Saturday, March 6, 2010

202 Bottles of Wine for the Ball

Morgan Broadly was pleased to hear how well his Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir had done  last year in combination with Bergstrom Shea, and Shea's own wine, $300 each for the bottles. This time he gave us an '08 Shea Vineyard($50) and says that it tasted out very well at a gathering of winemakers recently. Very exciting to have another, and this year we have Alaxana's Shea, Bergstrom's, and I hope soon, Dick Shea's also. Morgan said that he had been at a tasting of some of the top wineries and that the '08s were showing well but most were not as "big" as the '06. I have tasted a few and have been impressed.
I headed north to Corvallis for a visit with my friend Jerry at Wineopolis but he was out so I stopped by the Pioneer Hopyard Vineyards tasting room located at
255 SW Madison Ave, and was given the '03 Pinot Noir ($19). This wine won a Bronze Medal at the 2005 Oregon State Fair and  is ripe with  huckleberry, blackberries, and currant. Long sweet finish with loads of acid and tannins. Drinkable now but you can keep it another 5-8 years. They keep the wine back for a number of years before releasing them. They are worth a stop, and yes, they are in a jewelry store but they have a wide selection of wines for sale including many Oregon wines.
Next stop was the Spring Hill Country Club to pick up a round for the 18@18 part of the auction. You can see how far I have to go at Oregon Golf and Music Project.

I left there and stopped by Springhill Cellars to pick up a bottle of the '07 Pinot Noir.
This wine needs time in the bottle. It has enough tannins and should mellow after a few more years. Very herbaceous, with sage, fresh cut Chard, dusty leather, black current, and a subtle hint of strawberry jam. A little harsh on first sip but much better on the second. It has lots of room mid-pallet for red sauce or spicy meats or pizza.

Had a nice drive up to Highway 22 on back roads and even the dairy farm that usually smells SOOO bad was calm. When I got to Red Hawk Vineyard and Winery I was treated to a pleasant visit with Betty, the owner, and Brandi who was doing the tasting (seen here) a taste of some very yummy wines, my favorites being the '08 Gamay Noir with tropical notes with red fruit and honey on the nose with a chocolate cherry, anise, and pepper taste. very approachable, good starter wine. The '08 Syrah was delicious! Big black fruit with notes of spice and earth, a little pepper on the back. I picked up a bottle of the '08Grateful Red ($15), also a good drinking wine. Able to stand alone or with food, it has soft black fruit, earth and slight hint of chocolate and strawberry. Long finish with spice.
I love the view from up on the hill. They look down over the Willamette and you can see for miles. Great place for a visit and a taste.
On the way through Dayton I stopped at Joel Palmer House to ask for a donation of a meal for two . Heidi and Chris Czarnecki gave a certificate for dinner for two and Heidi gave an overnight stay at Fox Farm Cottages., 
The Abbey outside of Lafayette is where all the wine for the auction is being kept, along with thousands of of other cases of Oregon wines so I called Rebecca and let her know I was getting close. We unloaded 5 cases of wine from the car and moved it to our assigned space along with all the other cases and magnums. It is getting pretty populated with good wines!
I got to McMinniville about 5:00 and instead of trying to hit any wineries I just went to my friend Thibaud's  house and put my things away. He came home and started marinating steaks and cutting up vegetables, and opening wine.Rebecca showed up with the rest of the fixings and we talked over some of his delicious wines By the time the food was ready we had developed quite an appetite and were ready for something besides great wine. Rebecca sugested the idea of having wineries sponsor tables at the auction for $200 and 6 bottles of their wines, three red, three white for the table.. They would get two seats and be able to talk about their wines, and they would get to stand for acknowledgment when their wines came up for auction.

Great meal, great company, and a much needed nights sleep and I was ready to face the day.
After a Latte' at the Safeway Starbucks I Drove up the hill through the dense fog of the morning to Winderlea Vineyard and Winery, where Donna and the dog gave me a bottle of the '07 Estate Pinot Noir ($50) and a beautiful box for it.From their tasting notes:The 2007 “Estate” pinot noir (formerly Goldschmidt) was picked on Sept 29th and Oct 15th. The core of the wine is two new blocks of Pommard planted in 2005 which we allowed to ferment in our new Taransaud wood fermenters. The remaining fruit was fermented in stainless steel and macro bins. In addition to being fermented in wooden tanks, the Estate was barrel aged in French oak barrels for 9 months prior to being bottled in August. (more) Last year the '06 Estate went for $150 in the silent auction so I look forward to another great sale.
I was sorry to have missed Bill but I will make a trip up just to sit on their deck and watch the vines grow.  I drove over to Four Graces, where as luck would have it, I had won their Facebook friends prize of a very neat zippered vest, a t-shirt, and an insulated wine bag that holds two bottles!
Melanie made sure I had the right size, XXL unfortunately, but I am working on it.
Driving out to Brooks Winery I realized I was almost out of gas so I turned back (that is so hard to do!) and filled up in Lafayette. I caught Heather before she had to leave and we tasted some of their wonderful wines.
The story of this winery is at once tragic and uplifting. The founder passed away at a very early age and his sister took over management, but ownership went to his young son, now 14,. the youngest winery owner in the world. I encourage you to visit and enjoy the wonderful energy coming from the staff and from the winery. I did not get to taste the wines that were selected for the White House State Dinner but you can buy them! I left with a bottle of the '08 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir($25). From their notes: On the nose beautiful primary aromas of minerals,dusty bing cherries, blueberries, beeswax, redcurrants, blackberries, spice, roses and a mouthwatering cornucopia of small red fruits pour from the glass. As the wine sits in the glass more dark and savory aromatics of tobacco, tar, smoke, freshly picked plums, bitter orange peel and grilled bread emerge.(more)
I had fun driving over the top of the hill and down the other side and in to Amity for a quick burger at Ashes Cafe, then a visit to Coelho Winery. They have a wonderful tasting room filled with fine wines and chocolate from the Brigantine monastery so you can indulge at least two vices while you are there.
This year they gave us a bottle of their '06 Divertimento Pinot Noir ($18). I will stop by again and taste it as they have no tasting notes posted as of yet. I am sure that even though it is 4 years in the bottle that is has enough structure to last for a while longer. Listen to Dave talk about his wines here in a video done by VineStories.
They are working on a huge project that will change the face of Amity, a new winery and tasting room with lots of space right on highway 99.
I drove back toward the north to Kristen Hill Winery where I picked up a bottle of an '02 Pinot Noir. This is a really small winery with a tasting room located in an adjacent house surrounded by Daffodils. Rustic and pleasant and they make really good wines. From their notes:
family owed and operated. Produces about 1000 cases per year. Specialty is sparkling wine. Our wines are served with down home friendliness in our German style tasting room next to the vineyards. You'll have such a pleasant experience, you won't want to leave. Great for novice wine tasters as we try to impart some wine education during the tasting. Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Blush, Port are also available as well as our 3 sparkling wines. No tasting fee.
I made a stop at Left Coast Cellars and met a very old dog, and nasty cat ( who has been seen dragging unsuspecting tasters in to the bushes), and a beautiful woman, Devon. The latter helped me through the tasting of their wonderful wines. 
The '07 Rose' of Pinot Noir is a very good afternoon in the sun kind of wine, light, yet rich with melon and soft red berry, and a taste of fruit cocktail and cherry. Not an overly sweet wine and no hint of grapefruit or citrus. Nice finish with just a little bit of sharpness.the most surprising wine was the '08 Left Bank Pinot Blanc. It has qualities that are hard to find in a white. Lots of good fruits like guava, banana, pineapple, kiwi, white grape, and citrus but with a remarkable mouthfeel of softness and body. It has one of the most complex endings I have tasted in a Pinot Blanc. I left with a bottle of the '05 Estate Grown Pinot Noir.
I drove over to Rickreal for a taste and a bottle from Cherry Hill Winery's new tasting room. Linda and I went to the Valentine's Day tasting there so I knew what I wanted. The new '08 Syrah($29), using Del Rio fruit, is a hit. Smokey, earthy, candied fruit, lush, soft mouthfeel, long finish. Like this a lot. Next stop was the Emerson Winery where I met the assistant winemaker and the owner and picked up a bottle of the '07 Avelina Pinot Noir. from Tom. From their tasting notes;
Showing excellent extraction, 2007 Avelina Pinot Noir is a deep ruby-garnet color in the glass. Clean and expressive scents of sweet currant and kirsch immediately greet the senses, followed by hints of spice, subdued oak, and perfumy, blossomy highlights. A taste reveals an intense, round, hedonistic wine built on flavors of black cherry and currant, giving way to exotic spices, vanilla, smoke, and minerality.(more)
Driving back the long way, I hoped to catch Lumos or Harris Bridge wineries open. No such luck.
The gathering will intensify over the next weeks leading up to the auction as I have about 55 more wineries that gave last year that I have not been to yet!

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