This month I’ve been invited to Clark College to host an updated version of the popular Wine 101 Class from Salut! to be held Tuesday, April 27th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

The Corporate and Continuing Education programs at Clark College are taking advantage of the newest addition to their campus, a full kitchen at their new hi-tech Columbia Tech Center campus in East Vancouver.  The Cooking and Wine School programs include a wide range of inexpensive ways to enhance your knowledge repertoir.

Wine 101 is a fun 2-hour class that will demonstrate the different components of wine, 6 different grapes, different glasses, and the information that ties them all together.  How to describe flavors, how to pair wines with food, what stemware to use, and how to serve & store wines will all be covered in this informative session.  It’s only $45 per person, including wine!  Sign up today!

The Sommelier Series

In addition to Wine 101, I’ll be complimenting the coursework with three additional Sommelier Series classes for enhanced wine expertise.  These classes will extend focus on an array of grapes and regions.  Wine afficianados, restaurant and grocery store stewards, hobbyists and winery employees can earn Continuing Education Credit certificates for this trio of courses to enhance their resume and skills.   Each class features sampling of an array of 8 wines and 2 hours of instruction.

The Sommelier Series classes start with Advanced Wine Expertise on March 17th.  Each of 8 different major grapes is featured as a representation for 8 different important aspects of fine wine production such as grape clones, oak barrels, blending, geography and more.

Next up on March 24th is New World Wine Regions including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and South America.  In this class, each region’s recent history will be featured along with the most important wines of that area.

Finally, the trio is capped on June 6th with a brand new class on Old World Wine Regions including a tour of European wines.  Experience wines from France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal. 

The Sommelier Series trio is offered as a combo for just $110 for all three 2-hour sessions.

For more information:

The Salut! Wine Club

John Platter writes the foremost guide annually about South African wines.  It’s in the Platter’s Guide where you’ll find the glowing, multiple-year reviews of one of South Africa’s most noteworthy, almost cult-worthy wines — the Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc.

It hasn’t been an easy road for either South African wines nor the Mulderbosch estate.  The Dutch originally colonized the area as a provisions stop at the Cape of Good Hope and established some vineyards.  But centuries later the South African country was still embroiled in political turmoil and the international wine market had not yet developed substantially.

So when Larry Jacobs bought his vineyard land that had laid fallow for a century, and hired winemaker Mike Dubrovic to build some great wines, they had no idea that 20 years later they would both be known as the creators of South Africa’s best white wine.

This racy bottling single-handedly put South Africa on the map as a source of world class Sauvignon Blanc. One of the Cape’s most heralded and sought-after wines, it garners 90+ scores vintage after vintage. Vivid tropical fruit aromas give way to succulent, mouth-filling flavors of guava, lychee, gooseberry, lime, and fresh cut grass, supported by a bracing jolt of acidity. — 90 Points, Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

This wine has a strength not present in the mineral-laden Loire Valley examples.  It has a broad and dynamic personality not found in the more sedate California Sauv Blancs.  The fruit is more tempered and mature than the Northwest entries.  It compares closely with the intensity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines, but you’ll discover a vein of spice hiding out.  It all combines into a wine that will dance with seafood and shellfish dishes.

This wine is regularly sold for $21.99

 

Wine Info Links

 

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.

The Salut! Wine Club

Many wineries in Walla Walla lay claim to award-winning and microsopically brief histories, including Spring Valley Vineyards.  Their first marketed vintage was in 1999, and they’ve already carved a wide swath of 90+ point scores for their six estate-only wines.  After the loss of the owners’ son and original winemaker Devin Derby in 2004, winemaker Serge Laville took the reigns and honorably maintained the top quality of this assortment. 

Spring Valley Frederick Label

Named after the son of Uriah and father of owner Shari

This year the blend is 54% Cab Sauv, 27% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec, a traditional Bordeaux-style blend.  The winery says:

 “The nose is seductive and fresh with scents of licorice, cassis, and rose petal. The mouth is an explosion of summer fruit: plum, dry cherry, blackberry, and cassis. The tannins are fine grained, concentrated and soft. The acidity keeps the wine in perfect balance and showcases the terrior of Spring Valley Vineyard. Notes of roasted coffee and vanilla linger on the long finish.”

While the Uriah blend often holds the spotlight and earns favor from publications (the Uriah blend will probably age longer and exhibits a more elegant flow), it’s the Frederick that, to me, represents the more vibrant and full character that gives Washington wines a more youthful vigor and ability to be enjoyed (without quilt) a lot earlier than cellar-able California and Bordeaux examples.

Rich and chewy, with a brightness to the cherry and mulberry fruit that balances well against hints of wet earth and cedar as the finish persists expressively. There’s nice balance and length. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and others. Best from 2010 through 2016. 3,000 cases made. – Wine Spectator 92 Points

This is a well rounded and beautifully structured red, and a great represenation of the style Washington has to offer.  The more youthful and full fruit will pair with spice rubs over hearty meat cuts or roasted fowl.

This wine is regularly sold for $49.99′

Tech Sheet Wine Info Links

Great Food Pairings

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.

The Bordeaux region covers more territory than all of the vineyards in Germany combined, with over 15,000 growers, producing over 700 million bottles of wine each year. More than 80% of it is red, with the most important grapes being Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, nearly always blended together.  Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot round out the mix.

It was the Dutch who drained the marshy Médoc region in the middle of the 17th century, creating the land for vineyards that would soon produce the fine wines that would give Bordeaux its reputation. The Medoc, along with the Haut-Medoc and Graves (pronounced “Grahv”) regions, lie on the “Left Bank” of the Gironde river. The warmer climate here ripens Cabernet Sauvignon to an optimal point, so much of the Left Bank Bordeaux wines will have Cabernet Sauvignon as the primary varietal in the final blend.

A Map of Bordeaux

A (Simplified) Map of the Bordeaux Wine Region

On the “Right Bank” of the Dordogne river lies Pomerol and St. Emilion, where Merlot takes the driver’s seat due to soil composition and a climate more suited to Merlot’s growing habits.  Chateau Petrus is one of the most famous, most expensive, and one of the few 100% Merlot wines of the Right Bank.

The white grapes of Bordeaux include primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (blended together). In the Sauternes region at the south of the Left Bank, some of the world’s finest dessert wines are created from these grapes (most notably, the famous and spectacularly expensive Chateau d’Yquem)

It was the Greeks who first brought grapes to France by establishing vineyards in Marseilles, but the infestation of the Phylloxera root louse destroyed any grape vines existing before 1866. American Labrusca species rootstocks (resistant to Phylloxera) saved the day … Vinifera species vines in Europe (and in the U.S.) are now commonly grafted to them, although there are still ungrafted vineyards left dotting the landscape around the world.

French culture dictates the qualities of Bordeaux, amid a confusing mass of classification systems born in 1855, emphasizing elegance and intensity of flavor rather than massive and powerful fruit or oak. The French start drinking wine in their youth, most often with meals. The resulting need for ample wine acids for food pairing and a subdued & elegant fruit balance of flavors is a tell-tale sign of a Bordeaux wine.

For more information

Chateau Margaux

Chateau Margaux

The Salut! Wine Club

It was a “magical” yacht voyage and a beneficial relationship with Oregon’s David O’Rielly that allowed ZanZibar Cellars to burst onto the Willamette Valley winemaking scene a few years ago.  Winemaker Ziad Keirouz’s young-adult voyage to exotic locales ended with the realization that a life of engineering was not for him.  Meeting David while researching the benefits of a winemaker’s life afterward provided a firm sense of placement for a new career.  Thus, the ZanZibar’s Northwest wines are created with Washington State grapes in the equipment at David O’Rielly’s Owen Roe facilities.

I first encountered the wine a few years ago from several customers.  After sampling this new wine at an event, restaurant or winery, they would come to Salut! and gush praise for the “massive and exuberant” Sandra they had tasted.  When I finally had the chance to taste it for myself, I had to agree.  The flavors were bold, extraction was complete, and the lush, sexy appeal comes from a full and velvety experience.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah from Columbia valley vineyards. Grapes are hand harvested and undergo small batch whole berry fermentation and extended maceration to ensure the development of remarkable and supple structure and body. Malolactic fermentation is completed in 100% new French oak barrels, where the wine continues to age and mature for 12 months until it is bottled. It will then be cellared for the next 12 months before it is released.

You’re going to want to drink a glass of this wine before dinner, with hearty appetizers, to appreciate its full depth.  Then, let the wine carry you into a big meal with the second glass.  Beware, however…there won’t be too many wines that can follow it willingly.  Perhaps just have a second bottle ready to go.

If you want to experience more from ZanZibar, there’s a unique “Sandra Solera” created from multiple vintages of  the Sandra blends.  Each year, a limited 2 barrels are blended with past vintages to form a unique expression of Ziad’s work.  It sells out quickly, but let me know if you want me to seek out this wine for you.

This wine is regularly sold for $48.99

 Wine Info Links

Great Food Pairings

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.

The Salut! Wine Club

Mike Januik, winemaker at Novelty Hill, is a well-recognized talent in the Washington wine industry.  His namesake Januik label has long been a favorite of mine (his Chardonnay was placed in our wine club earlier).  Actually, his wines have been a favorite of many.  At least 12 wines from his hand have been included on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 lists. 

The value “Novelty Hill” label started just a few years ago and the releases have been an excellent and affordable way to enjoy Washington’s best on a daily basis.  Much of the fruit for this wine comes from the estate-owned Stillwater Creek Vineyards.  The 2006 red is a cacophony of varietals including 33% Syrah, 18% each of Cab Franc and Mourvedre, 13% Merlot, 11% Cabernet and 7% Petit Verdot. 

Generous and round offering delicious, ripe red plum, blueberry and currant aromas and flavors, with a lip-smacking, spicy finish.

What I most like about the Novelty Hill wines (and other Januik releases) is the restraint away from overextraction.  These wines aren’t fruit bombs, where blasts of fruit cover up the flaws found in many value and “second label” wines.  Instead, Novelty Hill wines give you the fruit you want while allowing the character of Washington to come forward.  Spice, wood, tea, tannin, herbs and other delicate notes can enhance the complexity and create a perfect match with any meal, whether dramatically flavored or elegantly sublime.

This wine is regularly sold for $14.99, but is available to wine club members for only $13.99!

Tech SheetBuy This Wine More Club Wines

Wine Info Links

Great Food Pairings

Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.

Plenty of myths and misinformation exists about headaches and wine drinking. The most important of which is that Sulfites are what commonly give wine drinkers headaches.

Sulfites

Sulfites are a natural component created by yeast during wine fermentation, but are also added to most wines to prevent fermentation after bottling.  Most wines from all countries contain sulfites, even if a warning label is not present.  Many years ago, the FDA determined that about 1% of the population is allergic to sulfites, so a law was passed to require a warning label on all wines sold in the U.S.  People allergic to sulfites have an allergic reaction when drinking wine but are not prone to headaches from the reaction.  Asthma sufferers are most at risk for sulfite allergies and bad reactions.

Many people do, however, experience headaches when drinking red wine.  If red wine causes a headache but not white wine, this is surely not the result of sulfites, since white and sweet wines generally contain more sulfites than red wines. Dried fruits also contain sulfites but do not reportedly cause headaches, either.

“No Sulfites Added” (NSA) wines are available for anyone concerned or interested in testing whether or not Sulfites are responsible for their headaches.  Badger Mountain produces a popular line of No Sulfites Added wines in the Northwest.

The stigma surrounding alcohol consumption contributes to a lack of knowledge about what truly is the culprit causing red wine headaches.  Small studies have tested many theories surrounding chemicals present in red wines.  Unfortunately there is a stigma associated with the study of alcohol consumption, which limits the number of motivated scientists and funding sources for larger studies.

Tannin

Tannins are a powdery natural substance found on the skins of things such as peaches, apples, cows, grapes and oak trees.  They are most recognizeable as having a pronounced drying affect on the palate (like having cotton placed on your gums).  Tannins enter wines when the grapes are crushed and the juice runs over the other grapes in the tanks, or when wines are aged in newer oak barrels. 

Some people have blamed tannins for headaches, since many red wines contain a relatively large amount of this naturally occurring “flavonoid” component (a powerful antioxidant), and tannins are not present in most white wines.  Tannins have the chemical effect on the body of releasing serotonin into the brain, which does cause headaches in those people prone to migraines.  See more information about tannins here.

Today, new medications for migraine headaches are widely available and can help stave off headaches from wine before they occur (in migraine sufferers). However, this still doesn’t fully explain why people who do not suffer from migraines still get red wine headaches.

If you wish to test your sensitivity to tannins, drink tea and eat soy or dark chocolate…each of these items contains significant tannins.

Tannins are healthy for humans.   They help lower cholesterol, adjust the balance between good and bad cholesterol, stimulate the immune system, lower cancer risk & more.  So don’t give them up lightly.

Alcohol

It seems obvious but often overlooked that simply drinking alcohol will cause headaches.  The alcohol causes abnormal and changing moisture content in the brain, producing pressure.  Over-consumption is most often the cause of headaches, and there is a solution for those who consume too much or worry about an upcoming headache…drink a tall glasses of water and take two aspirin prior to drinking wine.  Alternate drinking one glass of water between glasses of wine.

The water will help reduce the dehydration that occurs from the alcohol, and the aspirin will have time to take effect before the symptoms appear. Studies have shown that taking aspirin after the headache appears has no effect.

Armed with this information, you should be able to test your limits and avoid headaches whenever possible.

Healthy Wine

A combination of religious objections and prohibition can be credited with a persevering stigma attached to drinking alcohol in the United States that unfortunately still plagues the wine industry in modern times. Technology and research is now in the beginning stages of reversing that stigma with proof that moderate wine consumption can be healthy and beneficial.

It’s been more than 10 years since a famous 60 Minutes episode introduced the “French Paradox”, a phenomenon linking moderate red wine consumption in France to their 40% lower rate of heart attacks compared to Americans. It has since been conclusively shown that wine consumption reduces risk of heart attacks by 25-45%.

Antioxidants, naturally occurring compounds in wine, form the human body’s first line of defense against cancer. These Antioxidants are also believed to prevent the deposition of cholesterol in arteries, reducing rates of heart disease.

Alcohol boosts HDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease and reducing arterosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). 

The British Medical Journal in 1995 noted that wine is more effective as an antibacterial agent than the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol, eliminating food-borne bacteria that cause stomach illnesses. A 1988 study of an outbreak of Hepatitis A found that 70% of wine drinkers did not become ill, while a majority of patients drinking beer or no alcohol became sick. This was one of the first studies where alcohol was shown to be an effective protection against not only bacteria, but certain viruses also.

There is no cure for Macular Degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65. But one study showed people who drink wine are 20% less likely to suffer from this condition. 

Moderate consumption is may also be effective in helping prevent obesity and kidney stones, increasing blood-sugar control in diabetics, defending against some STDs and preserving mental clarity (slowing Alzheimer’s) as we age.

What is “Moderate” consumption?

Always talk to your doctor before making dietary decisions. But generally 14 oz. of wine daily for men and 8 oz. of wine daily for women (one standard serving in a glass is 6 oz.) are moderate amounts that achieve the beneficial effects described here.  See the American Heart Association’s recommendations here.

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