Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wine of the Night - Six Mile Creek

Looking for something special to enjoy on an evening after the Thanksgiving holiday has ended and while looking forward to the chaos of Christmas, we chose a wine that we bought earlier this year while in Ithaca, NY. 

The wine is Six Mile Creek's 2012 Quintessence at $22. 

Who says that New York Finger Lakes vineyards can't make a nice, deep, Bordeaux-style red wine? Six Mile Creek has figured it out!

The wine has a nice deep ruby color. Hints of plums and dark berries on the nose and consistent with the complex flavors and mild tannins. There is a hint of acidity in the taste which has a medium finish. Decant it for an hour and let it open up and it becomes a dynamic wine. Right out of the open bottle the flavors are a bit sharp--but they mellow out quickly.

RECOMMENDATION: At a $22 price point--this is a good wine!

Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three Wines--the Key to a successful dinner

Amid all of the preparations for the Thanksgiving feast comes the inevitable decisions about which wine or wines to serve.

We believe the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner comes in a trio of wines. Consider this--the Thanksgiving feast is probably the largest eating experience most of us have during the course of the year. One wine will just not do it.
Pre-Dinner Whites

Thanksgiving dinner has three great opportunities to pair wine with food.

First, the pre-meal appetizers. The choice here is a light white or and possibly one with some fizz. A Riesling will suit the mood very well. We have also come across a sparkling Muscat which is a nice starter. We are choosing Oregon wines for this part of the meal.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2013 Riesling - $12
Tulatin Estate 2012 Frizzante - $15

Then for dinner, especially a turkey dinner, we like a medium to light bodied red. Our preference is for a Cabernet Franc or a Pinot Noir. This is where we spend our wine budget for the dinner. This is, after all the main event.

Fess Parker wines
This year we're going to Fess Parker in Virginia for the Pinot Noir.

Fess Parker 2012 Pinot Noir Clone 2A Bien Nacido Vineyard - $55
Fess Parker 2012 Pinot Noir Pommard Clone - $38

We think these will even go with the cranberry sauce!

Finally, comes the dessert. Our choice is a port or port-style wine, but others like dessert wines.

This year the choices are from Virginia.


King Family Vineyards 2010 Seven - $26

Pearmund Cellars Vin de Sol NV - $23

We know, we wrote that three wines will do it--so it is easy, select one from each category. We'll probably take all six just because, as one friend says, "Nothing succeeds like excess."

Can you really ever have too much wine?

We think not. 

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wine of the Evening - 2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus

2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus
Every so often one of those truly unique wines comes along and just screams: why couldn't there be thousands more cases of this wine.

The 2009 Keswick Vineyards Consensus is one of those wines. I opened a bottle this evening to check its progress and was truly amazed. The winemakers notes say it may be laid down for five years and, well, it has been five years!

The nose remains as vital and exciting as when this wine was blended. How do I know? Because I had a hand in blending this Gold Medal winning wine. I love the smokiness of this wine and many dark Virginia wines. This one is dark, too; no light escapes.

The taste is medium, but complex with some tannins and a good whole mouth taste with some acidity and a hint of minerality and dark fruit flavors.

This wine has been aging in my cellar and I still have a few bottles. It is sad, though, that there aren't more for sale. The wine is at its peak.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wine for the Holiday Gathering


Holiday time is upon us and with it comes the inevitable decision associated with which wines to serve.

There are multiple opportunities to serve wine during the holiday season, whether for meals or social gatherings with friends and family. Each opportunity presents its own special challenges. 

Wines are deeply personal. Each person has their own favorites and even among my wine drinking friends, although we generally enjoy similar wines, we have different likes.

For the holiday gathering I recommend a solid middle of the road white--a Viognier, a Pinot Gris, and maybe a Muscat with a bit of fizz in it. My specific recommendations are:

2011 King Family Viognier - $24
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris - $14
2012 Semi Sparkling Muscat Frizzante Tualatin Estate - $15

On the red side, offer a dark red, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon and a lighter red like a cabernet franc or a pinot noir. 

2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir  - $22
2013 F Stephen Miller Shiraz Angel Reserve - $11
2013 King Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc - $24
2011 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon - $13

Keep the prices moderate and figure four glasses per person--you should have enough for the evening that way. Remember, each bottle contains five five ounce glasses of wine. Most people pour heavy resulting in six or seven ounce pours.

Most importantly, though, have fun and enjoy the wine!

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pure Wine Cafe

Pure Wine Cafe Interior
Set along Main Street, Ellicott City, Maryland, is one of the premier wine cafe's in the area. The Pure Wine Cafe is everything that we look for in a wine cafe. 

It is cozy, upscale, friendly, and full of great wine and food!

We spent a Friday evening Happy Hour with friends at the cafe two weeks ago and could not have enjoyed our experience more.

The interior is small, cozy and very inviting. The wait staff was extremely knowledgeable about the wines being offered and the Happy Hour specials are worth stopping by to enjoy especially with friends after a long, grueling week at work. The menu is easy to read and understand and the waitstaff is eager to help pair the best wine with whatever is chosen. We especially recommend the truffle fries. 

One of the staff recommendations that we definitely enjoyed was the Inman Family 2010 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. It was the perfect wine for the evening.

RECOMMENDATION: The Pure Wine Cafe is great place for happy hour, dinner, snacks, and most of all enjoying an evening with friends. Check it out, it is worth the trip.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Top 100 Best Buys 2014

We love this time of year. Not only are the grapes being harvested to create the wines of the new year, but the annual top 100 wine lists are published.

We subscribe to Wine Enthusiast and the magazine publishes multiple top 100 wine lists annually. 

The first one was published this week and it is the Top 100 Best Buys of 2014

While wine is intensely personal, lists like this give us the opportunity to expand our tasting into new wines based upon reviews. We don't have to agree with the rankings--but they provide a great place to find new wines.

The Top 100 Best Buys of 2014 is, in our mind, one of the best lists because it focuses on widely available wines with moderate prices. Seriously--the top 10 are composed of wines priced between $7-$14. Now those are really best buys.

This particular list is proof positive that solid, enjoyable wines do not have to cost over $20. We were also encouraged by how many Finger Lakes region wines were on the list and by how many of the vineyards that we have visited were represented on the list. 

Check it out and head off to your local wine retailer to expand your wine experience.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wine Dinner Excellence

We attended a wine dinner in Frederick, Maryland, the other evening which brought together a beautiful venue and very enjoyable wines. Together, it was the perfect combination for a fantastic wine dinner. 

The dinner was hosted by the Ayse Meze Lounge in Frederick Maryland. The food and the wines were paired beautifully. It was advertised as a five course dinner, but two of the courses had seconds--so it was really a five plus course dinner. With the weather being incredibly mild that evening, we were able to eat outside and enjoy the late-Summer coolness in a beautiful setting.

The wines were from the Willamette Valley Vineyard in Oregon. Yes, we've been there, but we really appreciate the wines they produce. Jim Bernau, the founder and CEO, was on hand to introduce the wines for each course of the dinner. Jim was in great form at the top of his game.  Every time we listen to Jim tell the story of Oregon wines and the vineyard, we learn something new and gain a better appreciation for the complicated process it takes to transform a dream into the glass of wine in my hand. 
Halibut first course

So why go to a wine dinner, especially when we already appreciate the wines? Simple. Wine dinners showcase gourmet cooking paired with exactly the right wine to create a perfect dining experience. The elegance and the chance to enjoy a delicious meal with friends is something that must be experienced.  After the meal there is the opportunity to purchase the showcased wines, usually at a discount, and more importantly--the opportunity to meet and talk with the wine producers is something that must not be missed. Being serious about wine, we want to know more and more about the process--the weather, the soil and the choice of grapes for a particular climate. There is a lot of detailed information out there and it cannot be absorbed in one sitting.

The wines served were during the evening were:

2013 Willamette Valley Vineyard Riesling
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyard Pinot Gris
2011 Willamette Valley Vineyard Dijon Clone Chardonnay
2013 Willamette Valley Vineyard Founders Reserve Pinot Noir
2012 Willamette Valley Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir

Each of the wines represented very well.  We were familiar with all of them, but it was nice to enjoy them paired with gourmet food. 

RECOMMENDATION: Find a local wine dinner and attend it--just for fun. Our experience has been that the service is fantastic and the wines are well paired with the food offerings. Wine dinners provide an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy wine.

Our thanks go out to:

Ayse Meze Lounge for hosting the event. The lounge is definitely on our list for a return visit. The service was awesome and the venue beautiful.

Willamette Valley Vineyards which produce some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the world and continue to be a first class operation committed to all around quality. A big thanks to Jim Bernau for not only making the wine, but for making the trip across the country to share his love of wine with all of us.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD