Wine Review: Beyond the Arc Ice Wine

  It’s the final days of National Novel Writing Month! Congrats to all those who participated this month. No matter what your word count, it’s time to celebrate! Mill Lane Winery out of Tenino, Washington has you covered on that front with their Beyond the Arc ice wine.

Since it’s an ice wine, it is very, very sweet and also at its best well chilled. It loses a bit of it’s “oh!” as it warms up, so keep it cold for as long as possible. But when you have it well chilled, oh, it’s a treat.

I discovered this one a few months back when a friend and I went to a mushroom festival down in Hawk’s Prairie that happened to feature a wine tasting. (I’d say it was a total coincidence, but we did know of the tasting well in advance, and since we both love wine and mushrooms…well, attending was kind of a no-brainer.) Right at that tasting, I knew I’d have to buy a bottle and save it to cap off my NaNoWriMo wine review fun.

It’s almost too sweet for me. Almost. It means my 50K celebration stretches out over multiple nights, because one glass is about all I can handle. (In fact, what I show in the photo ended up being a tad too much for me.) I make out hints of apple beneath all the sweet.

I’m sure it’s equally as tasty in summer, but it’s quite satisfying on a chilly and rainy night. It’s so sweet and rich, and the warm yellow color (and maybe the alcohol content) makes me all cheery even in the face of Western Washington’s rainy season.

It also makes me excited to tackle the revision on my NaNo project. But that can come in December. Or during NaNoEdMo.

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Wine Review: Northwest Cellars 12th Man Viognier

a toast to the Seahawks

Wine totally goes with Super Bowl pizza, especially when it’s 12th Man wine. GO HAWKS!

So. It’s Super Bowl Sunday. And since I live in Seahawks country, I am obligated to tune in. Okay, the for real true story is that I fully intended to follow the Hawk’s performance through my neighbor’s fireworks, Facebook, and Twitter, but then my parents invited me over for pizza, and mom said I should make honey walnut ricotta baked apples for them, and then I saw 12th Man wine in the grocery store, and. Well. I know my own personal version of Beast Mode when I see it.

I told my parents I’d happily come eat pizza, watch the Hawks trounce the Patriots (I know; it’s tied at halftime, but GO HAWKS!), and make baked apples if they’d do a special Brown Family Review of Northwest Cellars’ 12th Man wine, To further encourage mom’s participation, I even opted for the white.

This is a 2012 Viognier, hone grown in Washington (specifically Upland Vineyards at Snipes Mountain, in the Yakima region). Now, I am not a huge fan of whites, and Viogniers are hit and miss for me. This one’s a miss for me. All I can taste is the alcohol.

Luckily, my parents are around to pick up the slack for me. Here’s what mom has to say:


It truly compliments my pizza…yes, I would drink it again.

And dad:


I think it has a nice aroma, and the first taste is slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so. It has a fruity taste to me, and it has a nice finish, no unpleasant aftertaste at all.

Like mom, my dad would have it again.

The pizza, for the record, was bacon, black olives, and mushrooms. I can see why mom, who likes whites more than I do, said it compliments the pizza. The sharpness of it was effective at cutting through the lingering (yummy) taste of bacon.

End result: if you’re a fan of sweeter whites, this might be a good try. As for me, I think I’ll be sticking to late harvest Viogniers.

And if the Hawks make it to the Super Bowl next year? That will be an excuse to try the 12th Man red. 😀 GO HAWKS!

Wine Review: Sun Garden 2012 Riesling

I’ve come to learn that I approach wine buying much like I approach book buying. I have my favorite “genre” (reds) and “subgenres” (Sangiovese, Malbec, Pinot Noir…), and my tried and true “authors” (Airfield Estates, Brian Carter Cellars…), but sometimes I want something new. And a catchy cover bottle and the right price point will get my attention.

sun garden 2012 riesling

Sun Garden’s 2012 Riesling is a little like having a glass of early spring sunshine.

That’s how I came to try Sun Garden’s 2012 Riesling. It is a gorgeous bottle (I love turquoise), and while this winter hasn’t been as gray and dreary as past winters, I am starting to give the clouds the stinkeye. The sun on the label immediately perked me up, and the price was right. And I do like (the right) Rieslings.

This is an off-dry Riesling, and any off-dry white is a hard sell for me. I generally like my whites to commit to the sweet or dry end of the spectrum and tend to be underwhelmed by anything in between. Sun Garden’s 2012 Riesling, however, has enough fruitiness to hold my interest. It starts nice and tart and then opens up to a nice, crisp melony-peachy note.

I had it with my baked apples with honey walnut ricotta this past weekend, and it was a perfect compliment to the dessert. The apple really highlighted the tartness of the wine, and the wine, in turn, brought out the sweetness in the dessert. I also had it the next day with some cream of mushroom soup, and while it wasn’t quite as dazzling when paired with the soup, it was nice and light and a good counterweight to the heaviness of the cream.

I’ll likely pick it up again, especially when I want to offset a sweet dessert.

Wine Review: Anakena 2012 Late Harvest Viognier

I’m mainly a fan of red wine, though I go to a number of wine tasting with a friend who’s a huge fan whites, specifically sweet whites, and over the years, we’ve slowly convinced each other to expand our palates. And now I do admit a certain fondness for sweet, fruity whites.

Anakena's 2012 Late Harvest Viognier

Look at that gorgeous golden color!

Anakena’s 2012 Late Harvest Viognier is sweet. It’s a Chilean wine, and I’ve had good luck with Chilean reds, so I picked it up on a whim for when I was in the mood for a sweet white. At $11.99, it’s on the cheaper end of the late harvest wines I like, and it’s one I’ll definitely get again for my own pleasure, but if I’m looking to give someone (like my friend who keeps corrupting expanding my palate, or, my mother, who also likes sweet whites), I’ll stick to my tried and true Airfield and Kestrel picks.

I really like the color and scent of this late harvest. It looks and smells sweet, but not cloyingly sweet. It doesn’t taste cloyingly sweet, either, but I don’t taste many fruity notes. Some are hiding there, but the sweetness overpowers them, and the wine ends on a crisp, almost harsh, note for me. I like wines that have a bit of a bite, so it’s a good ending note for me.

End result: I’d like to try it again, but I’ll wait and get it when I need one more bottle to get a bulk discount. I’ll also be on the lookout for other Anakena wines, especially their reds.