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!

 

André Vatan “Les Charmes” Sancerre, 11 France and an ode to the half bottle…

So, I dig half bottles.

Always have, but now that I’m no longer working in a restaurant where I have access to 30 open bottles of wine at all times, I like them even more. I wouldn’t call myself indecisive, but I have always enjoyed options. I’m that person that when I go out to eat, would rather have two (three?) appetizers than one entrée. Don’t bother going out to dinner with me if you’re not a sharer. I’m usually a sharer, but when I’m not I will always be up front about it. “I’m getting THIS and I’m not sharing.” I have uttered those words. It only happens when I’m ordering something I reeeeally like, that I’ve had before, and know in advance that I will have pre-item arrival anxiety if I don’t get enough.

Trips to Vegas and beef carpaccio are flashing before my eyes. Todd English… I love you.

But, moving on from my dining habits, lets talk about drinking habits, and why it’s so fun to incorporate half bottles. And once place in particular that I’ve begun frequenting that has a marvelous selection of half bottles. Feast your eyes:

Such excitement over this.

Such excitement over this.

So Valley Wine Merchants is a cool little retail wine shop in Newberg, Oregon where you can find this marvelous wall of 375ml bottles. There are also a few select glass pours available (today there was an Albert Boxler Sylvaner and an 07 Beaux Fréres- WUT?!- among others) and some snacks and such. A very cool spot. It reminds me of my alma mater, Cellar on Greene, except without the restaurant. The owner, Andrew, is very knowledgeable and has been a good resource for me since I landed. He hosted an awesome tasting with Dick Ponzi a few weeks ago where he opened an ’85 and ’86 Ponzi Pinot Noir for a seriously modest cost. Loved it. Props!

So the wine! Domaine André Vatan “Les Charmes” Sancerrre; I bought this because I had a dozen of the freshest Kumumoto oysters ever in my car, and wanted a little something to go with them. These little suckers were amazing. Also, I learned how to shuck an oyster today. A skill I anticipate using quite often now that I live in the Pacific Northwest…

Briney. Amazing.

Briney. Amazing.

I like trying new things, and this is a new producer to me, but I love Sancerre. Sauvignon Blanc is at its best in the Loire, in my humble opinion. At $16 retail this is definitely a bottle I’d buy again. The nose is a nice combination of gooseberry alongside fresh flowers, lime zest, and a nice smokey edge. Tingly on the tastebuds, and plenty of striking minerality. I get a hint of something spicy in here, too… like almost a chile pepper, but not quite. Plus a little bit of grass and honeysuckle. It has a nice texture; the mouthfeel is soft and elegant. It was really nice with the oysters- I might’ve liked something a bit more saline in this scenario, but overall a pretty nice match. The green hints went really nicely with the mignonette I threw together. What? It’s like 4 ingredients!

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I feel like I’ve crossed over into snobbery, with the oysters and the mignonette and all, but I couldn’t help myself. I mean I kinda wanted the $40-ish bottle of Albert Boxler Pinot Blanc, but I held back! That counts for something.

Here’s another cute half bottle, the EIEIO “Swine Wine” Rie-Chard in Piglet (375ml) form. I love this little bottle…

Piglet.

Piglet.

So I’ve gotten a little wordy here, but the point is- half bottles are a super fun way to get to drink more than one kind of wine in a night. I also use them as an excuse to splurge; I might not want to spend $45 on that 750ml bottle of small-production grower’s Champagne, but somehow $30 on the half bottle feels okay. Why? I don’t really know. That’s another point to make: half-bottles are not “half” as expensive to produce, so don’t harass your wine retailer as to why the half bottle isn’t half as expensive. It’s not really like that. The cork/enclosure, seal, labels, bottle, etc. don’t cost half as much, they cost the same. So you’re really paying for the fun-ness, and that’s your call completely. But you’re not getting ripped off on the price, trust me. Maybe some retailers undercut their margins on halfsies to get them to move, and thats their prerogative. Just don’t be mean to the person selling you your wine, cause that ain’t cool. Just pick someone you like and trust them.

Thats my philosophy, anyway. Cheers!

a Princess of Value- Rayun Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Chile

Summer. Crack. Juice.

Yes, I said it!  It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means summer is pretty much here. Actually it was here in April for a minute, but I’m pretty sure it’s here for good now.  Which means- yes, we need to find some Crack Juice. Crack Juice is a technical term used to describe a wine that is equal parts addictive and thirst-quenching.  I feel like I’m repeating myself here, as I’m pretty big on thirst-quenching wine.  But get used to it, for the summer is long, hot and oppressive, and I’ve only just begun to brush the surface of all the wines that are refreshing and thirst-quenching.  And in this one’s case- inexpensive!  therefore she has been deemed a Princess of Value!!

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meet your new summer date.

When I tell you she costs a mere $9, I know it will get your attention.  $9 is a perfect amount of money to spend on a bottle of Crack Juice.  Why?  That’s sort of a no-brainer, but Crack Juice, as it’s name implies, is addictive.  Therefore, it’s extremely convenient when you find one that’s inexpensive.  $20 a bottle Crack Juice wouldn’t be fun for terribly long.  Although I suppose that would be the true definition of crack.  But let’s be serious- we’re really talking about wine.  So $9 is good.

Here’s another reason why it’s awesome that it costs $9- not to sound like a hater, but for my money, this wine kicks the ever-loving-doo-doo out of it’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc competitors.  If this wine were from New Zealand, it would easily cost at least $12, but based on my observation, NZ Sauv Blancs are averaging between $14 and $18 nowadays.  I don’t see the point in paying that.  Not that they’re not good.  But at the end of the day, I’d rather have two bottles of this than one bottle of ANY given NZ Sauv Blanc.  I don’t think I’m remiss in thinking that the average person would agree.  If you’re like me, you think about almost every dollar you spend pretty carefully, and this is the kind of wine that really drives home the value pretty swiftly.

Ohh, would you look at that.  My glass seems to be empty now that we’ve gotten to the taste and smell portion of the day.  We can’t have that.  I’ll have to get some more!

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this is what it looks like, all frosty in it’s glass.

So. This wine is super vibrant, fresh and tart.  High acidity make it sharp and racy.  Gooseberry makes you pucker just a bit, but also offering that much needed refreshment.  Lean notes of green apple, honeydew, and a tiny bit of fresh-cut grass and straw make for an interesting and fun palate.  While not the most complex wine I’ve ever had- for it’s price, the one note it does hit is right on time.  That’s all I really ask for in an inexpensive wine- just do the thing you set out to do, and do it well.  Tart, fresh, and fun.  That’s all I need for $9.  And that’s all you should need, too.  There’s always going to be a place for a wine like this on your shelf or in your fridge, that’s fo’ sho’.

And guess what?  this wine is available as part of our $90 Mystery Case this week!  Check out other available selections and ordering instructions here.  A case of wine for under $100?  That’s a bit fat DUH.  Plus, they can usually be ready fairly quickly, which means you can be jetting off to the lake with a case of wine in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  How d’ya like them apples?  YOU LOVE THEM.  Have a great holiday!