Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, days 22 and 23: R. Stuart!

I’ve been behind this week and had lots of little real world details to take care of, so I had to postpone my wine fun until today. And fun it was! This whole “Friday afternoon at 5pm” game is still a little new to me. But what fun I had this evening- it was a cozy late afternoon at the R. Stuart Wine Bar in downtown McMinnville! Overcast, but not raining, I decompressed, sipped on a few wines and chatted with Casey, the manager (? I actually don’t know her title, but she’s rad).

Love this spot on 3rd St.

Love this spot on 3rd St.

So I went because I knew I wanted a glass of bubbly, and that it fit in with my January theme. This is only the second bubbly I’ve written about. Its made out of 100% Chardonnay, and I have sort of exceeded my Chardonnay capacity… but, I mean… its bubbles. So, yeah. Sue me.

BUBBLES. My bubbles.

BUBBLES. My bubbles.

R. Stuart has been well-known for their Rosé D’Or sparkling, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which is rich and luscious. This bubbly, known as “Bubbly” was just released, I believe, this past Thanksgiving weekend. I had it for the first time right before Christmas and really loved it. At $28, its very competitive with other Champenoise Oregon bubblies.

How freaking good does this look?

How freaking good does this look?

I’m not 100% sure if it was just the lighting, but this wine had a slight pale pink color to it as I sipped it. A round, creamy mouthfeel, this bubbly is elevated by lovely notes of baked apples and pears and a refreshing citrusy palate. Its zingy, fun to drink, flirty and doesn’t take itself too seriously; yet is a pleasure to drink and you can tell its Champenoise. A tiny hint of sweet tarts and fresh flowers on the finish. Really lovely. Comparably, the Argyle Brut sells for a similar price and is kind of a staple and totem of Oregon sparkling. Argyle is always super clean, high acid and delicious- this wine has a bit more texture and weight, and maybe more fanciful packaging. There’s room for both. If you’re a sparkling ho like me.

Next? Been meaning to try their Big Fire Tempranillo, which I did.

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So the last Tempranillo I had was from Eola-Amity Hills, the Zenith Vineyard. A 2012 vintage, and very delicious. The R. Stuart Big Fire Tempranillo is sourced from one small vineyard in Carlton, the Deux Verts vineyard, and predominantly Southern Oregon. As I mentioned in my last post, I learned that in Willamette, Tempranillo struggles to get ripe except in unusually warm years like 2012. So this Tempranillo is a 2011 vintage, but since a lot of the fruit is from Southern Oregon where its warmer, there is plenty of ripeness to be found here.

The nose is peppery, with a background of cedar and violets, accentuated by some beautiful vanilla and leather. There’s a touch of bright red and brambly fruit.  The palate is firm and smooth, and finishes with a pleasant bite of tannin to hold it together. At $20, its a great house red and then some. Very different than the last Tempranillo I had from Zenith, but a tough contender at $20 a bottle.

I love this “House Rules” at R. Stuart Wine Bar:

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This place kind of makes me wish I lived in McMinnville- every time I go, the vibe is warm and friendly, and the staff knowledgable and personable. A perfect stop for this “Friday at 5pm” feeling that many (but not all) of us experience. I gotta say, it doesn’t suck.

Cheers! I’ll be back for more McMinnville fun tomorrow…

Oh! And if you like Oregon bubbles, you should go to the Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie on February 14th! Its gonna be. the. shit. $40 gets you four hours of unadulterated Oregon sparkling, and Anne Amie’s debut sparkling wine is included (holla!). I can’t freakin’ wait.

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, days 20 & 21: the tale of two white blends…

Tonight? I’m all about white. I knew when I started this endeavor that it would end up being white heavy (I was okay with that), but I AM going to make an effort towards reds this weekend. But tonight, its all about white. Because I like it, first of all, and because I made some delicious spicy veggie fried rice for dinner, which both of these wines complement perfectly! Win.

So tonight we have a tale of two white blends! One that I impulse bought, and one that I’ve been wanting to try since last Summer: the Whoa Nelly! “Whoa Nelly White”, 13 Willamette Valley and the Eveshem Wood “Blanc de Puits Sec” Pinot Gris/Gewürztraminer, 13 Eola-Amity Hills.

White white and more white!

White white and more white!

So the Whoa Nelly caught my eye at Roth’s while I was picking up some adorable baby shiitake mushrooms for my fried rice. I mean really, the darn things are adorable:

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Not the first, and definitely not the last time I’ve impulsed purchased wine while grocery shopping by any means, this one caught my eye because I was seeking a white blend and I dug the label. Upon further inspection, while it says Whoa Nelly White on the front, the back says 2013 Arneis. I perked up at the sight of this, because I absolutely love Oregon Arneis. And by that I mean, I’ve had exactly one and I love it- its from Ponzi. Is there more Arneis to be found? I don’t believe I’ve come across one until today.

Whoa! Nelly.

Whoa! Nelly.

I am a tad beguiled. Is it all Arneis or is it a blend? I tend to think that because the front label says its a white, it kinda has to be a blend. I don’t think you’re allowed to put a single varietal on a bottle in Oregon unless its at least 90% of that grape. It might be 95%. It might even be 100%. It’s 8:00pm and I’m drinking wine, so my CSW seems to be failing right about now. I do know that its different for every state, and I think its relatively high in Oregon, compared to Cali. In summation, I think if it were 100% Arneis, it would say Arneis on the front. Lets move on, I’ve had enough of this.

This wine is awesome! For $13.99? Are you kidding me? I’d be curious to know exactly whats in it, but in truth? I don’t really care- the stuff is delish. Its a lean, fresh and floral style- slightly textured and aromatic. Honeysuckle, jasmine, ripe pears and a nice bite of lemon and candied orange. Super fun and will literally go with anything. Its relatively high acid, but not streaky.

The interesting thing here is that this wine label is a side project of Helioterra, a beloved member of the SE Wine Collective that has some really nice press. I’ve yet to have any of their wines, but consider it on the list of things to try. They’re also affiliated with the Guild Wines, which I absolutely LOVED back in South Carolina. The Guild Red and White blends were seriously some of the best in their price range for what they were, and where they were from. Look ’em up! Seems like they’re doing something right.

Next? A beloved winery in Eola-Amity Hills, Evesham Wood:

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We did quite well with Evesham Wood in SC- their Pinots always came in and sold out very quickly. Last year I got on their mailing list, and (albeit, a tad late) tried to order a bunch of their white wines and have them shipped to SC, as they weren’t distributed there. Unfortunately I was late, and it had gotten too hot to ship to SC, and I didn’t feel like waiting until October (okay, maybe I’m impatient). So how fortunate of me that I decided to up and move here, where I can buy their whites!

This wine is a racy blend of 85% Pinot Gris and 15% Gewürztraminer. Gewurz is fairly common in Eola-Amity and a really fun white that reminisces of a Riesling, but a bit spicier. Pinot Gris, of course, is an Oregon staple. A “Gris-ish” nose of wet stone, apricots, and sparkly minerals is very charming. Playing a nice second fiddle are some accents of white pepper, rose petal and a creamy lemon-ness. A touch of sourdough might be hiding in there, too. Evesham Wood is certified Organic, too, which is worth noting. I haven’t been there yet- I actually sent them a quick email about 2 weeks ago about coming in to taste, but I suspect that they’re closed for the winter. But I’ll be there! It’ll happen. I bought this bottle at Roth’s as well, for $15.99 I think.

I need suggestions! Anyone have an Oregon Red I just HAVE to have? Maybe a funky Southern Oregon Mourvedre that kicks serious ass?

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 19! Oink.

Happy Monday! This is such a fun and brilliant little wine- the EIEIO Swine Wine “Rie-Chard”, 2013 Willamette Valley. 

Piglet.

Piglet. Adorbs. 

I actually had this bottle several weeks ago, when I had the good fortune to be introduced to Jay McDonald, winemaker and owner of EIEIO wines (Jay McDonald had a farm, EIEIO! get it?!) I absolutely loved it the minute I saw it. I do have a fondness for pigs, so I was a little predisposed.

Jay is sort of like a Horcrux of this area… but in a good way. I’ll explain. Jay opened The Tasting Room in Carlton back in the day right in the center of town in a really cool old bank building. I can’t find an exact date, but suffice to say it was right when a lot of Oregon winemakers that are now very well-established were just getting their start. The Tasting Room was a retail store/tasting room (go figure) where local producers could get their wines out to the people before they were big enough to have tasting rooms of their own. Legend holds that many-a now well-known winemakers had help from Jay in the beginning. Thats why he’s a Horcrux- he has a bit of all of their souls. But again, not in a sinister way.

Dead center in the bustling little metropolis of Carlton.

Dead center in the bustling little metropolis of Carlton.

So that is a little background- but Jay has been making his own wine since 1998. The “Swine Wines” as they’re called, come in Pinot Noir and this Rie-Chard form. This particular bottle is known as a Piglet, as its a 375ml bottle. The full-size 750ml’s are available for purchase on his website here. I’m not totally positive on the availability of the 375’s, so don’t hate me.

So whats the story on this little Piggy? It is a blend of Riesling and Chardonnay, not your most common bedfellows; obviously no one told them that, because they make a lovely couple in this wine. It captures the cool-climate persona of the Willamette Valley with finesse. Gentle, yet with a bracing acidity, it will enchant with aromas of pear, quince, green apple and nuances of honeysuckle. If you’re patient enough to let this wine open up, its texture will soften and charm your pants off. This wine is actually what began my fondness for half bottles. They’re just fun, doggone it. A slight amount of residual sugar makes it very accessible and bright. Good clean fun. Plus, did I mention its cute? Its cute.

Jay’s Chardonnay is downright fantastic as well- really looking forward to the Chardonnay Symposium in just over a month! This concludes Day 19. Hope you enjoyed your intro to one of the coolest dudes in the Valley!

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 18!

For the last two months, I have been driving by Carlo & Julian almost every day and seeing a sign that said “Closed.” I did start to wonder if they were ever open. This almost added to the intrigue, as it was obvious that its a tiny place. As luck would have it, my roommate happened to drive by on Saturday and noticed the sign said OPEN. We hustled on over, needless to say. Part of me thought by the time we got there it’d be closed.

But it wasn’t! We noticed a high volume of cars, and in turn, people, as we walked in. What a cozy spot. Its almost the epitome of Carlton; a tiny driveway, chickens and cats meandering about, a tasting room filled with pallets of wine that you know doubles as a winemaking facility. No frills, but very inviting and non-fussy.

Oregon Albariño- Wha?

Oregon Albariño- Wha?

We had actually stumbled into a Tempranillo tasting, we soon found out. The event was probably publicized to the mailing list, but we just got lucky. The owner and winemaker Felix was tasting about 8 different vintages of Tempranillo and two vintages of a blend called Six Grapes. The Tempranillos were wildly fluctuating in character, but all had maintained posterity and reflected the vintage. My favorite wine I had that day was one that was unfortunately sold out- the 2009 Six Grapes. Alas, I had to just enjoy it and then let it go. But I was curious about the Albariño that was listed as available and decided to give it a whirl. I have seen maybe 3-4 other Oregon Albariño around and had been meaning to check one out.

Does it get better than this on a rainy Saturday?

Does it get better than this on a rainy Saturday?

While Felix bottles a lot of Estate fruit, these Albariño grapes come from some nice folks named Ray and Sandra Ethell near Hubbard, OR. I had never heard of Hubbard, so I had to look it up; but it is very close to Woodburn, almost directly east of Carlton. This vineyard contains the first commercial planted Albariño vines in the Willamette Valley, which is sort of a fun fact! So now we can add it to the list of Spanish varietals grown in Oregon.

Always a high acid, super citrusy grape, this is no exception. The nose is all gooseberry, a touch of lees, some light floral accents, and a touch of peach that is almost hidden. In a warmer year like 2012, I can see more tropical fruit probably fleshing out these grapes a bit, but this year is all about the acid. This was such a soggy weekend that this wine makes me dream of a warm Summer evening and some fresh ceviche. Acid-on-acid is a delicate balance, but I think if you threw a sweet fruit salsa in there to marry them, it’d be on time. This wine could also probably cut through something with a higher fat content, or maybe a tangy goat cheese.

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In summation, this is a tasty little wine, but prepare your palate to be wow’d by acid. It is a cool-climate wine, no doubt. The bottle doesn’t state how much of this wine was made, but it probably wasn’t much. Carlo & Julian is having a Malbec tasting in a few weeks and I’ll definitely be there! I recommend a stop. Go for it.

This wine was purchased at the winery for $22. Cheers!

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Days 16 & 17: Willakenzie!

I didn’t forget about days 16 and 17! I did take one day off, though. This whole “Friday” being the end of the week thing is new to me, so I have trouble focusing on anything on Friday afternoons. But I knew I had a great duo for today: two awesome picks from Willakenzie Estate! I bought these wines on a magical afternoon of sunshine and lemon drops. Between Willakenzie and Patton Valley, it was actually one of my favorite tasting days I’ve had since I’ve been here. So allow that to be a preface to these two wines, the WillaKenzie Estate Blanc de Pinots, 2011 and WillaKenzie Estate Gamay Noir, 2012.

So, remember when I said Pinot Noir wasn’t allowed in my project unless it was blended? Well, I pretty much made that rule because of this wine. Because I already owned it, loved it, wanted to marry it, and put it in this series of posts.

 

Its Pinot, but its WHITE?! WUT.

Its Pinot, but its WHITE?! WUT.

This wine is included because, although I don’t think its disclosed on the bottle, it IS blended with a bit of Gamay and Pinot Meunier. For anyone that doesn’t know, it IS possible to make a white wine out of a Pinot Noir grape! A grape’s color is contained in its skin, so if you crush it right quick (Southern expression), the skin’s color doesn’t bleed into the actual juice. You 86 the skins and that shit turns out white. Voila! 

The first white Pinot Noir I had was from Anne Amie about 5 years ago, and I had never heard of such a thing. Since then, I see the trend continuing, but most wineries that make one don’t make enough to sell to the masses- I’m not sure if this one sees any distribution at all, but don’t quote me on that.

IMG_8046This has been, to date, my favorite White Pinot I’ve tasted. Why? Its style is a bit different; White Pinot is sort of a novelty, and this one in particular is fermented in stainless steel, maintaining the high acidity and overall cool nature of the 2011 vintage. White Pinot can be barrel fermented (like Red Pinot) and barrel aged for a more textured wine, and often is. Some might say that thats what White Pinot should be. Me? I dig this one because its the total opposite. Lean and puckery, this wine screams across your tastebuds with notes of white pepper, granny smith apple, citrus, white flowers, and a hint of sour patch kids. I really appreciate this wine’s against the grain’s nature. Its a white wine, 100%, whereas a lot of White Pinot Noirs fall into an abyss of “what am I?”  I like that too; I like a wine that challenges your notions of what it “should” be, and totally appreciate it. The Anne Amie “Prismé” is gorgeous and definitely worth your hard-earned dollars. For me, this particular wine just speaks to me. So, as Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that. This could be a polarizing wine for many wine nerds, but I should at least mention that this wine got 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. Holla!

Next up? Another gem from WillaKenzie! And one of my FAVE Oregon grapes by far- GAMAY! And 2012 was absolutely spectacular for Oregon Gamay. And this Oregon Gamay.

Yum.

Yum.

Why do I like Gamay? Have I said this before? I think I have, with the Chehalem Gamay post back in November. But let me reiterate. Gamay is delicious. Gamay is deeply colored, accessible, spicy, fun, and fully alive. This particular one reverberates on the tongue with deep yet exuberant notes of blackberries, red licorice, plums and cranberry compote. Aged for 10 months in 20% new barrels, it has a touch of softness and vanilla and maintains a supreme drinkability. It should be drunk now and often, in my opinion. A super fun wine. Just do it.

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This Blanc de Pinots sparked an interesting discussion in my house about the intention behind making White Pinot in general, and what it is meant to be. I stand behind my opinion on this wine. Maybe I am remiss and haven’t paid enough homage to the history of White Pinot… but I gotta say, I think this is the most sellable White Pinot Noir that I’ve had. To me. Granted, we all sell things that we like, so maybe that’s what makes it sellable. Its an interesting subject. I certainly welcome any opinions anyone has on this style of wine and would never dismiss thoughts on the subject. All I’m sayin’ is, I like dis one.

It is also worth mentioning that WillaKenzie Estate is certified sustainable, LIVE and salmon safe. And their location is AMAZE:

I die.

I die.

I highly recommend a stop in to WillaKenzie!

I bought these wines at the tasting room for $25 and $24, respectively. Cheers, y’all!

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 15! We ballin’.

We’re high rollin’ tonight, people. This is a somewhat special bottle that my roommate has generously donated… shared… for the use of my project. I first had a bottle of this wine about 8 weeks ago during my first month here. I was floored, to say the least. I didn’t know Sauvignon Blanc of this quality was to be found in the Willamette Valley. Even if it weren’t for the rare/small-production factor, this wine is still slammin’. So without further adieu, the Rocky Point Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Willamette Valley, Russell-Grooters Vineyard.

Sexytime.

Sexytime.

The vineyard site is located not too far from my humble abode here in Yamhill-Carlton. The wine is made by Drew Voit, who is a consulting winemaker on many-a-project, and also makes one of my favorite Willamette Pinot Blancs under his own label, Harper Voit. Owner Amy Lee has implemented a unique barrel program with this family of wines, some stemming from Washington State and some from Oregon. This particular bottle was barrel-fermented in two different barrels (yup, this is a two-barrel production wine), with slightly different seasoning. The oaking in here is really nuts- absolutely gorgeous, layered and somewhat unexpected.

The thing about Sauvignon Blanc… let me swirl my glass for a second… is that it can be SO many different things. If you’ve had one from New Zealand and couldn’t tell whether you were drinking wine or chewing on a grapefruit peel- fear not. This is almost the complete and total opposite. I do enjoy a NZ Sauv Blanc now and then, and some of my favorite value Sauv Blancs are actually from Chile. But the puckery quality that can be pleasing in such a Sauv Blanc isn’t what’s goin’ on here. I digress…

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This wine is tropical- like a girl in a bikini. Passionfruit, mango, kiwi, coconut and mad honeydew. But just when you think its a total slutty fruit-bomb, this really beautiful spice component comes in- fun notes of coriander and fennel, along with some creamy vanilla. It all sounds like a menagerie of contrasts, but they work together like a symphony- I swear it.

The really profound thing about this wine is this: if you were at a tasting room in Napa, and were poured this alongside some $50-$75 a bottle single vineyard Cabernets, it would fit right in, in terms of its class and elegance. But what a fun surprise that this wine is from the freaking Yamhill-Carlton district of the Willamette Valley?! I love it. Love. It.

So, this post is a little bit of a tease, as this wine is not yet released, and I can’t even really tell you where to look for it when it is released. But I do suggest keeping an eye on the Rocky Point website for more info. Suggested retail on this wine will be in the $40 range. Treat yourselves!

Cheers!

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 14! Let’s Evolve.

Sokol Blosser’s Evolution White has been a longtime favorite of mine. I do believe it was one of the first white wines I found myself liking. I shudder to think that there WAS a time in my life that I didn’t like white wine, but we all must come to terms with our younger, dumber selves. I like the Evo White because it stayed consistent year to year; I could always be guaranteed of its engaging, lively, fruit-forward palate and a thirst-quenching acidic finish. It also goes with pretty darn close to everything. But contrary to how I’m beginning this post, this review is actually of the Red version of the Evolution series, Evolution Red, NV Oregon. 

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I believe this is now the third incarnation of the Evolution Red (?) I might be incorrect there, but it seems like about three years ago that this wine was first poured for me at the restaurant as a brand-new introduction. Maybe four, actually. Oye. I feel old all of a sudden. So that was how they always labeled the White: it wasn’t a vintage or a non-vintage, it was an incarnation. I think they’re up to about 20 incarnations of the White. As I stated in a post last week, I think a Non-Vintage wine can be a real asset. It keeps a consistent style every year and the cost in a friendly zone.

With the white, it was always a blend of (up to) 9 varietals. In the Red, they’re playing their hand pretty close and not really disclosing much of the blend at all. They’ll go as far as to say “Syrah-based”, but the rest is up to our imaginations. So let us deduce: the color on this wine is medium-light, and we are in Oregon, so we can presume that a bit of Pinot Noir is at play here. The nose is abundantly fruity and big- maybe a splash of Zin? If there’s Syrah, then chances are there’s Zin, in my opinion. Sangiovese would be a likely player, too- similar bodied to the Pinot Noir, but adding some interest. The texture is soft and not overly acidic. For my taste, maybe a bit too soft- but you know the expression “you can’t please all the people all the time”? Well, this wine comes pretty close to such, and I think that was the intention. If you are having a party and need to please all or at least most of the people? Go for it. Its smooth, light, fruity and easy to get along with. Red currant, candied strawberry, blood orange, a streak of citrus peel, warm cinnamon and milk chocolate are all workin’ their way around in this wine.

I’ve just discovered that the website says there’s a touch of Evolution White in here, too. Coulda fooled me, for sure, although I’m sure it lifts the overall weight of the wine in a general “up” direction.

It's about time. True dat.

It’s about time. True dat.

This definitely isn’t a wine that demands a complex explanation; it’s meant to be a perfect Wednesday night wine. Which is what it is right now, and I really can’t complain. Stella approves as well:

Wine Wednesday on couch with dog. Not bad.

Wine Wednesday on couch with dog. Not bad.

I bought this wine for something like $17 at Safeway. Don’t judge. Cheers! We’re halfway through the week!

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 13!

Dry Muscat, anyone? One that comes in a pretty bottle? Yeah, I think so.

Love the art on this bottle.

Love the art on this bottle.

I bought this wine on my first, but probably not last, trip down to the Eola Amity Hills and Brooks Winery. It was absolutely frigid outside; so naturally, I chose to taste the whites flight they were pouring that day. I’m a huge proponent of drinking white wine year round. It was actually great that it was frigid, because there were mad mountains to be seen:

Aww yeah.

Aww yeah.

I had several favorites this day, but chose to buy the Terue Dry Muscat, 2012 Eola Amity Hills because I knew I’d be needing unusual varietals for this project. And because it was freakin’ delicious, obviously!

What’s the story on Muscat? Well, just to confuse the matter, remember the DePonte Melon de Bourgogne I wrote about last week, and how it was the same grape as Muscadet wine from France? Well, this grape, Muscat, is not related to Muscadet. It IS, however, the same grape as is used in Moscato production, notably Moscato d’Asti in Italy. So all these grapes, some related, some not, different styles- oye! A lot to remember. Once we move past this, however, you uncover the reason I really love Muscat: versatility!

Moscato d’Asti is made in a sweet or semi-sweet fizzy style. Sometimes Muscat is made in Oregon in a slightly sweeter frizzante style, too. Silvan Ridge in Southern Oregon is apparently known for theirs, which I’ll have to check out. But as is true with essentially any grape you wish to make into wine, you can leave residual sugar in it, or you can not. And NOW for my point: the Terue Muscat is a dry version! Which means you get ALL the amazing aromatics of Muscat with a dry palate. Its a wonder to behold.

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Oh, aromatic whites- how do I love you? Let me count the ways. You leap out of the glass, you make me think of warm Spring days, gentle breezes and you’re just so darn FUN. Wine can be serious, with its terminology and regions and rules and methods and sometimes exclusionary air. This is a wine that while you can tell was made with total intention, is fun to drink. At just 10.5% alcohol, it is light, refreshing and jubilant. Bright, youthful aromas of white flowers, golden apple and citrus combine with accents of spice and fresh herbs. The texture is silky and it finishes dry, but not tight. One of those wines that “glides” in the mouth. This is a total warm Saturday afternoon crusher. This is the winemaker at Brooks Wine’s own label, so just 82 cases were made. I can think of a few gingers in Columbia, SC that would sell the shiz out of this wine if it were available there! This is a great South Carolina wine.

I had a few other favorites at Brooks that day, mainly the 2011 Ara Riesling and a killer late harvest Riesling called Tethys:

Can't stop thinking about the Ara.

Can’t stop thinking about the Ara.

Gorgeous acid, just divine.

Gorgeous acid. Perfect. 

Actually, the only thing I didn’t taste at Brooks that day were reds. So I guess that means I have to go back! Aww, shucks. The Brooks tasting room is relatively new and really lovely. It has a very relaxing vibe and chill, knowledgeable staff. Hat tip!

Seacrest out for day 13, y’all!

I purchased this bottle at the Brooks tasting room for the extremely nominal fee of $18.

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 12!

THE VIOGNIER COMETH!

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Penner Ash Viognier, 2013 Willmette Valley. I’ve been looking forward to writing about this wine for a while! And it wasn’t just this tweet from Penner Ash that made me do it…

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The crown Lynn refers to is the crown I “won” at a blending seminar at OPC. And yes, I still have it. But no, I didn’t wear it. Not this day, at least.

I’ve liked this wine since I first met it! Which was probably the 2012 vintage. This wine was available in distribution in South Carolina (albeit, not a lot) and it definitely made a few friends at a wine dinner or two held by the distributor. We used to joke that a lot of people didn’t necessarily know how to pronounce it, but they liked it. Ie: “Hey, that Vee-OG-nee is really good!” As we would say in South Carolina, bless their hearts.

Vee-OWN-yay, or sometimes VEE-uhn-yay are the two ways I’ve heard Viognier pronounced. I lean towards the former and truth be told I don’t know if one’s more correct than the other. I’ve heard pros say it both ways. But I digress…

This is such a fun Oregon grape! Viognier is a grape that originates in France, but I’ve had versions from a lotta places; both the Rhone and Southern France, California, Washington, Virginia (yes, really! and it’s GOOD- check out Breaux Vineyards if you don’t believe me), Australia and probably a few more that are escaping me. Michel Chapoutier’s “Matilda” Viognier was a recent Aussie favorite. Freakin’ great.

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Oregon’s Viognier does best in the slightly warmer regions down South. The stats on the 2013 Penner Ash indicate just that. For being 100% stainless steel, this wine has a supremely luscious texture and medium-viscosity. Abundant with notes of perfumey jasmine, ripe pears, lemon curd, mango, cantaloupe and lychee. If you’ve never smelled a lychee… well, they’re tropical, but mellow. They’re pretty delicious, actually. The thing I like about this Viognier is that it has a big personality, but it is well-balanced and not over-the-top. Sometimes I dislike Viognier, when it veers into the too perfumey arena. Where I feel like I’m at a bridge tournament in a room full of old ladies. No one wants that. This wine is graceful and a real palate-pleaser. The slight amount of residual sugar make it really appealing to a lot of palates. I’d be willing to bet that this wine would charm the pants off a lot of people in a tasting room lineup.

I purchased this wine at the Penner Ash tasting room for $30, which I drive by every day. I love being neighbors with Penner Ash! The day I was there, I took this lovely shot- it was an unreal day, plus it was Friday AND payday. Holla!

Amaze.

Amaze.

Well, happy Monday friends! And hope you swing by Penner Ash soon! Their Riesling is great too, as far as whites go. But you’d not soon be disappointed in the Pinot Noir lineup, either. My neighborhood rocks!

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, Day 11!

Coming to you from a soggy Sunday afternoon at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, allow me to present my first (but definitely not last) Riesling of this project- Mad Violets Wine Co. Riesling, 2012 Dundee Hills!

Riesling Rules.

Riesling Rules.

I’ve been seeing these wines around the area and crushing hard on the labels for a few weeks. I think they’re well-designed, eye-catching and classy. The owners’ property is in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, the Buttonfield Estate Vineyard. This Riesling is sourced from the Maresh Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. I used to drive by the Maresh vineyard every day- its effing gorgeous. This is, according to the Mad Violets website, the oldest Riesling vineyard in Yamhill County, planted in 1970. This wine definitely has a gorgeous “old vine” quality to it; the concentration and minerality are very striking.

At just 180 cases made (and from the Maresh Vineyard?!), this wine is insanely well-priced at $25. Its clean, focused, pristine and tastes damn good. Absolutely nothing in the world makes me want food more than Riesling. Sushi? Yes. Thai? Yes. And my favorite thing with Riesling? FRIED CHICKEN. Well, specifically you need fried chicken with a sweet n’ spicy sauce like honey-wasabi. The crunchy/salty of fried chicken and obvious fat content is cut so well by a high-acid Riesling. I’m making myself hungry. I’m also making myself want to go to Blue Ribbon Sushi in Vegas and eat their fried chicken. Oye. 

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The initial nose on this wine is a pleasant medium petrol; I really try not to use that word often because I don’t want it to be off-putting, but true Riesling-lovers will understand what I mean; Petrol is actually a delicious thing to smell. Following close behind are layers of prickly lime zest, honeysuckle, caramelized pears, apricots and fuzzy white peach. Well-balanced and freaking gulpable. At 10% alcohol, this is both a great food wine and a perfect afternoon sipper.

After I left the Studio, I went and tried a few Rieslings at a nearby winery that sported some very high scores and slightly higher price points. While I did like them, honestly I preferred this one. It has serious heart and soul. Kudos!

Anyone have a suggestion for a Riesling I just GOTTA try? I’m on the hunt. Holler at me.