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.

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