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Our Journey to Lisbon, First Leg Dulles to Amsterdam

Champagne in the lounge and on the KLM flight

This year marks the third trip we took with Washington State University Enology and Viticulture Department. Previous treks included New Zealand and France. This time our journey is to Portugal. We are anxious to capture the wine essence of this country that is famous for its Port and Madeira. We are hoping to discover that Portugal is more than Port.

After spending some reflection on packing our luggage, we finally started the allotted one-hour drive to the airport. En route, my Garmin GPS placed a dreaded window on the right of the screen. “Delay ahead 5 minutes.” Past experience has taught me to not believe the time mentioned. It was bound to get worse. And worse it did get. Our hour-drive turned into a 90 minute excursion as drivers weaved in an out of lanes to gain a car’s length at a time. Traffic on the Washington Beltway was at a snail’s pace in both directions. Interestingly, there were no accidents or road work. The traffic was just simply too many vehicles for too few lanes. We talked about how traffic designers need to think “outside of the box” to help with this major of congestion.

We made it to our pre-arranged parking facility and took their shuttle bus to the airport. During the 15-minute drive we passed through a snow shower. The last I looked, the temperature was forty degrees. At that temperature the snow was more fanciful than challenging.

Our flight to Lisbon was on KLM. We flew KLM perhaps 15 years ago. I am interested to see how business class now feels. Dropping off luggage was simple. We were able to walk to our gate rather than take a bus ride to the terminal. It was a long walk but felt good. Our first stop was the Air France/KLM lounge. If Air France is connected with the lounge, there must be champagne.

Champagnes Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve

Champagne  Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve

This champagne was served in the lounge as well as on the flight to Amsterdam prior to departure. The champagne had a yellow color with gold hue. The champagne had multiple columns of tiny bubbles forming a center mousse. Apple and freshly baked bread were noticed on the aroma. The taste was quite apple-like with a lively mouthfeel and crisp finish. After a hectic drive to the airport on interstates that were not designed to accommodate the snail pace or too many vehicles, the champagne was a welcome aperitif.

2016 Blanc de Lys by Thierry Delaunay

Once we reached cruising altitude it was time for dinner. For an aperitif, I had the 2016 Blanc de Lys by Thierry Delaunay. This Sauvignon Blanc from the Val de Loire, France was a light yellow color with a light green hue. The wine had tropical fruit notes on the aroma reminding me of pineapple, melon, kiwi and citrus. The finish was crisp and fruity with an undertone of lemon grass. The wine had mineral on the aftertaste. The wine was paired with a small delft bowl of mixed nuts. I liked the saltiness of the nuts and the mineral presence of the wine’s finish.

2017 Simonsig Chenin Blanc with Salmon Tartare

2017 Simonsig Chenin Blanc

The 2017 Simonsig Chenin Blanc was a light yellow color with citrus on the aroma. The taste was reminiscent of citrus and tropical fruits although less intensive than the Sauvignon Blanc. The finish was crisp. The first course was a salmon tartare with chunky tomato salsa, mixed greens and sour cream. The salmon tartare was very flavorful and overpowered the Chenin Blanc. The wine faired better with the salad green that had a lemon and olive oil Dressing. The wine and salad matched with the citrus flavor.

Ramón Roqueta Tempranillo 2016

The Tempranillo was a dark ruby color. The wine offered blueberries and blackberries on the aroma while the taste also had blueberries and blackberries with the addition of leather and licorice. The wine had a medium/full body and medium tannins. There was a perceived sweetness on the finish which was fruit yielding to baking spices. The second course was rigatoni pasta with roasted pepper sauce, artichoke heart, sautéed spinach, black olives and Parmesan cheese. This course also had a slight sweetness. The perceived sweetness of the wine matched the sweetness of the entree.

For dessert I had the Cantal and Camembert cheese plate along with Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012. The port had an opaque dark ruby to black color. The aroma was jammy fruits. The taste included raisins and orange blossoms. It paired nicely with the cheese especially with the dried fruit on the dish. The fortified wine really shined when paired with a piece of dark chocolate. The faint hint of orange blossom in the wine and the chocolate was memorable.

So far, on the first leg of our journey to Portugal we ended with a Portuguese wine. What will the final leg of the journey to Lisbon deliver.


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