Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec

I purchased this wine when I stopped at the Thorpe Fruit Stand on my way home from Yakima this last May.  I had a business meeting combined with a conference, so I was on the road a week, and my visit to Thorpe was a nice treat on the long drive home.  I decided to get the Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec without knowing anything about it – at $14 it was worth the risk on what could be a great wine!

It is made from 100% Malbec from the Alice Vineyard, Wahluke Slope.  The skins were pressed off the juice after 6 hours of cold soak contact in the traditional method of making Rosé, and it was aged in stainless steel for four months.   It packs a kick at 13% ABV and was released on February 1, 2016.

The tasting notes for the wine say, “a sensory garden of layered aromas of fresh rose petals and strawberry, rhubarb, and hints of jasmine and lemon rind on the nose, this Rosé explodes on the palate with springtime flavors. Fresh balanced essence of watermelon and strawberry, lime zest and rhubarb, this wine is very lively with a great balance of acidity on the finish.”

I opened it last night and paired it with salmon rubbed with a Meyer lemon balsamic vinegar rub, asparagus and sweet potato fries.

Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec, Wahluke Slop

I definitely picked up the floral nose, along with quite a bit of watermelon on the palate.  It is a delicious wine that will I enjoy even though the weather is turning crisp and cold.

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Mount Si Hike

July 21, 2017

With my summer Fridays off of work, I was able to do some hikes with my girlfriend Katie, because she has Fridays off too!  We went south one day and did the Mount Si hike in the Snoqualmie Region, just outside of the town of Snoqualmie.

Mount Si, for the Snoqualmie people, was the body of the moon, fallen to the earth through the trickery of the fox and the blue jay.   It is a spiritual place, with a craggy mountain rising out of the foothills.  For those of you who watch the television show Twin Peaks, Mount Si features prominently in the show, which was filmed in and around the town of Snoqualmie.  The mountain is named for a settler named Josiah Merritt, who had a cabin at the base of the mountain in the late 1800s.

Katie and I headed down early that morning, and took the scenic route down to the mountain – off on the back roads to avoid rush hour freeway traffic.

We arrived just after 8 – we got out our packs and got ready to go.

Mount Si is a tough hike.  It is a steep hike – 8 miles round trip with over 3,100 feet of elevation gain.  Mount Si is considered a training hike for Mount Rainier; if you can summit Mount Si in less than two hours then you are considered to be ready to summit Rainier.  We headed up the mountain, which is basically 4 miles of switchbacks up the mountain.  There are parts that are steeper and parts where the switchbacks are more gentle, but it is all switchbacks, all the time on this route…

 

We took breaks when we needed and encountered several groups of millennials hiking with their phones streaming music into the air.  I don’t think I will ever understand why they want to hike with music blasting out like this.  I prefer to listen to the sound of nature when I am out hiking.

Early on, Katie and I came upon a leucistic slug – it was white!  That was far more fascinating than it might have been had we not needed at rest break! But honestly, I think it might have been the high point of Katie’s day.  She was pretty excited about that slug…

At the top of the mountain, Mount Si is a collection of boulders and rock faces – lots of climbers like to climb to the actual summit here.  We weren’t going to do that, because it is a technical climb, but enjoyed seeing it still up above us.  We did scramble around and among boulders to go see close up where the technical climb begins.

 

A Gray Jay on Mount Si

 

 

Katie and Me!

Mount Si also has a fun draw.  Now, I know I will get in trouble with some of you for this, and I hope you will be able to forgive me…  I never do this.  Katie and I fed the birds…  (hangs head in shame, but only a little…) The Gray Jays there would swoop down to grab a peanut or dried cranberry from the palm of your hand!  Surprisingly, they are very gentle.  I have to admit it was pretty fun.  And the photos I got were absolutely priceless.

Yes, these are unedited…

 

We hung out at the top and ate our lunch of nuts, granola bars and fruit, and checked out the views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range.  It was stunning!  Certainly worth the pain of the uphill hike!

For obvious reasons, the hike back down was faster and easier, and when we got to the bottom we were more than ready for a trip to Snoqualmie Brewery for a late lunch and a pint.  I had the Muffaletta sandwich (which while not very traditional was delicious!) and the Copperhead American Pale Ale, and got myself a pint glass to take home.

On the way home, Katie and I did a quick stop at Snoqualmie Falls.  We checked out the falls, which at 268 feet tall is the 6th highest waterfall in Washington State.  It has two powerhouses generating power for Puget Sound Energy; one is actually buried underground!  Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge that is located at the top of the falls, were both also featured in Twin Peaks, giving Katie a Twin Peaks trifecta for the day.

It was a great day!

Monte Cristo Hike

July 15, 2017

In July, I went on another hike I’d never done before, an 8 mile round-trip hike over a relatively flat route to a gold and silver mining site.  The ghost town of Monte Cristo.

Between 1890 and 1907, Monte Cristo experienced a huge boom, growing to over 1,000 people at its peak, with 13 active mines and 211 active mining claims.  It was the first mine site on the west side of the Cascade Mountain range.  John D. Rockefeller took an interest in the site and for a period of time Frederick Trump, grandfather of President Trump, operated a boom-town hotel and brothel there.

At first the town and the mines were profitable, but over-estimates of the ground’s ore potential and frequent floods took their toll.  Most of the ore was near the surface; it was rarely profitable to go more than 500 feet down below the surface.  The river also flooded several times, requiring expensive repairs to the road and the railroad line in order to keep the ore flowing out to the smelter.

After mining operations ceased in 1907, for several decades there were attempts to keep the town going as a resort destination, with only limited success.  The county road to Monte Cristo was flooded in 1980 and not rebuilt, and the only remaining business, a lodge, burned down in 1983.  Monte Cristo is a ghost town today. A few original buildings and relics remain, as well as several more cabins from the various resort town efforts. The forests have grown back, so it is tough to imagine the bare hillsides with tramways and men bringing ore down from the steep mountains.

The route follows most of the old route taken by the miners over a century ago.  Floods over the years have washed out the road alongside the South Fork of the Sauk River.  The hike starts at the Barlow Pass trailhead on the North Cascades – Mountain Loop Highway and travels along the road for about 4 miles. You have to cross over the river on a large fallen tree at one point, but it is wide and flat enough that it doesn’t feel treacherous.

A view of the mountains on the hike in

There is a slight incline the entire way, with a total elevation gain of 700 feet to a final elevation of 2,800 feet.  The scenery is stunning, with the shallow river showing its rocky bed, and the craggy mountains above.  The 8 miles are pretty easy miles as long as you can handle the distance.

A Wiggin’s Lily at Monte Cristo

Once in the town it was fun to just wander around, seeing the old cabins and reading the signs showing where other buildings used to be.  There has been some remediation done in the area, in order to clean up the heavy metals that still exist in the mine tailings.  There is still a lot more work to be done, so they recommend you don’t drink the water there, or at a minimum filter it.

There is a pack-in campsite; it looks like a fun place to stay the night and explore the town.  I wonder if there are ghosts!

Rest in Peace Oscar…

I have posted here previously that my last several weeks were some of my hardest lately.  Work was horrible, and required long hours, nights and weekends.  It was really stressful.  On top of that…

A few weeks ago, I came home from an afternoon walk with a girlfriend to be greeted by Oscar in the kitchen, with a strange cry that let me know something was wrong.  When he let me pick him up, I knew it was bad.  Sweet Oscar is semi-feral; he wasn’t socialized as a young kitten and has always been extremely skittish about being picked up.  Not a lap cat…

 

That is not the food you are looking for…

Sunday night, September 17, I took Oscar to the emergency vet, where the vet found a perianal abscess.  She sedated him, lanced the abscess, gave him painkiller and antibiotic injections, and we headed home, thinking things would be looking up.

The next day he wasn’t getting better, so Tuesday morning we headed off to the vet again.  The bad news was almost immediate – he was in acute kidney failure.  There was no way to know if the abscess was caused by his immune system being compromised by kidney failure, or if the kidney failure was caused by the infection.  Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway.

 

Oscar (left) and Coraline (right) taking in some rays

Oscar got hooked up to IV fluids and for the next several days, received his fluids 24 hours a day.  After the first day, he started to perk up, and eat and drink.  He was looking a little healthier.  Unfortunately his blood work kept showing that his kidney levels weren’t improving.  If I pulled him off the IV, he would once again crash.  That’s no kind of life…

On Saturday, September 23, I made the decision to let Oscar cross over the rainbow bridge.  He was only 11 years old.

 

Oscar says, “Don’t Mess with Me…”

During his life, he usually ran away when strangers came over, or at best would watch them from a safe perch under the dining room table or on the stairs.  He liked to play with his toys, but would get nervous when the other cats crowded his space.  He needed a wide bubble, and things were always on his terms.  Over time, he mellowed a lot, and would approach me for pets in the kitchen, or when I was folding the laundry.  He loved to have his chin scratched, but always got nervous if you tried to use two hands.  But in his quirky way, Oscar was an absolute lover, gently nipping your ankle if you stopped petting before he was done.  He was sweet, and I miss him…

 

Oscar Sees Coraline for the First Time

It sucks that he didn’t get to grow old.  It sucks that the only time he ever sat on my lap was in the last moments of his life.  I do hope that he found Martini right away and is enjoying being healthy again.  And I hope that he gets all the pets and chin scratches he wants, even if it is only in the kitchen…

 

The Bet…

The last couple of weeks have been difficult.  Work stuff, which escalated to a whole new level. Personal stuff too, which I’ll get to in a different post. Meanwhile, during some of the worst days, someone important to me made a commitment, and I questioned whether it would be kept…

I was chatting with a dear friend and mentioned the commitment, and how I was skeptical that the promise would be kept.  A bet was born.  My friend was more hopeful than I was that the commitment would be kept.  If the promise was honored, I lost the bet, and owed my friend a bottle of whisky.  If the commitment were to be broken, then I won a bottle of wine (while still sadly losing).  The specifications were either a French Champagne, or an Oregon Pinot Noir, chosen by my friend.  My favorites!

I won the bet, while sadly still losing, because the commitment was broken.  A few days later a bottle of St. Innocent 2014 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir arrived.  My friend chose the bottle based on the name of the winery, without knowing that this is a winery I have been wanting to try for years…

The Tasting Notes:

This is a complex wine that reflects the heat of the afternoon sun, the cool, windy evenings, and the rustic soils of the McMinnville hills while retaining the dark beauty of its intense, ripe fruit. It is aromatically complex with layers of blue and black fruit, Indian spices, coffee hints, and pepper. In the mouth the blue/black fruit flavors and eastern spice notes are layered with a “sauvage” sense of wildness. Texturally layered, its flavors vary in intensity and quality over your tongue and palate. Ample ripe tannins balance with its acidity.

The Technical Details:

Our Momtazi Vineyard grapes come from four blocks at the top of the vineyard on steep, exposed hillsides that become quite windblown. The de-stemmed grapes were fermented in small stainless steel and Burgundy oak fermenters. After gently pressing and settling the wine aged in French oak barrels, 28% which were new, for 16 months before bottling by gravity.

Crop Level: 2.4 tons/acre
Harvest: 9/27/14
Bottled: February 2016

 

 

I opened it last night, when the work stuff had settled a bit…  I opened it while chatting with my friend – a virtual toast from thousands of miles away.  This wine turned out to be everything a perfect Pinot Noir should be.  Delicate cherry, with lots of smoky, earth tones.  The light tannins balance out the acidity.  It is very smooth, and at 13% ABV, it packs a subtle kick that creeps up on you just a little…  I think it is my new favorite Pinot Noir.

The only disappointment?  I didn’t get to share it with my friend.

Cheers.  To dear friends and a clean slate…

 

2014 Amancay Red Blend

It was a long, tiring week with a ton going on both at work and personally, so Friday night when my weekend finally got started after 8 pm, I opened up the 2014 Amancay Reserva Red Blend from the Uco Valley in Argentina.  It was a Trader Joe’s pick at $6.99.

It has some terrible reviews on the internet, but I thought it was pretty good.  It is a nice, medium body red wine for a very good price.  The tannins weren’t too heavy and it has a nice balance with the fruit.  Not a lot of oak, and that’s what I like.  Plus it has held up well both nights, I feel like it tasted a bit bolder on the second night.  There’s still more in the bottle, so I am interested to see how it changes over the next couple of days too.  I’m not really sure why the couple of reviews that were there were so bad.  I guess it just goes to show that wine is always a personal taste.

I didn’t take any notes, because well, exhaustion, but I would definitely buy this again.

Happy Sunday Funday!