We’re not Burgundy or Cali, top Oregon winemakers tell Orlando’s wine pros

In Oregon,”you must be the master of your vineyard,” says Eugenia Keegan, General Manager of Gran Moraine Winery.

Speaking to a packed house at the Hilton Orlando on Tuesday, she and four other leading winemakers from Oregon’s Willamette Valley made the case for Oregon as a wine region unlike any other. Her compatriots on the Jackson Family Wines “Oregon: A State of Mind” tour included Lynn Penner-Ash (Penner-Ash), Ryan Zepaltas (Siduri, Zepaltas), Tony Rynders (Zena Crown, Tendril), and Craig McAlister (La Crema).

They have a valid point.

Uniquely Oregon

Oregon has been a major player in the wine game for almost 40 years, but much of the discussion about Oregon wines still takes place in the context of comparison – usually with the state’s giant wine neighbor to the south, or with Burgundy, the standard bearer for cool climate pinot noir.

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Step Outside the Champagne Box: Six Unexpected Bottles of Bubbles for NYE!

Not much beats Champagne on New Year’s Eve, but if you’re looking for some out-of-the-box (and easier-on-the wallet) alternatives for the big night, you’re in luck! Champagne doesn’t have a lock on quality sparkling wine anymore. All six of these bottles should delight your palate, satisfy your enological curiosity, and enhance your celebratory mood as you welcome 2017. And only one of them is even from France!

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2008 Chapelle de Maillac

I don’t usually post wine reviews – I prefer to write about wine experiences. But tonight, I opened a wine that was an experience.

I bought this 2008 Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac, from Lirac in France’s southern Rhone, back in January during a sale at Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando. I tasted it in the store and knew I needed to drink it fairly soon. That’s how I rationalized opening an aged wine by myself, to enjoy on my porch on a beautiful summer Sunday evening in Florida.

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Canadian Wines for Victoria Day

Americans are heading into the Memorial Day weekend today (stay tuned for some holiday beach wine reviews), but Canadians celebrated their national holiday this past Monday.

Neither I nor my British husband had ever heard of Victoria Day. They don’t observe it in the U.K – I guess the Brits aren’t as excited as the Canadians about that particular monarch.

Canada lantern
Maple leaf lanterns festooned Orlando’s Victoria Day celebration

But that didn’t stop us from celebrating with Orlando’s Canadian community at a heck of a party organized by our friend Faiyaz Kara, food critic for the Orlando Weekly  … and proud Canadian.

The event – which benefited Orlando chef Kevin Fonzo‘s charitable foundation – pitted local chefs against each other to see who had the best take on Canada’s national specialty, poutine.

For the uninitiated (or un-Canadian), poutine is a dish comprised of french fries drenched in gravy, topped with cheese curds. The chefs at this event added meat and a whole lot more. This was not a low-fat affair.

But what excited me most – as you might imagine – was that the evening’s festivities also included a tasting of five Canadian wines, all from the Niagara region! We don’t get many Canadian wines this far south of the border, so this was a real treat. And no, they weren’t all icewines!

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Massaya rosé: Perfect porch sipper and versatile food wine

I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Orlando, it’s well into rosé season.

Of course, I don’t really believe in rosé season. I’m a huge rosé fan – some might even say an evangelist – and I’m happy drinking the sunset-colored liquid any time of year. But there’s no denying that it pairs particularly well with a porch, deck, or pool on a warm Florida spring day like today.

I’m partial to Provencal rosés – like a lot of rosé lovers, I consider them the gold standard – but I was intrigued a few weeks ago when Tim’s Wine Market Orlando featured the 2014 Massaya rosé from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. It’s made mostly from Rhone varietals – 40% cinsault, 30% syrah – plus 30% cabernet sauvignon.

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Terlan pinot grigio: Proof that an open mind is key to enjoying wine

Before I get to the main topic of this post, I want to take a moment to rejoice with four (that I know of so far) friends from my blind tasting group here in Orlando who passed the Certified Sommelier exam in Tampa today! I’m so proud of them and of Orlando’s growing wine scene!

One of the things I love about wine is how often it surprises me – now that I’ve learned to let it.

A few weeks ago at my Tuesday night blind tasting at Swirlery Wine Bar in Orlando, we tried a lovely white wine, with apple and white flowers on the nose. The palate was expressive with peach, pear, and mineral notes, a round mouthfeel, and good, balanced acidity.

I liked this wine a lot.

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