Raptor Ridge Tempranillo, 2013 Rogue Valley, Folin Vineyard

CONFESSION: I’ve had this wine in my possession for way too long. Confession number two: I’ve had numerous wines from Raptor Ridge this Summer that all deserved their own post, but I really don’t know where the time has gone. So I’m seizing this rainy and strangely windy Saturday to catch you up on one of my favorite wineries in the area!

Oregon Tempranillo: not as rare as you might imagine.

Oregon Tempranillo: not as rare as you might imagine.

We’ll start the party with the post’s namesake, the 2013 Tempranillo. This is just the third year RR has made a Tempranillo, and it sits at right around 200 cases made. Tempranillo seems to enjoy the hotter climate of Southern Oregon; the Folin Vineyards are also planted with Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvédre and Grenache- more varieties that bask in the heat.

Heat is evident in this wine, as its nose is big, dark and smokey. Blackberry liqueur, raspberry preserves, briar patch, hints of woodsy/evergreen/fresh sap, along with traditional Tempranillo characteristics: tobacco, leather, savory herbs, and a nice bright streak of tart red fruit to carry it along. Raptor Ridge suggests mole as a pairing, and now that is all I can think of. Or maybe something char-grilled, with a spicy BBQ rub. Ribs?! Oh, indeed.

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In short: a super fun “unusual” varietal perfect for Fall! Fall is a little erratic here, it almost reminds me of South Carolina. It cooled off quickly in September, but its thrown more than a few 80 degree days our way right up until last week.

So, what other Raptor Ridge wines have I enjoyed this year? A favorite: the 2014 Grüner Veltliner:

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This is Estate fruit from their site on the Chehalem Mountains, which tickles me. Again, not much more than 200 cases made and this little guy sings with clean minerality, slate, fresh flowers and a really nice acidic balance.

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The Raptor Ridge 2014 Pinot Gris was probably my favorite Gris of the year. Gris takes some flack out here for being boring, I’ve noticed. Maybe it doesn’t have the most personality of any white grape out there, but the bottom line is: when you find one that hits the nail on the head in terms of value & quality, AND offers the delicious clean, fresh palate that it should.. well, anyone who’s worked in retail or a restaurant knows: they’re money-makers. People love them, they’re versatile and friendly. Long story short, the Raptor Ridge is a winner for all those reasons.

I’m scouring my phone for a picture of the view at the winery but I’m shocked to discover I don’t have one! That means I have to go back soon and get one. Hands down, best view in the valley- and we all know there’s some stiff competition there.

Go check these guys out!

*these wines were received as samples. except the pictured rosé. I bought that because, well, rosé*

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Wines of the Week!

I’m a little ADD this week… I just couldn’t decide on one wine.  So I picked two.  On the one hand, I am loving this most recent Gruner Veltliner from Cobenzl- but considering that it’s fall and how long we here in SC have waited for cooler weather, I know people are itching for red wine.  But the fact remains this Gruner is awesome.  And on the other hand, the Ramon Bilbao Crianza has been flying outta here the past two weeks and it’s freaking awesome, too!  Here they is:

Weingut Cobenzl Gruner Veltliner, 2009 Austria.  I’ve been looking at Weingut Cobenzl’s website and drooling for the better part of 30 minutes… BEAUTIFUL, beautiful, beautiful…

It’s just dawned on me that I allowed the entire hot, brutal summer to pass me by without writing about a Gruner Veltliner.  This is an abomination of the highest proportion.  But better late than never, I suppose- and while Gruner is a perfect summer wine, it has fantastic versatility, so it’s definitely not strictly a summer wine.  Gruner is something of a trendy grape, especially over the last 3-4 years.  When I started waiting tables at Solstice (gah!  almost 5 years ago) we were the only restaurant in Columbia to serve a Gruner by the glass.  It had recently hit the Charleston wine scene and was developing it’s cult status as a cool grape.  As a testament to it’s coolness, The Shop Tart LOVES Gruner.  And she is mad cool.  Check out a spot she filmed this summer at Cellar where she tastes a Gruner! 

This particular Gruner really is one of the best I’ve had this year.  It offers a touch more elegance while maintaining it’s Gruner characteristics of pure minerality, spice, stone fruits, and notes of apple, quince, and citrus.  Exceptionally clean and almost virginal.  Despite it’s youthful personality, it also possesses a nice stylistic degree of maturity and a longer finish that is a testament to some kick-ass winemakin’!  You can find this wine by the glass at Cellar, and you can also take a bottle home for $15!

Ramon Bilbao Crianza, 2006 Rioja is now added to my “I’m a sucker for a good Tempranillo” list.  I suppose I should be less predictable, but I. Just. Can’t. HELP IT!  Tempranillo is amazing.  There very few grapes that, in my opinion, can offer such a consistently drinkable everyday wine for $10-12!  Try to think of one.  And not just drinkable- like GOOD drinkable, not something you would open when someone stopped by just to be nice- something you would actually look forward to opening, and would look for excuses to open.  Actually- Garnacha is a pretty consistant everyday drinker, too… okay, you got me.  I got myself.  Ahh, whatever… on to the wine!  A bright, deep cherry red, aromas of black beries, balsamic, licorice, tobacco, vanilla and smoke leap outta the glass.  A perfect acidic balance really allows this wine to stand on it’s own two feet.  14 months in American Oak make it hearty and ready for cooler weather, but the oak manages to be perfectly integrated and not hit-you-over-the-head, which I am not a fan of.    Oh, did I mention that this bottle retails for $12??!  Yes, it does.  You can also grab a glass of it at Cellar for the forseeable future– in fact, it would taste pretty fantastic with our new Panzanella-Proscuitto Salad… this wine and cured meats are a match made in heaven…

Ramon Bilbao also won a Winery of the Year award in 2009, although I’m a little unclear as to who the award was from… but as an added bonus, the guy all the way to the right in this photo of them receiving the award is pretty hot: 

And on that note, I sign off for today.  Happy drinkin’ and thanks for reading!