Portland! BEST Outtatown Trip on the Left Coast

Rip City satire

Who does not love a short trip that combines excellent food with outstanding drink, a cool town with cooler venues, and inherently beautiful sights? We have plenty of choices in easy reach of LA. San Francisco is a one hour flight with plenty of superb restaurant choices matched with equally interesting wine lists. The City is just a cool place to drive around with vistas from the Pacific Ocean to the skyscrapers and Oaktown across the Bay. One downside: the City is expensive. An overnight drive to Santa Barbara is another great diversion, if also pricey, with fewer dining choices and a conveniently located wine country.

Portland has all the charms of Baghdad by the Bay and the California Riviera with room to spare PLUS everything is quite affordable. Here are the highlights from a recent getaway to Rip City.

Arrival: Friday late afternoon. First stop is Great Wine Buys at 16th and Broadway. Here is tBoW’s extra special travel trip. Identify a local fine wine shop and make it your first stop. You will not only taste decent wines which is a great start to any trip but you will also get the local tips on best new dining spots. Murray the K and Jeff were pouring half a dozen Eastern Washington Big Reds for a nominal sum. The bonus was sitting next to a Portland couple Jeff & Mully – that agreed to split some local Pinot Noirs after tasting through the Big Reds. One thing led to another and before you know it three local Pinots were uncorked! Lovely people. Here are the notes for all wines tasted.

Washington Big Reds…

2007 Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon $34: Sweet berry nose. Jammy, rich, some chalk notes. In this group clearly the “value” choice…if you like big jammy reds. 14.5%

2007 Gorman Cabernet Red Mountain Sauvignon $45: Deep, more restrained. Rich. The Bully. Best in lineup.

2008 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon $50: This is of course the Kenwood knock off in the Pacific Northwest right down to the “Artists Series” line and pricing. Off balance, lean. Neighbor Jeff said “blue cheese”. Agree.

2009 Owen Roe Yakima Road $42: Bordeaux blend of 59% Merlot, 24% Cab Franc, and 27% Cab Sauv. Merlot dominant yields a softer effect. Nice.

2008 Clos de Betz Columbia Valley $54: Another Merlot dominant Bordeaux blend, this with some Petit Verdot. More spice in the nose. Higher acid. Tannic.

2008 Leonetti Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon $100: The Big Ticket option. The one we are supposed to fall over. Cool the boys include it in the lineup. My first tasting experience. The most idiosyncratic nose and mouthful. Veggie aroma. Reminds me of several Napa mountain Cabernet wines. Ritchie Creek? Keenan? Phelps Backus? Chocolate and mocha. Honestly, I am not surprised the regional cult wine is an oddball. Trophy priced.

2009 Ayres Lewis Rogers Lane Pinot Noir $30: Nice fruit. Rich and rustic at same time. Over 20 minutes seems too lush and fruity for tBoW’s taste. 14.1%

2008 Evening Land Seven Springs Pint Noir $45: First vintage for this producer. From Salem Eola Hills area. Dominique Lafon assisted in blending the wine. Please sir…may I have some more? 13.1%

2009 Brick House Block Vineyard Pinot Noir $45: The new vintage from one of the loveliest vineyard sites in Willamette. Doug Tunnel is hit and miss. This is a hit. Lean, powerful with fruit. Baking soda nose. Like it. 13.9%

2009 Brick House Evelyns Pinot Noir $59: The most rare of bottlings from Doug Tunnell. Another baking soda nose. Another powerhouse wine. Big vintage for Brick House. 14.1%

Portland has great restaurants. Pick up any of the dining magazines and you will find coverage of the new Pacific Northwest cuisine or the amazing food trucks; all in Portland. tBoW hit the former food truck now hot lunch and dinner spot Pok Pok for lunch and dinner on the same day. We go for the delicately flavored, wonderfully prepared Thai food. They do serve inexpensive well selected wines.

A new choice for simple well done fare is Roost located in a storefront amid apartment buildings on the Eastside. Edward Hopper could have picked the scene. 10 tables and a bar. I am the sole diner on Sunday at 8:30 PM. Excellent value for a 10 oz. steak with salsa verde and glass of wine: 2009 Syncline Subduction Red from Washington’s Columbia Valley. 39% Mourvedre, 19% Counoise, 17% Syrah, 17% Grenache and tastes of Cinsault and Carignane. Pitch perfect. $20 an under if you can find it.

This post covers the day and a half of three days in Portland. Next post will describe a visit to one of the City of Roses’ finest enterprises off the beaten track: the New Deal distillery.

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