Cascade Brewing Barrell House

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If you find the continuous West Coast heat a bit too much for wine snobbery, or otherwise enjoy beer more than wine come summertime, it’s time to take the course towards Oregon. I mean, Portland’s micro breweries are out of control! There’s a microbrewery/microbrewery specialized bar pretty much in every other corner and some of them are producing or serving particularly sour beers, my all-time favorites!

Cascade1So, on our way out of town we stopped and had a “brunch” in one of the better known sour beer breweries, Cascade Brewing Barrell House. They have a tasting and lunch room which was attracting both local lunch-goers and beer tourists like us alike.

cascade2Due to the big breakfasts we’d had before getting on the road we didn’t try the food, but since them 2oz tasters were both plenty and rather reasonably prized (2-2,5 dollars each) we did upload some serious vitamin b…

cascade4The beer list is long and includes sours aged in wine barrells, together with grapes, with other fruit and just plain sour beers… on top of everything they had two seasonal beers which one got to taste straight from the barrel, some co-brewed stuff, and one cider.

cascade3Both seasonal products blew me out of the water. Their 4th of July celebration beer, Red, White and Brew, had some berries on the nose and hence reminded me of some wines, but it was really subtle on the mouth, berries being merely a hint on the palate and finish. Really good beer which made my soul cry for the fact that they didn’t sell it in the bottles (and I still secretly kick myself for not splurging for a growler of it, even though it would’ve cost a little fortune and should’ve had been drunk during the next couple days anyway…) Run like a Cantaloupe had been brewed with some serious cantaloupe melon, which was clear on the nose and on the palate rounded the sourness without being too obvious.

cascade5Apart from the seasonal stuff one can buy most of their products to go, either in bottles or in growlers. Needless to say our little car was quite, ahem, loaded when we got back home… now I only have to find a good enough excuse to open one of them soon! ;)

cascade6So, if you find yourself in Portland with few hours in hand and don’t have to drive anytime soon, do your dry throat a favor and pay a visit to east side and this awesome brewery! In close distance there’s also others, like Base Camp Brewing Company, Buckman Botanical Brewery and Commons Brewery, just to mention few.

Joseph Phelps Eisrebe 2012

EisrebeWell hell-oh! Sorry about the radio silence; once again real life kind of got on the way of blogging. We have our first batch of wine maturing beautifully in the carboys, and since it has appeared to be rather promising I hope one of these days I’ll be able to write about it here! But if something wine-making is a waiting game, so in the meanwhile let me hint you about one really nice desert wine we found.

The 2012 Eisrebe from Joseph Phelps was so positive experience that it got us both dive head first into the world of the desert wines. The color of this wine is dark gold, and it looked almost oily in the glass. The nose was big, rather intensive, and it had hints of apricots, orange and yellow raisins. But what really blew my mind was the taste of this off dry to medium sweet wine, was the fact that the first thing it delivered in the mouth reminded me quite intensively of the scent of flower called Lily of the Valley. Like… wow. Acoompanied with orange jam and apricot. And the finish was lengthy, soft and fruity.

I could try pair this wine with mud-cake as well as with creme brule, but it works beautifully just by itself, too. Good luck in finding this little gem!

Pinot Noir from Tasmania! Pirie Sigma 2005

sigmaWell, now we have an interesting fellow in the glass! My husband did some impulse buys in one of the local wine stores and hauled home the Pinot Noir from Tasmania. I have to admit I don’t think I have ever drank Tasmanian Pinot Noir before, but if this wine is an example of what they do in that island I’m afraid I just have to explore more.

The color tells this wine has age; the ruby red rim is clearly on its way to garnet, and the color of the core has medium intensity. On the nose this is candy: dark, ripe plums and cherries together with some oak and vanilla, lot of earthiness and warm ripeness. On the mouth this dry, surprisingly tannic and acidic but yet nicely balanced wine delivers notes of tart cherries, some bell pepper, pipe tobacco and cigar box. Yummy!

Rather long finish keeps the tastes changing in the mouth, in the dry and tart finish there’s also something very creamy towards the end. Like cheese.

I’d say well worth the 40 odd bucks my husband claims he paid for this. I’d also say, let’s go and get more… but maybe better empty this glass first!

Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year 2015!

(sorry about the crappy picture, though. Apparently that’s the best MacBook’s camera could do in these lighting conditions tonight…)

Rioja, Siglo Crianza 2009

sigloI got a serious nostalgia trip when I found this wine of my youth from Bevmo! Back from the 90’s me and my friends enjoyed quite a few bottles of this stuff, but then ALKO (government-owned alcohol store in Finland) discontinued the wine, and I couldn’t taste it for over a decade. But yesterday I opened a bottle with food, and while I didn’t really make good enough notes to justify labeling this article under “testing notes” I do remember there were quite amount of minerality and meatiness in the nose and some serious tannins in the mouth. All in all quite a yummy wine for the price! :)

Littorai Mays Canyon Chardonnay 2006

Littorai Mays 06Every once in the blue moon one runs into a wine that makes one want to drink every sip ever so slowly, swirling it in one’s mouth endlessly, praising it on every sip and sniffing the glass long after the wine is gone. For me this was one of them. Littorai is, as you might remember, one of our very favorite wineries in Sonoma Coast, and we actually purchased and opened this bottle quite a while ago. But then I managed to misplace my tasting notes! Boy was I glad to locate them in the pile of miscellaneous papers couple weeks ago, so I could come and write this little ode to this yummy chardonnay.

Wine had an intense golden straw core with clear rim. On the nose there was quite an amusement park: yellow plums, baked lemon, honeydew melon, apricot, white roses, minerality, slight hint of greenness and earthiness. On the palate this dry, rather acidic wine delivered equally pleasant roller coaster ride of meyer lemon, yellow nectarine, apricot, honeydew and hints of white pepper. The finish was lingering, dry but yet soft.

Very good wine, but alas, sold out from everywhere I’ve looked. If you should happen to bump into this wine, go ahead and taste it. If you don’t want to taste it, feel free to send it to me, I can taste it for you! ;)

Our first crop!

After pondering throughout the season whether to harvest any crop this year or to let the vines establish one more year, we decided to harvest half a possible crop and let the less vigorous areas have another year to put their energy to growing roots and establishing themselves.
sato2014_1Due to the fact that the summer here has been really hot and dry the harvest kind of surprised us with our pants down; we had been in Burning Man and as soon as we got back we had to hop into harvesting full force, we didn’t really have time to even get rid of Playa dust on our boots!
sato2014_2But now it’s done, and the first two batches are ready to be pressed today, so exciting! The wine already smells good after the first fermentation, even though at this stage the taste is rather acidic and yeasty. A month or so from now, after the first racking (which basically means moving the wine from one carboy to another so to get rid of the extra yeast in the mix) we should be able to taste a bit more, but making wine is a serious waiting game and the end result is not to be tasted much sooner than a year from now.

Hay Shed Hill, Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

HayShedHillWhat can I say? This $50 bottle kicked me straight back into being a wino, goodbye sober days! ;)

Color: intense dark ruby core with rim that’s just starting to have garnet-ish hue on the dark pink. On the nose present were all cab elements; figs, dark plums, dates, dust and pepper mixed together with just a hint of dark raisins. On the mouth this dry, medium acidic wine from Australia delivers smooth tannins, hint of vegetables combined with dark plums and chockolate, notes of tart cherries and wood are there, too. Quite robust body, medium alcohol (14,5%) and long, robust finish. Mmm… mmm… MMM!

Go get it, already!

Hartford Court, Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

seascape chardonnHere’s a really delicious Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast! Just looking at this picture makes me yearn more…

Wine’s well pronounced, beautiful golden straw hue on the body revealed it had had a little age in the bottle. On the nose there were all sorts of fruit; meyer lemon, baked apple and pineapple, some honey and honeysuckle in the mix. I did detect some vanilla and toast in the background, too, but merely a hint, just enough to tie the fruit together. On the palate the wine was almost off-dry, probably more due to its body and smooth acids than actual sugar. There were many fruit on the palate: lemon, apricot, honeydew melon, yellow peach, tiny hint of butter. Well balanced! Dry, fruity, lingering finish. Good to drink now, this Chardonnay was around $60 per bottle but I think well worth it!

White Rioja – Vina Tondonia Reserva 1998

White RiojaEven though I’ve been a fan of Rioja wines ever since I learned to drink wines I never had heard of white wines from that appellation. Until few years ago when me and my husband revealed our fancy for Rioja wines for some friends who know their wines, and they asked if we’d been trying the White Riojas, raving how seriously awesome they are. Of course we immediately went out for a hunt, but it took us a year or so to hunt one down! After browsing a wine shop after another without even a hint of any white Rioja wines we started to think that our legs had been pulled… but then we finally bumped into this vintage bottle of white Rioja. Finally!

The fact that the tasting notes I took have totally taken off of our house – I haven’t got the slightest clue where that piece of paper could’ve gone from the middle of that pile of the tasting notes I have on my desk, all the other notes of course are present – and that I only had a chance to take a picture of a bottle, only after it was poured and drank to the last drop, all that only adds to the mystique. Yep, here we have a true unicorn of a wine world! ;)

I remember the color of the wine was deep, darkish golden yellow, partly due to the age of the wine. The nose of the wine was way earthy for a white wine, earthy with some baked lemon… and the wine was sooo thick in the mouth! Like liquid gold, really. We drank it with fish as well as with meat dish which both the wine suited just fine. Maybe a little better company for a meat dish, though…  All in all this was an interesting and pleasant experience, so I could definitely recommend!

…IF you can hunt one down somewhere. Good luck with that!

PS. Don’t drink it too cooled. This white needs to be a little warmer than your usual white wine, to open up.

Bone-dry January

Hei! Sorry about the radio-silence, the holiday travels kept me quite busy for few weeks, and even though we did drink some awesome wines I didn’t really want to sit in the dinner table scribbling in my notebook…

And now, January. In Finland we have kind of a tradition that after usually rather moist autumn and holidays some of us drop all alcoholic beverages for January just to cleanse the system. And of course to show that yes, I can! So, since being rather far away from my country of origin I decided to follow this tradition this year. Which means, one more month of relative silence here in my wine-blog. I might have couple of interesting posts waiting to be published in the archives, but in the meantime I want to thank you for the last year, and wish all of you a very good, productive and happy New Year 2014!