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Cole Danehower

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  1. I hope you'all will excuse a moment of self-promotion, but the current issue of our Portland-based magazine, Northwest Palate has a feature article profiling Portland-area distillers, plus a list of all the Oregon distillers we know about (the magazine is available at Zupans, Whole Foods, New Seasons, Rich's, Fred Meyer, Powell's, and many Borders and other bookshops throughout the Northwest and the rest of the country . . . or available from me if you want to PM me with your physical mailing address). Here is that list: In Portland Area: Clear Creek Distillery 503-248-9470 Highball Distillery 503-803-3989 House Spirits Distillery 503-235-3174 New Deal Vodka 503-490-7357 Ransom Spirits 503-883-2089 Rogue Spirits Portland 503-222-5910 Sub Rosa Spirits 503-476-2808 Rest of Oregon: Bendistillery in, you guessed it, Bend www.bendistillery.com Brandy Peak Distillery in Brookings www.brandypeak.com BuTay Vodka in Bend (I will make no comment on the name . . .) www.bu-tay.com Dolmen Distillery in McMinnville www.dolmen.arbre.us Hood River Distillers (the big boys in the state) www.hrdspirits.com Indio Spirits in Cottage Grove www.indiospirits.com Liquid Vodka in Bend www.liquidvodka.com McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale (just east of Portland) www.mcmenamins.com Rogue Spirits in Newport www.roguespirits.com And also, there are two distilleries in Washington State, and two operating distilleries in British Columbia, with two more coming on line in the next few months. The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of craft distilling! -Cole
  2. For an upcoming story in Northwest Palate magazine, I am looking for recommendations of bar/lounges in Seattle and vicinity who are known for their house-made bitters. The article will cover bitters in general, but we want to highlight a few select Northwest places (which will also include Vancouver/Victoria and Portland . . . and I already know about Portland places) that are going that extra step by making in-house bitters. I'm not necessarily looking for recipes, just some good places to visit and to interview on the role of bitters in local, contemporary cocktails, and why the establishment makes their own. I've also posted this on the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver, BC & Western Canada boards for local expertise, but it has been recommended there that I post it here as well. I'd appreciate any suggestions . . .
  3. For an upcoming story in Northwest Palate magazine, I am looking for recommendations of bar/lounges in Seattle and vicinity who are known for their house-made bitters. The article will cover bitters in general, but we want to highlight a few select Northwest places (which will also include Vancouver/Victoria and Portland . . . and I already know about Portland places) that are going that extra step by making in-house bitters. I'm not necessarily looking for recipes, just some good places to visit and to interview on the role of bitters in local, contemporary cocktails, and why the establishment makes their own. I could post this in the Spirits board, but I really want to get local expertise! I'd appreciate any suggestions . . .
  4. For an upcoming story in Northwest Palate magazine, I am looking for recommendations of bar/lounges in Vancouver and/or Victoria who are known for their house-made bitters. The article will cover bitters in general, but we want to highlight a few select Northwest places (which will also include Seattle and Portland) that are going that extra step by making in-house bitters. I'm not necessarily looking for recipes, just some good places to visit and to interview on the role of bitters in local, contemporary cocktails, and why the establishment makes their own. I could post this in the Spirits board, but I really want to get local expertise! I'd appreciate any suggestions . . . Thanks!
  5. A few more interesting Riesling supply facts that I dug up for an article I recently wrote: Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the world's largest single producer of Riesling (according to the company), with 2006 production of 868,000 cases for all their brands: Chateau Ste. Michelle (713,500 cases total), Columbia Crest, and Snoqualmie. Also, the company accounts for 30% of all domestic riesling. At their recent Riesling Rendezvous, where around 200 rieslings were poured by producers from all over the world, it was mentioned that Ste. Michelle's $8.99 Columbia Valley Riesling was the best selling in the US. Who knew? -Cole
  6. Joseph (byrdhouse) is quite correct about the limited availability of this delicacy . . . though I will note that there have been times, recently in fact, that the cheese was available over the counter at a few select outlets in Portland. The Market of Choice in my SW neighborhood had some just two weeks ago (I think I'll pop by tonight and see if there's any left! Umm, yeah, right . . .). I confess I haven't had it frequently enough to note the quality differences Joseph describes . . . call it vintage variation?? . . . but when I first tried it, and on subsequent occasions, I have been amazed at its comparability to Roqueforts I am familiar with. Joseph's comments have me intrigued to "monitor" it over coming years . . . if I can get some! -Cole
  7. I'm eating at New Sammys next week and will try to report back how it was. The Rogue Creamery makes some of the finest Blue cheese in the world. No kidding! The regular Oregonzola, Crater Lake Blue, and smoked and flavored cheeses are very good, but the real winner is the Rogue River Gold, wrapped in Clear Creek Eaux de Vie-soaked grape leaves, and released about this time every year. People who have heard about the quality of this cheese sometimes are a little disappointed that the regular cheeses aren't quite as Roquefort-like and intense as they've been led to expect, which is why to experience the absolute best of what this fine producer makes, try to find the grape leaf-wrapped Rogue River! All the other cheeses they make are excellent, and I buy them regularly, but this particular annually-released cheese is, to my taste, truly the equal of ANY Roquefort that I have had. It is rare, expensive, and worth its weight in gold!! -Cole
  8. There are so many great dining choices in Portland that it is almost unreasonable to name names without a better sense of what kind of experience you are looking for: name chefs with established reputations and Beard Awards, neighborhood hideaways offering a taste of the PDX culture as well as ingredients, new, cultish, and buzzworthy, or reliable classics, NW-ingredient focused or more international in focus, ethinc-oriented or more Western, traditional favorites or cutting edge, etc. I heartily suggest visiting the tip sheet at ExtraMSG for some great guidance. A few personal favorites, without going into food styles, include Andina, Fenouil, Alberta Street Oyster Bar, Vindalho, Lauro, ten01, Pok Pok, Sungari Pearl, Paley's . . . I'm missing many others . . . As for dining while going south . . . well, the immediate I5 route itself is pretty much fine-dining-free between Portland and Eugene, and then between Eugene and Ashland. In all cases you have to get off the long and boring I5 to find good stuff. In Eugene I heartily recommend Marche at the 5th Street Market. Also Cafe Zenon and Adam's Place. The Medford/Talent/Jacksonville/Ashland area offers many options, all off the highway and you need to get a local map to find, but good choices include Sammy's New Cowboy Bistro in Talent (if you can get in . . . I'm eating there next week, but have had reservations for a long time), Gogi's in Jacksonville, Amuse, Peerless, Chateaulin, Thai Pepper, Monet . . . all in Ashland. If you want to go south from Portland and do it slowly, head down 99W and visit some Willamette Valley wineries (Penner-Ash, Domaine Serene, Archery Summit, Lange, Bergstrom, Domaine Drouhin, Argyle, Carlton Winemakers Studio, Panther Creek, Cana's Feast, Scott Paul, Solena, Bethel Heights, Cristom, J.K. Carriere, Stoller, Erath, Sokol Blosser, Dobbes, Tyrus Evans, . . . I could go on and on). For dining, in Newberg there is The Painted Lady, in Dundee there is the Dundee Bistro, Red Hills Provincial Dining (I had dinner there last night with some winemakers and it was superb), and Tina's. In Carlton there is Cuvee. You can keep going down 99 to Eugene and then pick up I5 . . . unless you get stuck wine tasting (go for the Pinots, Dijon Chardonnay, and bone dry rieslings). As for the coast, besides being quite beautiful when you're not in the major towns, the dining concentration will be in the area of Newport north. There is precious little in the way of good dining on the coast south of Newport (the only exception would be Bandon Dunes in Bandon, very far south), though there is spectacular scenery. And as for dining north of Newport on the coast, I have no specific suggestions (besides Fulio's in Astoria) since it's been a long time since I've been through there . . . I'm sure others can chime in! -Cole
  9. If anyone is interested, Clear Creek is the subject of the New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov's most recent blog posting, here: NYTimes Clear Creek Blog Posting
  10. Steve McCarthy does a tremendous job with all his products, in my opinion. His Framboise is a particular favorite, and I hoard what little is left in my bottle. Last year Steve toured our office around his facility (it is in walking distance . . . and waaay too tempting . . .) and the craft, precision, and care he puts into his products is evident. It is very true that the Framboise is not always available--depends on the crop--and while it is spendy, it is also lovely. I also like his Douglas Fir eau de vie very much (mentioned by russ parsons), though it may not be to everyone's taste. We ran an article last year about how the Fir buds are hand-picked into buckets of spirit right there in the forest on McCarthy's land . . . One other note. Here in Portland there is a concentration of craft distilleries (of which Clear Creek is the founding spirit, if you will), and there is a growing trend here toward spirit/food pairing and cocktail/food pairing in the same manner as wine/food pairing. I happen to find this organoleptically fascinating, but McCarthy doesn't agree. He feels his eaux de vie are for enjoying before or after a meal strictly by themselves, not as an integrated part of the meal. The Douglas Fir, for instance, makes a wonderful digestif . . . as does the framboise, come to think of it!
  11. There are lots of interesting cocktail options in Portland, many of which have already been mentioned on this thread. You can also try, in no particular order Thatch Tiki bar on Broadway, ten01 on NW Couch (Kelly makes good classic cocktails, and has quite a repertoire of his own creations), Park Kitchen on NW 8th, Mint/820 on North Russell is controversial among cocktail enthusiasts/purists, but Lucy Brennan's creations should be experienced. You can also consider SakeOne in Forest Grove for a Saketini Saturday where they pour sake-based cocktails that can be quite good. There are many others that just don't jump immediately to mind right now as I head out of the office, that I know I will be embarrassed for not mentioning later . . . (oh yeah, Saucebox for sure . . .) You might also check out various local websites, especially www.portlandfoodanddrink.com for notices of spirits pairing dinners. The guys at House Spirits (Aviation Gin, Medoyeff Vodka, Krogstad Aquavit) do a lot of pairing dinners at restaurants around town, and it is a great way to sample cocktails and food designed to accompany each other. -Cole
  12. Yes, I would be very interested in what your experience is like . . . good, bad, or average!!
  13. I had a very fine lunch at King Estate last autumn as part of the Oregon Truffle Festival. Granted, it was a large affair and perhaps not typical of the average lunch, but the food was fine indeed. Large fireplace and leather sitting chairs just off the main dining area are wonderfully cozy in the winter. I've also been shown around "backstage" and watched as the chefs prepared meals, and it seemed the operation is as neatly run as any fine dining restaurant. When I was last there they were making jam from the estate fruits in huge copper cauldrons. They have extensive organic gardens that supply much of the dining room's seasonal needs, plus large storage sheds elsewhere on the property for their produce storage. I would have every expectation that the dining at King Estate would be excellent! (P.S. Because people tend to be quite sensitive about these things, I will also say that King Estate is not an advertiser in our magazine and I have no vested interest in saying nice things about them.) -Cole
  14. Just FYI, since ten 01 was mentioned: they have a new chef, Jack Yoss as of about 3 weeks ago (formerly at Postrio in SF, Chinois in las Vegas, and Hotel W in Westwood). Reviews after their opening last autumn were less than enthusiastic, and they've brought Yoss in to create an entirely new menu: ten 01 2.0, as it were. A great improvement, in my estimation. Good cocktail bar, as well.
  15. I am reminded of a comment Veronique Drouhin once made when describing her winemaking process at Domaine Drouhin in the Willamette Valley. Every site, she said, had terroir, but not all terroirs are good . . . that is why you blend.
  16. Oooohhh . . . hot button subject for me! I'll presume North American terroir is real, because I believe I can taste it here in the Northwest. But terroir is a very different thing than American appellations, and that will probably always be the case. I do believe that appellations in the U.S., called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), CAN reflect terrroir, but under our system they usually DON'T do so because most AVAs are defined for marketing reasons, not the intergrity of the region's winegrowing character (perhaps another way of saying "terroir"). Technically, AVAs have nothing to do with grape growing quality, and given the extent of layered American appellations today, I see little reason why this would ever change to a more European model. To qualify for an AVA only three things are required: that the proposed AVA name have local or national recognition, that the area being applied for have definable geographical (inclduing climate, soils, elevation, etc.) features that distinguish it from surrounding areas, and that the boundaries be specifically described using physical features found on a USGS map. When you read the TTB requirements, there are no references to grape growing viability, quality, or character--let alone any notion of terroir. If I met the standards, I might be able to get my backyard approved as an AVA (ok, a little sarcasm here). If an AVA application is written to reflect an area that has a recognizable terroir, then the AVA can come to be synomymous with that terroir--without imposing growing/production regulations. But if the AVA has been proposed in order to promote brand recognition of some region, then it likely will have little to do with terroir. My positive example of a terroir-oriented AVA here in Oregon would be Ribbon Ridge. The wines from Ribbon Ridge vineyards (Beaux Freres, Patty Green, Brick House, Ridgecrest, to name just a few) have, I believe, a detectable set of characteristics reflective of the terroir of this landform. The AVA was carefully written to reflect a geography that does seem to produce definable characteristincs in the wines that come from there. I would offer the appellation of Red Hill of Douglas County (what, you never heard of it?) as an example of the opposite. So little wine comes from this miniscule AVA (I believe there is only a single operating vineyard, though I've heard rumors of "new plantings") that I don't think there is yet any basis to say there is any sense of terroir at all--but it was a shrewd marketing move for a tiny place that had no marketing cachet or recognition prior to being approved as an "appellation." If AVAs were to somehow be "redistricted" to reflect terroir, they would first have to be dissassembled and then redefined . . . and who is to say where one terroir would begin and another end as we go about unpacking the levels of sub-sub-sub appellations that currently exist. The politics of defining "marketing" appellations today would pale next to the emotions of defining who has what terroir. American appellations will only ever reflect terroir if the people making the application choose to base their AVA proposal on terroir. I believe most AVAs are defined for marketing purposes (the Puget Sound AVA is hardly a premier wine growing region, but that is where many Washington wineries have their tasting rooms--even though almost all their grapes come from the Columbia Valley AVA--so it is good to have a Puget Sound AVA), and since there are so many marketing-oriented appellations, I simply can't believe that there will ever be an overhaul of AVAs in order to better reflect terroir. European-style regulations that help define terroir, I believe, would never fly here. Yet the laissez-faire nature of our AVA system does allow for American appellations to reflect terroir--but ONLY if the wine industry stands up to define their (new) AVAs on the basis of terroir, and not marketing expediency. OK, I'll get off my soapox now . . . -Cole
  17. I would also be interested in Boise recommendations. I haven't been there in about two years and I'll be passing through on my way to the Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival next week. We're planning a "Dining Out in Boise" feature in our September/October issue of Northwest Palate magazine, but a freelancer is writing it and I haven't seen the copy . . . so I am fresh out of current dining recommendations for Boise (or Ketchum, for that matter, since I'll be there as well). Thanks for any guidance! -Cole
  18. Depends on what kind of wines you have. In my mind, the normal generalizations apply to Okanagan wines just as much as wines from anywhere else in the Northwest. Big and tannic reds will do well with a few years (3-5, possibly) cellaring, lighter and fresher reds can be drunk earlier. High acid whites can be cellared for a few years, unctuous Icewines and late harvest wines can be aged for a long time, etc. This is pretty conventional advice. If the wines you have are older than about 5 years, I'd think things could begin to get iffy . . . but it all depends upon the style of the wine and, to a lesser degree, the skill of the producer. Anything labelled "Osoyoos Larose," for instance, probably needs a minimum of 5 years in the cellar, because of the nature of the wine (big and tannic) and the style of production (intended to be aged). A 2000 Pinot noir, as a counter example, is much riskier because it will be lighter to begin with. What wines do you have?
  19. One additional thought: I always understood a brandy was technically defined as a spirit distilled from grape wine . . . despite the loose use of "brandy" to apply to other fruit-based distillates . . . including Clear Creek's Apple Brandy. So . . . perhaps another thread . . . what are the real definitions of "brandy" and "eau de vie"? -Cole
  20. When I first heard about the Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie at right around this time last year, I looked around local liquor stores but couldn't find any. Taking the bottle by the neck, as it were, I called Clear Creek on Christmas Eve and caught Steve McCarthy there, and bought a bottle. It seemed like it would be the perfect Christmas tipple . . . and for me, it was. It smelled of the forest, it tasted like pine infused pear brandy; it had a light sweetness, but also a pine bite. I prefer it as a digistif. I could be wrong, but I don't believe that an eau de vie is, by definition, clear, as was implied in an earlier posting. I always thought eaux de vie were defined only as spirits distilled from fruit. Certainly most are clear. There is a distiller in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia who makes an eau de vie that is not clear (I can't remember which one it is . . . I'll check my cabinet when I get home). Clear Creek's base, I believe, is an eau de vie (tastes like pear to me), and the addition of an infusion that is colored doesn't change that. Our staff is having a holiday tour 'n taste at Clear Creek's new distillery on Thursday . . . I'll ask McCarthy what he thinks the definition is/should be, and how the Douglas Fir fits (if the fir fits, you must drink it??). -Cole Danehower
  21. In answer to the question regarding Australian wine books, I take as my own starting point James Halliday's WINE ATLAST OF AUSTLIA AND NEW ZEALAND, Harper Collins, 1998 (though there may be a revision I don't know about.). -Cole
  22. You ask a big question. The subject of Portland dining is extremly varied. Again, I recommend www.extramsg.com's tip sheet. But here is my own very fast take on personal favorites (not in any order; you can find their contact info on the web and extramsg's tip sheet. And I need to say, because of what I do for a living, that some . . .I think manybe two . . . of these restauranrts advertise in my magazine. The others do not, and it doesn't matter because I'll recommend anyone I think is good, regardless.): NOSTRANA. I have a thing for chef Cathy Whims' food: I can't get enough of it. This is where I go with business, family, and friends for lunch (dinner is perfect, too). Italian food (big wood-burning oven). This was The Oregonian's restaurant of the year, and Cathy was a delegate to the SLow Foods Terra Madre. Informal. Lovely. PALEY'S PLACE. The spot for a blowout gourmet treat. Vitaly Paley is a whizz with local ingredients. James Beard Winner, his menu is seasonal and everything is a winner as well. Not inexpensive, but one of the best in the Northwest from a chef who really knows his stuff. Dining here is a craft (and the staff is the best in town). ANDINA. Peruvian, brilliant flavors, unusual combinations, unique experience. Not cheap, but raucous, wonderful, and satisfyingly different - - a real treat. WILDWOOD. A Portland classic. New Executive Chef Dustin Clark was handpicked by founding chef Cory Schreiber, and the ethic and vibe are fully sustained. Local ingredients, superbly cooked (had lunch there today and the house-cured pastrami was excellent), great NW wine list. Tell Sommellier Randy Goodman hello! OLEA. Lots of national press, excellent menu, reliable and satisfying in the cool Pearl district. Meditteranean meets the Northwest, with some intriguing twists that are very tasty. ten01. Very new, intriguing menu mixes multiple food ethnicities, great raw bar, cool atmosphere (and across the street from Powell's back door . . . how good can it get?) ALBERTA STREET OYSTER BAR. Wonderfully inventive flavor combinations on the menu. Way more than just oysters. Finely crafted food, a bit funky on the decor, but great and creative food that feels like it was crafted with love. I like this place a lot. 23 HOYT. New, from a proven Portland chef and restaurateur. Solid, if standard, menu, but impeccably prepared food: European style with Northwest attitude. I rarelty order a steak, but their was the best I've had in I can't remember when. HURLEY'S. Expensive, really, rerally good, haute cuisine unlike anywhere else in Portland. SOme of the best dining I've had, but also some of the molst expensive in town. Tom is a perfectionist, and his food is superb . . . but isn't everybody's idea of "value" (small plates, intense and balanced flavors, high prices). MURATA. Sushi. Here. Yes. Enough. POK POK/WHISKEY SODA LOUNGE: Best Thai I've had in the Northwest . . . in the nighborhoods, casual, busy, unpretentious, righteously good and strong flavors. Thai one on here! VINDALHO. Local chef David Machado's take on Indian-ish flavors and cuisines. I love the dishes here, and while it has an urban chicness, there's no pretension . . . but you need to like the spicy flavors set (I sure do). HIGGINS. Another absolute standby. I stop into the more informal cafe side regularly. The best burger (that's a sad word to describe it) in town, but fantastic Alsatian-and-true-Northwest foods . . . plus the best beer list in town. ELENIS PHILOXENIA. Doesn't get the great foodie buzz, but this is serious Greek-style food (as opposed to the more popular let's-all-shout-Opa-style places) well executed by people who know their stuff. Well worth a stop if you want to sample this cooking style. The original is in another location and lsightly different name. I haven't been to that onem, but I hear it may be better. YA HALA. Extremely popular and extremely good Lebanese food, Great for vegetarians, but great for anyone. I loved the food here (but the dinner wait was long . . . yet you can sepnd the time at the neighboring international grocery. LUCY'S TABLE. A Portland standby, and with good reason. Excellently prepared foods by a chef who doesn't get the buzz he should (some local foodies scoff at this "traditional" restaurant, but that is their loss). MINGO CAFE. Great Italian, prepared with love and without the schtick . . . but popular and small tables are a tad inconvenient. Don't fret, adjacent TUSCANY GRILL is Italian and slightly more rustic in character, and adjacent SERRATO is Italian and slightly more highborw. All are good, but the vibve at Mingo is just right for the spot on food. CLARKLEWIS. Was there last week and despite the turnover of chefs the food was excellent . . . I saw no loss. Local ingredients and simple preparations are emphasized, and dishes can be ordered in different sizes. If you are over 47 years old, take a mini flashlight to read the menu. The 2005 Brick House Select Pinot was superb. FENOIUL. The see-and-be-seen hotspot with major dude French food that is extremely well prepared. Busy and buzzy, I still find the dishes to be superb despite the popularity, and I jump at the chance to go anytime. SINJU. Excellent Japanese in a stylish manner. Great sake menu (oh, you don't think you like sake do you, then try a chilled junmai daiginjo in a wine glass for a revelation). WONG'S KING. On Division . . . out there a bit. Authentic--you may be the only only non-Chinese--and a little difficult to order unless you know a lot about the cuisine. Fresh ingredients. Perhaps a little variable, but maybe the best Chinese in Portland (though you could do way better in Vancouver BC or San Francisco). Stop in the adjacent "deli" for a slice of what I call Dried Hanging Pig . . . CASTANGA. The Cafe is informal and with good food. The main dining room is more formal and with superb food. A place to linger either way. Very solid and reliable. CARAFE. Fine French food in a rfeal Parisian bistro atmosphere. Never had anythiung less than excellent. Chef Pascal Sauton does it right. Oh, where do I stop? There's also THE HEATHMAN, PAZZO, EL GAUCHO (if you want a steakhosue steak, this is Portland's best . . .why go to Mortons or Ruths Whatever when you can go to a Northwest-owned-and-better steakhouse . . . if you want to go to a steakhouse, that is.) There's also ALBA OSTERIA, ROUX, GENOA, ESPAZA'S, PARK KITCHEN, CARLYLE . . . I could go on. But I won't. I know I'm forgetting somone. But if something here sounds good, go look them up on the web and try them. I'm out of steam. Bye. Cole
  23. Just a quick response before I head out the door. For breakfast, I recommend Le Pigeon. Tres trendy, but really good and full of homemade (not store-bought or interior-designed) character. Dinner/lunch options . . . check out the tip sheet at www.extramsg.com. I've got a few personal favorites, but his list is invaluable. Gotta run . . .
  24. If I had to pick one wine book for learning about wines withoiut worrying about producer names, vintage ratings, and wine recommendations, it would be the Oxford Companion edited by Jancis Robinson . . . as others have already pointed out here. But if I had to pick one book to use as both a quick reference AND a selection guide, it would be The Wine Bible. I confess that when it first came out I kind of dismissed it, putting it on my shelf along with the rafts of other wine books that come in. But then last spring I had the chance to attend some small seminars where Karen MacNeil presented and I was tremendously impressed with her intelligence, perspiscacity (and I might even say iconoclasm). It caused me to pull her book down off the shelf and give it another look. It may not be as geeky a tome as The Companion, but it is good, solid, and thorough. For a fast overview take on things, including producers and wines, I use it frequently. For my more in-depth, analytical learning, I go to The Companion. After that, I go to many of the books Florida Jim recommended, depending upon the subject at hand. -Cole
  25. I've done a lot of tasting of BC reds recently, and I agree that there can be "green/grassy" flavors (and "stemmy", too) in many BC reds. I have particularly noticed this in some of the more mass produced wines and some lesser-produced single varietals, like Merlot, Petit verdot, Cabernet franc, and certainly in a LOT of the hybrid grapes. That being said, I believe I am seeing less of this in the premium-level wines over the last few years, especially as viticultural practices advance (resulting in improved fruit quality) and enological practices improve (resulting in better wine quality). In my experience certain producers seem to be doing a more consistent overall job of producing balanced, fully ripe, and character-driven reds with no real greenness to them. A few that quickly come to mind (and there are definitely others, I'm not trying to be comprehensive here) are Howard Soon with his Sandhill Small Lots program, Tom Di Bello's Platinum Reserve series at CedarCreek, some of the Family Reserve Quail's Gate wines, just to name three. Yes, I know these are the top-end and expensive reds, but guess what . . . there's a reason for that! I fully agree with JohnL's reasonings here, but I would add a few other considerations. The BC wine industry is still quite young, with vinifera experience still being small on a continent-wide scale. California Cabernet used to have lots of green flavors as well (especially the Monterey region) when that region was younger and before people learned how to weed it out (so to speak). I believe that in coming years more advanced vine age and overall viticultural experience will help BC lessen the presence of "greeness" that can come from less-experienced winegrowing/making. Or at least I hope so. Certainly much of the greeness may be due to underipe fruit. The Okanagan Valley is definitely a cooler growing climate than, say, Washington's Red Mountain, but let's not forget that it IS a desert. There is plenty of heat accumulation for fruit ripening to be had, especially in the southern reaches of the Valley. I'm not yet convinced that underipe fruit is all the fault of the growing climate . . . I still think much of it has to do with less-than-ideal viticultural practices: everyone is still learning how to deal with their terroir! As an interesting side note to throw in, Dr. Greg Jones (of Southern Oregon University) has done some of the most advanced climatalogical analysis of wine regions around the globe, and some of his work projects (based on historical temperature data plugged into conservative climatalogical prediction models) that if current temperature trends continue, the Okanagan Valley might be one of the most optimum growing regions on the continent in 50 years! My overall point of all this writing is that I'm thinking the presence of "green/grassy" flavors in BC reds may have as much to do with winegrowing/making as it does a supposedly BC-specific terroir. I personally think it is too early in the region's history to know for sure. But I do know for sure that I look forward to testing out my hypothesis in the coming years! -Cole
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