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.

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