Chehalem Gamay Noir, 12 Oregon, Ribbon Ridge

It’s the third Thursday in November! We know what that means. Beaujolais Nouveau Day! The day the wine world rejoices in the conclusion of another year’s harvest and people everywhere toasts with a bottle of this fruity, light little wine. Check out the Beaujolais Nouveau: Explained! post I wrote about for Wine Awesomeness: the Back Label the other day. It’s a fun lil’ read. But for my own selfish purposes, I want to delve into another kind of Gamay- the kind that grows in Oregon! Yes, it does! It is fast becoming one of my favorite Oregon grapes. If you think about it, it makes sense; the Beaujolais region and the Burgundy region of France are pretty close together, geographically. So it is logical that Gamay and Pinot Noir would both enjoy the lovely climate here in Oregon. Pinot Noir definitely put Oregon on the map, and there’s not a *ton* of Gamay planted here in comparison. But they’re worth seeking out! Especially this one, made by one of my favorite producers- Chehalem Wines!


Mysterious looking.. that’s because it came from a TAP!

Wine on tap- woohoo!

Wine on tap- woohoo!

Yup, as you can see above, I bought this wine “growler-style”! I’ve been wrestling with whether its still called a growler if its a Liter, and if it has wine rather than beer. I don’t see why not. Come to find out, my receipt from Chehalem says “growler.” So that answers that. So on the day that I visited the Chehalem Tasting Room in Newberg, there was Pinot Blanc and Gamay both on tap. The glass containers are $5 the first time you buy them, and then they’re yours. The cost, for 1 Liter of what’s on tap, is the same as the cost of a 750ml bottle of that wine. But you get a ‘lil bit more! And that’s a nice “thank you” for reusing your packaging, cutting down your footprint, and just in general making a little less work for those involved. Plus, it’s cool! Wine in keg form is not exactly a brand-new idea, but plenty (like Chehalem) are embracing it. Its great for restaurants, as the product stays fresher and there’s very little waste. You may have been to a restaurant or wine bar with a wine tap system, they’re becoming more popular.

I love this.

I love this.

So, why exactly do I love Oregon Gamay? Because its good- obvs. It’s quite different than French Gamay (especially Beaujolais Nouveau- that’s sort of in it’s own category), but there are slight overlaps. You might think it was Pinot Noir if you had to take a wild guess. The most obvious difference, right off the bat, is that it is darker in color. A blackish-purple. Whereas Pinot Noir can sometimes be a little “shy”, this Gamay is pretty outgoing. A broad palate of crushed blackberries and plum compote are met with high tones of red raspberry and black cherry. There is a noticeable freshness (I think this quality makes it a great tap wine) and vibrancy to this wine’s personality. The acidic balance is nice, and it drinks incredibly easily. Some soft floral notes, combined with a little herbaceous-ness (that’s a word), make this a multi-dimensional and versatile wine. It may even (gasp!) be a great Thanksgiving wine! I also love French Cru Beaujolais as Thanksgiving picks, so this is not exactly a revelatory statement.


I’ve now had a total of three 2012 Oregon Gamay Noir, and they’ve all been fantastic. Beaujolais is a touch warmer than Burgundy, so maybe the Gamay grapes just reveled in this slightly warmer vintage here in Willamette. So here we are, getting to reap the benefits of happy grapes. That makes me happy. This kinda happy:



That about wraps it up for today- cheers, y’all! This bottle was purchased at the Chehalem Tasting Room in Newberg for $24. 



The Eyrie Vineyards Chasselas Doré, 13 Dundee Hills

What the what?

Okay, so now I’m just straight up showing off a little. I’m showing off that I have access to this 80 case produced Swiss varietal grown in Willamette’s Dundee Hills. The wind is currently howling around me as I sit in the middle of the Dundee Hills (well, I’m inside, but y’know). So what better time than now to drink a light, fresh and clean white wine?

FullSizeRender (6)

Just so you’re forewarned, this wine is only available at the winery. 80 cases were made, and as of yesterday they had about 8 left, according to the tasting room staff. Given this fact, and the fact that I’m a sucker for a white wine I’ve never heard of, how could I not buy it? However, other wines from The Eyrie *are* available in SC. They don’t have a huge presence there, but they are available. And lemmee tell ya- their 2012 Willamette Pinot Noir deserves your attention. It has all the charm of the 2012 vintage, but is a tad more refined and shy than some of it’s “slutty” 2012 siblings.

Yeah, I said it.

Anyhow. This wine is just all kinds of fun. It is the perfect trifecta of the weird white; unrecognizable (to most people), difficult to pronounce (until someone tells you), and small-production. Booyah! So, I made myself a couple handy phonetic guides on the tasting sheet. Only problem was, once I got home, I couldn’t decipher them. So, after a quick consult with a fellow wine peep- its Chass-luh Door-ray. Like a Morey eel.


So, little Chasselas is a varietal widely planted in Switzerland. The Swiss enjoy it with fondue, I’ve been told. I’ve never been a big fondue fan, but I can see this wine being a nice complement to a rich cheese. There is a vague suggestion of something nutty here, but mostly this wine just graces your palate with its presence… as they write in their tasting notes, its “ethereal.” Light citrus, fresh soap, soft minerality. Leaves your mouth feeling uplifted. This wine is sort of like a fairy. Like Thumbelina. Remember Thumbelina?! I didn’t until just now. This is why I love writing!

If tasted blind, I can see someone thinking this was a mild, unoaked Washington State Chardonnay, or maybe an Alsatian white. But there’s something extra-special about this one. You can tell it was treated carefully. Which is something that I think really stands out about The Eyrie wines in general. They’re a gift for the senses.

This wine really screams Summer in South Carolina to me. I know James and I and Bryan would’ve crushed this wine if given the opportunity. But, you can’t have them all. Having it now is enough for me.

Just for a laugh, check out all the names that Chasselas Doré also goes by, according to Wikipedia:


what in the actual fuck?

One thing I did notice? Chasselas Noir is another word for Dolcetto. Remember how I just wrote about a a Dolcetto the other day? Maybe my brain was on some kinda wavelength that I didn’t even know about!

I purchased this wine at The Eyrie Vineyards tasting room in McMinnville for $27. 

Cheers, y’all!

Ponzi Dolcetto, 12 Willamette. PS I’m in Oregon.

Welcome to my first blog post from the state of Oregon! But first, a disclaimer to those that didn’t know I had relocated…

In the past, I’ve always blogged about wines that were available for purchase at Cellar on Greene in Columbia, SC, because that was where I worked! (duh). Now that I’m here, I want to continue to write, but I don’t want to alarm anyone or confuse any local Columbia readers when I write about wines that may not be available at Cellar. I loved using the blog as a platform to expose people to wines available at Cellar, and that was the original intention of starting this blog. And it served me (and you, I hope) well. But as I’ve entered a new phase, I hope that if you’re a Columbian, you’ll continue to read if for no other reason that you’ve grown fond of my writing and you love to read about new and different wines. But in an effort not to create work for Ricky, don’t expect everything I write about here to be available at Cellar, or for that matter, in South Carolina at all. I hope to bridge the gap, and will do what I can to assist. So sit back and hopefully enjoy this new ride I’m on!

So- TONIGHT! Ponzi Dolcetto! Purchased at the Ponzi Wine Bar in Dundee, OR for $25. Conveniently located just down the road from me. How awesome is that.

Dolcetto in Willamettte? Who knew!

Dolcetto in Willamettte? Who knew!

So, Dolcetto? Who woulda thunk. I thought I was all cool because I knew Ponzi made an Arneis (amazing Italian white varietal), but now I get here and discover this Dolcetto! I tasted it at the Dundee Bistro a few nights ago, really enjoyed it, and knew I’d be picking up a bottle at some point. Here’s the skinny on Dolcetto: most is found in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Some was brought to Cali by expat Italians (go figure!). This particular vineyard was planted in 1992 in the Chehalem Mountains AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Is there more Dolcetto to be found in Willamette Valley? Dunno! Yet, anyway. I’m only in the first week of discovery here.

deets, heard.


So this wine is a 2012 vintage, and since it’s my first time having it, I can’t compare it to other vintages. BUT- I have to say, it’s freakin’ slammin. Not sure if they submit for scores or not, but I could see this scoring a solid 90 or 91. From someone important. If that’s important to you. Why’s it so good? 1.) it’s varietally correct. It reminds me of several Dolcetto d’Alba’s I came into contact with in the SC market. Perhaps a slightly higher price point, but with the production level on this one and relative scarcity, that’s to be understood. So 2.) it’s delicious, of course! A beautiful deep, vibrant purple/magenta with nice medium density. A nose of mulberry, blackberry, licorice, briar patch, and a nice streak of herbs- mint, maybe a touch of rosemary. With a sturdy tannic finish, I find this to be a perfect sipper. What would marry nicely with it? Braised lamb? Something wintery? Yes, I think so. This wine is robust, yet not in-your-face. Certainly best drunk within a few years of bottling, in my opinion. I’m into it.

Sadly, I’m almost 100% certain this wine is not available in SC. That just means you’re gonna have to get your tail to Oregon and visit the winery.

So, how am I? Is anyone curious? Now that I’ve had a glass of wine, I’ll share. Granted, it’s been less than a week, but it’s been a little up n’ down. Highs and lows. Highs? Realizing I can go wine tasting any time I want. Amazing scenery. Great people. Did I mention amazing scenery??


Sunset at Belle Pente yesterday.

Sunset from my house tonight.

Sunset from my house tonight.

So, lows? Not having a job. YET, anyway. I do have leads, and I remain optimistic, but I pretty much hate not being employed. I like to work. It’s hard to feel like I’m getting in the groove when I don’t have any real “purpose” on a day to day or even hourly basis. But writing seems to make me feel more like “me”, so if anything else, that is a motivator to keep writing. Other lows? I do miss y’all. My Columbia peeps. I miss my constant slew of work-related texts. I miss Ricky Mollohan’s ass. I really do. It’s strange to not be able to talk to him about Homeland and The Blacklist spur of the moment. I hate that while I was driving here, Vincent Sheheen did NOT become the governor. I truly hate that for the state of South Carolina. I feel far away, and that’s a little hard to swallow. But at other moments, it feels amazing to be far away.

But I’m good. I got this.

Now go drink some wine! Cheers, y’all.