Le Tour de Pinot Stage 1: A Journey to Belle Vallee

On June 19, five riders from The Oregon Wine Blog's cycling team braved the elements -- sun, some clouds, and a light drizzle -- on a grueling ride totaling 3's of miles to complete the first leg of the 2010 cycling season!  Stage 1 of Le Tour de Pinot 2010 began with an spark of excitement in the air and a noticeable lack of spandex as the team assembled at TOWB world headquarters in Corvallis, OR to kick off the series with more than double the number of riders from the previous season.

In addition to series founders and blog regulars Rick Goranflo and yours truly, we were joined by three dedicated cyclists:  Scott Alward, an OSU student training for a week-long cycling trek this summer, Andrea Flatley, a native Wisconsinonion who is slinging news in Portland these days, and Craig Newcomb, perhaps the most talented television photographer in all of mankind.  Our crack team of riders saddled up, 15 minutes late, for what was self-admittadly a short ride, meant to get our less experienced riders comfortable with the tour so we could trick them to come on longer rides later in the season.  As we started pedaling, the wind whipping through our helmets,  there was an immediate sprint as 3 of the riders left the peloton in their dust.  OK, so what really happened was the super athletic Rick, Scott, and Craig left the not so experienced Andrea and the injured Josh in their dust.  Luckily for us, stoplights served as an equalizing factor in this city stage so every 2 blocks we caught up.
A short 1.4 miles later, the group arrived at the destination: Belle Vallee Cellars, located in the Water Street Market building at 1st and Monroe. Belle Vallee was stage 4 on the inaugural Tour last year, and we were excited to hit them up again for some outstanding hospitality and great wine.  After taking far too long to lock our bikes up, we walked in to the winery and settled in to some bar stools for some good old fashion wine tasting.  Between the 6 of us, having been joined by Megan in the team car, we got 5 different flights of wine at a very reasonable price and shared all around. Offering the full spectrum of Pinot's and big reds, as well as three Pinot Gris and a port, there is something for everybody's taste at Belle Vallee. We also got a sneak peak of a chardonnay that was nearing release.  Two wines stuck out in a very positive way:
  • 2003 Rogue Valley Merlot:  We loved the 2002 vintage of this, and the '03 is damn near as good.  With currants on the nose and black fruit flavors, this bottle is worth every penny of the $24.99 it is normally priced at.  This was no normal day, however, and the merlot was on sale for an amazing $8.99 a bottle. If you are in town, you should walk (or run) down there and pick up a case if it is still on sale. You won't be sorry.
  • 2009 Chardonnay:  The dijon clone chard should be released in the very near future.  This was equally enjoyed by our chard fans and those who usually shy away from the whites.  If it had been bottled, we would have had a problem getting all of our wine home on our bikes.
After more than adequate tasting and great service, the team wandered around the Corvallis farmers market for a few minutes until it started to rain, and homeward bound we went.  All in all, a successful and relatively uneventful Stage 1; a great start to a great summer of riding.  Stick with us as we hit Stage 2 tomorrow and don't forget to email us if you'd like to participate in Stage 3 on July 17, as we head to Tyee Wine Cellars!