Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sahalie Closed!

I was saddened to hear a few weeks ago that Sahalie Wine Cellars in Corvallis would be closing on October 25.  Open for 3.5 years, Sahalie has definitely had ups and downs but I was excited when they expanded their kitchen to improve the food service, which from my experience was one of the pitfalls.  It had a nice atmosphere and typically had live music on the we are down to 2 wine bars in Corvallis:  Enoteca and WineStyles.  I'm not a fan of WineStyles, but love Enoteca -- I'm concerned though as it is not very large so how it will respond to the surge of wine-goers remains to be seen.

There are a number of different stories as to why Sahalie closed.  A number of people I have told have had the immediate response, "I'm not surprised."  Their assertion is that rocky service did them in.  It's hard for me to believe that a wine bar wouldn't make it in Corvallis financially, though.  Another story has a falling out between two couples who were in business together.  The official story is that the owners were pouring too much time in to the business and wanted to focus on something else. 

Word on the street is that a new dining establishment will be opening in the old Sahalie space.  I've heard upscale italian...  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2007 Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Vintage Reisling

*Josh briefly mentioned this type of wine in his post about his dinner in Dallas.*

A couple of weeks ago, two of my brothers, Harbs and Blake, came down for the WSU-OSU football game. Being one of the great guests he is, Harbs presented me with a bottle of the 2007 Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling. Now usually, I enjoy a glass of wine on Sundays to start the week. This week however, I made the conscious effort to put it off for a day or two, which leads to this evening.

Today was a beautiful day in the Willamette Valley. It started with a dense fog that lovingly envelopes everything around it. As I walked to my office much earlier than I should have, I wished I had my camera to grab a couple shots of Salem and my University's campus in the fog. Today was also a very long and busy day that brought me to many meetings in and out of my office, so when I returned home to truly lounge, I decided it was a perfect day to open this Riesling.

The bottle had been chilling for quite a while, perhaps a little longer than it should have. As I poured it into my glass, I was struck by the very clear liquid that came from the bottle. This particular Riesling has a light tinge of yellow - noticeable, but not too heavy. This wine also has a lighter coating on the glass. The nose is quite enjoyable - you are able to notice the pears, the grapes, and you can smell a bit of sweetness to it as well.

On the palate there is a little bit of tartness, but then that is overcome with a bit of sweetness - a trait very common in Rieslings. As you swallow you are able to gather the fruity flavor on your tongue. Again, it is not a very heavy flavor, but it is noticeable and one that you are able to enjoy without it being overbearing, even for those who might not like sweeter wines. There is a bit of warmth that slightly lingers in the throat from this wine, but again, not uncomfortable, but present.

One of the best things I enjoy about Rieslings is that they tend to be wines that you can enjoy on a casual basis. You don't have to have it with dinner, although you can. It doesn't have to be a special occasion. You can appreciate it on a cool fall evening, alone or with friends.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Nose Knows?

On our relatively recent trip to the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Region of Washington, one of our stops brought us to the Fidelitas winery. This winery is located in the Red Mountains, nestled near Kiona and not too far from Terra Blanca in Benton City, Washington.

One of the wines we tasted was the 2005 Cabernet Savingnon. I liked this wine enough to purchase it and recently opened the bottle during my weekly Sunday tradition. I love the nose on this wine - it is a rich and full bodied. You can smell the oak and an almost romantic way. There was a rich deep hue to this wine, which peaked my interest. In inhaling this wine, I was looking forward to a wonderful taste on my palate.

But oh how badly I would be let down.

Despite a wonderful oak filled noise that gave you a picture as to what the fermentation process might have been like, I was disappointed to find the taste very tart and unappealing. I am aware that it takes a while for the palate to appreciate everything that a wine has to offer, but the only possible thought that went through my mind was that maybe I had a not so good bottle (which perplexed me given the nose). The very first sip was incredibly bitter, sour almost. While the subsequent tastes and glasses (yes, I finished the bottle with the help of a colleague who felt so-so about the wine), eased up on the bitterness, it just didn't get much better.

I found it hard to believe that a wine that could have such a rich nose be so less than desirable. Let me say this - I am more than willing to give this wine another chance (I firmly believe in 2nd chances for wines), but until I acquire another bottle, this will be what I have to go on. I encourage you all to get a bottle for yourself, it could have just been my palate.

Until next time...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When in Rome...or Anchorage...or Dallas

For the past two weeks, I’ve been traveling for work – the job that pays me, that is, giving me the resources to enjoy my prolific wine hobby. The first half of the journey took me to Anchorage, Alaska followed by a 5-day jaunt to Dallas, Texas. When I travel, I’m a huge proponent of the “when in Rome…” philosophy. Unfortunately for me, neither “when in Alaska…” or “when in Texas…” experiences involve great wine. Nonetheless, I have some great culinary experiences to highlight for you in lieu of a wine review.

When it comes to beverage selection in Alaska, craft brewing is the name of the game. The first place I enjoyed some excellent beer was Moose’s Tooth Pizza in Anchorage. With a broad selection of standards brewed in house and the best pizza in Anchorage, there was a line out the door both times I went. Price = moderate. For great seafood, Simon and Seaforts was the next stop in the dinner journey. Their wine list was mostly Californian, but their mojitos are to die for. I had a delicious (albeit a bit undercooked) cedar plank salmon, but the real winner here was dessert. When I saw ice cream sandwiches listed on the menu, it seemed a bit simplistic. The product was far from that – house-made cherry brandy ice cream sandwiched between 2 chocolate-chipotle brownies. I’d go back just for that. Price = expensive. The final stop was the Glacier Brewhouse where I had fresh-caught halibut with some wonderful beer. An Oktoberfest lager aged for a year in Jim Beam bourbon barrels hit the spot with salad, followed by an Imperial Blonde – both brewed on the property. Price = expensive.

By time I hit Dallas, I was tired of traveling and also disappointed to find uninspired wine selections at most of the restaurants I went to AND bad beer. Yep, we’re talking a city with a penchant for Bud Light. By Thursday, 8 days into the trip, I decided it was time to treat myself and I did what any red-blooded American would do in Texas – find some good steak. Located in Addison, a city with the highest per-capita restaurant to resident ratio, Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House was the winner. It was hands-down an outstanding experience from the moment I walked through the doors. As I was dining solo, sometimes service can be lacking or the experience awkward – not the case here. My server was always there at the right times, with a friendly demeanor and great recommendations. I started off with bread and a hazelnut encrusted goat cheese salad paired with Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, followed with the main course: a 22-ounce prime bone-in ribeye steak, prepared perfectly, complimented with sea scallops and grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Paired with Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon, the meal was nearly orgasmic. I wasn’t going to do dessert, but the staff knew it was my first time in and offered a complimentary glass of port (King Estate), so I said why not. With the port I had a crème brulee with fresh berries. At the end of the meal I literally waddled back to my hotel and fell asleep, satiated by fabulous food, great service, and adequate wine. Price = very expensive.

So – if you ever find yourself in Anchorage or Dallas, I hope you know have some ideas about how to best enjoy the food and drink like the locals do. Oh yea, there are moose in Alaska and cowboys in Texas. Yee haw!