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.
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.
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.