Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Rich Rewarding Day

After sleeping late and dreaming about broken wine glasses, I roused myself and drove out to King Estate Winery do do something I seldom have time to do: just taste the wines.
Josh ( shown here looking a bit fearful) took me through all the whites and reds while helping others on their exploration. The newest offering from King is a restaurant, on premise wine called Acrobat ($12). I was very impressed with its full flavor: lots of pear, green apple, in the nose and tropical fruits on the palate. Full mouth feel and a bit of a tang on the finish. Very enjoyable. I took two home and we had one with lemon, basil paste and it was perfect. My wife was surprised by the flavor as it is very pale in the glass.My favorite among the many whites was the '07 Domaine Pinot Gris: ($25) Lively and fresh with lots of peach and citrus, nice finish with a clean mineral taste.
The reds were all the North by Northwest brand, (yes, that is what NxNW means) and were all really good entry level wines for those whose palettes have not been honed to a sharp point by tasting hundreds of wines...or who just like a good, simple, drinkable wine. My favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon- Walla Walla ($35). Deep rich red with strong ceder, berry, and earth. Soft finish and drinkable now.

 A very nice family from Taiwan, Katrina, Li-Hsiang, Tsung-min, and Jessie, was there enjoying their first tastes of Oregon wines and seemed very impressed by the wines and the place.I offered some tickets to our concert for them to enjoy while in Eugene so they will get a bit of "South of the Border next weekend.

As I left there were two cars at the bottom of the hill with the people out looking up at one of the trees. As I got closer I saw what was so interesting. He was balancing atop a spruce and his weight was bending it over. As I took the second picture, he sprang up and took flight down through the vineyards. Stunning!

Angela at Silvan Ridge had promised me a bottle so I showed up as she was still opening. As she turned around I realized how long it had been since I had seen her as she is "with child" and due in February! Very happy and radiant!She presented me with a bottle of their wonderful '06 Cabernet ($24). From their tasting notes:
The rich, velvety wine has quickly become a staff favorite! Smooth blackberry and raspberry flavors melt in your mouth upon entry, with well-balanced tannins lingering on a smoky oak finish. Truly an amazing example of Oregon Cabernet.

After I had tasted  through the wines that she had out she opened a bottle of the Cab and let me sample. Smooth, soft, and rich with great finish. Should be very drinkable in about 4-5 years.

Next stop, Sweet Cheeks Winery nestled atop the hill across the road. As I drove in I saw something that I have become so used to seeing that now I don't notice. The very well done murals on the end of the building as you drive in are worth a second look.
 Next time you are out there, take a close look.
I hang the paintings there in the tasting room and wanted to try some new ones out so after a taste of their many great wines I put up two paintings by Barry Geller.
My favorite wine there was the '08 semi-sweet Reisling. Tropical flowers, peach, and a hint of spice make this a perfect sipping wine.

The drive north on Terroirtorial Highway led me to Pfeiffer Vineyards and a visit with one of my favorite winery owners, Robin Pfeiffer. He took me in to the Pinot tasting room, separate from the regular tasting bar and very cave like. He let me taste an very lightly oaked blue line Pinot Noir from '08, then we got busy with a '06 Blue Dot Pinot Noir($60). He donated to the OMP "South of the Border" outreach fund so I get to talk about them from the stage on the 9th and 10th before the concert.

Eyrie Voted Best of the Year by Wine Revue Online

Wine Revue Online selected Eyrie Vineyard as the Best of the year:
Many reasons exist for choosing a winery as your Best of the Year.  I have named The Eyrie Vineyard as my Best Winery of the Year for reasons that include long term performance, historical significance and personal fondness for the people and the wines -- and also as an opportunity to memorialize David Lett, the winery’s inimitable founder and winemaker, who passed away this year. (more)

Great News from Southern Oregon

Cowhorn Vineyard, a donor last time and I hope this time, had a couple of great things happen for them:

APPLEGATE VALLEY, OREGON Hidden away in a remote river valley of a region historically known more for gold than grapes is COWHORN VINEYARD & GARDEN, a boutique Biodynamic® estate winery whose first releases are the toast of The James Beard Foundation, Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit, and Oregon’s emerging eco-culinary scene.  (read more)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Great Reviews!

Kelly Fox, who was kind enough to donate one of her fine Pinot Noirs to our auction, got a very nice write up in Portland Monthly Magazine along with Belle Pente and Scott Paul (she is the wine maker there):
Last August, Oregonian wine writer Katherine Cole sang the praises of pinot noir from Burgundy, France. “Wines like these feel like a refreshing slap to the face,” she wrote. “They quiver with an electric energy that shocks the lips, waking up the palate to the possibilities of pinot.” Cole went on to conclude that “our local wineries are capable of observing all of these rules; many just choose not to.” More

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One Bottle, One Case

When I arrived at Anam Cara I was greeted by a very large dog and a small dog. They were VERY glad to see me, as if they new a dog lover when they saw one. After a couple of tries at connecting, Sheila Nicholas of Anam Cara Cellars was finally able to get a bottle in to my hands. I had been through and missed her, I had called with a wrong number, I had flaked out on a meeting, yet still she came through with a fine bottle of her best.
The '07 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir ($33) is rated 90 points from Wine Advocate "...a lovely perfume of toast, mineral, spice box, cherry, and raspberry, Round, ripe, and elegant, this silky, savory wine is well balanced, lengthy and nicely priced."
It was aged for 11 months in 21% new french oak. The wine is made from 9% Pommard. 13%, Dijon 777,
23% 114, 26% 115, and 29% 667. Only 1,100 cases were produced.
 When I left she had to go out and keep my new friends from following me to my next stop.

I dropped of my collected wines with Rebecca at Northwest Wines To You, located at The Abbey outside Lafayette and headed off to pick up one bottle from Wayne Baily at Youngburg Hill Vineyards. The drive up was foggy but I hoped that when I got to the top the sun would break such luck, but the trip was not without its rewards.
I encourage everyone who reads this to take the drive up and if you are in the market for a place to stay for a couple of days of wine country touring, this is among the best places to park yourself. The views are without peer!

From their own web site: "The spacious house features four suites and four luxuriously appointed guest rooms. All rooms have private in suite baths, comfortable chairs to relax in and enjoy the views. The house is centrally heated and air-conditioned. For the guests' enjoyment, on the first floor you will find a library, lounging salon and large dining room. The entire house is encircled by covered decks overlooking our vineyard and the valley to the Coast Range, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley."
When Wayne went in to get his "one bottle" it turned in to a CASE! He presented me with 12 bottles of the '06 Jordan Block Pinot Noir ($40). It has an intense flavors of black fruit, mushroom. chocolate, and pepper  and a soft mouth feel! Lush and rich and with good tannins, this is a keeper.
I plan on bringing Linda up for a stay one of these days as a treat for putting up with my crazy idea of gathering "one bottle" from all these wonderful wineries!

My last stop for the day, a short one by my usual standards, was Coelho Winery, but not for wine: they sell the  Brigittine Monks chocolate fudge! I picked up a box and was on my way. Someone is in for a treat on Christmas morning!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

South of the Border


Warm Your Soul
Saturday, January 9
8:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 10
2:30 p.m.

Soreng Theater
(Hult Center)

Chavez: Symphony No. 5
Ginastera: Variaciones Concertantes
Villa Lobos: Bachianas Brasilieras No. 9
Cortese: Tango Fantasy * world premiere
featuring surprise guests

Order tickets online here
or call 541.682.5000

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Outreach to Broader Audience

On Sunday, January10, 2010 at 2:30pm OMP will present its "South of the Border" concert in Soreng Theater at the Hult Center. The concert will feature music from three Latin American composers, plus a world premier of a “Tango Fantasy” written by our conductor, Glen Cortese. 
OMP will partner with Centro Latino Americano, an organization serving the Hispanic population of Eugene/Springfield, to bring the inspiration of live classical music, and in particular the classical music of Latin America, to a broader community than is typically served at classical music concerts in Eugene. With help from Centro Latino Americano, OMP will personally distribute up to 100 free tickets to the concert to selected families in the Eugene/Springfield Hispanic community. OMP will also host a bilingual reception before the concert, during which informational background on both the concert and the classical music tradition will be conveyed to the audience in both Spanish and English          
 Oregon Mozart Players South of the Border 2009–2010 Ticket Sponsorship Form
Yes, I would like to make a contribution to help sponsor free tickets in support of OMP’s outreach to the Hispanic community
at is January South of the Border concert!

$50: Ticket Sponsorship: Your gift of $50 can help defray the cost of giving two free tickets to a parent and a child.

$100: Family Ticket Sponsorship: Your gift of $100 can help defray the cost of giving free tickets to this concert to a family of four, including children.

$250: Bilingual Reception Sponsorship: Your gift of $250 can help defray the costs of holding the pre-concert bilingual reception

$500: Outreach Initiative Sponsor: Your gift of $500 will help underwrite a variety of concert expenses, including the cost of the reception, the free tickets to Hispanic families, and the cost of producing the concert

Name _______________________________________________________ I wish my gift to be anonymous _____
Address ________________________________________City __________________ State____ Zip ________
Phone __________________ Email ________________________________________________________
___ Check (Enclosed) ___VISA ___MasterCard Card #_________________________ Expires ____/____
Signature: ____________________________ Date____________ Zip Code:_________
Mail to: Oregon Mozart Players PO Box 11474 Eugene, OR 97440, Or donate online at

  Thank you for your help in this project

Monday, December 21, 2009

Domaine Drohin, Vista Hills, and more

I roused myself from bed about 7:00 and took off to make copies of my auction form at the Safeway. Thanks to their Starbucks, I was soon awake and ready to go. My usual spot for breakfast when I am up here is Farm to Fork and today it was just the right place to start a busy day. Almond Battered Brioche French Toast with
Honey-Orange Poached Quince, Marcona Almonds, Chantilly Cream, a side of crisp bacon, OJ, and I was ready to go.
First stop was at Eyrie to pick up a bottle of Jason Lett's '07 Pinot Gris. Last year they gave the '06 Pinot Gris because I ask for a wine that represented the daring spirit of David Lett, a pioneer in Oregon's wine industry.Eyrie was the first producer of Pinot Gris in the United States!
Here is his son, Jason, excepting a degree for Davis. Here is part two.
This is one of the best and most important speeches I have heard about the history of Oregon Pinot Noir.
Jacques (right) presented me with the bottle and I listened to him educate a couple about the complexity of Pinot Noir.

I went over to Panther Creek to ask for a bottle and met the wine maker, Michael Stevenson, who was dealing with a wounded dog. Another dog had went after his and she was still shook up when they came in. He was still gracious enough to spend a little time and present me with their new wine, Verde Vineyards Pinot Noir.
( from their tasting notes)
Bright, ruby red color and striking clarity are immediately noticeable on this first-ever bottling of Pinot from three sustainably farmed vineyards in the Willamette Valley: Momtazi Vineyard (bio dynamic), Temperance Hill Vineyard (Organic), and Elton Vineyard (L.I.V.E. Certified*). The nose is highly aromatic and shows spiced cherry, vanilla, lavender and rose hips. The mouth is velvety with fine tannins, flavors of wild raspberry, cinnamon,clove, touches of earth and Christmas spices.

A quick trip over to Carlton to visit Joni at Troon and taste the new Viognier. Great tasting wine! They have a really nice tasting room in Carlton, and along with a couple of other wineries from Southern Oregon, have introduced some new flavors to the mix. I don't yet know what, or if they will donate this year but I can hope.

After a quick bite I went up to visit Domaine Drouhin and meet with 
Jack Hastings,  Assistant Cellar Master, and Chris Burrough DDO.
They led me on an amazing tour of the entire facility from the tasting room and back.

We tasted the '08s in the barrel. Wow, this is going to be a great year for them. Lots of complexity and depth to all the ones we tatsed, all very different, but that is why they blend.
The whole visit was a little overwhelming! They were so generous with their time and knowledge that I wish I had taped the conversation.
(from, by Jim Clarke) A French invasion sent ripples through the Oregon wine making community in 1988.  They didn’t come en masse, the way Champagne producers came to California.  Only one producer made the journey, but in the close, neighborly fraternity of Oregonian wine making, they made a splash - like a Peugeot in a pond. more
They presented me with a bottle of '06 Laurène Pinot Noir
In recent years, Laurène has been named one of the Great Wines of America by Paul Lukacs in his book of the same name and perennially one of Oregon's best wines by Portland Monthly Magazine (Sept. 2009).
                                                                                              Jack (right) and Chris (left) in the bottle room.

Last stop for the day was Vista Hills. Well named indeed! The view from the tasting room is breathtaking as are the wines. Here Dave Paterson, the general manager, holds their donation, the '07 Marylhurst Estate Pinot Noir.
Dr. Jay Miller's score in Wine Spectator: 89 Points.
"This intriguing Pinot Noir mixes spices with tart cranberry fruit, then shows some barrel time with toast and vanilla layers taking over through the finish."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dundee, Carlton, McMinville and in Between

After a panic level morning of racing to the dealer to have them repair my air conditioning and the driving to Carlton by 11:30 to meet my friend Kelly Fox, I was exuberant when she presented me with a bottle of her Momtazi Pinot Noir. (reviewed here) 

Most winemakers dream of having their own eponymous label at some time in their career. Kelley Fox has been crafting wines in Oregon for ten years including terms at Hamacher, The Eyrie Vineyards and Torii Mor. Since 2005, she has been co-winemaker with Scott Wright at Scott Paul Wines, where she emulates the style of elegant Pinot Noir that her mentor at The Eyrie Vineyards, David Lett, taught her. As she notes on her website,,    “What I love most about Pinot is its transparency. I prefer authenticity and even grit to armchair idealism. Pinot does this. There is something so real about it, for the better or the worse.” With the 2007 vintage, along with her father, Gerson Stearns, she has launched Kelley Fox Wines. Two vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from Momtazi Vineyard and Maresh Vineyard have already created a buzz among pinot aficionados. The tiny production will have a small window of availability. Contact Michael Alberty at in Portland, Oregon (503-206-7029, 800-753-2531).
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2007 Kelley Fox Wines Momtazi Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13% alc., 133 cases, $39, screw cap. Sourced from a 10-year-old block of Dijon 113 and 115 clones. Bio-dynamically-farmed vineyard. · Light garnet color in glass. Mineral-infused aromas of cherries with a whiff of iron, wet stone and funk. Discreetly composed core of earth-dusted dark red fruits, especially bright, juicy cherries. Moderate tannins with balancing acidity. Very good and recommended. 

After visiting at Scott Paul I went over to  Ken Wright Cellars and see what  he had put aside for us. I was thrilled when he gave a '05 Abbot Claim and a '02 Tyrus Evan Claret. Tyrus Evan's tasting room is just across the street so I went over to taste the reds and get pricing for the donations. I am always impressed by Ken's skill in wine making. I had an argument with a fellow the other night at UVA wine bar about the effects of "place" on the grape and therefore the wine. The best example I had for him was the Syrahs from Tyrus Even: one from Del Rio and one from the Columbia Valley. These two wines, made from the same grape, are as far apart in smell, taste, and feel, as any I have tasted. Both are outstanding but one (Dell Rio) is earthy and richly fruity while the other is cleaner, brighter, and has a more complex back taste.
Carrie Simonson led me through the reds before I had to rush off to visit Troon and Alexana. Here she is holding the 'o2 Claret.

Lunch at Cielo Blue was Polo Scallopini with a nice Pinot noir. Fantastic! Perfectly done pasta tasty local chicken, and lots of bacon, artichoke, and sauce.

Relaxed, well fed, and determined to get a couple more bottles before the sun went down, I set out across the street to visit Alexana.  
(from the web site) Alexana Wines was born of Dr. Madaiah Revana’s love of the great wines of Burgundy. In the spring of 2005, Dr. Revana began a search for both the ideal region and an experienced winemaker with the goal of making Pinot Noirs that could rival those from Burgundy. His search ended in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he met Lynn Penner-Ash .(More)

I met the Dr. at the IPNC this year and he promised a bottle so as soon as he gets done traveling I will be bringing back one of his exquisite wines. They also have a lovely tasting room. Kelda tasted me through the wines and I must say they are amazing, My favorite is the '07 Revana Vineyard Pinot noir. I was impressed by the grassy, floral notes and the spicy red fruit . It received a 92 from Parker and a 91 from Wine Spectator.

I had to rush over to Newburg and out to Sineann cellars to pick up Peter's donation. I had no idea what he had in mind. When I got there Russ was working in the lab and called Peter to see which bottle to hand over. He ran upstairs and came back with a CASE of '07 Lachini Pinot noir.
Blackberry and black fruit are prominent in this dark, dark  Pinot. Brown spice nutmeg  in both the nose and flavor.
I was overwhelmed! This will mean a huge amount for the OMP auction.
As I left I took this shot of the valley as the day began to fade.

Last stop of the day was Chehalem Winery where I met Deanna. She lead me through a tasting of the Chardonnays. I really love the whites they produce. They are crisp, steely, and clean with lots of texture and complexity. They gave a bottle of the INOX, as they did last year, and I bought a bottle to enjoy with fruit and cheese at a friends house later that night.
I had dinner at Press Wine Bar and met Jack Hasting and
Chris Burrough who work at Domaine Drouhin and after a great meal and some good conversation, they invited me for a tour of the winery and offered a bottle of their fine wine. We arranged to meet at the winery in the morning.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Scores for Oregon Wines

Volcano Vineyards  '06 Lakeside-Serenade Syrah got an 88 from The Wine Spectator. 

The latest issue of Portland Monthly rated Archery Summit's 2006 Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir the No. 1 wine in Oregon out of 650 Oregon wines. It was awarded an impressive 95 points
Portland Monthly's wine columnist Condé Cox - a wine critic for more than 30 years and one of a select few to be accepted at the prestigious London-based Institute of Masters of Wine - chose thier 2006 Red Hills Estate out of more than 650 regional wines, giving it top honors in his list of "Oregon's 50 Best Wines." 
Check out the full list at Portland Magazine.
Isabelle Dutartre's 1789 was second with 93 points. Love the wine she makes!

Last Night's Ghost Hill '07 Pinot noir

Many Oregon wines can take you by suprise. Linda and I had finished putting our house back in order after weeks of new floor turmoil when she sugested Mexican take out from our local favorite, Tio Pepe's.
I returned home armed with Carne Assada, chile rellano, enchilada, rice and beans. After thinking long and hard about what you drink with Mexican food when you don't have beer we decided to delve in to on of the cases we bought at the OMP auction in April.
Ghost Hill, who's winemaker, Rebecca, is a dear friend, came to the top of the list..(it was the first bottle I grabbed)
I pulled out the giant Pinot glasses and uncorked the '07 Pinot noir to let it relax a bit, then poured.
Rich, cane frouit with spices in the nose, then smooth dark cherry, wood, current, plum, and a little aftertaste of black cherries.
Great with the food and it stood up to the spices better than I would ever have thought!

Great Reviews For Amity Vineyard Wines

 This review of Amity Vineyard's wines goes further to prove the naysayers wrong about '07 wines from Oregon!

2007 Gewürztraminer
 “Exceptionally concentrated, unctuous and oily, this reveals the floral/spicy character of the grape in all its glory. It's a complex wine that just keeps on going, with jasmine, lemon polish, citrus and more fleshing out the flavors.”

92 points
Wine Enthusiast

2007 Crannell Single Vineyard Pinot noir
“Vivid red color. Sexy aromas of red berry preserves, kirsch, potpourri and smoky minerals. Juicy red fruit flavors become more tangy with aeration and are energized by a late note of blood orange. With its finishing clarity and spicy cut, this reminds me a Chambolle-Musigny. I really like this wine's vivacity.                                  
91 points
Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

91 points
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

2007 Sunnyside Single Vineyard Pinot noir
 “Cherry red in color, it has an attractive nose of cinnamon, allspice and red fruit.  Made in an elegant style, this balanced effort has a silky texture, spicy flavors, and a pure finish.”

90 points
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

90 Points
Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar


“Though just 11% alcohol, this still feels vividly dry in the mouth. It's less floral than many Rieslings, but brings dried herb, paper, dried apple and other fruits in a range of flavors with plenty of dry extract and concentration.  A very fine autumn wine.”
90 points
Wine Enthusiast

Thursday, December 3, 2009

W I N E E N T H U S I A S T B E S T O F Y E A R 2 0 0 9 Oregon

Though these are good choices, I think there are many more Oregon wines that should have been included.
95 Abacela 2005 South Face Block Reserve
Syrah (Southern Oregon); $45. Look out,
Hermitage, this has the grip, the earthiness, the
herbs and spice, and above all the massive, ripe,
complex fruit to compete. The layers of this wine
just keep unfolding; the longer it breathes,
the more it gives you. Crushed rock, lead pencil,
Asian spice, blackberry, coffee and caramel…
it never stops. What a superb achievement.

96 Adelsheim 2007 Winderlea Vineyard
Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills); $75. This
vineyard has an interesting history that dates back
to 1974. Formerly the Goldschmidt vineyard, it
was replanted, repurchased, and renamed. It’s a
magical site, one of the greatest Oregon Pinot
vineyards. The wine has the majestic plumpness
of grand cru Burgundy, with potent cherry fruit,
laced with sweet spices, that seems to expand
through a generous midpalate and keep on
keeping on as long as you are paying attention

94 Chehalem 2006 Ian’s Reserve Chardonnay
(Dundee Hills); $34. This is certainly
the finest Ian’s Reserve Chardonnay ever made. A
softly appealing entry leads gracefully into a
remarkably complex wine that puts the lush
barrel flavors of butterscotch, toffee and toasted
hazelnuts right up front. But it doesn’t stop there,
layering in candied apricots and a rich array of
ripe tropical fruits. Remarkably concentrated,
the wine lasts a full two minutes or more in the