San Francisco to Portland, a Road Trip

Last week, I took a long-overdue vacation to see my brother who just moved from Oakland up to Portland. I decided to drive and make a few stops along the way.

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Our first stop was Crater Lake in Oregon, which is a surprisingly short-ish drive from the Bay Area. We made it in just about 7 hours. Unfortunately the campsites in the park were all full, so we stayed just outside of the park at Diamond Lake, where there were plenty of first-come, first-serve sites available.

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Our next stop was the Columbia River Gorge, which everyone was telling me I had to see. The above photograph is from the Vista House, just off Highway 30.

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Along the highway that follows the gorge are tons of waterfalls and parks you can stop at and hike out to. We only made 2 stops, but saw plenty of glorious waterfalls. We may be in a drought down here in California, but up in Oregon everything is still lush and green.

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See? So much green!

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We also visited the Willamette Valley, a must-see winemaking region up in Oregon that’s just an hour or two outside of Portland. We paid a visit to Brooks Winery, Cristom, and Byrn Mawr.

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Highlights from Brooks were the 2013 Amycas white blend and the dry muscat. Bright, floral, and so very fresh!

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At Cristom, the grapes weren’t even done with verasion yet, while here in California we are already up to our eyeballs in harvest.

It was a great week off, and we enjoyed the spoils of the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself up in Portland, make sure to head out to the countryside and buy some of those famous Oregon blackberries – the enormous ones. If they are fresh, they taste like a blackberry blossom smells.

Loads of new wines will be added to the shop this week. Stay tuned for updates!

Winelandia is on vacation until Monday 8/25

Hey Y’all!

I’ve had a lot of people pinging me this week about wine deliveries, and I wanted to let you all know that I am on vacation and won’t be delivering any wine until Monday. Feel free to place an order through the online store, and I’ll coordinate with you to arrange delivery next week. I appreciate your patience!

Please enjoy this lovely pre-thunderstorm photo of Crater Lake while I’m gone

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Stemware Showdown: Zalto vs. Riedel vs. Bormioli

P8070024How much thought do you put into your stemware? My guess is ‘not much’, and if that’s the case, you aren’t alone. I know plenty of people who enjoy wine just fine out of whatever glass they grab out of the cupboard, and I think there’s a certain freedom in being so open-minded about it. I, on the other hand, am reluctant to drink fine wine from any vessel that is neither glass nor tulip-shaped (I’ve been known to be fussy about a sheer rimmed glass as well). I drink wine because I love the ever-changing, delicate aromas and flavors, which are lost if it’s being served from a beer mug or mason jar. I am not a fancy person, but this is my chosen luxury.

Any wine geek will tell you, wine tastes and smells better when served out of a proper vessel. If you find yourself investing more and more money into fine wines and find yourself drinking them from jelly jars, perhaps it’s time to consider upgrading your stemware. The truth is, the right stemware will better showcase the nuances and aromas of your expensive grown-up grape juice, and you might as well invest a little money into some decent stems so that you are getting the best experience for your money.

I recently took the plunge to purchase what many consider to be the world’s finest wine glass; a hand-crafted, mouth-blown glass manufactured by Zalto of Austria. To validate my decision to purchase these ridiculously delicate and expensive stems, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of some of my favorite wines in three different glasses.

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Featured Wine: Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon, 2012 (sans soufre)
Glass #1 (rear, left): Luigi Bormioli “Prestige” white wine glass
Glass #2 (foreground): Riedel “O” Stemless white wine glass
Glass #3 (rear, right): Zalto “Universal” wine glass

Side note: I tend to choose white wine or “all purpose” glasses for all types of wine (including sparkling). Some people prefer a larger glass for their red wines.

I’ve broken down the performance for each glass into four categories: Aroma, Taste, Look & Feel, Durability. The scoring is a five star system, with five stars being the highest rating. On to the showdown!

Glass #1 – Luigi Bormioli “Prestige” White Wine Glass

P8070019I first purchased these Luigi Bormioli glasses from the restaurant supply shop several years ago. I was seeking a high-quality, sheer-rimmed, durable wine glass that wouldn’t break the bank. These have been my go-to for years.

Material: “SON.hyx” titanium-reinforced crystal glass
Country of Manufacture: Italy
Retail Price: $10 ea.

Pros: Excellent at concentrating wine’s aromas, easy to swirl wine, durable, aesthetically pleasing, dishwasher safe, sheer rim
Cons: Top-heavy, unbalanced, thick glass feels clunky, opening of glass is very narrow (bumps the top of your nose when you take a sip)

Overall Rating:
Aroma: ★★★★★
Taste: ★★★★☆
Look & Feel: ★★☆☆☆
Durability: ★★★★★

Glass #2 – Riedel “O” Stemless White Wine Glass

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The story behind these stemless glasses is one that’s close to my heart. Many years ago, I was working for a floundering start-up, and most of us were being laid off. We were given several months notice, and didn’t have much work to do while we waited for the inevitable. Our office was next to a beautiful marina, where we would all get together in the afternoon every day to hang out and, well… drink. One of my coworkers and I picked up two of these Riedel stemless wine glasses so we could drink Sancerre while everyone else drank beer. Somehow, they have managed to last all these years, and I still take them on picnics and camping.

Material: Non-leaded crystal glass
Country of Manufacture: Bavaria, Germany
Retail Price: $12 ea.

Pros: Compact, lightweight, very thin glass, sheer rim, dishwasher safe, portable
Cons: Less durable, no stem, very small, does not show wine’s aroma or taste well, wine gets warmed up from the heat of your hands, glasses become covered in smudges from your fingers

Overall Rating:
Aroma: ★☆☆☆☆
Taste: ★★★☆☆
Look & Feel: ★★★☆☆
Durability: ★★★☆☆

Glass #3 – Zalto “Universal” Wine Glass

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Some people buy fancy shoes & handbags, apparently I buy fancy wine glasses. I was growing tired of my clunky Luigi Bormioli wine glasses after experiencing a Zalto once or twice. A Zalto feels impossibly delicate and light in your hand, and the stem is so fine and elegant you can’t help but twirl it between your fingers. The rim is extremely sheer, with what seems to be a micron of material between the wine and your lips as you take a sip. It’s the Aston Martin of wine glasses. For my birthday this year, I decided I would buy a pair of “Universal” Zaltos (the universal size is their all-purpose glass).

Material: Non-leaded crystal glass
Country of Manufacture: Austria
Retail Price: $60 ea.

Pros: Elegant, beautiful, light-weight, flexible, opening of glass has enough room for your nose to fit into the glass as you take a sip (this accentuates the flavors/aromas), stable, perfectly balanced, dishwasher safe, showcases aromas better than any other glass we tested, sheer rim is impossibly thin, excellent for red/white/sparkling wines
Cons: Should not be hand-washed, extremely fragile, expensive

Overall Rating:
Aroma: ★★★★★
Taste: ★★★★★
Look & Feel: ★★★★★
Durability: ★★☆☆☆

 Results

1st Place: Zalto “Universal” Wine Glass
2nd Place: Luigi Bormioli “Prestige” White Wine Glass
3rd Place: Riedel “O” White Wine Glass

Summary: The Zalto glass is the clear winner, but mostly for aesthetic purposes. The look, feel, and performance of the Zalto is unmatched, but the Bormioli is a close runner up if we aren’t talking about look & feel. We actually thought the performance of the Bormioli was excellent, especially when the wine was popped and poured (initially, the Bormioli showed the wine better than the Zalto, but once the wine had some time to breathe, the Zalto took the lead). The Riedel stemless glass muted the nose of the wine, but is great for camping, picnics, or other situations where it’s impractical or dangerous to bring your Zalto.

Are you interested in purchasing a set of Zalto wine glasses? We sell them! Just email orders@winelandia.com for more information.

One Wine A Week: Matteo Correggia 2011 Anthos

Share this wine with the person you love. I think that’s about all I have to say about it. Okay, that’s not entirely reasonable, but it’s what immediately comes to mind upon opening this bottle. The Anthos is 100% Brachetto, and while much of Brachetto in the world is off dry or even sweet, and usually fizzy, this one is completely and totally dry, and still. A lush, light-bodied red wine that’s best consumed with a slight chill, the Matteo Correggia Anthos is a bouquet of beautiful, aromatic, delicate flowers in a wine glass. Part of the Winter Wine Club shipment (I know, you guys. I’m reallllly behind on my wine consumption), this Italian wine is, I think, best made for sipping and sharing with a friend or loved one.

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The floral element is really what shines in this wine – think jasmine, roses, maybe a little lavender… That sort of thing. It’s very lush and bright, but not an acidic wine. It’s just such a Winelandia wine, you guys. It’s out of the box, it’s unexpected, and it’s really not what most people are used to when they enjoy a glass or a bottle of wine. But if you can set aside preconceived notions of wine – especially red wine – you’ll find some real, easy pleasure in this bottle of Anthos.

Night Opened: Sunday (are you noticing a trend?! Sunday is pretty much the only day I have time to cook and sit down to a proper dinner.)

Days to Drink: 3, but I don’t recommend it. This is a fragile wine. The first night is wonderful – chill the bottle just a bit (maybe 30 minutes in the fridge), and enjoy it. The second night, some of the fragile and volatile floral compounds have fallen away, but there’s still plenty of substance there to make it a worthwhile endeavor. I wouldn’t say that day two brings a different dimension to this wine, so don’t feel bad about finishing it in one night. Day three the wine just didn’t hold up – which is okay!

I want to say something about this – natural wines, the kinds of wines that we specialize in here – are fragile creatures that really deserve affection and attention. If a wine will hold up in your fridge for 2 weeks, you may want to ask what else is in it besides grape juice, because wines with very little treatment and additives are just like organic food – more delicious and also more delicate. They’re fresh, they’re authentic, and they don’t have any supporting ingredients (preservatives!) to help them stick around once they’re open. Some wines can make it, and some can’t, but Tala and I have found that most wines max out at 2, maybe 3 days. Taste it before you toss it though – always.

Paired With: Good company. I tried this with a dish I made the night that I opened it, and the pairing was so off that I’m not even going to tell you about it. I set the glass aside, finished my dinner, and came back to the wine after I’d eaten and I was sitting on the couch chatting. That was definitely the right choice, as there is some delicate complexity about this wine that I think can get lost in food, or overshadowed by big flavors, or clash with the wrong thing. This wine is thought-provoking and perfect for enjoying during a great conversation with a few of your favorite people. It’s a great wine to drink early in the evening before a dinner party, or to take with you on a weekend with friends. Or bring it to dinner with your parents and blow them away with your worldly and complex taste.

Did you enjoy your bottle of Anthos? Are you intrigued? We’re evaluating the next vintages of this wine, so let us know if we should carry it again!