Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Long Way From Michigan

Sarver Winery sits high up on the side of a hill overlooking the southern Willamette Valley and the Cascades. The view is nearly as good as the wine.
I was greeted by Baby, a wild beast, who's forelegs lifted off the ground when he barked. He kept looking back over his shoulder making sure I was following, and when I turned to get something out ofmy new Subaru he became VERY upset and had to start leading me all over again.
Erin Sarver was the host  at the tasting room today where I finally got to spend some quality time with their wines. My mission was two fold, I ask for, and was given a bottle of their fine, and very under-priced '08 Estate Pinot Noir, and I took a few pictures, one of which will become an etching to add to the growing collection of Lane County winery prints.
Erin poured a clean toned, steel aged '09 Pinot Gris that had a almost smoky nose, with hints of sugar and warm fruit. The taste was pear and green apple with a touch of hibiscus and minerals. Each taste brought forward a new twist.
Next was an '09 Pinot Gris from the estate  that was finished on the lees . Not oaky at all, just tropical, warm, and soft. Lots of passion fruit hidden among the green grapes and white fruits. Lovely finish.
The Pinot Noir, an '08 estate grown beauty, was remarkable. This is one of the most pleasing wines I have tasted this year. A nose of chocolate, coffee, and creme caramel. This gives way to tastes of plums and dried figs, laced with soft chocolate. The finish is long and there is no after bite at all. At $20 it is almost a sin! Great now but really nice in about 3-5 years.
The people in the tasting room laughed at my take on the '05 Cabernet Sauvignon but when you go and taste it, think of a hot, dry field of ripe watermelons, the vines drying in the sun, and smell that off sweet, dusty, almost over ripe odder. THAT is what came to mind when I stuck my nose in the glass! The taste is of prunes, dark berry, hints of dark chocolate and a faint hint of alfalfa. This is from Rouge Valley fruit and it has a lot of body, a nice finish, and will last for many more years.
erin poured an '08 Yakima Syrah that was  hot, with black fruit and bold forward taste, pleasant pepper finish, all in all a very good wine and the price is very reasonable $22.
The wine I liked least was a '07 Napa Petite Syrah. Green nose, green in the mouth, and a vegital finish. Erin says it is usually round and big fruited but she could not get this one to open. I will try it again.Don't know enough about it to comment farther but others in the tasting room seemed to like it so"each to his own".
The tasting room is roomy and they have a lovely patio overlooking the valley. they also serve a variety of foods such as old-world salamis, patés, and freshly baked baguettes.
Visit soon! You will not be disappointed. And check out their events.
Oh, and I got the tree that I will use in their etching. Watch this space;)

Somewhere Older and Someone New

Last week, driving my brand new Subaru Legacy, I made it out to Nobel Estate for a visit with Mark and to pick up a bottle from him. He handed over their '08 Reserve Pinot and the '09 Chardonnay. Lauren, the tasting room manager, lead me willingly through the tasting and was very knowledgeable, answered questions gladly (even the stupid ones) and was as much of a treat as was the wine.
The Reserve Pinot Noir is "new" tasting with a bit of cassis, dark fruit and smoke. Earthy. Will be very drinkable in 3-5 years The Estate Pinot Noir was my favorite: Humus, dry chocolate, and deep cocoa and berry jam. ready to drink now but will age well.
The Chardonnay, usually my least favorite wine, was a very pleasant surprise! Not over oaked, not sweet, just yummy, smooth, great mouthfeel, and a light but long finish.
It was a cold day so some of the wines took a bit longer to open than others. One, the Syrah from Del Rio grapes was very closed and tasted typical for grapes sourced from there, but after it warmed a bit the subtle dryness and deep dark fruits began to come on. very nice.
I stayed around till the sin began its decent over the coast range and took one final sip of the delicious 2009 Muscat Semi-Sparkling
before taking some shots of the evening show.  I can't wait to go back and do another tasting.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Oregon Wine, Food and Brew Festival

The Oregon Wine, Food and Brew Festival opens this weekend and has a huge arry of great Oregon wines to taste and discover. Here is the Wine Lovers Blog from the Salem Statesman with more news and the winners after the jump:
The Oregon Wine, Food and Brew Festival offers an opportunity to sample many wines without having to leave Salem.
You also can enjoy microbrews, food, music, chef and wine pairing demonstrations. The event is 2 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.
The $10 general admission includes entry to the festival and parking (tasting and samples are additional.) There also is a $25 VIP admission, which includes a Festival wine glass, free tastes, admission to the VIP lounge and entry into drawings for prizes. Tickets are available at the door or at More information is available at
A wine competition was held as part of the festival.  Medals were awarded to 27 winners. All of the winning wines can be found at the festival.
Here are the winners: Click here for the winners

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Images of the Teroirtorial Wine Trail

 King, LaVelle, Sweet Cheeks, and a random tree just north of Elmira. I almost got whiplash when I drove by. Had to stop and get the image.
Only 16 to do for the Passport Show at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in August!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wine Spectator' List of Oregon Wines With Scores

This is Wine Spectator's alphabetical list of Oregon wines with the score included. Some surprises and some disagreements. Some of the wines need more time laying down and are now coming in to their own, such as Ghost Hill's '08 Pinot Noir, and Brandborg's Bench lands '08 Pinot Noir.
Wine Score Price
Chardonnay Oregon 2008 87 $14
Night & Day Southern Crossing Rogue Valley 2007 87 $15
Pinot Gris Oregon 2009 88 $12
Pinot Noir Oregon 2008 90 $20
Albariño Umpqua Valley 2009 88 $18
Tempranillo Southern Oregon 2008 87 $20
Pinot Gris Oregon 2009 87 $12
Pinot Noir Oregon 2009 88 $18 MORE

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fordor's Top 21 Includes Willamette Valley

Fordor's travel recommends 21 places to see this year and one of them is home, ours that is.

Is your passport current? Are your fare alerts set? Our editors are ready to explore the globe, from emerging destinations to hot cities to trendy beaches. With all the noteworthy events, sights, the hotels
making headlines these days, coming up with a shortlist was no easy feat. more

This is of course something we have known all along but when was the last time you got in the car and went for a drive  in to one of the many wine regions of Oregon? Time for a road trip, some tasting, and some delicious food right here at home!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Day at the Theater

We drove to Portland for lunch at Andina and an afternoon play at PCS (Portland Center Stage) located in the Gerding Theater, the old armory at the corner of 11th and Davis.
The food was delicious as usual. The play was one of my stand by favorites, actually one of the first professional plays I ever saw when I was about 23, The Imaginary Invalid.
I was in the military and living in Georgia. and was on temporary attachment to a project for General Meyer. His aid was a big theater fan. This was well before DADT, back then no one gave a damn who was gay and who wasn't except for the young recruits, but that's another story. Anyway, he always had great connections to all the theaters up and down the east coast so he got me a ticket to see this play in Wilmington. I was so excited at seeing a real live play that I went to every one I could find time for.
This production , a new version by Constance Congdon, showcased some fine actors and was well recieved, but alas, I found it was updated to meet the intelct of the lower, if not the lowest common denominator.
The changes in language, the added songs and farce, and the changes in scripting were, all in all, not to my taste. How many times does the actor have to come out of charactor to say "cow poop"? Why would the actors leave the roll and switch to American English for the asides?
I really loved the patient, his maid (save for the switching of dialect), and the nephew, who was one of the best dandys I have seen. The rest of the actors did well in the rolls but all had weak moments.
I can recomend seeing it and it might just have been the mood I was in that made me wince.
The little cafe in the lobby features Willakenzie's Pinot Noir. I am very glad I had a glass before seeing the show.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cool New Eugene Restaurant

Sabai just opened the doors last Wednesday and already the buzz has started! I dropped by after book shopping at Borders and met Jake the barman. Always a good person to know after a long day of meetings and driving. First taste was my favorite Martiniesque concoction, the Lafayette (named after me). Coat the martini glass with Grand Mariner, toss it out, then add Sapphire Gin (shaken) and a crushed mint leaf. He did a great job on it and then tempted me with a as yet un-named drink made with Old Overholt and  Bonal Gentiane with a twist of orange. Great drink! Made me think of sitting on the patio of the Galle Face Hotel with an old Englishman.
The food menu look great as does the wine list. Though it is still small they attend to the local wines well. Benton Lane, King, Erath, and a couple more. No doubt the list will expand as their audience grows.  They are located just inside the entrance to the courtyard across from Chapala in the Oakway Mall.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Harvey Steiman presents Pinot Noirs from Oregon

 Wine Spectator sent out an email with these Oregon Wineries featured, all of which have given OMP one bottle for our auction, so I thought I would pass them on.

Harvey Steiman presents some of his favorite Pinot Noirs from Oregon's classic 2008 vintage at the 2010 Wine Experience. This first video features Lynn Penner-Ash and her Pas de Nom Pinot from Dundee Hills. (3min:48sec)


Ken Wright

Meet Ken Wright as he describes his 2008 Savoya Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Yamhill-Carlton District. (4min:13sec)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New York Times Rates Oregon '08s

I may not agree with all of their findings, mostly because I have tasted almost all the Oregon '08s and found some real winners not included in this tsating, but it is always nice to get some national attention for our wonderful wine makers!
From the New York Times:
   People who prefer concentrated fruit flavors will not be disappointed with a wine like Beaux Frères Ribbon Ridge Vineyard, which did not make our top 10 and, at $70, was the most expensive in our tasting. They may also enjoy the Ken Wright Meredith Mitchell Vineyard ($45), another wine full of upfront fruit.
Our No. 1 bottle was the Belle Pente Willamette Valley, beautifully balanced, well coiled with acidity and harmonious on the palate, with complex aromas of mint, red fruit, flowers and smoke. At $23, it was our best value. Our No. 2 bottle was the fresh, vibrant WillaKenzie Willamette Valley, which combined intriguing, exotic fruit aromas with an earthiness on the palate. These two wines were followed closely by the lively, structured Adelsheim Willamette Valley, and the complex, harmonious Et Fille Willamette Valley.
None of our top four wines cost more than $27. By contrast, we were slightly less enthusiastic about some of the more expensive wines in the tasting. While we certainly liked the Kilmore from Owen Roe at $40, and the Soter at $45, both from the Yamhill-Carlton District of the Willamette, they each had apparent flavors of new oak that were not so well integrated into the wine. So did the Antica Terra Willamette Valley at $48.
Many factors can drive up the cost of a wine, including the high price of new-oak barrels from France, which can run up to $1,000 each. Possibly, many people like the creamy vanilla, chocolate and spice flavors associated with new oak, but if it is not well integrated it can be an ungainly and distracting adornment, like the flashy chrome trim Detroit used to tack onto its luxury cars.
As often seems to be the case, avoiding luxury cuvées is an easy consumer solution to the new-oak problem. But beware. If you go too far with the idea that cheaper is better, without regard to the philosophy of the producer, you can stray into the area of mass-produced wines flavored with cheap new-oak alternatives. Similarly, it’s a mistake to assume that every expensive wine is going to be oaky. You may miss some extraordinary wines from producers who believe in the benefits of aging wine in oak barrels but do it in a way that avoids imparting overt flavors.
Regardless of these quibbles, the 2008 vintage is excellent. But the quality of the wines is due to more than just the vintage conditions. With each year of experience, winemakers in Oregon become better at understanding the combination of climate, vineyard and cellar work necessary to produce good wines. Sure, the 2008s are superb. But if the prices start rising, remember that the 2007s were pretty good, too. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Photo Etchings of the Lane County Wineries

I just completed two more in the series of photographic etching of the wineries of Lane County.
These will be om Display at the Travel Lane County center at Gateway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Crawford Vineyards "Milestones" Video

Crawford Vineyards posted a great video of their year in the vineyard. They plan on doing it again next year. Hope they make it a habit!. The supply grapes for Owen Roe, Winderlea, and others.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Driving Teroirtorial Road

Few days work out just the way you want. This day was an exception.
I was on my way out to LaVelle Vineyards to take a picture of one of their trees for my etching project when my blue-tooth interrupted Mozart and my friend Rebecca's voice floated out and informed me that she was on her way to Eugene, bringing her son for a concert .
It was about 11:00 and she was arriving at 1:00 so I continued out to the winery to visit and enjoy a taste of their wine. I had planed on taking a shot of the big Madron up on the hill but when I got there, after a meet with Doug, I was directed to a view from down by the recycling center of a big mossy oak. I think I prefer the oak.
Doug ask Sunset, the tasting room manager, to give me a bottle of Mathew's Reserve'08 Pinot noir from the Library. This is a great wine with lots of character and complexity. I have a bottle that I am saving for 10 years.
When I was done tasting I headed back to Eugene along the north side of Fern Ridge Reservoir an enjoyed a magnificent view out over the lake in the rain.Next time I goo our that way , hopefully on a dry day, I will take some shots to share.
I picked Rebecca up at the Hilton and we drove out to King Estate for a full taste of all their wines, and because she is a winemaker, we got to taste a few off the usual menu.
For those who have not had the chance to eat at the restaurant, please do yourself a favor and make the trip. The food is superb! They serve probably the best hamburger I have ever had; gruyère cheese, slab bacon, on house bun
with pommes frites and house ketchup.
 Josh and Kevin were happy to see us as we were the only ones out driving around in the bad weather.   There were  few folks in the restaurant but not much of the usual crowd that keeps them jumping.
More time for us to taste and talk. Of all the wonderful wines we tried, the '08 Domaine Pinot and the '07 Syrah were the ones that stood out. There were really no clinkers and when you taste the whites you get to see the many ways pinot gris can change with ageing, barreling, and finish. The "Club only" Paradox Pinot Gris is sooo smooth and rich that I for a moment thought it was a Chardonnay!!!
Another couple, Cindy and Matt (shown here with Josh), came in to taste and we compared notes.
We ended up following each other to two more wineries.
I took a couple of shots of the trees around King's buildings and will try to choose one for an etching..
Next stop was Sweet Cheeks where I gave Lorie my prints of their tree outside the tasting room..
When we got to Sweet Cheeks we was welcomed with open arms and a taste of the newest wines. The winemaker Mark, hails from Australia and goes there now to make wine for them in the off season here. The first of the Australian wines was a very tasty Viognier: All the character of the grape you usually get but with a bit more backbone and not much acid. Very prominent white peach, fresh cut pear, and apple.
The Shiraz is equally interesting in a big, bold, meaty way. Love both of the new wines but still love the Riesling and the Pinot noir they produce.They donated a bottle of the '08 Reserve Pinot noir. This is one of my favorites from them and is getting better every time I get a taste! And as you can see, it is sold out so this bottle will be even better to bid for!
I took Rebecca across the road to Silvan Ridge and we had a great time tasting the range of wines there.
They have a wonderful selection of reds and my all time favorite summer wine, Early Muscat!
Silvan Ridge gave a bottle of a very special wine, their 2006 Elizabeth's Reserve,  blend of Cab and Malbec with lots of black fruit, chocolate and warm earth. Love this one with roasted meat and vegetables.
I will publish the etchings when they are done.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Special Treat!

Our good friend, winemaker Rebecca (Ghost Hill) came to dinner and brought a bottle of 1998 Ken Wright Pinot noir from the Elysian vineyards. Wow! What a wine. Roses, leather black fruits, gentle hints of coffee and hibiscus. What a treat! The wine opened up nicely over the course of the meal and by the end, the last drops were almost too good to waste on mere humans!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Great Piece on Wandering Angus

Serious Eats has great article on Wandering Angus Ciderworks. The Tasting Room is open January 7 & 8, 2pm to 8pm. 10 ciders, 1 Pommeau, and Chardonnay Portland to sample. Also serving Enchiladas and salad for $6. $5/tasting fee.
Historically speaking, there was little in the way of "style" when it came to hard cider. Most orchards made a single cider from their available apples using whatever techniques they'd learned through the generations (and the wild yeast already present on the fruit.) Over the decades, however, as production became more sophisticated and local tastes developed, regional ciders styles began take hold. 

Dobbes Family Estate Hosts Local's Night this Thursday!

Stop by the winery Thursday evening for our fabulous wines paired with fresh dungeness crab cakes and Gewurztraminer dipping sauce. Our tasting room is only 40 minutes from Portland and located right off 99W.  So, grab some friends and come out for live music, great wine and savory treats! Everyone who attends will receive our Wine Club discount of 20% off wine purchases.


Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Time: 6-8 pm

Place: Dobbes Family Estate Winery, 240 SE 5th Street, Dundee, OR

Need Directions? Email or call 503-538-1141

Monday, January 3, 2011

Amity Sale on Reisling!

50% off bottle or case
Amity has a Riesling for every taste from the very dry Amity Estate Riesling to the
desert sweet Late Harvest Riesling.

Dry –2008 Estate Riesling
reg $20 now $10/bottle or 120/case
Off Dry –2008 Willamette Valley Riesling reg $15 now 7.50/90case        
Sweet –2009 Wedding Dance Riesling    reg $17/ now $8.50 or $102/case
Desert sweet –2007 Late Harvest Riesling(375ml)   reg$20 now $10 or $120/case                   

Abacela Wins Again!

Wine Press Northwest awarded Abacela a platnum for their wonderful  Albarino!
Owner Earl Jones was among the first in the Northwest to grow and make wine from this racy Spanish white grape, and he remains one of the best. Albarino is know for its steely acidity and bright purity of fruit, and this is an impressive example - as good as any from Galicia, remarked one of our judges. Its aromas reveal minerality and citrus, while the palate gives way to flavors of lime, tropical fruit and crisp apple. A pairing with crab dip will be heavenly.