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Category: Taste

No Fun Getting Old: Age and Wine

No Fun Getting Old: Age and Wine

“How you doing, Grandpa?” “Well, it’s no fun getting old,” wheezed my great-grandfather Wes. Then, a deep breath. It was meant as a direct response to a rote question. It frequently left me grinning uncomfortably. For many, aged wine contains an aura of near mythical power. Hold a 30 year old wine in your hands, and you hold history, even time itself. We are taught that aged wines bring new depths to explore, and we hear a similar message about…

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Tasting the Bella Vida

Tasting the Bella Vida

Three wines. Each providing a thumbprint and insight into a winemaker’s style. All under one roof. A tour of the Willamette Valley typically provides the curious connoisseur an experience with Pinot Noir, soils and AVA variations, winemaking style, and brand image. The preeminent role of site, however, leaves the taster wondering what effect the winemaker had in comparison to the plot of land and farming that raised the grapes. Enter Bella Vida Vineyard. Located in the rust-hued hills of Dundee,…

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Tar, Barnyard, White Pepper, Compost

Tar, Barnyard, White Pepper, Compost

What makes expensive wine so expensive? I get this question more than almost any other. And it is a great question. Many layers weave together to create a wine’s price tag (Wine Economics Part I, Part II, and Part III only scratch the surface). However, a remarkable reality persists—the large majority of wine drinkers don’t particularly enjoy drinking expensive wines, especially the exalted wines of the Old World*. Blind tastings of regular folks have consistently shown no correlation, or even a negative correlation, between the…

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The Head, The Heart, The Slurp

The Head, The Heart, The Slurp

I recently attended an Oregon Syrah tasting with a trio of Willamette Valley winemakers and a few other industry compatriots. We tasted through seven different Oregon Syrahs, including a vertical from Dion Vineyard in the Willamette Valley produced by Anne Hubatch of Helioterra. Violet-blue in color, the 2013 Dion grabbed me by the shoulders and force-focused my energy directly into the glass. Confident white pepper aromatics lead, followed by spice, blueberry, and boysenberry. Floral undertones add a lovely, gentle layer. This…

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Breathe

Breathe

The holidays are coming. Breathe in, breathe out. We benefit from a few deep breaths, and so do most wines we consume today. This past winter I brought a 2012 Owen Roe DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to Minnesota to share with dear friends. We intended to open and enjoy the bottle prior to heading out to a larger gathering. I had tasted this Cabernet multiple times, and had always deeply appreciated the duality of density and litheness omnipresent in the wine, as well…

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Notice

Notice

Senses open. Descriptors flitting and nesting within your brain. Noticing brings meaning and ultimately peace, balm in our hurried world. Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer agrees, and suggests we practice mindfulness, the “simple act of actively noticing things” (more here). I propose that engaged wine tasting is mindfulness, a means to appreciate the fullness of life. “Ahh, bah humbug.” I hear the calls for sanity. “Wine is wine. You like it or don’t. Stop overanalyzing.” I refuse to oversimplify our experience….

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Wine Literature Must Haves

Wine Literature Must Haves

In my previous post, Buying Wine, I mentioned the anxiety many feel when purchasing wine. The plethora of options at most wine retailers leads people to often reach for the comfortable–old trusty–or pick a varietal, price point, and label that aligns with their mood, and then speed out of that daunting environment. The following list of wine literature essentials will help move you from uncomfortable, to curious, to confident. Wagon Wine’s must haves Wine: A Tasting Course by Marnie Old Marie…

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Reflections after the Columbia Gorge Grand Tasting

Reflections after the Columbia Gorge Grand Tasting

The Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association (CGWA) recently hosted a Grand Tasting at Castaway in NW Portland. After a few days of pondering and reflecting on my notes, I feel more confident than ever that the Columbia Gorge AVA has a bigger and brighter future ahead (though perhaps we shouldn’t hope for “bigger”). This AVA garners relatively little press from regional and national press. As a consequence, it is a spring lilac, under-appreciated, that forces your attention when you get within…

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The Essentials

The Essentials

Some call these details. Anybody passionate about wine disagrees. If you ever buy and drink a bottle over $10, take note. You should read on even if you exclusively drink Two Buck Chuck. Wine storage, wine glasses, and serving temperature–the holy trinity of wine stewardship in the home. Let us begin the obligatory post of every caring wine writer to have walked this planet. Repurposed wine bottle: olive oil with tap Wine Storage Wine has two core enemies–heat and light. Wine…

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Wine Economics Part I: The Land

Wine Economics Part I: The Land

Why can I buy a solid, terroir-nuanced Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington for $18, while I can’t buy an equally alluring Pinot Noir from neighboring Oregon for under $30? Why the huge variety and volume of respectable Languedoc-Roussillon red blends (France) for under $15, while I can’t buy equally unadulterated* cabernet sauvignons for that price from California? These two scenarios only hint at the tip of the economic iceberg when it comes to wine. The price tag at our local wine shop…

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