26 May 2010

End of May Already!

Hello All,

Sorry I didn't get you that promised update last week on the dinner.  It went very well.  The food was excellent, the company fun and the wines behaved themselves.  The surprise pairing was the Marechal Foch with Red wine Braised Squid served with preserved tomatoes and harissa mayonnaise.  I think because of the high pH of Foch it often does well with tomatoes and it had enough body to balance the spice of the harissa.  It was not a typical pairing but it brought out the best of the wine.  Smoky and spicy with nice fruit and a good body.

As for what else I did last week I can't really remember.  I did have a tasting at the McMinnville Roth's on Friday and that went well.  I sold a nice amount of wine and got plenty of people to taste and talk.  I might be getting better at this selling wine thing who knows.  But don't tell Mary!  Speaking of Mary she just got back from traveling back east to the Maryland/DC area to sell wine with a new distributor.  I haven't touched base with her yet but it sounds like it went well.

Tomorrow Myron Redford, my old boss and mentor, and his wife Vikki Wetle are coming to lunch, we are going to have nicoise salad with some grilled salmon and fresh bread.  I am thinking about throwing some madeleines in as well.  I haven't tried Julia Child's recipe yet but interestingly her recipe has much less butter to flour than anything else on the internet except one from Food Network.  I'll probably stick with hers.  I am guessing that the higher butter in most recipes both makes them come out of the pan more easily as well as make them something richer and denser rather than more cake-like.  Besides these are supposed to go with tea and be my lunch dessert so I don't want anything to heavy.

We are also getting ready for Memorial  Weekend and everything is looking very spiffy.  The vineyard is at its most neat and everyone who has been by recently has mentioned how nice it looks.  The dogs just got their summer cut and the deck is open!  Come and see for yourself!  11-5pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

14 May 2010

Road Trip for a Winemaker's Dinner

As I am writing this I am driving south down I-5, well to be more accurate my husband is driving, in the heart of the Willamette Valley and am reminded again of the beauty to be found in the state of Oregon.  The sun is streaming in the windows, the sky is clear with a few puffy clouds and we are off to the lovely Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua River.  One of my favorite places in Oregon and the home of many a great memory including an attempted float one August down Steamboat Creek which had too little water and in inner tubes that were losing air.  Got more than a few bruises that time!  If you are ever in need of a place to stay in the Roseburg area and are looking for some great food and a beautiful location I highly recommend the inn.  I have heard that there is some amazing fly fishing as well though I can’t attest to that personally.

This time we are heading down to do a winemaker’s dinner.  As I mentioned before dinners are one of my favorite things to do with customers.  I get a captive audience, food that has been designed to showcase my wines and in this case a beautiful location.   The chef is Dustin Clark from Wildwood Restaurant and Bar in Portland and I have worked with him in the past to excellent affect.  I still remember the blue cheese, caramelized onion and apple tarts that he made to go with my Chardonnay.  The combination was what you are always hoping for, while the tart and the wine were good in their own right when they came together both were amazing, all of the sudden there were flavors in both that I hadn’t noticed before and here it is at least three years later and I still remember.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what else I had to eat that night, that pairing was the one that shone.  So I’ll have to let you know next week what shines on Saturday.

Back at the winery spring feels as though it has finally arrived, okay it feels like that everywhere in the Valley including here in Eugene which we are now passing through.  We got over 70°F yesterday and the vines are growing like weeds.  Next thing you know we will have to start worrying about keeping the young vines and new plants around the winery watered.  We don’t irrigate the older vines, the technical term is dry farmed, but the survival rate in the young vines that are coming into their third leaf will be much higher if we keep them watered during the summer.  Otherwise the guys are just sprucing up the grounds for your enjoyment on Memorial weekend; May 29, 30 & 31.  A $10 entrance fee, half of that is going to our local food bank, includes a souvenir glass, free wine tasting and music all day.  This year the bands playing are Wild Hog in the Woods, Diamondback and The Rockhounds, for more information check out our website www.airliewinery.com

A few hours later and we are driving into the North Umpqua Valley.  It really is green this time of year and the trees are just leafing out and still that lovely delicate color of first spring growth.  This area has taken a huge hit economically in the last few years because much of the local industry is logging and timber for housing. 

I love the transition from the grass seed fields along I-5 in the Willamette to the rolling hills of cattle grazing as you enter the Umpqua Valley and then into the shaded serenity of highway 138 as it runs parallel to the N. Umpqua River.  We are off to go hiking and to have a wonderful weekend.  I hope you have a great weekend as well.

05 May 2010

Tasting Barrels

This is my week for tasting through all the barrels and I have to say that they are starting to come around.  The chardonnay in particular is showing improvement this week.  Some of the harsher bitter edges are softening into a rounder wine with nice aicidty.  The wine still needs time but is starting to show its potential. 

I made some acid additions to a few barrels of pinot 2 weeks ago because I thought that the pH was too high and that it was making the wine seem flabby and uninteresting.  I am happy to say that I think the acid has improved the wine.  It still pokes out a little on the palate but with more time it will smooth out, 2 weeks is short for the wine to have both incorporated the acid and recovered from being disturbed.  I don't like to make additions to wine on principle but at the same time I think that part of a winemaker's job is to determine when making a change, i.e. filtering, fining, additions, will make a better wine than leaving it alone and to do the necessary work.

Last weekend was our annual barrel tasting and as I always I got lots of good feedback.  I try to set up something different every year so that our customers learn something as well as getting an opportunity to taste what is coming down the pipe.  This year we tasted barrel fermented chardonnay vs stainless steel fermented, pinot noir from two vineyards that was handled the same and fermented with the same yeast so that hopefully the vineyard differenced show more than the winemaking practices.  Finally marechal foch from two blocks in our vineyard one of which gets less sun than the other to see if there are noticeable differences.  Generally people seemed to find a difference but it was clearly divided on which wine people preferred.  I always find that interesting.  Sometimes there is an obvious preference but by no means usually.

We are still on frost alert and Mary's sleep has definitely been interrupted.  She had to turn the fans on last week again and for a while she thought last night too but at about 2 am she said the temperature leveled off and she got to go to bed.  What a luxury that I get to sleep soundly through the whole process in my own warm bed.  She is on watch again tonight so keep your fingers crossed for either warmer weather or at least rain and cloud cover.  Our little vines are still growing!