Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jacksonville,Medford, and Grass Pants, part three of three

Let's see, where was I? Oh yes, flying pigs!
I left Devitt and drove down the road to Wooldridge Creek Vineyard and Winery visit Greg Paneitz and beg him for a bottle of his best. Didn't take much begging to get an excellent bottle of  '07 Syrah ($32), and as a treat, he also gave the newly released '08 Pinot Noir ($36) . Linda and I have been coming down to Ashland for years to attend the Shakespeare festival and a few years ago we were lunching at Allyson's and met Greg and Cara doing a wine tasting. The next day we drove to the winery and became wine club members and have been enjoying the wines every since.
One of the cool things about them is that they are always looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. One way they have come up with is to buy used beer kegs, refit them, and fill them with wine (25 bottles) and inert gas. They use a stainless tap  for wine (Here is Greg with the newly designed Tap Pull). Beer uses brass and that is effected by the acids in the wine due to its copper component. The systems are sold complete and all the bar or other outlet has to do is have the tank refilled. The cost savings are enormous due to the lack of waste, bottle storage, breakage, etc. Standing Stone
in Ashland, Four Daughters in Medford, The Craterian Theater in Medford (16 taps for the intermission crowd), and The Melting Pot in Portland has installed the system. Look for the article in the Oregonian on the 2nd of March, I will link it from here and from news.
They also only use American made bottles with a thinner glass and smaller punts.
getting back to the really important stuff: WINE!
Greg let me taste a number of their wines beginning with an '08 Rose': Melon and Strawberry in the nose AND on the palate. Nice semi-sweet finish.
The Warwick '08 White Wine: White peach and vanilla in the nose and smooth ripe peach and pear with a little hint of honey in the mouth. Tannins, from being left on the skins, give it a complex and very pleasant mouthfeel. This is a keeper, unusual for a white.
Now the '08 Pinot Noir ($36): Chocolate covered cherry smell right out of the box, caramel, blueberry and black currents with a strawberry after taste. Nice tannins, great mouthfeel. I may bid on this one myself!
The '07 Syrah:($32): BIG nose! Black fruit with slight plum note over black current and a smokey undertone. Last was the '07 Tempernio: Tobacco, earth, chocolate and black fruit with bits of bright cherry. Very drinkable.
I bid Greg farewell and driving out of the winery, got this shot. You have to love Oregon weather, it was raining in Medford and Jacksonville.
Rosella's Vineyard and Winery was open and had a bottle waiting for me, a non-vintage Red Wine Blend ($18) that tastes like every grape it is made from. Strawberry, blackberry, chocolate, pepper, and a nice bite. I would match this with a good Parmesan cheese over red sauced pasta!
They are also pursuing the kegged wine concept. This is very exciting and is a good competitor to the California box wines.
I also tasted a really nice '06 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is aged in American oak, has great tannins, a complex structure, and great berry and earth notes. Good for at least ten years.
My last stop is one of the prettiest wineries around, and they just keep adding new things. The new tasting room is beautiful! Cal spent some time tastinga few of the wines as his staff left to get ready for one of the many events they have.
We started with a '07 Merlot that just got gold at the Chronicle tasting in San Fransisco. Lots of red cane berry in the mouth with a hint of red cherry, currents, and strawberry, with anise and clove in the back of the nose. Herby nose up front. Lovely wine.
The '07 Syrah is filled with big ripe berry and dark fruit, with a very subtla hint of pine. A little peper and spice. Long smooth finish.
The blended red, Soulea is a big earthy red with a pleasing ripe taste. Great for the purposes Cal and I were putting it to.
The last wine I tasted is what Cal donated, a wonderful '07 Cabernet Sauvignon that had all the right qualities. Firm structue with deep smooth black fruit and very slight  notes of tobacco and earth. Unfolds as it hits different parts of your moth. Very nice wine.
Time to drive back to Eugene.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jacksonville, Medford, and Grass Pants, part two of three

Oh what a beautiful morning! raining in Medford and Jacksonville but as I entered the Applegate Valley, the clouds opened and the sun began to shine.
I had a loose appointment with Bill at Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden and had a really pleasant drive through the southern valley. Cow Horn is a biodynamic vineyard that produces award winning wines. Northwest Palette says: There’s much buzz about biodynamics in the Northwest wine world. A kind of über-organic agriculture discipline, it sees the farm as a holistic energy system, and demands extra time, care, and commitment from the farmer. If you want to know how good biodynamically grown and made wine can taste, seek out this wine from Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. (more) 
Bill offered up a bottle of the Spiral 36($18) a Rhône-style white blend of Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne. 
He also offered a tour and tasting for six as an auction item. He was getting ready to bottle but was happy to show me around and show me the new area of vineyards they are planting. He was also excited about an article about the recycling programs they have for bottles and corks. Watch the video here
They have their own bottling line and they were cleaning it while I was there. There is a LOT of cleaning involved in winemaking, mostly to control unwanted yeasts. I did not want to hold him up so I took off to my next stop, Valley View Winery. They 
don't open until 11:00 so I stopped at the Outpost for some great chili and conversation with Tiffany, the owner the Outpost and the Feed store. She has been working on this project for a year. After the former tenet left she decided to take a chance. While I was there she sold  a fishing license and tag, and got a request for a bunch of washers by a guy working on his boat. Stop by for a visit and say hello.
 When I got to Valley View Winery I had time to taste while waiting for Mark Wisnovsky the President, to get out of his meeting.  Sarah led me through tastings of:
'08 Viognier: Lower in alcohol, fresh nose of bright fruit and vanilla and peach on the tongue. Nice finish.
Anna Maria Chardonnay 2007: Very nice. After 30 years of winemaking they still have it right! Nose of citrus, pineapple, and with a taste of vanilla, fresh pineapple, and butterscotch. I recommend it with crab cakes.
Anna Maria Syrah Rogue Valley 2006: 2 years in oak give this a slight maple syrup, dark black cherry, and ripe plum, back taste of plum and spice.
 Anna Maria Merlot 2004: 9 months in oak give this a nice sweet butter under taste with black current and a great acid/sugar balance.
Anna Maria Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: This one wins Gold at this weekends Newport Wine and Seafood festival!  Black cherry and ripe plum, overtones of vanilla, and earth with aftertaste of vanilla and plum. Really a great wine!
Mark came out of his meeting and after some consideration, gave a bottle of the '06 Cabernet Sauvignon($24). One of my all time favorite Cabs came from Valley View way back in 1978.I had just returned from Germany for a visit before coming back permanently and drove my little 912 down to Ashland for a play and made a stop at one of the only wineries around. Anne sold me a case of the 1976 Cab and I got stung on the wrist by a hornet and dropped a bottle. What a waste! I wish I still had a bottle of that one.
Next stop, Fiasco. I interrupted Pamela, who was looking for a little solitude and instead, got me. If you have not been to visit them, go soon! The tasting room, their ideas, and the wine, are all worth the trip. They have a dirt floor, wine in barrels, and they sell jugs to the locals just like they do in Europe, where you can refill your jar of house wine. Very clever. Pamela led me though several of the wines from both Fiasco and from Jacksonville Winery which they also own. They donated one bottle from each winery.
From Fiasco, '05 Cabernet Sauvignon($38): Aged 38 months in French oak, this Cabernet is 85% Cab Sauv and 15% Merlot. Straw and earth with berry on the nose, rich plum and cherry with notes of vanilla and sage, cedar and toasted bread.
From Jacksonville Vineyard, '06 Merlot : Aged in oak for 30 months. Annis, clove, and sweet beery nose, lots of dry plum and dark berry flavors. Nice lasting finish.
I also recommend the '06 Super Tuscan, very good lighter red with great acid balance. Try it with Red sauce!  Really, all the wines I tasted were good to great. They are frequent award winners and should be a for sure stop on your trips South.
I did not get to taste at Longsword Vineyard but Tony gave me a bottle of their Accolade, a sparkling wine made originally for a family wedding but continued because of the demand. Love this one. We had some a few years ago when the tasting room was out by the road in a little fruit stand!
 I ask Matthew Sorensen about the rocks I had seen on the way in under the rows and he said "Got lots of rocks and this keeps the weeds down, keeps the vines warm, and collects moisture." It may take him a while to do all the rows but like he said, lots of rocks. Looks cool also!Devitt Winery is lust up the road and has a long history in wine. Brendon gave a gift certificate good foe ANY bottle(up to $35) of their wine. His grandfather, who owned and made wine for Pope Valley Winery in Napa, makes all the wines and they are tasty indeed!
Tasting the wines was a treat.The '07 Precipice: A 50/50 blend of Merlot and Zin, this wine gives up cane berry, chocolate, and spice to the nose,  with pepper front and back, and black current and sweet cherry notes.
Next came a smokey berry filled '07 Syrah with a rich mouthfeel and hints fo burnt sugar on the sides of the tongue.
My favorite is the '05 Cabernet Sauvignon: Black currents over dry blackberry and hint of sweet plum. Very good wine with lots of subtle flavors unfolding as you sip. I did not taste the 2007 Le Petite Oink" Labled and bottled as "WHEN PIGS FLY" but I plan on acquiring a bottle for a very good friend as a gift. He collects pigs and is one of the finest winemakers in Oregon, and he has a sense of humor!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jacksonville, Medford, and Grass Pants, part one of three

Tuesday morning looking south down the freeway past Winston, thinking about the wineries I had on my list, I passed a new billboard:"Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars"  I excitedly took the next exit looking for what I thought would be a small winery. I was wrong. I was greeted by Dick Calafato, partner in the winery with the Apodaca  family. He explained that the forty acres had produced a good crop for '08 and that they would soon be releasing the wines. In the mean time they had acquired the Domaine de la Rasmus label to sell. He donated a bottle of '07 Gewurztraminer ($19) and promised a bottle of the newly released wine when it id released.
The facility has a large barn that they will turn into a performance hall for music, like OMP Chamber Orchestra. The deck, shown here, will be be expanded 50 feet along the river for visitors and for music. Very impressive plans and from what I heard from Dick, the family is determined to create a true destination in the southern Umpqua Valley.
I drove out past the blooming cherry trees and headed south.
I was getting a little hungry and when I saw the "Food" sign at the Glendale exit and decided to take a chance. I saw a small dinner, Luttrell's County Junction. It looked like an old loggers lunch joint so I set my expectations low and opened the door. I ordered a hamburger, milk, and chips. They had been working on getting to go orders and there was a busy buzz in the air. I got my burger: sweet onion, fresh lettuce, big juicy burger on a toasted bun. As I finished up, Darrel ask what I thought. "very good" I said and ask a little bit about the place. Newly bought by Darrel, who was the chef at Applegate  River Lodge but wanted to do something on his own. I recommend a stop for lunch on the way south. You will be pleased!
I drove through Central Point to Jacksonville hoping I could get to a couple of wineries before closing time. Luck was on my side. At 125 South 3rd Street sits and old house that houses South Stage Cellars.

There were a couple of folks tasting when I went in but Larry acknowledged me and when I explained why I was there, he offered a taste of whatever I wanted. More people began to come in and the glasses began to appear, wine began to pour, and smiles began to unveil themselves.
They have 300+ acres in grapes in and around Jacksonville and source to a lot of other wineries. One of the most unique things they do at the tasting room is to pour wines made by other winemakers. I recommend a visit to compare and contrast what two or three people do with the same grape.
We tasted a South Stage Cellars '07 Pinot Gris: Pear and fresh cut apple in the nose, pear and apple on the tongue with a smooth finish.
Spangler '07 Chardonnay: A little barnyard and sweetness on the nose, sweet and acidy on the tongue, nice balance.
South Stage Cellars '07 Chardonnay: Sugar cookie, honey, and ripe pear on the nose, very complex levels of pear, sweet apple, vanilla, and toasted nut. Nice acid and slight sweetness on the sides of the tongue.
Viognier: Nothing fancy, just straight forward melon,  fresh cut pear, and a nice tart finish. Good with shrimp I bet!
This is one of the wines I came back with, the South Stage Cellars '08 Sauvignon Blanc($18): This is a great wine that literately keeps changing with each smell and taste. It was a little too cold when Larry first poured it and he insisted I keep it in the glass and let it open. Wow! At first I could get a little white peach and a soft white grape and pear on the tongue, buy the time it had fully loosened it was flush with floral notes, ripe white fruit, high notes of spice. Really a great wine for summer and at $18 you can not do better.
South Stage Cellars '07 Merlot: smokey, light Bing cherry, nice long finish with sweet notes on the sides of the tongue.
The difference between the two Pinot Noir samples was pretty dramatic.
Dobbes Family Estate  '07 Pinot Noir was soft, very drinkable with cedar tones over earth and dark berry.
South Stage Cellars '07 Pinot Noir($22): Honeysuckle, ripe red cane berry with notes of anise and vanilla, back taste of dried cherry. Long complex finish.
Both wines are made from the same grapes by the same maker, Joe Dobbes.
The South Stage Cellars '07 Syrah( $28): Burnt sugar and anise on the nose with big lush cherry and current taste.
 The last bit of pleasure from this wineries bottles came from  the '07 Alchemy($34) ,their blend of carmenere, cabernet, and tempernio. Sweet musty smell of soft leather and wood with lots of eligant dark fruit, tannins, and complex spices to taste and a long chewy aftertaste. Really impressive.
While I was there Larry introduced me to Cheryl Garcia, a sculpture whose small work enhances the tasting room, and who just received a commission to do some very large works for the vineyard.
Larry Brewster, who was working the tasting room, is also a teacher and does a course in wine appreciation. From the site:Wine enthusiast and South Stage host Larry Brewster learned winemaking and viticulture from his grandfather. Since the 1970s, Larry's been tasting, exploring and lecturing about wine throughout California. Larry will pour a diverse selection of wines as he discusses topics such as the intricacies of tasting, identification of flavor components, and the rich history of various varietals. He gave me a copy of his hand out and I am finding it a great read. I ask him to send me a copy to post on line and will do so soon.
I left there after so many tastes and one real glass of the Alchemy and motored back to the center of Medford for a real treat. I had made arrangements for dinner at my favorite Medford restaurant, 38 Central.This is one of the finest restaurants in Southern Oregon and is worth the drive just to have one of their great meals. David and I are on Facebook so I get clued in on what he is cooking and what wine pairings they have planed, such as the upcoming Sokol Blosser dinner on the 3rd of March.
I checked in to the Red Lion and because it is two blocks away, walked in the light rain to meet David Graham for some great food and wine. I started with a soup based on sweet and sour with fresh cut green bean, carrots, noodles and spices followed by a flat bread crisp with small tomato slices and scampi, then flank steak, potatoes, and cut kale. All this with a Griffin Creek '07 Cab Franc. David comped me a
tiramisu that was as good as any I have ever had. With a big smile and half a bottle of wine, I made my way back to my room and some Olympics on the tube.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Day in the Sun

Linda let me have Saturday to go gathering. I am usually out and about during the week when a lot of the wineries are closed so I miss some each time. This trip paid off in many ways; I got to spend some time with a new winery owner, taste some lowland grapes, compare '07 and '08 on a deck overlooking Newburg and Mt. Jefferson, and finish off with a great meal and conversation at a favorite wine bar.
I took 99 north to Corvallis through Monroe, hoping in vain that Morgan would be hanging out at Broadley. No such luck. I passed on Tyee. They are close and I can visit them on a short trip so my first stop was up in the Eola Hills.
I stopped buy Bryn Mawr to pick up some wine, and to take in one of the best views in the wine country. The tasting room overlooks the west valley to the coast range and is stunning.
Jon and Kathy Lauer have been making wine down in the San Diego area for many years but decided to come north and find a working winery in Oregon. They bought Bryn Mawr Vineyards from David Lloyd-Jones and have started renovating. The new winemaker is Rachel Rose  Jon (on the left), who was working on the remodeling of the house when I got there, graciously handed me a bottle of the '07 Barrel Select Pinot Noir ($30) that David made. I  tasted this one when it was just released: bright, clean, complex, and at the same time, bold. I can't wait to go back and taste it now that it has had a little time in the bottle.
I wondered down the back roads on the east side of the Eola Hills to Stangeland Vineyards and Winery where Norm let me taste a few wines and regaled me with stories of about the history of the land. The winery is named for Larry Miller's grandmother, who was an early settler in the Salem area.The (Wadenswil clone) vines were planted in 1978 and  Pinot Gris vines were added  in 1986.
My taste buds were ready for a nice awakening and that is exactly what they got. The'07 Dry Gewurztraminer ($12) is one of the best I have ever tasted, especially for the price!. Clean bright floral and citrus nose, hints of vanilla and apple, with a complex taste of white peach, tart apple, caramel candy, and canned peaches. Just outstandingly good!  Next came a bottle of the '05 Pinot Noir($20) 
Dark, bold fruit with a hint of spice and leather on the nose with a superb dark fruit taste with earth and minerals. Long lean aftertaste. The second taste revealed a more complex tobacco, leather, sweet cherry, and boysenberry taste that continued to change as I sipped.
I left with the two bottles and drove north to Wheatland Ferry , well, almost to the ferry. You turn left just before the drop off to the ferry and drive along the Willamette till you get to Arcane Cellars.
What a nice setting! I was a little surprised by the crowd. There were at least 40 people there. Turns out it was a wine club event and they could not have picked a better day. I was there to pick up a bottle and do some tasting but they were so busy with paying customers I decided to taste just the one they were giving plus one they talked me in to.  The '07 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot ($36) was their offering. It got a 91 from Parker and after Jeffrey gave me a taste of  it I thought that was a well deserved ranking. Jammy, plum nose with current, black berry, fig, and earth taste. Aftertaste of dry figs, chocolate, and soft tannins. Nice mouthfeel and finish.
I also tasted a lowland Riesling from their estate. They have lots of reasons to be proud of this wine and as for the argument that wine must struggle for water to be great, well :  Gold and Best in Show at the 2009 Pacific Northwest Wine Summit Contest and Gold in the 2009 West Coast Wine Competition.
The wine reminded me of the Rieslings my taste buds grew up on in Germany. Crisp acid, balanced fruitiness with white fruit and spice. Very good wine.
Moving on down the road. I stopped at Hauer of the Dauen and Richard let me taste a few of the wines from grapes grown on their 110 acre vineyard. The land is low and flat and the wines they make are meant to show what the grapes are capable of producing. They sell a lot of grapes to other wineries.
My favorite was the blend made from the three red grapes they grow: Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, and Lemberger.  Great nose that I swear lets you find every grape. The taste is rich with berry, soil, plum, cedar, and spice. They age their wines before letting them go so I picked up an '02 Pinot Noir ($14).
I was astounded by the prices of all the wines considering how good they were and how long they have been in production but if they can sell for that and make a profit, all the better for the wine drinker!
I drove in to Newburg and to Bishop Creek Cellars where Reuel K. Fish, the owner, had a bottle of  '07 Serpentine Reserve Pinot Noir ($40) waiting for me. I spent time and tasted through four of  the wines with Megan.
'07 Pinot Gris: Hay straw nose with nice hints of pear and mock orange giving way to a taste of  white peach and pear. 
'06 Barrel Select Pinot Noir: Dark and fruity, like most '06 Pinots, but with a great deal of tannins and a good acid balance, this should last another ten years. 
'07 Barrel Select Pinot Noir has a lighter mouthfeel with strong candied cranberry and red berry taste.  Hints of wood (cedar?) and spice plus a good deal of tannins make this a very good wine for keeping down for  the next few years. 
Last but best, the '07 Serpentine Reserve Pinot Noir: This wine black cherry, fruit compote, seven spice, rum, and tobacco on the nose with black cherry and sweet blackberry and vanilla in the mouth. Long pleasant finish with little tannin bite in the back of the tongue.
Back toward Dundee is the Medici Tasting Room where I spent a pleasant time with Dick Ferraro learning about his history in wine making. He and his wife Mary, have been at it since 1972 but just opened the current winery in 2002. He known what he is doing, as evidenced by his fine Merlot. There are few merlots that match the subtle fruit and rich feel of this one. He has captured all the fruit and spice without the heavy  plum jam. Great finish! He gave me the '05 Merlot (($24) to take with me for the auction. I was pleased.
Last stop for wine was Crumbeled Rock Winery. As I drove up Worden Hill Road I saw the sign; "OPEN"
I did not see "by appointment" so I pulled in, grabbed my camera and walked around the new winery to the deck overlooking the northern Willamette Valley with Mt Jefferson off in the distance. I was greeted by Jerry, shown here with his trusty wine thief, and a glass of the '07 Pinot Noir ($27). They had given  a bottle of this for the last auction and did again this year.Lulia is shown here with the bottle I took.  The wine is starting to unfold and become very drinkable now that it has had time in the bottle and it will continue to improve. It is laced with good minerals, tannins, nice subtle fruits like black current, Marion berry, and some soft tobacco and candy tones. The Jory soil, after which the winery is named, adds a special mineral flavor and the aftertaste is compelling.
We tasted the '08, lush bright red fruit with lots of good tannins and earth and a slight anise and spice nose. and the '09, still young but full of promise,while watching the sun descend over the west hills.
There was a very cute couple there from Portland who enjoyed the taste as well. She had never been to the wine region! She was so impressed! We all recommended they eat at Press, where you can get food from Farm to Fork served at the bar.
As I left I dropped by Press to grab a bite on the way home and ended up sitting next to them. He is a sociology major at Portland State and she works in a school for underprivileged kids. I lost the notes with their names. ( if you read this, send me an email!)
One last mission: I drove up to the Abbey and picked up bags and shirts for Rebecca and dropped them off at the wine symposium in Eugene.
Next trip: Southern Oregon on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick Trip for Some Tastes

Today I took the short trip from Eugene out to Silvan Ridge and Sweet Cheeks wineries to set up the limo tour that is one of our auction items. While I was there I decided to do some serious tastings. Here are the results: Jonathan Oberlander, the wine maker for Silvan Ridge, has done a great job on many of these wines but my favorites are the '07 Pinot Noir, the  the '07 Pinot Noir, the Semi-dry Riesling, and the '07 Pinot Gris.
'07 Dry Riesling; Great nose of citrus and pear with just a touch petrol, crisp mouth feel, taste of burnt sugar/ caramel, nice fruit notes with a touch of bright clean white fruit. I would serve this with the sun on my deck with a few pieces of apple and light cheese.
'07 Pinot Gris; canned peach and flowers on the nose with a very appealing mouthfeel. Notes of pear, wood, bits of grapefruit, and white grapes with a nice lasting finish of apple and cake.
'07 Pinot Noir; Earth and dark fruit, great balance of acids and tannins. Opens up on the tongue and changes softly from bright pomegranate to darker plum and berry overtones. Finish is long and pleasing with slight clove and wood. Great salmon, pork, meat pasta wine.
I also liked the '05 Elizabeth Reserve, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Syrah.  Black cherries,boysenberry, soft fruit compote, humus  and toasted oak with a long finish of dark fruit and tannins. This is an excellent house wine. Preferably my house...

Up the hill across the road from Hinman Vineyards/Silvan Ridge in Sweet Cheeks Winery. Perched on the hill that gives it its namesake. (You have to come and see for yourself:) it looks out over the valley and hills and on a day like this the view was glorious!
I hang artwork there for a couple of Eugene's finest; Anne Teigen and Barry Geller so I have many excuses to go and visit.
Today I was just about the wines. I tasted '08 Chardonnay; It was a little cold when I first got it but as it warmed up I began to smell apple, slight oak, and floral hints. In the mouth it opened to reveal orange blossom and pear, pectin and a little nutty flavor on the back of the tongue. Nice dry acid finish.
The '08 Semi-Sweet Riesling is a favorite of mine along with Silvan Ridge's Early Muscat with sushi and spicy dishes though it is sweeter than some might like with food. The taste is fresh apple, apricot, canned peach, and mock orange. Smooth mouthfeel with perfect balance of sugars and acid.
I am really impressed with the '07 Pinot Noir. It is aging very well and is getting more and more complex, with delicate feel and a one two punch of bright fruit and dark cherry balance by a little hint of candy and vanilla. Smooth mouthfeel with a long lasting aftertaste on the back of the tongue.
I plan on interviewing Mark Nicholl, the wine maker in the next couple of weeks before he heads off on a trip home.

I am looking forward to seeing Sasha and the crew at the Newport Wine and Cheese Festival next week-end!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some of the Auction Items We Have So Far

1. 18 at 18 (18 holes of golf at 18 different courses around the state).
2. 9 at 9 (9 holes of golf at 9 different courses around the region).
3. Be the Con-Duck-Tor at U of O Ducks Home Game-Oregon vs. Stanford on October 2, 2010. Winner will receive two field passes. Winner will conduct Ducks Marching Band in "Mighty Oregon!" (Does not include tickets to the game.)
4. "Blue Hole & Bubbly" Hike with Bill Sullivan—May, 2010 (guided hike, lunch and champagne.)
5. Sasquatch Brew Festival Package—Four VIP entrance tickets to Sasquatch Brew Festival (May 2010) plus 4 tasting tickets for each entrance. Private brewery tasting tours for 4 people (7 beer samples for each person at each brewery) at four regional breweries ( Hop Valley, Eugene City Brewery, Oakshire, Ninkasi) and Valley Vintner and Brewer Basic Starter Kit for Homebrewing plus a 1-day Beermaking Class!
6. Commissioned Work by Glen Cortese.
7. Eugene Ballet—2010–2011 Season Plus Nutcracker plus four dinners for two.
8. Fiddling Telegrams by Robin Erickson (OMP violinist Robin Erickson will travel to your requested destination and play two songs of your selection, in a fiddling-telegram style.)
9. Howard Hughes' Hat—see the oregonwineandmusic blog for a description of how Charles Tannenbaum came to own this valuable piece of memorabilia!
10. The Poetry of Murder and Love, discussion, desserts and wine with Sharon Schuman. 7:30-9:00 pm, Sunday, April 25.
11. Tickets for two to SeaFair in Seattle: Blue Angels perform over Lake Washington.
12. Tickets for two to the RiverCity Music Festival (Bluegrass, Folk, Blues and Americana) and two night stay at the Red Lion on the River (Jantzen Beach).

THE Vegas Adventure—this is the way to do Las Vegas. Airfare and guest accomodations for two— three days, two nights at the Venetian Las Vegas! The Venetian Las Vegas all-suite hotel and casino features spas, fine dining and nightly shows to thrill and seduce. This adventure package includes tickets for two to the amazing Blue Man Group and tickets for two to Phantom, the Las Vegas Spectacular! Take this exciting opportunity to experience Vegas in style and see the best shows on the strip!
14. Ashland Shakespeare Festival tickets and backstage tour, lunch for two at Alex's and dinner for two at Chateaulin Restaurant, two nights at Blue Moon Bed & Breakfast in downtown Ashland.
15. The gift of music to children in need. (OMP will collaborate with Birth to 3 and Relief Nursery to provide free performances throughout the year for the children of these great agencies.)
16. Sailing Fern Ridge Reservoir on a 27 foot-Sloop (4 to 6 people) with Skipper Robin Erickson. Picnic lunch included.
17. One week at Little Horse Creek Cabin.
18. Winery Tasting Tour with Limo (up to 6 people)— Wine tastings at Noble Winery, Hinman Winery and finish off with a complete Barrel Tour with appetizers at Sweet Cheeks Winery. Abed's Eugene Limousine & Towncar Service.
19. OMP Season Subscription for two, plus a bottle of fine PORT.
20. Romantic Wine Country Retreat—Two nights at Fox Farm Cottage and $100 gift certificate for dinners at the historic Joel Palmer House Restaurant–Dundee in the Willamette Valley.
21. Rhapsody in Food! You'll feel like an American in Paris if you win this delicious Dinner for Four prepared especially for you by Oregon Mozart Players board member, attorney and gourmet cuisine enthusiast Ellen Singer and her husband, horticulturist extraordinaire Gary Rondeau—a fabulous meal including appetizers, entree, side dishes, salad, dessert and wine, featuring freshly picked produce from their own organic garden and fresh honey from their own bees. The type of menu (omnivore, vegetarian, vegan) will be determined in accordance with the winner's preferences. Value: $350
22. Buy a pair of tickets to OMP's season finale concert at the Hult Center Soreng Theater. Let's sell out the concert!
23. Something Blue—A one-of-a-kind piece by Charles Beaudet of Beaudet Jewelry in the Southtowne Shoppes. This will be a beauty and yours for the bidding!
24. Hand-picked wine collections by Robert Canaga,and Rebecca Shouldis MANY SEPARATE COLLECTIONS

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taking My Wife Along for Once

Linda agreed to a short drive up the valley and back before we went to the 7:30 performance of Eugene Ballet's "Dark side of the Moon" at the Hult Center. We made it to Corvallis and to Belle Vallee's tasting room on 1st street for a taste of there wines. I was struck by the labels on the bottles and discovered that they are first made of fused glass, then copies and used on the bottles.
Very cool idea.
We tasted the '07 Pinot Noir: Good Chocolate and slight berry nose, simple berry compote taste with a nice balanced acid finish. Good for burgers on the deck.
Next came the big sister, the '07 Reserve Pinot Noir: More thought provoking with fruit and dark candy, great tannins. This one is for a more elegant dinner and will last for a long time in he cellar.
They gave us the '06 Grand Cuvee' Pinot Noir ($56) witch was not open for tasting on Saturday but is on that I have had before: It has a nice balance of fruit and earth. Minerals give it a sharp but pleasant mouth feel that quickly turns soft and the dark fruit takes over. Very good '06 without the BIG FAT FRUIT that a lot of them were known for. Elegant!
I impressed Linda when I tasted the '05 Syrah and said "Del Rio".  The tastes are unmistakable: Smoke, earth, candied fruit, lush, soft mouthfeel, long finish. I don't care what anyone says about not having the smoke from the fires there influence the taste, it has to be in the soil or in the air, somehow it comes through and is not a bad thing, just a good example of terroir. They say drink by 2010 but this one will last another 10 years easily.
Now for something completely different: The '04 Cabernet is a surprise to the nose. We swirled and sniffed and got fresh cut squash, grass, and violets. The taste was very complex dry fruit with a bit of an acid finish that would be great with beef  or tomato sauce. This one was high on my list!
Joe Wright, the winemaker, really knows his stuff and I can't wait to visit the winery and meet him.
We went upstairs to visit one of my all time great wine store owners, Jerry at Wineopolis. He has a vast array of wines from all over the world and a depth of knowledge that rivals most. While we were there he had 11 people coming in to ask, taste, and buy.
We taste some velvety smooth Henri Bourgeois La Porte Du Caillou Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc. 
He has become a source for me as he knows most of the wineries in the area and likes the arts.
Driving north to Rickreal we spotted lots of sheep, llamas, and blueberry bushes. I love this part of the valley.
We skipped Eolla Hills (packed parking lot) and went for a first time visit to Cherry Hill's new tasting room. It sets off to the left as you head north just before the highway 22 overpass in an old and small house . The place was packed and the host was beside herself trying to sell, sample, and acknowledge everyone. She did an admirable job of it and everyone seemed happy. We tasted through one white and all the reds. They even had some very good little tiny cupcakes for the Valentines Day crowd.
First on the list was the Poverty Road Pinot Gris: This is a simple, straightforward white with no oak, dry start, and peach, pineapple, and citrus in the mouth. Acidy finish with an aftertaste of flowers and peach. Good wine for a hot day!
Next was the Sweeny '08. This is a 100% Pommard clone wine made from selected barrels by Mike Sweeny, the owner. The '08 has a ways to go before it is ready to drink but the future looks great. Lots of dark fruit and vegetal tastes with a sweet edge. Nice nose of flower and dark cherry, hint of leather and hard candy. Like this.
The dog that runs the show at the winery is a '07 Papillon and has her face on the label of the namesake wine. This is the wine I drank when we staid at their cottages a few years ago. The nose is cherry kool-aid and pie cherry. The mouthfeel is clean bright cherry and plum.Nice acid balance and tannins. This is a bold, big wine.
My favorite was the '07 Cherry Hill; Sour black fruit nose with overtones of sweet plum, mouthfeel is soft and as you taste the flavors unfold from a compote of red berry to a sweet jam and back to a dry dark cherry. Hints of chocolate and earth in the long finish.
We loaded up our purchase and I decided to surprise Linda with a little visit to one of the coolest winery tasting rooms around.
We drove down the long gravel road off 99 to the Van Duzer Vineyards tasting.
The first time I went there I was struck by the art, the view, and the architecture. The feel is that of coastal Northern California and I think part of it is the proximity to the pass through the coast range where the winds off the ocean make their way in to this part of the valley, giving it a different feel and cooling the vines in the hottest times of the year.
We met Josh Kimball, who I knew from his time a King Estate. He is the Direct Sales and Hospitality Manager here and has a huge knowledge of wines. He is very proud of what this winery is putting out, as evidenced by his enthusiasm.
There is something about the terroir here that gives all the reds a distinct nose of an almost wild, overwhelming, darkness. Huge red fruit, plum, leather, and a rawness that sets you up for  what you get on the tongue. The tastes have the same distinctiveness.
The '07 Vintners Cuvee' has a huge combination of tastes; berry, pepper, ginger, dark plum, chocolate, and strawberry. O Magazine paired it with a salad in the January issue.
The '07 West side Block Pinot Noir , tasting notes from the web site:
Aromas of raspberry and vanilla rise to the senses, quickly followed by spicy cinnamon and white pepper, fennel and anise. The component grapes contribute to a lively palate of currants, pomegranate, raspberry, sweet, slightly toasty oak and spice. The finish is smooth, velvety and long with balancing tannins that have a slight grip.(more). 
They sent a '07 Estate Pinot Noir ($30)
The one I liked best was the 
'07 Homestead Block Pinot Noir( I have written down that the wine was an '07 but the link on their page is for an '05). It has ceder, violet, forest floor, slight tropical flowers and ginger in the nose and chocolate, ginger, vanilla, black cherry, and wood on the pallet. Soft lush finish that lasts and lasts. Love it.
We met a nice young couple from Monmoth who had recently returned from that big hot state with oil and Bush. Nichole has a company called Vino and Vinyasa that puts on Yoga retreats at various wineries around the valley. Give people a chance to rejuvenate in amazing surroundings. Cool idea!
We got home in plenty of time to see one of the most moving and well done ballets I think I have ever seen. "Dark Side of the Moon" plus two other works,"Without Cover" by Venezuelan dancer and choreographer Gillmer Duran the other, "Common Ground" by Toni Pimble, artistic director and the lead choreographer.
Absolutely spectacular!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Days, 300 Miles, 11 Bottles


The drive to Woodburn was boring as usual but getting to Maysara Winery was an adventure. I decided to see if the folks at Coeur de Terre Vineyard were around (they weren't) and I drove a little farther past their place just to look around. I am VERY glad I have a Subaru. The road was mud, hills, pot holes a foot deep, and more mud. I broke the first rule of male driving: I turned around. When I got to Maysara I was greeted by the winemaker, Tahmiene Momtazi, who was rushing around getting ready for a dinner at Hoda's Resturant so she handed me the wine, 3 Degrees '07 Pinot Noir and off I went.

I made a stop at Erath to pick up one of their fine wines, the '06 Prince Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir Dundee Hills($45).
Here is Dana showing off the bottle.
I stayed there and tasted through all the Pinot Noirs and a couple of the whites. Their reds have a distinct earthy quality yet they have an elegance and balance that just makes you want more Each taste opens a new door to your senses!. The '06 Prince Hill is just busting with dark cherry, vanilla, nuts, and for an '06, a finish that lasts forever. Just wonderful!
The whites I tasted were also but my favorite was the Gris. Bright, clean, and just filled with bits of melon, banana, orchid, and peach.
I consulted my map and headed north looking for Hawks View. I ended up in some old codgers driveway and AJ, the owner of Hawks View, warned me to get out fast. I followed his phoned directions through the correct gate, down the hill, and in to a beautiful vineyard. Great view! AJ and Ashley were there and handed over a bottle of the 2008 Carabella Vineyard Chardonnay.
 I can't wait to come back when I have time for a proper taste.

Now north to Portland and an early dinner at Alu Wine Bar & Lounge. I sat at the bar upstairs and had a very good house bacon, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, basil, balsamic, on ciabatta bread. I finished the meal with a "just the right sized" desert, the Chocolate Terrine with hazelnuts, white chocolate, whiskey caramel sauce and a few berries on the side. Loved it, and it was not a huge chunk of cake. Perfect, and just enough. I match it with an '08 Tenuta del Nanfro "Frappato" from Sicily. A very clever marketing tool used by Jeff Vejr, owner and wine wrangler, is a business card sized descriptor that fits on the stem of every glass pour. You get to take it with you and remember what you had the next morning.
The tasting I was going to was downstairs in a warm and cozy room with small couches and with room to stand and sip. My friends Isabelle Dutartre (right) - 1789 Cellars, Rebecca Pittock Shouldis (center) - Ghost Hill Cellars,Kelley Fox (left) - Kelley Fox Wines, were all there pouring their great Pinot Noirs. Each one is very different and each has its one charm, but the depth of knowledge and character of the women comes through in their lovingly made product. 1789 was delicate and intense, kept opening and unfolding with layer after layer of taste. '07 Ghost Hill was strong, dark fruit, earth, and tobacco and Kelly's  is floral on the nose with lots of berry and bright cherry with a hint of good soil. Lasting taste.
Lovely evening! Great crowd also.
I met Jackie Dukes,Harry Ryan, Cheryl Wakerhauser,
one of the owner of Eat, and oyster bar , Destiny Dudley, ((left )Kelda Kinne,  Mike and Drenda Bayliss, and many more.
After tasting, not drinking, I took off for Hood River for a quiet night in the Hood River Hotel, and a wonderful meal at Celilo.
I love staying at the old Hood River Hotel in downtown. It is upgraded, clean, pleasant, and has a very nice staff. They also do a great breakfast! Jessica checked me in and told me to hurry over to Celilo before the closed at 9:00.
Garlic Shrimp, salad, lots of bread and butter, and a  great red made me happy and ready for bed. Busy day starting in the morning!
Up early for a trip up to The Dalles to try to connect with Bolton Cellars. Missed them but had a great drive up a very beautiful stretch of the Gorge and back.
I drove out to Cathedral Ridge and spent an hour with Robb Bell talking politics, finance, health care, and wine. I was lead through the wines behind the counter and then treated to a barrel taste of the the '08 Zin. Wow! I really can't wait for that on to come out. Robb gave us a bottle of Necessity Red: The name comes from our former president, Thomas Jefferson. He once said "Good wine is a necessity of life", and we couldn't agree more.  This wine is an elegant blend of our premier Pinot Noir & Zinfandel grapes, demonstrating the uniqueness and diversity of our Columbia Gorge wine-growing region. I agree. He also handed over a full tasting for 6 people. Very nice!
Next I stopped in at Marchesi Winery where Franco gave a bottle of his '07 Achille Barbera($27)Barbera is king in the Piemonte region of NW Italy. Here in northern Oregon we share the same latitude, climate and hours of daylight. Marchesi Vineyards was founded around this grape varietal in fact the very first vines planted in May of 2004 was Barbera, we had our first crush in 2008.We named our Barbera, Achille after Francoʼs grandfather who lived in Piemonte, Italy all his life and loved his Barbera. Achilleʼs Barbera is loaded with bright ripe cherry fruit, balanced by mouthwatering natural acidity to complement most food, from pasta to roasts or grilled meat.(more)
He just won Double Gold: 2008 Emma, SANGIOVESE, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2010. He is in the process of expanding his winery so he can do more on site. Stop by and taste this wonderful bit of Italy!
 I was expecting to have a visit with Robert Morris at Phelps Creek Vineyards but he was in the air so I picked up two bottles; '07 Becky's Cuvee' Pinot Noir ($26): "The 2007 Pinot Noir Becky’s Cuvee is a blend of six vineyards. It offers a lovely bouquet of cedar,cinnamon, incense, cherry and raspberry.Smooth and easy-going on the palate, this flavorful, nicely concentrated, pleasure-bent wine will provide fine drinking over the next 5 years." Wine Advocate 89 Pts (more)
and the '07 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir ($42):Our best Pinot Noir from the oldest vines of our Hood River vineyard.An abundance  of  exotic oaky,smoky and  coffee tones  lead the way to aromatics of ripe fruit (blackberry,blueberry and cherry). Rich and deeply flavored, with a long finish, this wine will develop beautifully in the cellar.
This intense earthy wine pairs well with wild game, roasted duck, wild mushrooms.
"The 2007 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve displays great depth and concentration. Spicy, savory and
round, this stylish Pinot has no hard edges. Drink it through 2015." Wine Advocate 90pts (more)
As I was getting ready to leave I saw the '08 Hellfire Chardonnay ($15) sitting on the shelf and ask about it.
Mt. Defiance makes the wine and shares the winery with Phelps Creek. The wine maker for both is Rich Cushman.who is well known for his art and makes wine for Viento Wines as well.
I picked up a bottle as I left and walked next door to the Hood River Golf Course to ask for 18 holes for the auction.
Back to town for a bite at Celilo and to pick up a bottle of the wonderful '07 Pinot Noir that Peter Rosback makes for them.  He also makes some of the wines for The Pines and is a frequent dinner at the restaurant so when he suggested to J aquiline (left) that he make a wine for them she jumped at the opportunity. The wine is only available at the restaurant and is worth the trip.
Last stop, Naked Winery to see Linda and pick up a bottle of the '08 Naked Merlot($20).
Aging in both French and American oak barrels integrated smoothly with its plum and earthy cherry flavors. Structured yet soft tannins make this a complex wine ready to drink now. (more)
While I was there I tasted two of my favorites; the Dominatrix Pinot Noir and the Diva Sangeovese.
On the road to Oregon City where there was another bottle waiting. I love driving in general but I really love the Gorge. Every time you go it is different. Light, weather, time of year and all the little subtleties make it a new adventure every time. My friend Jeff White paints it endlessly and is always coming up with something new.
When I arrived in Oregon City I had just enough time to get to the office where our bottle awaited. Holloran Vineyard Wines  gave a '07 Le Pavillon Vineyard Chardonnay($38)  PLUS a 50% off case coupon and Winery Tour. 
They have been in the news a lot lately.
A day off and then back on the road, this time closer to home.