Converted: St. Innocent, Pinot Noir 2010

Last year, I spent weeks cycling all over Oregon with the rogue Super Tour group (whereabouts: all over), and saw unparelled beauty of great heights, green pastures, rolling hills and rivers that unfolded like silk. It was beautiful and freeing to be on two wheels under the big, beautiful sky for hundred of miles, sloughing off the stress of a technologically-laden world.   Unfortunately, I drank a lot of IPAs (in a region known for its Pinot Noir), and am lamenting that sport took over so much of my sipping capacity.

Tonight, opening the bottle of St. Innocent from Momtazi Vineyard in Willamette Valley Oregon (2010) brought out that feeling of beauty in a glass.  If I were bigger than myself, I would say opening a bottle is like stepping out of a limo in couture before hitting the lights of the red carpet. It is a light burgundy, but on the nose, it hits you that this wine is bigger than its color.  If art, and unlike it’s origins, I would call it a Goya: lengthy, hints of smoke and stretch wrapped around berries and leather in subtle obscurity.  In literature, I would equate it to a comfortable leather bound edition of any great piece of work, but it feels like F. Scott Fitzgerald–direct like Hemingway, but with a turn of phrase that makes one tilt the head pondering.  Whatever the equation brings you too, it is good.  And is an example of what the wine/grape should and could be.

The winestinn is deep cherries, leather, vanilla, subtle oak and a deep woods sense of flavor and smell.  The tannins are soft and the acid is medium–it can stand up to the gamey dish, fish, or something light that its paired with (for the record, I don’t need food with this wine at all!)  It’s finish is long and gentle on the palette.  The smell alone wooed me, and I want to go back to Oregon to roam among the vineyards as much as I did the road.

Priced a little higher than other everyday wines ($39.99), it is worth it to treat yourself after a hard day, to celebrate an unexpected sunset, or to remind yourself and the senses what it is like to breathe and drink something soulful and liberating.  Enjoy. Buy a case, a couple bottles or one.  But I would gladly give up a workout for this wine.




Foe or Friend of Boredeaux: Baron De Fontsegur 2011

Bordeaux is the largest, and some argue, the most popular wine producing region of France.  I personally love it and am willing to forgo a year of Ironman (and maybe all long distance sports) to travel and explore the region in more, intimate depth (a bike, however, will be involved).  My background in working with the US budget has always left me impressed with numbers, and Bordeaux is no less impressive in the wine world.   Known for the wines on  the Left (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant) versus the Right Bank (dominated by Merlot), the region has more than 50 appellations on nearly 300,000 acres of land.  That’s a lot of wine.

And some of it is really, really good.  Beautiful.  Artistic, even,like a Shakespearean sonnet, an aria by Mozart, or a simple sunset over a quiet Minnesota lake.

This wine, however, from the Entre-Deux-Mers region near St. Emilion (Merlot dominated, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc added) is not one of those masterpieces.

If you’ve ever forgotten to put sugar into a pie or a pancake mix, or have had orange juice after brushing your teeth, this wine is reminds you something important has been forgotten, or perhaps forged (and forced) in the wrong order.  It is a shallow blackberry and cherry pie where the fruit has been picked too early–and converted to wine before the sugars have matured.  It is tart and absent of fruit-forward flavors, let alone complex ones.  Even with aeration, this wine is looking for something to open it, but like the poem’s of a teenage girl just on the other side of puberty, the soul and painstaking formulaic beauty of age is missing and its expression is limited by its core ingredients.

Because fruit and depth are lacking, I had trouble finishing the glass.  However, I did venture to a region that does sophoto-79mething right: Wisconsin and beer–and turning to the Spotted Cow was just the right touch to turn the tide from a bad glass of wine.  But more on that beer later.  The wine may have been tonight’s foe of Bordeaux, but the Cow showed itself to be a true friend.

Drink the wine.  It is a fine for a night around the table.  Fine to share. But, savor any beer from the New Glarus Brewing Company.  (Again, more on that later, especially as friends and family work on getting to and finishing Ironman Wisconsin).

1 out of 5

A quiet, summer repose: Reposo 2008

Ever have those years that just seem hectic?

Try moving during Ironman season (note: I’ve been off the saddle and on the wagon awhile).  Between driving, interviewing, biking, and getting my heart rate down after being sick, I decided I needed to dive back into a bottle (or 7–just went shopping tonight) and get my groove back on. photo-78

Repos0 2008 is part of the Pago Casa Gran winery in Valencia, Spain.  The wine is an blend of equal parts Gewrztraminer and Moscatel, and while any Andrea-abiding friend knows that sweet isn’t her forte, my spicy chicken curry needed something more soothing than a red wine to bitch-slap that heat. (I’ve had enough mental anguish this year.  I need not more).

The wine has delicately blended flavors of yellow apple, pear, grape, honeysuckle, and something akin to fresh smoke lingering over wet slate–it’s enticing, but the veil is not pulled back to unleash an assault on the senses. It was off-dry, but not sweet and paired nicely with the spice of curry.

A gift from a friend for the wine of the month club, this wine is a great deal at $6.99.  Great. Deal.  I enjoyed the wine, and didn’t want for anything else afterward.  I would give the wine a nice 2-3 solid stars, and yes, am getting up early for tomorrow’s ride.