January 25, 2009

Pinot Noir Tasting with Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Co.


You need to e-mail me (efullagar@verizon.net) or call (865-3993) to reserve a place at this tasting and you really should!

Wine Tasting
Featuring winemaker Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Co. from Oregon.
Wednesday, Jan. 28th
Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Park Street, Freeport
(the Hilton is just around the corner from my store - going away from LL Bean on Bow Street, cross the railroad tracks and turn left onto Park Street and there is the Hilton!)

$10/person to taste a flight of these wonderful wines
Please call the store (865-3993) or e-mail me
to register and reserve a place!

Remember, this is not a seminar. You may come at any time between 5:30 and 7:00pm.

Also, we are doing this tasting outside of the store because Maine law limits retailers to 1 wine tasting in the store per month.

We have to charge a small fee (and $10 to taste these 6 wines, especially these wines, is a pittance!) to cover the costs at the Hilton. Many thanks to Jeanne Carpentier and her awesome staff at the Hilton Garden Inn for making this happen!

The What and the Who:

Doug and Cat from SOPO (South Portland Wine Company) have Rob Stuart, owner, founder and winemaker at R. Stuart & Co. coming to Maine on Wednesday and we get to do a tasting with Rob.

Rob Stuart, a longtime veteran of the Oregon wine world, was formerly the winemaker at Erath Vineyards. He started his own winery in early 2002. Two of the wines Rob will be sharing with us that evening had less than a two barrel production (the Goldschmidt Vineyard and Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noirs) - that's about 600 bottles each.

Rob has a degree in biochemistry from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in New York. He worked in chemistry briefly and then started in the wine industry at Hans Kornell (one of the California pioneer winemakers) in Napa valley. Then he joined Valley View Vineyards (Southern Oregon's original winery in the 1850's) and after that on to Staton Hills in Yakima, Washington where he made wine for ten years. Finally, Rob returned to Oregon in 1994 as the winemaker at Erath Vineyards - working for and with Oregon legend AND PIONEER Dick Erath. Now, he makes the wines he loves: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and sparkling wine!

The Wines

R. Stuart & Company Rosé d'Or (Oregon) $49.99 - This sparkler has a captivating rosy pink color, easy caramelized sugar smell and subtle sweet flavor. Full-bodied and dry. Yeasty, fresh bread aromas. Elegant red fruit flavors. Crisp sweet apple. I think it is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Food pairing - It’s creamy lush texture accompanies everything from breakfast in bed to dessert on the deck! Smoked salmon, Sushi, Eggs Benedict, lobster, scallops and more!

R. Stuart & Company Big Fire Pinot Gris 2006 (Oregon) $13.99 - Yum! This wine is crisp and delicious with flavors of pears, apples and delicate blossoms. Aromas of honeysuckle. Finish is big and crisp! Food pairing - Wonderful wine with Maine shellfish! Thai food, sushi, salads, spicy grilled shrimp.....Wine Enthusiast, "Best Value Oregon Pinot Gris"

The Big Fire series comes with a poem on the back label - this changes over time:

"For there, in the homey night,
Was no thought else that mattered,
And nothing else was true,
But the white fire of moonlight,
And a white dream of you." Rupert Brooke

R. Stuart & Company Big Fire Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) $19.99 - Rob says this wine is like a ripe plum -- juicy, fruity, and very very drinkable. Delicious red fruits - wild raspberry, cherry, strawberry and red plum. Cinnamon and maybe even leather. Medium bodied. Smooth texture with something to grip! Grapes are from the Temperance Hill, Erath, Brunker Hall, Melrose and Arcus vineyards. Aged 10 months in oak barrels (10% new French). Food pairing - jambalaya, pasta with tomatoes and garlic, mushroom and/or sausage pizza, a grilled burger....

"But you are more than love
the fiery kiss,
the heart of fire,
more than the wine of life." Pablo Keruda

R. Stuart & Company Autograph Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) Reg. $39.99 Sale $31.99 - The wine Rob Stuart calls his favorite! Intensely flavored and yet, still restrained. Aromas & flavors of black cherry, chocolate, dusty earth, violets, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, lavender, ginger & baking spices. Grapes blended from 5 vineyards – Daffodil Hill, Temperance Hill, Elkhorn Ridge, Goldschmidt and Weber. Unfiltered and unfined. Aged 10 months in new to 5th use oak barrels. When to drink – now through 2012. Food pairing – salmon, duck, tuna, lamb, beef, etc. Decant for an hour.

R. Stuart & Company Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $49.99 - This wine shines with beautiful finesse and amazing rich flavors of red fruits, plums, and raspberries. The structure of the wine is defined and elegant with a long and luscious finish.

Temperance Hill is one of Oregon's best vineyards for Pinot Noir. It's also not that big - 73 acres. The soil is the product of an ancient volcano - each slope is part of the collapsed volcanic cone - the caldera. The slopes are rocky. It's full of gigantic basalt boulders. The soil is thin - this makes the vines struggle more - which means the fruit is better. At 700-800 feet, Temperance Hill is at an unusually high elevation (most vineyards in the area are at 300-500 feet). This means the temperatures are lower and the harvests later. The Willamette Valley harvests about 2 weeks earlier; even areas to the north in Chehalem and the Dundee Hills harvest earlier than Temperance Hill. Because of the late harvest, this is a riskier area to plant; but, in good years, the risk is rewarded with beautiful aromas and flavors. Vineyard manager Dai Crisp says that the difference between a good wine and a great one is 5 more days on the vine.

Temperance Hill produces grapes with darker fruit, dark cherry, black current, minerals, an earthy character....more acidity and structure than from the Dundee Hills.....lilac aromas. Spicy, classic aromas.

Temperance Hill farms organically. Dai Crisp began farming grapes in his parents backyard in the mid-'80's.

R. Stuart & Company Goldschmidt Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $49.99 -

Oregon wine's Gold Coast is usually called the Dundee Hills or the "Red Hills of Dundee." It is know for its red volcanic Jory soil and is home to over 50 vineyards, including Goldschmidt (which was renamed Winderlea recently). These vineyards along Worden Hill Road are among the most prized in Oregon - Goldschmidt, Maresh, Bergstrom, Erath, Weber, Ana, Cameron's Clos de Bess and Electrique. Most recently, it has been a select few in Oregon who have been able to buy Goldschmidt grapes - Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Patricia Green Cellars, Adelsheim Vineyard and R. Stuart & Co.

Goldschmidt Vineyard has some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley. The vineyard is at about 440-560 feet in elevation. The Pinot Noir vines include Pommard, Wadenswil and the so-called Coury Clones. These have been supplemented with Dijon clones. The vines are densely planted to stress them and produce more Burgundian-style Pinot Noir. The vineyard comprises 13 blocks entirely devoted to Pinot Noir. It's small - 17 acres.

Goldschmidt grapes have a unique dried cherry character. It also brings a ripe red pear texture to the wine. The wines are red-fruit and rich. Lush, rich wines!

Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash says, "Goldschmidt Vineyard is an awesome site form Pinot Noir....and near and dear to my heart in terms of quality.....it has a high YUMM factor!" Penner-Ash makes Pinot Noir from Goldschmidt for the Dusky Goose label and her own Penner-Ash Wine Cellars; she's worked with grapes from this vineyard since 1988.

That's the line-up. Rarely do we get a winemaker of Rob's skill and experience in Maine who is available for a public tasting!

Eric Fullagar
Freeport Cheese & Wine
27 Bow StreetFreeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993