Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Nice Musical Evening in Eugene

Linda and I, along with fine friends Anne and Bob, had dinner at Willamette Street Bar and Grill before the Oregon Mozart Players "All Amadeus" concert. Joshua Ewing, the owner, was tending bar and after introductions said he would help gather some wine for the auction project!
I am hoping he can secure some that has been under my radar, though he did mention some that I have pledges from such as Rex Hill.
I can't wait to see what he comes up with!
The food was really good. Very nice veggies. Tasty steak, nice wine.
I think they were short handed tonight and Linda was a little miffed about not getting refills on water and no spoon for her cream but definitely not a punishable offense. We shall return!
The concert went very well. I managed not to screw up the intro and AllanVogel received a standing ovation.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Afternoon in the Mid Valley

After a Looong board meeting this morning I struck out to gather some wine in the area around Eola-Amity AVA. My first stop was Orchard Heights. I was amazed by their tasting room/snack bar/ gift shop! You would never know what is inside by what is outside. They were so nice and helpful! We were given a bottle of Bronze medal winning Pinot Gris and one of the 2007 Merlot made with 100% Oregon grapes. I really like the Merlot for its deep chocolate and fruit. I also got just a hint of tobacco and leather in the back taste. Nice!
A lot of the wineries are closed now but I did find Redhawk open and got to meet the owner John Pataccoli. He was very nice and even though I interrupted him while he was bottling , he gave us a bottle of his best selling "Grateful Red". I recommend a visit to taste the wines, and to see John smile when he talks about them!
I was in a rush to find more wineries open and I saw Bryn Mawr. Meeting David Lloyd-Jones lowered my blood pressure by a few points and made me want to stop what I was doing and join him in the vineyards to learn the proper pruning methods. His rambunctious dogs and the docile sheep, the view (which he should also bottle) and his calm and patient demeanor, all made me very pleased to be there. We tasted his 06 and 07 Pinot Noirs: Yin and Yang. The yang was the 06 with its power ans rich chocolate and fruit and spirited taste. The yin was the subtle, soft, and vital 07. As I held it in my mouth it began to open and gently let loose the fruit and flowers. Such a huge difference between them yet there was a distinct sense that David's hand had made each one, from the planting to the pruning to the harvesting. I can't wait to spend more time there. I think he might be a secret poet! You HAVE to read his web site.
David was kind enough to give us two bottles of his 07 Pinot Noir. I think this is as good or better than most of the "big boys" in the area.
Bethel Heights was next. What they gave me was a true nectar of the Gods. I have drank this wine before and even have it in my tasting notes! "Rich deep lasting flavor of sweet pear and anise, dry wheat and pepper. Love it!" It is the 05 Chardonnay done in oak.
Ted and Pat were working in the office when I came in and plead my case and when ask for a wine that they were very proud of, the 05 Chard came first. I am taking Linda up in May to buy me a birthday present!
I swung by another winery to pick up a donation from Whistling Dog and the woman at the vineyard where I picked it up was very nice and sweet. The wine Celeste left for me is a big Pinot Noir: lush mouth feel, lots of rich fruit and soft sweet finish. I can't wait till they have their own tasting room. The 06 Pinot Noir has already gained a rep and three of the other wineries I stopped at spoke very well of it.
My next stop involved daffodils! As I got out of the car at Kristen Hill a had to stop and think about what moth it was. It IS still February is it not? She had Daffodils blooming in the yard! My attention soon moved to wine: Pinot Gris. I did not taste it but will before the auction and will tell you what I think.
Last stop! Amity Vineyards.
Deep history of wine there. I had already picked up an 06 Pinot Noir from them at the Newport fest but had to stop and taste the rest. Absolutely wonderful whites, reds, and desert wines. You have to go and spend some time sampling and buying. The range of tastes in the 06 Pinot Noir are astounding!
Back home now with wine everywhere and not a drop to drink...I have to break into my cellar tonight!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good News From a Special Winery

I just received a nice note from one of Oregon's top Pinot Noir makers about our request for one bottle of wine from all of Oregon's many wineries:

Congrats! Well done. I applaud your success, and will happily provide the promised bottle. … even though you’re still a bit shy of the 150… (but I can see you are determined and will likely make it!).

I think for such a big project it should be a big bottle. My assistant Pat will have a magnum of our 2006 Le Cadeau Cote Est sent to you.

I am so honored by gifts like these and by the open handed giving on the part of all the wineries that have offered us wine so far and those who have said they would.

Thank you all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Newport Seafood & Wine Fest

Early Saturday morning ,with the sun poking through a layer fog, I was off the Newport to gather wines. I had a list of wineries who had said "yes" to our request and thought one stop shopping would help cut down on hours/days of driving. After slipping my Subaru in to a parking slot 3 inches bigger than the car, I walked to the gate and paid my $20 to get in and get a glass (which I promptly left at the second wine booth). Tastings were $1 and $2 so the cash machine was conveniently out of money. The other one on the other end of the tents had a line of about 40 people so that took 40 minutes. After all that I began my quest for one bottle from them all! It was hard to keep track of all the good wines tasted and most times I just ask them what they liked best and tasted those. Coelho 06 Pinot got a 90 from Wine Spectator and I found out why!
Valley View had their usual great selection and they gave me a 2005 Historic label Merlot signed by the owner, Michael Wisnovsky. I tasted my first Oregon cab there in 1979 and I still remember how surprised I was after living in Germany and drinking European wines for all that time.
I ran in to Heidie and Jack from Joel Palmer House and got to smell Jack's new white truffle oil! Wow! They are donating a dinner and a stay at their new cottage retreat!
Sol et Soleil's 06 Pinot Noir Reserve was rich and subtle with hints of red berry and toasted wheat. Arcane's 07 Pinot Gris was great and I was taken by the intensity of the honey and fruit tastes. Emerson has a 07 Pinot Noir that I called "strange but true". This wine has it all: fruit, toasted oak, earthy richness and floral nose with lots of contradictions that add up to a real treat for the pallet. Springhill 07 Pinot Gris was one of the best Gris I tasted. It has a silky smooth front and back and is as complex as any I tried.
Of the ones I was given Saturday, these won Gold Medals!
Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir Estate Single Vyd (left)
Anthony Dell Cellars Rogue Valley 2005 Syrah
Crater Lake Cellars Rogue Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (right)
Emerson Vineyards Willamette Valley 2007 Pinot Noir Avelina
Melrose Vineyards Umpqua Valley 2006 Red Blend "Equinox"
Pheasant Valley Winery Columbia Valley 2005 Syrah
Spindrift Cellars Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir
Volcano Vineyards Rogue Valley 2006 Merlot Fortmiller Vyd

Silver went to
Eola Hills Wine Cellars Oregon 2005 Merlot Reserve (right)
Namaste Vineyards Willamette Valley 2007 Open White "Peace"
Vitis Ridge Willamette Valley 2007 Pinot Gris

Bronze to
Arcane Cellars/Wheatland Winery Willamette Valley 2007 Pinot Gris
Emerson Vineyards Willamette Valley 2007 Chardonnay
Noble Estate Willamette Valley 2008 Muscat RS 4.5
Noble Estate Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir
Seufert Winery Umpqua Valley 2007 Open Red Dolcetto
Viridian Wines Oregon 2006 Pinot Noir

I visited and tasted Arcane Cellars at Wheatland, Emerson Vineyards, River’s Edge Winery,
Paschal Winery and Vineyard, Saginaw Vineyard, Anthony Dell Cellars, Spangler Vineyards, Sol Et Soleil Cellars, David Hill Vineyards, Volcano Vineyards, Pheasant Valley Vineyard & Winery, Misty Oaks Vineyard, LLC, 12 Ranch Wines, Cathedral Ridge Winery, Vitas Ridge – Silverton Cellars, Kristin Hill Winery, Albiqua Wind Vineyard, Cardwell Hill Cellars, LLC, Olsen Family Vineyards/Viridian Wines, Springhill Cellars, Sweet Cheeks Winery, Coleman Vineyards, Amity Vineyards, Eola Hills Wine Cellars, Hauer of the Dauen Inc. Winery, Ribera Vineyards, Coelho Winery of Amity, Trinity Vineyards, Sienna Ridge Wine, Spindrift Cellars, Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Seufert Winery LLC, David Hamilton Winery LLC, Wasson Brothers Winery, Purple Cow Vineyards, Valley View Winery, Silvan Ridge Winery, Noble Estates Vineyard, LLC, Chateau Bianca, Inc., Orchard Heights Winery, Airlie Winery, Chateau Lorane, Crater Lake Cellars, Cliff Creek, Namaste Vineyards, Inc, Melrose Vineyards, Wine by Joe, Nehalem Bay Winery.
After picking up the first 1/2 case I decided I could not haul around a full case in that crowd so I bought this really cool folding basket that fit a case and then some and was strong enough that the handles would stay on. I grabbed the bottle separator out of a case and put in the basket. $25 was well worth it. I went to the car the first time with 14 bottles.
I had stored a few bottles at Palotai and when I stopped back by I was treated to a taste of the 07 Merlot!
I headed out with another case and decided against driving back so soon after $50 dollars of tatse so I stopped at an out of the way Mexican restaurant and had a great meal and plenty of water. I left Newport and after about 30 miles was just too tired to drive. I pulled over and took about 1/2 hour to nap. When I woke up I was greeted with the sight of two cop cars with lights going just down the road and an SUV in the ditch. I think I made the right decision to stop and not take any chances.
I do so love Oregon wines! Every time you get a chance, go out for a taste. It only takes an hour or two to get to any of the wine regions and it is a cheap vacation even if you buy a few bottles at every place you visit.
When we have this auction you will have the chance of getting a LOT of good wine and a few gift certificates so you have to go to the region pick up your wine and taste along the way.

Friday, February 20, 2009

On My Way Home

Before I left Dundee I stopped at The Dundee Bistro and had a little cheese and bread to get me home. I also drank a glass of Three Wives, a red Table Wine made by Remy Wines of Gaston. It uses Washington grapes from the Columbia Gorge and is a very good food wine. If I had not had to be back in Eugene I would have had another.
I highly recommend the Bistro. Linda and I have eaten there before and have been well pleased.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My First Long Day of Wine Gathering

I left Eugene on the 18th about 7:00 and drove straight through to Oregon City and found a cheep but nice Best Western right on the river. They gave me great deal and a fourth floor room with a wonderful view. Times are hard and there were very few cars in the lot and fewer diners at the restaurant adjoining the motel. I had a nice meal with a glass of Firesteed Pinot Gris.
This morning after a traditional bacon and eggs I headed down town to pick up a bottle of Holloran's 2007 Staford Hill Pinot Noir they brought down to his office for me. Stafford Hill provides outstanding value for handcrafted, small production wines.
After getting directions I drove to Lake Oswego on 43 then left on McVey to Rosemont ( be careful the round about as the sign is not visible so you have to go all the way around to see it) then back south to Oswego Hills Vineyard and Winery. It is a beautiful farm with white barns and house. They are building a new tasting room using the same style. I found Jerry Marshall, the owner, covered with sawdust and looking very happy. He was gracious with me for interrupting him and gave me one of his very best wines, the Vintage Select Oregon Pinot Noir 2006.
I took I205 to Tualatin and cut over to 99w and headed south with a stop at Ponzi Vineyards where Jeff Mathews gave me bottle of their 2006 Chardonnay Reserve.
He said that they were very proud of this one and gave me a taste. It had a very light, sweet nose with a little citrus and burnt sugar, it tasted like soft spiced berry fruit. Loved it!
On to Rex Hill for a bottle of Chardonnay and a bottle Day and Night Red from A to Z. Great web site!

I made stops at Adelsheim, (where they just put in a solar array!) and picked up a truly great wine, the 2006 Elizabeth's Reserve, and at Bergstom where Sara Kofman, the tasting room manager, gave a 2007 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir. These kind of donations makes this whole trip worthwhile!
I went in to Newburg and found Chehalem Winery tasting room and picked up a INOX Chardonay. "Dave McIntyre's WineLine, June 11, 2006, "Two Unoaked Chards." ABC really could be called ABO -- anything but oak. The extreme example of the movement's success is unoaked Chardonnay. These came originally from New Zealand and Australia, but some wineries in the U.S. are now making them and bragging about it. Oregon's Chehalem bottles an unoaked "INOX" (French for stainless steel) Chard that is a winner year in and year out."
Now for a drive: I, like most men, hate to turn around or ask where I am so off into the hills! I found Vidon Vineyard and had a good time talking to Don Hagge, the owner, and enjoying his amazing view. He gave a bottle of 2007 3 Clones Pinot Noir (90 points in Wine Spectator in the April Issue). Thank you Don!
I was excited by the next stop because of things I had heard about Peter Rosback and his wine making skills. Sineann Block One is a Cabernet made from grapes grown in the Columbia Valley by Paul Champoux. The vineyard is one of the oldest in the Northwest and has constantly produced intense and complex Cabernet Sauvignon.He also gifted me personally with a small bottle of 2008 Pinot Gris that I am tasting even as I write. Honey and wild flowers on the nose with an acidic taste that turns to very pleasant tingle on the tongue! I really like this wine.
Now for another wild chase through the valley: Owen Roe and O'Reilly was hard to find: no cell signal, but I found them and he rewarded me with a 2007 O'reilly's Pinot Noir and an Owen Roe 2006 Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, their richest of the 06 Pinot Noirs.
On the way south I stopped at Duck Pond and was given a 05 Pinot Noir Jory Cuvee "WINEMAKER NOTES: Using grapes primarily from its estate St. Jory vineyard in the South Salem Hills (and 9% from the Dundee Hills), the ’05 Pinot Noir Jory Cuvee is a wine that is bright and yet complex. It opens with aromas of petals, spicy pie cherries, raspberries and cinnamon, followed by clean flavors of raspberries, Rainier cherries and cranberries, with hints of vanilla. " (Quoted from their wine club site.)
My last stop, right at 5 till 5:00 was Four Graces. This is a wine that I look forward to trying again. They let me sample the 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and I liked the structure and the light fruit of the wine. This is the perfect example of the wine being strong yet delicate, like a ballet dancer rather than a weight lifter. It has been compared to a new world Burgundy but I think it is time we begin to just say that it is a Dundee Pinot Noir.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Quick Trip North

The Airlie road from Highway 99 N to the coast range is made for a fast, tightly wound sports car. I drive a 200 Subaru Legacy Wagon (with HX rated Michelin tires).
I was on my way to pick up a donation from Mary Olsen, owner of Airlie Winery. Her two Irish Setters came out to greet me and make sure they got lots of attention. Mary gave us a bottle of 2004 Dunn Forest Vineyard Pinot Noir.
I tasted her 2007 Chardonnay: vanilla and very slight oak with a rich after taste of spice. The Pinot Gris was fresh and bright with a little grapefruit and floral hint with a bit of mineral.
I plan on coming back in April to get a few bottles of both.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Benton County Surprise

Today I got up at 6:00, after sleeping from 10:00 the night before...a record for me for the past few years, and decided to take a chance on Friday the 13th and go on a wine adventure.
I stopped at OMP offices and picked up my paperwork ( I hate paperwork!), had coffee at MidTown, the headed north. I passed Tyee on the way to Corvallis and called to make sure they would be around later. I went to Wineopolis and had the usual great and uplifting conversation with the owner. He gave me some tips on wineries to contact and off I went! Man on a mission!
I went around the corner and down the street to Pioner Hopyard Vineyard 255 SW Madison and in to Coleman Jewellers. When I was much younger I bought a nice necklace for a girlfriend there. Nice memory. Anyway, John said that they had an old hopyard up past Salem that had been in the family for years and they decided to grow wine there. The result is an astoundingly good Pinot Noir! The 2003 is subtle and rich, like a ballet dancer, strong and full of energy.
The next stop was Spindrift Cellars out in Philomath where I picked up such a wonderful wine that I almost just stopped for the day. They let me taste the wine they were giving us, a 2006 Pinot Noir. OMG it was good! They gave me four tasting certificates also and whoever gets the case they are in is in for a treat! Megan was more that helpful and patient with me...has anyone ever told me I talk to much???
Away and on to Lumos Winery. Big dog, nice folks, wonderful wine and a VERY COOL web site!
Last stop for the day was Tyee Wine Cellars. Danial was nice enough to meet me at the tasting room, even though they are closed, and give me a bottle of the 2006 Barrel Select Pinot Noir.
I look forward to April when they open for tasting!

Certificate vs Bottles

I think we need to have a few gift certificates mixed among the bottles in each region to encourage people to go to the wineries and spend some time tasting the other wines they offered and explore the other wineries..
Setting that president is Melrose Vineyards in the Umpqua region. They have graciously given a certificate for a bottle of 06 Pinotage. This is a wine found almost exclusively in South Africa and it has very unique qualities. Linda and I had dinner in Amsterdam at Puri Mas and when I ask for a wine to go with the spicy food, the waiter came out with a red...."Oh?' ask I " and what would THIS be?" He smiled and told us about Pinotage, the way it is grown, and why they serve it with spiced foods. Chilled a bit to around 52 degrees, it takes on an astounding quality. It approaches the spice and instead of masking it as some big reds would, it enhances the subtle flavors and enjoys the contest without trying to win. Needless to say I was excited when Melrose uncorked a bottle for me to try. VERY big fruit nose! More subtle ion the pallet. A keeper that will be good for at least 5 years if you can control yourself.
So look for some paper in your cases of wine you bid on and you may discover a real treat!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Umpqua Valley in the Rain

I started the day with a 7:30 Travel Lane County meeting about the re-branding, then 2 hours pouring over the financials at OMP.
I was ready for a road trip! Heading south on I-5 I stopped at Oakland for a snack at Tolly's
and then off to find wine. First stop was Henry Estate where Daniel gave me a real nice surprise: a 2003 Barrel Select Pinot Noir. I made my way up a winding road Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards and was amazed to find a wine cave with private tasting rooms, and carved stone statues. They gave us a 2007 Grüner Veltliner .
Off to Becker Vineyard where we were treated to a 07 Pinot Noir. I found my way to Palotai

and tasted the Bull's Blood and the 07 Pinot Noir. They gave us an 07 Bull's Blood, a rich table red with lots of old world flavors.
My last stop of the day was at MarshAnne Landing. Great folks there. Greg and Fran gave me a tour of their tasting room and property. They are located in one of Oregon's best keep secret valleys. Rolling hills and green pastures and a wonderful view off the Cascades. I left with Red Planet, cloves and earth with a hint of sour blackberry. The web site is way out of date so do not be misled by the pictures: The tasting room is large and very modern with lots of light and a wonderful view.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Winery Visits

Saturday was the day I made my return to the Opera stage at the Hult Center in Il Trovatore after 29 years of no opera so I was a little stressed. I put on my rehearsal CD and drove south. On the way to Cottage Grove I stopped for a taste at Saginaw Winery and was very taken by their Pinot Gris and 06 Pinot Noir. They also make a variety of fruit wines that I have tried in the past and have been pleasantly surprised by. I really like the blueberry. They use two pounds per bottle and it is very good and not the syrup one would expect. I will return soon to see if they will donate a bottle to the auction.
I continued in to Cottage Grove and followed the wine route that they post. A winding drive out 13 miles to Chateau Lorane was rewarded with some excellent wines and a nice surprise.
As I talked to Lindy on the phone and confirmed his wonderful gift of an 05
Huxelrebe the young couple, Mina and Dustin White, standing nearby overheard me and ask if they could buy a wine and contribute it to our cause. They selected the 06 Chardonnay. Dustin owns and operates a landscape service in Port Orchard, Washington; Sage Creations Contractors. They were celibrating a year of marrage with an trip through Oregon wineries.
After I left there I drove up Terroirtorial Road and headed to Secret House for to receive their git of TWO bottles of wine: the red is an exceptional 06 Pinot Noir that will stand up against any out there and a VERY good Muller-Thugau with nice peachy floral highlights.
Afetr all that it was off to get in to my Tux and on to the stage. The after party was at OPUS6IX Gallery . for lots of food and LaVelle's Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that Doug gave to the Eugene Opera as a donation to support our local arts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Whistling Dog Wine

I stopped by the Market of Choice in Eugene on 29th and Willamette today to let our house guest, Jeniece Golbourne, who is singing Azucena in Eugene Opera's Il Trovatore, collect some food and sundries. While I was there I wondered back to the wine section and found Celeste doing a tasting of Whistling Dog wine. I was so excited to find a new wine! I sampled their Pinot Noir and was very impressed. Big, lush mouth feel, lots of rich fruit and soft finish. I can't wait to visit them and collect the bottle!
They taste at St Innocent.