Mike Willison
 
February 27, 2015 | Mike Willison

The REX HILL Thistle

The thistle has long been a symbol for nobility of character.  The Order of the Thistle is the highest chivalric order of Scotland.  It is associated with tenacity and strong will — those who wound it are punished.  It is an example of the delicate balance often found in nature between beauty and something prickly. The sharp spines and pricklers protect against the trespasses of anyone attempting to pluck away its beautiful flower heads or to eat it. Many species attract goldfinches and are nectar sources for bees and butterflies.  The thistle has a tenacious grip on the land that supports it, and a defiant ability to remain and flourish in spite of efforts to remove it. 

We incorporated the thistle into our REX HILL logo to represent our determination to make wines of the highest quality regardless of obstacles. The gnarly vines, looking like dead wood in the winter, pull nutrients from deep in the soil to bud and grow finally offering delicious, delicate berries at harvest. The thistle reflects our commitment to make beautiful, superlative wines from grapes grown sustainably revealing an evident sense of place and made without engineering.


Time Posted: Feb 27, 2015 at 11:21 AM
Mike Willison
 
November 26, 2014 | Mike Willison

Wading Through a Sea of Leftovers: How to cope on the day after Thanksgiving

It is now 2:30pm on the day after Thanksgiving and you’ve just finally put the 11th load of dishes into the dishwasher, tucked the good gravy boat back into the deep corner of the pantry, and located what you hope is the very last half-full plastic tumbler of red wine (in the bathtub, no less). The refrigerator is bursting with leftovers in a zoo of Tupperware containers and there is even a lidded pot on the back porch. All of the relatives have left for Duluth, Topeka, and Toledo, and your kids and spouse are already clamoring in loud and desperate voices for “anything but turkey.”  Here are some helpful hints to ensure a happy and swift return to normalcy:

Thanksgiving Day:

Buy a dozen large Tupperware containers and make all of your guests a to-go goodie box of the “Greatest Hits of Thanksgiving” while cleaning up.  This makes storage easier and prevents your having to read any further provided everyone actually takes their parcel (along with the dish they brought the sweet potatoes over in).

Turkey:

  • If you somehow have white meat left, it will no doubt be dry and utterly useless. So, make a Cuban sandwich with it and there will be joy.  Alternate: Turkey Reuben
  • White meat can also be chopped up and made into a delicious Cobb salad replacing the chicken with turkey if the mood in the house is sluggish.
  • A mix of white and dark meat? My mother’s Turkey Tetrazzini got us through the very darkest of days and seemed to improve as the weeks and months wore on. The shelf life is measured with carbon-dating. 
  • Mostly dark meat and a couple of sides can be made into a delicious mixture for the general stuffing of things into other things, depending on your level of kitchen expertise. Turkey, peas, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, even a bit of the old green bean casserole, can be mixed together and stuffed into a samosa, a pupusa, an empanada, or even a calzone. Find some pastry, wrap it up, and bake it.
  • Bones: roast them and then heave them in a pot with vegetables and all of the half-full bottles of wine and make soup, stock, jook, or broth.

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow:

Green Bean Casserole:

  • This does not age well. The crispy onions get disappointingly mushy, the mushrooms get gloppy, and the fun wanes like day 2 with a pet rock. You have only 2 choices: Use as per above as a stuffable or dispose of with shame. Read: don’t even think of composting this.

Stuffing/ Dressing:

  • If done properly, there will be no leftovers. I can’t help you if you don’t understand this.

Cranberry sauce/ Regular potatoes/ Roasted vegetables:

  • Have brunch. Add waffles, pancakes, eggs, sparkling wine, and orange juice.

 

Have a Thanksgiving leftover emergency? Post your questions and comments below.

Time Posted: Nov 26, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Mike Willison
 
October 27, 2014 | Mike Willison

Do more by doing less

A recent restaurant visit proved to be a profound exercise in archaeology when faced with the vast hieroglyphics of the cocktail list. It had been crafted, curated, locally-sourced, painstakingly-procured, and whimsically presented by the list’s adorable docent, of course. Ingredients were pre-prohibition, pre-Pasteur, and pre-historic, all obtained with the aid of a grizzled, old shaman at no small amount of risk to the establishment’s ingredient farmer, and they had bottles of Pappy Van Winkle that you could look at, and one you could pay to smell.

Cynicism aside, the list was filled with baffling details. Each drink was built upon the general theory that a very many bizarre things could be mixed together to make one very good thing. Further, their particular bailiwick was the mystifying use of Things We Turned Into Other Things™; things such as: “Hood Strawberry and mint-infused Mosel Riesling gelée powder” (powder!) and “Hay smoked watercress and endive gin distillate”. All of this is true. Now, this is very inventive, I grant you, and this probably tastes very good. Probably (maybe).

I am not in the habit of squishing any creative endeavor, and these creations could very well be a good thing in and of themselves, however, when a laundry list of aromatic liqueurs, tinctures, oils, and curlicues of exotic flora are added, then shaken or stirred over an ice cube carved out of Pleistocene glacial remains, and snuggled into a 1890’s coupe, it is precious beyond precious. It’s like watching a soccer riot; so much is happening but you can’t really pick any of it out and then the stadium collapses. A far cry from spirit, sugar, water, and bitters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t think making a drink with 25 ingredients, transmogrified into superhero versions of themselves, despite their impeccable provenance, is a thing that is or can be good. In fact, what rankles me the most is that many of these ingredients, such as wine, spirits, and bitters, have already been painstakingly curated and Turned Into Other Things™ for you! How very novel. A wine, beer and spirits list that is tight, clean, well-chosen, cozy, and a bit edgy is a thing of beauty when done right. When done wrong, dinner lasts a century.
 

Time Posted: Oct 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM
Mike Willison
 
September 16, 2014 | Mike Willison

What's missing from your end-of-summer get together?

Late summer in Oregon is all about our abundant harvest. Blueberries, boysenberries, corn, tomatoes, chilies, squash and more give us a reprieve from the ubiquitous kale of winter (while salmon begin their fall run even in August close to the coast in Astoria) to lay a foundation for a wild array of dishes from raw to grilled. Fresh and bright is the order of the day, and the best wines reflect that. Acidity trumps tannin, being more suited for lighter, summery fare - like a squeeze of lemon on a bed of green - so our cool-climate whites and reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay) with less oak will always pair elegantly, and not overwhelm a dish's nuance.

A summer favorite at the winery, we recommend Ahi Poké paired with Chardonnay or Pinot Gris as the perfect pairing to start your end-of-summer get together.

 

Ahi Poké

Serving Size: 15
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes minimum
Wine Pairing: 2012 REX HILL Willamette Valley Seven Soils Chardonnay
                         2012 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Vineyard Pinot Gris

Ingredients
20 oz fresh ahi tuna
1 bunch of green onions
1 shake of fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp Thai chili paste
2 tbsp pure sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds double the amount if choosing not to use black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds optional
1 tbsp Mongolian fire oil

Directions

  1. Clean off any remaining bits of skin or sinew.
  2. Dice ahi in 1 1/2-inch chunks and place it in a medium-sized bowl.

  1. Chop up green onions and add it to the bowl.
  2. Add fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and Mongolian fire oil. Stir.
  3. Add sesame seeds & Thai chili paste. Stir.

  1. Taste. Add ingredients as necessary.
  2. Cover & refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.
  3. Serve with Kim Chee cucumbers, zucchini squash spaghetti, or by itself.
Time Posted: Sep 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM