Thursday, December 29, 2011

Central Oregon to Become Official 'Wine Region'

Maragas Winery Gets 'Incredible Christmas Present'

POSTED: 12:33 pm PST December 29, 2011
The Oregon Wine Board will recognize Central Oregon as an official wine region, according to the founder of Maragas Winery near Culver, the first to make wine solely from grapes grown on the climate-challenged High Desert.Doug Maragas said Thursday he received confirmation of the news last Friday from Charles Humble, marketing and communications director for the Oregon Wine Board."It was an incredible Christmas present,” Maragas said.For a decade, Maragas had been working on getting recognition for wine-making and grape-growing in the Central Oregon area.“When we started here and released our first wine, I fielded numerous comments that the venture was foolish and I was a bit crazy to put forth the effort,” he said.But a decade later, Maragas said he has been exonerated.“It’s an enormous step forward in recognition and credibility, which directly relates to marketability,” he said.Soon, when people contact the Oregon Wine Board, the official state representative of the Oregon wine industry, rather than have Maragas Winery listed under the “other” category, it will be listed in its own category.And, what category is it? Maragas said it didn’t take long to respond to Charles Humble’s question on what he’d like to call it – “it seemed obvious to me – “Central Oregon.”” Maragas explained that the region would range from Warm Springs to Bend.“The tipping point of finally convincing the State to recognize the Central Oregon wine region was the fact that we now have two other licensed wineries in the area – Volcano Vineyards, and Faith Hope and Charity," Maragas said. "With Maragas Winery, that makes three wineries and six small but still commercial-sized vineyards.”Maragas had tried a year ago to get the recognition for the area when the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition globally for American wines, awarded Maragas Winery Beat Red a silver medal. This was significant, because this wine was made entirely of Central Oregon grapes. (read the rest)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Anam Cara '07 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir.

I am very excited about our dinner at Linda's mom's tonight. Salmon, and I am opening a bottle of Anam Cara '07 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir.
2007 Anam Cara Pinot Noir Estate Reserve, USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains -
Average of 91 points in 6 community wine reviews, professional notes, label images, wine details, and recommendations on when to drink.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

'10 May be the Best Yet!

I have had a few opportunities to tast the '10 Pinot Noirs ove rthe last few months and I must say that they are just about perfect.
The other night we (Travel Lane County) had a celibratin at our one year old Adventure Center and King Estate was thee pouring the Signature Pinot Noir from '10. I was blown away! Complex, black fruit with hints of clove, honeysuckle and island spice layered with smokey peat and jam.
Loved it! And it will lay in wait for many years as the acid and body are both present and pleasant.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Double '07

I am sipping the '07 Iris Hill Pinot Noir right now. Plum and tart berry on the nose with hints of baked apple and spiced quince. Very soft mouthfeel with  lush, soft taste of black fruit and plumb. Really one of the outstanding Pinot Noirs of '07. Get it if you can and sit one it for a few more years just to see how much better it will get!
Jason D. Brumley says that '07 is a collectors vintage not a drinkers. I agree! But it is drinking VERY well now.
I have also just tasted an '07 Baco Noir from Girardet and found the wine to be wonderful. I love that I called the '07 as a great vintage and lots of wine writer said it would suck!:)
If yiu can get your hands on an '07 Pinot noir, buy it now!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Patchwork Cellars

Tonight I had an opening of my prints at a little cafe called The Washburne Cafe in downtown Springfield. Good crowd with lots of good questions. The best thing about the evening was the winery that came to help out and give tastes to all comers 21 and over.
I was impressed by both wines Stirling Fox , the owner and winemaker at Patchwork Cellars, brought to taste.
His '09 Pinot Gris has a nice mineral nose with hints of fresh crushed grape and floral overtones. The taste is caramel and ripe pear with a nice acid back. I had it with Lobster Bisque and it stood up very well. It is nice to have a Gris that will stand up to creamy soups and enhance the flavors.

The Pinot Noir was a great '09. Very mellow flavors with small hints of earth and leather. I came away with the impression that like his '07, this wine will be very drinkable in 2014-15 though it is very good now.
This is one of the '09s that is flavorful enough to last. Great buy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

'05 Devitt Merlot

We had a nice treat for dinner, a 2005 Devitt Merlot sourced from Steel-head Run Vineyard. Dark complex candied fruit, coffee, dark chocolate in the nose with fruit compote, 7 spice and deep dark fruit in the mouth. Excellent mouth feel, sot and pleasant with perfect acid balance. I had it with a roast and a salad and it paired very well. Great finish. I let it open for about 45 minutes and the difference was noticeable. Thank you Jim.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harvest at Ghost Hill

Wednesday began on a bit of a sour note. Linda was backed up in meeting and we were trying to get on the road to Carlton to help sort fruit. As we got ready to leave, barely in time to make it up there at a reasonable time, we opened the garage door to fine our more adventurous cat had secreted himself in the garage while I was taking this out to the car. Out he went under the garage door the moment it opened. To say I was upset would be a ...well, let's just say I am glad there were no small children within earshot. Linda, ever calm and present, walked out and found him enjoying hide and seek in the garden, and after a short chase, he stopped in the dry leaves in the gutter and had a good roll. She calmly went over and picked him up. Back in the house, dusty and happy, and we were getting later and later.
We made it up in record (well not quite record time, after all, Linda was in the car with me) time and dashed in to Horse Radish for a plate of Hummus and salad.
Rebecca (seen above trying NOT to fall in) , the winemaker for Ghost Hill, was all ready for us, gave us our stations, and in came the grapes.
We were using the facility at Carlton Cellars, owned by my friend Dave Grooters and his partner/ wife Robin Russel, and were under the gun to finish and have things cleaned up so the next batch could come in.
The picking began at 11:00 on the Bayliss- Bower vineyard and we had Wädenswil on the sorting table by 1:00. The clusters were huge and firm. I tasted a few random grapes and I was amazed by the development in structure and complexity. These had a semisweet flavor bursting with rich,lush flavors of blue fruit, spice, pepper, and a soft mouthfeel. The seeds were brown and the skins were dense but not overly thick.. Very pleasant hint of acid.
We found very little botrytis as the leaves had been cut back to avoid standing water on the fruit and there very few unripe clusters.

Next came the 777 and man was it intense! This grape usually has a sweet, dark juice and a firm fruit with a thicker skin than other Pinot Noir grapes. These were no exception, rather, they were some of the finest firmest, most flavor filled 777 grapes I have ever tasted. Dark fruit, thicker, chewier skin with none of the usual bitterness, just a slight acidic feel on the tooth. This is going to be an exceptional year. We found a bit more mold deep in the clusters but still very little. The smaller more conical clusters were larger this year due to more hang time and because of the intense dropping of fruit done for the development of the best possible fruit. Most vineyard dropped fruit to 1 cluster per stem.
After a short break we started in on the 114 and I was amazed at the cluster size in these bins. The fruit, being thinner skinned than the 777, was easy to burst and the flavors were sweet and rich, not from high brix, usually higher in this clone, but from the long cool maturation that took place.
This is called physiological ripeness (or physiological maturity) of grapes is a relatively recent addition to the discussion of ripeness in viticulture and winemaking. The phrase has become a "catch all" term used to describe other factors in the development of ripening grapes that affect a wine's quality beyond the standard measurements of sugars, acids and pH. These factors generally includes evaluating the ripeness of tannins as well as the development of other phenolic compounds that contribute to the color, flavor and aroma of wine. In many ways, the concept of physiological ripeness is similar to the French term Engustment (from the Latin root gustis or taste) which denotes the stage of ripening when aroma and flavor become apparent. Research has shown that most aroma compounds develop in the berry in glycosylated form as secondary metabolites which occur late in ripening as the build up of sugars have leveled. This stage is distinct from the sugar/acid interactions of ripening because it is possible for a grape to be "ripe" in the context of sugar and acid levels but still be very immature when it comes to the development of tannins, aromas and flavor that characteristic a complex or quality wine.
For the most part, many of these qualities are difficult to objectively measure so evaluation of the physiological ripeness of grapes is centered around observing and physically sampling the grapes. With experience winemakers and viticulturists learn to associate certain taste and characteristics with different stages of development. They evaluate the skin and pulp texture of the berry as well as the color of skins, seeds and stems. If the seeds are still green, the tannins inside the grape are more likely to be harsh and bitter. As the tannins continue to develop, the seeds start darkening in color. They will observe the lignification of the stems as they turn from being flexible and green to hard, woody and brown (for many varieties but not all) indicating that vine has completed its work in developing its "offspring" grape clusters and has started to store carbohydrates and resources for its next growing season. During the ripening period winemakers and viticulturists will continually sample grapes throughout the vineyard in the weeks and days leading up to harvest. (from an article in Wickipedia
Absolutely joyful flavors.The smell of these grape filled the winery as they were crushed.
On to the last and my surprise favorite, Pommard. The clusters were small and had good brown stems on much of the grapes. The taste of these was what I will call meaty. Dense, ripe, smooth, and satisfyingly flavorful. I could eat bowls of these for breakfast. Very little sweetness, just that mature taste mentioned above.
The last tank was filled with a blend and we selected whole cluster with brown stems for the tank. Can't wait to try that one.
After a few hours of clean up, we bade farewell and headed in to Dundee for a bite at Dundee Bistro. There are so many fine places to eat but I had my heart set on the deconstructed clam chowder.
Manilla Clam Chowder with Mussels & Fuji Apples
fingerling, applewood bacon, leeks, cream & spinach 16

I was not disappointed. I had it with a glass of the 2009 PONZI Willamette Valley. Perfectly balanced, not to sweet and held its own against the apple and cream tastes.
A long drive home with a 1977 performance from the Met of Il Trovatore on the radio, ending the day on a fine note.
There are few things more wonderful than having your hands in the wine you will one day drink!
Mark my words: This WILL be the best year Oregon has seen for developed flavors and character of the wines. This will be the benchmark!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thank You "My Wine Words"!

I just got a nice email from Alie at My Wine Words.
They had a contest to fill in the blank. A nice glass of Pinot Noir is like__________.
Click the link to see the winners!

Tasting at Authentica

My friend Steve Baker, owner of one of the best wine stores in the county, gave a gift certificate for a wine tasting to OMP's auction and Linda bought it. Last night we took advantage of it and had a great time tasting through three whites and three reds. The whites were all Chardonnay and were all just to my taste. We blind tasted and I pegged the first one as an Oregon wine. I was right! Winderlea '09 Chardonnay. What a wonderful and rich wine with great balance and complexity showing hints of soft apple and oak. Sweet but balanced finish.. The minerality that makes the great whites is always missing in wines from around here as we have no limestone, but Winderlea and a few others from up north have managed to coax out every bit of taste from the grape and it shows in this wine. Drinkable for another 3-4 years, great now. I highly recommend this one.
I did not take notes but the other two were also good and the one from Frances was the best with olives and hard cheese. The Winderlea was remarkably good with blue cheese. I will get the info from Steve and list the other wines.
I was fooled by the reds. The first wine was obviously a Pinot Noir but it had the rich full leathery hard red fruit of wines from the Van Duzer area. I was wrong! It was from the Alexander Valley in California. Very impressive wine! I will get the info from Steve and post it. The one I remember most is the Johan '08 Nils Reserve. The winemakerDaniel J. Rinke,  uses only native yeast, does not use SO2 to clean (and kill) and they are Bio-dynamic. This wine is so elegant it almost did not fit with the two other wines (the third was a Burgundy) and would have stood by itself. Soft mouthfeel with very soft tannins and minerality. Black fruit and hints of sweet cherry. Great with the white cheese.
More on the other wines later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pudding River Syrah '09

We opened a bottle of Pudding River's  '09 Syrah from Walla Walla last night and had it with roast beef and roasted veggies. Absolutely amazing. Huge warm richness in front with big fruit, then no fall off, instead it built to a creamy mouthfeel and a perfect acid finish with long notes of warn fruit.
One of the best I have had this year. Highly recommend!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some of My Salud! Auction Etchings

 WillaKenzie's Longhorn

A view from the back of Bethal Heights
 A view in the front of Winderlea Vineyards
 Ken Wright Cellars
Archery Summit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Great News!

I just received this letter from Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards and went to the Wine and Spirits web site for a look at who else I know who hit the Top 100. Tonight, our winery will be honored as one of the "Top 100 Wineries in the World" by Wine & Spirits magazine in San Francisco.

Editor, Joshua Greene said, "Each year, our panels and critics blind
taste more than 10,000 wines, selecting the best for recommendation
in the magazine. Our "Top 100 Wineries of the Year Award" highlight
brands with a range of wines our critics have scored at the top of
their categories. Willamette Valley Vineyards' performance makes it a
great ambassador for wines of Oregon."

This is wonderful recognition for the vineyard crew and winemaking staff who dedicate their lives to making a delicious, classic representation of Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

Thank you for the support you have given us over these many years,


Jim Bernau,

Friday, October 7, 2011

Off the Subject of Wines

This week I had the pleasure to spend  two days in Portland and take part in a couple of very cool events.
I drove up early and checked in to the Crown Plaza, which I had never heard of and found quite by accident using Google's new Hotel Finder. Very nice hotel that feels like it should be downtown. Classy, clean, and well appointed. The staff was great and so was the food. I took the MAX, located two blocks from the hotel right in front of the convention center.
After a pleasant ride in to Downtown I stopped in at South Park at 901 SW Salmon for a quick snack and a Lafayette (Martini glass + rinse of Grand Marnier + Sapphire Gin shaken with fresh mint, served VERY cold)
I ordered the Salmon Cakes, served with freesia lettuce and lemon curd. Absolutely wonderful and well within my diet.
Alexa , shown here, is a very accomplished  Bartender and was a fount of information about the food and the restaurant. I was very impressed and will make many return trips.
Next stop was the Portland Art Museum for a truly unusual experience, the "Object Stories" project.(Go to search and type in Gordon.)
I had taken a picture of my press, an old type high, hand crank press I had found at the bottom of the stairwell in Lawrence hall near my old studio. I got some help and hauled it up, put it back together, and used it for woodblock and lino block printing. There was also a piece of 3/4 inch plywood and a thin sheet of steel that could be used for etching but was not very efficient.
A few years later, after I had graduated and was working in my own studio I got a call from the Art Museum about printing a C.S. Price linoleum block that had been his 1929 Christmas card. His relatives had it and were willing to have it used for prints to give donors to the building fund during a large showing of Price's work.
I agreed, but after printing a few by hand, decided I needed to borrow a press.
I called the school and ask if I could used the old press and the Dean said that as far as he knew nobody ever used it and that I could just have it.
Allen Cox and I jumped in his van and picked it up, brought it up to the studio, and I printed 125 images for the show.
I used the press all the time for block printing but needed an etching press. I went down to Multi craft Plastics and ask for some advice about what to use for a press bed. They suggested Lexan and the last 12 years has proven them right.
I took the press to a machine shop and had them repair the gears, put on a wheel, and put on adjustment handles. $900 was a great price to get  it tuned up and ready. I ordered some press blankets and got to work.
One evening I had set up a workshop for a print collecting group I was part of and my friend Gordon Gilkey came along. We were created collagraphic plates and each time Gordon put his plate on the press bed he would get this odd look on his face. Finally he turned to me and said, in his deep resonant voice,"Where'd you get that press?" I told him and he smiled and said "By God, that's my old press!"
That night he regaled us with stories of printing on the press, which he said was old when he used it in 1938.
He would often call and stop by for a visit and to see how his old press was doing. Every time I use it I think of the legacy he left.
After that I went over to a reception for the Oregon Arts Conference at the Schnitzer, mingled a bit, then headed down to Urban Studio for the opening party Fashion Week. Greta party, with lots of people who looked as if they had no idea why they were there, but the music was good, the food was great, and the conversations were stimulating.
Back to the hotel and up early for breakfast and a brisk walk over to the Oregon Arts Commission Conference.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Wine Label

Well, my life is now complete! My first wine label is on the bottle.
My good friend Rebecca Pittock Shouldis, winemaker for Ghost Hill Cellars made a cool climate Syrah from grapes grown at the Dukes family vineyards and it has one of my etchings for a lable.
She bought a Portrait from a Oregon Mozart Players auction and insted ask if I would shoot an image for her and make an etching for the label. I agreed and we set out to creat an image that portraid the name of the wine A La Main, loosely, Made by hand.
I went to dinner with her and the kids at Golden Valley  and we went over to the winery to try some ideas. The one that struck home was an image of the wine flowing through the hands of the kids in to the barrel. I only took a couple of shots and was happy.
It took a long time to get the image right and to create the etching but I am so happy with it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oregon Unveils "Oregon Wine Country" Plate!

First WINE plate in the USA! Oregon is first again!
Here is  Judy Phipps with her painting.

Great Day For Wine, Great Day For Oregon

Today started with a trip up to Carlton and a stop at Seven of Hearts Winery and a taste of the yet to be released Viognier-Roussanne, '09. My God what an elegant wine! Soft in the mouth, ripe white peach and gooseberry on the nose with honey mead and melon in the mouth. This is a soft and supple wine with room for foods like spicy Thai or Indian. Love it.
Lena said that they  have had their share of awards including Wine Spectator's :Luminous Hills Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District 2009 - 91 points
Velvety, subtle and distinctive for the mint and savory spice accents around a lovely bead of redcurrant and raspberry fruit, persisting delicately on the long finish. Drink now through 2019.—H.S., but that the traffic had increased hugely since the Top Reds article.
Needless to say they are a place to visit on your road trip to Carlton.
Portland Monthly just rated them among the top reds in Oregon, but I must say the article pissed me off because I have taste 1000's of Oregon Reds and they left out some of the finest wines produced in the south and in the Gorge. The center of the universe does not park itself in Portland...
Anyway, I met with my friends Mike, owner of Ghost Hill Cellars,  and Rebecca, winemaker, for lunch at my usual watering hole, Horseradish, and discussed the idea of me repping their wines. The thought of a job curdled my soup but I agreed to think about it.
I had a superb Chardonnay made by Ken Wright that stood up beautifully to the soup and he salmon mousse. Lovely. Warm mouthfeel with long sleek strands of warm hay and honey. Very good finish with no bite on the back or sides of the tongue. Highly recommend. My friend had the J. Scott Syrah '08 and was impressed by the soft complexity and structure of the wine. The grapes come from the Rouge Valley but have non of the heat that is typical of one of the major vineyards there. Perhaps it comes from a higher vineyard with less direst southern exposure?
Wonderful wine. He is the winemaker at Silvan Ridge and we carry his wines at the Adventure Center for Travel Lane County.

After lunch I got a real treat. I tasted 114, Wadenswil, 777, and Pommard off the cluster. They are all so good right now and the cluster size in amazing!  I was guessing 19 to 20 brix on all save the 777 but the seeds are still very green and I found 4 seeds in one 777 grape. All the seeds were clean though, no flesh sticking to them.. I can not wait for harvest! These are all reduced to one cluster per stem and yield will be three ton per acre. These are the largest bunches I have ever seen!
On the way back to Salem for a very special event I stopped in Carlton for my Jam fix.
Republic of Jam is a reason to go to Carlton even if you don't like wine. I scored a big jar of Apple-Mustard, some Blueberry Lemon, and a bottle of syrup to mix with my favorite Gin.
This is going to be a banner year for Oregon Wines and not just because of the wines!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

OMP Is On The Bus!

If you're out and about,
you'll see some very nice-
looking buses around town.

Please thank LTD for 
sponsoring all three of
our Conductor Search concerts this season:

Ride the Bus!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vine Stories Does It Again! features mini-documentaries about artisan wineries in California, Oregon and Washington.
Learn about wine from winemakers, find new sources for wine or plan a trip to wine country.

 Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
Newberg, Oregon

How do you get from the Smithsonian to the vineyard?  Find out in this interview with Lynn
Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars as she talks about her path to winemaking and whether the pursuit
is more art or craft.

You'll learn about this respected Oregon winemaker’s philosophy as she discusses longer cold soaks, native fermentations, and the nuances of several Willamette Valley sub-appellations that have played a key role in producing her critically acclaimed Pinot Noir.

Watch the video:  Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Look at Green Winemaking

This is an article I found interesting in Snooth

A Look at Green Winemaking

The truth about "organic" wines

Would you like some steroids with that burger? No you say? But what about with that wine? Could there be something horrific in your bottle? Think that asking so many questions is not a way to write an article? Perhaps not, but hopefully it will get you to pay a bit more attention to what you are drinking.(more)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sweet Cheeks and Pulled Pork

The trip out to Sweet Cheeks Winery was supposed to be quick, but after a stop at Silvan for a visit with Angela, the trip got a little longer. We chatted about her new baby and about the show at the museum and I gave her a test proof of the etching I am doing of Silvan Ridge for the Salud! auction this year. They are contributors to the cause and I have selected them and 10  other wineries this year to create etchings for in an edition of ten to auction off.
I made a quick stop at Sweet Cheeks to see Mark, the winemaker, and give him back a wine carrier he had loaned me at the dinner we had at the Schnitzer Museum. He surprised me with a bottle of his own brand, Bootlegger Wines , Demon Bird Red Table Wine. (Tasting notes: This is a very good blend. Though it is not listed on the bottle I am guessing it is Syrah, Tempranillo, and  some Barbera with perhaps a little cab. Washington fruit. Soft mouth feel, candied cherries on the nose with hints of rum and spice, deep rich black fruit flavors and a clean finish. Great acid balance. We had it with smoked salmon, white cheese, and bread and it held up really well. The acid cleaned the pallet and the flavors enhanced the food. Perfect.)
On the way home I stopped in at one of my favorite little stores,  The Baily Hill Market, for a BBQ fix. They have some of the best BBQ around. Pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and it comes with  slaw. Nothing better after a hard day of wine tasting.
While I was there I was ask what I thought about Emerson 08 Pinot Noir. The fact that they had a bottle peaked my interest so I went over and explored the wine section. WOW! I picked up a few bottles of '07 Pinot Noir from several wineries, including Lone Oak. This wine has matured wonderfully and has current, red fruit, a little pepper on the finish. It has an acid balance that just makes you want to try it with all kinds of foods just to see what it WON"T go with!
If anyone is still laboring under the false assumption that the '07s are lacking, forget it and buy what you can find. This is some of the finest, most delicate and complex wines we have produced here in Oregon and it is just drinking well now. It will continue for a few more years but feel free to open it now and enjoy.
The wine selection at this market is reason enough to stop by, even if you don't like BBQ.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Long Benton Lane and a Short Brigadoon

Yesterday was our pick-up day for our Benton Lane Wine Club. Linda and I decided many years ago that we would only belong to two wine clubs, so with that in mind we now belong the five. So much for will power.
Benton Lane was our second club and we visit them often. When I have occasion to lead a group on a local winery tour they are often a starting or ending place.
Steve and Carol are strong advocate of tourism and the development of the Oregon wine bussiness.
Steve is involved with another project that I wholeheartedly support, Salud!. He recently joined the board.
The small show I recently had at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art displaying etchings of 17 of the regional Lane County wineries left me with 17 framed and museum ready works of art. What better place for them than in the wineries.
They were very happy with the work and I walked away with more than I had bargained for;)
While there I tasted through some of the wines, including the 2010 Pinot Gris, again rated as one of the top 100 wines in the world. Also tasted was the Pinot Blanc. This wine can be a surprise. If you chill it and serve it cold it looses some of its richness and character but if you let it get to around 65 degrees it unleashes such romantic smells and flourishes of clover honey and melon in the mouth that you will think someone switched wine on you! I paired it last night with some hard cheese and peaches and it held up beautifully!
Then came the Reds. I love the Pinot Noir that come from their vineyards. The place was an old sheep farm so you know the soil has a lot going forit and they continue to use best management practices to keep it that way, so the richness and complexity of the wines is always there.
The first sniff of the 2010 Pinot Noir was filled with cherry, waffle, and sweet strawberry jams. The taste was blueberry, strawberry jam, and a wonderful finish of baked red berry that lingered pleasantly.
Next came the big one; the 2010 First Class. This wine has just been released and is complex, rich, and full of flavor. Beautiful nose and dark fruit, jam, and earth in the mouth. This will only get more interesting as time goes by. If you have the chance you MUST see Steve's racking room for the first class Pinot Noir. The barrels are supported on an upside down skateboardesque shelf that allows you to turn the wines while on the leas instead of opening the barrel and stirring. Pure genius!
I left there and did a quick check up on Brigadoon's new tasting room, under construction .
On the way up I stopped and looked at the grapes to see where they were in veraison.
 I  was pleased to see how much color was showing. I hope the weather holds for a while and we don't get too much rain. Just a few more weeks of sun and we can have an outstanding year!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Abbelone Pinot Noir at TLC

Last night I had the occasion to taste, for the second time, an excellent Oregon Pinot Noir, the 2008 Abbalone. The winery is as yet to have a real tasting room but they swear they will at some point in the future. In the mean time, Tuesday evening at Travel Lane County's Adventure Center will have to do. Angelena Ferry, the owner, showed up with what she thought would be enough wine. However, upon recalculation , and the fact that it was all sold in an hour, she said that perhaps she should have brought a bit more...
The wine, after it opened up (this one takes about an hour), was rich and deep, with all sorts of black fruit and hints of jam. There was a bit of earth and leather peeking around the edges and some plum and strawberry on the finish. All in all a wonderful wine. I enjoyed learning that they are the closest vineyard that makes it's own wine to Eugene.
I plan on a trip out to visit soon and hope she has enough for me;)
Here is Logan with Angela and an empty bottle of really good wine.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Images for Salud!

I finally found two of the missing three images for my Salud! etching series.
King Estate and Silvan Ridge.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pictures for an Exibition

Today was a day of close by adventure, both visual and gustatory. First stop was at the little market at Baily Hill and Gimple Hill Roads. They make some of the best pulled pork, chicken, and ribs in the state, so I stopped and bought Smart Water and string cheese...
Next was Silvan Ridge and what I hope will be the perfect  shot I use for Salud! this year.
Next stop, King Estate and the ground squirrel stretched out on a vine happily munching on still green grapes.
We walked around the grounds and took shots from different areas of the property till the tasting room opened. We mat a nice couple from Adelaide who were touring the west on their honeymoon. They were very impressed by Oregon, and I gave them the 10 minute "why you should visit Lane County" promo so they decided to change their plans a bit and head for the coast.
We tasted through all the King wines available and I was impressed, but much more so by the '09 Signature Pinot Noir. This is a free run wine with such softness and ease that it really warrants some sort of award.
Next up was a quick stop at Sarver and a taste through their lineup. Impressive. The best of the lot is still a toss up between the Pinot Noir and the Rose. Saga, my studio assistant, who has not had a lot of wine experience sat upright and declared "Passion Fruit!" at the first whiff of the wine. She was so excited to have such a sharp, bold hit of identifiable smell.
This wine is a must have.

Last stop, Domaine Meriwether, where we did a nice slow taste through the various sparklers and the Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and desert wines. Ray Walsh does a fine job with these wines and Buz has created , and is hard at work creating a bold new and important winery for the area. All of his wines are worth checking out and if you like bubbles, the green label is a great place to start!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Visit With Matthew LaVelle

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by LaVelle's 5th Street location for a sip and to take them the etching of their big oak tree I had just picked up at the art museum.
My luck was running good as Mathew was there pouring.
They were rearranging things and had put the winemaker to work.
We chatted about Oregon wines, lack of Pride of Place on the part of some of the markets in Lane County, and I ordered a plate of Rogue Vally Creamery Blue Cheese to go with his '08 reserve.

Wow! This wine, Mathew's Reserve '08, is coming on strong. I had it when it first came out and it was able to garner a 89 from WS. Now, after being in bottle for a few years it is just about at its best. There may be a little aging left but it is just so delicious now.
There are rich deep flavors of strawberry, cherry, and plum, hints of mint and soil. The soft full mouth feel shows a fine balance of acid and fruit This wine is not usually open for tasting so buy a bottle and try it out, then go buy more and enjoy it now and down the road.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Being Green

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.  

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day. 
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled. 
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day. 
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. 

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day. 

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day. 

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. 

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. 

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. 

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. 

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. 
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. 

But we didn't have the green thing back then. 

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. 
We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.  And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. 
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Pride of Place

Over the last few years in my travels around the state gathering "One Bottle"  I have noticed that there is a lot of pride on the part of many of the retailers in the areas around the various wine regions of Oregon.
When you go in to many markets, even small ones, in Marion, Yamhill, and other counties you often see "local wines" displayed prominently in the stores.
This is true in Jackson, Douglas, and Josephine  counties as well.
It is NOT true in Lane County.
We have an abundance of local wineries, many that are first quality and are among the top wines in the state. Yet you do not see any displays that show our Pride of Place.
This is odd because some of the breweries get lots of shelf space because they are local, and they are very good. But why beer and not wine?
Is it that the markets must deal with distributors so they are forced to allocate shelf space by how much discount they get?
I am not at all sure what needs to be done but I think it is important to start doing something.
If anyone has any insights please comment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Salud! Etchings

The Salud! Auction is coming up in November and this year I am donating 10 prints of 10 wineries plus one image printed on wood, like the ones I have up at The Jordan Schnitzer Museum now.
I plan on doing this every year for the next 4 years so that everyone has an image.

 Still deciding which one of these to use...
Here are a few of the images I am developing for etchings. This is the second stage in the process so they will change as they move through the stages of printing. The image size will be 4x5 inches on archival rag paper.
See if you can tell which ones they are from the image so far.
I am also doing King Estate, Silvan Ridge, and Dick Shea's.