Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sagelands Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon , 2005

Sagelands Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Four Corners, 2005

In making the 2005 Four Corners Cabernet Sauvignon, winemaker Frederique Spencer blended Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from diverse origins to take advantage of each vineyard’s unique character. Integrating a small amount of traditional Bordeaux varietals like Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot allowed her to create a complex and versatile mosaic. The Merlot softens the palate, the Malbec adds fruit and color and the Petit Verdot brings a touch of blueberry and fine tannins. This wine is very approachable now and will continue to gain complexity over the next few years.
This is an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon that has a deep ruby color and intense nose of blackberry, blueberry, cherry and caramel coated violets. This a classic, easy-drinking Washington State Cabernet with loads of dark berry and cherry flavor, medium tannins and a smooth long finish. We enjoyed this delightful wine with a wood grilled Flat-Iron Steak with a crisp Romaine Salad and some garlic roasted Brussel Sprouts. This is an excellent value from an outstanding vintage. Available in the Seattle are for under $10.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dutschke Willow Bend, 1999

Dutschke Willow Bend, 1999

The Barossa Valley red is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. The color is a deep, almost opaque red with purple tones. On the nose is the aroma of black cherries, raspberries, exotic spice and licorice. The mouth feel is rich and opulent with deep, dark fruit and pepper. The taste is of black fruit, cherries, licorice and black pepper. The fruit is still fresh and lively. There are some light vanilla and caramel flavors that add to the overall complexity of this lovely wine. This is a full bodied wine with plenty of well developed smooth tannins. We had cellared this wine over the past five years and enjoyed it with dinner at Trellis, last night. This wine would continue to evolve beautifully over the next few years. An excellent wine form one of Australia's small producers.


Located at The Heathman Hotel
220 Kirkland Avenue
Kirkland, WA 98033425
284 5900

Last night we met some good friends for the "New Urban Eats"…. A dining promotion that features a $30 three course meal at many of the Northwest's hottest new restaurants. We chose "Trellis". The restaurant is located off the lobby at the new Heathman Hotel in Downtown Kirkland. The restaurant is slick and modern with nice touches of warm wood and designer fabrics. The food is northwest contemporary with a major emphasis on fresh, organic and local ingredients. The chef, Brian Scheehser, practices sustainable farming in his three-acre garden in Woodinville. He plans on growing many of the fresh ingredients featured at Trellis. Our server, Tony, provided efficient and friendly service of both our food and wine. Amongst the four of us we had a great variety of food. Our starters included a Fresh Romaine Blue Cheese Salad, Flatbread with blood orange and crispy Prosciutto, Beef Carpaccio with arugula and a lovely Fresh Red Beet Salad. Every thing was fresh and delicious. The food was artfully prepared on modern-shaped white porcelain. For our main courses, two of us had "Hanging Tenders" Steak with Chanterelles and Mashed potatoes, another had Fresh Brook Trout and I enjoyed a Cassolet of grilled Lamb, Sausage and stewed beans. We conclude with desserts that nicely completed the dinner. Two of us had a Brioche Bread Pudding with a citrus sauce, one had a Pear and Cranberry Sorbet and the other had Profiteroles filled with Honey-Rosemary ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. Our whole dinner was quite enjoyable and we all agreed that we would look forward to returning to Trellis in the future. Note: We brought two bottles of wine with us, a 2003 Mathews Claret and a 1999 Dutschke Willow Bend. Our waiter, Tony, gladly decanted the 1999 Dutschke Willow Bend and both wines were served in beautiful, large wine glasses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ama Ama Oyster Bar & Grill

Ama Ama Oyster Bar & Grill
4752 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
Phone: (206) 937-1514

Ama Ama Oyster Bar and Grill is a newcomer to West Seattle. Serving fresh local oysters shucked to order and fresh-made dishes like po'boy oyster sliders, Penn Cove mussels, crispy monkfish, or ginger scallops this restaurant creates a seafood dining that is a welcomed addition to the Seattle restaurant scene.
Their menu is oriented toward local, organic and sustainable foods. Their chef, Brenda, is a veteran of the Flying Fish and the now defunct Fandango and Ovio. She has traveled extensively in Spain, Portugal, India and Japan. Her travels and interests help her create and interesting menu with these influences. The atmosphere is big city sophisticated with a New York retro club feel. The restaurant is dominated by a large bar, high ceiling, warm wood and black leather chairs and banquets. Custom scrolled wood partitions metal art, warm lightening and smooth jazz add to the warm and romantic setting. The service was professional and friendly. They have a nice selection of cocktails, wines and upscale drafts.
We ate here last night after seeing a play at the Arts West Theater ( located across the street). We started off with two "sliders" that were perfectly prepared on toasted "Bakery Nouveau" brioche rolls. One was Grilled ground lamb, Muenster cheese, stone ground mustard and a chili morita sauce and the other was Panko breaded oysters fried and served with grated horseradish aioli. We shared the Mojo Shrimp Salad that was four large gulf shrimp marinated in mango-orange mojo, seared, and served on a bed of watercress and frisee with avocado and cotija cheese. The salad was fresh and flavorful and a pure delight. Then we finished by splitting the Crispy Monkfish which was fresh monkfish marinated in buttermilk, floured, and fried crispy and served over Madras mashed potatoes with a peanut-cilantro sauce and then surrounded by long beans. This entrée was truly special and delicious and we have been talking about it and this reastaurant for the past day!
Ama Ama Oyster Bar and Grill scores big. We are looking forward to another visit in the near future.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Morgante Nero d'Avola, 2005

Morgante Nero d'Avola, 2005
The wine is ruby red in color with intense aromas mushroom, earth, cherry and chocolate. On the palate it is bursting with bright cherry fruit that is lased in chocolate. This Sicilian red is medium bodied with balanced acidity and a hint if exotic spices. The tannins are smooth and well integrated and the wine is easy to enjoy by its self or with a hearty meal. We enjoyed this wine with some pork chops cooked with garlic and rosemary, sautéed apple and some wilted romaine with balsamic reduction. This wine is available in Seattle for about $14 and is well worth the price. Salute!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Higher wine prices boost drinking pleasure: study

By Clare Baldwin

STANFORD, California (Reuters) - The more wine costs, the more people enjoy it, regardless of how it tastes, a study by California researchers has found.
Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology found that because people expect wines that cost more to be of higher quality, they trick themselves into believing the wines provide a more pleasurable experience than less expensive ones.
Their study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that expectations of quality trigger activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that registers pleasure. This happens even though the part of our brain that interprets taste is not affected.
While many studies have looked at how marketing affects behavior, this is the first to show that it has a direct effect on the brain.
The researchers said that when 20 adult test subjects sampled the same wine at different prices, they reported experiencing pleasure at significantly greater levels when told the wine cost more. At the same time, the part of the brain responsible for pleasure showed significant activity.
"We have known for a long time that people's perceptions are affected by marketing, but now we know that the brain itself is modulated by price," said Baba Shiv, an associate professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and one of the authors of the study.
"Marketers are now going to think twice about reducing the price," Shiv said.
According to the study, if an experience is pleasurable, the brain will use it to help guide future choices. That conclusion has important implications for marketing that aims to influence perceptions of quality such as expert ratings, peer reviews, information about country of origin, store and brand names and repeated exposure to advertisements.
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Walsh)

Altos las Hormigas Malbec, 2006

Altos las Hormigas Malbec, 2006

The Altos las Hormigas Malbec is deep purple, almost opaque and is a terroir-driven fruit-bomb. It offers a generous nose of plums, dark cherries and berries with subtle notes of earth. It is lush and velvety sweet with oodles of dark fruit. This Mendoza Malbec has a nice balance and opulence that makes it our favorite Malbec of the moment. We bought this at the Seattle Wine Company for about $9. This is a great value for a delicious wine. Enjoy this with any grilled meats or a juicy burger. Here is what Parker had to say…."The 2006 Malbec is a prime contender for the top value in Malbec. Purple-colored, it has an excellent nose of violets, spice box, blueberry, and black cherry. Medium to full-bodied, it offers a creamy texture, layers of flavor, excellent balance, and a long, fruit-driven finish. Although this outstanding Malbec may well evolve for 1-2 years, there is no reason to defer gratification. It is a fantastic value." 90 points.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bodega Septima Malbec, 2006

Bodega Septima Malbec, 2006

The wineries of Argentina have been pumping out great Malbec wines for decades. This Bodegas Septima Malmec represents a great "value" red wine from Mendoza. I bought this wine at Esquin Wine Merchants, in Seattle, for about $7. The wine has a deep, dark purple and black color that is almost opaque. On the nose there is dark berries, cherries, vanilla and cheese. This is a medium to full-bodied wine with dark berry and spice flavors with ample tannins to coat the mouth. There is enough complexity and length on the finish to make this a "cut above" your average $7 wine. Enjoy this wine with a flat iron steak or a blue cheese burger!