A Thirst for Cider: Oregon Cider Week

What was once old is new again. This holds true not just for fashion but also for cider. The US has now experienced a cultural resurgence of cider and is developing quite a thirst for it.

Once Colonial America’s drink of choice, the U.S. is quickly returning back to its roots for inspiration. According to federal data, draft cider sales rose 700 percent between 2011 and 2012; in 2012, U.S. cider sales topped $90 million.  Why?  First, thanks to the interest and subsequent growth of craft beer, the craft cider industry has grown as well. Furthermore, the interest in and demand for something new and different, and perhaps healthier, has created the perfect opportunity for cider.

Data also suggest that the average cider drinker is 20-35 years old. A number of these younger drinkers, particularly in the Northwest, are looking for something authentic, original, and different from the mass-produced sub-par cider and beer. Given all of this data, the Pacific Northwest is the perfect place for a craft revolution.

The resurgence of interest in cider has been very notable in Oregon.  On June 20, Oregon kicked off its third annual Oregon Cider Week with Cider Summit Portland, featuring over 140 ciders from 37 producers, from 6 states and 7 countries. This event will continue on to Seattle, Chicago, and Berkeley. Portland showed its support by coming in droves: 3,000 to 4,000 visitors over two days, to be exact. It was a well-attended event with a lot of people enjoying the sun, the music, and the cider being poured by artisan cider houses.  The rest of the week featured events throughout the state including a number of tap takeovers, happy hours, tastings, and dinners.

IMG_9051

 

I had the honor of attending the Cider Feast Dinner at St. Honoré Boulangerie off SE Division Street in Portland. Hosted by St. Honoré Boulangerie, Chef Dominique Geulin, and Kevin Zielinski, E.Z. Orchards’ owner and cider maker, this five-course French-style dinner showcased ciders from Finnriver Farm and Cidery,  Virtue Cider, Reverend Nat’s Cidery, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, and E.Z. Orchards.

Cider Feast Dinner

Cider Feast Dinner

The pairings dinner featured a beautiful Goat Cheese and Rainer Cherry tartalette, a mixed green salad tossed with Finnriver Black Currant Cider vinaigrette, a plate of country pâté and chicken liver mousse paired with a E.Z. Orchards cider mustard, and a gorgeous Alsatian-meets-Northwest tarte flambé. This feast was all finished off with a very interesting Cider and Saffron Sabayon.

IMG_9155

For me, it was a beautifully-paired dinner by Chef Geulin, and I will make sure to return during St. Honoré Boulangerie’s happy hour for more cider-based cocktails soon. What is unique about St. Honoré Boulangerie is that they create not only beautiful breads and quiches but also wood-fired pizzas. I was happy to taste some of my favorite cider producers, from E.Z. Orchards to Finnriver to Reverend Nat’s, all paired in this great cider dinner. I look forward to seeing the other great events Portland has to offer.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Drinking Now: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc #NZSavvy

Wednesdays are known as #WineWednesday or #WW (hashtag WW) and are therefore the best days to hold what the wine industry calls Wine Chats or #winechat. These wine chats are held every Wednesday for an hour starting at 5:00 pm or 6:00pm PST/ 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm EST. Wine chats are meant to be educational and informative tools for not just wine bloggers but for those following them as a chance to learn more about wines within 1 hour though two-way communication between a winery/winemaker and hand-selected wine bloggers.

My first wine chat was through Protocol Wine Studio based in San Diego where we did a tasting of Argentinean wines. Following that I did another tasting for a series of Malbecs for Malbec World Day in April this year. Yesterday, I had the sincere pleasure of joining a Villa Maria New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine chat under the #NZSavvy. The purpose of a hashtag is to make it easier to follow a conversation from start to finish and join in on the conversation whether you have the wine in front of you or not. I personally use a tool such as TweetDeck which automatically updates me on the #winechat stream as it happens. In order to remain a part of the conversation, you have to  make sure to include the all important # word that is being used specifically for that tasting. This way everyone on the stream can see you.

Make sure to check out the #winechat schedules for Protocol. There are also a few coming up in the upcoming weeks including one next week on Santa Barbara wines on Wednesday, June 25, just look for the #sbcwines or follow them on twitter @sbcwines.

Below you can see the chaos as it ensues…. glass of wine, wine notes, laptop and cell phone. All necessary elements of a #winechat.

 

The #NZSavvy #winechat begins!

The #NZSavvy #winechat begins!

Last night I tried two Sauvignon Blancs from Villa Maria, both of which were beautifully refreshing change to what I have been currently drinking. I currently live in the world of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris with a little Riesling and Chardonnay thrown in there from time to time. I welcomed the grassy, grapefruit and citrus palate like a refreshing wind on a summer day.

Honestly, it was really hot yesterday and I couldn’t have asked for a more refreshing drink. Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand holds a special place in my heart as it is such a clearly distinctive palate that no other Sauvignon Blanc that I’ve tasted tastes like.  To me, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has this fresh-cut green grass, almost asparagus nature to it, not in a bad way but in a delicate and refreshing way.

photo 2 (1)

Marlborough is located at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. With over 23,600 hectares of planted vines, it is the largest wine growing region of New Zealand and primarily known for its world-class Sauvignon Blanc.

Marlborough enjoys high sunshine hours and a temperate climate which allows for  a long slow, flavor-intensifying ripening period.  Warm days and cool nights help keep the acid in wines high. The soil type is noticeably stony, sandy loam top soil with deep layers of shingle, this allows for fast draining and therefore low fertility soils. The one thing you always want for vines is to have them suffer a bit, this creates the complexity that can not be achieved solely through winemaking. It is a combination of the land, the weather of each vintage and the winemaker’s hand that can make any wine truly unique.  In this case, the two below wines are highly recommended a true treat on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

2014 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc

It really sings in the glass, highly aromatic with fresh-cut green grass, lime, kiwi and ruby-red grapefruit with a long-lasting finish and crisp acidity. This is a special early release. At $14.99, it would pair beautifully with some oysters.

2013 Villa Maria Cellar Selection

With a bit more time in bottle and allowing the wine to warm up a little, the nose just jumps out at you with lychee, grapefruit, green grass. In the mouth, passion fruit attacks your palate with a clean crisp acidic finish of a lemon-lime-grapefruit sorbet. Really quite delightful. Retail on this is $19.99.

I keep wishing I had some nice seafood, like a pan-fried fish, oysters, scallops and a side of seasonal vegetables, to pair it with but a beautiful view from my new place full of boxes and my trusty French Bulldog, El Guapo, will have to suffice for now. He really wanted some!  Cheers!

photo 3

20140608-165111-60671679.jpg

Drinking Now: 2013 Corallina Rosé of Syrah by Cornerstone Napa

Every now and then, I have the amazing luck of being a blogger that gets wine sent to them. While you aren’t required to write about it, there is this unspoken rule in the wine world that if you receive a bottle of wine and like it, you should write about it.

Simple enough but sometimes you grab a bottle and enjoy it with so much relish that you forget to write about it.

Such is the case for not just me but also my thirsty German husband who attacked the bottle and then called me later to ask if it was ok. As you can see from the bottle, I was left enough to enjoy on this beautiful Oregon day.

I’m starting a short series of blog posts dedicated to those wines I am currently drinking and thoroughly enjoying. In my opinion, if I haven’t written about them, it’s simply because 1) I honestly haven’t gotten around to them yet, or 2) I’d rather write something positive or nothing at all.

Some of the wines, or rather, most, are wines I have purchased myself, others have been gifted to me by the wonderful UPS or FedEx man who asks for my signature and asks if I’m over 21.

Yes!

I say, and gladly sign as I’m as excited as a child to rip open the box like a gleeful school child waiting to see what is wrapped up in those square-shaped amazing cardboard boxes!

All silliness aside, please enjoy this wine as much as I have. And, yes, this is a GoVino glass, as we are in the middle of packing our home up for an upcoming move and it’s the next best thing to a regular glass. Plus, it won’t break and you can still enjoy the wine as it should be. Enjoy and cheers!

Cornerstone Napa Valley 2013 Corallina Rose of Syrah:
Color and Nose: Pale melon color with light cantaloupe & strawberry nose
Mouth: Medium acidity with a candied watermelon and cherry finish

Great on a warm, sunny day with a view! Cheers!

20140608-165202-60722624.jpg