Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir, 2011 Bayliss-Bower Vineyard

What a treasure.

Ghost Hill tasting room, made from reclaimed wood.

Ghost Hill tasting room, made from reclaimed wood.

That’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Ghost Hill Cellars. I visited a few weeks back, and (per usual) it took me a bit longer than I thought it would to get this post together. Until about 20 minutes ago, this was going to be a joint “ode to 2011” post, including this and one other 2011 vintage wine. Unfortunately, the wine gods had other plans, and the other bottle that I purchased is bad. A major bummer, but we’re on the rebound. It happens. I’ll still yammer on for a minute or two about the vintage, because I can’t resist, but we’ll mostly chat about Ghost Hill and this wine.

IMG_0673It was actually back in February that a friend recommended Ghost Hill to me. I believe we tried to go in once, but they were closed (because winter). Embarrassingly, it took me until October to reattempt. That’s the reality of living in wine country; we are overloaded with choices!

In any case, this place is a gem. Its probably one of the most authentically Oregon wineries I’ve visited since I’ve lived here. And it doesn’t hurt that the wines are great.

What do I mean by authentically Oregon? Ghost Hill is a 5th generation family farm. Mike and Drenda Bayliss currently farm the property with their children, Michael and Bernadette and son in law Cameron Bower. About 16 acres of Pinot Noir were planted in 1999 on the 90-acre property. Oats, wheat and other crops take up a lot of Mike’s time as well.

#oldfashionedfilter #UseThatArtDegree

#oldfashionedfilter
#UseThatArtDegree

The property sits on Willakenzie soil that is prime for grape-growin’ and is neighbored by famed vineyards Abbott Claim and Bonnie Jean. Rumor has it Ken Wright wanted to swipe this property up before the vineyard was planted. The Bayliss family keeps it pretty low-key, making about 1200 cases a year. Recently they’ve had a whirlwind of activity: Eric Hamacher was hired on as their new winemaker (beginning with the 2015 vintage) and their 2012 Bayliss-Bower received a 94 point score from Wine Spectator’s Insider in the 11/4 edition. Huzzah!

IMG_0675Scores are certainly something to be proud of. Now that I’ve been on the winery side for just about a year, I’ve witnessed what scores can do and its definitely an exciting energy to be a part of. Personally, I’ve been a little weary of 2012 lately, and I will continue to sing the praises of the 2011 vintage until I turn blue in the face. Although, as my favorite coworker likes to remind me “I am not the market,” my palate definitely is geared towards a wine like this, and cooler vintages in general. I think a cooler vintage captures the allure of older vines in a more expressive fashion as well. But these are all decidedly in my opinion statements.

I remember when the 2011 vintage fist happened; I was in South Carolina, and somehow the word leaked out into the Southeast that 2011 was bad, bad, bad. Cold and wet. Stay away from them. I had a customer tell me once that “his friend told him NOT to buy ANY Pinot Noir from Oregon from the 2011 vintage.” I don’t quite recall how I responded to that one.

Sometimes I wonder where these things start.

What I can say is that 2011’s really stand out to me. There’s something extremely vervey and alive about these wines. A tingly kind of energy that guides you to the delicate power that is Pinot Noir. That is what continues to excite me about the vintage. And with that, I’ll get off the soapbox and detail this particular one!

IMG_0907A brickish red color, the wine is in a nice evolutionary phase. Immediately upon opening, the nose has a brief flamboyant moment: bright raspberry and red cherry. It settles down a bit, relaxing into its herbal undertones. Asian five spice, sage, fennel, lavender and a resounding note of deeper black cherry abound. The finish is a lively smack of tart pomegranate. That’s the other thing I love about a leaner vintage; the acid lift makes me want to smack my tongue against the roof of my mouth. Satisfying.

I bought this bottle at the winery. Confession: I don’t recall what I paid for it. I do think the bottle price is $42, but I know they had a discount on the 11. If you’re in the area for Thanksgiving, go check them out before they close for the winter. Your pants will be charmed off, and you’ll leave feeling like you have experienced a special part of the area’s history.

Whut.

Whut.

 

 

 

Raptor Ridge Tempranillo, 2013 Rogue Valley, Folin Vineyard

CONFESSION: I’ve had this wine in my possession for way too long. Confession number two: I’ve had numerous wines from Raptor Ridge this Summer that all deserved their own post, but I really don’t know where the time has gone. So I’m seizing this rainy and strangely windy Saturday to catch you up on one of my favorite wineries in the area!

Oregon Tempranillo: not as rare as you might imagine.

Oregon Tempranillo: not as rare as you might imagine.

We’ll start the party with the post’s namesake, the 2013 Tempranillo. This is just the third year RR has made a Tempranillo, and it sits at right around 200 cases made. Tempranillo seems to enjoy the hotter climate of Southern Oregon; the Folin Vineyards are also planted with Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvédre and Grenache- more varieties that bask in the heat.

Heat is evident in this wine, as its nose is big, dark and smokey. Blackberry liqueur, raspberry preserves, briar patch, hints of woodsy/evergreen/fresh sap, along with traditional Tempranillo characteristics: tobacco, leather, savory herbs, and a nice bright streak of tart red fruit to carry it along. Raptor Ridge suggests mole as a pairing, and now that is all I can think of. Or maybe something char-grilled, with a spicy BBQ rub. Ribs?! Oh, indeed.

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In short: a super fun “unusual” varietal perfect for Fall! Fall is a little erratic here, it almost reminds me of South Carolina. It cooled off quickly in September, but its thrown more than a few 80 degree days our way right up until last week.

So, what other Raptor Ridge wines have I enjoyed this year? A favorite: the 2014 Grüner Veltliner:

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This is Estate fruit from their site on the Chehalem Mountains, which tickles me. Again, not much more than 200 cases made and this little guy sings with clean minerality, slate, fresh flowers and a really nice acidic balance.

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The Raptor Ridge 2014 Pinot Gris was probably my favorite Gris of the year. Gris takes some flack out here for being boring, I’ve noticed. Maybe it doesn’t have the most personality of any white grape out there, but the bottom line is: when you find one that hits the nail on the head in terms of value & quality, AND offers the delicious clean, fresh palate that it should.. well, anyone who’s worked in retail or a restaurant knows: they’re money-makers. People love them, they’re versatile and friendly. Long story short, the Raptor Ridge is a winner for all those reasons.

I’m scouring my phone for a picture of the view at the winery but I’m shocked to discover I don’t have one! That means I have to go back soon and get one. Hands down, best view in the valley- and we all know there’s some stiff competition there.

Go check these guys out!

*these wines were received as samples. except the pictured rosé. I bought that because, well, rosé*

Wine Wednesday edition: Statera Cellars

Sometimes I feel busier than I am. And then sometimes I actually am busy. It was my original intention to post this in an attempt to lend a hand to some fellow Oregon wine industry folks, Luke Mathews and Meredith Bell so they could reach their kickstarter goal for their baby, Statera Cellars. Luke emailed me some info last week, and I was intrigued. I was headed to see Straight Outta Compton that night, so I came up with this brainchild:

Yeah, I'm kinda thug like that.

I’ll be here all night, folks.

And yes, I created a few more Straight Outta images that day. This one was the best. But it does have basis in reality- from their press release:

“Three single vineyard Chardonnay wines from Statera Cellars are in their final stages of fermentation. Established in 2014, Statera Cellars is an independent winery that focuses exclusively on Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley–an area predominantly known for pinot noir–by examining wines made from storied single vineyards.

Statera Cellars is the brainchild of Meredith Bell & Luke Mathews, two area locals whose mission is to produce Chardonnay with zero additives until bottling. Using only neutral oak, native ferments and temperature control, Statera wines are markedly natural. The first vintage will be released early in 2016 but opportunities to purchase futures and taste barrel samples with the winemakers will be available during summer 2015.”

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I’d had it in mind to write something on young people in the area who are starting their own projects, as I think its a very cool thing to witness. Something that attracted me to Oregon was the sense of community that is alive and well here. Sure enough, when I went to Luke & Meredith’s kickstarter today as I sat down to write this, they had just surpassed their goal! I was internally happy, and still thought I’d throw up this post regardless. If they collect $300 more dollars before August 29th, they can purchase a settling tank. $500 more and a settling tank, a bulldog, and hoses can be purchased. I read that and at first thought it meant that they would get an *actual* bulldog. Which would also be great, wouldn’t it?

They’re offering some pretty cool rewards to their backers, too: a picnic in a vineyard, dinners, bombshell leggings (okay, so I’m not cool enough to even know what those are, but they look great), and a release party planned for April of next year. Fun times! I know I’ll be looking forward to tasting what Luke & Meredith have created. Check it out and consider pouring one out for these two and their hard work.

Cheers!

Patton Valley “Drink Pink” 2015!

DRINK PINK! Its as though this event was made for me. Now in its fourth year, Drink Pink sold out at 300 people. I probably would have guessed there to be 120 people there, because it never felt crowded (hat tip). I really can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than at Patton Valley, with around 30 different Rosé producers from the Valley. WHUT. Okay, so I wish it had been a few degrees cooler. But we can’t have everything. And fortunately there was shaved ice, in which I drowned my “sorrows.”

Take a gander at those babies.

Take a gander at those babies.

Although I have mixed feelings about “scoring” in general, I wanted to break up a few of the wines tasted on Saturday into fun little categories. Cause really, when I stop to think, there are two main ways to enjoy Rosé: 1.) as a wine (duh): serve it lightly chilled but not ice cold, and enjoy it with food, or just savor it slowly over the course of a Summer evening. And 2.) the “porch pounder”: serve it cold, drink it down on a hot day that’s meant for day-drinking, with as many jovial friends as possible.

There’s plenty of room for both in my world.

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As a general rule, I like porch-pounders to be 1.) thirst quenching and 2.) easy on the wallet. Let’s face it; when you’re buying a for a small gathering or just to have a cold bottle in the fridge at all times, I think they should stay in the $16-$22 price range. Perhaps your definition of a porch-pounder is more like $9-$15, or maybe its $25 and up. Again, I’m generalizing, but the $16-$22 allows plenty of room for a quality wine that *also* is delicious.

So! Without further adieu: My Top Three “Porch Pounders” from Drink Pink 2015:

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1.) David Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Bright, fresh, fun and really captivating in that energetic, buoyant sense. This wine was a nice surprise for me; I’d never had anything from David Hill before and this wine really caught my attention. $18 retail.

(this is an older photo, Patton Valley's Rosé was on tap this Saturday)

(this is an older photo, Patton Valley’s Rosé was on tap this Saturday)

2.) Patton Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Sorry not sorry. These guys host the event for a reason. Their pink is the jam. I’ve yet to find a Rosé that is as fleeting, pretty, floral, clean, delicate and rose petally (not a word?) as this one. And for $18? C’mon. It’s just stupid good.

Also a photo from a few weeks ago. Is this label not awesome?

3.) Division Winemaking Company Gamay Rosé, 2014. This one also takes home the award for coolest label and coolest grape. I’m really trying not to show favoritism here, and I think I may be verging towards unobjective when it comes to this wine, but I first tried it back in April and after revisiting, am convinced of its greatness. Tart, crisp pomegranate and cranberry notes. Refreshing as all get out. Retail $19.

 

Next! My Top Three Big Sexy’s That I’d Like to Spend an Entire Evening With:

IMG_99031.) Alexana Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Richly colored, this wine enjoyed 10 hours of skin contact and neutral French oak barrels for four months. Inviting color, lingering creaminess on the finish and overall sex appeal make this one a winner in my world. Retail $28.

IMG_93062.) Winderlea Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Slightly more mellow in color but in no way lacking in the lovely department. Fragrant, silky, and the epitome of a crowd-pleaser. Robert does amazing things to the textures of his wines, IMHO. Retail $25

Hey there, piggy.

Hey there, piggy.

3.) Big Table Farm Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. I’ve had this wine on a few occasions and it seems to just be getting better over time. Freshly bottled it had great energy but its youth showed a bit; now with a few months to gain traction it has really come together into one magical little entity. Also with a bit of barrel age, this wine ventures into watermelon rind/cherry pith/rhubarb territory. Full malo makes for a nice sturdiness. Yum. Retail $26.

 

Another award: BEST COLOR! Goes to…

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Ribera Vineyards”Molly’s Vineyard” Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. I love the super delicate color on this guy. It reminds me of a few of my favorite Spanish Rosé of Tempranillos that I’ve had in the past. Super crisp, beautiful palate as well. Retail $22.

There were so many killer wines there, I almost feel like a poser playing this “favorite” game, but I needed to mix it up a little today. Plus, the interweb likes “favorites.” I hope you enjoyed!

Oh, and can I just say- THAT PAELLA from Crown Paella. Slap. Your. Mama.

I've never seen such a beautiful sight.

I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.

Oh, and aforementioned shaved ice from Ono Shave Ice! I had watermelon and blue raspberry, naturally. Because if I’m going to overdose on sugar, I want my tongue to be blue at the end:

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This was a beautifully organized event from start to finish. Great idea, great wine, perfect location, great vibe. Awesome all around! Can’t wait for next year.

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Oregon Wine Month- Rosé all Day!

Greetings on this, the last day of Oregon Wine Month. I have some brief news to share, and then I will leave you to your Sunday plans!

The Pink.

The Pink.

As you may know by now, I am a lover of pink wine. From waaay back. Pink wine was also what transformed me into a lover of white wine. Back when I was young and dumb, I thought I only liked red wine. Until one day I tried a rosé. I believe it was a very warm (okay, probably blisteringly hot) Summer day in South Carolina. It was as if the heavens had opened. I had never been so refreshed and delighted. And the rest is history. You can scroll back through my posts on this site; there are numerous ramblings and starry-eyed odes to pink wine throughout the years. As well as these two articles here and here, which are other fun testaments to my infatuation with the pink juice.

When I ventured out to Oregon, my Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days project helped me make a lot of great contacts- one of them being Carrie at Cellar 503. We met up one day and chatted about a collaboration. When she mentioned she had considered doing a special rosé shipment this Summer, I of course selfishly offered my services.

There began a few week quest at finding some new favorite Oregon rosé! This was a complete hardship. I finally narrowed it down, and I’m pretty tickled about the results. You can purchase the four-pack for $75 via the Cellar 503 website. If you’re local to Oregon, you can find these bottles individually as well, either at the various winery tasting rooms or a few retailers. But isn’t it just a bit more exciting to buy them as a little package? The four pack can also be picked up at the next Cellar 503 tasting event on June 21st. I know I’ll be making an appearance!

My dreamy tasting notes on the four wines can be found here: Anne Amie Huntington Rosé of Pinot Gris, Soter “North Valley” Rosé, Quady North GSM Rosé and Willful Rosé of Pinot Noir. Something I’m also quite proud of is that a total of eleven Oregon grapes are represented in these four wines. Pinot Noir does make great rosé, but I love showcasing the variety of grapes that are found in Oregon, as well as all the different styles of rosé that there are in the world. It’s pretty darn exciting. I hope you enjoy.

Cheers!

 

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!

 

 

 

Oregon Wine Month: EIEIO & Co!

Yikes! Its almost halfway through May, and I have a lot more wine to write about this month. Today I bring you a few that are near and dear to my heart. I first wrote about EIEIO a few months ago, and I heard from a few people that were equally as in love with the little “piglets” as I was. So here now I present two more delightful selections from one of the coolest dudes in the Valley, Mr. Jay McDonald. Pictured here:

This guy.

This guy.

A few weeks ago, I poured with Jay at the Yamhill-Carlton AVA tasting where his 2014 White Pinot made its debut. The response to the wine was- if I do say so- pretty off the charts.

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Gleaming with a bright golden color, the White Pinot (or WP, as the cool kids call it) is sure to stump even the cleverest wine nerd in a blind tasting. Mark my words. Unconventionally fruit-forward and luscious, it has distinct “candied” aromas to me; white gummy bears, white lollipops and pineapple, accompanied by punches of lime zest, honeydew melon, peaches, and fresh flowers. A twinge of something nutty is hiding in there somewhere, and the texture is as silky as silky gets. A pure pleasure-seeking wine; meant to drink and enjoy.

Not really the most glamorous backdrop, but hey- that's life.

Not really the most glamorous backdrop, but hey- that’s life.

Made with no added yeasts or enzymes, the “yearly” White Pinot production is a bit of a gamble; Jay labels the barrels “WPA”, which stands for “White Pinot Attempt.” If I was a religious person, I’d say he “lets go and lets God” with this wine. Unfortunately the stars did not align in 2013, but both 2011 and 2012 did get some exciting scores from the Wine Advocate. When I was at Jay’s this past Friday, he was down to less than 10 cases. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Next! This is a favorite of mine, the 2013 Yates Conwill Vineyard Pinot Noir: 

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The nose on this wine is truly ridiculous. Freaking intoxicating. This is the kind of wine that reinforces my earlier claim that 2013 is an exciting vintage, at least for my tastebuds. Elegant, ethereal, gorgeous. Sour cherry, red raspberry, plum, clove, anise, subtle vanilla, and a youthful energy. The palate is a little grippy- this wine is, after all, an infant- with a firm bite that I find pleasant now, but I think will soften and reward with a lil time. The tannin leaves a twinge or two on your teeth on the way out, kind of like black tea does.

I am reminded of Hesh from The Sopranos: “a hit is a hit.” This is a hit, friends. If you’re one of those 2012-obsessed Oregon Pinot fans, it might not be your cup of joe. But really. You should probably evolve anyway.

I’m starting to get a little wordy, so I must wrap up with a quick note about Jay’s new release DINNERS that are rapidly approaching! Cuisine from The Painted Lady, new releases of EIEIO Pinot and Chardonnay, and shoes are optional? Count me in. Seems like you should put July 2nd &/or 3rd on your calendar if you’re local.

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Cheers!

PDX Urban Wineries Tasting- Oregon Wine Month has begun!

Oregon Wine Month is off with a bang, y’all! There are so many great events going on this month, I really can’t even. This past Saturday was a good one! The PDX Urban Wineries hosted the 5th annual Urban Wine Experience at Union/Pine. It was my first, but hopefully not last! Something I love about the Urban wine scene in Portland is that there’s always someone willing to try something new and different. Its incredibly refreshing in an industry like this to see people take risks. Even if they’re not always successful or if they result in a string of catastrophes. How else does one learn but by experience? In any case… The theme of the day for me was pleasant surprises. I tasted a lot of wines that really made me stop, think and consider their true validity within the scope of Oregon wine. Much excites. Lets get to it.

For anyone reading thats not familiar with the Portland Urban Wineries, they are a group of movers and shakers who all make their wine within the city of Portland, their grapes hailing from near (the Valley) and far (Rogue/Applegate/Columbia/Gorge, etc). There’s actually a fair amount of pedigree floating around this group of people; years &/or harvests spent with names like Adelsheim, Apollini, Penner-Ash, Evesham Wood, Belle Pente, Drylands and Grochau. That ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, y’know?

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Faves? I have plenty. Helioterra’s “Starthistle” Riesling/Huxelrebe blend (pictured, the one with the handwriting that’s waiting on label approval) scored major points for being two of my favorite things: 1.) a refreshing, aromatic white and 2.) containing a grape that I’d never heard of. Huxelrebe is a grape found mostly in Germany, and is a cross of Chasselas and Courtiller Musqué (yet another I haven’t heard of). Given the microscopic amount of Chasselas found here in Oregon, its not shocking that this grape can grow here, but its still a wonder to behold in my opinion. The Helioterra Columbia Valley Mourvédre was also fantastic; polished, with a whopping fruit content and a bit of that savory, earthy Mourvédre “funk”. Winemaker Anne Hubatch was a delight, as an added bonus.

The Division Wine Co. Wines were all showing beautifully! I gotta admit, the Francophiliac wines of Kate & Tom Monroe have wound their way into my heart for good. It was a warm day, and I was struck by how perfect the two reds they poured were for warm weather. The Division-Villages “Les Petits Fers” Gamay is about as vibrant and lively as they come. I love a red that can be served with a slight chill, and this one is ideal for just that. The Division-Villages “Béton” Cabernet Franc/Gamay is a blissful little grape marriage. Focused and spicy, with unadulterated streaks of mineralty and a blip of intense Gamay freshness. Yum. The Cabernet Franc grapes are sourced from the Quady North Vineyard, so.. yeah, they rock.

I hadn’t had a good Viognier in a hot second, so the Jackalope “Voyager” Viognier was a treat. My favorite Viogniers tend to be boisterous on the nose and balanced out with quenching acid on the finish. This wine was just that. Spring in a bottle would be an apt way to describe this wine; perfumed, heady and exciting notes of jasmine, honeysuckle & white flowers leap out of the glass. No shortage of apricot, peach and tangerine zest on the palate keep it from being a flab-fest. With a retail price of $20, this wine is a total steal.

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The wines of Vincent Wine Company had a really tangible sophistication to them. I was super excited to find out that this winemaker, Vincent Fritzsche, (along with John Grochau and aforementioned badass Anne Hubatch) are the masterminds behind the Guild Winemakers, two wines that I crushed very hard on back in SC. This is a majorly talented group, IMHO. The Guild wines kicked the bejeezus out of so many wines in their price point, I wouldn’t shut up about them for quite some time. Cellar on Greene regulars will probably remember this (side note- miss y’all!)

Fullerton Wines would be another one to watch. The oldest son and winemaker, Alex, was pouring on Saturday and had a youthful enthusiasm that was pretty infectious. Having worked under Lynn Penner-Ash and Josh Bergstrom, he does have a few notches on his belt to add to his charm. The Rosé was a favorite; I seem to recall that the 2013 is sold out, but the 2014 will be bottled in the next few weeks. I’ll sign myself up for one of those fo’ sho’.

IMG_9257I could probably keep going- and props to YOU if you’re still reading! This post got long. Suffice to say, the existence of the PDX Urban Wineries is pretty darn awesome. This sounds strange coming from someone who lives in the Valley and can be at any one of a dozen wineries within 20 minutes… but there’s something extra exciting about all these wines being made within the city limits, and many of them in one location. We can’t all own vineyards, y’know?

Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir, 2013 Willamette Valley

Its high time we dove head first into the deep end of the pool, ladies n’ gents. And in this circumstance, I mean: 2013 Oregon Pinot Noirs! This is the first of a series I’d like to do that focuses on the 2013 vintage for Oregon Pinot. How many will be in the series? Meh. I don’t know yet. Probably quite a few. There are a lot of things that interest me about 2013, mainly how it will be perceived by “the masses” following a very popular and publicized vintage like 2012. I’m on a mission to ensure 2013 doesn’t get turned into a “throw away” year. Well maybe not ensure, as my platform isn’t the loudest, but at the very least- I’m starting to observe what others are saying and throw my two cents in whenever I can. So here we go!

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Not the first 2013 I’ve tasted, but the first I’ve chosen is the 2013 Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. What’s today? Wednesday. What is this? A great Wednesday wine. A somewhat unfair term which I have mixed feelings about, but it does get to the point. The pricetag on this little guy is but $20. Which as I sit here with the wine, does seem like a meager sum for this bottle. I bought it at the winery a few weeks ago, during an epically long day in Portland that involved a lot of wine tasting and Ikea (what better time to go to Ikea than after you’ve had some wine?)

They were having a club pickup day- SCORE- snacks galore.

They were having a club pickup day- SCORE. 

I really enjoyed my visit to Boedecker. Very down to earth, low-key, non-pretentious people who racked up quite a few impressive scores in 2012. This wine has actually bloomed beautifully in the 30 minutes that I’ve had it open. Youthful (duh) and lively, it has a buoyant nose of black cherry, raspberry, rhubarb jam and a teeny undertone of cherry cola. The palate is fresh and lean- rose petal, potpourri and a tang of orange zest. A nice easy sipper, but with enough variation that it doesn’t just sing one note.

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Nicely balanced acid, pretty fruit, brightly colored- all in all a very inviting glass of vino. This is my idea of a no-brainer restaurant glass pour, or like I said earlier- a Wednesday wine. And when you find a perfect Wednesday wine- it kind of rules.

This is what people did over 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir:

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Will they do that over 2013? Only time will tell. Those of us who drink a lot of Oregon Pinot might. Those that prefer California Pinot might not. 2013 is not going to smack you upside the head with burly fruit. But what they will do, in my opinion, is charm you and wile their way around your heart. Thus far, that is what they’ve done for me. I’d like that to be the case for everyone. So stay tuned, and we’ll do this more often! What say you?

Cuvée Stroll at The Allison

What’d you do on Friday evening? Sample tons of goodies from local producers alongside some awesome Willamette Valley wine? That’s exactly what went down at The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg this past Friday night! I got to be a fly on the wall… well, a fly that tasted lots of delicious food and wine. So not really a fly at all. I was there, and it was great!

After the event concluded, I found myself continually thinking about many of the local producers that were there, and plotting how I was to acquire some of the goodies I sampled. Of course, I could’ve just purchased them that evening, but I’ve never been one to make life easy for myself.

Want a little peek at the bounty of snacks and sips available? Here ya go!

Victoria's Lavender, Face Rock Creamery, Oregon Olive Mill & Republic of Jam.

Victoria’s Lavender, Face Rock Creamery, Oregon Olive Mill & Republic of Jam.

Pork BBQ sliders from Jory Restaurant, Goat Cheese-Caramel tarts from Deschutes brewery, and of course- SALT.

Pork BBQ sliders from Jory Restaurant, Goat Cheese-Caramel tarts from Deschutes brewery, and of course- SALT.

Durant, Chehalem, Brick House, Roco, and a new one for me- Deschutes Brewery from Bend.

Durant, Chehalem, Brick House, Roco, and a new one for me- Deschutes Brewery from Bend.

The Face Rock Creamery people were *not* shy with the samples. A favorite was their twist on an “apple pie”- an oat cake, apple butter and a big ol’ slice of moderately sharp cheddar. The sweet & sharp together are pretty delicious. Deschutes Brewery had a great pairing as well- a little goat cheese-caramel tart, paired with their Spiced Saison, Zarabanda. Jory brought the heat with some delightful little BBQ pork sliders with cole slaw- since I spent the last several years in the South, I have eaten my share of BBQ, and these were delish. I chatted with the chef about how I’d never heard of putting cole slaw ON things until I lived in the South. Now I don’t think I can live without it. Another favorite was the Republic of Jam– they had a apricot-cardamom curry sauce that they served with meatballs. Oy! So good. Guess what’s in my fridge right now? Apricot-cardamom jam. I wasted no time in buying that one.

Is this real?

Is this real?

The Carlton Bakery, if you haven’t been, is a divine feast for the senses. Probably some of the best baked goods I’ve ever had. Plus if you go there, make sure to grab a cappuccino from Brenda at Common Grounds, which is basically in the parking lot of the Carlton Bakery. Woman makes a mean cappuccino.

Who's that lovely vision pouring wine? Lynn!

Who’s that lovely vision pouring wine? Lynn!

There were many awesome winemakers there on Friday as well. Lynn Penner-Ash, Luisa Ponzi, Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem, Rollin Soles of ROCO, Steven Guy from Brick House and several more. The size of the crowd was perfect, allowing everyone to have plenty of time to converse without having to push your way to any one table and fight for space. We’ve all been to those kind of tastings, amiright? 

Cuvée Stroll was part of Cuvée Weekend, but many of the folks I spoke to were locals (Portland/Tualatin, etc), as you could purchase tickets to this event “a la carte.” Definitely worth a quick drive, as you’d be hard-pressed to find so many great winemakers and artisan producers under one roof, short of large food & wine festivals. The Allison provided a lovely and intimate experience. No surprise there.

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Many thanks to The Allison and all the wonderful vendors. Cheers!