Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, DAY 30! Quady North GSM

Its finally day 30! Even though I’m a day late posting this and its actually February right now, I am pretty proud that I finished what I set out to do. In the past, I would always resolve to post at least once a week. Then life would get away from me, I’d get distracted, sometimes a little slack.. and not do it. So I’m really glad that I forced myself to write a lot this past month. My wallet needs a little rest, though. I ain’t gonna lie.

But I already have a great many items on my blogging agenda for February! Among them, a trip to Lumos, Patton Valley’s Rosé release on the 14th AND the 2015 Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie on the 14th, too! Thats gonna be a good day, right there. This is the most I’ve looked forward to Valentines Day in at least a decade. Woot!

90 points Wine Spectator, right here.

90 points Wine Spectator, right here.

This wine, the Quady North GSM, 2011 Rogue Valley, caught my eye a couple times at Roth’s, and then Valley Wine Merchants posted about it on Facebook a few weeks ago. Its been in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to make it the last wine of the Thirty Oregon Wines project, because two out of its three grapes haven’t been written about yet! Grenache and Mourvedre. I geeked out a little over the fact that this is an Oregon GSM. My Oregon GSM cherry has officially been popped.

These guys are pretty hot- this wine got 90 Points from Wine Spectator, and there’s a host of accolades to go around for several of their other wines too. If I blind tasted this, I definitely would guess California Grenache. The nose is herby and savory, a little wily and a little meaty. The Mourvedre “funk” brings in a touch of smoke, pepper and almost mesquite BBQ. Red fruit is also prominent, plenty of red cherry and raspberry. Touches of sage and leather. The finish is what grabs me with this wine. As silky as it could be, with a touch of creamy vanilla makes for an uplifting conclusion.

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This wine seems to be a winner at our dinner table. Its been open for maybe an hour, and is becoming more outgoing as the time passes. That finish, though. Its hanging on strong! I dig it. This is a cool find. I’d be really interested to try more wines from Quady, including their Rosé (squee! it’s almost Rosé time!) It has also continued the piquing of my interest in whats going on in Southern Oregon.

ANYWAY, I want to thank everyone who’s followed along on this lil’ project! I’ve gotten a lot of really nice comments and feedback from readers, which feels great! Its helped me really hone in and focus on Oregon wine, which seems like a crucial element to why I decided to uproot and move out here. Plus, its been fun and I’ve learned a lot. Hope you have, too!

This wine was purchased at Valley Wine Merchants in Newberg for $26. 

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Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, day 24: Brittan Syrah!

Today was a serendipitous day! I went to visit my friend Erin, the tasting room manager at the new Winderlea/Brittan tasting room in McMinnville. Which you should go to, by the way. Its a cool little spot, and there’s Chrysalis Coffee and the Dominio IV tasting room nearby too!

I was an early bird, getting there right at 11 after a morning spent getting new brake pads on my car (FUN.) Really, who tastes wine at 11am? Well, me. But who should arrive right as I got there but Robert Brittan! So I got to chat with him a little bit about wine, a little bit about life and a lot about his love for Syrah. I actually first met Robert at Pinot Camp in 2013, when I had no idea that anyone grew Syrah in the Willamette Valley proper. After returning home, his Syrah was one of the wines that stuck with me the most. Mostly because its good, but also because it shattered my preconceived mold of what Syrah could be in the Pacific Northwest.

The dank.

The dank.

So Robert isn’t the only one making Syrah in the Valley- Adelsheim makes a bit, a winery I am not familiar with called Biggio Hamina Cellars sources some from the Deux Vert Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton (interestingly, that is where some of the Tempranillo that I wrote about yesterday comes from), and a handful of others. Most other Syrah that is bottled by Willamette Valley wineries is sourced from either Southern Oregon or the Columbia Valley/Walla Walla.

Robert shared many a story- most of which I can’t really do justice to attempting to re-tell. But he did share that when he first planted Syrah here in the McMinnville AVA, his wife (Ellen, who knows a thing or two about wine herself) laughed at him. It’ll never get ripe, she said. She had a nickname for the acre of Syrah that he first planted, I think it was “Hail Mary.” I could be wrong. In any case, Robert had a wild hair about Syrah, and he found the right site. And made the wine. His spot in the McMinnville AVA benefits from a bit of the Van Duzer Corridor- ie, a stream of cool wind that makes its way from the ocean through coastal range to find the grapes and cool them off at night. To maintain spice, you gotta get cool at night, so I’ve learned.

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I’m fairly certain that the Brittan Syrahs I’ve had are the darkest colored wines in Oregon. Its a little mind-boggling and awesome at the same time. The one I had today in the tasting room is the 2010 vintage, a popular vintage for hardcore Oregon nerds.

So when I said this wine was dark, I wasn’t lyin’. Incredibly deeply colored with a flavor intensity to match, this wine has an incredibly savory quality that I find fascinating. Dark fruit opens the wine; blackberry and black plum, and a deep vein of white and pink peppercorn follow. The texture is dense, and the steadfastness potency never fades. Like a good Northern Rhone, this wine tastes distinctly of meat. To steal a word from The Wine Advocate, in an almost “carnal” fashion. But here’s the kicker; after a few minutes in the glass, the wine shows off some fun and chic notes of cured olives, violet, sage, bay leaf and cassis. For a hulk of a wine, its alcohol content is shockingly low at around 13%, I believe. The picture I took conveniently cut it off, but I remember talking about it. It is worth noting that this wine got 90 Points from The Wine Advocate.

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Since I’m spoiled and lucky, I also previewed the 2013 and 2014 vintages of Robert’s Syrah. The ’13 will go to bottle soon, and its a stunner. The ’14 is still undergoing Malolactic fermentation, so it was a little unruly; but the bones are there, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

There's wine in those.

There’s wine in those.

Only about 2/3 of the way through writing this did I realize I left the tasting notes I wrote at the tasting room this morning. So all this was free-form, but the wine is memorable enough that I didn’t need them. Right now the Brittan-Winderlea tasting room is open Friday-Saturday-Sunday, so get on by!

This bottle is available for purchase for $40. 

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 7!

So, I took a risk on this one. I picked up the Gresser Vineyard “Recumbent Red”, NV Oregon at Roth’s while I was scouring for another under-the-radar red and it caught my eye. I liked the price, I liked the package, I googled it quickly to see what the blend was and a bit about the winery (I take longer to pick out wine than anyone you know). I was convinced that at $13.99, I would be in for a solid little everyday red wine, if nothing else. Interestingly, the less than $14 price range seems to be my own personal cutoff of wine I’m willing to risk buying “just to see.”

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I’m a little new to the world of actually purchasing wine as a consumer. Since I spent so long as a GM/wine buyer, I just never had need to buy wine. It just came to me. There were always open bottles that I could sip on while I finished paperwork, or a sample bottle here and there. And when I did buy wine, it was at a steep “Ricky discount”. Those were wildly varied, but always extremely acceptable. So I am sort of enjoying attacking the retail shelves, armed only with my existing knowledge, a desired budget, and whatever kind of mood I’m in.

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Initially, I thought this wine fell a little short; I think was because for some reason I had it in my head that since it was a Pinot/Syrah blend (remember, the rule is Pinot Noir can be included in my project if its blended), it would be a touch denser. On the contrary, it drinks like a Pinot Noir (go figure). But the Syrah notes I get are actually a nice little addition to the wines overall palate. The nose is overtaken by sour cherry, rhubarb, pomegranate, potpourri and dried herbs. The finish is where you pick up on some violet and white pepper additions, and a bit of a fleshed out texture- hey, Syrah! Maybe a slight hint of cured meat. It sits at 77% Pinot Noir from their estate vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains, and 23% Syrah from the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon. Just 465 cases were made.

Going back to my prior incarnation as a buyer, if this wine were poured for me from a distributor and the wholesale price is what I can guess it to be (I’ll keep that a secret), I would definitely consider it as a glass pour. Especially if it were late summer/early fall; it would really fit the bill of unusual lighter reds, which we used to do very well with that time of year in SC. Plus it has good retail shelf presence, in my opinion. Good enough to get ME to buy it, at least! And I’m kind of a tough critic.

One more note about NV wines- I’m sort of a fan. Don’t be dissuaded. This included, there are some really great NV wines (still, rather than sparkling) out there that suffer a bit of an image problem. The Sokol Blosser Evolution wines are always non-vintage, and I think it helps them stay consistent from year to year. I won’t get all wordy on this subject, but just wanted to throw it out there that Non Vintage doesn’t equal total junk, as can be the perception.

Can you blame me for double fisting? I had some Patton Valley Pinot Blanc left from Day 6’s post…

I threw a wad of cream cheese in my tomato sauce tonight. It was kinda boss.

I threw a wad of cream cheese in my tomato sauce tonight. It was kinda boss.

This winery is super small and family owned; the prices on all their wines are pretty competitive and I’d be curious to try more of their juice. Especially the Riesling. Overall this was a fun learning experience and I actually do really enjoy the wine selection at Roth’s.

Cheers to Day 7! This wine was $13.99, in case you missed that earlier. 

Here’s a preview: I’m going to combine days 8, 9 & 10 into one post and it will be called Chardonnay Party. I know I said I couldn’t repeat varietals more than once, but I have one I’ve been saving that I really want to open and I can’t resist. There may also be crab involved. It’ll be good, I promise. It’ll most likely go up on Saturday. Can you handle the suspense?!

 

Goedhart Family Syrah, 09 Washington, Red Mtn

So I’ve had to create a new category to file this wine under, for blog purposes.  If you’re not familiar with blog-speak, a category is a “tag” that you assign to each post that is sort of a “heads up” to search engines as to what the post is about.  So this wine is filed under “Washington”, “Syrah”, and …. “unhealthy obsessions.”  The reason for this is that I couldn’t stop thinking about this wine since I first tasted it last Thursday.  I could hardly stand having to wait until yesterday, which was our next delivery day.  So my adoration for this wine might border on a little intense.  But this NOSE, y’all…. once you get an inhale, hopefully you’ll understand.

sexytime

sexytime

So my interest in this wine has spurred me to research a bit more about the Red Mountain AVA in Washington.  And has thoroughly deepened my appreciation for Washington State wines in general.  I’ve always had a fondness for Riesling from Washington State, and knew there were amazing reds to be found, but I don’t find our market to be especially “flooded”, the way we are with California wines.  Especially top-notch Washington reds get pricey fairly quickly, and sell out fast.  Which is why this wine is such a gem.

So here is a map of Washington State wine growing regions (also known as AVA’s):

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It’s not a terribly BIG map, but whip out your glasses and take note that the Red Mountain AVA is that teeny tiny little red one- and this wine is from just one vineyard site- Bel’ Villa Vineyard- located within Red Mountain.  It is the smallest in Washington at just over 4000 acres, and just 600 of those 4000 are planted with grapes.  It is also the most expensive.  The Hedges family of Hedges Family Estate, have been making wine in this region since the late 80’s.  Sarah Hedges Goedhart (daughter of Hedges founders and also their assistant winemaker) and her husband Brent produce this wine, to quote their website, “in their basement.”  Hence, it’s super-small production and hand-crafted.  And wicked cool.

So all of these facts contribute to a trifecta of amazingness and here’s why: 384 cases produced?  from the most special spot in Washington?  AND (drumroll please…) this wine costs a wicked $32 retail!!  That’s absurd.  If this wine was from the Stags Leap District in California, it would easily set you back $75-$100.

Alright, alright so that’s enough economic/wine-nerdy facts about this wine.  I’m sure you’re more than ready to hear me go to town about how freaking RIDIC it tastes. But first the nose.  A fellow wine-buyer friend shares my affinity for this wine and stated that when he first smelled it, he just looked at their sales manager and said: “YES.”  So simply, YES.  yesyesyes.  It’s a big nose, and actually it’s gotten a bit bigger this afternoon since I opened this bottle last night. Even now, I can’t smell it without wanting to squeal with delight.  It has a great combination of dark fruits with hints of red fruits.  This is due to the fact that they pick some grapes early, and some grapes later.  I don’t know a ton about this, but once I read it, and tasted it, it kind of clicked.  I hope it does to you, too, because it’s an interesting little tidbit.  So back to the smell.  Dark fruit- blackberry, blueberry, and touches of black cherry.  A suggestion of graphite and maybe a bit of smoke.  Today, with the overnight to open it up, I get more round aromas of cocoa powder, and some warmth- like blackberry liqueur.  And some graceful, feminine floral notes as well.  It’s much more forthcoming today.  Aged for 10 months in French oak, 30% new, it would definitely age beautifully, as it’s sleepover sluttiness might suggest.

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The thing I LOVE about Syrah, and THIS Syrah is that it is a perfect combination of masculine and feminine.  This is something I really admire in a wine.  It strikes the balance so well.  Rough and scratchy like a 5:00 shadow, yet also silky and graceful.  Dark colored and deeply flavored, and just 14% alcohol.  Lean and mean.  Also, a side note- I love this packaging.

I should have an open bottle for sampling purposes all weekend, and we will have a by-the-glass special on it for Friday and Saturday nights!  And open at the wine sale this Saturday from 12-2!  So that gives you plenty of opportunities to taste it!  And swoon over it, and take it home.  And promise to love it forever.  This is $32 well spent.  That’s all I got for today, happy drinking!

A little Fun with the French!

This Tuesday morning has me feeling a bit on the French side. Why?

who’s that in the background? Penelope Garcia!

Well, really because two of my favorite wines of recent have been French.  Actually, there’s a third that I’ll throw in at the end; also French. So three altogether.  But the first two are especially crucial because I absolutely LOVE Frenchies that exhibit tremendous value!  There are still plenty of those in the world, so let’s get started with these guys…

Oooh, lookie here!  A view inside my fridge:

a stunning view! really, I didn’t pre-arrange this. This is it.

Alright, so my fridge isn’t always the prettiest sight, but right now it’s not too bad.  Sadly, that bottle of Rose is way past it’s prime, but it remains in the fridge until the next time I am inspired to edit some items out. Psssshhhtt.  Whatev.

So this wine is the Kimmeridgien Chardonnay, 2010 from Jean Marc Brocard.  It sells for $16, which is a solid deal for a fantastic white Burgundy.  I’ve actually loved this wine for several vintages past, and whenever it’s made it’s way to our retail shelves in the past few years, it’s always sold very well and has been much loved.  It’s truly a perfect expression of this soil type!  “Kimmeridgian” actually is a soil type; or rather a basin of Limestone that runs all the way through Champagne, the Loire, and Burgundy.  Now, I didn’t do so well in Geology class, and really I have only a slightly better than average knowledge of soil types. But based on the best of my understanding, this particular soil makes particularly good wine (Chardonnay, especially) because it is a Limestone-based soil that is nice n’ chalky.  Not to be a total nerd, but it’s actually pretty cool that this soil type and this wine are named for an actual Geological …. um… thing.  That’s about all I can say about that.  Except one more thing- I had a reaalllly hot Geology TA in college named Luke. Fin.

So, this wine is good.  Here’s why: it has a gorgeous golden straw color and a very distinctive Chablis nose of citrus peel, chalk, a hint of gunflint, soap, and fresh tart green apples.  Stainless steel fermentation makes it’s palate very lean and taut, with razor-like focus and searing acidity.  The finish lingers for at least a minute, and shows off a slight touch of hazelnut and a little something floral.  A truly beautiful wine that drinks effortlessly, and might make you think twice about what Chardonnay is capable of.

Next freakout of the week: St. Cosme Cotes du Rhone, 2011!

THE JAM.

Recently given 90 points by Wine Spectator, this guy is set on world-domination!  That is how FREAKING good this wine is.  And, I’m going to go ahead and call that this wine WILL definitely be on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012.  Why??  Well, like I said, it’s freaking delicious, it got 90 Points (a requirement to be on said list) and it sells for a ridiculous $15!!  Which is stone. cold. RIDIC.

It seems this wine is mostly Syrah, but despite a bit of hunting, I can’t be sure.  To me it doesn’t really matter.  Some past vintages of this bottling have been 100% Syrah, and some have had Grenache.  This wine literally explodes!  An extremely vibrant nose of violets, raw meat (if you’ve never smelled that, it actually smells delicious rather than gross), blackberries, licorice, sandalwood, plums, anise, black pepper… I could really keep going, but hopefully you get the gist.  The palate is quenchy, silky, perfectly balanced and juicy.  This is the absolute epitome of an everyday red wine, in my book.  I know I could drink it every day.  Actually, I think I have had it every day since last Wednesday.

The other cool thing is that Chateau de St. Cosme is currently getting an absolute slew of amazing ratings (think high 90’s), and it’s totally awesome that they have an entry-level red that is this great of a price.  I’d still love this wine even if it didn’t have high-rollin’ big sisters, but it’s still a good selling point.

Alright, one more cool French wine that coincidentally started to blow up in my twitter feed right after we got it in- Shatter Grenache, 2010 Maury, France.  Made by rock star winemakers Joel Gott and Dave Phinney, this wine is a cacophony of wild n’ crazy fruits, spices, and oakyness.  I’d go into much more detail, but my wine-blogging doppelganger The Reverse Wine Snob has written an awesome post on it here, which I can’t really improve on.  We’re currently retailing it for $29, and if you like the sounds of it, come grab one!  That’s all for today.

Orin Swift “D66” 2009 France… yup, France!

Orin, Orin, Orin… so many new releases this year, I can barely keep up!  And you continue to impress, especially with your label art…

Simple, graphical color-blocking.  I like.  What’s inside?  A blend of mostly Grenache, with a little Syrah and a little Carignan.  So, it’s a Rhone blend?  Well, yes… sort of.  It has broken the mold of Rhone blends.  Shattered it, actually, into a million pieces.

Now I’m no Fancy Sommelier, but if I blind-tasted this wine, I don’t think I’d have ever guessed it was from France.  Spain would’ve been my best guess, probably Jumilla.  Although I wouldn’t have faulted myself for this error, since Vin de Pays de Cotes Catalanes is practically in Spain.  This wine actually reminds me a bit of the “I-will-live-forever-in-cult-infamy” wine from Bodegas El Nido called CLIO, which is a Monastrell-Cab blend.  Many have fallen victim to it’s charms and never recovered, destined to one day be on a therapist’s couch whimpering “Once I tried the Clio, nothing ever really impressed me again.”

But that was before they met D66.  This is a true Orin Swift wine- rich, opulent, hedonistic, and seductive.  Almost black in color, it’ll coat your glass with it’s silky layers of dark fruit, spice, and moist earth.  Notes of bitter cherry, raisins, toasty vanilla, and exotic Asian spices are all perfectly balanced out in it’s 15.2 alcohol content.   A nice amount of tannin on the finish distinguishes it from just your average big nasty fruit bomb.  It’s truly gorgeous.  If I were you, I’d snap one up quickly as these wines sell out faster than you can say terroir.

If I may use a clever analogy, the D66 is sort of like French Wine Meets Monster Truck Rally.  “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!  ORIN SWIFT DOES FRANCE!  Death-defying stunts and POWER POWER POWER!”  Okay, so I’ve never been to a Monster Truck Rally, but I have memories singed into my consciousness of those TV commercials.  I don’t mean to trivialize the D66 by any means, but this is just where my mind went with it.  Call it French wine on Steroids.  Call it French wine “juiced up.”  Call it whatever you want.  It’s a beast.  Enjoy.

This wine is currently in stock at Cellar on Greene for $42.  Check out Orin Swift Cellars Website for more info on all their juice.