In the Willamette

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Harkening back to our trip to Oregon this summer, Mr. Wannabe Wino and I popped the cork on the 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to get to Cornerstone and connect with Craig Camp you are totally missing out. Especially if you haven’t stopped by their tasting room to do a tasting paired with local cheeses. The 2010 Pinot Noir has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $50 a bottle.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I would pay $50 for this wine, no questions asked.

2.) Expanding their OR offerings would make me love Cornerstone even more.

3.) My notes for this wine say “Excellent.” I couldn’t describe it better.

4.) If you like dusty earth, dried violets and cherries, and baking cocoa in your Pinot, this one is for you.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, herbs, cedar, smoke, berries, dried cherries, dried violets, dusty earth, and dried raspberries on the nose. As the wine opened in my glass I kept diving back in and finding more good things to smell. The palate echoed the nose with cocoa notes, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, and herbs. All the fruits tasted a bit dried to me and very concentrated.  Overall the wine had excellent acidity and long finish. A very complex and well done wine for the price point, that over-delivered.





Invading Carlton, OR

Post Wine Blogger Conference this year, Mrs. Wannabe Wino and I received a kind invitation from the town of Carlton, OR to visit.  Yes, that’s correct, a town invited us to come and stay and see what their little corner of OR had to offer.  For a quaint, small town, they certainly had a lot to offer and put on the ritz to really show us the best of their town.

While there,the Wannabe Winos stayed at the Carlton Inn, a lovely B&B about a five minute walk from the center of the town.  Although the Inn itself has been in existence for many years, it was only taken over by the current Innkeeper Karen Choules shortly before our arrival in August 2012.  Poor Karen, I’m sure she had no idea what she was in for when she took over an Inn and was shortly thereafter informed she would be playing hostess to a group of 5 wine bloggers for a night!  Taking it all in stride, Karen was a gracious hostess, and made us feel right at home.  We stayed in the Yamhill-Carlton Suite, a comfortable set of rooms decorated in a contemporary American style.  (I, for one, slept like a bear hibernating in winter in these cozy quarters.)

The Carlton Inn boasts 4 guest rooms, so with 5 wine bloggers, we took over the entire place.  One room had a jetted tub that Thea took full advantage of during our stay.  In addition to the well-appointed rooms, the Inn boasts a quaint living room, a spacious dining room, and a comfortable porch overlooking a garden that Karen uses for ingredients for her breakfast. The breakfast was excellent, as you can see in the photos.  We had a french toast bake with berries, fresh fruit, and bacon.  We all came away stuffed, and Karen indulged the wine blogger love of bacon and was happy to add some local farmed bacon to our breakfast!

Overall, we highly recommend the Carlton Inn to anyone looking to explore the area’s wineries or spend some time in a welcoming, adorable town.  Tell Karen hello for us!

(Post authored by Sonadora and Mr. WannabeWino.)

What I learned at the 2012 Wine Blogger Conference

I just got back from Portland, OR, where Mr. WannabeWino and attended the 5th annual Wine Blogger Conference. I’ve been to 4 out of 5 and I’ve learned (maybe?) something at each conference. Some of those lessons continue to repeat themselves (sadly…) and others are new. Here, I present to you a brief overview of what I learned at the 2012 WBC. Overall, Oregon rocked for wine. I wish I could have stayed longer and tasted more. However, I brought home/ordered to be shipped around 4 cases of wine, so I will enjoy the wine treasures for months to come. Without further ado, my top ten “lessons” from WBC 12.

Mr. Wannabe Wino and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary at the Jordan Vineyards Magnum party.

1.) I still look like my picture, but clearly not as much as I used to since I only got that comment a half dozen times this year.

2.) I love Pinot from Oregon. But I still needed a beer or something to cleanse my palate at the end of the day.

(Image courtesy of The Barley Blog)

3.) I feel like a grandmother of wine blogging even though I’ve only been at it just shy of 6 years. I think the oldest wine blog is only 8 years old though, so the grandfathers aren’t much older.








4.) With that said, this is my 4th WBC, and I still have zero interest in monetization.  That horse is dead. Can we please, please, please bury it?

(Image courtesy of Mutineer Magazine)

5.) You should be yourself at all times, unless yourself involves writing wine reviews, then you should be someone else because wine reviews are boring. (Sarcasm font enabled here in case you couldn’t tell.)






6.) The folks of Carlton, OR have an awesome little town on their hands on and they really banded together to put it all on for the bloggers. I was seriously impressed. (More on this later.)

7.) King Estate KICKED serious ass for the main night dinner.

8.) I need more girl friends where I live. I am so, so missing Thea, Mary, Melanie, Liza, Debbie, etc.  I just can’t explain the value of like minded women who will swig out of a bottle, rap to Vanilla Ice, and make wee jokes with you. It’s pretty priceless.

9.) I can taste and fairly evaluate about 40 wines in a day. Max.

10.) I still hate the Wine Blog Awards.

2009 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir

Final round of speed dating brings us the 2009 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir. This is a wine I’m very very familiar with. In fact, I drank it earlier today, on Thursday night, and last week I think.  It has a beautiful spicy nose with chocolate, roses, violets, red cherries, black raspberries, and white pepper. In the mouth it’s all about black cherry, black raspberry, spice, acidity, and tannins on the finish.

I always serve this with salmon, but it would also be wonderful with the bacon roasted chicken I make.

2010 J. Christopher Willamette Pinot Noir

Up next, for round 8 of speed dating/tasting is the 2010 J. Christopher Willamette Pinot Noir. The price point on this wine is They just joined twitter today! Welcome! The price point is $30. On the nose I’m getting black raspberry, cherry, spice, and lots of chocolatey notes. In the mouth I’m finding layers of red and black fruit, spice, good structure, a mineral streak, and great acidity.
More salmon please.

2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir

Round 4 of speed dating tasting brings us another OR Pinot Noir, woo hoo, the 2009 Johan Nils Reserve Pinot Noir!  This wine retails for $45 and can be found mostly in Portland and at the winery, with some distribution in FL, WI, WA, MN, and a few others.  Sniffing the wine I am getting spice and pepper notes with black raspberry and cherry. Nice structure on the palate with bright red fruit, good acidity and a smooth, lingering finish.

Drink with some steelhead trout and enjoy.

2009 Seufert Vine Idly Pinot Noir

Third to our table for speed tasting is the 2009 Seufert Vine Idly Pinot Noir. At only 250 cases produced this makes up about 1/8 of the total winery production and it retails for $30. On the nose I am getting eucalyptus, mint, green pepper, and funk-y earth. Bring on the funk! In the mouth it is dark and stormy, with more earth, funk, herbs, and pepper notes.

Give me a fire and some smoky cheeses with this wine.

2009 Alexana Signature Dunde Hills Pinot Noir

Speed wine dating round two brings our table the 2009 Alexana Signature Dunde Hills Pinot Noir. The Signature is made with their best select 9 barrels and is available only via the tasting room or dtc sales. On the nose, smokey meat with dusty chocolate, violets, and cherries. In the mouth bright red fruit, berries, cherries, and lovely acidity with some herbal earthy notes.

Keeping with my OR wines = seafood theme, this would be amazing with cedar planked salmon. Can someone bring me some now?

2009 Johan Chardonnay Reserve

Up last for the white and rose portion of speed dating we have the Johan 2009 Chardonnay Reserve. Yay for more OR wine to round out this tasting! This chardonnay retails for $33. On the nose I am getting some toast and butter from the oak treatment and some yellow apple. In the mouth I am getting more apple, a buttery finish. pear, and yellow apple.  They add the lees back to the bottle on this, interesting.

Another one I’d pair with grilled white fish.

Almost all the OR wines make me think of seafood. Must be that Pacific Northwest thing!

2011 Alexana Pinot Gris

Coming up towards the end w have the 2011 Alexana Pinot Gris. I’m happy to get so many OR wines representing at the speed dating! It retails for $26.  Melon and pear on the nose.  In the mouth the acidity shines through with bright pear, green apple, and a mineral streak.

With the acidity, I’d recommend this for anything with a butter based sauce. It would have been lovely with my Eggs Benedict this morning.