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  • Writer's pictureThe Bluebird. A Midtown Eatery.

Good Day Mates. We are headed down under to Australia and New Zealand for wine club this month. One of the Indigo wines featured this month even has ties close to home.

We are starting out in New Zealand on the northern part of the South Island in the Marlborough AVA. The 2022 Capitello Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is from winemaker Ray Walsh. Ray grew up in New Zealand and it was a backpacking trip in the '80 where he found his calling, he worked a harvest in Germany to finance his travels and he was hooked. He came back earned a degree and worked alongside Kim Crawford and with New Zealand's Villa Maria Estate. In 1993 Ray moved to Oregon and helped put King Estate on the map with their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. It was 2003 that he stepped away and started Capitello Wines. The Walsh family makes it home in Eugene, where their wines are produced, but head to New Zealand in the spring to work harvest and produce more wines from the Marlborough region. And to think some days I get worked up traveling between restaurants spaced 12 blocks apart.

Its tough to feature wines from Australia/New Zealand and not feature a Sauvignon Blanc. This one is perfect because of the close ties to home and it's just great juice. This wine is crisp and refreshing, The nose is very aromatic (not cat pee) {I had my doubts about saying cat pee, I have yet to smell/drink a wine from down under that has those characteristics} [the best description of Sauvignon Blancs I read was 'it tasted like a freshly opened can of tennis balls] Whoa....I digress. Let me be clear, this wine does not smell or taste like cat pee. This wine has exotic aromatics, I picked up lychee and passionfruit. This wine still has the green flavors (green/jalapeno peppers) you come to expect from an Australian Sauvignon Blanc, the flavors are so well integrated it just makes this a great Sauv Blanc.

For our next wine, we head to Australia, the feature this month is the 2020 Paxton McLaren Vale Shiraz. Shiraz is definitely the main grape of Australia. In 2022 there were 433,305 metric tons of Shiraz grapes crushed for wine production. I was suprised that Chardonnay took second place with 358,007 metric tons, Sauvignon Blanc was 5th with 90,409 tons. Cabernet Sauvignon (246,723) took 3rd and Merlot was 4th with 97,489 tons of fruit. Paxton's calls their approach to wine making "back to the future. They combine tradition, hands-on management, integrated and complimented by modern technology. They strive to keep inputs to a minimum and try not to use sulphur dioxide-they continue to master biodynamics and the never-ending non-chemical weed control.

I have really enjoyed researching and writing about wine the past few months. I am trying to write better descriptors for the wine, it's really hard because I believe flavors of wine can be subjective. I am going to quote Paxton's tasting notes on this one:

  • "Bouquet: Oscillating between ripe blackberries stolen from your neighbor's back fence and wild fennel seeds harvested along a country roadside this wine keeps your intruigued waiting for further revelations like cocoa and star anise.

  • Palate: A medium to full-bodied wine with fresh mulberries (I still don't know what a mulberry tastes like) on the palate entrance. The texture feels like floating over rolling hills in a smooth convertible, opening up like a view over an expansive valley at the crest of the last hill. Elongate by careful maturation in French oak barriques, the finish is like watching a glowing sunset at the end of an action-packed day.

After that description who wouldn't want to drink this wine.

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  • Writer's pictureThe Bluebird. A Midtown Eatery.

June is officially Idaho wine month, for those who are members of our wine club we found some great wines from right here in Idaho. Watch out-Idaho is doing some pretty great things right now. Before prohibition threw a monkey wrench in the system, Idaho was on track for serious wine production. We border two amazing wine growing regions, it's nice to be part of all the action. We will be featuring two tasty selections for a while, both of them from Cinder winery in Garden City (NW of Boise).

Did you know that Idaho had grapes planted way before Washington and Oregon? Two French and one German immigrant were responsible for the first grapes planted in Idaho, way before Washington and Oregon. Before prohibition gutted the Idaho wine industry, Idaho was producing award winning wines. Prohibition in Idaho lasted from 1916 to 1933, the damage was done. Fast forward 40+ years, grapes were planted again in what is now know as the Snake River AVA (American Viticultural Area). It wasn't until 2007 that the Snake River AVA was recognized. Idaho vintners insist that southern Idaho has ideal growing conditions-four distinct seasons, the cold winters are conducive to allowing the vines to go dormant to prepare for the coming season, and the winters help with the bugs. Warm summer days and cool nights helps balance acids and sugars.

Idaho is in its infancy in the wine world. Boy is that changing fast. In 2008, there were 38 wineries in Idaho, currently there are more than 60 wineries with over 1,300 acres planted. I can only imagine that winemakers and growers are still learning as they go, in the meantime I hope they continue to produce great wine.

We have a couple of wines right now on special that I think are amazing representations of what Idaho can do. The wines come from our friends at Cinder. CINDERWINES.COM

Melaine Krause and Joe Schnerr are the masterminds behind this winery. The Cinder name and label design are inspired by the volcanic soils of the Snake River Valley. A little after we opened our first restaurant, they were pretty much going door-to-door and sold us wine. Way before they had a local rep to sell their wine. It has been really exciting to see the evolution of their wines. I was even more excited to taste through the line-up with Joe recently and discover they have been busy with making some really unique varietals.

The first wine we are featuring is the 2022 Verdejo.(verr-day-ho). This varietal is normally grown in Spain in a dry hot climate, aaaand now it's grown in Snake River Valley AVA Emerald Slope. (Technically speaking the vineyards are just across the Snake River in Adrian, OR, but made in Idaho.) This wine won a Gold Medal in the 14th annual Idaho Wine Competition, recently and for good reason. This light bodied white, is a refreshingly different wine wine. If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris give this baby a try. Right off the bat floral notes and peaches lure you in, on the palette its medium body has hints of lime and the finish has plenty of acid but it is so nicely balanced it just keeps you coming back for more.

Try the Cinder Verdejo with our Salmon dish (King Salmon, mushroom risotto, grilled asparagus and miso butter.) Pairs perfectly with a hot summer day on the patio.

Our next wine is the 2021 Cinder Rosé of Grenache. This wine screams summer days on patio. Some winemakers might not appreciate the term "porch pounder" but with the recent weather and long winter we've had, the thought of cold Rosé on a hot day....yes please.


"Like choosing your wardrobe for the day, sometimes when choosing your wine, it's best to check the weather. We find this Rosé of Grenache, like a woman's beautiful sundress or a gentleman's dapper Panama hat, is best enjoyed in the sun. Remember, as long as you can see the sun, a Rosé fits perfectly. -Joe Schnerr, Founder


I've been on a Grenache kick lately, so this wine just makes me happy. This wine starts out with ripe summer strawberry aromas on the nose and slight hint of green pepper on the voluptuous pallet 🤤 This wine is perfect for any one of our small plates.

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  • Writer's pictureThe Bluebird. A Midtown Eatery.

Remember back in February we had France month. There was a map of the 42° parallel and France and Washington were on the same line. I had to check with Rioja and the Snake River AVA. Rioja is on the 42° and Lewis and Clark AVA is on the 46°. Pretty darn close. Tasting the two Tempranillos side by side was educational. This months Peacock selection is the 2018 Macán Clásico, 100% Tempranillo.

Vega Sicilia has been a winery a little longer than Idaho has been a state. It was founded in 1864 and was planted with various grapes(Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) from the Bordeaux region of France-some of which are being used in the wines today. About 10 years ago Vega Sicilia and Benjamin de Rothschild began acquisitioning multiple vineyard plots from small farmers. They quietly built up about 120 hectares, whiting the village of San Vincente. They purchased only the best terroir and deep-rooted Tempranillo vines with ages ranging from 25-80 years old.

Wine Enthusiast (97 points) called it a: "dark garnet-colored wine has a nose of black currant, raspberry and milk chocolate. {I completely agree with the raspberry and milk chocolate} "Deep fruit flavors of cassis and dark plums fill the mouth, joined by notes of cocoa powder, tobacco leaf and espresso bean." Needless to say this wine is layered and very complex. Robert Parker chimed in with a 94-point review and called it "one of the finest vintages for this wine."

This wine, I suspect has good aging potential, but you could probably crack this on a random weekday night without too many regrets.

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