Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick Visit to Carlton

Salud! holds an auction every year and sell various items to raise money for the health care of our migrant workers, without whom we would have little wine to enjoy.  This year I have been ask to create ten etchings in an edition of ten to be auctioned off to help raise money. I was honored and have been driving around capturing images to make in to photographic etchings. I also plan to do one of each on wood, gold leafed and framed, as I did for the dismally advertised "Art of Wine" at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum. They were supposed to work to bring tourists in to Lane County to sample our wines...
Oh well.
Anyway, on Wednesday I took one of my studio assistant, who just turned 21, on a tasting trip up the valley with stops along the way.
Left Coast Cellars is one of the most beautifully presented wineries in Oregon. The setting is stunning and the landscaping is perfect. They also have a large solar array and a very good restaurant
They also have a set of fountains that help hydrate the local bee population. As we walked up to the tasting room I looked over and saw a few dozen bees on each fountain happily sipping, then flying off to be replaced with more thirsty companions. I guess I had never really thought about them drinking. Seems appropriate that they have their own tasting room.
We tasted through the whites and I was struck by the depth and complexity of the '07 Chardonnay.
This wine is 100% barrel fermented and has a huge nose of pear and fruit blossoms with a taste of fresh pear and quince jam. There is a hint of pie spices balanced with good acid, a slight mineral after taste, and the overall feel of the wine is elegant and rich. I highly recommend this one. 
 Next one the list of must haves are really ANY of the '08 Pinot Noir. They are all outstanding and complex and all are worth the stop. It is not often that I enjoy every wine I taste but today was an exception.
While you are there, sit down and enjoy some of the wonderful food they prepare on site. Read the article about Oregon's restaurant/ winery news. 
While we were there over a dozen people, from farm hands to tourists came and went, praising the food and the wines. 
We made a quick stop at Bethel Heights to get a picture for an etching. They are one of the major sponsors of Salud! and are on this years list for my donation. I took a few shots and I think I have settled on an image of their wisteria and a view Northeast through the vineyards. I have time and lots of reasons to stop back and try another image.
We drove up through Amity then to Carlton where we were treated to my all time favorite taste treat! Republic of Jam was closed for production and restocking but they let me in and gave Saga a sample of their wares. You can tell by her reaction that she enjoyed the tastes! I ended up buying Blueberry Lavender Jam and Lemon Caraway soda syrup,. I am told that the bartender at  Thistle makes a drink with it involving bourbon that is out of this world! ( last night we tried some shaken with Gin and did not find it lacking ;).
 Next door at Horseradish we had a bowl of soup and a hot sandwich , and of course a glass of great Oregon Pinot Noir. As we sat down at the back bar Ryan showed me a wine I had not heard of nor tasted, Zimri Cellars '06 Pinot Noir. This is an outstanding wine. Rich and deep with a huge nose and wonderful mouthfeel and finish. I was very impressed, and at $30, it is under-priced!
 While we were waiting for our meal Saga found something very special, her own wine!
When we finished we left through the back door and walked over to visit with Dave at Carlton Cellars and taste some of his fine wines.

More on that when I get back from a meeting!
Dave tasted us through his lineup staring with his very tasty and very complex Pinot Gris. This wine has lime and white pear with a little flinty mineral in the nose and a rich dry taste. I really enjoy this wine.
Next we tasted the rose and it surprised me a bit. I had had last years and enjoyed it but this one is far more interesting. Lots of strawberry, hints of flowers, and a very interesting taste that changes rapidly as you taste again. I scored a bottle just for a little sip out on the deck this weekend.
Next came the lineup of the Pinot Noir .
Seven Devils is the everyday, house wine that you keep for the acquaintance (if you can keep your hands of it). This is a gentle, rich wine with a slow start and a long finish. Great food pairing as it has brighter fruits and a lot of ripe blackberry and cherry. In the short time it has been in bottle it has changed a lot. I can't wait to taste it again in a few months.
Roads End Pinot Noir is ina class of its own. The gift that keeps on giving, and if anyone tries to tell you that filtering ruins the complexity and structure of wine, let them taste this one! Here is what Parker had to say:
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate concurred, giving the 2006 Roads End a 90-point score that identifies it as "An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines." Dr. Jay Miller writes in his October, 2008 review:
"The 2006 Pinot Noir Roads End spent 10 months in French oak. Medium/dark ruby-colored, it reveals an attractive perfume of cedar, black cherry, and black raspberry. This leads to a layered, smooth-textured wine with plenty of sweet fruit, good balance, and a medium-long finish. Drink it over the next four years."
 Next stop was in Ken Wright's parking lot next door where I got what will be an etching when I am doe. Here is the image now. When I am done with it I will post it to show the end result.
We made a quick stop a Wildaire and we both loved the Clay Court Pinot Noir. Remarkable wine and worth the stop. Linda and I have bought bottles on each trip up and they don't last long. The wine is best described as plush, like a big overstuffed sofa with solid wood legs! You just want to lay down in it and let it engulf you. The nose really leaps out and grabs you with pie spices, dark ripe cherry, and big notes of hot blackberry pie. The first sip is almost a shock as you find a whole different pallet waiting for you, one of cherry compote and caramel with layer after layer of vanilla and creamy red berry. The finish is long and pleasing with just enough earthy, spicy mix to make you want another sip.
Last stop in Carton was at Troon. I felt I had to school her on the differences in the Oregon wine regions and this is one of the very best places to do it.
It was late so we hurried through a couple of sips, then Chelsea brought in the sign and the other folks, Paul Cronauer and his wife Sarah, tasted through a perfect collection of Southern Oregon wines.
 We got started with the '10 Dry Riesling. I love this wine and just thing Greg killed on this one. Bone dry with very complex minerality and gentle hints of stone fruit and white grape.
The reds are all good and interesting but one stands out as a must have, the 2007 Humbug Fire Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  This one was done after the devastating fires down the in '07 and some of the proceeds go to fund the firemen. The smoke in this wine was like being next to a campfire! The fruit was like roasting berries on a stick and eating them while they were still warm. This is just an outstanding wine and should be shared.
Last stop of the day was at Nick's on Third Street in McMinnville for some ribs and a cheese plate.  Then  the long drive home and back to the studio.



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