Posts belonging to Category Willamette Valley



Xmas::NY Interweek & Xmas Tasting

do not judge them

do not judge them

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR CONTROLS. The foto is not in focus. The foreground grips control the horizontal and the vertical. Please ring the bell for service.

Main Street icon

Main Street icon

How was your holiday party? Ours was fab. Grab-bag wines, gag gifts and the popular and expanding re-gifting center charmed our guests. A Christmas party should be an open house with guests arriving at will. Lots off eats offset the preponderance of holiday cheer. We focused on wines and champagnes. There were no duds. Here is what we managed to keep track of.

Three Italian wines set the mark for winners bing bing bang. The first wine opened was the one in the center 2008 Cortones Brunello di Montalcino $45. It was quickly followed by the other two in sequence 2010 Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso $30, blending Sangiovese, Barbera and Sagrantino. 15 minutes later I was pulling the cork on the 2009 Viticoltori Migliozzi Casale Carinola Rampaniuci Falerno Massico $unk. While the sequence was accidental it was also perfect. The first two wines showed deep cherry flavors which encouraged the revelers to taste more wine! The third wine had the 3-winnersWEBmost body and the the most acid. It was the most serious and age worthy, forcing the madness to slow to a gentler pace. All three were just perfect for the holiday occasion where people who enjoy wine are involved. Each one was enjoyed by the throng in thongs. These wines proved the point that Italian wines are the most diverse with the greatest potential for giving gustatory satisfaction. Not one was over-ripe. Each was reasonably balanced, generally masculine. All three ably complemented the tamales, ham and lasagna.

BTF-zwickerWEB2013 Big Table Farm Wirtz Garden Edelzwicker $28 (winery only): Rare and unusual white wine blending “riesling, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and more;” all grown organically on the Big Table Farm estate. This wine shows what can be done in the New World with decidedly Old World sensibilities. Medium weight, oily with figgy quince flavors. Delightful. Serve chilled and let it warm in the glass. Big Table Farm is a label to keep tracking.

trouillard-champ-nvWEBNV Trouillard Extra Selection Brut $35 (Wine Expo): Plump strumpet champagne begging to hug your palate. Once this was tasted by a few it was quickly guzzled by the ambulatory throng in thongs. No wonder once you read about the careful handling in production, the first press juice only, and two years on the lees before bottling. Christ! This was too good for the guests!

As a wise man once said….keep the party hat on!! Happy New Year!!

This will help set the mood, no? It appears they’re having fun.

‘Tis the Season: Five Wine Truths

santa-sleighVINOWEBIn Vino Veritas must be the vanity plate on Santa’s sleigh. It is also a muy popular phrase among the cogniscenti du vin. Something about truth and wine. This blog is hardly averse when it comes to understanding more about our wine tastes and habits. Here is what the vines told us at a recent holiday party.

antica07WEB ayres10WEB Lesson #1: Palates change, or at least they should if you prefer truth to hype. The truth here is we are done with Oregon wines. We plan to drink thru what’s in the cellar. Not a knock on Oregon Pinot Noir. Just a move in a new direction.

2007 Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and 2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pioneer Pinot Noir: Five years ago these Oregon Pinot Noir wines were at the top of our list. Had to have them. Nummy num nums. So delicious. So manipulated. Both wines are quite enjoyable. Antica still seems to the be the top PN in the New World per the party guests. We just see no further reason to purchase wines from the region.

latourmersault05WEB Lesson #2: Pierce the veil of personal bias. Consider all the data. As Inspector Clouseau might say “I suspect no one and I suspect everyone.” I suspect me. 2005 Louis Latour Mersault-Charmes Premier Cru: Forget the pedigree of the producer and especially the wine press. This bottle had everything going for it when purchased: big name producer, big name vineyard, should have checked the vintage, and deeply discounted. The most important red flag was the wine shop, now out of business. We had never bought a decent bottle from the site. The wine was flat. Over the hill. Some said premox. Some said too cold. When it warmed up it was chalk and dust with little fruit. Buy the wine you like, note wines you are supposed to like. More signals “The family-run company of Maison Louis Latour is one of the most highly-respected négociant-éléveurs in Burgundy. Renowned throughout the world for the quality of its red and white wines, the company has built a reputation for tradition and innovation. This Domaine has the largest Grand Cru property in the Cote d’Or with a total of 28,63 hectares (71,58 acres).” Large vineyards is not necessarily a detractor BUT a smaller vineyard is often associated with smaller producers who are more concerned with quality than quantity.

ranchero-vig-10WEB Lesson #3: Look at the small producer who is reasonably inspired. Amy Jean Butler is a case in point. From her website: “Founded by way of endless infatuation and intellectual curiosity, Ranchero Cellars is my just reward for years of making wine for others. I have lived and breathed winemaking on all levels – from the storied and venerated Napa institutions, to the intrepid Paso Robles startup – and have come to understand that this is where I belong. Over the past 16 years I have fallen in love with certain vineyards, particular varieties, specific styles and methods.” This is what inspiration reads like. And she signs off “XOXO Amy.” 2010 Ranchero Cellars Viognier: This 4 y.o. Viognier wine from Paso Robles is delicious. It has improved with a couple years. Proof that the New World/Old World distinction which we constantly cite has little meaning in the hands of a true winemaker.

santelenamag06WEBLesson #4: Cabernet is not Napa. 2006 Sant’ Elena Cabernet Sauvignon: An Italian red from the Friuli region in Northeastern Italy. Delightful. Served in mag so it has soft tannins 8 years later. Middle weight tasting just fine. There is another lesson here: if you know the wine and not the region, and the price is right ($40 for the mag), then give it a try.

stcosme12WEB Lesson #5: If spooked by too much information when considering a new prestigious brand, start at the intro level. St Cosme is a value label from the Cotes du Rhone. The label is intimidating with an ancient hut obviously hand illustrated. Old shit. Too much for us. We don’t know what to do… flight or fight! Recent release wines can purchased from $14 to $80. The site is ancient as in 15th century. Romans get a mention. 2011 St Cosme Cotes du Rhone: The entry level wine that is 100% Syrah. We worried it might be “hot” [ed. high alcohol], too big being from Gigondas a region we imagine is noted for “size” [ed. too rich]. What we got was a fairly exotic red wine that failed to meet any of our weenie-shaped fears. Great value too. Wine tasting can be so silly!

Please excuse this sentimental moment. Nat King Cole and Frank’s World are hard to resist.

Pinot versus Pinot

Hit me!! Good god!

Hit me!! Good god!

It’s the BEST of the New World versus the BEST of the Old World… considering VALUE ev kerse. It should be expressly clear by now that Pinot Noir is the second greatest grape among vinifera; the greatest being Nebbiolo, ev kerse [ed. stop that you idjit].

Recent pullage has tested the claim. We pulled corks on two very fine and exceptional Pinot Noir wines at great value from the Willamette Valley which is the top growing region for Pinot Noir in the New World [ed. FYI that includes New Zealand, Ontario and Pennsylvania]. We tasted one red Burgundy with comparable age from Auxey Duresses which is a lesser known and lesser regarded region among 100 point fiends. The Burg blew the Willamette wines off the chart. This is not to say the Oregon wines were not good. They were wonderful.

Let us delay no further. There is reporting to be completed. But there is more. We opened the Burg with a Chablis at the same time. They fit like Kerry and Hagel [ed. they like each other?]. Kismet in a glass.

wahle08WEB2008 Wahle Vineyards and Cellars Holmes Hill Pinot Noir $30 (in 2010). Lovely, masculine, middle weight, refined not delicate. Dark red color. Great nose. Definitely New World. Bought this at the 2010 Portland Indie Wine Fest – once the finest wine festival on the West Coast. Dotoré picked this out from many candidates. In its middle age with plenty of youthful spirit [ed. like Dotoré]. Too friendly to be brooding although there is definitely some weight here. We stole much inspiration from this excellent site. Words you will never read on tBoW that you will read, apparently, on the Pinot File: “Upon returning to Oregon he discovered that his family transition plan had stalled and this was a life-changing event for him.” Something you will read on the tBoW site: Cellartracker rates this wine 88.5 points. Dopes! If this isn’t moronic… This is a 100 point wine for at least a dozen reasons. Oh. You want me to list them? 1. The wine is well made. 2. It has finesse. 3. It isn’t Cabernet. 4. Wahle is a physician who it looks like never practiced. The only MD who went to med school so he could make wine when he got out. 13.6%

couer-08WEB2008 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $30: The premium bottle from the “premium” vintage. Another Indie Wine Fest purchase. Understand we tasted dozens of Willamette wines. This and the Wahle wines are not from what we would come to understand is ideal premium wine country in Willamette. That would be Ribbon Ridge. Whatever. This wine is six years in the bottle. The nose is not full of oak. Smells like teen Pinot. The flavors are smooooth and black cherry. mainly, the weight and balance complement. You want firm and full Willamette Pinot Noir made with careful restraint, this is it. 13.8%

auxey09WEB2009 Auxey-Duresses Moulin Aux Clos Moines Monopole $36: Same price point for the Oregon wines. This is stunning Pinot Noir. For the rest of us schlubs who have never ever tasted DRC RC this has to be as good as. The balance is pinpoint delicado. Neither fruity nor forest floor. Fazzinating. Red cherries with a kick of kirsch. Showing the range of Pinot from Burgundy. And this is a less glam community. The Pinot fruit is so Old World I grew callouses holding the glass. The producer is just another guy. Got this from EnoFineWine. I found the wine at a SoCal shop but I ain’t telling. Really should get more. Really. 13%

Here is something we challenge anyone to accomplish with New World Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, same meal, same evening.

chablis-picq-12WEB2012 Gilbert Pica Chablis En Vaudecorse $28 (EoFineWine): Just enough spine to complement the green pineappley fruit. Served it too warm and it was great. Chilled it down and it was super. Let it lose the chill again and… you know. Just delicious. Even Mrs. tBoW who is a die hard unapologetic New World kind of gal loved these wines back to back and mixed in. Red then white then red then white. What a donnybrook. Like Germany and Argentina in a friendly. Try and put a New World Chard next to a California Pinot Noir at the same time. You’re wincing! 13%

DO NOT WATCH THIS CLIP OF JAMES BROWN FREAKING THE FLAMES OUT WITH HIS MOVES. And recall… Mick Jagger had to follow him.

Most Wine is Bad. It’s True.

New World rack of bottles

New World rack of bottles in your nearest supermarket

The simplest truths are often the most obvious. At a recent tasting one of the Young ‘Uns asked how can she identify the best wine at Trader Joes. Young Un tasters such as PT8Y live on a budget and prefer to limit wine purchases to $10. Boom! The obvious truth was revealed. Buying decent wine at TJs requires knowledge that draws on several data sets. The easiest answer, it turned out, was – when in TJs – look for a Spanish or Italian label in the target price range. Avoid popular domestic labels. “You mean like Cupcake” she replied proving she already was onto the obvious truth. (more…)

The Wonder of Willamette Pinot Noir

Big Table Farm impressed

Big Table Farm impressed

We got our mission. Find the “Pinot in the City” event and taste the best of wines there. It was better than Disneyland. And when we were done, like Capt Willard grabbing Corporal Lance on his way out of the Montegnard stronghold, through the dazed tribesmen and ex-soldiers, Dotoré led tBoW away from the madness into a new hell. The afternoon was approaching 100 degrees; cooler than inside the grand ballrooms where the tasting had wound down.

We had driven far. Faced down native hordes. Exercised tradecraft. Fulfilled our mission. We were good soldiers. We fared better than Col Kurtz and the unfortunate water buffalo at the end of the great film. Auteurs may discuss how CGI will never capture the authentic horror of a live slaughter from multiple angles. Our attention was on the emblematic tasting we had just survived. (more…)