Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grass Pants and Long Sleaved Shirts

This was my only trip south this year and I hope I made the best of it. I know I missed some wineries that were expecting me to come begging but there is always next year.*
On the way to Ashland and Jacksonville I stopped for a promised bottle of wine from.Abacela. When I got to the winery, located on the edge of Winston, I had to walk the last few yards up to the old tasting room. There were construction crews and others everywhere, working on the new building and getting the lot ready for a touch up. This year they donated on of my favorites out of their line up. The Abacela: '07 Tempranillo Estate 
from grapes first planted in the early 1990's Earl and his wife Hilda. They were the pioneers in the production of Tempranillo in America. Now Tempranillo is grown all over but these vines are established and deep, pulling up strength and body with their deep root. This is a really fine wine and we are proud to have a bottle from such an influential producer.
I plan on taking Linda down there on my birthday to do a little tasting and buying. The trip from Eugene to Bandon and back, stopping at wineries along the way, is a great way to spend a Sunday.
My next stop was a newer addition to the wineries in the area, Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars.
I tasted a few of the wines and was impressed by both the whites and the reds. The Pinot Gris was my pick for the whites, with hints of apple and tropical fruits and a long fresh finish.
The reds made it  harder to choose a favorite but I think I would have to choose the Zin. Cool climate Zin seems to retain more of the bright cherry nose and the pepper and dark spice without being to big and smokey. Like this one a lot.

I left my smiling hostess and headed toward Grants Pass for lunch at a surprise find, 'The Vine" restaurant. I had stopped at a local store for my protein fix but needed more so on my way out I spotted the sign and peered in. It was almost 1:00 and the place was slammed! I found a seat at the bar and looked over their wines. Lots of locals! Always a sign they are connected to the community. The steak I had came with FRESH, HOT veggies and was one of the best I have had all year! Blown away, I ask Glen Hendriks, the owner, what the hell a great restaurant was doing in a parking lot mall in Grass Pants!??? He said that his wife and he had been in the business for about 25 years and wanted their own space, knew how to please customers, and wanted to give it a shot. Wow! I LOVE this place!
They have a gluten free option menu and feature vegetarian foods along with trad. I loved the place and will be back. They are at 1610 Allen Creek Road, Suite111 heading out to Cave Junction, just before you leave civilization or what passes for it in Grass Pants...
Now off to the Applegate Valley where I made my first stop. Devitt Winery is run by Jim Devitt, owner and winemaker. Granted, he is not as pretty as most of the last two hosts, but I always enjoy stopping for a visit with Jim. He has been making wine and creating wine related products, like his Auto-Topper for a very long time. You kind of have to be a wine geek to get what this is for and how cool it is, but it is cool. Jim gave us a bottle of his 05 Cab Franc, a Silver medal winner in the World of Wine tasting, this wine has a bold tannin structure with up-front fruit, full bodied, dry, fruity with a lingering finish and great mouthfeel. Goes well with red meats, wild game, cheese and chocolate.
If you visit him, bring a pig. A pig ANYTHING. When you get there you will see why! Make sure you taste the variety of Cab Francs he has. There are some real winners in there!
Next stop was at Longsword. They used to have a little wine stand out by the road that Linda and I always got a kick out of. Now they have a beautiful tasting room with a view of the vineyards and the same very, very old friendly dog. 
They make a remarkable Accolade Sparkling Chardonnay that is a huge hit every time we serve it. It is not over sweet and has just the right sparkle. “The Wedding Wine” was originally made celebrate the wedding of the owner’s son, Accolade is all fun. A mouthful of fruit with a hint of sweetness and just enough effervescence to tickle your tongue, this sparkling wine pairs with spicy foods as well as wedding cake!
Next stop, Fiasco!
There is so much to say about these folks that I feel I need a separate posting just for them! So be it. But for now I can say they are among the most entertaining people I have met down here. 
After tasting through their wonderful wines I was given a bottle of the '07 Zinfandel. This is an intense and fragrant wine. You get notes of olive oil, dark rich cherry and jam plus a hint of dark chocolate in the nose, then a rush of plum and black cherry with hints of tobacco and cocoa in the mouth. Long complex and pleasant finish.
I said goodby and headed for Jacksonville for a glass of wine at South Stage Cellars and a visit with my friend Larry. I love talking wine with him as he knows as much or more than anyone I have met. There was a crowd and the music was lively so I grabbed a bottle of their best, an '08 Syrah (as yet unreleased) that Larry donated, finished my glass, and drove to the hotel. I checked in to the Red Lion (God I wish they would fix up their hotel near downtown!) and walked over to 38 Central for some really great food. I sat at the bar and ask after my friend, the owner David Graham. He was out with a broken leg! Disappointed but still hungry, I ordered the muscles and a salad. I ask for a recommendation for a wine to pair with this simple meal and got  some wine  that (they say if you can't say something good, don't say anything at all...)

I have had bad wine, but this, this was an insult to Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and Pinot Noir, and whoever did it should be ashamed of themselves!
I almost threw it at the bar tender but thought better of it as I knew he HAD to be messing with me.He redeemed himself with a glass of Linda Donovan's Chardonnay  .
I was intrigued by the wine and by his tales of this woman winemaker and her new building a few blocks away so I got as much info as I could and planned a visit in the morning.
Next day after the cut!

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