Saturday, July 7, 2012

Revisting Old Friends at Art in the Vineyard

Yesterday I took my wife Linda to Art in the Vineyard for our traditional walk through to see what we don't need and can't afford. But this year was much different: Linda met her friend Susan and I visited a lot of wine booths.
The first stop was for a taste of Methven's Pinot Gris. Light, clean, and nicely balanced with mellow fruits and a very pleasant mouth feel and aftertaste. Then a quick change of pace with a very good '11Gamay Noir. This is one of if not the best Gamay I have had in Oregon. Mellow, large black fruit, plums and rich ripe berry. Wow! This one is worth the trip up to the winery!
After chatting with Allen about the wines and the outlook for this years crop, I wandered over to AlexEli for a taste of another rare but worthwhile wine: '10 Muller-Thurgau. This was a real surprise as the only other time I have tasted this wine in Oregon was at a winery in Umpqua and it was NOT a great wine. This one is lush with pear and white peach with a great acid balance and a soft fruit finish. If you try no other wine at the wine booths, try this one.
Next stop was at Namaste' and a visit with Dave. I must say this was a day for different wines than I usually go for. At his booth I went for a bit of the '07 Merlot and was rewarded with a silky smooth, rich mouth filling taste. It is a spectacular wine and need no other description other than "great". It is not yet on his web site but ask for it when you visit and expect a real treat.
The tragic story he told me after I tasted and bought a bottle of his name sake wine, '07 "Big Red" made me glad I got one of these rare bottles. He had made a small batch of the killer wine and let it age and grow for a good long time. He was told it was ready to pick up so he loaded up the truck and brought it home. As he turned up in to the drive it shifted and he lost 19 cases. Heart broken, he finished the night with Jack D., not his wine. If you get the chance, please visit him and let him share the story and have a glass of an amazingly bold wine.
Across the way was the booth for Rivers Edge where the owners, Mike and Vonnie Landt, who started out in '96 and have been making very fine wines for a number of years. I love the '07 Pinot noir Barrel Select. It has turned in to a really superb wine and the only have a few cases left.
I stopped by Kandarian to see if Jeff was around but he had just stepped out. I was about to taste one his fine wines but Linda came and distracted me. Jeff makes wine for King Estate and his wines are only wines King does not make, such as a really tasty Syrah and a killer Sauvignon Blanc. We carry his wines at the Travel Lane County Adventure Center at Gateway. Stop by and grab a few bottles.
I visited with the folks from Rainsong and showed them the etching I did of there tree up the hill from the tasting room. Next was Lone Oak where I sampled a rich smooth Pinot. They are in a very old area of wine growing and are near Broadley. Great grape land and it is showing up in their wines. Dave and his wife Yvonne did their first production in '06 and the wines have been getting better every year.
Last stop was at Vitis Ridge where my friend Michael Bailey was hanging out. He is a wine broker who specializes in small production wineries and you have to be THIS TALL to go on his ride. He is very selective so I always trust his judgement on wineries. He introduced my to Vitis a few years ago when I was doing the one bottle project and they gave a bottle every year. The wines coming from the east side of the valley, across the freeway from the big wine ares, hold a lot of surprises. AlexEli is there as well as Pudding River and Silver Falls. They did a dead clever map showing why it is worth the drive and a visit.
I ended up with a bottle of Big Red, and a bottle of AlexEli Muller-Thurgau, a full tummy, and a happy wife.

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