Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Weekend Wine Tasting

Memorial weekend upon us again! This time we did things in bulk: 25 friends in a 30-passenger party bus! She's the crown jewel of the Aspen Limo Tours fleet. Our driver, Kawika, was AWESOME! Ranks as one of the best wine tours I've done, even though we only hit 3 wineries. The first:

Sineann recently relocated to the old Owen Roe Winery out on Champoeg Road near St. Paul. A new facility is being built for Sineann and the resident winery, Lady Hill (more about them below). For a $10 tasting fee, we were able to taste through the entire Lady Hill and Sineann lineups:

  • 2013 White Table Wine (mostly NZ Sauvignon Blanc) - $13
  • 2013 Columbia Gorge Gruner Veltliner - $18
  • 2013 Wyeast Vineyard Pinot Gris - $20
  • 2013 Celilo Vineyard Gewurztraminer - $18
  • 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir - $30
  • 2012 Yates Conwill Vineyard Pinot Noir - $42
  • 2012 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir - $48
  • 2012 Red Table Wine - $16
  • 2012 Columbia Valley Abondante - $24
  • 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $30
  • 2012 Baby Poux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - $42
  • 2012 Red Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - $48
  • 2013 Sweet Sydney Zinfandel Port - $24
Out of the lineup, the 3 Cabs were my favorite, with RMV topping the list. Well done, Peter!

After co-founder Jerry Owen split from Owen Roe, and that winery moved to Union Gap Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, he went to work with consulting winemaker Erik Brasher to form Lady Hill Winery in the old Owen Roe space on his family's farm property. These wines were a treat! I'm a huge fan of Erik's winemaking style, first experienced during his tenure as Director of Winemaking at Owen Roe. Included in the $10 tasting fee noted above were the following wines:
  • 2013 Lady Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Gris - $18
  • 2012 Lady Hill Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir - $35
  • 2012 Procedo Columbia Valley Proprietary Red: 62% Sangiovese, 15% Cab Franc, 13% Merlot, 10% Cab Sauv. - $20
  • 2012 Procedo Columbia Valley "Credente": 50% Sangiovese, 20% Cab Franc, 20% Merlot, 10% Cab Sauv. - $35
  • 2012 Ad Lucem Columbia Valley Proprietary Red: 62% Syrah, 17% Mourvedre, 11% Grenache, 10% Durif - $25
  • 2012 Ad Lucem Red Willow Vineyard "Daystar" Syrah - $35
  • 2012 Ad Lucem Red Heaven Vineyard "Daystar" Blend: 51% Mourvedre, 29% Syrah, 20% Grenache - $40
  • 2012 Ad Lucem Red Willow Vineyard "Daystar" Blend: 62% Mourvedre, 38% Syrah - $40
  • 2011 Lady Hill Tapteil Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: 79% Cab Sauv., 21% Merlot - $45
  • 2012 Lady Hill Tapteil Vineyard "Cuvee Marie Dorion" Blend: 62% Merlot, 38% Cab Sauv. - $35
  • BONUS POUR: 2012 Procedo Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc: 76% Cab Franc, 24% Merlot - $N/A
  • BONUS POUR: 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc Barrel Sample (unknown label or blend) - $N/A
The winery also produces a number of other wines that were not open for tasting on this visit. All of these wines were hitting on all cylinders, and at amazingly reasonable price points. My favorites were the Ad Lucem single-vineyard blends, and the Tapteil Vineyard wines from the Lady Hill label. Keep your eyes on this up and coming new winery!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cayuse Weekend in Walla Walla

This past April, our wine loving group made the trek from Portland out to Walla Walla for "Cayuse Weekend". We went last year also, but one (large) difference this year was the fact that yours truly finally made it onto the Cayuse Vineyards mailing list, after a 7 year (!!!) wait. This means I get to buy wine from the winery, and get to attend release weekend tastings. I didn't get to pick up any wine this year, as the 2012's were still in barrel, but next year I'll get my first allocation: 1 3-pack of 2012 En Cerise Vineyard Syrah. YES!!!

Note: If you haven't signed up for the Cayuse Wait List, I would HIGHLY recommend that you do, as well as Baron's second label, No Girls Wines

Back to the weekend! We hit Cayuse on Friday, after a quick lunch at The Worm Ranch, and a palate-cleansing tasting at Basel Cellars. In addtion to meeting founder/owner/winemaker Christophe Baron, who was extremely nice and quite fun to chat with, we tasted through barrel samples of the 2012 lineup, paired with some delicious hors d'oeuvres. Here are the wines:
  • 2011 God Only Knows Grenache
  • 2012 Camaspelo (84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot)
  • 2012 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah
  • 2012 En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah
  • 2012 En Cerise Vineyard Syrah
  • 2012 Bionic Frog Syrah
  • 2011 Armada Vineyard Syrah
  • 2012 Impulsivo Tempranillo
All were amazing and, although very, very young, drinking quite well. I'm quite sure they had been decanted for some time. The Impulsivo was locked up pretty tightly, and several 2011 wines were included due to the un-readiness of their 2012 versions. 

The snacks served all came from estate-raised livestock. Here's the list:
  • Cucumber with Olive Tapenade
  • Slow-Roasted Lamb on Chickpea Crisp
  • Rosemary & Thyme Lamb Meatball with Arrabiatta Sauce
  • Chevre and Thyme Gougeres
  • Country Pate and Cherry Gastrique
All were delicious, although I avoided the pate/cherry thing (I don't like either ingredient), with my favorite being the lamb meatballs. So good with the wines! 

Other wineries we visited over the weekend were Sleight of Hand Cellars (epic Grenache party Friday night), El Corazon (epic "Pants Optional" party Saturday night), Rasa Vineyards (epic wines, ALWAYS), Mark Ryan Winery (epic carnitas tacos), Charles Smith/K Vintners, Reynvaan Vineyards, and Cadaretta Winery. A great weekend, tasty dinner at T. Maccarones, extremely fun and laid back. We missed a lot of wineries this trip, but made up for it with the higher amount of fun. If you haven't visited Walla Walla, I really think you need to plan it!