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.