Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Art at Sweet Cheeks

Anne Teigen, who, after a career in fine jewelry and printmaking in California, decided to move up here and paint, is one of my clients. I hang her work for sale at various venues around the area and the tasting room at Sweet Cheeks has been the most lucrative so far. Her work is bright and bold and fits perfectly with the atmosphere and wines there.
After hauling large paintings in and out I had to do a little tasting.
  • The '07 Pinot Noir is a gentle, subtle, yet strongly flavored wine. Hints of cherries and spices in the nose, with a complex taste and velvety mouth feel. 
  • The '08 Pinot Fusion combines Cab Franc and Merlot into a very pleasant wine. Lots of variety in tatste from cherries to ripe black berry.
  • My favorite is the Semi-Sweet Riesling. I love this just to sip. Great with spiced foods. Lots of hints of fruits such as peach and pear.
  • Always a great wine from these folks is the Pinot Gris. The '08 is no exception. Bright, clean, and tasty, with fig, apple, pear, and melon.
  • '07 Dry Riesling; We had a few bottles of this for afternoons on the deck when the weather permitted in late summer. Nothing better than the dry, clean taste of grapefruit and green berry to enjoy in the sun.
I forgot my labeling machine and now I have to go back and spend an hour labeling, sipping, labeling, sipping...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend in Portland

Of note:
  • Ten 01 Restaurant for lunch with Barbara Thomas' '07 Pinot Noir. Outstanding. Pared with a squash and apple soup and a halibut with tomato sauce dish. Rich on the front with many levels of taste coming through as the food and wine had their little conversation.
  • Portland Center Stage for Ragtime. See it. See it twice. It is that good.
  • The Holt International auction was big hit. Two items that were very wine related: Ken Wright, who donated ALL the wine for the event, also donated a party at the winery for 75 people in the Spring and Linda and I are going. Ghost Hill Cellars donated a day in the vineyard for picking the Rose grapes, working the crush, and getting 6 bottles when it is done plus two overnights .at the Carlton Inn.
  • Stayed at the Silver Cloud in Portland, up at 2426 NW Vaughn Street  near another of our favorite Restaurants, Meriwether's .It has free parking, a great little workout room, quiet rooms, and a very nice staff.
  • Breakfast this morning at Farm to Fork in Dundee. A bit of a drive for brekies but it was worth it many times over. Best French Toast I have EVER had! Love the feel of the place. Been back three times so far.
  • A long, meandering drive through the western Oregon hills, past vineyards, odd rocks ( Linda sits atop the largest "Erratic" rock in Oregon...look it up!), and little towns got us back to Eugene in time for the Jazz King's at the Shedd.
  • This was in front of a hardware store in Dallas Oregon: It is just wrong on so many levels...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change

Celebrating  “Blog Action Day”, I feel kind of bad about driving all over the state for "one bottle'" at a time so I try very hard to consolidate my trips, staying with friends, and making trips count, plus planning on going to wine events so I can see as many winery people as I can at once. I am already using less gas than last year (based on miles per bottle collected) an hope to keep it up. I try never to come back without a full case.
The wineries are using more and more solar these days. I was just at Stoller Winery and saw the system they put in.
The list of wineries that have installed systems is impressive and growing all the time;
We installed a 3kw system early this year and have cut our electric bill by 1/3 already so I can only imagine what some of those huge systems are saving in terms of both money and electricity.
Please encourage those wineries who have installed systems.
For more information about climate change visit here!

Rainy Day in Elkton and Umpqua

One of my goals this year is to gather all the wines I was given last time and to get the ones I missed. With that in mind I headed out to Elkton early this morning with the sun shining in my window and BeauSoleil playing me down the road. I stopped to pick up a certificate for 18 holes for my other auction project and then started thinking about coffee.

As I drove through Drain looking for a likely coffee stop I thought I was out of luck. Then, as I started to go out toward Elkton I saw Uncle John's Great Coffee booth sitting on the right side of the road and swung in for a wake-up.. I mentioned my quest and was promptly given a $5.00 gift card to include in the auction for those who end up buying the Elkton wines! And the coffee was really good.
My first stop in Elkton was Rivers Edge Winery where, as promised, Vonnie gave a bottle of the '07 Barrel Select Pinot Noir. Great nose of coffee and current with an unfolding  pallet of berry, Bing cherry, and tobacco.
They were in mid harvest and said the vines were heavy with fruit this year. The two women, Meredith and Savana (one of whom is a wine steward at Delmonico's in New York, the other a Peace Corps veteran studying oenology at Davis) working as interns, were busy checking brix and Ph on grapes they just brought in from the vineyards. Not ready yet and the rain was falling. It is going to be an interesting year.

I stopped at Bradborg for their donation of a a Ferris Wheel Estate Pinot Noir, a 2008 SF International Wine Competition SILVER MEDAL winner. I love their wines and feel bad that more people don't stop on the way to the coast for a case. Here is their friend Joan holding the prize winner.

I read the other day about how beautiful Maine is this time of year...they got nuthin' on us.

These turkeys were feeding just below the Bradley Vineyards ,shown here in a glorious yellow.
John Bradley was great to talk to and I spent the better part of an hour tasting and learning about the wines,  the vineyards and about this years grapes. He gave a bottle of a really delicious Riesling. An very dry '08 with a subtle melon and citrus taste. Then I tasted his '07 Baco Noir....I am stunned. This is one of, if not THE best Bacos I have ever tasted! Rich and compelling with big cherry and chocolate and much much more. I brought a bottle home and Linda and I drank it after dinner. I could not help but smile as I tasted it again!
Before I left town I stopped at Tomaselli's for a sandwich and was informed that I had missed one of the wineries; Anador Vineyards.
They showed me the only bottle left on the shelves and I took it for the collection, a 2006 Gewurztraminer. The owners of the winery were in town but I had to get going and did not have time to track them down, to bad, I would have liked to meet them.

Now off we go to Henry Estate for a great bottle of the '04 Pinot Noir. They always make Pinots that last well and age accordingly so you can get a range of years, in This case, the '04 is drinking very well.
with a cherry and earth nose. ripe fruit and spice taste long round finish .
Down the road, I stopped in at Becker Winery 
and met Peggy coming down from the vineyard. She let me taste the many of their wines, including the '08 Barrel Select that I came away with. They age wines in different oak and the difference is striking, especially the American vs the French barrels. Stop and taste for yourself. 
When I got to Palotai Vineyard and Winery I was greeted by the Llamas and sheep who watched me make my way down the long driveway to the tasting room. Last time John gave me a choice of wines and I chose Bull's Blood. This time I almost went for the Attila Red but ended up again with the signature red, Bull's Blood. Very good wines and a good variety to chose from. The Sarah is outstanding.
Well, time to head for home and a nice glass. I had one last stop to make: Marshanne Landing outside of Oakland. Greg was rolling barrels around in the cellar when I got there. He took me up and showed me the new art and I wish I could afford the work! The new gallery and tasting room is just beautiful! Greg and his wife Fran are huge supporters of the arts and often have concerts at the winery. I saw them both at last weeks Eugene Opera Auction where they gave a case of the '08 Sarah. I took home a the '07 Cab Franc and the Sarah and he gave me a bottle of the Cab Franc for the auction!
I am sipping my Cab Franc now! Good Night!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Winest of Wine Towns

Carlton has become a sort of mecca for wine lovers. It is populated with the wineries of Scott Paul, Ken Wright, Carlton Winemakers Studio, and many many more, plus tasting rooms for wineries from as far away as the Applegate Valley.
I stopped and visited Ken Wright and he promised a bottle of his wonderful wine, then  I walked over to Tyrus Evan for a taste of the Syrahs. If you ever want verification of what is called terroir, just go and taste the same wine made with the same grape, from, in this case, Washington and Southern Oregon. The differences are remarkable! The Oregon Sarah is very complex and stands up to food well, while the Washington sourced wine has a fruit forward impact and  is good just to drink by itself.
After a taste, I went over to Solena's tasting room on South Pine Street and was given a wonderful surprise! Lisa presented a Magnum of their 2003 Grande Cuvee Pinot Noir!
Off to The Horse Radish for a sausage tart and some almonds and cheese, with a glass of Brooks Pinot Gris and a nice talk with Rebecca about what she was going to have me doing at the winery tonight. 
After lunch I went across the street and visited with Jo Jo Pertro at the Cliff Creek Tasting room and ask her for "one bottle". She gave us a 2004 Claret. I love the Clarets from Southern Oregon. They are rich and flavorful, and this one was awarded one of the five Gold Medals at the 2009 Greatest of the Grape Professional Judging. I am impressed! Their wines are also available through Northwest Wines To You.

Cana's Feast, on Lincoln Street, just above The Carlton Winemakers Studio, has one of my all time favorite wines, and one that you do not see a lot of in Oregon: Sangiovese! This, their 2007 Sangiovese Grosso, is 100% VCR-6 Grosso Clone (Brunello di Montacino) and it is SOOO good! Destiny Dudley, the tasting room manager, allowed me to take a bottle for the auction and to taste the wine. I will be back, as should you,  for  lunch on the weekends or dinner Thursday nights.
I had to run over to Dundee to pick up a bottle at Joe Dobbes winery so I stopped on the way at Laurel Ridge and retrieved a bottle of the '08 Savignon Blanc. A very tasty wine, good with food, or just for a warm evening on the deck, which is where Cliff Berg, the winemaker, was when I left.
Joe Dobbes was meeting with his mentor from France when I came by. He worked at Domaine Comtes Lafon in the Burgundy, honing his skills, and today he  is one of Oregon's most respected winemakers. I want very much to get "one bottle" from every winery for which he makes wine and put it up as a package.
Charles, who runs the tasting room, gave a bottle of the Grande Assemblage Cuvee Pinot Noir with aromas of sweet, ripe, red and black fruits and spices. The lush mouth feel opens up to strawberries, currants, and cherries. It tastes like it will be great in about 2011 but is very drinkable right now.
Now off to Ghost Hill for a punch down and them back to Eugene.

Heading North to McMinnville

I stopped at Methven Family Vineyards just as the wine maker and some friends were getting ready to get to work. I went in to the tasting room and met up with Dave Walker who was working the counter. He gave me a bottle of the "06 Chardony and a great conversation. The winery has been very busy and growing fast.
I tasted the Pinot Gris and the Chardonnay and was very impressed.
I plan on going back for a more relaxed tasting when the time allows. They were very helpful and friendly and the winery is worth the trip just for the view!

I got to the  Ghost Hill tasting room and winery in McMinnville (fast becoming one of my favorite Oregon towns)  around 5:00 and Rebecca put me and Kelly Fox, who showed up a while later, to work right away. She was doing what is called a pump-over. You insert a colender through to cap (grape skins on top of the juice) and insert an intake hose, then pump the juice through another hose and pump it over the skins until they soften, This is gentler than a punch down and circulates fermenting juice   from the bottom of the tank over the skin cap that forms during fermentation to ensure optimal extraction and prevent bacterial spoilage. We took Ph , and brix data on all the tanks, then cleaned up and headed for the nearest food and beer.

So It's Not Wine...I Love It Anyway!

On the way out of the Eola Hills I stopped by my favorite non-wine beverage maker Wandering Angus Ciderworks, and caught Nick heading out to the orchard. He came up to the tasting room, which was acting as a temporary home for his friends who were helping him harvest, and gave me a bottle of his sweeter cider. I tend to like the sharper ones but anything he wants to give up for the auction is more than fine with me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eola Hills on a Beautiful Day

My first stop on Wednesday was at Cubanisimo Vineyards where I met Christina Collada, the daughter of the owner. She was working in the office when I came to the tasting room and hurried down the stairs no doubt hoping for a real customer. Instead she got me, begging for "one bottle". She was very gracious and gave me not one but two!  The first is an '07 Rosado de Pinot Noir, an exciting blend of taste: citrus and vanilla, with peach and red berry. Nice finish with a hint of flowers. The second is the '07 Pinot Noir. The tastes just kept unfolding as I sipped. Current, cassis, chocolate and tobacco, with sharp, bright notes of black cherry.
I love the '07s because of the complexity and the changes that happen as you drink them. The '06 Pinot Noirs were very good but most lacked the follow through that gives such pleasure after the first taste.

Next stop: Orchard Heights Winery, where Linda and Carol greeted me with a bottle of the '06 Pinot Gris. They are always very grasious and friendly, and they sell VERY good chocolates, and nuts. A very dangerous place. Here is Linda holding their donation.
I drove past Cherry Hill, and a few more of the wineries that I plan on visiting later and headed for Bethel Height Vineyard.Founded in 1977 and actively producing salmon safe wines since then, they are a true part of Oregon Wine making history. Maggie let me taste several of the wines including the '07 Estate Grown Pinot Noir, a lively, complex wine with earth and cane fruit. Should last a long time and drink well at about 6-8 years. Again, the '07's are just such  great wines and keep unfolding as you taste.
I had to be in McMinnville to help with a pump over at Ghost Hill so I will come back in a few weeks and try to get the ones I missed.