Bottled Poetry And Other Thoughts

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Email is down at work today (ITG is running dogfood on their servers) so I have time to get caught up. Checked our status with today and discovered that even with one day still to go, this has been our best month for sales referrals ever -- over thirty items purchased. The big surprise was two (!!) copies of Principles and Practices of Winemaking. This book is spendy so, thank you very much, whoever you are!

Two big decisions to make on the vineyard this weekend -- how high should I set the fruiting wire and how far apart should I space the vines? I'm looking at probably 18-20 inches and probably just under four feet based on feedback from local vineyards. Still, this is a pretty big decision that will greatly influence the probability of getting good fruit in a few years and I'm still a bit indecided.

Denis Mortet, 1997 Gevrey Chambertin, 1er Cru
Although I don't recall exactly the specific cuvee, I know that this was a wonderful wine. Our next door neighbors invited the boys over to play and, before we knew it, they were making dinner and pouring wine. Silky, smooth with a hint of earthiness. This was beautiful in large part because it was so completely unexpected.
posted by TheRagens 16:39

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I get the vines and cuttings this weekend. This means that I'll be busy on Saturday getting the first wire (the fruiting wire) up on the trellis and then even busier on Sunday planting the vines. I imagine that there's something I haven't anticipated so we'll see what happens.

Decoy, 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
In the tradition of the French chateaux in Bordeaux, Decoy is really the 'second wine' for Duckhorn Vineyards. Although they don't buy lower quality grapes, this wine is made from some of their own grapes that don't quite make the cut of their first wines. Still, it's made with the same care and the same philosophy so it's sort of like getting the best wine on a budget and it's often a bit more approachable when young. We've been fans of Duckhorn for years and this gives us a more casual choice when we don't feel like pulling the cork on a $40+ bottle.
posted by TheRagens 14:25

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Took some time yesterday to work on the backyard gardening project. This year, I've been working on planting a small vineyard. Our friends generally think I'm nuts to even consider this but I figure that it's the journey that's important with this experiment. Up to now and for the next couple of weeks, I've only been working on the site -- building some rock walls for terraces on the hill in our backyard, rebuilding some of the topsoil, building the trellis, and so on. Yesterday, I finished working on the drip irrigation -- the lines are all laid in place and all that's left is to put in the drips which will wait until just after I plant the cuttings. I should be getting the vine cuttings in the next 2-3 weeks.

Evesham Wood, 1999 'J' Cuvee
Last night, we uncorked a half bottle of this wine. Very smooth; not as fruity perhaps as other Oregon pinot noirs, this was refined. It went really well with the miso-glazed king salmon I had.
posted by TheRagens 13:36

Monday, April 21, 2003

I just found yet another site ( that is poaching graphics (and bandwidth) from my web pages in a way that is counter to my usage policy. It's not just my pictures as there are at least another ten photos included from other sites. I'm guessing that most users don't realize that they're doing this. In this case, it's highly ironic that this is an evangelical Christian site yet they're allowing their users to effectively steal. What is the world coming to...
posted by TheRagens 13:16

A busy weekend. One theatre premier (of The Shakespeare Stealer at the Seattle Children's Theatre), the season opener of the Seattle pony baseball league and arrangements for three different play dates. In addition, I had a tough weekend's work in the backyard with great progress made on the playhouse construction and gardening. We finally got to relax last night at a friend's house over a cheese plate and several wines and commiserate over the WASL anxiety our children are feeling.

Justin, 1999 Isosceles
This is a huge wine, full of ripe grapes and tannins, build around a classic structure of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. We may be a few years too early for this wine but it was luscious and was delicious with the cheeses last night.

Brick House, 2000 Cuvee de Tonnelier
A lovely pinot noir with just a touch of earthiness underlying the fruit. A beautiful, smooth complement to the cheese plate.
posted by TheRagens 13:15

Thursday, April 17, 2003

We just hosted a chaotic, kid-busy Passover party. When you think about it, it's really cool that this story has been passed on in a family setting (versus in a place of worship) for thousands and thousands of years. It really places the family at the center of the occasion and gives everyone a chance to celebrate and reflect in a way that befits their own interpretation of the holiday. Given recent world events, there is a lot to think over, too.

Golan Heights, 1995
This was a simple wine -- not a lot of tannins and depth of fruit that would have given this wine complexity and length. Nonetheless, this was several steps up from those old, sticky kosher wines.

Hagafen, 2000 Chardonnay
Nice, crisp with significant oak. A nice choice.
posted by TheRagens 23:46

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Came across Hip Chicks Do Wine while looking into the 2003 Taste of Oregon winetasting events. This appears to be a winery that seems to be built around a marketing concept, rather than the wines themselves. Haven't tasted this (and probably won't) but this would be a nice icebreaker to bring to a party. I can just imagine: "What did you bring?" "Oh, Hip Chicks Do Wine..."
posted by TheRagens 09:40

Monday, April 14, 2003

Just returned from the San Juan Islands. It was rainier than we expected it to be which unfortunately limited our ability to take new pictures for our online 'gallery.' I may have taken one good picture that will be worth posting. However, rain didn't prevent the bald eagles from cavorting -- at one time, on Sunday morning, there were eight eagles riding the winds right out in front of the house. I don't recall ever seeing that many eagles at one time before. But the rain was horizontal and we could only watch from inside the house.

Delille Cellars, 1998 D2
This wine is predominantly merlot and the varietal characteristics were apparent. Mellow and smooth, fruity, with subdued tannins. We enjoyed this during dinner preparation with a nice cheese plate.

Woodward Canyon, 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series
Characteristically, versus the D2, this wine was bigger and more wide open. Heavier tannins (versus the D2) gave it a more savage mouth feel. At first, the fruit was more subdued -- our wives thought it was missing while the guys thought it was always there -- but, as the wine opened up, consensus grew that there was actually plenty of fruit. In short, a very nice wine; classic cabernet.

Westrey Wine Company, 1999 Pinot Noir, Temperance Hill Vineyard
Very smooth, a little earthy. Not as powerfully berry-driven as some Oregon pinots but gentle on the palate.
posted by TheRagens 07:06

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

La Sirena, 1997 Sangiovese from Juliana's Vineyard.

"Nice. Very nice." from my wife. I opened a bottle tonight after driving home from Portland. I found it a little thin and acidic at first although I did feel that the fruit became more apparent after the bottle had been open for 20-30 minutes. Or, it may have been the pizza that I was eating that helped it improve.
posted by TheRagens 21:59

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Yippee! Someone stopped by our wine website and found our reviews on winemaking books interesting and so they ordered them from -- and they, or somebody else, also ordered two used video games. This is always fun because it helps pay for our hosting bills. Let me explain why, briefly.

Originally, I set up our family website in 2000 as a way to share parts of our family history; a semi-public repository for items like Oregon Trail diaries from my family ancestors or my grandfather's autobiography. One thing led to another and I started to use the website to post some of the wildlife photos that I had taken and to pass on results of some wine tasting events that a group of friends hold. I also figured that it might be a good medium to catalog some of our favorite books such as a fairly comprehensive set of books on mountain climbing. I figured that I'd sign up as an Amazon affiliate just in case my extended family wanted to order some of these and I just sort of thought that it might help us pay for part of the website. Well, along the way, our little family website got picked up by Google, MSN and other search engines from some external links and we started to get non-family visitors -- first a few hundred a month -- then a few thousand -- and now somewhere north of 10,000 per month. This increase in traffic has meant that we are now starting to get enough orders through and other affiliate programs that are related to our website that we can actually pay for our hosting fees. It doesn't pay for much beyond that but, hey, this whole website is more fun than anything else.

So, I encourage you to visit our family website and check out the affiliate links we offer. You're simply helping the independent web stay vital.
posted by TheRagens 20:34

This will be, at least to start, an experiment in extending our family website with content that is more ephemeral and, perhaps, more random than the content that we have already published. It's my hope to jot my thoughts and or experiences down periodically, perhaps during those few moments of down time that we all have during the day. So, check back here in the next few days as I hope to get rolling soon. Cheers!
posted by TheRagens 09:01

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This blog is our place for occasional thoughts on wine tastings, photography, history and current events, books, and more. "Bottled Poetry" is a concept borrowed from Robert Louis Stevenson.

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  • The Bush School
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