Blackberries are wildly abundant in September. In Hood River, one could easily fill a basket while walking through almost any neighborhood. I recently discovered the ultimate fall trifecta (blackberries! chocolate! Cabernet!) in the form of these perfectly grown-up cupcakes. The recipe only calls for a 1/2 c of Cabernet, so you’ll want to enjoy a glass while you bake and–trust me–it pairs perfectly with a fluffy fresh-from-the-oven chocolate cupcake. –AG
With the April Barrel Tasting Party almost here, I recently visited the “mother winery” to taste through some different barrels with owner Robb Bell. The goal of our tasting was to get some ideas of what to pour for you all on April 21. Barrel sampling is a unique opportunity to taste a wine before it’s bottled, often times before it’s even “finished”. For wine lovers, when we barrel-taste we get a sense of what that wine tastes like in the present, when it’s young, flashy, and even a little rough around the edges. When the wines are released and we re-taste them, a deeper level of understanding is reached with what the wine was and what it is now.
Robb took me back into the barrel rooms and we began the tasting with some 2009 Scorched Earth Vineyard Syrah, which had a delicious smoked meat and tobacco nose. The mouth feel was intense, with loads of ripe fruit and a savory quality that I marveled at. I also tasted the 2009 Pines Vineyard Zinfandel, a wine which could very well end up as a Reserve bottling given its quality. The nose was full of herb, ripe black fruit, tar, and whiffs of pine. I was enamored with the palate, where the zin showed loads of jammy fruit, baking spice, and a peppery streak.
A few barrels later, I was stopped in my tracks. The 2010 Bangsund Cabernet Sauvignon was my style of wine! The nose is loaded with black fruit, herbs, and a beautiful earthy aroma. On the palate, it’s fairly tannic (as young cabernet tends to be)but that tannin creates a gorgeous structure, enclosing flavors of blueberry, black cherry, dried currant. Suffice it to say that I am bugging Robb to bottle this as a single vineyard wine!
In the next blog, I’ll talk more about the barrel tasting, giving some tasting notes on even more of what I tasted on that awesome day. Stay tuned! ^Beau
We’ve always preferred to stay in on Valentine’s Day. I would happily go out on the 13th or 15th, but there’s something odd about being out for a “romantic evening,” when everyone around you is doing the same thing. That said, it’s still fun to go all out while staying in, and I’ve planned the menu: Steak with Drunken Mushrooms and Roasted Blue Cheese Potatoes. It looks amazing and simple, leaving enough time to also make Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl. This will pair perfectly with Cathedral Ridge Rusty Red, which is 100% Syrah; it’s an off-dry Syrah with notes of jammy blackberry, chocolate covered-cherry, and smokey star anise. It’s a perfect complement to everything from the steak to the chocolate (and on sale at the moment)!
Also for Valentine’s Day, Cathedral Ridge Winery is offering Twila’s chocolates in both tasting rooms. Pick up some Rusty Red, enjoy some chocolate, and head home to the most romantic spot in town. Cheers!
Image: “Two Hearts” by Hood River-based artist Cathleen Rehfeld
With the holidays behind us and spring in the distant horizon, a great way to boost morale during this stretch of time is to plan a weekend getaway. Take a road trip the Willamette Valley, darling of Food & Wine magazine, the New York Times, and Oprah, and visit its newest attraction–a new Cathedral Ridge Winery tasting room! Nestled in the heart of Dundee, you’ll have more wineries to choose from than you could possibly visit in one weekend. If you have a smartphone, you might try this Willamette Valley app: mobile wine tour. If you’d like to treat yourself to a luxurious accomodation, the Allison Inn & Spa can’t be beat. If you’re visiting during the weekend of January 27-29, you might want to wrap up your road trip with a visit to the Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene.
Going out on a Friday night has a certain allure; it feels like a mini-holiday that comes around every seven days. This past Friday, however, a torrential downpour outside and a crackling fire inside were more than enough incentive to keep me in for the night. With fresh diver scallops from the market and a few ingredients that I had on hand, I discovered a mind-blowingly delicious creation. Inspired by a good record and a roaring fire, I pulled out fresh kale, Applegate bacon, (really good) parmesan, fresh pasta, and a bottle of Cathedral Ridge Chardonnay. I recommend the following simple steps for an extremely delightful night in…
Step 1: Pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay to fuel your culinary creativity.
Step 2: Salt and pepper the scallops on each side; boil water for pasta (it really should be the fresh kind).
Step 3: Rinse the kale (a bunch or two–it cooks down a lot), separate the leaves from their spines and chop coarsely. Chop a couple of shallots while you’re at it.
Step 4: Fry a few pieces of bacon and set aside.
Step 5: Pan-sear the scallops on high heat, about three minutes each side. Lift out the scallops and set them in a warming oven. Add a couple slices of butter to the juices in the pan; when the butter is foaming lightly, add one of the shallots–and after a minute or two–a few healthy dashes of white wine. A lot of people might suggest “cooking wine,” but for best results, I cook with the good stuff. You really can taste the difference.
Step 6: Heat a little olive oil in a separate pan and saute a bit more shallot. After a few minutes, add the kale and let it cook to a bright, fresh green. Add the fresh pasta to the water that’s been boiling–it only needs a couple of minutes–and you’re ready to go. Add the kale to the fresh pasta (I like a nearly 50/50 ratio, but I am a nerd for kale), add the warm scallops to the top of each plate of pasta, top with a little crumbled bacon, a drizzle of butter sauce, a few sweeps of fresh parmesan, and maybe a dash of cracked pepper. Refill your glass of wine and try to imagine how you could have possibly ordered something better in a restaurant. You can’t. But after dinner, if the hub of activity is still calling your name, there’s always dessert… -AG
Rock Star is not a description to be thrown around lightly. A person, place or beverage befitting of this moniker is typically in a league of their own, possessing qualities of the exceptional that can be deeply appreciated but not replicated. Cathedral Ridge Winery reserved this name for the wine that is 50% each of its best Cabernet and best Syrah. Bold flavors of black currant, blackberry, and pomegranate compose the wine that had Wine Press NW raving, “Rides like a Cadillac with glossy acidity and sturdy tannins.” This weekend, Saturday October 1, visit Cathedral Ridge Winery in Hood River for a rare, mini-vertical tasting of 2007 and 2008 Rock Star Red along with BBQ from Smokin’ J’s (noon-4). Bring your entourage and get the Rock Star treatment this Saturday! Leather pants optional…
Cathedral Ridge Winery offers Vertical Wine Tasting every weekend; this weekend, September 17th & 18th, Cathedral Ridge will be tasting a mini-vertical of Syrah Reserve. Come and try the 2006 and 2007 Syrah Reserve to experience the subtle nuances that differ from year to year. The Syrah is one of Cathedral Ridge Winery’s most prized red wines, and the reserves are luscious. These two in particular have enjoyed a long soak in perfectly aged French oak; they possess an amazing nose and are filled with deep fruit and hints of pepper. Test your wine knowledge to see if you can determine a difference between the two vintages! Winery hours are 11 am-6pm. Cheers!
We all know the old rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but there’s no need to stash away the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay along with your white linen pants. Fall is prime time to sip a full-bodied, buttery Chardonnay along with a butternut squash soup, or enjoy a crisp Pinot Gris midway through a hike in October’s crunchy fallen leaves. Good wine is not seasonal; the changes with each month present opportunities for new sensory experiences through thoughtful pairing. The following are a few of my favorite early fall recipes… –AG
Vertical Tastings are a great way to enhance your wine education. Cathedral Ridge Winery will be offering a Vertical Tasting every weekend from June through December. The best way to learn more about wine is to taste different vintages of the same wine, noting the nuances that can vary from year to year. In order to really hone your skills, you may want to visit Cathedral Ridge on several different Saturdays…file that under “continuing education.” Cheers!