It's no secret that we at The Oregon Wine Blog love wine, but a littler known fact is that some of us are big fans of cycling as well. To both celebrate the 2009 Tour de France as well as the beautiful scenery of the Willamette Valley, we're starting our own (mostly) cycling tour. Let me introduce you to our very first cycling event; the 2009 Tour de Vino.
The Tour de Vino has been designed as a tour for amateur cyclists from all difficulty levels. Each stage is optional and instead of being a race, this tour is essentially one giant group ride where we all end up winning. Of course, how can you lose when wine is involved? Here's what we've set up so far with all dates subject to change:
7/4 - Spindrift Cellars | Philomath, OR
7/12- Edgefield (rest day) | Troutdale, OR
7/17 - Tyee Wine Cellars | Corvallis, OR
7/18 - Springhill Cellars | Albany, OR
7/20 - Enoteca | Corvallis, OR
7/26 - Airlee Winery | Monmouth, OR
8/1 - OWB Headquarters (French-style wine dinner) | Corvallis, OR
What you may have just noticed is that the first stage already happened. We apologize for not publicizing our tour ahead of time, but the first stage was a mix of incredible wine and tragic mechanical problems. First, to the wine:
Spindrift Cellars is a small, family-owned winery located in downtown Philomath. We made this ride a little longer than the typical straight shot from Corvallis to enjoy the beautiful scenery via back roads. We ended up arriving exactly as Spindrift was opening and were delightfully surprised by a rather beautiful tasting room. Neither Josh nor I had tasted many wines from Spindrift before, so we elected to do a full tasting of both their reds and whites. Of the ten total wines we tasted (don't worry, we split each tasting), a few specifically stood out to us.
2007 Pinot Gris - This wine is rated a 90 and a best buy from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Needless to say, this wine was the perfect way to begin a wine tasting after cycling in 90F+ weather. What won me over with this wine were its strong hues in the realm of more citrus fruit than some other pinot gris. This also won Josh over indicated by his purchase of a bottle.
Spinnaker 2007 Pinot Noir - What's interesting about this pinot are a few things: Spinnaker is Spindrift's restaurant wine label, the wines aren't certified sustainable or salmon safe (as are the rest of Spindrift's wines), and the initial feeling is that these wines may not be replicable. Long story short, something went very right in the fermentation process and an 88 score from Wine Enthusiast was awarded. Spinnaker's 2007 pinot noir is lighter on fruit than some other pinots, but still manages to convey bold flavors of darker fruit. At only $18 a bottle, this is a steal.
2007 Syrah - We like big reds and it is always a pleasant surprise to find a Willamette Valley winery putting one out on the street. The 2007 Syrah has some spicy oak and black pepper, and was a nice end to our tasting flight. Produced with fruit from Seven Hills Vineyard from the Walla Walla AVA, this new release provides a solid anchor point on the red end of the spectrum. With a relatively small production, better grab some soon.
With tasting out of the way, it was time to ride back home. At approximately .25 miles away from Spindrift, our very first mechanical issue of the tour reared its ugly head. As we rode through our first green light in town, I somehow ended up popping my back tire. This was no ordinary flat as instead of a normal puncture like most flats, a large section of the sidewall of my tire completely blew out. This is where our stage ended and we had to wait for our team car to come pick us up. Even with our stage ending sooner than we thought, Stage 1 was still a really fun ride and a great day tasting wine.