Welcome to a new series, At This Moment….
Since launching Drink In Life in January I have come to realized how much I love this sharing space that I’ve created. I love writing about my travel, wine, and food experiences, but much of it is past tense. In this new series I want to offer something a little more broad and a lot more personal by sharing things that I am currently enjoying, doing and working on, at this moment.
I want to expand on the day to day things that I see, do, read, eat and drink, and share them with you so that you too may be inspired by some of these things. Then in turn, I hope that you will share with me what is grabbing your attention…at this moment. I think this is a great way to build mindshare, spark conversation, explore new things, and inspire each other.
I’d love to hear your feedback! Let me know what you think about this new endeavor.
So without further adieu, here’s At This Moment:
Since the Kincaid fire in Sonoma County started on October 23rd, I like so many others have been following the devastating news. One article that really caught my attention was Vineyards can help stop fires. They did in the Alexander Valley by Esther Mobley. An interesting article on how “vines’ firefighting capacity may be enhanced as these natural disasters occur.”
After a tough weather year in France I am trying to keep up on the latest news about how the French wine output is set to fall in 2019 due to extreme weather .
Getting ready for the holiday season means stocking up on some extra bottles of Sparkling wine. This article from Wine Press Northwest gives some great information on how Northwest sparkling wines continue to pop out with delicious diversity
With my upcoming WSET Level 2 classes and exam approaching in early 2020 it goes without saying that all of my current reading involves Wine. On my reading list is the WSET Level 2 textbook, Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack and the 8th edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnsonand Jancis Robinson
November 7th is International Merlot Day. I am getting ready for this Wine Day by drinking some of my cellared Merlot to share with my followers on social media. Two Washington Merlot wines that I will be sharing are the 2016 Merlot from Pepper Bridge and Matthews 2016 Merlot.
Next to be opened are some bottles of Pinot Blanc that I brought home from my last trip to Willamette Valley. I am currently working on reviews to introduce these lovely wines to you, but until then you can read more about Oregon Pinot Blanc from this article written by Leslie Kelly last year for Sip Northwest Magazine .
Quickly approaching is my trip to Santa Fe, NM to attend the IFWTWA 2019 CONFERENCE . In addition to the scheduled seminars and presentations I have given myself a few extra days to discover New Mexico wineries around Santa Fe and dive deep into the fantastic food scene. It has been over 20 years since I have been to Santa Fe and I am excited to see how things have changed and to share this destination with you.
I am excited to share my thoughts and interests with you here and I thank you, as always, for reading
The beauty of Autumn in Washington State can be found within each turning leaf in the vineyards of Lake Chelan Wine Valley.
Nestled in a valley, Lake Chelan traverses approximately 55 miles along the green and rocky slopes of the Cascades and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Lake Chelan Valley enjoys almost 300 days of sunshine a year and those rays of sunlight along with the gorgeous water is a magnet for those seeking the Lake Life if even just for a weekend. The Valley is known for its ideal growing conditions for both apples and grapes. The unique glacial soil along with the agreeable climate in the Lake Chelan region have been a catalysis for optimal harvests of these crops. This makes for an abundance of wine and cider makers through the entire valley.
Over the last 20 years the Lake Chelan Valley has steadily been building up a faithful following of wine lovers as a destination that offers a combination of recreational activities as well as exciting and bold wines. Grape growing in the Chelan Valley is not something new however, since before the turn of the 20th century a few Native Americans and a group of Italian immigrants began planting and growing grapes here. Today the two lakeside towns, Chelan and Manson, are home to over 30 wineries, surrounded by 250 plus acres of vines that can be seen peppered along the hillsides among the orchards.
Although the first winery in Chelan, Lake Chelan Winery, was established in 2000 and was followed by a hand full of other wineries, the Lake Chelan AVA was not officially established until 2009. Even at this young age the Lake Chelan AVA is increasingly drawing attention from the rest of the wine world with its bold wine production as well as its dedication to creating a welcoming environment for wine lovers to enjoy all that the Valley has to offer.
Grape varieties in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley are 51% red to 49% white, a nice blend due to the “Lake Effect” temperatures that delivers a longer growing season and a reduced risk of frost. Leading varieties being produced in the Lake Chelan AVA include Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay.
Whether you are seeking out a Vintage Reserve Merlot or a new vintage Gewurztraminer, the wineries in the Lake Chelan Valley offer something for everyone. With so many wineries and tasting rooms to visit in both Chelan and Manson it is hard to visit all of them in a weekend. To help you in your destination travel planning, I wanted to share how I spent two days in Chelan discovering this “naturally intoxicating” Washington Wine region.
My first stop in quaint town of Chelan was a visit to the tasting room of Rocky Pond Winery. For this post I wanted to share this location and highlight a favorite wine that was on the tasting list that day. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at Rocky Pond will follow in the next couple of weeks.
The Rocky Pond tasting room is a nice modern gem that is warm and welcoming, with a large array of seating options available both indoor and outdoor. Offering both genuine hospitality and some of the areas best wines, the staff at Rocky Pond will walked you through a tastings with enthusiasm and exceptional wine knowledge. Having done some research before my trip and reading about their unique white wine blend , I was excited to be able to try Rocky Pond’s 2017 Glacial Treasure for the first time.
The 2017 vintage of Glacial Treasure is a collaboration of grapes from two of Rocky Ponds Vineyard’s, Clos CheValle and Double D Vineyard, this white blend is 32% Pinot Gris, 24% Gewurztraminer, 21% Riesling, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Viognier. Well priced at $20 a bottle this blend could easily become a “go to” white wine due to its easy drinkability and crisp refreshing flavor. With all of the individual varietals adding a little something special to this creative blend you get a heady floral aroma mingled with whispers of citrus and spicy mineral notes. I was pleasantly surprised at the slight dryness of this not overly sweet wine and the delicious blend of stone fruit, crisp apple and tropical fruit flavors. It is as if all of these grapes had a secret meeting and agreed to bring out their best flavors to orchestrate the ideal blend.
I would highly recommend a visit to Rocky Pond Winery’s Tasting Room in Chelan. Stop in for the ambiance and wonderful hospitality and stay to taste your way through their perfect representation of Lake Chelan wines.
Although Sigillo Cellars is a very familiar to me, this new location in Chelan that opened in July of this year was a great way to revisit a favorite winery and enjoy a beautiful sunny October day in the valley. You can read my post about Sigillo Cellars in Snoqualmie here.
There are many reasons to visit Sigillo Cellars in new tasting room, you can enjoy partial views of Lake Chelan, talk with the friendly and knowledgeable staff, comfortable setting, as well as indulge in the available food selection and well crafted wines.
Produced in the true Champagne Method with 100% Viognier grapes this Brut is a new release from Sigillo Cellar and I was eager to try it as part of my tasting flight. As Viognier is continuing to gain a comfortable niche in vineyards of Washington State many wineries are using it more in white blends and releasing 100% Viognier wines. Delightfully, this was my first experience in tasting a Viognier Sparkling and hopefully it will not be my last.
The opening of the bubbles in this Sparkling Viognier release the aroma of warm baked bread with orange zest and citrus blossoms. A uniquely fragrant sparkling that taunts you to take a sip. On the palate the sparkling is all Viognier with noticeable flavors of citrus and soft peach. For me this tasting flight was all about this Sparkling Viognier and priced at $30 a bottle it is worth picking up some bottles for the holiday season and to give to my wine friends. Lovely!
At Sigillo Cellars one of the tasting flights is 3 glasses of your choosing from their wine list. I love being able to pick and choose three wines that fit my taste and desire to discover something new.
My flight included the 2017 Sparkling Viognier, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Grenache. I selected each of these wines because they were releases that I have not previously tasted from Sigillo Cellars and I felt each of them in their own way would pair nicely with the Charcuterie board that I ordered.
The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was a nice accompaniment to the tangy food items on the Charcuterie Board like the olives and artichoke hearts. A wonderful example of a Lake Chelan Sauvivgnon Blanc. I really enjoyed the 2016 Grenache with its spicy notes, it was perfect to pair with the fig spread and goat cheese. Enjoying the warm October sun while sampling some of Sigillo Cellars food and wine, was a perfect afternoon treat.
Being a Lake community there is a wide array of accommodations available in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley. The Lake Chelan area boasts 60-plus hotels, resorts, lodges and vacation rentals. During this trip I had the pleasure of staying at Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409, which delivered stunning views of the Lake and a warm and welcoming interior.
Chelan Resort Suites #409 has everything that you would want in a vacation rental. The unit was incredibly spacious, clean and comfortable, with special touches that made it a perfect ‘Home Base’ while visiting Lake Chelan. From the secure building, to the warm and welcoming décor, and the extra special items, like a king size sleep number bed, everything included in this rental makes you feel like you have a home away from home. Also, the Lake views from the condo are incredible. The attention to detail and hospitality from the hosts, Val and Mark, made this an extremely enjoyable and relaxing stay. I cannot recommend this location enough if planning a trip to the Lake Chelan area.
On a vacation, there is nothing more important than the bed. giving you a restful night’s sleep for your mind and body. This rental includes a King Sleep Number bed to help make your stay as comfortable as possible. An added bonus is the lake view from the bedroom window, providing beautiful scenery to wake up to each day.
At Chelan Resort Vacation Suites #409 guest friendly improvements are a priority. In addition to the King Sleep Number bed there is multi-functional furniture, and an array of beach and technology items. In the Suite you will find a guest guidebook, guest information board and partnered with local businesses for discounts for their guests. Val and Mark have done everything they can to put their guests first. If you are planning a trip to Lake Chelan you can find out more about how to book a stay at #409 here on TripAdvisor.
A wine tasting tour of Lake Chelan Wine Valley really would not be complete without a visit to the first winery in the area, Lake Chelan Winery.
Lake Chelan Winery was the first winery permitted in Chelan County in 2000. This family-owned winery has a rich heritage in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley that offers unique handcrafted wines, and a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. At Lake Chelan Winery you can stop in for a tour of the winery, indulge in a complimentary tasting, and enjoy BBQ fare in the vineyard.
In the Lake Chelan Winery tasting room you have the opportunity to hear some history of the winery while expanding your Lake Chelan wine knowledge and test you wine palate. The friendly wine specialists do a wonderful job of guiding you through a personalized tasting and are happy to share deeper insight in regards to the wine that you are tasting.
One of the things that I really liked about the complimentary wine tasting at Lake Chelan Winery is that you can pick and choose the wines that you want to try. This allows you to really personalize the tasting experience. You can also purchase a special tasting that allows you to try their sparkling wine and select Reserve Wines.
Lake Chelan Winery’s Fifty Five Mile 2013 Méthode Champenoise Extra Brut is an ideal way to start off a wine tasting. A blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, and this sparkling has 3.9% residual sugar. A beautiful bright wrap around your tongue, sip of bubbly goodness. On both the nose and palate a sense of place can be detected with pear and green apple followed by a creamy almond note. Crisp, refreshing with a pleasant mineral tone that adds a brightness to this Washington sparkling wine.
One of the most interesting wines that I tasted at Lake Chelan Winery was their 2018 Stormy Mountain White, which is made from 100% White Syrah. Syrah is mostly associated with red wine, but in this bottle you find a total reversal of what a Syrah is perceived to be. With an inviting bouquet of citrus and white flowers, with a taste of grapefruit, apricot and lemon infused honey, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was drinking a wine made from Syrah grapes. This is definitely a wine that deserves to be tasted when visiting Lake Chelan Winery, both for its uniqueness and its enticing flavor characteristics.
I was so charmed by this Stormy Mountain White that I brought a bottle home.
After enjoying the Stormy Mountain White I really wasn’t too surprised that my second favorite wine of the tasting was the LCW 2016 Syrah River’s Bend Vineyard. If you are a Syrah lover then the rousing aroma of this Syrah will seal the deal even before you take a sip. Pacific Northwest ripe wild blackberries meld with vanilla and peppery spices to deliver a marvelous bouquet. Each sip of this Syrah brings an array of balanced and complex flavors including blackberry, sweet ripe plum, and the same vanilla peppery spice notes that are present on the nose. During the tasting a club member stopped in to pick up her box and a couple extra bottles of this Syrah for an annual family dinner. The last few years have seen only LCW’s Syrah poured at the family’s annual dinner and I can completely understand why after this tasting. And Yes, a bottle did come home with me as well.
Another not to be missed winery in the town of Manson is the incredibly friendly and down to earth WineGirl Wines. WineGirl offers both indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy a glass of wine or a tasting flight. A more in-depth story about my visit and wine tasting at WineGirl Wines will follow in the next couple of weeks.
A favorite sip from my tasting in the “Blending Room” at WineGirl Wines was their 2018 Reserve Gewurztraminer. This wine delivers a delicious balance of sweetness with the taste of ripe peaches and just a whisper of spice. WineGirl is correct when they say, “This is what they meant by Nectar of the Gods.” A bottle of this wonderfully aromatic wine also came home with me.
There is a lot to appreciate about the Blending Room at WineGirl Wines – the wine, the people and the location!
A trip to Lake Chelan offers natural beauty, along with a sense of peace and quiet that you may be looking for.
A few more reasons to visit Lake Chelan:
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” Mark Twain
Before exploring the Champagne Region, sit back and enjoy a welcome glass of Champagne with a rooftop view of Reims
By train Reims is less than an hour from Paris, and once there this enchanting city opens up many opportunities to taste a plethora of Champagnes, both in the city and out in the surrounding wine region.
Reims, the City of Kings and Champagne is filled with spectacular architecture, statues and history. Many people visit Reims for the Champagne, but to truly experience the city you need to walk the street and take in the historical beauty that is everywhere.
A stroll through Drouet-d’Erlon square will take you past cafés, bakeries, shops and selection of nice restaurants. In the center of the square, you will see the Subé fountain, capped by a golden angel statue, the symbol of Reims.
“With a kiss let us set out for an unknown world.” -Alfred de Musset
Besides its extraordinary historical significance, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims is also recognized as one of the most prominent symbols of Gothic architecture still standing in Europe today. Construction of this Roman Catholic Cathedral, whose name means “Our Lady of Reims”, began in the 13th century and concluded in the 15th century . Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral Reims is famous for being the traditional location for the coronation of the kings of France.
While mainly seen as a classic example of 13th century French Gothic art, due to the damage the cathedral sustained over the years and throughout both World Wars, there are examples of more recent architecture also visible.
In 1861, more than 2,300 statues were counted on the Cathedral, which makes Notre-Dame de Reims the cathedral with the most sculptures in France.
Surrounding the exterior there are several chimeras at the chevet of the cathedral. In the Christian religion, these mythical animals duty was to keep evil away outside the churches. There are 88 gargoyles outside Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims and many are mainly used to drain off rainwater.
Built in the shape of a Latin cross, the cathedral measures 149 meters in length and 87 meters in height (including bell tower). Inside there are four chapels that surround the nave.
A magnificent Pipe Organ: Gothic in style, the organ-case has about 6742 pipes.
As with the stone work and statues in the cathedral, the wood carvings are equally exquisite.
The Cathedral, known for its beautiful sculpture and statuary, also has the most beautiful stained glass windows. Although the cathedral was heavily damaged during World War I and some statuary and stained glass features were destroyed or damaged, some 13th century stained glass remains, having been restored.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims also reflects stain glass work of the twentieth century. Artist Marc Chagall created three beautiful stained glass panels in the mid 1970s. These windows are in the apse of the cathedral, behind the main altar. The middle window (seen above) tells the stories of Abraham and Christ. Christ on the cross dominates the right hand panel.
Fragments of primary colors can be found among the remaining ancient stained glass. Decades after the start of WW1, two sets of stained glass artworks created by German artist Imi Knoebel were installed in 2011 in the cathedral’s Saint Joseph chapel and in the Sacré Coeur chapel. Inviting a German artist to create art in a cathedral they nearly completely destroyed, was done to help heal scars from old strife that ran deep between nations.
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” – Francis of Assisi
Along with over a million visitors a year, when you step into Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of some of France’s most famous figures. The cathedral has been the site of 31 French King coronations, beginning with Louis VIII in 1223. Perhaps the most famous coronation held at the site was the crowning of Charles VII in 1429, which was done in the presence of Joan of Arc. The last coronation held in the cathedral was that of Charles X in 1825.
In 1991, the Reims Cathedral was consecrated, it is featured on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
In 2011, Reims Cathedral celebrated its 800th anniversary.
Reims, functions as one of the centers of champagne production, hence it is named the unofficial Champagne capital of France. Many of the largest les grandes marques (champagne producing houses) have their headquarters in Reims, and some are open for tasting and tours. Champagnes are aged in the many caves and tunnels under Reims, which form a sort of maze below the city, these passages date back to Roman times.
One alternative to visiting the Champagne houses in Reims is to simple explore the many wine bars and restaurants in the city to try an array of the vast Champagnes available during your stay.
With a radiant view of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, Bistrot 31 Cafe & Brasserie offers a wide variety of regional Champagnes. While wandering the city during the late afternoon this is a perfect location to sit outside and people watch as you begin your Champagne tasting journey.
Displaying a deep pink color, Champagne OUDEA Rosé Premier Cru draws you in with its effervescent Rosé bubbles and fresh fruit aromas. Sitting outside Bistrot 31 watching the students head home from school and hearing snippets of surrounding tables conversations it is easy to become enchanted by Reims and the glass of champagne in your hand. A rich and fruity Champagne, this Rosé exhibits a beautiful aromatic persistence making it a wonderful sip while taking in the historic and yet modern city that surrounds you.
A short distance from the city center, but worth the walk is Le Cul Sec Bar à Vin Reims, a wine bar and restaurant that showcases a wonderful and long wine list. As you peruse the list you will find a selection of known and unknown champagnes, taking you on a voyage through the centuries of distinction that this region delivers. Combine this with atmosphere, pleasant service and a delicious menu and you have the ideal place for an Aperitif.
From the first bubbly pour to the soft straw color in the glass to the smooth and balanced flavors this Champagne provides a sensationally sophisticated tasting experience.
The term Blanc de Noirs indicates, that a Champagne is made exclusively with red grape varieties. The Palmer & Co Blancs de Noirs is equal proportions of the two main red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Intensely aromatic with soft introductory notes of creamy smoked butter followed by stone fruits and ripe citrus aromas, this Champagne is luxuriously silky on the nose. On the palate the luxuriousness continues with a silky texture that teases your taste buds and flows smoothly over your tongue. A perfect balance of lightly smoky citrus fruit, honey and almond give a depth to this champagne that is both complex and refined.
A hefty slice of delicious pork terrine served alongside gherkins, or cornichons, with a crusty bread.
Au Cul de Poule is just a few steps from Le Cul Sec Bar à Vin Reims and well worth making a reservation for well priced authentic French cuisine.
Both of these locations are a good twenty minutes from the downtown area and if walking is not an option prearrange for a taxi to take you back to your hotel after dinner.
The menu at Au Cul de Poule is short, but the food is thoughtfully put together, gorgeously presented and perfectly delicious. The wine list has a nice selection to easily pair with each of the starters, entrees and desserts.
Denis Jeandeau Mâcon Chardonnay, with its buttery crispness was a excellent choice to pair with all three courses; terrine appetizer, Andouillette with potatoes and cream sauce and a beautifully light dessert served with the local glace biscuit rose de Reims.
With organic wines from all regions of France, this is a perfect casual spot to relax with a collection of small plates and a glass bubbly,
Definitely book a table at Aux 3 P’tits Bouchons, this charming little wine bar is popular with the locals and serves fresh and locally sourced tapas style food. All organic, the food and wines by the glass changes regularly, so talk about the wines with the staff and scan the chalk board provided for the food details.
Robert Barbichon is one of a handful of new breed small producers of organic and biodynamic Champagne. With just 9 hectares of vines in Gye sur Seine, Courteron and Celles sur Ource he produces wines that will make you take notice of this recent and continually evolving move toward producing more organic wines in France. Reserve 4 Cepages Brut releases a toasty yeastiness on the nose, like a loaf of fresh baked citrus zest flavored brioche. Complex layer of flavors come through on the palate which isn’t surprising with the blend of 70% Pinot Noir, and 10% each of Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Creamy fruit flavors mingled with a dusting of spices and that same toasted brioche notes that you find in the aroma greet you with each sip. A glass of this wine was recommend by the server and I am so glad that she suggested it, otherwise I would never have discovered this opulent Champagne.
Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot is a boutique organic grower located in Vrigny who’s family has been making wine since 1789 and Champagne since 1930. The 7th generation of the Lelarge family, Dominique Lelarge, along with his wife and children are now practicing Biodynamic principles in the vineyards that were certified organic in 2013. They believe that letting the grape thrive as naturally as possible will allow it to truly express the terroir on which it grows. Each sip of this Pale Golden champagne delivered creamy effervescence of ripe apricot and apple, with streaks of citrus zest and crisp mineral notes. Beautifully balanced this is lovely Champagne is 65% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay.
After an all day champagne tasting and tour in the countryside, a light meal and some final glasses of champagne, was a fitting way to end a memorable two days in Reims.
“In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening.” -Willie Gluckstern
Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.