Raptor Ridge and their Pinots

Thanksgiving is deep rooted with traditions. Traditions that started perhaps just a few years ago intertwined with some that dates back hundreds of years. Although this time of year can be stressful for many it’s always a good idea to relax when you can and contemplate all of the things in life you are grateful for. I’m sure your thoughts will lean towards the simple things in life; your family, friends, Chicago construction (because who doesn’t love driving in that during rush hour), or perhaps a good bottle of wine.

Raptor Ridge has some lovely bottles of wine while you’re contemplating. Named for their location on a ridge in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, Raptor Ridge (and their neighbors) is a haven for their native raptors. I opened up their Pinot Noir, Barrel Select, 2013 (Willamette Valley). Barrel Select had blended aromas of cherry, spice, and tobacco with classic but delicious flavors of sour cherry, raspberries, black tea, followed by this specific and unique earthiness only gained in Oregon. I’d decant this bottle as the aromas and flavors will soften up and the wine will become even more expressive. Given the fact a good Pinot will cost you upwards of $30 plus (easy) this retailing for $30 is a great deal!

Feeling very grateful at this point I felt the need to open up their next bottle of Pinot Noir - Estate, Chehalem Mountains, 2012 ($45). With fewer than 500 cases produced I knew I was in for a treat or at least lucky to taste it. This is a Pinot with a turbo....A huge nose of ripe plum, bold black cherries, and nutmeg but as this opens up so much more is offered. I noted a fuller bodied wine with seductive flavors of juicy light red fruits, lavender, and sweet spices. This wine will leave you wanting more (and I did!).

Raptor Ridge crafted two very fine Pinot Noirs that would pair well with your Thanksgiving dinner or just some good company.
Sláinte! TCW 

Trick or Drink

Here’s a little known tidbit for you…way back in the day (about 2,000 years ago) All Hallows’ Eve was celebrated by placing food and wine on the front porch to ward off evil spirits. It’s a shame that tradition stopped because I’d have a new favorite holiday –- drinking your wine verses eating those horrible candy corn pellets. 

So while important decisions have to be made like whether I dress up as Thor or Sharknado for Halloween I had an easy decision to open up a bottle of Jaffurs Syrah, 2009 from Santa Barbara County, California. This Syrah had aromas of big juicy blackberries, leather, olive, black pepper, finishing off with a little herb. With aromas that were layered as well as they were I was expecting some bold tannins but to my surprise, the wine’s flavors were rather soft with delicious black fruits and velvety tannins. Jaffurs added a little Petite Sirah in this vintage for structure and it showed. This bottle is a great fall wine!! It’s not only nice to add flavor to your chili but also delicious to drink alongside of it.

So do yourself a favor and pick up this excellently valued wine for around $30. Just don’t leave it on the porch or I’ll be paying you a visit. Happy Hallow-Wine!

Sláinte! TCW

Drink white after Labor Day (its ok)

The jury may still be out on whether or not one can wear white after Labor Day, but who cares as long as you can drink it?! There is a whole world of white wine out there for the pickin’ and drinkin’! Sure, the standard go-to’s of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc all have their place at the table, but how about getting a little daring and trying something new like a Marsanne or a Viogner or better yet, a combo platter of both?!

That’s right, today I am enjoying a 50/50 blend of Marsanne and Viognier from Treana Vineyards, 2010, a white Rhone blend. His particular wine has aromas of canned cocktail fruit, citrus, and pineapple. Flavors follow with floral notes, honey, minerality and hints of pineapple and pear. It is smooth, balanced, and creamy – delicious!  

So if you are reading this after Labor Day, go ahead and sport that bright white belt and wingtips and pour yourself a white wine made from a grape(s) that may be challenging to pronounce (kidding). When you do, feel free to drop me an e-mail and let me know about your experience. Sláinte! TCW

Fire Breathin’ Southern Belle

WARNING: This wine is not for everyone. I innocently picked up a bottle of 2008 Southern Belle, Shiraz (McLaren Vale) produced and bottled by R Wines thinking nothing of it. Whoever came up with the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” was probably drinking this wine. The label features an ornate charming Southern Belle implying that this will be a graceful wine. From color, aromas, and taste this was anything but subtle. Don’t get me wrong, this wine is delicious and given the $20 price point I was even happier.

Southern Belle was partially aged in American Oak barrels for 18 months that were previously used for Kentucky Bourbon. Yeah, you heard that right…and with 17.6% alcohol content, some would even call this a manly wine. I’ve never had a wine like this and quite honestly, it was pretty awesome. The color is very dark and deep. Notes of confection, blackberry preserves, molasses, coffee, and spice make this a very rich and smooth glass. This is not an everyday wine, nor is it for the faint of heart as there are complex flavors of wine and whiskey involved. This bottle is best paired with a cigar and barbequed ribs or any red meat with barbeque sauce but the cigar is key. Don’t be deceived by the pretty southern belle – this is a stogie-smokin’ rib-eatin’ fire breathing Shiraz! Sláinte! TCW

Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose, 2014

Summer in Chicagoland…is there anything better?? Whether you are going to a graduation party, Fourth of July BBQ, or maybe even attending a wedding on Naperville’s Riverwalk, you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy wines perfectly paired with this warmer weather. Outdoor parties notoriously feature coolers of beer and hard lemonades. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good malt and hops once in a while, but there are also so many good grapes to quench your summer thirst. Take a Rosé for instance – It’s light, crisp, and super refreshing, like me.

Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose, 2014 is a delicious representation of Rosé although there are many different styles, bodies, and flavors. This particular one is a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvedre. Subtle hints of peach, watermelon, and rose petal on the nose with beautiful flavors of raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. It had a delicious creaminess about it as it sat in my glass a little longer. Good acidity and great mouthfeel. This is easy to drink on its own but can be easily paired with cheeses, fish, and vegetarian fare. 

So the next time you’re invited to that summer party and you want to bring a bottle, pick from the many different options there are of Rosé.
Sláinte! TCW