Thursday, March 31, 2011

Counoise and King

When was the last time you had a nice chilled glass of Counoise? Unless you have traveled a lot and happen to be barrel tasting at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, probably not recently.
This is a spicy, peppery, high acid grape used mainly in blending and is one of the few gr apes allowed in the making of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.
Our local wine adventurer, Lindy at Chateau Lorane has made a bottle some of this wine for your pleasure. I am sipping a chilled glass as I write this. Let me take you along on the trip:Beautiful ruby red in the glass with very thin rimming of clear. Chilled as it is I still get some tropical hints on the nose Banana(?) now deep dark cherry and hard candy.
Oh! Nice! Soft mouth-filling, clean taste. My teeth feel VERY clean,. No tannin feel. Kind of a pleasant bite on the side of the tongue and a hint of Bing cherry AFTER you swallow it and have to pit in your mouth. Lovely after taste of plume flesh.
I like this one and bet it will be very good with spicy foods.
Dave, the winemaker, was kind enough to hand over a bottle of the '09 Counoise for the collection and I bought a bottle to taste.
Chateau Loraine has this one on sale at the winery for $18 so I suggest a quick trip or a phone call.

Back toward town I stopped up at King Estate for a moment with Jennifer. She is in charge of donations and I ask her for a red and a white to go in the auction. This year they gifted us with two of my all time favorites. They make a lot of wines and these two are at the top of the list.
The '08 Domaine Pinot Gris  is just too good. Close your eyes and imagine biting in to a really ripe yellow pear and having the juice run down your chin. That is this wine. Organically grown grapes from a single vineyard are turned in to a lush mouthful of pears, ginger, and vanilla that lasts all the way through to glass. this one of Oregon's best Pinot Gris and they have all the awards and accolades to prove it. Please do yourself a big favor and try this one.
The other wine they gave is a '09 Signature Pinot Noir. This is a very different wine than the '08 and I think it has huge potential for aging but it is really good right now.
Smells of dark over ripe cherry, blueberry, wild rosevanilla, fresh cut red ceder with a hint of musty humid forest floor. Tastes of Marion Berry, blueberry, chocolate powder, toasted sugars, and a finish of soft red fruit. So good!
I went to the tasting room to pick up the goods and ran in to the crew: Josh, Kevin, and Shannon, entertaining visitors at the tasting bar. Two of the folks were from way out of town: Spring Branch, Texas. Jef is in land and there is lots of that in Texas! Here is his site, take a look. I love the photos!
I only know one winery down there and they are pretty close. A friend brought us a bottle of an '08 Petit Verdot from Dry Comal Vineyards. It was very good for a wine not from Oregon...Had great time talking about wines and travel, and of course all that Oregon has to offer. Jef and Lori were heading for the coast to get some pictures then heading back to Eugene for dinner. Hope they had a great time and enjoyed their stay.
Off to have a quick snack at the little country store at the junction of Gimple Hill and Baily Hill Road. They have the best pulled pork sandwiched in town, or out as the case may be.
Just heard from Lori and Jef and they got some great shots of the coast and enjoyed their visit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Book About Biodynamics

This looks like a sure bet for a good read.

Could cow horns, vortexes, and the words of a prophet named Rudolf Steiner hold the key to producing the most alluring wines in the world-and to saving the planet? In Voodoo Vintners wine writer Katherine Cole reveals the mysteries of biodynamic winegrowing and explores its practice on Oregon vineyards.Cole's story of biodynamic winegrowing starts on the back of a motorcycle in Persia and ends on a farm where the work is done by draft horses, chickens, and goats. It is a tradition that can be traced from Paleolithic times to the finest domaines in Burgundy today. At the epicenter of the American biodynamic revolution are the Oregon vintners who believe that this spiritual style of farming results in the truest translations of terroir and the purest pinot noirs possible . MORE
I plan on buying it when it comes out June 1st. You can pre-order from any of the major bookstores.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Nice Afternoon in Carlton Area

This morning, after weighing in at 253.8lb, I loaded up my collected wines (no, this is not it, this is the wine display at Red Hills Market, mine is bigger) and drove north to the Abbey to drop them off for storage at Northwest Wines to You. Got kind of a late start as I stopped for an oil change, then got as far as Gateway Adventure Center and had to have them come out a find out why the check oil light was on. 45 minutes shot. When I got to Lafayette and the Abbey, Rebecca and Katie were ready for lunch so we tried out the new spot in Dundee,  Red Hills Market. Very well done building just off 99 to the left going north at the Dundee Bistro (also one of my favorites). They have a very nice Oregon wine wall and an assortment of yummy take away,I had two salmon salads trying to get to about 500 cal. and they both had the quiche and we were all smiling! I heard one of the best lines from anyone in a while come from Chelsey, who was at the register taking orders. She had read the notes for the quiche wrong and thought CH stood for chicken, not cheese so she said "Sorry, I had a Blond Moment" which was perfect as she is a stunning (and obviously clever) blond. She was also amazingly polite given the crowd of people trying to get lunch.
Great food, great service, and really good iced tea. they also have a nice selection of Smith Tea and they both stocked up. I understand their Bloody Mary is to die for, and they sell the mix.
Back to the Abbey and then to Lemelson Vineyards where I met Laura Arce, who is in charge of direct sales. She heard me out and tasted me though the wines they had out for tasting.
The whites were outstanding! I really love the Chardonnay.  The reds were all very different and the most complex and subtle was the one from the Meyer block. Hard to put my finger on what it was about the tastes but it had such interesting herbal and dry fruit. I have always enjoyed their wines and their commitment to the environment. They have always been organic growers and have a firm belief that introduced chemicals have a negative effect on terroir. This commitment shows in their wines. I also like the fact that they have committed, as have my wife and Ito solar energy.
She chose a bottle of Thea's Selection Pinot Noir, very good!
As the auction grows I am seeing more of the wineries beginning to give their best so I will see what they are willing to give next year.
Carton was calling so I parked on Main Street and walked across to Barking Frog Winery, introduced myself and started begging. I had great time talking to Cindy about the different reds they produce. They have a good selection of reds from Tepernillo to Pinot Noir and we taste quite a few of them. She decided to give me the tasty and complex  '09 Tempranillo from Washington Grapes. Of all the wines I tasted here, my favorites were the '08 Sangiovese, and the '06 Syrah. Man are these good. The Syrah was a special treat because they had an '07 to it to. The '07 was developing in bottle and was complex and fruity with very nice mouthfeel but the '06 just stood out as keeper. Juicy, complex fruit and leather, and spice, finished with cassis and spice for a long smooth finish.
The '08 Sangiovese was very different than  some I have had of late. It was very bright with strawberry and citrus on the nose followed by crisp dark berry and cherry. The mouthfeel was also a pleasant surprise. While a lot of the Sangioveses have an almost acid and  harsh feel on the pallet, this one was just perfectly balanced.
I am in a real quandary because I do like to sip, taste, and swallow and I have learned just a little bit goes a long way, but due to this diet I am on  I have to spit.
I always get a kick out of being in a winery with novice tasters and spitting into the bucket and watching them. Most people have been around wine tastings, seen a bit about it on TV, or seen Sideways or Bottle Shock or some other wine movie so they are used to noisy, spitting wine nuts. But some are not, and the looks they give just crack me up. I am always very polite and nice and explain why I am wasting such great wine, sometimes more to myself than to them.
Next door I pulled a stunt that I have never done before: ask the same people for wine in the smae year, and got it! Now I have to take it back! WildAire was busy and Matt was pouring when I came in. I had a strange feeling I had picked up a bottle at SIP! but my little mind. Well, we forget things, yes?
So I ask again and he gave me a bottle of their marvelous Clay Court Pinot Noir. Oh well, I can now have another excuse to visit.
On over to a place where my diet almost went to hell in a jam bottle! Republic of Jam is a little store that you HAVE TO VISIT! That is an order! (The former drill Sargent in me is coming out...) Lynette was there with her partner Amy Wilder and as promised in a short conversation a few weeks ago at Horse Radish, she figured out something to donate to the auction  in June: A year subscription to their "Jam of the Month Club"! Her June shipment is around the 15th so it will be perfect.
She let me have the sampler starting with a cremosa made with spiced cherry syrup, a small square of angle food cake (small) with strawberry/ balsamic reduction and infused whipped cream, a Marion Berry pie made from berry, goat cheese, and filo dough about 3/4 of an inch wide, and a meatball with hot fennel and orange chutney. I made it out without gaining any weight but it was a close call.
Around the corner is Troon, Cliff Creek Cellars, and a couple of others who will open soon. I went in to Cliff Creek and as they did last year, they presented a lovely bottle of their Claret. This one is the '05  Claret is
48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot and has a wonderful feel to it. I am a big fan of blends and this one rocks! I visited with Jo Jo while her daughters dog vied for my attention. Cute is an understatement.
Before I left town I stopped to see Joni at Troon and see the new promotion Carlton is doing. I think this is a terrific idea! they have umbrellas at each winery for people to use while wandering around town
very clever!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Short North, Long South

Tuesday, March 22nd: I had never been to Ankeny Vineyards save one short stop when they first opened, and were not open. This time I hit pay-dirt and found the owner, did a tasting, and picked up a bottle of great wine. Joe Olexa started prepping the ground on this old farm in the 1980's and has been growing grapes for other winemakers for years. Now he both sells grapes and produces his own wines with the help of  Andy Thomas, the wine maker, and of course Hershy, the big red lab!
The wines are very good to great and he poured a few of great ones:
2006 Reserve Pinot Noir $25.  Gold Medal Winner at the 2009 Northwest Food and Wine Festival. Silver Medal Winner at the 2010 Oregon State Fair Wine Competition. Bronze Medal Winner at the 2009 Oregon State Fair Wine Competition. Jewel-red ’06 Reserve Pinot Noir offers complex aromas of roses, cherries, vanilla and spice. It is soft and balanced on the palate with a fruit basket of flavors—cherry, plum, raspberry and a touch of tangerine. Drink it now or hold it for a year or longer.
2007 Pinot Noir New Release! $18. Enjoy the silky texture, the aromas of plum, apple butter and citrus, and the ripe plum, strawberry and orange flavors. This aromatic and complex wine will match perfectly with a wide variety of savory dishes.
2008 Pinot Noir New Release! $24.Ankeny’s 2008 Pinot Noir is a zesty complement to grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, lamb, pork. Its grape jam and nutmeg aromas, flavors of strawberry and blackberry preserves and blood orange, and medium-light tannins and refreshing acidity make it a good match for many other foods as well.
He gave me a bottle of the '06 Reserve Pinot Noir for the collection and I took off for points north.
I was on a mission. I am going to DC in April and need to fit in to my Tux for a dinner honoring Holt International's 55th Anniversary at the Korean Ambassador's residence. The problem is, I now am 260lb and 2 inches bigger around than the last time I had it on. To solve the problem I went to my friend Jane for the solution. Other friends have used Xyngular and lost huge amounts of weight so I figure it is worth a try, and I can always get the tux let out at the last minute, right? Anyway, I stopped by her house up on the hill overlooking Turner, had a wonderful lunch, and picked up my order AND a bottle of '06 Domaine Serene Two Barns Pinot Noir! The notes are for the '07 as the '06 is long gone. This will make a great item for the auction even if it did not come from them!
Now we head south. I got up this morning and weighed in at 254.8 after one day of the diet! Now I have to visit all these wineries and NOT DRINK ANY WINE!!! GRRR! But I can still taste, so here we go.
Thursday, March 25th: I drove in the hard rain to Elkton for a visit with Rivers Edge and Brandborg. The owners at Rivers Edge, Mike and Vonnie, were on their way back from Seattle on the train so I met with Midge Anderson and she lead me through a tasting of all the reds and one of the whites. I am consistently impressed by the flavors of their wines, especially the Barrel Select  Pinot Noir and the Black Oak  Pinot Noir. This tasting was no exception. We started with a plumy ripe strawberry berry '08 Umpqua Valley  Pinot Noir with fruit from both Bradley and Rivers Edge. Nice flavors and interesting finish, almost like candy.
The next was one of my favorites, the Barrel Select '07 Pinot Noir. This wine is changing in the bottle from a light bodied simple wine to this smokey, meaty nosed beaast with a juicy and intense fruit in the mid pallette and a soft, long finish. I love the '07s that are just getting their stride.
Ok, so I am in love with a little patch of land where they grow these grapes. Black Oak vineyard has some of the most rich and intense flavors around and they all come out in this wine. Think roasted hazelnuts, almonds, and black berry, then add black cherry and spices from the east, hints of curry, pepper, and cumin, just enough oak to mellow it, and a long drawn out finish of pepper and dark cherry. This '08 Black Oak Pinot Noir is a must have for those who love big Pinots.
They made a Dulcet Cuvee in '06 and I had some (until recently) but I must say, this one, the '09 Dulcet Cuvee' Pinot Noir, has it beat by just a hair, or a vannila bean as it were. Very tasty with long finish and very pleasent nose. Drink now or hold for about 5 years.
I tasted one white, only because I have a hard time spiting out really good whites, so this one had to count. How many of you remember the taste of, or have ever had, gooseberry pie? THAT is what I got from this fine Dry Gewurztraminer. Great wine!  I was honored to pick up both an '08 Black Oak Pinot Noir and an '08 Barrel Select Pinot Noir for the collection.
Back up the road a very short distance is the Brandborg Vineyard and Winery, where Sue met me and though she was very busy, took the time to present a bottle of their finest, the '08 Ferris Wheel Pinot Noir. Joan took me though some tasting and I was very pleased with what I tasted. The Pinot Noirs are all great and '08 was such an expectational year for them that it is hard to pick a favorite, but I will try. This is so good I hate to auction it off. The '08 Bench Lands is a mix of light cherry and berry with nice spice, yet has an undercurrent of soil and must that makes it even more enjoyable. great balance and the mouthfeel is perfect.
Next was the one that I bought last time Linda and I came though town on our way back from the coast, the Love Puppets '08 Pinot Noir. This is lavender, cherry, bitter sweet almonds and bright red raspberry with a lovely pie crust and dark cherry finish. The second taste brings out subtle flavors of vanilla and softer fruit. This one I like to drink by itself, no food, no interference, just sip after sip of discovery.
I got Sue mid giggle!
Next was the prize.
As they say: The vines had thinned themselves to a light crop load and the resulting wine has the deepest burgundy hue that we have seen to date from our Estate.  The fruit aroma is dark cherry, blackberry and raspberry jam.  The bouquet has a strong hit of cola with pie spices, juicy berry pie fresh out of the oven and mocha milk chocolate bonbons.   The dark fruits carry the flavors with a pleasing caress of candied orange rinds, pipe tobacco and black tea.  The mouthfeel and texture is medium bodied, with some zing that lingers.  This wine should develop more roundness with age for many years to come.  The 2008’s were given more time in barrel, but after year one, in older neutral oak.  
Last in the reds was the '05 Umpqua Valley Syrah and man is it bold. I am guessing but I would say this came from down around Winston and is more of a cold climate Syrah than what you taste out of Washington or the Rogue Valley. Very spicy and rich, stand a pencil up in it wine. I can see this one with a big blackened roast and winter vegetables. Yum! 
I finished with a sip of the '09 Gewurstaminer, yes, I know I was going backwards but I can do that, I have dislexia. This one was floral, caramel, and coconut with grapefruit. Wow!
Please visit Elkton and enjoy all the fine wines produced there! Bradley was not open but I will get them next trip. 
 At Becker Vineyard I met with Peggy and, though they are almost sold out of most of their wines and have stopped donating, she gave me a bottle of the '09 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the dogs two year birthday and he was ready for lots of pets. This is a BIG dog and is very gentle. I think that I have never met a mean winery dog, have you?
This wine is all big fruit, strong flavors and is so good you want to hold it tight.
The other wines I tasted were out of this world. They have a small vineyard and it is in an ideal placement for growing grapes. 
I have tasted a lot of '09 Muller Thurgau but this one is hands down the best I have ever had. So much papaya, melon, guava,  and passion fruit, with floral spices, and a huge mouthfeel that just keeps building. I highly recommend this one and it is worth the trip just to get one bottle but I advise a case. get it while you can. While I was there she got three calls about the whites.
 I always have such a good time at Melrose Vineyards. They are really nice folks and have a great variety of wines, all estate grown, including one of the rarest wines you will find in Oregon, or anywhere outside South Africa, Pinotage. You have to come down and taste this one. I first had a Pinotage in Amsterdam at Sampurna Indonesian restaurant where when ask what wine we wanted with our food, I said, "bring us what you would have" and he brought out  a bottle of Red wine...I was not sure if he understood me but he served it chilled and I can say without hesitation, it was the best wine possible for a hot and spicy dish.
Try this one chilled with some hot curry from down the road (more on that latter)
They also grow Baco Noir, and Dolcetto along with the usual suspects.  
I met Deb and wrangled a bottle from her. She was not sure what to give us this year so Cody stepped in and suggested the '09 Dolcetto. This is a wine that has been used in blending for centuries in Northern Italy but we are beginning to see it as a single grape for wine
Cody took grapes from two blocks and put them together to make this delicious , wine. Strawberry, pie crust, caramelized sugar in the nose with a ripe fruit and compote taste. Love it!
  Now for a treat and a surprise. In a little store, on the corner of Melqua Road and Melrose Road, hidden among the common foods, take out pizza, groceries,and deli sandwiches, a gem, the Melrose Country Store.When was the last time you were driving around in the Oregon countryside and smelled Chicken Marsala, or Palak Paneer? Oh my, what a wonder this place is. I was ready to say "to hell with the diet" and dive in but I though better of it and bought my with a treat instead.
The food is by far the best Indian food I have had in Oregon! 
Ranjit  (far right) makes all the food fresh for her family and customers daily and there is no menu, you get what she makes. Her family, Hareen, Rajan, and Harjeeed, owns the store and has created a truly wonderful spot to stop and enjoy the glory of great food. I recommend stopping even if you don't think you are hungry!
On up the road is the winery with what has to be the best name in the wine business. Chateau Nonchalant.
Weldon and Vicky met me and showed me the spot where they new fountain will go, hopefully before the big wine tour, and then brought me in to the hand built tasting room with its cellar room and beautifully finish woods. Weldon has done all this and it is impressive indeed! So are their wines.
They produce a lot of grapes and sell most of them but do keep some for their own wines. Vickie gave me a bottle of the '07 Estate Pinot Noir from their preferred block and one of the '07 Pinot Gris harvested at Wild Rose Vineyard. Both wines are superb and the Pinot Noir is the true statement of what an '07 can be.
Last stop of the day was Sienna Ridge, up the freeway just past  Rice Hill, on the right. This winery has its own AVA! 
Cindy runs the tasting room located in a beautiful old house that has been fixed up and is just perfect for a taste and a visit. She is a font of information about the history of wines in the Umpqua valley and is a joy to talk to. I wish more people would take the time to stop and taste these wines.  
She gave me a bottle of '09 Cabernet Sauvignon that has yet to be released, a couple of bottle from the old Domaine de la Rasmus, an '06 Pinot Blanc, and an '06 Chardonnay.
Take some time and relax a bit before you head north, or south, and taste some award winning wines.
Friday morning I go to The Abbey to drop off what I have gathered and pick up more exciting Oregon wines. Until then!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day Two of SIP!

It was great to spend time with Rebecca and Thibaud, seen here in the add for IPNC. They are truly the greatest. That's me in the blue shirt in the back left side having a great time!
Now I have to go gather wines. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is amazing by its self but pack it with fine wines and food and you have a formula for fun. My first stop today was at Troon, where the lovely Joni presented me with a bottle of '09 Kubli Bench Zinfandel, a lush, rich wine with spicy sweetness and a long dark fruit finish. The tasting room they opened in Carlton was a good idea and allows some of Southern Oregon's wines to get a little attention in the land of Pinot Noir. Stop by for a visit next time you are up that way.
Brian Jordan, owner of Eliana Wines was new to me so I stopped to say hello and find out more about his wines. I was excited to learn about their approch to wine making. They are making a Bordeaux style blend of 56% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc and  16% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is among the better blends I have tasted over the last few years. With its rich front of berry and slight oak leading to smooth mouth filling dark berry and earth. Overall light and clean aftertaste that will go great with beef and roasted vegetables. He gave me a bottle of the '08 Reserve for the auction and I plan on making a trip down to take a closer look and a longer taste.
After a bit of a snack I visited with Bethany and Brad Ford (and their soon to be addition to the family) for a taste and to see how things were going. Illahe Vineyards located outside of Dallas and the wines are really good this year. I really loved their '06 but this one is one of the best I have tasted! Raspberry, lots of dark cherry, a hint of island flowers in the nose with sustained after taste of dark berry and black cherry. They have sold their grapes for 25+ years to some of the top wineries and it is nice that they are now taking it to a new level and making their own. Worth a visit. They gave me a bottle of the '08 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Todd, owner of Biggio Hamina Cellars, looked a little worn out but was in great spirits and very busy giving out tastes of his fine wines. We had had three of his Pinots last night with beef stew and I was looking forward to tasting them again. All of his wines have a distinct flavor that shows his hand in the making. Rich and lush with lots of layers of fruit and flowers combine in various ways to create some truly fine wines. the best place to taste them is at the new tasting room and winery just outside of McMinnville, where you can also get a very good meal. Todd handed over a beautiful '08 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
Near the entrance, in a place that you had a chance of missing on the way in, was Namaste Vineyard's booth where Dave was pouring tastes and sporting his signature hat. I love his wines, but of all of them, the Tranquility Riesling is my favorite. It has a flavor much like the Northern Rhien wines that I like and is full of interesting spices and fruit.
A lot of people chill their Riesling to the point where you can't really taste all the nuances but I like mine just below room temp.. Dave gave us a bottle of the '09 Tranquility Riesling and I may bid on that one myself.
I was getting a little rushed as I had to be home for an afternoon event so I ran to the next few booths and gathered up what I could. Kathken Vineyards,  located in the hills outside Salem off Orchard Hieghts Road, they are in prime land for grape growing and their wines show it well. I did a quick taste of the '08s and really enjoyed the estate so Ken gave me a bottle of '08 Estate bottled reserve Pinot Noir and off I went.
Crater Lake Cellars's owner, Steve Gardner, gave us a bottle of the Firehouse Red #4 they made for a fund raiser for the fire department this year. 
It is a combination of lovely red and black fruit, a light pepper spiciness, accent with smooth tannins and acidity. 
I walked over to WildAire Cellars booth and watched as a bunch of people elbowed their way in for a taste. Things were getting pretty crowded by 1:00 and the wines they were tasting were very popular. I picked up a bottle of the '09 Clay Court Vineyard Pinot Noir and said my thank yous and headed for the door. Be sure to visit them in Carlton when you are there. They are wonderful folks and really know how to make great wine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cherry Hill, Johan, and SIP!

Beautiful day for a drive and a visit to an old friend, Cherry Hill Winery. Linda and I stayed in their cabins a few years ago, ate wonderful food, and came home with lots of great wines, some of which we still have. For the last two years they have given some of their best wines and this year is no exception. I stopped by the new tasting room in Rickreall and met with Ryan Kelley, the manager of the Rickreall Marketplace and owner of Boat Farm with Justine Murphy. He called up to the winery and got the go ahead to give us a bottle of the '06 Estate Pinot Noir. We have a few bottles of this one in the wine rack and love it. It has a slightly less bold presence than a lot of the '06 Oregon Pinot Noir I have tasted, bright and clean, crisp fruit and soft finish. Very nice with salmon or just by its self on a warm evening out on the deck.
I bid him good day and thanked him for his help, then headed off north for a quick stop at a beautiful winery, Johan Vineyards. The first year of our auction Dag gave us a case of the Pinot Gris for our tables! So good!
This time they gave us a bottle of their '08 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It has lots of hibiscus and tropical flowers plus a little hint of freshly plowed dirt in the nose and a bunch of pie cherry and strawberry in the mouth with  good tannins and a long finish of espresso. Very nice!
I made a brief stop at The Eyrie Vineyards tasting room to ask Jacques Rendu for and received a bottle of the wonderful '08 Pinot Gris (91 in Vine Advocate). A collection of Oregon wines would not be complete without this wine.
After a nice snack and a glass of rich '08 Pinot Noir at R.Stuart Wine Bar in downtown McMinnville I ventured out to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, the home of SIP! and a long night of tasting and collecting wines. Armed with the hand made basket I bought last year at the Newport fest and my list of wineries, I began my quest.
I found some wines this time that had yet to be in the auction. Rizzo Winery, was just such a winery. David Rizzo gave us a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon from Yakima Valley vineyards. I  quote from their web page "2007 Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:  Yakima Valley Washington near Red Mountain - Washington cabs don't get any better than this.  Cassis and a hint of earthiness will wake up your sniffer.  As this wine touches your tongue the fruit jumps out at you.  The perfect balance of this most quaffable wine is disguised by the grippe tannins which will allow it to improve for the next 10 to 15 years.  Priced at $48 per bottle." 

 Next was Seufert for a visit with Stephanie and taste of all the Pinot Noir. She gave me a bottle each of a bottle each of the Hawks View '07 and the Coleman '07 Pinot Noir. The wines have consistently done well in all the festivals around the northwest. I was impressed by the Coleman and the Hawks View in that they were so completely different yet both tasted great! Worth stopping by the tasting room in Dayton, and while you are there, visit the famous Joel Palmer House for some truly wonderful food.
The new tasting room in Carlton gives us all a chance to taste some of their wines without driving to Milton-Freewater ( not that there is anything wrong with driving to Milton-Freewater), manned by Dan, who with Doug the winemaker, were there at SIP! and let me taste a few of the great wines and proffered a bottle of '06 Columbia Valley Merlot to ad to the collection. They look like two proud parents here. Can't blame them.
 Next wa

To make my basket heavier I found Sean at Pudding River Wine Cellars and ask for a bottle of tasty '06 Estate Pinot Noir. Very rich and surly wine! Big nose, big fruit, and lasting finish and it has improved with time in the bottle. The reserve has been sold out for a while so if you get a chance grab some of this and let it age gracefully. They just moved a tasting room to 201 East Main Street in Silverton so you can go visit after a day at the Oregon Gardens.

Terra Vina Wines, from up around Wilsonville, was they next stop. This is the first time I have ask them for a bottle I think Carole was amused by my audacity but handed over a bottle of the '08 Pinot Noir/La Famiglia . I have had their wines before and have enjoyed them. Among the awards they have won are
Gold Medal Astoria Crab & Wine Festival,Gold Medal Portland Seafood and Wine Festival.
A visit to the tasting room  in Carlton is a must but they are only open the second Saturday of the month.
K&M Alchemy Vineyards' Ken Morrison and his partner Mauro Hernandez were at the show pouring their '08 Pinot Noir and some of their other terrific wines such as the '08 Chardonnay, one of my favorites, with little oak and a clean semi sweet finish. I plan on going out to the winery soon and doing some more tasting.
Ancient Cellars' Wine maker,Chris Baker allowed me to take a bottle of '08 Terebinth Cabernet Franc.  I got coffee and Sambuca in the nose with pomegranate, Bing cherry, and dark spices and earth. Great mouth feel and finish.He makes the wines at the 12th and maple Wine Company.
I stopped by Vitis Ridge and picked up a bottle of the '07 Reserve Pinot Noir, a wine that is coming in to its own in the bottle and is tasting superb now. Estate grown and cellared by Silverton Cellars, Silverton, Oregon. . Get some if you can find it. Sally and I talked about the iceberg festival in Newport and the fact that their little fountain they set up at all the shows froze over during the first night! It was much warmer at SIP!
Last stop for the Friday night was with my friend Jo at Mia Sonatina Cellars and a sip of her '07 Pinot Noir. Done in Old World European style ,  soft, bold, elegant,  and very good. They are in Amity and worth a stop on your way through.
I carried by basket of wines out to the car and headed for a friends house for some beef stew, Biggio Hamina and  Willakenzie Pinot and some quality time with friends. Saturday will be here soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quick Update

I went to the Travel Lane County Adventure Center Tuesday night and tasted High Pass' '09 Pinot Noir and the rest of their wines, including a wonderful '09 Sauvignon Blanc. The Pinot has a really unusual nose and it took me a while to nail it: BACON! Just a hint, but really smokey and meaty. The taste is mellow and rich with good tannins and acid balance and has a very pleasant finish. This one will be very good in a couple of years. They gave us a bottle of the Pinot Noir for the auction, the first '09 Pinot Noir we have revived.
Yesterday a ran up to Noble to take a picture for the collection of etchings I am making of all the Lane County Wineries and had an chance to taste one of the best '09's yet and though  I have not tasted very many, I am betting on this one. Free run from new vines that were under a lot of stress. Mild, soft and wonderful! We were tasting it cold and it still showed great character and balance. No vegital aftertaste, just velvet on the tongue. Can't wait to taste it again today at Sip!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Barrel Tasting

The Abbey wine warehouse lets me store all the wines I have gathered for free so on Thusday I took a few cases up for safe keeping. Rebecca took me over to Carlton Cellars where she took some samples of her Pinot Blanc.
Dave and Robin gave me a magnum of the '07 Lands End Pinot Noir. For those of you still laboring under the false idea that '07 was a bad year, go get that bottle of '07 you have hidden and taste it. We tasted the 1879 '07 on Friday at Authentica and it is outstanding! Most of the '07s I have tasted have developed in bottle and are beautiful. This magnum should be a big pleaser!
We went over to Horse Radish for lunch and were treated to some great chow! Julie has done great job on the place and the food says it all.
After lunch I joined Rebecca on  visit to  De Ponte and their wonderful winemaker, Isabelle. We spent a good hour tasting out of the various barrels and enjoying the various tastes and smells. I love watching someone so skilled do their job. She gave me a bottle of her '08 1789 Pinot Noir to take to auction.
Next stop was at Vista Hills. If you need a few moments to relax, have a great glass of wine on a comfortable deck overlooking a beautiful valley, this is the place. I am always struck by how lovely the feel of this place ids. The pond in front sets the tone of elegance that stays with you all the way through the tasting. 
This year they gave us a bottle of the Marylhurst Pinot Noir. Hear is what they have to say about it:
"The 2008 Marylhurst is a single-vineyard pinot noir with a big, earthy nose and a smoky, fruit-driven palate. From young vines planted in 2005, this wine displays notes of tobacco, leather and red raspberries. 180 cases produced. The Wine Advocate: 89 Points. With densely packed red fruits, this savory, smooth-textured Pinot will evolve for 1-2 years and provide pleasure through 2018."
On the way back down the hill I stopped in at Red Ridge Farms for a bottle of Oregon Olive oil. They have over 17 acres and 13,000 olive trees on the property. The oil is currently supplemented with oil from down south but is mostly Oregon grown. Great tastes! I bought a bottle of the Arbosana Extra Virgin Olive Oil
and have been using it to fry my eggs and on my toast in the morning.