25 March 2011

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I did plan on writing while I was on the road and my only excuse is that I had evening events every night but two and I was flying both of those nights.  Ergo, no sitting down and writing.  I did get home on Tuesday but catching up at work and at home meant that I put off writing.  So here it is a brief overview of my two week trip, I had to take a picture of the snow at MSP and the great light fixture.  I spent almost a full week in Ohio traveling to Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati to sell wine to various shops and restaurants.  A normal day involves being picked up by my sales rep and then spending the day visiting various places and tasting the wine buyer on my wines while telling him or her a little bit about myself and Airlie.  The idea is that if they know what the wines taste like and have a little story they are more likely to sell the wines in turn.  An abnormal day is being snowed on in Columbus!
The evenings were spent either at consumer tastings or in the case of Ohio I spent two nights pouring at the Cincinnati Wine Festival where I got a bronze for the Seven.  The festival was fun if a little long.  It is broken into 4 sessions and definitely the last session on Saturday night feels like a party.  Mostly people are there to drink wine and talk with their friends.  I was pouring Seven, Muller Thurgau and Willamette Valley Pinot noir.  Hopefully I turned a few people on to Muller and I did get a call yesterday from a wine shop in Ohio wanting to know how to order our wine because a customer was requesting it.  I consider that a good sign.
The Ohio River looking south to Kentucky
Bistro Blanc's Website
My next stop was Baltimore where I didn't manage to get my camera out of my bag.  I had just two days there and we were able to do a winemaker's dinner on one of them at Bistro Blanc in Glenelg, west of Baltimore.  The wine food pairings were excellent and I must admit that my favorite was Maple Lime Glazed Duck Breast with thyme infused pain perdu and a sour cherry scallion portabella salad paired with the three pinot noirs.  The three pinots we poured with that dish were the 2008 Willamette Valley, 2006 Vintner's Blend and 2006 Dunn Forest Single Vineyard.  It was really interesting to see how the wines changed with the dish and that different characters were brought out in each wine.  There was cinnamon mixed with the sour cherries that was perfect for the wines.
Sotto Sopra's Website
The other piece of good news I just got today is that Sotto Sopra on Charles Street has decided to add the Muller Thurgau to the glass pour list.  I am very excited about that and I think it will be a great summer wine for the restaurant.
Then off to North Carolina.  I spent one day in Hickory, north of Charlotte and had a lovely winemaker's dinner at Table 220.  Again more excellent food pairings and this time my favorite was unexpectedly the Veal Tenderloin poached in Toasted Almond milk and served with Crisp Artichoke Spelt Risotto paired with the 2009 Chardonnay.  I wasn't sure what to expect but the flavors balanced very nicely bringing out unexpected nuances in both the food and the wine, artichoke can be tricky as it tends to make white wines taste green but this pairing was great.  After Hickory it was two days in Raleigh and the surrounding Chapel Hill/Cary areas.  The weather was beautiful and warm, perfect for pouring my array of whites and the wines were well received.
I had a very nice consumer tasting at Great Grapes in Cary for my last event and then it was off to visit my aunt and uncle on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Great Grapes' Website
I must admit that after nearly two full weeks of selling wine I was ready to go home but being so close to them and not having seen them in about five years I put off going home a little longer and drove over to see them.  I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel but I managed to cross it in the dark both times I had my camera.  The whole thing is about 20 miles long and connects Norfolk with the southern tip of the Eastern Shore.  The bridge isn't very high off the water and when the timing is perfect it looks as though you are about to drive onto a container ship just before you dive into the tunnel.  My aunt and uncle's place is right on the water and I got the opportunity to help my uncle refloat his oyster cages for the summer.  There are also clam beds off his beach and in the summer they go out into the creek for crab.  Sounds like heaven, no?  Unfortunately I was there at just the beginning of the crab season so no fresh picked crab for me but my aunt did make me some stellar crab cakes.  Blue Point crab has such a different flavor from Dungeness and I have to admit that I really enjoy both.
  So now I am home again and back to doing my own cooking, a good thing in my opinion, and taking care of my wines.  Everything is tasting good and I am checking the ML on the pinot tomorrow, maybe the barrels will have finished while I was gone.  Though I am not holding my breath.  The buds are starting to swell on the vines but hopefully won't pop until we get through the next full moon in April as that usually brings a little bit of frost to the area.  As for the winery it is back to the grind stone and now trying to sort out glass supply issues.  Apparently several glass companies have closed some foundries to save money and don't have a reopen date so my supplier is out of one of my normal bottles.   I don't know yet what we will do, you may see this year's Riesling in brown instead of green glass.  We'll see.

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