Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Bye 2015……..Hello 2016

The last few hours of 2015 are upon us….and what an amazing year it has been.  2015 was a fantastic journey for both Denise and I and we are thankful to all of you who support and follow us as we explore the world of wine.

We started 2015 at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience in Seattle, Washington.  We love this event and already have our tickets for 2016. If you have never been to this type of event, you need to try this one.  It sets the bar high for all others.  Some of the best restaurants of Seattle are there and the wine, beer and spirits are unbelievable. 

Spring 2015 found us headed to Walla Walla.  Our dear friends Michael and Coralee open their home and hearts to us several times a year and each visit is so special.  Walla Walla valley has a rich history in agriculture.  Michael always prepares some of the best meals from local food and we always have amazing wine adventures.

If you have never visited Walla Walla before, come and experience what this small community has to offer.  There are numerous wineries to check out and some of our favorites are….Dumas Station, Tranche, Tero, El Corazon and Mackey.  We have lots of others that we enjoy but the list is too long so you will just have to come and see it all for yourself.

Summer time found us busy with family and friends.  We enjoyed Rose’, Chen Blanc and other whites while the lazy warm days of summer lasted.  In fact, the summer lasted well into late Sept/Oct.  It was truly one of the best summers we have had in a long time.

Early September found us at the “open house” for Isabella Grace Winery in Maple Valley, Washington.  A former retired co-worker of ours owns Isabella Grace with her husband and by special invitation only; we were able to sample their new wines of the season.  They produce lovely wines and it is a great pleasure to meet up with friends and savor the day.

September had us back in Walla Walla and the crush of 2015 was just beginning.  We love walking into a winery with the smell of grapes fermenting in the large vats. It was still warm out, so we were able to sit out on the decks or verandas and enjoy a nice glass of wine and talk the hours away.  We discovered a couple of new wineries that surprised us such as the “Results of the Crush” and visited some old favorites just so we could catch up with friends and see how their summer was going.

Fall found us busy again with family and friends and of course Halloween.  All the wine we had collected during the year, we were un-corking and oh how delicious it was.  Before we knew it Thanksgiving was upon us and soon Christmas.  So I decided to take a little vacation in early December and off to “The Gorge” and Walla Walla I went.  I had never experienced Walla Walla in late fall/early winter so this was a new adventure for me.  The Walla Walla wineries host the “Holiday Barrel” tasting weekend on the first weekend of December.  The wineries were all decked out in holiday lights and greenery and magic was definitely in the air.  (Check out our photo tab for pictures)  Tasting at Dumas Station in Dayton, Washington was extra special because Jay created a blend on the spot and it was absolutely fantastic.  He is truly one of the great vintners in the valley.

Our last adventure of 2015 found Denise and I at the Charles Smith tasting room in Georgetown (suburb of Seattle) and the Holiday Tasting Event at Laurelhurst Winery a week before Christmas.  We had visited Charles Smith’s other winery, K Vintners in Walla Walla, earlier in the fall but now we were able to sample the Charles Smith line.  Wonderful wines!  The lady who did our pouring was very knowledgeable and went the extra mile and allowed us to sample other wines that were being produced on site.  I would highly recommend a visit to them.

We also headed to one of our local favorites and that is Laurelhurst Winery.  They are part of a local group of wineries in the Georgetown suburb that open their doors every second Saturday of the month for tasting.  They also have the holiday tasting event every December.  As usual their wines are wonderful.  One of their most popular wines is their Malbec.  It is so popular they had sold out but we have high hopes for 2016 and I can’t wait to try it.

As you can see Denise and I had a fun year.  Again, we thank all of you who support and keep us inspired.  As we say good bye to 2015 and hello to 2016 we know that it holds a promise of special times with our families and friends, good wine and excellent adventures…..Happy New Year!  Cheers! LaDonna

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Screw, Natural, Synthetic and now the Zork and the Vinolok!

I have asked wine makers about their choice in corks, most of them use the natural cork because of tradition and the craftsmanship they put into their product they want to see this thru to the cork.  However, with all the choices now and the cost of losing a bottle to “cork” contamination other choices have gained popularity and  are due some consideration.

Natural Cork
Natural Corks benefits the wine aging by letting small amount of air into the bottle. Your bold wines and reds benefit from the oxygen that the cork allows in development of all the wonderful flavors that make these wines so drinkable and approachable.
A natural cork though can dry out, go bad or let too much air into the bottle and the biggest problem…being “Corked” which is a very expensive loss.

Agglomerated Cork
This cork is made from cork dust and glue….although food safe, do you really want this in contact with your beautiful wine?  Agglomerated cork are not meant to be in bottles that are intended for aging, this cork is only good for wine intended for drinking six months after bottling. There are some brands of Agglomerated cork  that wine makers are turning to in order to save them on the cost of losing their wine which they feel is a better choice. You will see the stamp on the cork (diam5, daim10) which this company gaurantees purity, longer time in bottle and reduction of loss due to cork taint.

1+1 Cork
This is a combination of agglomerated cork center with whole natural cork ends. These are only intended to last up to 4 years.

Synthetic Cork
When you see a plastic cork my first thought is (after breaking all my wine openers) why would the wine maker spend all his time, energy and craftsmanship into making their wine and then go with synthetic for the cork?
 A synthetic cork prevents “cork taint” contamination and they are cheaper, they don’t expand or contract which makes it so they keep a tight seal.  This is also what makes it so it does not allow for oxygen, which with a natural cork allows the reaction during aging that gives so much of the flavor.  Some even say the synthetic cork, which is made from petroleum based plastic, can give off chemical taste.

Screw Top
Wine snob move over the screw tops are on the rise!
The Screw top is great for the young wines that don’t need to age to be great and there is less chance of spoilage due to being “corked”.  The screw top is what I look for when camping, hiking or picnicking to make it easier to open the bottle and less stuff to pack.
They have perfected the screw cap to allow for some oxygen ingress. The Stelvin screw cap has a reputation for being one of the best.

A Vinolok cork is a 100% natural glass seal, popular in Europe; very expensive however provides a good seal to prevent “cork” contamination. Has no impact on flavor or aroma which will perfectly hold the aroma and terroir articulation. This is pure class!

The Zork is a peal and reusable no corkscrew needed closure, which makes it good for camping, hiking and picnicking.  The Zork maintains the seal of the bottle so no “cork” taint however as mentioned before the oxygen is part of the beauty of aging wine for more flavor.

Next time you open a bottle, take a good look at the type of cork the wine maker used and decide for yourself.