Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slow Days of Winter

After gathering so many bottles of wine I felt like taking a little slow time and not rushing from winery to vineyard looking for that "one bottle". I met Ray Walsh at Territorial  Vineyards and Wine Company and thanked him for his donation of one of his Capitello Wines Pewter Label , '07 Succession Cuvee Pinot Noir ($75). He has nearly sold out!  His wines consistently amaze me. His was ranked second out of ten top Oregon Pinot Gris.While I was there I asked the wine maker, John, at Territorial if he would again donate and he agreed to a bottle of his well loved (Bob Sogge RAVES about it!) Opine Cellars '04 Syrah($35). After I left them I took a nice leisurely drive north to Tyee Cellars, located off of highway 99 between Monroe and Corvallis. A family run winery offering a variety of wines from a very tasty Pinot Gris to a complex Pinot Noir. They are far enough away from everything else that you need to make this a destination or perhaps a stop between Benton Lane and Lumos or Harris Bridge. In the summer that have many events involving music and it is a great place for a leisurely afternoon of wine and relaxation.
They gave us a bottle of '08 Gewurztraminer($18), a spicy, bright wine with a caramel and spice finish. Great sipping wine for a warn afternoon or paired with a fruit salad, crudite', or just about any light fair.
After a long slow cup of coffee and a really good hamburger at a little cafe' near Adair Village, I considered stopping at Firesteed, but they are owned by some Seattle people so no one there can say yes. I really like the wines they make but to much trouble and time for one bottle. When I got to Lafayette and The Abbey (at left), I dropped off a case and bottle with Rebecca, who, with Steve Baker will be our wine experts during the auction..
My adventures at Rex Hill Vineyards and Winery took place a few months ago when a friend invited me to go on a tour of the winery. It was very Oregon rainy day when I got there so we went down to the barrel rooms, the bottling room, and then outside to watch the cleaning of the tanks. The operation is huge and seams to go one forever. I was taken by the amount of cooperation and joy I saw in the people working there. They say the wine takes on the character of it's surroundings.  That must be one reason their wine is so tasty. On this visit I was able to taste the '07 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir; bold, smokey fruit with a dark chocolate undertone, ripe black cherry and boysenberry with a long complex finish of honey and spice.The '07 Chardonnay was wonderful! Ripe pear, white peach, and a hint of citrus in the nose with smooth mouthfeel. Honey, vanilla, nice sweetness on the side of the tongue, and a clean soft finish.The '07 Pinot Gris was a little tight in the nose becuse it was still  bit chilled but the taste was caramel, citrus, and baked pear. great aftertaste.The '06 Estate Pinot Noir ($42) held here by Katie, that they presented to us was a real treat. Nose of very ripe black plum and cherry with figs and raisins, robust mouthfeel with hints of very ripe fruit, black figs. Very long after with spice and hints of dates.They always have a ring of glasses they fill with sample smells and tastes that you might encounter while tasting the wines. This time a looked askance at the colors of the items and what they had on display, until Anne reminded me that St. Patrick's Day was near.
I was in kind of a melancholy mood but Rebecca and her two kids snapped me out of it, with the help of Johnna's drink making skills at the Golden Valley Brewery and Restaurant. That is a Lafayette sitting so temptingly in front of her, made with Sapphire, a very small amount of dry vermouth, shaken (hard) with a few mint leaves, and poured in to a chilled glass coated with Grand Marnier (not very much). It is a VERY good drink.We ate little plates until we were very full then I was off to my guest quarters for a night of bad TV and good wine.Up early for coffee and a scone and off to gather. I made a trip out to visit with Drew at Shea Vineyards where Dick had promised a Magnum of his '07 Estate Pinot Noir. Last year his bottle of '06 Pinot Noir, along with Broadley Shea, and Bergstrom Shea, sold for $900. Not bad. This year we have  (so far) three bottles and one magnum of wine sourced from the Shea vineyards.We should do well again I hope! Drew has been making wines for over ten years and loves Pinot Noirs and the complexity, challenge, and reward of making a great one. Their '07 is nectar and is going to be a real prize for whoever out-bids ME!
Next on the agenda was Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. The drive up to the winery would lead one to believe that a wrong turn had been taken but when the car rises up over the edge of the hill one sees a glorious panorama of the valley and hills far away below. Modern building with fine art hanging, clean and bright, open views to the winery below. Very pleasant. So was the wine. I know I go on about Viognier here in Oregon but there is something about that grape that is almost as interesting as the Pinot Noir is its ability to be influenced by it's surroundings. In this case, the '08 Viognier has all the right notes in all the right places. Lynn Penner-Ash pulls out all the long cool notes of the wine and it presents a fine nose of fresh cut white peach, citrus skin with a deep creamy taste of white grape and pear. Long complex after with a little hint of vanilla and rose petal in the back. I like this wine.
Kelley gave me a chance to recover before pouring me a taste of the wine they would give, the '07
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45). It was so rich and dark in the nose with hints of tobacco and chocolate, with overtones of ripe cherry. The taste was that of  a complex compote of strawberry, rhubarb, and mulling spice with a hint of pepper and a nice broad finish.. How very different was the '07 Dussin Vineyard Pinot Noir: Wild rose, plum, berry, island spices in the nose with an elegant cherry and chocolate taste and a sweet and sour marionberry hint in the finish. Love it. After I thanked them for their gift I drove up to Gaston for some gas, then back down 47 and up the hill to the Kramer Vineyards where there was a bottle of Thistle '06 Pinot Noir waiting for me.This one is a little more interesting than some of the "big" '06 Pinot Noirs we saw. The tannins are good and the complexity of taste is surprising. A keeper. Trudy also handed over a bottle of the Semi-sparkling Pinot Gris that they were bottling and trying to get labeled. While I was there it snowed!. The dogs loved it and came in dusted with white. They flopped over on the floor and posed for me.
On the way back at the house I picked up Chinese and a bottle of Riesling and watch a movie before falling asleep. Still in kind of a forlorn mood the next day I decided against much interaction with people but I did stop at the Horse Radish for a mixed plate of almonds, cheese, salami, and other treats, accompanied by a glass of Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir (who I have yet to get) and a nice visit with
Sabra Mathot, the owner for a little while longer. New owner on the way and Sabra is going to get a much needed rest! She was sweet enough to give me a bottle of Cody Wright's Purple Hands Table($17.99) wine. Great stuff made at Ken Wright's winery around the corner. That is what is great about eating there, you get to meet all the wine industry folks and get a little insight in to the wine industry. Also, it is a great place to eat and drink good Oregon Wines.
I had one more stop to make for a really exciting wine, the '06 Carabella Pinot Noir ($35): Plush, showing an array of dark cherry, blackberry and plum character with soft, mouth-filling tannins. The warmth of the fall contributed to the dark garnet color. The softness of the Pommard and chocolate tannins of the Wadenswil clone round out the cuvee. Excellent with Morroccan lamb stew.
Time to go home and relax. Only a few days of gathering yet to come. I am going to SIP! on Sunday the 14th to try to play catch up.

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