was a great example of just how versatile Sweet Cheeks can be. They produce everything from Viognier to Malbec! This Pinot however, was a perfect example of local goodness. I savored every sip.

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Upon my first sniff I knew I was in for a treat. It had a crisp acidity with a hint of black pepper. It smelled like a crisp fall day; full-flavored with a note of blackberries, and was just slightly tannic which puts it a little on the dry side. It has a very smooth mouthfeel though, and left lingering flavors of vanilla and fall spices on my tongue.

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This wine is in its prime and is perfect for a chilly fall evening. It would be great with some grilled salmon or even something slow cooked in the crock pot. I picked up this wine at my local grocery store for only $13.99 a bottle! If you are looking for a great wine at a great price – this wine is a steal. Cheers!

Wine Down Eugene

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by Sarah Tunnell – the Frugal Wino

Oregon Pinot Noir can be a very difficult wine to find while maintaining a frugal budget.  I’ve tried many less than $20 dollar Pinots, and until now I’ve had a tough time finding one that truly impresses me. Attending industry tastings gives me the chance to try countless Pinot Noirs from all over Oregon.  Ranging mostly from $30-$75 dollars, each is delicious and offers distinct flavor characteristics which are brought on by the area where the grapes are grown, but under $20 dollar excellent Pinots are a rare find.  There is great diversity in the Willamette Valley alone; If you taste a Pinot Noir from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA or Dundee Hills AVA  (the areas between Salem and Newberg, Oregon), it is more likely to be filled with flavors of big red berries, spices, and floral notes.  Wines from the southern region of the Willamette Valley, near Eugene, are more likely to be earthy and peppery. The diversity makes me want to try wines from every unique terroir in Oregon!

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Carlo & Julian is a winery right outside Carlton, Oregon (in the northern Willamette Valley).  Owner and winemaker Felix Madrid studied at UC Davis, much like many great winemakers.  He planted his first vines – Pinot Noir – in 1991.  In 1996, after his first crush, he started Carlo & Julian – named after his two sons.  His estate wines include Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Tempranillo, but he also produces Malbec, Syrah, and Merlot from the Spofford Station Vineyard just south of the Washington border near Walla Walla.  Madrid produces 1000 cases a year and self distributes throughout Oregon. When I saw the bottle of 2009 Carlo & Julian Estate Pinot Noir, I was immediately intrigued and had to try it.  Boy am I glad I did!

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The first thing I noticed when I poured a glass of the ’09 Pinot was the color – it was beautifully dark, like blackberries or plums.  Aromas of blackberries and pepper flowed on to the palate with flavors of cherry, spices and oak.  A smooth mouthfeel and finish (my favorite part), left residual flavors of roasted nuts and vanilla.  

At $18 dollars a bottle, this wine was worth every penny – it was hearty and fantastic.  The next time I’m in Carlton, my first stop will be Carlo & Julian.  Cheers!

Wine Down Eugene

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We’ve got another great Frugal Wino from Sarah Tunnell.  Originally published a year ago, Sarah was spot on then and it’s perfect for now.   If you’d like to try some of Sarah’s suggestions, many are available at Creswell Bakery, you can even ask Sarah!

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The Frugal Wino: Evolution 16th Edition by Sokol Blosser Winery

by Sarah Tunnell (the frugal wino!)

There is always a little adventure that comes with buying a blend.  Whether it is white or red, you never know what you are going to get.  I was bumbling through Costco recently and a wine caught my eye.  Appealing to us locavores, Costco has a great selection of local wines  from Oregon and Washington that I’ve only begun to tackle. The bottle that had immediately caught my attention was the Evolution 16th Edition by Sokol Blosser Winery.  When I saw it was from Dundee, Oregon, (specifically the Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley), I just had to try it.  I’ve had a great number of wines from the Dundee Hills AVA, so I simply knew purchasing it was a safe bet.

Sokol Blosser Winery has been around for a long time (in Oregon’s wine history).  It had its start in 1971 when Susan Sokol and Bill Blosser planted their first grape vines.  Flash forward to 1977 and they had their first vintage release and the construction on their new winery completed.  By 1979, they were winning awards and working on expanding their vineyards.  This family owned winery is currently run by second generation, Alison and Alex Sokol Blosser.  Winemaker Russ Rosner has a long history as well, working for Robert Mondavi for more than 10 years before he caught the Oregon Pinot Noir bug and headed up north.  From Pinot Noir to Muller Thurgau, Sokol Blosser produces many wines.

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The Evolution 16th edition was a fantastic find.  This blend of nine different grapes go extremely well together to create a very pleasant, well balanced drinking experience.  On the bottle it states, “Luck? Intention?” (regarding their grapes used in the blend), but with a wine this delicious, I’m thinking it was all intention.

The Evolution was sealed with the traditional wine cork, which I love.  There is nothing like the feeling of the cork popping out of the bottle and that first initial sniff.  I can tell a lot from the nose of a wine, and I knew before taking a sip that it had a crisp acidity mixed with delicious fruit flavors.  Peaches and crisp green apple notes popped in my mouth, and it had a slightly crisp but sweet finish – very well rounded and enjoyable.  I drank this all on its own, but Sokol Blosser recommends, ” fresh salads, spicy Thai dishes and grilled meats.”  I would wholly agree with this statement, I think it would hold its own to a spicy Asian dish or a fresh, chilled salad.  I picked this bottle up for $15 dollars at Costco, but it is available on the Sokol Blosser website and at stores across the country.  If you are looking for a great go-to white blend, look no further – the Evolution 16th edition is where it’s at. Cheers!

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Sokol Blosser just opened up a new tasting room, and I can’t wait to check it out!

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Please join me – the Frugal Wino –  every week on WineJulia.com.  I plan to introduce you to an under $20 dollar Pacific Northwest wine on a weekly basis – everyone deserves a delicious glass of wine that won’t break the bank! Cheers! ~ Sarah

Wine Down Eugene

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One of the great things about publishing EDN is the opportunity to find unknown writers and make them known, to give them a platform for their voice.  We’ve had some inquiries about who we’ve got coming up next in our wine section. While we aren’t quite ready to spill the grapes as it were, we can tell you, you are going to enjoy getting to know them as much as we’ve enjoyed it.  Each of them has a distinctive honest voice when it comes to wine.

This edition of Wine Down I’m highlighting an article by Sarah Tunnell (The Frugal Wino!). Sarah was writing in Spring about the 2011 Cuvee Amrita – one of my favorite hot weather, easy to drink affordable wines.


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The Frugal Wino: Anne Amie Vineyards Cuvee A Amrita 2011

by Sarah Tunnell

Picking out a wine during the spring season here in the Willamette Valley is always tough. One day it will rain for 12 hours straight, and the next it will be sixty degrees with sunshine. The wine I have picked out for this week I actually purchased a few months ago from Anne Amie Vineyards, which would be perfect for a warm sunny day.  I was saving it for a special occasion, but I just decided that drinking the wine that I purchased from a beautiful vineyard was enough of an occasion.  I bought the  2011 Cuvee A Amrita because it was a spectacular deal ($12 a bottle, what a steal!) and because I love a good white blend.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my single varietal whites like Viognier and Pinot Gris; however, the right combination of white grapes blended together can end in a flavorful and refreshing blend – perfect for a summer day.

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Anne Amie Vineyards is located in the Willamette Valley near the Chehalem Mountains. It’s near Carlton, Oregon; in the heart of Oregon wine country. I had the privilege of stopping there for the first time back in February, and I was blown away by the vineyards and the beautiful tasting room. It’s located in what used to be Chateau Benoit, but in 1999 the property was purchased by Robert B Pamplin, Jr. – an author, farmer, minister, and owner of the Portland Tribune. He bought the vineyard hoping to create wines of the highest quality and brought well-known local winemaker, Thomas Houseman, on board. Their primary grapes are Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc but they also do many other varietals. I was fortunate enough to also try the Muller Thurgau dessert wine “Amie,” and it was one of the best dessert wines I’ve ever tasted. Not only are all the Anne Amie wines delicious, the view from the tasting room is to die for.

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Over the past few years I’ve been able to try lots of wine, and a few of those, upon first sniff, smell like alcohol -not a good start, in my view.  One of the first good signs I look for when evaluating wine is a fruit forward nose, and the Amrita had just that. Green apples and ripe pears filled my senses, and I knew I was in for a good white blend.  It tasted like melons, peaches, and strawberries, and had a bit of minerality with a citrusy, slightly sweet finish.  The sweetness was just right, not too much, not too little.  I loved this wine.  I was impressed that it had 10 grape varietals in it, as well!  The primary varietals were Reisling, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot Blanc. I drank this on a chilly night by itself and it held up on its own very well.  I didn’t eat anything with it, but I think it would pair beautifully with spicy Asian food like Pad Thai or Curry based dishes.

At $12 a bottle, I highly recommend this wine for all of my fellow wine lovers, it’s a must try.

The Frugal Wino - Sarah Tunnell.  Yes, she does not just write, she also rocks.
The Frugal Wino – Sarah Tunnell. Yes, she does more then write, she also rocks.

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