Does L’Ecole No 41 Ring a Bell?

Yes, L’Ecole No 41 does ring a bell in fact! A school bell too!

Last summer, in July 2009, I attended my second Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa California. During our last session, organizers announced that the third conference would be held in Walla Walla Washington the following June.

To introduce us to Washington wines and inspire us to commit to attending, we had on our tables the very memorable and beautifully bottled Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica riesling, delicious and refreshing and summertime perfect, not too sweet and with plenty of acid to make it food friendly. I took an extra bottle home where it was a HUGE hit at our house with friends and my husband was truly wowed.

We also had on our tables a bottle of L’Ecole No 41 merlot (available for $25 from the winery) which was equally memorable with its playful school house label and soft, gentle flavors of cherry and berry, nicely balanced and structured with tannins and oak. It was my first Washington merlot and I remember being surprised at how much I liked it. I brought an open bottle home from the conference and shared it with friends. So many seem to turn their noses up at merlot these days but I insisted they try it and we were all pleasantly rewarded. Yes, a few snooty California eyebrows were raised!

If we Californians knew more about Washington merlot, we wouldn’t be so surprised at how good it is. Continue reading

For all those Rhonely Hearts: Hospice du Rhone April 29-May 1 in Paso Robles

I definitely have a Rhonely Heart: I love love love Rhone style wines and blends, especially the reds. An AUS 2001 RBJ  theologicum  blend of grenache and mataro turned me on and I’ve never turned back.

But it was my 6 year old son who first noticed the post card for this year’s Hospice du Rhone on the counter at the Ventura Wine Company a few weeks ago.

Not only is the postcard eye catching with its play on The Lonely Hearts Club Band, but he’s a HUGE Beatles fan. Continue reading

A quick dinner and an easy going red wine blend from Washington’s Two Hands

I just was NOT feeling inspired to fix dinner.  What to have? What’s easy? I just didn’t want to think about it.

Because lately I’ve been focused on tasting and writing about Washington varietals, I decided choose an inexpensive red blend from Washington that I found at the Ventura Wine Company for $6 and let the wine do the talking and tell me what to fix for our dinner.

The wine is a Vineyard 10 Red Wine from Columbia Crest and designated “Two Hands.” It has a traditional Bordeaux shaped bottle but I didn’t want to be influenced by what the bottle told me–I wanted the wine to suggest what I should have for dinner.

And the wine spoke loud and clear: it said “spaghetti and meatballs! pasta and red sauce!” It said “order a pizza! take it easy!” and I said “oh, yes, right away!” Continue reading

Salmon & Washington Merlot? Really? Yes!

There was a nice healthy glass of 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley chardonnay leftover from Saturday night’s fried turkey dinner, so Sunday night I split the glass with my husband to enjoy with our artichokes, salad, and grilled wild salmon dinner. (Yes, the steamed artichoke with olive oil mayo was great with the oaked chardonnay!) A short glass each I knew would not be enough wine so before dinner I scavenged through the various bottles of Washington wine I’ve been collecting taste and discuss here for the WBC-or-Bust contest and

I noticed on the back of a 2005 Washington Hills merlot “a surprising accompaniment to grilled salmon.” Continue reading

Santa Barbara Back Country Camping With Hogue Washington Wine

It’s probably illegal if not simply immoral to transport Washington wine to Santa Barbara’s wine region. But that’s what we did last weekend.

Here we were, camping less than 20 miles away from Los Olivos out on Paradise Road, and we weren’t even bringing local wine. But so far no one from Santa Barbara has put up a wine blogging contest offering tours and tastings, wining and dining and accommodations like Washington has with WBC-or-Bust which is keeping me and my blog (and my taste buds!) focused on Washington wine.

So when we went camping with a large group of friends with young children, instead of doing a locapour wine with our mostly locavore fare, I brought a bottle of Reserve Hogue 2006 Cabernet Sauvigon recommended by my friend Tim Cabrera to have on Friday night with our New York steaks ($20 from the Ventura Wine Co). And I brought a bottle of a 2008 Hogue Columbia Valley Chardonnay for Saturday’s nights deep fried turkey and artichokes (under $10 at Trader Joe’s).

A little background on HOGUE CELLARS: Continue reading

Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Chardonnay & Roast Chicken–Yum!

So far so good in the Washington wine department: I’ve been able to find a number of wines at my local grocery store for around $10 on sale that I can enjoy on a weeknight with dinner, I’m well on my way to Washington itself because I won a Wine Bloggers Scholarship, and here’s another post to hopefuly earn me a spot on the WBC-or-Bust bus! Continue reading

3 Washington Merlots, 3 Entrees, 20 Tweets

Back in late March, a bunch of us tasted merlot one evening and tweeted about it. Like a few hundred people. Posting a few thousand tweets. From all our various living rooms. And tasting rooms. And who knows where all else.

I have to admit I contributed more than 20 of those tweets about Washington merlot, specifically three Washington merlot: 2007 Red Diamond ($7 at Trader Joe’s), 2006 Columbia Crest Estates ($7.99 at Trader Joe’s, and Columbia Crest H3 (on sale at the grocery store for $12) which I paired with a seared ahi on a bed of field greens with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, a peanut sauce tofu stirfry, and take-out mu shu pork. I was particularly curious about the mu-shu pork match after reading this suggestion on a website that suggested Asian food with Washington merlot.

You can go see yourself by scrolling through my twitter feed but my tweets went something like this: Continue reading

WBW# 68: I Got Gamay, Babe!

Today is Wednesday, Wine Blogging Wednesday, so last night I prepared for my task of “Got Gamay?” by opening up a bottle which is readily available to most consumers. Wondering what I am talking about? (Cue up Sonny and Cher singing a variation of “I Got You, Babe” as “I Got Gamay, Babe!”)

“Drink What You Like” hosts April’s Wine Blogging Wednesday 68 – Got Gamay? where wine bloggers from around the world taste and blog on a common theme each month (thanks to  Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report who started the monthly event over five years ago!) The host writes, “Gamay is unfortunately best know as the grape that produces Beaujolais Nouveau, popularized by George Duboeuf.”

Since we also had a pork tenderloin planned for dinner, possibly stuffed with canned plums (yum!), I thought I’d double check around the web and see what people had to say about this pairing where I found this article on various chefs’ wine pairings with pork tenderloin.While each chef had a different wine to suggest depending on the presentation of the pork, I found one chef who appreciates beaujolais with the “other” white meat: Continue reading

Pop the cork! I won a Wine Blogger’s Scholarship to Washington State!

Over the weekend, I heard good news and bad: the bad news was that I was on the waiting list for a scholarship to this year’s Wine Blogging Conference in Walla Walla Washington.

The good news was that I was on the waiting list for the Wine Blogger’s Conference Scholarship–and if enough money came into the Scholarship Fund, I’d be on my way to Washington in mid-June!!

You can imagine I was already on pins and needles waiting this past week to find out if I’d won a scholarship, and now, I’d have to wait longer! My mind raced, wondering ho I could help drum up more cash for the conference–and how far down I was on the waiting list.

I am sure you can also imagine my relief and my excitement when I checked my email during a break in my  Monday night Women’s Economic Ventures class to discover I’d won!! As soon as I got home, I told my spouse and we popped the cork on the bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Sparkling wine I had waiting for this moment! Continue reading

Got Gamay for Wine Blogging Wednesday April 21?

The Blog “Drink What You Like” is the host for April’s Wine Blogging Wednesday 68 – Got Gamay? a virtual gathering of wine bloggers from around the world who taste and blog about a wine based on a common theme each month thanks to  Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report who started the monthly event over five years ago.

The host writes, “Selecting the topic for this month’s topic was an easy decision as I’ve developed quite a Cru Beaujolais fetish over the last couple of years.” Gamay is grown throughout the world, he points out, and adds “Gamay is unfortunately best know as the grape that produces Beaujolais Nouveau, popularized by George Duboeuf.”

Want to join us? On or before Wednesday, April 21st write about your Gamay tasting experience and post it on your blog!

So what will you drink? Unless I find a bottle of Washington Gamay, I’ve got a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais right here which I found at my local grocery store and which might work to get something posted next Wednesday…but the following day, April 22, I will be attending the Delicious Wine Tour in Los Angeles and will have the opportunity to taste a lot of French wine.

I hereby declare that it will be my duty to focus on Gamay Beaujolais and report back here the most memorable Gamay they got.

And in the meantime, I’ve got a backlog of Washington wines to blog about as I sit here on pins and needles waiting to hear whether I got a scholarship to the Wine Bloggers Conference and whether they have enough money to fund me! (So if you can, please contribute!)

Why The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Committee Should Select Me

The. video above gives you a taste of what a Wine Bloggers Conference is like and why I am applying for a scholarship to attend this year’s conference in Walla Walla, Washington where the emphasis on tasting, tours, and education will be on Washington wines. As a Californian who lives near the Santa Barbara wine region, I have access to tasting and purchasing an abundance of excellent California wines. Being near LA, I am also invited to industry events and wine tastings and can learn about wines from other regions.
But there is nothing like a Wine Bloggers Conference to really get to know the wines of the region that is being showcased. In recent weeks, in order to learn more about Washington wines and to write about them in the hopes of winning a ride on the WBC-Or-Bust bus (see the badge on the side bar?), I’ve been trying to find and taste Washington wines and have come up woefully and surprisingly short. Trader Joe’s and Vons offer little in the way of Washington wines (they offer mostly the same ones!), and my favorite wine store, the Ventura Wine Company, carries mostly California wines with only a smattering of wines from other places, and very few from Washington. And I’m not one of those wine bloggers being bombarded with wine samples either!
Even a trip on my own to Washington wouldn’t provide me with anything close to what the Wine Bloggers Conference can do when it comes to tasting a large variety of Washington wines, getting to know the different regions and what they have to offer, meeting the wine makers, and touring the facilities.
So it’s no surprise that the Wine Bloggers Conference sold out on Thursday way before the conference begins in mid-June 2010, and so the scholarship deadline has been moved up too. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship here and how you can help send a wine blogger to Washington! More funds are still desperately needed to meet the goal of sending 10 wine bloggers to Walla Walla. Learn more about the Wine Bloggers conference itself here.
Here’s my application about why I want to go and why the committee should select me:
  1. Full Name:
    Gwendolyn Alley
  2. Contact information:
    gwendolynalley AT yahoo DOT com
  3. Blog addresses and what you’re all about:

    Art Predator is my main blog Continue reading

2010 Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Applications To Close Early!

Because the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington has filled up and sold out ALREADY, WBC scholarship applications will NOT be accepted until May as originally planned but closed a month early on Friday!

However, if you still want to apply for a scholarship to the WBC 2010, you can still send in your application over the weekend (like NOW) and it will be reviewed: wbcscholarship at gmail dot com. They need to know the following about you and your blog:

  1. Full Name
  2. Contact information including email and phone number
  3. Blog address and what you’re all about
  4. Requested funds – please be specific, and indicate if you need the registration fee, full or partial hotel, full or partial airfare.  Remember, that times are tough and a lot of people need assistance, so please be honest and realistic about your requirements.
  5. In 250 words or less, please tell us why you would like to attend the WBC and why we should consider your application.

I am now working on my application in hopes that I will receive a scholarship and once again attend the fabulous Wine Bloggers Conference. I’d really like to learn more about Washington wines at the source–Washington!!–and share the experience here on Wine Predator with you as I did in Santa Rosa in 2008 and 2009 as well as in Lisbon 2009.

And if you can, please support the Wine Bloggers Scholarship fund and help send needy wine bloggers to Walla Walla Washington! The fund is $1500 short of its goal to fund 10 bloggers (and hopefully one of those 10 bloggers will be me!)