Oregon Wine Month: Durant Vineyards

What are Wednesday nights for? Listening to Coolio on Pandora and tasting a lovely lineup from Durant Vineyards:

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Something I’ve only just learned about Durant is that they make a specific effort to match different blocks of fruit with different winemakers. Interesting! The first wine in my glass is the 2014 IMG_9385Southview Pinot Gris, made by Jesse Lange. A super easy-drinker, this is a wine thats hard to argue with. Great for afternoon sippage and won’t fight with a wide variety of cuisine. If I had to guess, I’d say this wine has a touch of residual sugar. The nose is not terribly in-your-face, leaning towards the subtle end of the fruit spectrum. Golden apple, nectarine, peach, apricot and other lovely stone fruits are found amidst a nice slice of acid. Pinot Gris might not win hip points among wine nerds, but there’s a reason it sells like hot cakes pretty much… everywhere. Its versatile and likeable. Booyah!

Next is the 2013 Lark Block Chardonnay, made by Dean Fisher of Adea (side note- Dean is a total trip!) This wine strikes my fancy. The nose is toasty and the palate has a pleasant “quench” to it. IMG_9386Nectarine, green apple, nutmeg, clove and tangy lemon notes abound. The mid-palate has a fleeting lift to it, wrapping up with a silky and lingering finish. I tried this wine over the course of three days, and on day three it has really softened into a completely different wine. The structure remains, but it now drinks more like an old soul; elegant and soft. Paul Durant co-founded the Oregon Chardonnay Symposium in 2011, and is very committed to seeing the grape get the notoriety it deserves here. Props! At $25 retail, I think this guy is a steal.

We’ll end on a red note: the 2013 Bishop Block Pinot Noir. This wine is made by Isabelle Dutartre of DePonte Cellars & 1789 Wines, her own small label started in 2007. The Bishop Block was planted by the Durant family in 1973, all Pommard clone on native rootstock. That makes them some of the older vines found in the valley. For anyone who’s *not* a rootstock nerd, native rootstock implies that the vines have not been grafted onto younger, phylloxera-resistant roots. Hence why they’re on the older side. The Durants sold this fruit for many years, and now bottle a small quantity under their own label- this vintage was 300 cases. I see that Patricia Green Cellars also has a 13 Bishop Block, at 145 cases bottled. Now that would be a great side-by-side tasting! I’ll have to get on that.

IMG_9387Anyway… this wine is excellent. I’ve also tasted this over three days. Tightly wound and a bit grippy on day one, but all the evidence pointed towards it relaxing and settling into itself. The nose is black cherry, licorice, anise, blackcurrant & plums with additional high tones of pomegranate and vague red floral notions. The palate offers that bricky, teeth-tingly, mouth drying bite that I always associate with Dundee. This did calm down a little with some time, and I think this is actually a wine I will revisit yet again tomorrow just to see where it’s taken itself. The wine closes with a bit of lofty vanilla and cedar. A very polished and precisely crafted bottle.

I am reminded of the person I met years ago who argued with me about how he never drank wine after it had been open more than a day, and was just accosted that I would suggest such a travesty. There were many choice words I would have loved to share with him, but I think the most succinct would have been, “Dude. Your loss.” Watching a wine evolve over an hour, a day, even a week can be fascinating. I invite you to channel your inner patience and give it a try sometime, if you haven’t already.

Okay, I’ll get off that soapbox for now and bid the evening farewell! Check out Durant Vineyards on your next trip. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Its a very rich, multi-faceted experience that they offer. Cheers!

 

 

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days: day 5! Fun with DePonte.

Here we are on day five, and I ain’t even slowin’ down yet! However, I did need to give my wallet a rest and draw back on a wine I drank a few weeks back and LOVED- the DePonte Cellars Melon de Bourgogne, 2013 Dundee Hills!

Aromatic white, say what?!

Aromatic white, say what?!

Just when you think you’ve heard of all the wacky whites in Oregon, here comes another one! Actually, we’ve barely grazed the surface in the white department. More to come. This wine is actually fairly well-known here, and is considered to be DePonte Cellars “flagship” white, amongst a beautiful lineup of Dundee Hills Pinot Noirs. These wines are not distributed in South Carolina, so I was unaware of their existence until I moved here. Score!

We’ve now noted that both Alsatian and Spanish varietals can flourish here, and so little Melon brings us to France, specifically to the Loire Valley. In the Loire, Melon de Bourgogne is known as Muscadet. Let it be known that a dry Muscadet is perhaps one of my faaaavorite things in the world. Its a genius little wine; there are insane values to be found, they’re perfect for hot weather and with shellfish.

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However, the Nantes region of the Loire Valley where Muscadet comes from is a stone’s throw from the Ocean, so it behaves a bit differently there. Noticeably minerally, briney (mmmm) and with a bracing “fresh ocean breeze” sort of quality. The Willamette Valley is fairly close to the ocean but there is that whole mountain range thing that separates them. We still do benefit from ocean breeze and fog, but not in precisely the same way that Muscadet grapes do. Throw that together with a different soil type and you’ve got a completely different wine.

The DePonte Melon takes on a very tropical and floral persona; very outgoing and sunshiney. Energetic, with bright and resounding jasmine, white flowers and honeysuckle. Golden delicious apple, pears and pineapple are also abundant, and it finishes with really nice acidity. Just about 1000 cases were made of the 2013 vintage.

Food-wise, this wine differs from its French cousin strikingly. Whereas Muscadet and oysters are a dream, this wine could handle an oyster- but perhaps one with a hint of something fruity/citrusy, maybe with the addition of a mignonette. And a more sweet/succulent oyster, not the ultra-briney ones. The DePonte website suggests scallops- I would say absolutely to this idea, but again, a sweet/fresh preparation rather than savory. Savory would be a no-no in my taste bud premonitions. The tropical and floral-ness of this wine would clash with savory. But, I’d be hard pressed to find a better Summertime sipper than this. Fo sho. Writing this has really made me long for warm weather. Le sigh….

A handful of other producers in Oregon make/plant Melon, but I’ve yet to come across one. The Eyrie made one in 2010, it looks like. Panther Creek did at one time, but I don’t see it on their site as of now.

That wraps up day 5! This wine was purchased at the “Deck the Hills” Dundee Hills Tasting Event held at Argyle Winery for $24. I think.