Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sidetracked: A Journey Gloriously Interrupted

This morning I decided I would go and redo my tasting notes for the Walnut Ridge post (coming) and was on my way out West 11th passing Fern Ridge Reservoir when I saw a Sarver sign. I had been meaning to go out there and for some reason today was the day. I turned off and wandered up the hill till I saw the sign. Stuck me as funny: the next person down the road with a gate has a hand done "Sarver" sign on an arrow pointing on down the road. I turned up the driveway to the winery and had to stop and take a picture. I know everyone loves the big full, lush vineyards hanging with fruit and sun-dappled leaves, but for me, THIS is the best time of year. In the days before "Bud Breck" there is a sense of anticipation, of tension, in the air. The vines have been storing up all this energy since the fall and are about to let loose!

 When I got up to the winery I was greeted by Django Winehart, who is really in charge. 

 I sat down at the tasting bar and introduced myself to Cookie, who is the manager of the tasting room and has a very keen nose for wines.

I decided to start with the whites.
The Pinot Gris was soft and pretty due to barrel aging. It had hints of coffee and toast above the cut apple on the nose and much like most of the southern valley's Gris still has the fresh bright fruits swirling about.
I was pleased with a bit softer apple, almost like applesauce before it is fully cooked and spiced. Lovely wine.
Next came the Reisling. My taste for wine grew up in Germany beginning in 1975 so I know the smell of an outstanding Reisling. That diesel smell that comes from perfectly made wine is a signature. You KNOW you are going to have a taste treat when you even get a hint of that smell. This wine had that smell and was just delightful! It was not overly sweet and had a soft mouthfeel with a long aftertaste of apple and cooked pineapple with none of the burnt notes or dripping sweetness. I highly recommend this wine, and DO NOT LET THE SMALL PUT YOU OFF!!! This wine should be drunk now but you can keep this one down for a while.
I just can't get over how great the Rose' is! The flavors of bright red fruit and crisp berry nearly leap out of the glass, and the color is bright as light through a ruby. When you come you have to try this one.
One of the wonderful things about Oregon wine tasting rooms is the person behind the counter.  Can you imagine fielding questions all day from "Do all these wines come from the same grape?" "How come the Pinot Gris grapes are not white?" Why does this smell like gasoline?" while putting up with perfumes and cigarette smoke and trying to help people taste the wines?
Thanks too all very much for working so hard in the tasting rooms!

Chris, the owner and winemaker, was in from working on the road and was kind enough to take me on a tour of the winery. 
The estate grown grapes are mostly whites save for the Pinot Noir. They get red grapes from Southern Oregon and Eastern Washington and produce some outstanding wines.
Black rubies in a glass.
I was lucky enough to barrel taste the Malbec just out of MLF so it had just a hint of carbonation. So smooth and delightfully rich with shades of strawberry and plum over a solid tannic base. The grapes come from the Umpqua Valley and from what I have seen are doing very well there. Now we don't have to go all the way to Argentina for a good Malbec!
 Do you think Syrah is a dark grape? Wait till you hold your glass of Malbec up to the light and see nothing! Now I know what I am going to use for the next eclipse.

We walked to the back and I saw steel barrels among the wood. I had never seen, or at least never noticed them before in any barrel rooms I had visited. They are just for storage and settling but the look kind of cool among the oak.

Back in the tasting room, people had started arriving for an afternoon visit. There were a few tourists, some locals who seemed more family than customers but still bought wine. 

I had the cheese of the day, an English Cotswold with fig and apricot along with bread fresh from the oven, sliced apple, and green olives.
The view from up here is one of the most beautiful you will ever see, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends is to pick a slightly overcast, drizzly day and sip your wines while you watch the landscape change as the light plays over it. 

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