Blitz Carlton!

After the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland last month, I had an opportunity to join a few friends – and make new ones – on a post-conference tour to Carlton, Oregon.

And I can’t say enough good things about the people, the wine, the food, the accomodations and the amazing hospitality. I will most definitely return to Carlton – and I highly recommend you think about visiting too.

I will definitely write more in future posts, but I’m traveling a lot in the weeks ahead, so for now, I’d like to give big thanks to the wonderful people in Carlton Wine Country,  Republic of Jam, Seven of Hearts Wine, K&M Wine, Lobenhaus Bed & Breakfastwith special shout-outs to Thea, Lena, Bethany, Lynette, Byron and Ken.

Here are some of my tweets I posted while I was visiting the wonderful Carlton on a Blitz bus (hence, the Twitter hashtag, #BlitzCarlton). Enjoy!

  • First stop for #blitzcarlton #WBC12 is Seven of Hearts http://twitpic.com/alhrn2
  • Wine bloggers at Carlton’s Walk on the Park. Post #WBC12 #blitzcarlton http://twitpic.com/ali7my
  • Pinot Gris @7ofheartswine is refreshingly crisp on a warm day. (Stainless steel & barrel fermented #mustbuy #blitzcarlton
  • K & M 2010 chardonnay an understandable award winner #blitzcarlton
  • 09 Cuvee from K&M Wines is bright, beautiful & a new fave @kandmwines #blitzcarlton
  • 2010 Luminous Hills Estate Pinot Noir wins Mr. Personality and only $28. Wow! #blitzcarlton
  • Mmm pepper. Thank you @marycressler for encouraging me to taste GSM 2010 @7ofheartswine Bring on the steak! I am a new fan! #blitzcarlton
  • Yea! RT @melanie0: @republicofjam Lovely ladies rocking hospitality. Some of my fav folks of all times #blitzcarlton pic.twitter.com/8wHHGOwb
  • Ben Rice band is rocking the house @horseradish restaurant in Carlton. And love their blues. Oh yeah. #blitzcarlton #WBC12
  • Late night with Lena @7ofheartswine: Cab Franc and chocolates Yummy! #blitzcarlton
  • The Lobenhaus B&B in Carlton wine country is beautiful. Make time to stop over if you are near Portland OR #blitzcarlton #WBC12
  • 3 cheers, no 10 for the wonderful people in Carlton wine country @CarltonWine So friendly, nice & mighty fine wine & food #blitzcarlton
  • Good morning beautiful Lobenhaus B&B @Carltonwine. View from my patio! #blitzcarlton http://twitpic.com/als2f0
  • This is definitely one place I am coming back to visit. Lobenhaus B & B @CarltonWine #blitzcarlton thanks! http://twitpic.com/alsoae
  • Finally! I have wanted to taste @KenWrightCellars wine since 1997. And Ken is brilliant and funny #blitzcarlton http://twitpic.com/altw8w
  • Love to learn – side by side cooperage tasting at @lemelsomwinery #blitzcarlton
  • 06 Estate Reserve from @carloandjulian – wow that is special! @CarltonWine #blitzcarlton
  • Brilliant! @CuveeRestaurant Thanks for a beautiful lunch #blitzcarlton @carltonwine @alexanawinery @bellepente and Carlo & Julian
  • 2011 Cannon Beach Pinot Gris, Carlton Cellars, the crispest Pinot Gris in Oregon @Carltonwine #blitzcarlton http://twitpic.com/alvegv
  • Pinot Blanc is the new burrito wine! @noblepig? #blitzcarlton
  • Big reds loaded with fruit, 2010 Cab Franc is smooth & the Maserati of Cab Franc! @terravinawines #blitzcarlton @CarltonWine
  • If you like big red wine, @terravinawines in @Carltonwine is a must stop in Oregon wine country. #blitzcarlton
  • Donna Jean 09 Pinot Noir from Mouvance @Carltonwine is savory, silky & makes me want to sing like Michael Jackson #blitzcarlton
  • 09 Old Vine Meritage: Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec & Petit Verdot & I love it @trooncarlton #blitzcarlton http://twitpic.com/alwiee

So again, if you’re thinking about taking an Oregon wine country tour, plan to spend a day or two in Carlton!

Cheers!

 

Say what? Wine & Lemon Meringue?

Summer sippers are bountiful in Oregon wine country, as we recently discovered at #WBC12, the Wine Bloggers Conference held this year in Portland. During last week’s heat wave, we were refreshed by crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and several Rosés.

But tasting wine took on an entirely different experience at Noble Pig in Carlton. (Note: In the weeks ahead, I have several blog posts to write about this wonderful town in the Willamette Valley.)

Our smart and creative hostess Cathy Pollak, a winemaker and well-known food-and-wine blogger, poured a taste of her 2009 Pinot Gris Noble Pig. First, we swirled and sipped this soft, lush white wine with a creamy finish. Then came a surprise.

Cathy poured what seemed to be about a teaspoon of lemon olive oil into a paper cup, instructed us to toss it into our mouths (like a shot) and then have another sip of the Pinot Gris.

She said it would taste like lemon meringue pie.

Say what? Wine transforming to the taste of lemon meringue pie? Is this a good thing? It turns out the answer is a resounding yes!

It was absolutely delicious. So good, in fact, I bought a bottle of her Galantino Lemon Olive Oil, so Dave could experience this taste sensation at home. (He loves lemon meringue pie, but that’s another story.)

Cathy offered up many other unusual pairings, but that one was a standout to me. Be sure to read her food blog for more creative adventures. And yes, we recommend the wine too.

As mentioned, we will be writing several posts about our two days in Carlton, in addition to sharing our experiences at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012. We hope you come back often to read them.

Cheers!

WBC Here I Come!

This weekend is the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, where I’ll be live tweeting. You can follow my tweets  @writeforwine Thursday night through Monday night, and you can follow the conference’s twitter stream #WBC12, highlighting the opinions of about 350 wine writers in attendance.

I’ll also be posting on the Write for Wine Facebook page, and hope you’ll stop by to “like” it!

This will be my second time at WBC – my inaugural attendance was at #WBC10 in Walla Walla, where I met fellow wine bloggers, writers and tweeters, many of whom became my good friends. One of the craziest and best events was “Live Wine Blogging,” described by conference organizers as “sort of like speed dating, matching wineries to bloggers in five-minute segments.”

At WBC10, the Live Wine Blogging hour did indeed speed by, as wine makers and winery marketing folks handed out tasting notes, poured and quickly described their wines, as we tweeted, spit and spilled our way through a number of offerings, ranging from boxes to $185 bottles, sometimes side-by-side.

This year, an action-packed weekend awaits us in the Portland area, which is extra special for me because it’s where I began writing about wine in 1997, when I managed content after launching KOIN-TV’s website.

In addition to Live Wine Blogging, activities include mystery bus trips to wine country — a visit to a vineyard and a winery, followed by dinner at a local restaurant or another winery. You don’t know where the buses are going until you get on one, hence the mystery.

And new this year at WBC is the “Night of Many Bottles” — an evening where everyone brings a bottle of their favorite wine to share with others. In past years, this has been done informally by friends who got together when the formal activities were done. This year, the conference organizers decided to make it part of the official weekend fun.

And no, the weekend is not only about drinking wine! There are plenty of opportunities to learn about grapes, terroir, wine making, writing and blogging, with keynote speeches, breakout sessions, blogger-to-blogger discussions, Ignite! wine groups and wine blog awards.

While the focus of the weekend will be on the fine wines of Oregon – and I can’t wait – there are also some other events dear to my heart:

  • A Washington wine event called One Night Stand, featuring magnums from top Washington producers (on Twitter, #WAOneNight)
  • An opportunity to taste new wines of Greece, just a month before I’ll be heading that way to another conference

I’m also really looking forward to a post-WBC tour to wine country in Carlton, Oregon, where a group of some of my favorite blogger friends will attend Carlton’s Walk in the Park, and stop by several wineries, including Ken Wright Cellars, which I’ve always wanted to visit.

Next year’s Wine Bloggers Conference is in Penticton, in my home province of British Columbia. So you can imagine how much I’m also looking forward to WBC13! But first, Portland – stay tuned!

Cheers!

 

Earth Heart Erath

Earth Heart Erath is a logo on the back of the many Pinot Noirs made by Erath Winery, one of the first in Oregon we visited when we lived in the area in 1997. Thirty-two years earlier, Dick Erath made his first barrel of Erath wine in the garage of his home. By last year, all 10 Erath single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 2006 vintage received ratings of 90 points or higher from the wine industry’s top publications.

Indeed, the red, iron-rich earth in Oregon’s Dundee Hills does love Erath grapes.

We know that first-hand because over the past couple of months, we’ve tasted samples of the 2008 vintage sent to us by the winery. From the special Pinot Noir, 2008 La Nuit Magique (The Magic Night) to the classic 2008 Prince Hill Pinot Noir, we recommend them all – different wines for different occasions.

2008 La Nuit Magique: Ooh la la, c’est magnifique! We could most definitely discern the difference in this magnificent, magical Pinot Noir, made from the finest barrels in the Erath cellar. According to the winery, La Nuit Magique “refers to the defining moment when one falls in love with Pinot Noir – that Magic Night when wine transcends the moment and becomes immortalized as one of life’s great wine experiences.” Save this beauty for a special occasion! – 92 points from Wine Spectator ($65)

2008 Prince Hill Pommard: The Pommard clone is planted at the top of the hill in Prince Hill Vineyard, next to Dick Erath’s house. The clone was originally sourced from the Chateau de Pommard in France, and introduced to Oregon in the early 1970s. While we didn’t smell the promised root beer float aromas, we really enjoyed the smoky dark fruit flavors with hints of dark chocolate. – 90 points from Wine Spectator ($50)

2008 Leland Pinot Noir: This has been a special wine for us since the 2005 vintage. Complex, rich, powerful and elegant, we once again paired Leland with steaks, even though the tasting notes suggest sipping it with savory cheeses, rack of lamb or lasagna with bolognese or carbonara sauce. The 2008 vintage is smooth and silky with a delicate smoky finish. ($50)

2008 Prince Hill Pinot Noir Clone 115: Also from the Prince Hill Vineyard, this plush Pinot was one of our favorites, with spicy notes and a luxurious mouthfeel. We sipped this without food, and it was a beautiful way to enjoy the evening. – 93 points from Wine Spectator ($45)

2008 Prince Hill Pinot Noir: This is a classic Erath Pinot Noir – bright, light and fruit-forward. The Prince Hill Vineyard was where the first Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1983. – 91 points from Wine Spectator ($45)

2008 Estate Selection Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: We paired this lovely wine with roast beef although apparently it complements salmon, lamb and duck too. This reserve-quality Pinot is bright and lively, with a bit of a spicy finish. – 90 points from Wine Spectator ($34)

If you’re a Pinot lover, Erath offers a wide variety of choices to suit every palate.

Cheers!