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.

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A big fat BUBBLE post!

Is it me, or has this been the absolute fastest November-December in the history of the world?  It seems like it was just October and I was saying to myself, “the holidays will be here soon”, and now they’re over.  I don’t tend to perseverate too much over the timing of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but really?  They were that close together?  It just seems wrong.  But there’s no use dwelling; at this point we just need to strap in and be ready.  And now it’s just up to NEW YEARS EVE and then we’re into 2014!  So what better time than now to talk about some recent arrivals of a BUBBLY nature?!  You know it!

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they can be yours, too.

BUBBLES.  My all-time favorite thing to open on a whim, at any time of day, for no reason at all.  To celebrate nothing.  Or everything.  Or somewhere in between.  But considering that it’s a holiday, you have an excellent reason.  I’ll highlight a few from all price ranges….

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Clara C “Fiori” Brut Rose, NV Italy ($13) The Clara C is as close to a perfect little pink bubbly as I can imagine.  It is light, fresh and offers up crispness and a touch of pretty red fruit and vanilla.  This one, of course, is ideal if you have a lot of people coming over.  The bottle is classy and it looks and tastes like it cost way more!  Side note- it has a sibling that is decidedly NOT pink, but still delicious.

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Sokol Blosser “Evolution” Sparkling, NV Oregon ($21)  The Evolution Bubbly is another favorite- I fell in love with this wine back in June when I visited the winery, and at the time it was winery-only.  At this point I confess to being a total Oregon Wine Nerd, thanks to said trip to Pinot Camp- however, this wine really is the jam- AND it’s from Oregon, which is awesome.  It is a blend of (up to) nine undisclosed Oregon white grapes.  I was told it’s based in Muller-Thurgau (holla!), but you can figure there’s probably some Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, maybe even Viognier or Pinot Blanc in there, too.  I sort of relish in not knowing, and I suggest you do the same.  Anyhow– you should drink this because it has brilliant clarity, precision and tastes like heaven.  Green apples, tart citrus zest, a light floral background and brilliant acidity are artfully blended.  Get on it.  And at $21, it’s in an excellent “treat yourself” price range, in my opinion.  Truth be told, I plan to make a mimosa out of this on New Years Day.  Because- well, New Years.

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Louis Grenelle Brut Rose, NV France, Loire ($18)  OHHHH heavens, you need this.  One of my absolute favorites. (hmm… that word seems to be coming up a lot…).  But really, this stuff is the BOMB.  I posted about it’s white sister a year or so ago, and I love both of them- but the pink one holds a special place in my heart.  It is made from Cabernet Franc- and if you’ve never had a sparkling Cabernet Franc, you really must.   With this bubbly, you get gorgeous notes of strawberry and cranberry, hints of fresh flowers, and the MOST clean and zippy finish you’ve ever experienced.  Zippy being a technical term for that fleeting “lift” that we love so much in a sparkling wine.  Bubbles and acid.  Magic, I tell you.

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Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut, 09 California  ($19).  An absolute steal of a California sparkler!  This guy has impeccable balance- bright flavors of citrus, golden apples and raisins and lime zest are met with a touch of yeast, honeycomb and toasty-ness.  I drank some of this alongside a giant bowl of buttered popcorn, and I was transported to a very happy place.  Crunchy things with a bit of salt are fantastic with sparkling wine- and add in that toasty quality with the buttery popcorn?!  Oh, lord have mercy!

And now for a few high-rollers... In my opinion, if I’m going to shell out $40 or more for a bottle of anything, let alone Champagne, it better be good.  And not just good because celebrities on TV drink it, or because it has a shiny ad in Wine Spectator or excellent marketing- like it has to be GOOD WINE.  So here are a few that I would GLADLY spend my money on and drink with relish:

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A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle, NV France, Premier Cru ($42) and Aubry Brut, NV France ($42).  Since I am spoiled and DO get to taste a lot of Champagne, I can honestly say that I don’t taste Champagne the way I do other wines- when I really love a Champagne, I FREAKING love it and want to marry it.  If I just like it and think it’s fine or even excellent- I usually forget about it the next day.  These two have been staples on our shelves for years, and both come from what I think to be the best importer of Champagnes in the US- Michael Skurnik.  The Margaine is made from mostly Chardonnay and a touch of Pinot Noir; the Aubry is an interesting blend of 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chard, 25% Pinot Noir, and the rest small weird varietals that I’ve never heard of.  So why these?  All I can really say is, they both have that touch of “magic” that you can’t quite put your finger on.  Therefore I’ll not go into massive detail- stylistically, they’re a fresh, lean, taut and energetic style that I’m quite drawn to.  They both taste tremendous and you should get one.  Coincidentally, they both also got 92 Points from Robert Parker.  

Last, the Pierre Gimonnet “Paradoxe” Brut, 2006 France, Premier Cru ($65).  This is the big sexy.  A richer style that is sheer indulgence.  Also imported by Michael Skurnik, and also 92 points rated by Robert Parker.  Made from about 2/3 Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay, it is more broad-shouldered and bustier than the last two.  Ripe red berries, hints of spice, smoke and cherry pits; it is deep, layered and expressive.  A real treat.  Go for it.

Hope everyone’s enjoyed this trip down bubble lane and HAPPY 2014!

All aforementioned bottles are available for purchase at Cellar on Greene.