Oregon Wine Month- Rosé all Day!

Greetings on this, the last day of Oregon Wine Month. I have some brief news to share, and then I will leave you to your Sunday plans!

The Pink.

The Pink.

As you may know by now, I am a lover of pink wine. From waaay back. Pink wine was also what transformed me into a lover of white wine. Back when I was young and dumb, I thought I only liked red wine. Until one day I tried a rosé. I believe it was a very warm (okay, probably blisteringly hot) Summer day in South Carolina. It was as if the heavens had opened. I had never been so refreshed and delighted. And the rest is history. You can scroll back through my posts on this site; there are numerous ramblings and starry-eyed odes to pink wine throughout the years. As well as these two articles here and here, which are other fun testaments to my infatuation with the pink juice.

When I ventured out to Oregon, my Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days project helped me make a lot of great contacts- one of them being Carrie at Cellar 503. We met up one day and chatted about a collaboration. When she mentioned she had considered doing a special rosé shipment this Summer, I of course selfishly offered my services.

There began a few week quest at finding some new favorite Oregon rosé! This was a complete hardship. I finally narrowed it down, and I’m pretty tickled about the results. You can purchase the four-pack for $75 via the Cellar 503 website. If you’re local to Oregon, you can find these bottles individually as well, either at the various winery tasting rooms or a few retailers. But isn’t it just a bit more exciting to buy them as a little package? The four pack can also be picked up at the next Cellar 503 tasting event on June 21st. I know I’ll be making an appearance!

My dreamy tasting notes on the four wines can be found here: Anne Amie Huntington Rosé of Pinot Gris, Soter “North Valley” Rosé, Quady North GSM Rosé and Willful Rosé of Pinot Noir. Something I’m also quite proud of is that a total of eleven Oregon grapes are represented in these four wines. Pinot Noir does make great rosé, but I love showcasing the variety of grapes that are found in Oregon, as well as all the different styles of rosé that there are in the world. It’s pretty darn exciting. I hope you enjoy.

Cheers!

 

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Oregon Wine Month: Durant Vineyards

What are Wednesday nights for? Listening to Coolio on Pandora and tasting a lovely lineup from Durant Vineyards:

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Something I’ve only just learned about Durant is that they make a specific effort to match different blocks of fruit with different winemakers. Interesting! The first wine in my glass is the 2014 IMG_9385Southview Pinot Gris, made by Jesse Lange. A super easy-drinker, this is a wine thats hard to argue with. Great for afternoon sippage and won’t fight with a wide variety of cuisine. If I had to guess, I’d say this wine has a touch of residual sugar. The nose is not terribly in-your-face, leaning towards the subtle end of the fruit spectrum. Golden apple, nectarine, peach, apricot and other lovely stone fruits are found amidst a nice slice of acid. Pinot Gris might not win hip points among wine nerds, but there’s a reason it sells like hot cakes pretty much… everywhere. Its versatile and likeable. Booyah!

Next is the 2013 Lark Block Chardonnay, made by Dean Fisher of Adea (side note- Dean is a total trip!) This wine strikes my fancy. The nose is toasty and the palate has a pleasant “quench” to it. IMG_9386Nectarine, green apple, nutmeg, clove and tangy lemon notes abound. The mid-palate has a fleeting lift to it, wrapping up with a silky and lingering finish. I tried this wine over the course of three days, and on day three it has really softened into a completely different wine. The structure remains, but it now drinks more like an old soul; elegant and soft. Paul Durant co-founded the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium in 2011, and is very committed to seeing the grape get the notoriety it deserves here. Props! At $25 retail, I think this guy is a steal.

We’ll end on a red note: the 2013 Bishop Block Pinot Noir. This wine is made by Isabelle Dutartre of DePonte Cellars & 1789 Wines, her own small label started in 2007. The Bishop Block was planted by the Durant family in 1973, all Pommard clone on native rootstock. That makes them some of the older vines found in the valley. For anyone who’s *not* a rootstock nerd, native rootstock implies that the vines have not been grafted onto younger, phylloxera-resistant roots. Hence why they’re on the older side. The Durants sold this fruit for many years, and now bottle a small quantity under their own label- this vintage was 300 cases. I see that Patricia Green Cellars also has a 13 Bishop Block, at 145 cases bottled. Now that would be a great side-by-side tasting! I’ll have to get on that.

IMG_9387Anyway… this wine is excellent. I’ve also tasted this over three days. Tightly wound and a bit grippy on day one, but all the evidence pointed towards it relaxing and settling into itself. The nose is black cherry, licorice, anise, blackcurrant & plums with additional high tones of pomegranate and vague red floral notions. The palate offers that bricky, teeth-tingly, mouth drying bite that I always associate with Dundee. This did calm down a little with some time, and I think this is actually a wine I will revisit yet again tomorrow just to see where it’s taken itself. The wine closes with a bit of lofty vanilla and cedar. A very polished and precisely crafted bottle.

I am reminded of the person I met years ago who argued with me about how he never drank wine after it had been open more than a day, and was just accosted that I would suggest such a travesty. There were many choice words I would have loved to share with him, but I think the most succinct would have been, “Dude. Your loss.” Watching a wine evolve over an hour, a day, even a week can be fascinating. I invite you to channel your inner patience and give it a try sometime, if you haven’t already.

Okay, I’ll get off that soapbox for now and bid the evening farewell! Check out Durant Vineyards on your next trip. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Its a very rich, multi-faceted experience that they offer. Cheers!

 

 

 

Oregon Wine Month: EIEIO & Co!

Yikes! Its almost halfway through May, and I have a lot more wine to write about this month. Today I bring you a few that are near and dear to my heart. I first wrote about EIEIO a few months ago, and I heard from a few people that were equally as in love with the little “piglets” as I was. So here now I present two more delightful selections from one of the coolest dudes in the Valley, Mr. Jay McDonald. Pictured here:

This guy.

This guy.

A few weeks ago, I poured with Jay at the Yamhill-Carlton AVA tasting where his 2014 White Pinot made its debut. The response to the wine was- if I do say so- pretty off the charts.

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Gleaming with a bright golden color, the White Pinot (or WP, as the cool kids call it) is sure to stump even the cleverest wine nerd in a blind tasting. Mark my words. Unconventionally fruit-forward and luscious, it has distinct “candied” aromas to me; white gummy bears, white lollipops and pineapple, accompanied by punches of lime zest, honeydew melon, peaches, and fresh flowers. A twinge of something nutty is hiding in there somewhere, and the texture is as silky as silky gets. A pure pleasure-seeking wine; meant to drink and enjoy.

Not really the most glamorous backdrop, but hey- that's life.

Not really the most glamorous backdrop, but hey- that’s life.

Made with no added yeasts or enzymes, the “yearly” White Pinot production is a bit of a gamble; Jay labels the barrels “WPA”, which stands for “White Pinot Attempt.” If I was a religious person, I’d say he “lets go and lets God” with this wine. Unfortunately the stars did not align in 2013, but both 2011 and 2012 did get some exciting scores from the Wine Advocate. When I was at Jay’s this past Friday, he was down to less than 10 cases. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Next! This is a favorite of mine, the 2013 Yates Conwill Vineyard Pinot Noir: 

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The nose on this wine is truly ridiculous. Freaking intoxicating. This is the kind of wine that reinforces my earlier claim that 2013 is an exciting vintage, at least for my tastebuds. Elegant, ethereal, gorgeous. Sour cherry, red raspberry, plum, clove, anise, subtle vanilla, and a youthful energy. The palate is a little grippy- this wine is, after all, an infant- with a firm bite that I find pleasant now, but I think will soften and reward with a lil time. The tannin leaves a twinge or two on your teeth on the way out, kind of like black tea does.

I am reminded of Hesh from The Sopranos: “a hit is a hit.” This is a hit, friends. If you’re one of those 2012-obsessed Oregon Pinot fans, it might not be your cup of joe. But really. You should probably evolve anyway.

I’m starting to get a little wordy, so I must wrap up with a quick note about Jay’s new release DINNERS that are rapidly approaching! Cuisine from The Painted Lady, new releases of EIEIO Pinot and Chardonnay, and shoes are optional? Count me in. Seems like you should put July 2nd &/or 3rd on your calendar if you’re local.

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Cheers!

Oregon Olive Mill Chocolate Chip Cookies!

We interrupt my normal wine ramblings with a special edition- COOKIES. Would you believe me if I told you this beautiful, well-lit, expertly iPhone photographed cookie was made with olive oil? Local Oregon olive oil at that?

YES- Olive Oil. Believe it.

YES- Olive Oil. Believe it.

Believe it! Because it is. May is Oregon Wine Month, but what better time to pause and marvel at another agricultural product made right here in Oregon? About 10 minutes from my house, at the Oregon Olive Mill– also home to Durant Vineyards. Collectively this idyllic little spot in Dundee is known as Red Ridge Farms. I went to an olive oil tasting there not so long ago, and my wine-lovin’ little self had a truly eye-opening experience trying all the different varietals of olive oils produced there…

Koroneiki has my heart.

Koroneiki has my heart.

Meet olive oil badass Libby Clow:

#gingersrule

Libby is the olive oil program ambassador at Red Ridge and she’s pretty awesome. At some point during the our tasting, she mentioned that she had a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using olive oil rather than butter. I was intrigued. As a lifelong baker, I immediately started picturing all the things that could go wrong when one tried to sub olive oil for butter. What about the texture? Surely they’ll be dry. Butter gets fluffy, olive oil doesn’t. And what about that errr... olivey flavor? I knew I had to try it for myself to see if Libby was telling the truth. Fortunately, they hooked it up with the recipe!

I set up shop, armed and ready.

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The part I was most skeptical about was first- I’ve taken the liberty of documenting the phases for you so you can see how the sugars and the oil look when you whip them:

I did switch the attachment to whip, for those paying attention.

I did switch the attachment to whip, for those paying attention.

The recipe’s instructions call for whipping the oil and sugars together in phases; whip, let rest, whip again, etc. You get the idea. The mixture does actually get beautifully frothy and creamy. Not fluffy the way butter does, but still successful. The end resulting dough is a bit crumbly, but nothing out of the ordinary or suspicious.

Salt = key ingredient.

Salt = key ingredient.

Ball ’em up, and sprinkle some fancy salt of your choosing. I think I actually used boring old Kosher salt, but it did the job.

YEESSS.

YEESSS.

Baking temperature is 325′ for 10-12 minutes. Side note- mine took a bit longer- maybe 20 minutes. Perhaps it was my oven. I let them rest on the hot cookie sheet for a good while. End result?

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You know you wanted to see it again. So what WAS the texture like? And the olivey taste? I actually loved the texture. Slightly more chewy than your average cookie, with a bit of density. Not dry in the least. Flavor? Awesome! That hint of richness from the olive oil made for a lovely backdrop of flavor in this confection. You don’t taste olives in this cookie, per say, but there’s this underlying interestingness (is that a word?) that lingers and intrigues. Another side note- I believe in the power of butter in my baked goods, so I mostly made this recipe out of sheer curiosity. But ended up really liking it, and will definitely make it again.

Red Ridge farms is home to 13,000 acres of olive trees of many different varietals. I can’t believe I was alive on earth for 33 years before I even knew that different varietals of olives existed! Like I said, truly eye-opening. This recipe calls for Arbequina. I have fallen hard for the spicy, peppery Koroneiki in my daily life and pretty much drench everything I can in it. Red Ridge presses their own olives, but since we are in chilly Oregon after all, their oils are supplemented with olives from Northern California. The olives are driven up here under cover of night, like a stealth Game of Thrones-style abduction. Brilliance.

What you’ve all been waiting for is, perhaps, the recipe! Here ya go. Knock yourselves out! Celebrate Oregon Wine Month with cookies. Its a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Libby’s EVOO cookies

Bake safely!

PDX Urban Wineries Tasting- Oregon Wine Month has begun!

Oregon Wine Month is off with a bang, y’all! There are so many great events going on this month, I really can’t even. This past Saturday was a good one! The PDX Urban Wineries hosted the 5th annual Urban Wine Experience at Union/Pine. It was my first, but hopefully not last! Something I love about the Urban wine scene in Portland is that there’s always someone willing to try something new and different. Its incredibly refreshing in an industry like this to see people take risks. Even if they’re not always successful or if they result in a string of catastrophes. How else does one learn but by experience? In any case… The theme of the day for me was pleasant surprises. I tasted a lot of wines that really made me stop, think and consider their true validity within the scope of Oregon wine. Much excites. Lets get to it.

For anyone reading thats not familiar with the Portland Urban Wineries, they are a group of movers and shakers who all make their wine within the city of Portland, their grapes hailing from near (the Valley) and far (Rogue/Applegate/Columbia/Gorge, etc). There’s actually a fair amount of pedigree floating around this group of people; years &/or harvests spent with names like Adelsheim, Apollini, Penner-Ash, Evesham Wood, Belle Pente, Drylands and Grochau. That ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, y’know?

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Faves? I have plenty. Helioterra’s “Starthistle” Riesling/Huxelrebe blend (pictured, the one with the handwriting that’s waiting on label approval) scored major points for being two of my favorite things: 1.) a refreshing, aromatic white and 2.) containing a grape that I’d never heard of. Huxelrebe is a grape found mostly in Germany, and is a cross of Chasselas and Courtiller Musqué (yet another I haven’t heard of). Given the microscopic amount of Chasselas found here in Oregon, its not shocking that this grape can grow here, but its still a wonder to behold in my opinion. The Helioterra Columbia Valley Mourvédre was also fantastic; polished, with a whopping fruit content and a bit of that savory, earthy Mourvédre “funk”. Winemaker Anne Hubatch was a delight, as an added bonus.

The Division Wine Co. Wines were all showing beautifully! I gotta admit, the Francophiliac wines of Kate & Tom Monroe have wound their way into my heart for good. It was a warm day, and I was struck by how perfect the two reds they poured were for warm weather. The Division-Villages “Les Petits Fers” Gamay is about as vibrant and lively as they come. I love a red that can be served with a slight chill, and this one is ideal for just that. The Division-Villages “Béton” Cabernet Franc/Gamay is a blissful little grape marriage. Focused and spicy, with unadulterated streaks of mineralty and a blip of intense Gamay freshness. Yum. The Cabernet Franc grapes are sourced from the Quady North Vineyard, so.. yeah, they rock.

I hadn’t had a good Viognier in a hot second, so the Jackalope “Voyager” Viognier was a treat. My favorite Viogniers tend to be boisterous on the nose and balanced out with quenching acid on the finish. This wine was just that. Spring in a bottle would be an apt way to describe this wine; perfumed, heady and exciting notes of jasmine, honeysuckle & white flowers leap out of the glass. No shortage of apricot, peach and tangerine zest on the palate keep it from being a flab-fest. With a retail price of $20, this wine is a total steal.

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The wines of Vincent Wine Company had a really tangible sophistication to them. I was super excited to find out that this winemaker, Vincent Fritzsche, (along with John Grochau and aforementioned badass Anne Hubatch) are the masterminds behind the Guild Winemakers, two wines that I crushed very hard on back in SC. This is a majorly talented group, IMHO. The Guild wines kicked the bejeezus out of so many wines in their price point, I wouldn’t shut up about them for quite some time. Cellar on Greene regulars will probably remember this (side note- miss y’all!)

Fullerton Wines would be another one to watch. The oldest son and winemaker, Alex, was pouring on Saturday and had a youthful enthusiasm that was pretty infectious. Having worked under Lynn Penner-Ash and Josh Bergstrom, he does have a few notches on his belt to add to his charm. The Rosé was a favorite; I seem to recall that the 2013 is sold out, but the 2014 will be bottled in the next few weeks. I’ll sign myself up for one of those fo’ sho’.

IMG_9257I could probably keep going- and props to YOU if you’re still reading! This post got long. Suffice to say, the existence of the PDX Urban Wineries is pretty darn awesome. This sounds strange coming from someone who lives in the Valley and can be at any one of a dozen wineries within 20 minutes… but there’s something extra exciting about all these wines being made within the city limits, and many of them in one location. We can’t all own vineyards, y’know?