Lumos Gewürztraminer, 12 Temperance Hill

Happy Sunday evening! I took a quick break after the conclusion of Thirty Oregon Grapes just to regroup- but I’m back at it tonight with a grape I fully intended on including in the project, but just didn’t get to it- Gewürztraminer! There was a bit of Gewürz in the Evesham Wood Blanc de Puits Sec blend, but its a grape that really deserves its own post. In the life of an aromatic white lover, this one is definitely a favorite.

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I was moderately familiar with Lumos prior to this weekend, but I still didn’t realize they had a little tasting room right in downtown McMinnville until recently! They share the space with Honest Chocolates, which were totally drool-worthy. They’re open Thursday-Sunday and after tasting through their wines yesterday, it really dawned on me what an insane value their wines are. Their case production is very small and the majority of their fruit comes from the Temperance Hill Vineyard (this one included), which is a beloved site in the Eola-Amity Hills. Many a winery (Adelsheim, Chehalem, Elk Cove, Evesham Wood, J.K. Carriere, Panther Creek, R. Stuart, and St. Innocent just to name a few) have discovered the virtues of this site. Lumos owner and winemaker Dai Crisp is Temperance Hill’s vineyard manager. Yes, that’s his name; he’s Welch, if you can believe that!

So at 171 cases made, all Temperance Hill fruit, and boasting a special price of $15 (for the 2012 vintage), this Gewürz is pretty nuts, in my opinion. Even at its normal price of $19, it would still be a great value. I love Gewürz because its like Riesling’s wicked stepsibling. A touch more animated in character, a bit more perfumed, but still incredibly fun to pair with food and perfect afternoon sippers.

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There. Did I sell you on the grape itself? Now. THIS one. The ’12 Lumos is a temptress; the nose is ridiculously pretty and floral with honeysuckle, fresh white flowers, plum, golden apple and apricot in abundance. A slight twang of citrus on the palate- but mostly soft, fresh tangerine- nothing piercing. The minerality lingers for a bit, and the texture is soft. I’d definitely call this one a “quaffer.” Quaff, while a totally ridiculous word, really does summarize a wine thats perfect for wiling away an afternoon and sipping slowly and without purpose. A nice little companion.

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The Lumos tasting room in Mac is totally worth a stop. On the day I went, they were pouring a couple of 2010 vintage Pinots that were showing beautifully, and the Rosé also had me at “hello.” Its just past Nicks on 3rd Street. I’ll definitely be looking forward to some of their new releases this Spring!

That’s all I got for tonight! Many thanks to Heidi Riehl at Lumos for the tasting. Y’all keep it real out there in wine-drinkin’ world. I’ll be back with a post about the lovely Leah Jorgensen later this week…

 

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Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, day 25: Vermentino in Oregon?!

Wrapping up the last week of my Oregon grapes project, I’m kind of scrambling to try to include as many as possible! So this is a duplicate winery, but I really dug the Zinfandel I wrote about from Troon, so I returned once again. And selfishly, I can walk to this place and its a pretty chill little tasting room. So meet the Troon “Foundation ’72” Vermentino, 2013 Oregon, Applegate Valley! It was the first Vermentino in Oregon:

IMG_8098 (1)Vermentino is kind of a super star in California right now; winemakers are experimenting with different styles with great success (Matthiasson, Rhyme). These grapes come from Southern Oregon, so its not a far stretch that they can live happily in the slightly warmer Rogue Valley. These grapes were grafted in 2006 onto vines that were first planted in 1972.

This is a lean style of Vermentino, and very quaffable. Vermentino is native to Southern Italy and is a pretty accommodating grape- it likes a warm climate and ocean breezes, but in this case its maintained a sense of self despite being in Oregon. It is also a grape that can be treated in many different manners and still be delicious- the Troon is fermented in stainless steel, but it can be made in a slightly richer style as well.

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Vermentino can offer a wide range of fun aromas and tastes- from apple and fresh flowers to ripe citrus, melon and tropical fruit. It almost always has a nice degree of minerality and acid that keeps it from feeling weighty. Mr. Troon here is tart and almost spritzy, with lemon zest, grapefruit, a little bit of a flinty edge and a mouthwatering dry finish. It pulls off a fresh, mediterranean feel. This wine got 87 points from Wine Enthusiast- I consider that pretty respectable for a modest-priced wine. Sometimes if you don’t see the “9” in front of a score its easy to disregard it. Just remember, there’s a lotta numbers less than 87. Like 60 or 73. Which are not so great. Has a wine ever scored, like 40 points? Someone answer this for me. I’m curious.

I can see this wine being a really fun glass pour in a restaurant. I always like surprising glass pours. Apparently Troon will be doing a few different bottlings/styles of Vermentino for the 2014 vintage, which I believe will be released in February. I’ll be looking forward to trying them fo’ sho! So, will Vermentino blow up in Oregon and become a “thing”? Not really sure I can confidently answer that, but I sure don’t mind this one.

I tasted this wine at the Troon Vineyards Tasting Room in Carlton. The bottle is available for purchase for $18. 

Cheers!

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, 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 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!