Friday, January 15, 2010

1 Magnum, 1 Case, 2 Days

The weather on Thursday morning kept me off the freeway and on 99 through Junction City and Monroe. My first stop was at a new winery located about four miles northwest of Monmouth, Illahe Vineyard .
Winemakers Brad and Micheal (seen here) are well schooled in the art and bring different approaches to the wine production. I have yet to taste the wines but I am sure that they are as good as they say.
 Our reserve was just bottled after 18 months in the barrel. A blend of the best lots of the vintage are smooth and round on the palate and offer deep fruit and delicate baking spice aromas. The age-worthy tannins and acid will allow the wine, raised in 45% new oak, to benefit from many more years in the bottle.
Bethany the National Sales Manager (seen here) presented me with a bottle of the '07 Reserve Pinot Noir($38).

My second stop was for food. I have been driving through Amity for two years now gathering wines and today I decided to stop at Ashes Cafe for a little local chow. I don't know where or how the place got its name. I smelled nothing burned or burning, and according to the owner it used to be the Post Office. She had a 1953 newspaper that showed a picture of the place back then. We all enjoyed reading the want ads: 18 acres, with house, and  barn for $1800! Sign me up!
The food was good and hearty, and was  just right for a rainy Oregon day. The burger was as juicy as any I have had. The waitress was cute, so that made everything taste better!  No, I am not standing on a chair to take this, she is just tiny.
I drove straight up to the Abby where I delivered  two cases in to the care of Rebecca , one of the owners and operator of Northwest Wines to You.
After a bowl of soup with Rebecca, (one of our wine experts for the auction), at The Horse Radish in Carlton I walked across the street to Alexana Winery for a bottle of 2006 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir ($75). I met the owner, Dr. Madaiah Revana  earlier this year at IPNC and he promised a good one!
He balances a successful practice as a cardiologist in Houston, Texas with his commitment to winemaking.  His love for both wine and the rich tradition and culture of winemaking led him first to develop his estate Cabernet property in Napa Valley and then Alexana in Oregon’s Dundee Hills.(more)

Now off to Ayres Vineyard to meet with Don, who took time to hand over a bottle of his '08 Ayres Lewis Rogers Lane Pinot Noir. This wine is a treat for all senses: extremely dark boysenberry & blueberry fruit, rich pastry, alongside spice and earth for good measure.  This brand new bottling is sure to be a crowd favorite.  If you were a Piper fan in the past, welcome to your new favorite wine!    (more)
Don was busy prepping for chromatography of all his winesand as we chatted he kept counting so rather than screw up his test, I went next door to visit Brick House Vineyards and collect a bottle from Doug.(seen here in this great video).
He had a bottle of the '07 Les Dijonnais Pinot Noir( $42) for us. This is a great example of '07 gone great! The public was put off the '07 vintage due to bad but not deserved revues (sometimes before the wine was even in the bottle!) but this one belies all the rumors. Deep, richly fruited , great acid balance, and perfect mouth feel. Love it!

I love driving around in the hills here and searching for wineries. The veiws are spectacular and sometimes even on a dank and rainy day I just have to get out and take it all in.
I stopped at Bergstrom Wines hoping to pick up the same little package as last year. I have to tell you that the biggest surprise of last years auction came when Bergstrom's Shea, Broadly's Shea,  and Shea's Pinot Noir came up for bid.. Bob Sogge got the crowd excited and the wines, 3 bottles total, went for $900!
Josh did not disappoint this year and Kate (left) handed over a bottle of the '07 Shea Vineyard  Pinot Noir ($65).
From thier tasting notes: The 2007 is the first bottling that includes all clonal selections and it is one of my favorites to date! Dark ruby in color, this wine is extremely mineral in the nose with lots of spice and earth, lush dark fruits as well as some toasty oak spice character to accent. The mouthfeel is focused and rich at the same time with very dark red fruits showing up again. This wine has a great purity to it with nice acid and tannin that will make this one of the longest lived Shea Vineyard Pinot Noirs that Bergström has made to date. Drink from 2010 to 2020.
So far today I have two Shea vineyard wines and there are still more to come.

My last stop on the west side of Newburg was at Anderson Family Vineyard. Sitting high up on a hill of broken rocks and deep rich Jory soil, they sources some of the best grapes around to other wineries such as Bergstom. They also make their own and that was what I was after today. Cliff gave me a tour of the barrel room and he picked out three different wines to give us: '07 Chardonnay ($34.95), '07 Pinot Noir ($49.95), and the '06 Pinot Noir ($49.95). Word has it that these are indeed worth more than Cliff is asking, especially the Chardonnay.
Getting lost is one of my favorite things except when I only have 30 minute to get to a winery, and no clue where it is. Last year I had the exact same problem but this year T-Mobile has coverage in the area. Jill ( seen here) gave me directions no less than three times and told me to look for the sheep. I finally found Owen Roe and was well rewarded. Last year David gave me one of his O'Reilly's Pinot Noirs but this year they were sold out so I got a bottle of '08 Sinister Hand ($26)

and a bottle of '07 Cabernet Franc Rosa Mystica($42). From the tasting notes:
This Rosa Mystica Cabernet Franc has elements of Old World charm and fragrance, yet its bright berry and plush richness is all New World. Three vineyards are situated on hillsides high in the western Yakima Valley. The fourth small block is from Dr. Steve Elerding’s Six Prong Vineyard along the Columbia River in Alderdale. Ripening their small crops in late October, all the vineyards yielded wonderfully rich fruit flavors with nice acidity. In the winery, we’ve been careful not to employ too much new oak, trying to gently coax characteristics that are expressive of this fragrant and complex varietal. This 2006 wine has all the hallmarks of a world-class Cabernet Franc and its ripeness and power do not overshadow the delicacy of its cedar fragrance, olive flavor and beautiful berry fruit.This is a fascinating winery and produces a lot of very great wines.
Tonight I had dinner with seven women at Dundee Bistro to celebrate my friend's promotion to Tech Sargent in the Air Force reserve. She is a winemaker, mother of two, runs her own business, and is a jet mechanic! And you thought you worked hard:). Afterwords I talked until the wee hours with a winemaker who lets me use his spare room during my trips north. I learn more about wine from one conversation with him than in all the books I read or classes I have taken.
Thursday morning brought a quick stop at Safeway for copies and Starbucks, then off I went to visit Rex Hill and my friend Christina. I took a whole bunch of shots and will post hem when I get a bottle from them. Last year they gave both A to Z and Rex Hill.

After barrel tasting and getting a full tour of all the facilities (the place is endless!) I took off for a visit with Joan at Wine Country Farm Cellars. I still want to take Linda up there for a stay in the the guest house. The views are astounding and so is Joan. She was gracious enough to give me her '08 Armonea Muller-Thurgau adorned with her brand new label. I will be back for a taste soon and another informative chat. Here she is hiding because she was out pruning her trees when I came up.

Down the road and around the corner perch high on the hills sits DePonte Winery where Isabelle Dutartre makes the wine. She also makes 1789, Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir($48)  which  was chosen as number 2 of the Top 50 Oregon Wines. Supple textures, bright red-cherry scents, powerfully fruity yet restrained. Made by Isabelle Dutartre, perhaps Oregon’s least-known top-echelon winemaker.(more) She was nice enough to give one bottle!
Suzanne from DePonte handed over a bottle of the '07 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($38).
I am looking forward to trying both when I have time to linger a bit.
A quick stop at Archery Summit to visit Chris Nagy ended with a VERY big surprise! A Magnum of '03 Estate Pinot Noir ($419).

Here are the tasting notes because unless my wife waves the bid card while I am not looking, I will never know what it tastes like.

The 2003 Archery Summit Estate Pinot Noir opens with inviting aromas of black cherry, black plum, violets and rose hips. There is a seductive earthiness on the mid-palate penetrated by bright notes of marionberry, black currant and dark chocolate. The wine is generous, complex and satisfying. Well structured, the depths of flavor finish long leaving hints of spice cake, twig tea and plum. The 2003 Archery Summit Estate Pinot Noir is a complex and focused wine for serious collectors, and may be cellared for five to ten years.

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the wineries here in Oregon especially in this economy and this years stupid reviews of the '07s, yet still they give!
As I left Archery Summit I took one last picture of the day: Mount Hood in the distance, farmland in the middle, and vineyards up close!

On the way home to Eugene I stopped at Eola Hills and bought a bottle of the La Creole '07 Pinot Noir so they would give one.
Here is Ann with the bottle of Pinot Noir.
Tom Huggins, founder and general manager of Eola Hills, had a dream rooted in facts. He knew that great wines could only come from great vineyards, and through his former occupation as a agricultural insurance expert, he knew where that precious vineyard land was located. This knowledge enabled him to purchase some of the prime sites for his own vineyards in the rolling terrain of the Northwest Willamette Valley in Oregon wine country, and to fulfill a dream of creating his own wine.(more) They have a very nice array of wines and thier low end wines are very affordable ($9.95) with the Estate wines at $19.95. Also they are huge supporters of Oregon Tourism, bike riding, and all things that are economic drivers for the state.
When you drive north or south through Rickreall, stop and support them.
Home for a board get together at which I poured Sol et Soleil '08 Syrah (that we helped bottle), Whybra 07 Pinot Noir (That I corked by hand, all 28 cases) and a bottle of Girardet '06 Baco Noir
Needless to say, the meeting went well!

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