2015 Sleight of Hand The Magician Riesling

Yesterday, a day after getting home from a fabulous spring break road trip down to California on Sunday, I pulled a bottle out of the wine fridge.  It felt like summer in California, even if it doesn’t feel like summer here at home, so I wanted a summer sweet Riesling!

My friends and I visited Sleight of Hand Cellars when we were in Walla Walla last Memorial Day.  It was a great visit, and they had wonderful wines!

The 2015 The Magician Riesling is sourced from Evergreen Vineyard, which located high on the cliffs above the Columbia River in Central Washington. 2015 was a warm year in Washington for wines, but Evergreen Vineyard is a cooler site, which allowed for extra hang time for the grapes.  It has a delicious balanced acidity, with green apple and pear flavors, crisp minerality, and plenty of citrus.

2015 Sleight of Hand Riesling

It is sold out at the winery, but I think it cost about $18.  If you have tried it, let me know what you thought!


2014 Penner-Ash Riesling

Gregory Dal Piaz, a reviewer on, described this wine as:

Honeysuckle, almond, mineral, jasmine and lime aromas pop from the glass. A bit soft in the mouth at first, this seems to be lacking a smidge of acidity though it’s very easy drinking with flavors that have a peachy cast to them. Nice minerality emerges on the mid-palate with some green apple and green nut flavors that yield to a modest, dusty mineral and lime toned finish. The aromatics here are great but this stumbles a bit in the mouth, though it is super approachable and quaffable.  87 points.

I am tired from being away for work all week, chores over the weekend, and some lingering effects from my recent cold, so I am taking the lazy way out and don’t really have much to add. Except yummy, and pairs well with raspberries.

A Christmas Riesling Tasting

Christmas was low key this year.  As my parents would be home rather than in Portland, Jon and I decided to spend it with them.  Unfortunately, my mom came down with the flu, and Jon was feeling under the weather as well, so my plans for wiling away the afternoon with games of Scrabble and National Parks Monopoly were thwarted.  Sadly, my dad has since been felled by the flu too, leaving me to wonder if my two week cold was only the preview for a nasty stomach bug.  Fingers crossed…

I had gotten some recommendations at the wine shop for a side by side tasting of Rieslings – Germany vs. Oregon.  Although my mom was unable to partake, we proceeded anyway.  The German Riesling was from the Mosel region – the C.H. Berres 2002 Kinheimer Hubertuslay Kabinett.  The family has been making wine since 1510!  This Riesling was 100% handpicked and aged for 3 months in German oak barrels with wild yeasts.  I’m not really sure what that means, but it sounds fancy.  The wine still held some fruit, but had largely lost the acidity of a younger white – the result was a pleasant semi-sweet Riesling with low alcohol.

C.H. Berres 2002 Kinheimer Hubertuslay Kabinett Riesling

C.H. Berres 2002 Kinheimer Hubertuslay Kabinett Riesling

The Oregon contender was the Lazy River 2011 Private Lumpkin Riesling, a wine that had a nice balance of tart and sweet, with flavors of pear and nectarine.  It reminded me a lot of the many Oregon Pinot Gris (what’s the plural of Gris?).  Even if you haven’t heard of Lazy River, you have likely heard of some of the wineries that they supply Pinot Noir grapes to – Hamacher, Panther Creek, R. Stuart & Co., and Ponzi.

2011 Lazy River Riesling

2011 Lazy River Riesling

Both wines were very good – the German Riesling was a mellow wine with plenty left after 13 years.  The Oregon Riesling was bright and tart and flavorful.  It was hard to pick a winner, but for me and my dad, the Lazy River edged out the C.H. Berres by a nose.  Jon thought the same on Christmas Day, but changed his mind the next day.  Of course, it might have been very different if we were comparing the same year!

How about you – have you done any side by side tastings lately? 


Traverse Bay Winery Cherry Riesling

For the last couple of evenings, I have been enjoying a Michigan wine.  It is the Traverse Bay Winery’s Cherry Riesling wine, a blend of 25% Cherry wine and 75% Riesling. 

Their website describes it as a “unique and flavorful wine was made from our Semidry Riesling Wine and Northern Michigan Cherry Wine. Simply put, this enchanting semidry wine displays crisp, fruity style with a delicate hint of cherry. We recommend serving this versatile wine slightly chilled as an accompaniment to picnic or barbecued fare, as well as cheese and fruit. This is a sweeter-style blush wine with crisp Riesling flavors and just a hint of fresh cherry.”


At only $9, it is a great mid-week sipper, offering something different than a typical Riesling with its light cherry flavor.  While it is a bit late in the season for outdoor picnics, it is a nice, sweet wine that reminds me of summer.  If only the summer would return!   

Cheers to the impending return of the weekend!  One more day!

Colorado 2015: Colorado National Monument Afternoon

Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails

Day 3: August 3, 2015

After lunch, we all hiked the Canyon Rim Trail, and the Window Rock Trail – a 1.5 mile round trip hike when you combine the two trails.  We hiked along the mesa, with stunning views out over Wedding Canyon, with views of Monument Canyon in the distance as well. We saw more rock formations carved by erosion of the Kayenta Sandstone, watched several swifts race in the blue sky (say that 5 times fast!), and marveled at the gorgeous desert landscape. There is practically no elevation gain on this hike and no scrambling on slick rock, so it is a great hike for everyone (provided the kids are old enough to stay away from the edge).

Piddles Photobombing Jon on the Canyon Rim Hike

Piddles Photobombing Jon on the Canyon Rim Hike

The hike ended at Window Rock, a viewpoint with an arch – it took us awhile to find Window Rock because you have to peek over the railing of the viewpoint and look down…

The artistic shot of Window Rock

The artistic shot of Window Rock

Wedding Canyon, with the Book Cliffs off in the Distance.

Wedding Canyon, with the Book Cliffs off in the Distance.

After our second hike, I talked to a ranger and found out where we might see Desert Bighorn Sheep (near the Fruita, CO entrance to the park) and we headed that way with our eyes peeled. We drove very slowly along the road, peering up at the rocks around us.  Sadly, we didn’t see any, but we did find “Balanced Rock,” which of course reminded us of Arches National Park and its more famous Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock - The Colorado National Monument Version

Balanced Rock – The Colorado National Monument Version

After Colorado National Monument, Jon and his Dad wanted to find someplace with access to the Colorado River.  We found Colorado River State Park – it had no entrance fee that day, due to it being Colorado Day. I had no idea what Colorado Day is. We don’t have a Washington Day at home – what’s up with that? Upon looking it up, I discovered that Colorado Day celebrates Colorado’s entrance into statehood on August 1, 1876. We were there on August 3 though, so it is still a mystery to me… At any rate, the park gave us access to a boat launch where we could sit by the Colorado River (so we could say we did). It moved pretty swiftly though, so no swimming for us!

Relaxing by the Mighty Colorado River

Relaxing by the Mighty Colorado River

We got a quick snack to tide us over for the drive ahead of us – just about 90 minutes to Montrose, Colorado, to be poised for the next day’s touristing.  On the drive, we passed by a long string of train engines all hooked together – there must have been at least thirty of them!  I wonder if they stash them there for the tough trips over the Rocky Mountains.  I saw lots of Prairie Dogs or Wyoming Ground Squirrels, but they don’t really photograph well from a car traveling 60 mph!

A line of Union Pacific train engines.

A line of Union Pacific train engines.

And we had an early dinner at Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, a restaurant with Indian and Himalayan food – a seemingly odd restaurant to run into in small town Colorado. I had never had Himalayan food though, and we were all excited to check it out.  The place was quiet – there was just one other table seated when we got there (but we were pretty early), and Jon and his Dad were making fun of how my choice would turn out.

We each tried something different: I had the Chicken Sekuwa, Jon had the Chicken Saag, Linda had the Malai Kufta, and Robby had the Beef Sekuwa.  My Chicken Sekuwa was described as marinated overnight in a yogurt sauce and then flash cooked in a Tandoori Oven.  We split an order of the Garlic Naan, which was lighter and crispier than naan I have had in Indian restaurants.  Our meals were fabulous! They had lots of vegetarian dishes for Jon’s mom, and we all loved what we had – those of us meat eaters were able to try all of the dishes too!

My Chicken Sekuwa, at the Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, in Montrose, Colorado

My Chicken Sekuwa, at the Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, in Montrose, Colorado

After dinner and checking into our hotel, we stopped in at a local liquor store to get some local beer and wine. I bought a bottle of the 2012 Plum Creek Riesling from Palisade, Colorado.  Plum Creek Winery sources all of its grapes from Colorado, and has wines made from some grapes I haven’t seen before, Marquette and Freedonia, as well as some fruit wines. The Riesling had a nice, balanced sweetness with floral notes and peach flavor; a good everyday drinking wine – maybe one day we’ll be able to check out their tasting room.

It was a great way to cap off a wonderful day.

Total driving distance on Day 3: 94 miles – Grand Junction – Colorado National Monument – Montrose
Hotel for the night: Super 8, Montrose – clean, but a little dated.  

The Wine that Time Forgot…

I found this bottle on the bottom shelf of the wine fridge yesterday.  I don’t remember ever having seen it before.  My mom recently brought me some Michigan wine, but this isn’t from Michigan, so I don’t think that’s it.  It is the D’Arenberg The Stump Jump White 2011, a South Australian wine.  It is a blend of Riesling, Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc and Rousanne.

D'Arenberg The Stump Jump White - Vintage 2011

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump White – Vintage 2011

It is only a 12 bottle wine fridge, and I rummage around in there quite often, taking bottles out to drink and putting new ones in.  It isn’t like a bottle is likely to get lost in there.  It is a 2011, so it’s likely I’ve had it for awhile…  Maybe Jon found this one on the rack in the pantry and put it in there, but it wasn’t dusty, and most of those bottles are dusty.  Jon isn’t likely to wipe or rinse a bottle…  So, I’m confused.  I suppose I might have picked it up at the grocery store on one of those nights we stopped by on the way home from doing wound care with my horse.  Those were long, tiring days…   But surely it is a better story that that!

I popped open this alien-delivered bottle to find a nose of lemongrass, and flavors of pineapple and lemongrass.  It has an initial taste of butter on the tongue, giving way to a mild acidity at the back of the palate.  A great summer sipper to pair with lazy summer weekends inside (because it is too smoky outside from the wildfires east of the mountains), folding laundry and watching reruns of M*A*S*H.

Hope you had a great weekend as well, and perhaps found a mystery bottle in your wine fridge!


2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling

It’s been a long week…  I am nearing the home stretch of a big recruitment process to hire my next boss, but that has meant several long days.  I’m ready for the weekend now!

To relax after my long day, I’m sipping on the 2012 Three Vineyard Riesling from Chehalem Winery.  It has a crisp minerality that is balanced by sweetness, something that is unusual in Northwest Rieslings.  There are flavors of tropical fruit – I picked up pineapple – with wet stone.

Even though it was raining and I was feeling the need to get bundled up against the cold, this crisp wine really hit the spot and reminded me that summer is on its way.

This wine contains 10% alcohol and 1.1% residual sugar, and is sourced from all three of Chehalem’s estate vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek.

Have you had the 2012 Chehalem Three Vineyard Riesling?  What did you think?