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Walla Walla 2017: Relaxation

Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.

Historic Sharpstein Manor, Walla Walla

 

Historic Home, now apartments

We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails.  When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing!  We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM!  Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis.  She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff!  We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!

My Grapefruit Mimosa at Bacon and Eggs

We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry.  Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp.  I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice!  He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space…  The exhibits are – well, there are just no words.  He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations…  Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs.  It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds.  If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment.  If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.

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Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family.  Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere.  The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.

Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday.  A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening.  There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!

 

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2014 Elizabeth Chambers Pinot Gris

I visited Elizabeth Chambers Cellar by accident a couple of years ago. I was looking for a different winery, which used to occupy the historic power plant building in McMinnville, Oregon.  Well, the other winery wasn’t there, and this one was, so I stopped in for a taste… And brought home a couple of bottles.

So the Pinot Gris… Amazing!  This wine is less sweet than the typical Oregon Pinot Gris; Elizabeth Chambers keeps the residual sugar levels to less than one tenth of 1% in their Pinot Gris, resulting in a bone-dry wine.

The wine has flavors of lemon and pineapple, with bright acidity and minerality. The Winemaker’s Notes say: Aromas of orange peel and passion fruit lead into zesty flavors of lemon peel and grapefruit, showcasing bright acidity and an engaging citrus and tropical fruit character.  The wine’s elegant finish reveals hints of pear and Crenshaw melon.

The finish lingers on the tongue. It is excellent.  Sadly the 2014 is sold out, but the 2015 and 2016 are still available!

If you have a chance to visit their tasting room, do!  The atmosphere is lively and fun, and the historic building has so much character!

Art Brut 2011 Blanc de Blancs

As it is just a few days before Christmas, I wanted to treat myself, so I got a lobster tail and cooked it up alongside a medley of baked vegetables.  And what goes better with seafood than sparkling wine!

The ART BRUT 2011 Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine made in the methode Champenoise style by winemaker Chris Berg at Roots Wine Company.  It is named after the art genre Art Brut, also known as Outsider Art, Raw Art or Visionary Art.  It is a Blanc de Blancs, made from 100-percent Chardonnay sourced from the Sienna Ridge Estate in Red Hills.

Art Brut 2011 Blanc de Blancs – Roots Wine Company

Upon first opening the wine, there was a heavy taste of yeast and I worried that I had waited too long, but it settled down after about a half hour.  It is delicious – with just a bit of tartness balanced with the creamy Chardonnay light butter flavors.  The bubbles had mellowed after years in the bottle, but it still had enough to give that sparkling wine effervescence.  It paired very well with the lobster too!

I don’t remember the price I paid, but I think this wine was about $30.  I purchased it at the Bubbles Fest sparkling wine festival hosted by Anne Amie Winery in the Willamette Valley a few years back. It’s an awesome wine event, if you have the chance to go!

If you are a fan of charitable giving with your wine drinking, you will be pleased to know that a portion of the profits from all sales of ART BRUT wines were donated to the American Art Therapy Association.  Plus, it has horses on the bottle, and that is always a positive (even if they are heavily stylized)!

This wine is sold out, and I’m not sure that the winery is making sparkling wine anymore; all the sparkling wines on their website are from 2010 and 2011 and seem to be sold out.  Perhaps it is a wine I’ll never have again, and that’s too bad!

Happy Holidays – I hope you are all well…

MAN Family Wines: 2016 Chenin Blanc

The MAN Family Wines 2016 Chenin Blanc is one that I picked up a few weeks ago at Cost Plus World Market, when I was on my way home from my business meeting.  It is South African, which is a country whose wines I haven’t explored that much.

I opened it several days ago, my pre-Thanksgiving wine to enjoy.  On the nose, this wine has aromas of pineapple and lemongrass.  The flavor is similar, beginning with a tart flavor of lemongrass, then settling into tropical fruit and pineapple, and finally, a floral note on the finish.  It certainly meets the winery description of a sweet and sour wine.

MAN Family Wines 2016 Chenin Blanc

Interestingly the winery uses only free run juice – they do not press the skins.  I don’t really know how that is supposed to make a difference, as it doesn’t seem common to have a wine made exclusively from free-run juice.  At any rate, it is a steal at only $6.99!  Delicious!

German Monkey Wine

I was away at a quarterly business meeting for the last few days…  On the way home, I stopped by Cost Plus World Market to check things out.  I love a visit from time to time – candles, home decor, cute girly stuff, those awesome stuffed green olives.  And wine!  You know – necessities…

Unbeknownst to me, they had started their holiday wine sale!  What’s better than wine?  Wine on sale!!!  So I stocked up and bought a bunch of wines I haven’t tried before.

This one I bought purely based the the label.  Because well, it’s awesome.  I mean really, a gold embossed monkey wrapped around the bottle – when are you going to see that?!  Oh, and my friend told me I had to get it too.  That.

Without further ado, I bring you German Monkey Wine…

Affentaler Valley of the Monkey Pinot Noir

Otherwise known as Affentaler Valley of the Monkey Pinot Noir.  I will admit that when I first opened this wine, I was not impressed.  I was prepared to write it off as simply a cool bottle to turn into a holder for my tealight tree.  But after it had a chance to breathe for a bit, it got better.  It has flavors of dark cherry, earth and tobacco.

For $10.99 a bottle, it was a decent Pinot Noir.  At that price I would probably get it again…  If you do, remember to let it breathe for a little while…

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.

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…