Tag Archives: Willamette Valley

Nick’s adventures in stunning Oregon

There aren’t many places I’ve been to that are as beautiful as Oregon is, especially in late May when almost everything was in full bloom.  The weather was, as I was told by the locals, unusually nice for this part of the country with sunshine pretty much everyday.  The city of Portland is a nice mix of city and rural wilderness with great hikes just a few subway stops away from downtown.   After one of those hikes one day on a hot, sunny afternoon we decided to take advantage of one of Portland’s best brew pubs, Deschutes, where we enjoyed a sampling of what they had on draft that day.  The highlight was definitely their 21st anniversary Barrel Aged Black Butte Porter, with a couple years age on it, was drinking real nice with those delicious, sweet bourbon notes.

Going out to dinner in City of Roses was awesome too, we never had a bad meal at any of the restaurants that we ate at.  It seemed that all the places that we went to really focused on the farm to table concept and it really comes through in the flavors of the food.  Everything from the cheese plates to the cuts of meat to simple sandwiches were all really fresh and flavorful whether it was served from one of the many food trucks or on top of a linen covered table.

After a short day trip out to the coast to Cannon Beach and another hike along the coastline with views that can’t be described in words we made our way about an hour south to the Willamette Valley for a weekend in wine country.  The hospitable folks over at Argyle Winery were gracious enough to host us in their guest house, The Nuthouse, a cozy house within walking distance to many great restaurants in Dundee.  However if you go to Oregon Wine Country, go to the small town of Lafayette and go to Martha’s Tacos.  A life changing experience and where a lot of the vineyard and winery workers go after a long day in the fields.  We ordered a few menu items a shared every last bite, hands down one of the best meals I’ve had with the stand out being their wet burrito.

On our first full day in Dundee we started out with a full tour of Argyle.  They are renown for their sparkling wines but as they told me and from what I tasted, you can’t make good sparkling wine without making good still wines first.  And they sure make good wine.  Sourcing their fruit from four vineyard sites in Willamette they make top notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and small amount of Riesling as well as some dessert wine.  We happened to be there on the day that they were disgorging their 2001 Extended Triage Sparkling which was an absolute treat to taste something that is almost 10 years old and is just ready to be released.  After going to the barrel room and tasting some samples of the 2010 vintage right out of the barrel,  our tour had come to an end but the day of tasting had just started.  The rest of the afternoon we drove to Carlton and around Dundee visiting wineries such as Lemelson, Carton Wine Makers Studio, Lange, Tori Mor and finished up the day with a glass of wine on Anne Amie’s patio overlooking the entire Valley.  The only regret I have about this whole trip is that it was only a week long, I could’ve stayed for another couple weeks.

Bonding and the Wine Spectator Grand Tour

Sue, Howie and John

Sometimes it is just necessary to hang out with the co-workers outside of the office and last Thursday night that meant that a trip to the Marriot Copley Hotel for the Wine Spectator Grand Tour.  For someone like me, who is new to the Bauer team, I was able to get to know Sue, Howie and John on a different level than I had in the store.  I learned more about who they were as individuals (and no-I am not going to divulge any of their secrets to you!) and how they came to be the great people they are.   It was nice talking to them on a more personal level, rather than discussing store events, inventory and sales.  I definitely feel more bonded to them and, consequently, to Bauer as well.  Although we did discuss the store to some degree, we mainly sipped and slurped our way through the 216 wines that were offered, laughing and joking along the way.

Sue and I bee-lined for Chateau Margeaux and Mouton Rothschild first.  Legendary wines such as those needed my attention first as I have never had the chance to taste them before.  Once we linked up with Howie and John, the four of us tasted Barolos, big California reds, Super Tuscans, Bordeauxs and more.  Once our lips were stained red, we slid over to the white wines.  Sauvignon Blancs and Viogniers delighted me.  St. Urbans-Hof Weingut’s Spatlese earned a huge star…especially considering Nik Weiss was coming to Bauer the following day to have a tasting with us.  BUT the big star of the night as far as I was concerned was the 1995 Femme Champagne from the Deval-Leroy winery.  This was what Champagne was meant to taste like.  Great acidity, complex, citrus-y with hints of marzipan and a yeasty biscuit flavor.  This one stole the show from the big Bordeauxs.

At the end of this wonderful evening with my crew, I realized that most of you probably don’t know who I am because  I am usually found in the office chained to the computer.  If you visit our website site, I am the one who makes sure our products are current (and in process of a redesign that is more user friendly).  You may have seen me in the store though, usually walking back and forth between the office and the counter with papers in my hand.   I may have even rung up your purchases with smile.  So perhaps it is time for me to formally introduce myself to you all.  My name is Corinne and I

John and me-one of the few times you will see me on the other side of the camera.

am the Marketing Director.  Hi.  I came to Bauer about six weeks ago to take over their social media writing.  So anytime you read our blog, get an email, visit Facebook or receive a Tweet, it is coming from me.  It has certainly kept me busy and I love it.  Most of my friends tell me I have the greatest job in the world;  I can’t disagree.  I taste and write about wine, beer and spirits for an amazing company.

A taste of Willamette Valley

Perhaps I’m backwards.  When it comes to planning a dinner at home or a meal at a restaurant I always choose my wine first and my meal to match second.  In my wine soaked world, that makes sense.  I stand in front of my 48 bottle wine rack or stare at the wine menu and ask myself “What do I want to drink tonight?”  Yes, dinner is still important but my wine choice takes precedence.   Don’t get me wrong, a meal where the wine takes center-stage does not mean that the food is an afterthought.  It is just as important but when I am in a restaurant I often hear other tables ask to hang onto the wine menu until they make their dinner choices.  I wonder silently if I am doing it all wrong.  I am the girl who takes her first sip of a wine and based on that flavor profile, I make my dinner selection.

Where does this idea of wine and food pairing come from and is it really all that important?

Countless sites on the Web pay homage to food and wine pairing and they always start with specific food and then talk about general wine varietals to go with them.  Not a single one I looked at started with specific wines and matched them with food.  Even within a specific grape varietal there is a vast difference in taste and aroma.  I’m not just talking about country and region, but two vineyards next to one another can be so different.  Is it snobbery to chose my wine first and plan my meal accordingly?  Do waiters and guests consider it “showing off?”  Probably but I am not playing at pretension, I just take my wine choice seriously.

 The whole idea between wine and food pairing comes from the French.  For centuries, the French drank their local wines with their local foods so they are choosy about which wines goes well with their specific recipe.  But in today’s wine market, there is little reason to be that selective about your choices.  There are literally thousands of great wines out there that will go well with your dinner.

But let’s get real.  Opening a bottle of wine for each course when it is only the two of you just doesn’t make sense.  Either there will be a lot of left over wine or two happily passed out people on the couch after dinner.  Problem solved: half bottles.  There is just two glasses in a half bottle, so having a multiple course meal with different wines is possible.

Last night, once again, I pondered: what am I in the mood for?  I chose a 2007 Argyle Wines Brut sparkling wine and paired it with a smoked salmon on brioche as my appetizer.  I was really in the mood for a sparkling wine and I can’t think of any better that is on the market right now than the Argyle Winery Brut.  The creamy texture and ripe citrus flavor melded beautifully with the smoked salmon and the acidity cut through the buttery brioche.

For the main course I opened up a half bottle of Argyle’s 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir.   Even though it is technically spring, the nights are still chilly and a silky Pinot Noir was just what I needed for dinner.  I let the wine breathe for a little bit while I put the finishing touches on my mushroom risotto.  As I chopped up the fresh herbs to mix in, I couldn’t wait for that first taste of my selected wine.  I made myself and my finacee a mushroom risotto from a recipe courtesy of my co-worker and wine guru, John.

John’s Mushroom Risotto:

6 oz of shitake mushrooms

6oz of cremini Mushrooms

6 cups of chicken stock

½ cup of dry white wine

½ of a white onion or shallots

1 package of aborio rice

Chopped parsley, Thyme and chives

Butter

½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Begin by mincing a small volume of onion, mushrooms and the other herbs.

Sauté the mixture in abundant olive oil or unsalted butter, and when it has browned remove it with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot.

Stir in the rice and sauté it too until it becomes translucent (~7-10 minutes), stirring constantly to keep it from sticking.

Return the sautéed seasonings to the pot and stir in a half of a cup of room temperature dry white wine.

Once the wine has evaporated completely, add a ladle of simmering broth; stir in the next before all the liquid is absorbed, because if the grains get too dry they will flake.

Continue cooking, stirring and adding broth as the rice absorbs it, until the rice barely reaches the al dente stage.

At this point stir in a tablespoon of butter and the grated cheese (if the recipe calls for it), cover the risotto, and turn off the flame. Let it sit, covered, for two to three minutes, and serve.

Enjoy!