29 Dec 2011
Bubbly, Champagne, Sparkling Wine – Celebration is a key component to life. Celebrating in life helps sustain momentum and creates positive motion. This New Year’s Eve many readers will be popping corks of all kinds. Check out the fun infographic from our friends at wine.com
Need a little bubbly to celebrate this weekend. Nectar Tasting Room has THREE great sparkling wines. Stop by for 15% off individual bottles and 20% off four or more.
Hard Row to Hoe – Good in Bed
This 2010 brut rose sparkler is made in the traditional methode champenoise way. Using 100% Lake Chelan grapes the 50/50 Pinot Noir / Sangiovese is a beautiful pink color, but not sweet. Enticing aromas of fresh cherry and raspberry with touch of rose petal fill the nose of this beautifully colored wine. On the palate, abundant cherry and strawberry flavors endure from the lush entry to the dry, very long and refreshing finish (retail $40)
2001 Northwest Cellars Brut & Brut Rose
These quality bubbles are made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley, OR. Bottled nearly 10 years ago, the wine is made in the traditional methode champenoise way. A delicious pale gold colour Brut with lively bubbles. Honeyed peaches, nectarine and apricot balance perfectly with tart green apple and lemon zest. The finish is clean and crisp lingering playfully on the palate. The brut rose is a delicate pink color that sparkles with bubbles. Raspberry and blackberry with a touch of quince, floral notes and spice settle into a finish of a lush berry compote. (Retail $31 and $33)
Brought To By Wine.com, Purveyors of Fine Wine and Champagne
27 Dec 2011
After seeing the popularity of my last blog, I took notice that people enjoy a good, honest rant. Upon returning from a wine tasting trip with a sour taste in my mouth compliments of piss poor customer service, the words came out rather easily. I find myself today with a similar height of frustration, but from the other side of the counter. As an employee in multiple tasting rooms, I’ve seen my fair share of pretentious people walk through my doors and clearly state their hard-wired preferences right off that bat. Why go into any new situation with an already-made list of things you wont try or test out. Last time I checked, life was for living. If not, someone please forward me the memo stating otherwise. Specifically, I’d like to address the people who claim to only drink “big reds” and refuse a glass of anything white or pink. Oh I get it, your manhood is bigger than mine because of this preference? Am I right? Well, lets dive deeper into why this is NOT the case.
In my ever-lasting goal to bring everyone together, I’ve come up with four kinds of people in regards to wine:
- Men and women who don’t drink wine at all. They either tried it a few times and never got into the damn thing or choose not to drink at all for various reasons.
- Men and women who have eagerly taken the first steps to liking wine and still stick to whites, often times leaning towards the sweeter side of life. They aren’t opposed to red wines necessarily, but simply haven’t traveled that far in their journey to full wine appreciation. Drink on!
- The unfortunate souls…err….men and women who have taken the step into bigger red wines, yet leave white and/or sweeter wines in the dust viewing them as a person they regret ever dating. These people view drinkers of “anything but red” as uneducated, unsophisticated, and as ignorant as they come.
- Finally! These highly-intelligent, ridiculously-cultured, and scaringly-sexy people that have come full circle and completely understand that all (yes ALL) wine has its place in our hearts, and finding those places are half the fun!
Three of these four categories are completely fine. Group number 3 and their views, however, have created such a heavy presence that many adults are effin’ scared to admit they like enjoy a sweet wine every once in awhile. Why should they be ashamed? As I stated earlier, red, white, and pink can all find a fitting way into our lives. For a couple of examples, sweet wines are a great offset to spicy foods such as Thai and Spanish cuisine. Whites with great acidity (eg Sauvignon Blanc and many dry Rieslings) can compliment a wide range a meals and have the backbone to cut through a lot of heavy, cream based sauces. Dry rose’s are great palate cleansers that seem to pair with any food you can put on a holiday menu. Lastly, on a dripping hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a light, refreshing Pinot Gris on the porch. When were whites seeing as wines for pansies and neanderthals? Personally, I feel whites hold more characteristics to the original grape flavors and have just as much depth as any red you could put in front of me. Disagree? I dare you to send me a red so great, so amazing that it will force me to forget all about whites. If you can, strive to become a number 4 because its truly the right way to live. I try and act cool, but when I’m in the privacy of my own home, I’ll be the first to admit that I turn on Jersey Shore on occasion. Although I should be embarrassed about this, no one should feel insecure when walking up to the bar and ordering a dry white, sweet white or rose. I can speak for most tasting room employees and proclaim our annoyance with the 3rd group. Get over yourselves. Stop buying big trucks. Drink what you REALLY want to drink. For most of you, it’s all an act act anyway. Just be yourselves! What’s your favorite white wine and why?
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape and travels the country with @weshotthemoon. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker. Follow Ben on Twitter @benhilzinger
02 Nov 2011
2011 marks Spokane’s 26th annual Holiday Wine Fest. One of four major events sponsored by the Spokane Winery Association, Holiday Wine Fest takes place the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. During the three-day event, a record 25 official wineries in Spokane will open their doors to the public (with Nectar Tasting Room housing five wineries and a satellite tasting room for Cougar Crest Estate Winery opening earlier in the year). What better way to shake off the cold and kick-start the holiday season than by sampling the wide variety of world-class wines that Spokane has to offer (and perhaps take care of a little holiday shopping, as well)? Here, a few wineries whet your appetite…
Mike Conway, Owner/Winemaker at Latah Creek Winery, says that the spirit of Holiday Wine Fest really hasn’t changed, as it has always centered around gift-giving and exciting new food-and-wine pairings. Now President of the Spokane Winery Association, Mike Conway incorporated Latah Creek in 1982 (the same year as another mainstay, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars), and was part of the original HWF event in 1986. Each year, his wife, Ellena, creates a special 4-5-course meal, a different course to be featured at each pouring station. Latah Creek also boasts one of Spokane’s best winery gift shops, which Ellena will stock with brand new holiday items.
One of the main attractions to HWF is that winemakers are typically on-site to pour wine and answer questions. Steve Trabun, Owner/Winemaker of Barili Cellars, says “It’s important that people really understand (the winemaking process). We like to educate and we like to do it with a real personal touch.” It’s that personal touch that Barili, one of a few micro-boutique wineries in Spokane, feels fortunate to be able to provide year-round. Since joining the Spokane Winery Association in January of 2010, Steve and fellow Owners/Winemakers Dana Trabun and Russ and Marlene Feist, have been able to grow the operation from just over 150 cases per year to 400 cases. They believe that part of their success is their low price point of $15-$22/bottle, which customers can most certainly take advantage of during HWF weekend. Barili invites you to join in the season’s camaraderie and fun.
Perhaps a great thrill to the 1,000-plus crowd expected on HWF weekend is the prospect of discovering a hidden gem. Tucked away in the depths of the Freeman Center on 2nd and Lincoln, a spot almost as elusive as Barrister Winery’s Railroad Avenue, is just such a gem: Grande Ronde Cellars (though not to fear, as HWF tour maps will be available at all participating locations!). Owner/Winemaker, Dave Westfall, owned a wine import business for 17 years prior to starting Grande Ronde in 1997, and in 2009 published a book he co-wrote with Sam Lange called Journey to… Eastern Washington Wine Country. His industry experience and connections to winemakers and vineyard owners near and far perhaps make him one of the most knowledgeable winemakers in the state. Grande Ronde’s Red wines consistently score 90 points or higher in Wine Spectator.
Visit these and Spokane’s many other wineries this holiday season. Holiday Wine Fest 2011 runs November 18th-20th, 11 am to 5 pm. Remember, if you are planning to taste with a group of 10 or more, please be courteous and call the winery ahead of time. Tasting fees may apply. For more information about this event and all participating wineries, visit www.SpokaneWineries.net. Visitor information can be obtained at www.VisitSpokane.com. For wine tours, visit www.GroupCoordinators.com or www.SpokaneWinerytours.com.
About the Author:
Sulo Abeid is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and the mother of two. Sulo is a graduate of Gonzaga University and is currently studying for her Masters in business administration at Whitworth University. Sulo’s wine experience comes from her years as the tasting room manager at Lone Canary and work at other Spokane wineries.
Before this gets going, I really must inform you the two reasons I’m slightly on edge right now. First of all, I am fresh off a seriously sour wine tasting trip and second; I have the ever-so-thrilling film Derailed playing in split screen on my computer throwing twists and turns at every corner so I apologize if my tone is a little harsh. That being said, I’ve stated from day one that my reason for being so involved in the wine industry is to bridge the gap between the horrifying façade and its beautiful approachability to the younger generation. Because this goal runs through my veins with every new wine experience, it’s a bittersweet symphonic moment when I find myself in situations that truly frustrate me, yet fortify my passion for changing the way people interact with each other both behind the bar and as a customer. I welcomed this much-needed incident to finally give me an idea for a new blog. Sorry Josh!
I can’t say I’ve done hundreds of wine tastings. To be honest, its still part of a mere two-year old passion and my busy schedule hinders my ability to venture too far from home as often as I like. So, when I got the chance to take a vacation with my fellow wine-appreciating girlfriend, hitting up their local tasting rooms certainly made our list of must do activities. We designated an entire day, called, texted, tweeted and facebooked all my wine-friends for suggestions of the six stops we should select out of the over eighty options, and finally made our list. (Out of respect and my own fear of hate mail, I will not mention any of the wineries or the wine region itself…so deal with it! I am only trying to make a point). We already knew that a third of the stops were going to be the big guns for that region just to say we went there. We didn’t, however, want the best experience to be from them. We were hoping to find the ma and pa operation of which no one’s heard only to fall in love and bring their name back home, but alas, our fears came true. Being young wine drinkers in our early 20’s, I can see how its hard to believe I know two shits about wine, but for heavens sake don’t shut me out completely! Like clockwork, we would walk in the tasting room, get looked at, then be treated like college kids trying to get a buzz. “How long was this aged?” “What are the percentages of varietals in this claret?” “Can you tell me a little back-story of your winery or winemaker and how you got the name?” Simple, engaging questions that I’d had loved to know, but since we weren’t the 50+ couple flaunting an American Express, getting treated like a member of wine society was far from a reality. When I pay the small fee for a tasting, I don’t expect a drone to pour me wine. I expect to be educated and informed while I drink. “But Ben, they were probably too busy to talk to everyone.” WRONG!!! It was a slow weekday and it couldn’t have been easier. To make it even more ironic, we walked out with more bottles than the older couples throughout the day. In your face wineries! Yes, I’ll still buy wine despite bad service.
I know I’m coming across pretentious and needy, but I just don’t get it. I forget sometimes, from working behind the bar so much, how truly frustrating wine tastings can be as a newbee trying to find comfort. My heart goes out to the young generation that gets treated so poorly and honestly doesn’t get shown the right hospitality. Who the hell do some people think they are?! Its simple, wine is supposed to be enjoyed no matter the age or suspected knowledge. Not just enjoyed on the palate, but enjoyed as an experience whether it be during a soiree, a nice dinner, an evening alone with a good book, or during a wine tasting. I’m telling this anecdote as a reminder of why we all fell in love with wine in the first place. Most of you reading this will not own a tasting room, but for those who will, don’t ever judge a book by its cover. And one day, when you’re the 50+ couple being treated like royalty next to some fresh meat, help them out and use you authority and love for wine to create a better experience for everyone.
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band and occasionally travels the world with Jonathan Jones. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker. Follow Ben on Twitter @benhilzinger
30 Aug 2011
Every time I drink wine it is a celebration and let’s just say I celebrate quite a bit. Luckily for me, Cabernet Day is right around the corner and invites another reason to raise my glass. This Thursday, September 1 marks the second year of celebration with interest and excitement up tenfold from 2010. Founded by Rick Bakas, formerly the social media director for St. Supery in Napa Valley and now the VP of Marketing at PressPay, Cabernet Day will involve a hell of a lot of folks around the world drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and discussing their experience through social media.
Many wineries are holding events and parties onsite (you mean people still hang out in person and…talk?), but most people will compare notes online via hashtags such as #Cabernet and #Cabernetday on Twitter. One might ask, now what’s the point of celebrating a wine that is, realistically, already the king of vino and destined to sell like crazy without any promotion at all? But you see, that’s the point! Cabernet, the beautiful and successful child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, has done wonders aiding the exponential growth of the wine industry over the years and we all owe it more than some care to admit. Clearly one of the world’s most recognized red grape varietals, its ability to grow well in almost every wine growing region yielding consistently approachable fruit and exceptional value is certainly cause for celebration.
I’ll be the first to admit, Cabernet was my first love simply because I could pronounce it confidently at restaurants. Did I attempt “sauvignon”? Not so much, but everyone knew what I meant. Seeing names like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo scares most newbies, but seeing a Cab on the wine list brings the heart rate back to normal and paves way for easy ordering on a first date. I love everything Rick Bakas does for the wine industry. He’s innovative, smart and brings a sense of simplicity back to wine when most people try to complicate things to the point of frustration. With Cabernet Day, he has proven me right yet again and it’s exactly the style of social networking that enforces twitter’s stronghold on this beautiful, new circuit of interaction. Get involved! Even if Twitter makes you cringe, investigate your local wineries to find out who is participating or, better yet, make a night of it and plan a dinner party with guests bringing their favorite cabernet to compare. Life is all about enjoying yourself, so don’t pass up this great opportunity to share wine notes and feel like you’re having a glass of wine with people all over the world.
For more information on #CabernetDay – visit here >> http://cabernet.eventbrite.com/
Cabernet Day At Nectar
Join us at Nectar Tasting Room. As one of the 2011 host spots we will have deals on all of our Cabernet and Cabernet based blends. You can enjoy 1/2 price appetizer plates with the purchase of a bottle AND we’ll have some fun surprises that we can’t tell you about, but trust me – you’ll like it! See you Thursday for #CabernetDay.
About The Author
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.