|Pictured: Bring on the Reds! (photo: M. Hall)|
It’s only a few more days until the long weekend. But whose counting the days? Well me of course! I can’t wait to kick back, enjoy some BBQ and some great wines. I bet some of you are feeling the same way. We all need a little chillification, and what’s better than a cheap and cheerful bottle of wine. Recently, I attended a great tasting event courtesy of McCormick and Schmick in Beverly Hills and Learn About Wine. I really think a special spot on the McCormick & Schmick patio needs to be reserved for The Recessionista. There’s no better spot to watch designer fashions (Louie Wanton aka Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Tiffany’s and more) , people watch and sip great reasonably priced wines at their Happy Hour during the summer. It’s a cheap and cheerful delight, click here to see their menu.
If you haven’t heard of Learn About Wine, it’s a great way to take a wine tasting class, have some fun and enjoy some wines that you may not be familiar with. Look for discounts on Learn About Wine via Gilt City Los Angeles and Groupon. Classes are taught by wine educator Ian Blackburn. Ian holds a black belt in the art of wine. More important, his classes and special dinners celebrate great wines and introduce attendees to not only new flavors but new people. There’s a great social aspect of fun to each class. So, if you want to explore some good wine, and some food pairings too, do check out Learn About Wine.
Now, here are some fabulous wines that I discovered from Oregon and Washington State. The cooler climates there are perfect for growing full bodied and flavorful Pinot Noirs. Here’s my pick list.
Cougar Crest “Anniversary Cuvee.” This wine, priced at $32.00, delivers big flavor at a reasonable price. Fittingly, wine maker Deborah Hansen named this wine for her own Anniversary celebration. The “Anniversary Cuvee” is a delicious blend of Merlot, Cabernet Savignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The cooler temperatures in the Walla Walla River in Washington State provide the perfect climate and soil for the amazing Estate Merlots and magnificent Cabernet France from this small winery. If you like reds, you will want to check out Cougar Crest’s current special on free shipping when you order six bottles.
Artisanal Wine Cellars “Pinot Noir 2008.” This small winery (they make only 2,000 cases per year) produces an amazing 2008 Pinot Noir grown in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon. Wine maker, Tom Feller buys his grapes from local farms. He attributes the volcanic based soil and his “small batch practices” to the rich flavor of Artisanal’s Pinor Noir. The flavor is a burst of berries with a hint of spice/cinnamon. Besides being delicious, the wines are reasonably priced. Their Pinots range from $20.00 to $34.00 depending on the year.
WildAire Cellars, Pinot Noir Willamette 2008. This is a wine I would never have found on my own, because the wine maker only makes 800 cases per year. Because so little is produced, the wine maker Matt Driscoll, told me there is a “secret ingredient in the mix– love.” I can’t describe this one better than the tasting notes, “Deep flavors of juicy cherries, dark chocolate, cloves, and vanilla, evolve into an incredibly long and beautiful finish. Try this wine with grilled lamb or salmon.”
Alexandria Nicole "Quarry Butte" Alexandria Nicole's delicious blend of Cab/Merlot/Cab Franc/Malbec/ Syrah is priced at a mere $20.00 per bottle and it's well worth it. There are flavors of dark berries merged with "hints of cedar and elegant oak-spice." Check the winery's website for distributors.
My last recommendation for Summer vacation wine tasting and BBQs is from Santa Barbara's Bridlewood Winery and although, it was not on the Learn About Wine menu, I recently discovered it and have to share this great value.
Bridlewood Winery, Blend 175. Look for their delicious Blend 175 in grocery stores in California like Vons' and Ralph's priced from $12.00 to $15.00. And despite its low price tag, Robert Parker scores the 2009 Blend 175 at 89 points "Abundant black currant fruit notes intermixed with hints of white chocolate, pepper and earth. It is a spicy, delicious, endearing, medium-bodied red with exuberant fruit as well as a boisterous personality."