Wines to love from home and abroad

This week’s A la Carte provided not one, but two, concepts for romantic meals in plenty of time for planning, shopping and cooking next week. The hazelnut-themed dinner suggested by columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez even included wine recommendations, notably Southern Oregon’s own Del Rio Vineyards syrah, one of my personal favorites.

MCT photo

 

That red varietal is among the most well-suited to our area, as more and more grape growers and wine drinkers are realizing. An Applegate estate’s even earned a recent nod from the Los Angeles Times as its Wine of the Week.

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden is one of the more unique operations locally, owing to its status as certified Biodynamic. It also grows lots of asparagus in spring and some stone fruits in summer. I’ve visited Bill and Barbara Steele’s property for several stories, including a 2007 piece that delved into the business of “green” and “sustainable” wines. My professional headshot coincidentally was taken at Cowhorn.

The only drawback to Cowhorn wines is that releases have been somewhat exclusive. But production has steadily grown, making it more accessible to locals.

And here’s a tip for Times columnist S. Irene Virbila: If you don’t know how different the Rogue Valley is from the Willamette, plan a visit. Similarities between France’s Rhone region and Southern Oregon have been examined by other wine writers.

Here are more ideas for Valentine’s Day wines from the Minneapolis Star Tribune based not on food but relationship status:

Six months or less: Think pink. And bubbles. The bloom is still on your relationship, big-time, and the beverage of choice should reflect that. If money is little or no object, shell out for the real deal from Champagne, $75-plus for Billecart-Salmon or Pol Roger or maybe half that for Nicolas Feuillatte or Piper-Heidsieck.

One to five years: The bloom might be off the rose, but you’re still sweet on each other, so celebrate with one of those lush, nectarlike wines. Two sweet ones well worth a $70 splurge are the Baumard Quarts de Chaume, a chenin blanc from France’s Loire region, or Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine from Ontario. But more affordable options abound, from chocolate-infused reds (Trentadue Chocolate Amore or Rosenblum Desiree) to the wonderful Washington riesling Chateau Ste. Michelle’s “Eroica.”

Five to 10 years: There’s a good chance your relationship is as much about looking ahead as looking back. People who enjoy fermented grape juice almost invariably love to travel, especially to vine-laden lands. So begin exploring the bounty of the Old World, New World and Down Under: Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany (Casanova di Neri Tenuta, Banfi), pinot noir from Oregon (Ken Wright, Le Cadeau) and the underrecognized whites from Australia (Yalumba Vermentino, Brokenwood Semillon).

More than 10 years: Plenty of options here, starting with a vintage bottle from the year of your first date or wedding (if you have a hard time finding one, get a 20-year-old Tawny Port from Dow or Taylor Fladgate and call it a day). Or have the same wine you savored together on a cherished trip, or at a wonderful wedding or on your best date of late.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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