Ending 2008 On A Good Note

Last night (New Year's Eve Eve) found me enjoying a glass of wine with my friend Adam. Adam knows that I am a member of this wine blog, and tonight I tried to do something a little different. While at Adam’s this evening, I pulled out a bottle of Dedication Two from Cougar Crest Winery. Cougar Crest is a winery in the Walla Walla region of southeastern Washington. This bottle was from the trip some of us from the Oregon Wine Blog took to the region over the summer.

This is a very special wine in many ways. The daughter of the winemakers was in an accident and was taken to Doernbecher’s Children Hospital in Portland, Oregon. The doctors were successful in healing the daughter of the winemakers and as a result, a portion of the proceeds from this wine goes to Dorenbecher’s at Oregon Health and Science University.

The reason this is called Dedication Two is because this the second release of this wine. The website describes this red table wine as a “complex blend of classic Bordeaux varietals, plus Lemberger, and Syrah.” It is also noted that the Dedication Two has a little bit of an “extra Syrah,” and is aged longer in the barrel.

Tonight while Adam and I drank the Dedication Two, I decided to ask him what some of his thoughts were of this wine and make note of them to see where they might be different from my perceptions, so the evaluation of this wine will be different from others I have done.

Adam’s thoughts:

- Distinctly fermented smell

- Hits strong initially

- More like a strong whiskey finish than a wine, almost “burning”

- Sharp going down, even after a bit

- Color is deep crimson

My thoughts:

- Can taste spices – not sure if it is really because of spices or because of the wood

- Wood taste

- Flavor stays on the front of the tongue

- Warming sensation on the throat

I helped Adam with notice the way the blend coats the glass. I paid attention to the legs are somewhat absent. It should be noted that despite how it might appear, we did both enjoy this wine - the full flavor of it and rich nose - tipping our hats to the winemakers.

Until next time…

A Visit With A Neighbor

Today brought another early end to the work day for me due to Oregon inclement wintery weather. When I got the notice from my University’s President that we could leave at 3:30, I immediately started to think about what wine I could possibly pass the time with this evening.

I arrived home and let most of the afternoon and evening pass me by doing a little bit of work at home before I decided it might get too late to really enjoy the wine if I didn’t just pick one. Anyone who knows me knows that picking a wine to drink is a task that could be quite time consuming. I have to decide if I want a Northwest wine or not? Do I want a domestic or international? Don’t get me started on deciding between red vs. white. So after about 15 minutes (the clock was ticking against my favor), I decided I would open a bottle from a neighboring winery.

This evening I decided to open a 2006 Oregon Merlot from Eola Hills Winery. Eola Hills located about 10 miles west of Salem, and while it is literally a 15 minute drive from my front door to the winery, I have not been there. I have driven by it many times and made the mental note that I should visit, but after living in the area for about a year and a half, it had not yet happened. Unfortunately, that does not allow me to tell you more about Eola Hills than what is available on their website.

I opened this Merlot and let it breathe for about 45 minutes before I poured the first glass. The color is one that is a rich red-grape in hue, not very transparent to the light. The nose was strong, but not overpowering. I could easily smell the “smokiness” with each whiff. There are light hints of fruits, but I am unable to detect exactly which ones are there. The first sip was surprisingly fruity, again, not overbearing, but clearly noticeable. As I took each supplemental sip, I imagine the flavors landing on my tongue, then spreading out evenly for a very full flavor.

After a while, there is a light aftertaste that I am not completely able to describe. The aftertaste is strong initially, and then subsides. I cannot put my finger on what it is, which I am finding quite bothersome, hoping that it will come to me in the middle of the night perhaps. I would encourage anyone of you to try this Merlot, not to be confused with the 2005, and submit your thoughts on how you would describe the aftertaste.

This is a very enjoyable wine and I highly encourage you all to try it as it could possibly be among my top 10 favorite wines.

Until next time…

What Could Possibly Be…Next?

We have, as of the last couple of days, had a little bit cooler temperatures and even some snow here in the Willamette Valley. For those of you who do not recall, I am a Mid-Western transplant, and so this “cold” weather and couple of inches we had are far less than what I would be used to for a Mid-Western December. That being said, I came home this afternoon, my university letting us out at 4pm so people could get home before the snow/slush re-froze to create the ice rink that would be the roads of Salem, and decided I need to open a new bottle of wine. I initially thought I would open either a sweet desert wine, Chardonnay, or Pinot Gris – all of which would need to be chilled. So it was decided that a Pinot Noir it would be!

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to take Josh to King Estate Winery. King Estate is located in the southern Willamette Valley about 15 miles Southwest of Eugene. The scenery at King Estate is always one that is relaxing and enjoyable. Depending the time of year though, that view could be obscured with clouds, rain, or fog. That particular Saturday was one that a little cloudy and there had been some fog. It was also late fall, so it was not like I had seen when I was there in September 2007.

The bottle that I opened this evening was their 2006 Pinot Noir, Next. At this time, I have been unable to find out about this line of wine via the internet and my memory of it from before is rather weak. This was not one of the ones Josh and I tasted, but it was one I had had before. I opened the bottle and let it sit for about an hour before I poured the first glass. I took a whiff of the nose initially when I popped the cork to find it oak and spice filled. After an hour of breathing, those scents were only further enhanced.

Upon pouring my first glass, as it came out of the bottle, it looked a lot like grape jelly, from the bottle to the glass. After I stopped pouring and looked at my glass, I could see a little more of the red hue, probably due to the cherries and pomegranate. The first couple of sips were strong, warming my throat like a nice cough syrup (I state "nice" because so many of us have a negative thought when it comes to cough syrup). You would notice the spices and oak of this wine, although based on the website, what I think are spices could be the oak char.

After a while (I ended up consuming the entire bottle), the flavor continued to be enjoyable. It was rather light, and not heavy that someone may sometimes think of for a Pinot Noir. I did not find the flavor to be overly fruity or oak-filled, but very subtle and relaxing. It was the perfect way to end a nice day filled with snow/ice and "cold."

Until next time...

On Our Table and in our Hearts

This Thanksgiving, the staff at The Oregon Wine Blog had many reasons to be thankful: great friends, family, health, and of course, excellent food and wine.  The holidays are always a time for reflection and in broad terms we're all pretty lucky.  We're thankful to you, our readers, for sticking with us for the past year.  We know that posting volume has decreased, but we are striving to maintain our quality and we'll kick things up a notch.  I'd also like to pay homage to Rick from the [BW] Beer Blog.  His influence helped inspire the creation of TOWB and we have learned many lessons from his expertise.  Rick recently retired from beer blogging and we tip our glasses to him.

On to Thanksgiving...this year a group of us decided for the first time to remain in Corvallis, OR
 for the holiday and forgo the stress of traveling through out the Pacific Northwest.  We all pitched in to cook a cornucopia of food including salad, rosemary garlic mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, green bean casserole, apple sausage dressing, cranberry amaretto sauce, rolls, turkey, and brownies for dessert.  The wine was excellent, from some of our favorite wineries, and paired well with the meal:

2003 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay

This treat has been sitting in my wine cabinet for over a year waiting for the right moment.  I believe it was WVV's first estate chardonnay, or at least the first good one with the dijon clone grapes, and it sold out shortly after I purchased the bottle I had.  It rated a 90 with Wine Enthusiast.  It is just right for me, oaky but not too much, it has a nice fruit bouquet and is full-bodied.  We drank the chard as we were finishing up the cooking and getting ready to eat.  While there is no more '03 available, I think the winery has some '06 kicking around still.

2006 Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir Clone Dijon 777

This was a small production estate wine put out initially for members of the Oregon Wine Guild, which is where my bottle came from.  The 2006 Estate Pinot rated a 90 in Wine Enthusiast, so I was very excited for this specific clone designate version of that wine.  I was not disappointed.  This clone reflects aromas of black tea, cocoa, and earth.  It was a well balanced wine that paired very well with the main course of our Thanksgiving dinner. At 93 cases of production, pick some up if you run across it.

2004 Kiona Red Mountain Chenin Blanc Ice Wine

A nectar of the gods.  Produced from grapes frozen on the vine in the Red Mountain area of Eastern Washington, this ice wine was rated platinum from Wine Press Northwest and comes in with a residual sugar of 18%.  Made from 100% estate grown chenin blanc grapes, this is a delicious, fruity match for any dessert.  We rated it back in December, loved it then, love it now.  They have a great tasting room and beautiful estate should you find yourself in Benton City.

So...there you have it.  Thanksgiving dinner and wine selections from the home of The Oregon Wine Blog.  Coming up will be a review of a recent visit to King Estate Winery as well as a 2005 Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon, recently rated number 43 on the top 100 wines of the world, which Rick kindly found for me in a coop in Moscow, ID.  

Until then, cheers!