Friday, December 31, 2010

My good friend Jerry at Winopolis passed this along and I thought I would share:
Wine knowledge around here is going bite-size and easy to digest. I know, I know, what is he going on about now? You see, in the past wine classes have usually meant committing to two hour classes for two or more weeks in a row. It doesn't take a genius to figure that this format won't work for very many people, a good portion of the time. Well, we aren't geniuses here at WINEOPOLIS, which explains why we had to cancel many of these things for lack of participation. It wasn't that no one was interested, just not enough, often enough. The classes definitely weren't bite size.

Of course, we always have our Saturday tastings, usually two or three wines in an affordable price range of eight to twelve dollars or so. If you are persistent, this can be highly valuable in building up your repertoire of everyday, affordable wines.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Enjoy a Free Tasting

Travel Lane County has a wine tasting every Tuesday evening featuring a Lane County winery. This is a great opportunity to get to know the people involved and for the regional folk to discover what is waiting in their own back yard!
Easy to find, the Adventure Center is right across the lot from Best Buy. Big sign, can't miss it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cooking With Oregon Pinot!

Thank You Greg
Brandy Glazed Ham
1 10-12 pound smoked ham,
with the bone in
6 cups Oregon Pinot noir  (use a nice dry one)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4, teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 ounces currant, pomegranate,
or other tart jelly
1/4 cup good scotch
1/4cup brandy (Pendelton)
1/2 cup brown sugar, well packed

Place ham in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven
with a cover and cover the meat at least halfway
with the equal parts of wine and water. Bring the
mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat,
cover, and simmer for 2 hours, turning ham after
1 hour to cover the other side with the liquid. In
the meantime, in a saucepan combine the
remaining ingredients and heat until thickened,
stirring well to blend.
Remove the ham from the pot and trim off all but
1/4 inch of fat. Score the ham well and
place it on a
rack in a baking pan with the scored side up.
Cover with 1/3 of the glaze and bake in a preheated
325" oven for 1 hour, basting twice with the
remaining glaze. Let ham stand approximately 3o
minutes before slicing.
Note: Do not let the ham cool between the
simmering and the baking steps. Simmering the
ham in the wine gives it a nice color and delicious
taste, eliminating most of the saltiness. .

Monday, December 20, 2010

Newberg and Carlton

On my way back from Portland, after visiting Gallery 903 to check out a possible purchase, I stopped at Anam Cara's new tasting room. Just as you turn right off 99 on to 240 out of Newberg you will see the new signs on the right. I was so pleased to see it but I had one caveat: they are next to Jem 100 Ice Cream Saloon, a malt shop that has THE BEST malts I have had in years. I have found it very difficult to make your taste buds behave after a burger and chocolate malt so be sure to go there AFTER you taste the wines!
With that in mind, and due to the fact that Sheila was rushing out to give a tasting, I just collected a bottle of their wonderful 2007 Nicholas Estate Pinot noir they gave us and did not take the time to taste.
This is very typical of the '07 Pinot Noir that was so maligned by short sighted people and has now proven to be elegant, delicate, and complex. I love this wine and this year. There are of course a few that were just not ever going to work themselves out but they are few and far between.
This '07 did very well: 94 points in PinotReport, 90 points from Wine Advocate and 88 points from Wine Enthusiast I will return soon and enjoy a taste.
Driving past all the winery signs between Newburg and Carlton made me realize what a chore I have in front of me. Some friends laugh and make fun of the "job" I have chosen to do again this year but it is work. I have met the most wonderful people, tasted the best wines, and actually worked in a few of the wineries picking, sorting, pruning, doing punch downs, and bottling. This has given me a real respect for all that goes in to making the "One Bottle" I am asking for.
When I arrived at Carlton I was very excited to find Seven of Hearts open and pouring! I usually miss them because I try and not go gathering on the weekends. The wineries are busy and don't have time to be interrupted by someone begging for "one Bottle".
 Byron Dooly, owner and winemaker, was there with some of his club members. I bought a Lavender dark chocolate with a dusting of sea salt from Byron's wife and partner Dana, who creates wonders for the palette (and matches fine chocolates to the wines!) under the name Honest Chocolates and waited for a taste.
My reward came with a sip of the Viognier and Roussanne blend that took me by surprise! Such a great balance of flavors and structure. It has the delicacy of the Viognier and the backbone of the Roussanne. This is a wine that recalls the great whites of the Rhone valley.
We went through the entire selection and I must say, none of the wines disappointed but some stood out as wines I could have a passion for. The Chatte D'Avignon Grenache and Syrah blend is outstanding. A soft, firm, and warn flavor with a strong earthy base. long finish with all kinds of fruits and flowers along the way. Byron writes in his blog::
   It’s a treat to have the opportunity to work with 15-year-old Grenache and Syrah vines situated on ideal    sites — truly reminiscent of the regions where these varietals initially gained their reputation in the Rhone Valley of France — right along the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. All the elements that make those wines great there, are present here as well: the heat, the moderating influence of the river, the winds (much like the Mistral winds of the Rhone Valley), and the gravelly sandy soil).
These are special wines because they have a lot of soul. The Syrah is more of a northern Rhone meaty, earthy expression than the more fruity expression you may have come to know. The Grenache is the one that brings the fruit to the party. The truth is both of these were acquired to make the blend, something that reflects some of my favorite red Rhone wines, such as Chateauneuf du Pape that is dominated by the elegance of Grenache, but with enough Syrah to give it penetrating depth and backbone.more
After we were done with the Seven of Hearts he moved us on to the Luminous Hills wines. These are estate grown Pinot noirs that show  a very complex and educational range of tastes depending on what lot they are from, the clones used, and the treatment during processing. Here is what Byron has to say:
   The Luminous Hills “silver label” utilizes the 667 from the higher elevation volcanic soil in Luminous Hills vineyard to give it its bright fruit expression.  Darker, spicier notes are derived from the 115 clone on the lower elevation sedimentary soil.  A little bit of whole cluster Pommard (20%) rounds it out and gives it its fleshy quality.  
And about the Gold, which he gave for the auction along with the D'Avignon Grenache and Syrah.:
   LUX, or the “gold label”, is a special selection, much smaller production, from select parts of the Luminous Hills vineyard.  A favorite clonal combination comprised of a big foundation of Pommard from the lower sedimentary part of the vineyard, providing the bass notes, but with enough 777 off the higher elevation volcanic soil to give it high tone structure and lift.  50% whole cluster fermentation.  
His new sign, attached to the front of his hand made wooden counter fools the eyes. You will have to go by and see how it is made, and of course taste all his wonderful wines along with Ana' Chocolates.
Before I left town I stopped over at Alexana Winery's elegant tasting room located 116 West Main for a quick visit with Christie Shertzer. The wines they make are consistently wonderful! Lynn  Penner-Ash is the winemaker  I ask if they would again this year be willing to donate "One Bottle" for the cause and she said "Of course!".  I ask for a bottle of the Shea vineyard '08 Pinot noir. This wine was given 94 points from Wine Advocate and 92 from Wine Spectator! We will add this bottle to a set of wines made from Dick Shea's grapes and create a really exciting package for the highest bidder. I can't wait to come back next week and taste through all the wines.
My next trip will be south to Elkton and Roseburg.

Tod Hamina, Naked (wine, that is)

The  first wine interview is at Naked up in Hood River then about half way through we get to see Todd Hamina sorting and tasting!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick Trip for Tasting and Art

Pfeiffer Vineyards was my destination as I drove my new Subaru out on the country roads of Lane County and along Terroirtoial Road. Past Alpacas and roadside attractions and then to the winery. I came bearing paperwork asking for "one Bottle" for the June event for OMP but the boss was not around.
Not wanting to waste a trip, a wine tasting was in order so I choose the  whites. I am intimately involved with most of Pfeiffer's wonderful reds but less tuned in to the whites.
Imagine pulling a coconut cream pie out of the oven, one with a buttery crust. Now close your eyes and breath that wonderful smell in. THAT is the smell of the Viognier! The taste is bright and pleasing with a hint of lime and  a mouthwatering finish. I highly recommend this wine for a stand alone or with lighter fair such as  salads, and fruit.
The Chardonnay was equally pleasing, with a clean, un-oaked flavor of fruits and spices. There is little left of this one so get it while you can.
I took a few pictures for my etching project, one etching of an iconic tree in or near the vineyard of all the Lane County Wineries.
I drove out past the ponds, sheep, and alpacas, past the Grange Hall, and back to Terrirtorial then left toward Monroe. One of my favorite golf courses, Diamond Woods, stretches out along the left and you can see the Inn at Diamond Woods up on the hill overlooking a few brave souls out swinging their clubs. Benton Lane sits almost atop the border between the two counties, hence the name. Their wines are consistently good to great. Their '04 Pinot noir was rated in the top 100 wines in the world, as was their '06 Pinot Gris!
The last club release was a three bottle Pinot noir pack of '07, '08, and '09. I am so pleased that the '07 is now being respected . When they first bottled it the wine was weak, flutey, and had little backbone, now it has evolved into a Burgundian red with lush mouthfeel,  complex mid pallet flavors, and a long complex finish. It is elegant and ready to drink now but I am keeping a few bottle rack for a few years to see what happens.
The '08 is perfect now but it will be even better by next year and the '09 is even better as far as I can tell.  It is worth the drive to visit this winery for so many reasons, among them are the wines, the views, and the people. Lots of fun for all the senses.
I took a picture of the big oaks that stand guard at the entrance to the vineyard and will create their etching from it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lane County Winery Etchings

I plan to create an etching from an iconic element related to each Lane County Winery while out gathering "One Bottle" Here is the first.
This is of the big tree just outside the tasting room at Saginaw Vineyards.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Piece on Burgundy vs Bordeaux

I'm a Burgundy Man

Choosing sides in the great wine-world fight between Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Hundreds of buyers and journalists were in Bordeaux the week before last tasting barrel samples of the 2009 vintage. The Bordelais are second to none when it comes to hyping their own wines, and long before the expectorating masses came to town, they had already declared 2009 to be a possible vintage of the century. Of course, they made the same lofty
claim about 2005, and 2003, and 2000 before that; on the present trajectory, Bordeaux will have had 40 vintages of the century by the time the year 2100 arrives. But as ever, the buzz from Bordeaux prompted feverish speculation about the ratings that critics, namely Robert Parker, were likely to dole out and how much gouging the chateaux, who are also very adept at charging for their wines, would do. Indeed, as of last week, I literally had not seen a single Internet discussion regarding the 2009 vintage that hadn't morphed into a thread about scores and prices. And each of these conversations left me with the exact same thought: Thank God for Burgundy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The First Two Bottles for the Auction

Iris Vineyards is located in Cottage Grove, just past the Village Green on the right, and the Taco something on the left then left, and down Palmer Avenue, a side street that leads past the Territorial Seed Co.This leads you to the poorly marked front door of the winery.
First time visitors need to use the map.Having been there many times, I had no problem finding the place and was rewarded with some great tastes and some good conversation.
Laura Pearson, the office manager, lead me through a sampling of their wines starting with the '07 Pinot Gris. Rumor has it that the '09 kicks ass so I will have to come back and taste it when it is released. The '07 kicks at least 3/4 of an ass. Caramel and tropical flowers on the nose with a hint of melon, then a tropical fruit and perfumed taste with a not unkind acid back. Very nice with spicy salads.
The '06 Chardonnay was a bit of a surprise. It has aged very well and has a softer, cleaner pallet than when I tasted it last year. Smooth. The nose is a distinct white peach and honeydew smell and the mouth feel is soft with a pleasant finish of caramel and melon.
Next came what I was really looking forward to trying, the '07 Pinot noir. With all the bad press the '07 Oregon Pinot noirs got (undeserved in 80% of the cases) I had to taste this one again. It has softened, matured, and become a well from which to sip multiple layers of sublime tastes. Black fruit and cola on the nose with a very subtle hint of mint, then an unfolding of plum, pepper, clove, and red fruit on the tongue. Layer after layer of tastes , each supplanting the other to create a swirl of pleasure in the mouth. Very nice finish with a little allspice and pepper after taste.
Now the BIG deal: Last year we were blessed with a bottle of the '06 Pinot noir Reserve so I ask if we could have another. They said yes! This wine is so good it hurts me to give it away. It was given 90 points by Wine Enthusiast and 91 points by Wine Spectator, both in 2007! Now, as you may have noticed, it is 2010 and this wine has had time to mature a bit. The oaks have given way to soft, supple hint of wood, the sharper berry and cassis flavors are now mellow and inviting. This is a wonderful wine with the most appealing mouth feel and finish that  I am shocked that they still have any left.
Laura Pearson, the office manager, presented me with a bottle of the '06 Reserve Pinot Noir and I was on my way after many thank yous.
Next stop, Saginaw Winery, located at the Saginaw exit (176) off I-5 just north of Cottage Grove. Nice of them to name the exit after the winery!
I was driving my brand new Subaru and was having way to much fun on the freeway down to Cottage Grove so on the way back I just had to do a litttle back roads driving. Raelly not that much fun as all the roads leading to Saginaw Winery are straight. Still, there was a bit of adventure when I turned in to the winery and was comfronted by some very anoyed sheep. They wanted to know what I was doing disrupting their afternoon meal. Nice to see organic viticulture at work with weed control thrown in.
The tasting room was inviting and its walls were populated by paintings by many of the Lane County  plein  air painters group. The wine was wonderful! Cheryl Byler, one of the owners, started me out with a taste of '07 Chardonnay. Caramel and flowers wafted up my nose, followed by a smooth, soft fruit and floral taste with a nice clean finish. It won a gold at Newport in '09. A delicious wine, too bad there is none left!
Next came the '07 Pinot Gris. This wine is right at its limit I think. It has a fresh peach nose and is just a little in to the dried fruit tatse. Drink now and enjoy!
The first red she offered was the'08 Pinot noir. This wine stands out as one of their best. It has deep dark fruit with layers of complex vanilla, spice, leather, tobacco, and chocolate and finishes with a little pepper and spice. I ask if I could have a bottle of the this for the auction and she was gracious enough to say yes.
I must admit that I have a long time love affair with Marechal Foch. My wife and I were married at Chateau Lorane and our guests went through roughly 8 cases of Foch and Baco noir so I always have a soft spot for this wine. Their '08 Marechal Foch  is a superb example of what this wine can be. It is rich and dark, with a most unusual nose: hibiscus and lilac! I recommend this wine as stand alone or , if you must, with dark roasted meats.
I also tasted the '09 Rose' : fresh cut pear and apple with a silky mouth feel and an acid bright finish, the '09 Riesling: a perfect , not too sweet, flowery and fruity wine, and one of my favorites, the '09 Muller Thurgau. This has a bone dry nose followed by fresh peach and citrus flavors. Great wine for cheese and fruit.
This year was tough for everyone in the southern part of Lane County. Almost all the vineyards had problems with fruit set, birds, deer, and just ended up with nothing to pick. She said their Muller was completely eaten by the wildlife, Bohemian Waxwings to be exact.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oregon Whites in Top 100!

From the San Fransico Chronicle

 2009 Brandborg Umpqua Valley Riesling ($16):
From an unexpected  corner of the Northwest - southern Oregon - comes this deeply juicy but firmly structured Riesling. A grassy herb note (think marjoram) plus nutmeg and sea spray aromas are matched to sweet peach skin and Fuji apple, with refreshing acidity that makes it almost gulpable.
King Estate2009 King Estate Winery Signature Oregon Pinot Gris ($17):
This is King Estate's forte, and winemaker Jeff Kandarian focused on texture, aging in steel tanks but leaving the wine on lees for five months. Slightly spicy - think nutmeg - with a clear, lemony brightness. 
more of the top Chronicle's Top 100

Great News for Oregon Pinot Noir

Great news! The San Francisco Chronicle has pegged our 2008 Nicholas Estate Pinot Noir as one of the TOP WINES OF 2010! "Here's to thinking small, and to the growing trend of wines that
reveal less sheer power and more attention to detail. These [wines] represent
the best of what West Coast wine can offer. Nick and Sheila Nicholas' estate on a southeast-facing slope near Newberg yielded a spicy, expressive take, heady with fennel, toasted spices, moss, bright raspberry and a lemon-peel edge. There's immediate pleasure from the great vintage, but also lots of potential to evolve.  
2008 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($32):
This longtime Oregon name was on a roll in the 2008 vintage, offering coiled-up power at low alcohol levels. Adelsheim's more affordable blend is taut with leather and huckleberry aromas, and a darker mineral edge to anchor the ripe fruit.
2008 Bergstrom Bergstrom Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($78): Josh Bergstrom's dry-farmed parcel in Oregon's nonpareil vintage make for a perfect combination. Minty and packed with dark, moist-earth undertones, it's boldly aromatic and full of ripe blue fruit and tannic plum flavors, with enormous potential to improve with age. 
2008 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($25):Winemaker Chris Williams found the right balance of robust cherry and raspberry-like brightness in this sleek, aromatic cuvee. Heady nutmeg and tree-bark scents and a camphor-like accent add momentum.
The Chronicle Wine section tastes wine from all over the world, but our Top 100 Wines are a showcase for the most compelling winemaking on the West Coast. —

Monday, December 6, 2010

Top Ten Microbes in Your Wine : PALATE PRESS

Top Ten Microbes in Your Wine : PALATE PRESS
Put your ear up to that glass of wine in your hand. Can you hear the tiny voices shouting, “Hey! How about some credit for us little guys down here?”
From a certain point of view, winemakers don’t make wine; yeast and bacteria do. Juice becomes wine by the miracle that is fermentation, the conversion of sugar to alcohol and other compounds. Since I’ve yet to see a human person ingest sugar and expectorate alcohol (whoa)...more

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Candlelight Baroque

Monday, December 6 and Tuesday, December 7 — 7:30 p.m. First Christian Church, 1166 Oak Street

One of Eugene's favorite musical traditions, OMP's Candlelight Baroque is always both musically and visually rewarding. This season we feature an all-Bach program, including the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, the beloved Concerto for Two Violins, and Cantata No. 36.
Glen Cortese, conductor
Fritz Gearhart, violin
Alice Blankenship, violin
University of Oregon vocal soloists and chorus
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1049
Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Cantata No. 36, BWV 36
Program notes
Concert sponsors Susan Keith and Jeanne Perry
Guest soloist sponsor Summit Bank

Cubanisimo's Holiday Party

You are invited to share holiday cheer with friends old and new at Cubanisimo's wine club holiday party as they enjoy wine, hors’d'oeuvres and Christmas carolers at the Cubanisimo Estate House. Friday, December 10th, 6pm-10pm
Reservations are $30 per person | $25 wine club member price

Reservation includes wine, hors’d'oeuvres, and a special performance by Willamette Master Chorus. Dress will be semi-formal.
RSVP by email or call 503.588.1763.  Reservations are required by all guests.  Reservations can be purchased online on our order page.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brandborg Gets 90 pts. in Wine Enthusiast

Brandborg 2007 Bench Lands Pinot Noir (Umpqua Valley) Light and aromatic, this delicate and poised wine seduces with lush aromas of cherries and baking spices.  It has the elegance that only fine Pinot Noir can express.  Here the subtleties have been coaxed into rich expression, with details of spice and incense and chocolate truffles adding to the lingering finish.