Does L’Ecole No 41 Ring a Bell?

Yes, L’Ecole No 41 does ring a bell in fact! A school bell too!

Last summer, in July 2009, I attended my second Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa California. During our last session, organizers announced that the third conference would be held in Walla Walla Washington the following June.

To introduce us to Washington wines and inspire us to commit to attending, we had on our tables the very memorable and beautifully bottled Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica riesling, delicious and refreshing and summertime perfect, not too sweet and with plenty of acid to make it food friendly. I took an extra bottle home where it was a HUGE hit at our house with friends and my husband was truly wowed.

We also had on our tables a bottle of L’Ecole No 41 merlot (available for $25 from the winery) which was equally memorable with its playful school house label and soft, gentle flavors of cherry and berry, nicely balanced and structured with tannins and oak. It was my first Washington merlot and I remember being surprised at how much I liked it. I brought an open bottle home from the conference and shared it with friends. So many seem to turn their noses up at merlot these days but I insisted they try it and we were all pleasantly rewarded. Yes, a few snooty California eyebrows were raised!

If we Californians knew more about Washington merlot, we wouldn’t be so surprised at how good it is. Continue reading

For all those Rhonely Hearts: Hospice du Rhone April 29-May 1 in Paso Robles

I definitely have a Rhonely Heart: I love love love Rhone style wines and blends, especially the reds. An AUS 2001 RBJ  theologicum  blend of grenache and mataro turned me on and I’ve never turned back.

But it was my 6 year old son who first noticed the post card for this year’s Hospice du Rhone on the counter at the Ventura Wine Company a few weeks ago.

Not only is the postcard eye catching with its play on The Lonely Hearts Club Band, but he’s a HUGE Beatles fan. Continue reading

A quick dinner and an easy going red wine blend from Washington’s Two Hands

I just was NOT feeling inspired to fix dinner.  What to have? What’s easy? I just didn’t want to think about it.

Because lately I’ve been focused on tasting and writing about Washington varietals, I decided choose an inexpensive red blend from Washington that I found at the Ventura Wine Company for $6 and let the wine do the talking and tell me what to fix for our dinner.

The wine is a Vineyard 10 Red Wine from Columbia Crest and designated “Two Hands.” It has a traditional Bordeaux shaped bottle but I didn’t want to be influenced by what the bottle told me–I wanted the wine to suggest what I should have for dinner.

And the wine spoke loud and clear: it said “spaghetti and meatballs! pasta and red sauce!” It said “order a pizza! take it easy!” and I said “oh, yes, right away!” Continue reading

Salmon & Washington Merlot? Really? Yes!

There was a nice healthy glass of 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley chardonnay leftover from Saturday night’s fried turkey dinner, so Sunday night I split the glass with my husband to enjoy with our artichokes, salad, and grilled wild salmon dinner. (Yes, the steamed artichoke with olive oil mayo was great with the oaked chardonnay!) A short glass each I knew would not be enough wine so before dinner I scavenged through the various bottles of Washington wine I’ve been collecting taste and discuss here for the WBC-or-Bust contest and

I noticed on the back of a 2005 Washington Hills merlot “a surprising accompaniment to grilled salmon.” Continue reading

Santa Barbara Back Country Camping With Hogue Washington Wine

It’s probably illegal if not simply immoral to transport Washington wine to Santa Barbara’s wine region. But that’s what we did last weekend.

Here we were, camping less than 20 miles away from Los Olivos out on Paradise Road, and we weren’t even bringing local wine. But so far no one from Santa Barbara has put up a wine blogging contest offering tours and tastings, wining and dining and accommodations like Washington has with WBC-or-Bust which is keeping me and my blog (and my taste buds!) focused on Washington wine.

So when we went camping with a large group of friends with young children, instead of doing a locapour wine with our mostly locavore fare, I brought a bottle of Reserve Hogue 2006 Cabernet Sauvigon recommended by my friend Tim Cabrera to have on Friday night with our New York steaks ($20 from the Ventura Wine Co). And I brought a bottle of a 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley Chardonnay for Saturday’s nights deep fried turkey and artichokes (under $10 at Trader Joe’s).

A little background on HOGUE CELLARS: Continue reading

Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Chardonnay & Roast Chicken–Yum!

So far so good in the Washington wine department: I’ve been able to find a number of wines at my local grocery store for around $10 on sale that I can enjoy on a weeknight with dinner, I’m well on my way to Washington itself because I won a Wine Bloggers Scholarship, and here’s another post to hopefuly earn me a spot on the WBC-or-Bust bus! Continue reading

3 Washington Merlots, 3 Entrees, 20 Tweets

Back in late March, a bunch of us tasted merlot one evening and tweeted about it. Like a few hundred people. Posting a few thousand tweets. From all our various living rooms. And tasting rooms. And who knows where all else.

I have to admit I contributed more than 20 of those tweets about Washington merlot, specifically three Washington merlot: 2007 Red Diamond ($7 at Trader Joe’s), 2006 Columbia Crest Estates ($7.99 at Trader Joe’s, and Columbia Crest H3 (on sale at the grocery store for $12) which I paired with a seared ahi on a bed of field greens with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, a peanut sauce tofu stirfry, and take-out mu shu pork. I was particularly curious about the mu-shu pork match after reading this suggestion on a website that suggested Asian food with Washington merlot.

You can go see yourself by scrolling through my twitter feed but my tweets went something like this: Continue reading