Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cheese, wine, and perfect Fall day

There is a cheese maker located on the way from Salem to Carlton that I have passed hundreds of times, and though I have had cheeses from there that are carried at Market Of Choice, I knew little about the operation. The Willamette Valley Cheese Company started in 2002 though the family dairy has been in operation since 1962. The cheese is all made on site and the cows are hormone free.

Happy cows make great cheese. I pulled in and opened my door to the smell of dairy, but not the overwhelming acrid smell that hits you up around Tillamook sometimes. In the tasting room all I could smell was cheese, and lots of it. I went through a full tasting with Zach and was really impressed by the variety and range of tastes, from smooth soft Havarti to spiced coffee Cheddar! Amazing! I came out with a raw milk Cheddar, Boerenkaas raw milk Gouda, and aged Havarti.
After the tasting I headed to Carlton for lunch with winemaker extraordinaire, Rebecca Pittock Shouldis and wine grower, Gabriel Keeler at Barrel 47. Much to my surprise they were not open so we found the Carlton Coffee Company across the street a couple of doors down from Republic of Jam (more on them later).
We were treated to some wonderful panini and I had a bowl of one of the best down home potato soups I have had in years. We discussed wine sales and harvest and then walked to Republic of Jam where Gabie picked up jars of grape jam made with her own table grapes. I bought a few treats and she gave me a jar of the jam.
Leaving Carlton I made my way to Bergstrom Wines to drop off a couple of prints I did a few years ago. I found them while teaching my print class and though Josh might like them. I missed him but got to taste through all the incredible wines they had out.
 The first was the Silice Pinot Noir from the vineyard just up the hill. The wine used to be named de Lanciloti and is grown in a silt and sandstone soil farmed biodynamically and has a deep rich mineral presence that underlies the complex fruit and floral qualities of the wine. Hold till '18 and beyond though you may drink it now, the complexity will only get more interesting so I would put some aside.
 Next was the Bergstrom Vineyards Pinot Noir and I must say, this one has my heart. Dark and stormy in the glass with an eruption of black pepper, jerky, chocolate and big black fruit in the nose leading to a surprisingly soft rose petal and sweet fruits in the mouth. I loved this one and after it lays down for a couple of years I think it will be one of the best '12s to come out of Oregon.
Dick Shea grows some of the finest grapes in Oregon on his site and the wineries lucky enough to get his fruit do wonderful things with it. This wine is no exception! This is one of the few '13s I have had the pleasure to taste so far and from what I glean from it, 13' will be great for some and difficult for others. This wine was carefully made from a variety of grapes and is so well balanced and elegant it is truly a beautiful wine. It will only get better and more charming as it lays quietly in your cellar.
No visit to this winery is complete without a taste of the Sigred Chardonnay. This wine makes you smile. A perfect balance of acid and complex fruits with hints of oak and lime pie, nutty and floral, bright and exuberant, this one is just a joy. This wine will drink now and for the nest 20 years so savor it. Next, A trip to ArborBrook Vineyards.

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