Have You Ever Been Wine Tasting on a Bike?

A great area to go wine tasting on a bike is in the Willamette Valley area in Oregon.  There are over 150 wineries to choose from and you can visit at least four in 5 miles.  The tasting fees are lower priced than Napa or Sonoma,  most are around the $10.00 range.  Many of the wineries donate a portion of the tasting fees to Ecotrust’s Farm to School Programs to help the local schools and farmers.

All the wineries are open for Memorial weekend, many with special BBQ events, music, barrel sampling, and specialty food pairings.  Good weekend to visit some of the region’s small, family-owned wineries rarely open to the public as well as larger wineries and tasting rooms.

Oregon Wine Country


Don’s May Collector’s Series Top Picks

This month’s Collector Series Top Picks give me palpitations.  Why?  I like all three of the wines for different reasons, and so did the panel.  However, two wines it must be, so it comes down to which two wines I find most compelling at the moment.  Consequently, the 2005 Domaine La Millière Châteauneuf-du Pape warrants a Top Pick.  It’s classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape: a full, rich, polished wine that embodies the commune’s traditional style.  Furthermore, it has six and a half years of age behind and it’s hard to find wines of this quality that are still available in the marketplace.  And better still, this wine has years to go before it reaches its peak.  For present consumption, allow it an hour of aeration: you won’t be disappointed.

My other choice for top billing has to be the 2008 Nash Family Vineyards Shiraz, a mouthwatering blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from Paarl on the Western Cape of South Africa.  We were completely blown away by the quality of this wine, a very limited edition that has never before been available in the United States.  In fact, we had to travel to South Africa to find it, and getting it here was no mean feat.  We trust you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!


A Votre Santé!


Don’s May Premier Series Top Picks

Anyone who has been member for awhile can attest to the fact that we have not offered many Beaujolais wines to our members.  The reason for that is twofold.  First, we can rarely reach a consensus on Beaujolais and secondly, simple Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages wines don’t often offer a high quality/value ratio – the more expensive Cru Villages offerings being the exceptions.  In the 2010 Château de Pizay Régnie, we found a Cru Village wine we liked, a lot.  In fact, the words huggable, scrumptious, and addicting were all descriptions uttered by the panel in deference to the 2010 Château de Pizay Régnie – quintessential Beaujolais from the esteemed village of Régnie.  Considering the quality of this special Beaujolais offering and our rare consensus on Beaujolais, the 2010 Château de Pizay Régnie merits one of my Top Picks for this month.

My other Top Pick has to go to the 2008 Mont Marçal, a delicious vintage dated Cava that is both flavorful and fun to drink.  It also offers excellent value.  Moreover, this wine has been a perennial favorite at parties and tastings since its release, so it’s truly earned a top spot.  Enjoy this elegant Cava early in the evening or with light first courses.


A Votre Santé!


Special Mother’s Day Dinner; Lamb with a Great Shiraz

Mother’s Day is this Sunday everyone, and as a mother, I know that the one thing a mother can really appreciate on her day is a nice cooked meal that she doesn’t have to prepare herself.  Well I thought I would share with you this really nice lamb chops recipe I found from Emeril Lagasse back in 2004 from The Food Network.  It’s guaranteed to please and actually pairs nicely with a beautiful, full-bodied wine we featured last month, Berton The Black Shiraz 2010 from Australia:

Seared Petite Lamb Chops with Rosemary Balsamic Reduction


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 (4-ounce) double lamb rib chops (2 ribs) with bones attached, ribs frenched
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large or 2 small rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, parsley, rosemary, and garlic. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.

Set a 12-inch oven-safe saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the lamb with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the black pepper. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil to the saute pan and place the lamb, fat side down, in the pan. Sear the lamb until the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook the lamb, turning to cook evenly on each side, about 2 minutes each side. Baste them with the herb and oil mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the lamb is rare, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the lamb chops.

Make the balsamic drizzle while the lamb is cooking: Set a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots to the pan and sweat until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the garlic to the pan and sweat for 30 seconds. Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary and allow the balsamic to gently boil and reduce until only about 1/4 cup of balsamic remains, about 10 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Remove from the heat and swirl the butter into the pan. Remove the rosemary sprigs before using.

When the lamb is rare, remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, slice each double chop in half, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.  Hope everyone enjoys!

Me & my lovely daughter Mindy