April 28, 2012

Pacific Northwest Wine Tasting with Wayne Clark and Devenish's Ned Swain

Wayne & Ned’s 
Way Cool
 Wine Tasting II
Saturday, May 5th

Featuring Wines 
from Oregon & Washington
From SMALL family-owned wineries
Brought to Us By a Mainer, Wayne Clark,
Who moved to Oregon

10% off the price of all tasting wines!

A Wine tasting featuring small Pacific Northwest wineries you likely have never seen before – and some wines that have never been sold in Maine before.

Wayne Clark has been a customer and became a friend over the years.  He moved to Oregon a couple of years ago and on his return trips he’d bring these treasures from unknown wineries in Oregon.  I loved the wines.  He started asking me how to get them in Maine.  So, I put Wayne and Ned Swain of Devenish Wines together.

Let’s just say Wayne knows his way around a good bottle of wine AND he knows how to avoid a poor bottle as well.  Life is too short to drink bad wine is a motto that Wayne and I share along with Ned from Devenish Wines.

Wayne is a former full-time Maine resident.  He now lives in Oregon, but he still has a home here and he returns often……and he wanted some of his favorite unknown Oregon gems to be available in Maine.  His ORWA (Oregon and Washington abbreviated and merged) wine brokerage is bringing wines from small family wineries in Oregon and Washington to Maine, with distribution handled through Devenish Wines.  For more information, visit the ORWA website at orwawine.com.

This is what Wayne does in his own words:

“First, what is this all about? When I moved to Oregon, I knew very little about Oregon wines. I remember sitting in a place called Oregon Wines on Broadway, which had about 16 wines on “tap.” I was blown away by the depth and breadth of them, and how very good they were. Then I discovered that I was only about 35 minutes from wine country. I spent many weekends exploring. Imagine Napa at a kinder, gentler time in its history. You’re on a country road, and then there are several blue signs at an intersection. Along with easel signs: “Tasting Today”. Heaven.

Pinot Noir is the signature grape in Oregon, and what it is NOT is California Pinot. The highest expression of Pinot Noir in Oregon is an elegant, silky wine with a balanced alcohol content. The wine may be bigger or smaller, lean to black fruits or red berries, be lighter or heavier, but the best ones are silky and elegant. Burgundian, if you will.

I came to have a real yen for the smaller, family-owned wineries. In fact for our business model, if we visit a tasting room a couple of times and haven’t met the owner or the winemaker, we’re not likely to include it in our portfolio.”

The Wines:

The Whites:

Illahe Vineyards is a small producer in Upper Willamette Valley.

Wayne and Kim found Illahe at the end of a long weekend of tasting over Thanksgiving 2010 (one of the two major tasting weekends in the Willamette Valley). It is at the far southern end of the upper Willamette Valley, and the approach is spectacular, through seeming miles of vineyards, then up a long, curvy road through the vines to arrive at the hilltop winery. Not usually open, a makeshift tasting room had been set up in the building. Our palates were fried, but we liked what we tasted. We were met in the driveway by Logan the black lab, and at the door of winery by Lowell Ford, the long-time farmer for the family property. He explained that “Illahe” is a Chinook word describing “place”. His son Brad is the winemaker, and the National Sales Manager is Bethany, Brad’s wife.

We wanted to taste the wines again with fresh palates before including them in our portfolio, so we called Bethany. She agreed to meet us on a Sunday afternoon and pour them all for us. At 8 months pregnant, no small feat!

Illahe Gruner Veltliner 2010 (Oregon) $15.99 –Why not an Oregon Gruner? A grape that is not commonly grown in Oregon, but that is well-suited to Oregon’s climate and Illahe’s soil.  This has nice minerality.  Wonderful fruit – pineapple, melon and just a hint of grapefruit.  Hints of black pepper.  Stainless steel fermentation. 0.3% residual sugar – so it is bone dry.  LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard. 

Illahe Riesling 2009 (Oregon) $15.99 –This is a bone-dry Riesling (it’s only 0.5% residual sugar).  This might be Illahe’s driest white.  Aromas and flavors of honey and apples.  90 cases made.  Stainless steel fermentation and aging.  Made from 2 clones of Riesling, one of which entered Oregon in the ‘70’s.  LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard.

ArborBrook Pinot Gris Croft Vineyard 2010 (Oregon) $15.99 – This is a beautiful example of a hand-crafted wine from a small producer in the coastal range of Oregon.  The grapes are from the Croft Vineyard.  This has bright, fresh aromas of pears, tropical fruit, subtle lemon, honeysuckle and minerals.  This has flavors of pears, white peaches and apricots, minerals and vibrant acidity.  100% Pinot Gris.  Stainless steel fermentation and aging.  450 cases made.  All organic farming, “Salmon Safe.”  20 year-old vines.  Food pairing – fish with a white wine sauce, mussels, albacore salad, ham, quiche.

The Reds:

Red Hawk “Grateful Red” Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon) $17.99

Red Hawk Red 2009 (Oregon) $17.99 - Blend

Dewey Kelly Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) – These are Wayne’s notes about the winery and wine. 

“The Dewey Kelley label is actually Dewey’s second label. He makes Ribbon Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir that is premium priced and quite nice, but honestly I like the Dewey Kelly better at the price point.

I discovered this small (~1,100 cases) operation by accident. I was out solo on a Memorial Day weekend, which in the Willamette Valley is when many places are open for tasting that aren’t usually open. It wasn’t on my itinerary, but I was intrigued and turned in by the easel sign. I bumped half a mile up a wet dirt road, so rough that my GPS bounced off the dash and hit the floor and broke. My reward was a pole building with an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven and Dewey himself. The makeshift tasting room was pure Willamette Valley: unpretensious and fun. Dewey also makes a dessert wine that is killer, but we’re not going there yet.

This vineyard has been producing fruit for a long time. Dewey is both farmer and winemaker, and he still holds onto his day job as well. He holds his wine a bit longer than most. While many vineyards are sold out of their 2008s and are pouring 2009s, he won’t release his 2008 until Thanksgiving 2011. Given the stellar year that 2008 was, I can’t wait.

Ribbon Ridge is one of my favorite AVAs. It’s the smallest in Oregon, and it differs significantly from Chehalem Mountains, which it borders. The marine sedimentary soil is younger, and less disturbed by faults and floods. The Chehalem Mountains block severe weather from the Columbia Gorge, and the Eola Hills to the south block the cold winter marine winds of the Van Duzer Corridor – a pass through the Coast Range to the Pacific.

2007 Pinot Noir

This is a light, bright wine, with pleasant red fruit and an elegant finish. 2007 was to put it mildly a challenging year. Some have called it a winemaker’s year, because it separated the men from the boys, so to speak. Late season rain had people guessing when to harvest. Those who waited were rewarded with riper fruit. Even the best 2007s didn’t really come into their own until they’d been in bottle about 6 months. With much longer than that, Dewey’s are very nice.”

Angel Vine Zinfandel 2008 (Washington) $21.99 – These are Wayne’s notes. 

“I met Ed Fus and two of his angels at Carlton Wine Cellars, a winemaking co-op where he turns Washington grapes into Oregon wine. I had tried one of his Zinfandels at a restaurant some months earlier, so when I saw the name I had to check it out. A side note: Ed’s label was originally Three Angels (his wife and two daughters), but a trademark challenge from a much bigger California winery caused him to change it to Angel Vine. Ed is a director of LIVE (Low Input Viniculture & Enology), which certifies sustainable practices.

2008 Columbia Valley Zinfandel

Columbia Valley is the largest AVA in Washington. These grapes were from the sub-AVAs of Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, and Wahluke Slope. It was barrelled in a mixture of mostly second-use French and Hungarian oak for 18 months.

This is everything you want in a Zinfandel. The secret is a bit of Primitivo and Petit Syrah to balance it out and add some oomph. It’s fruit forward, and has noticeable but not overwhelming tannins, nice raspberry and blackberry notes, and spice. An approachable everyday wine.

Angel Vine “The Hellion” Primitivo – Petite Sirah 2008 (Washington) $24.99 – We tasted a wonderful Zinfandel from this winery in April when Wayne was here.  It was a HUGE hit at the tasting.  Ed Fus made a very limited amount of this blend (9 barrels).  Ed is devoted to making great Zinfandel and its cousin, Primitivo.  This is a delicious tribute to the Italian field blends that have been popular in California since immigrants brought vines with them.  It’s full, ripe and drinkable with spice and smoke under its dense fruit.  Everything is balanced.

The Dessert:

ArborBrook “Sydney” Semillon 2008 (Washington) $22.99 – This is golden and honeycomb in color.  This is a Sauternes-style wine with ripe honeysuckle and pineapple aromas.  This has flavors of pineapple, candied orange peel, starfruit and more tropical fruit flavors.  It has a silky, soft mouthfeel with a long finish.  The grapes are picked in late November.  From the Klipsun Vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA in Washington.  Fermented for 60 days in oak barrels.  Barrel-aged for 18 months in 50% new and 50% 2nd use French oak barrels.  All organic farming, “Salmon Safe.”  .  Food pairing – foie gras, blue cheese, nuts, dried fruit, pear or apple tart, grilled pineapple with white pepper caramel sauce, poaching Asian pears in and serving over vanilla ice cream.  94 points, Wine Enthusiast

April 25, 2012

April 2012 Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting
April 27th
4:30 – 7:30

10% off the price of all tasting wines!

The Sparkling:

Belle De Nuit Cremant de Loire 2009 (France) $16.99 – Without a doubt, the sparkling wines from the Loire Valley that are made in a similar way to Champagne are among the best sparkling wine values in the world!  This has nice aromas and flavors of white stone fruits and pears.  Plus some vanilla.  Blend of 15% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 35% Chenin Blanc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Hand-harvested grapes.  Aged 15 months sur lie in the bottle.  Undergoes a disgorgement as does Champagne and is then vinified dry in the bottle. 

The Whites:

Lanzos Blanco Castillo y Leon 2010 (Spain) $13.99 - This delicious wine is a great example of the incredible value coming from the Castilla y Leon region of Spain. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viura, it has crisp ripe fruit and a touch of floral aromas. On the palate, it is crisp and full of fruit with a hint of minerality. A very refreshing wine that pairs well with a wide variety of seafood, fowl, and full-flavorful cheeses.

Château Tuilerie Pagès Entre Deux Mers Blanc 2011 (France) $14.99 – This is a deliciously unoaked Bordeaux Blanc.  Aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruit.  Everything is nicely balanced.  Blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Sémillon.  Stainless steel fermentation and aging.  This comes in a beautiful blue bottle.    

The Rosé:

Vieux Clocher Rosé Cotes Du Rhone 2011 (France) $13.99 - This is a delicious rosé!  Aromas and flavors of strawberries and red berries.  This is light and refreshing!  Perfect for sitting and sipping on a warm day.  From the oldest continuously-owned family winery in France, 1717 - the Count François de Castellanne, de Lauris, de Vassadel, de Gérard, Chevalier Marquis d’Ampuis, de Lagnetoux, universal landlord of the place called Vacqueyras, donated a parcel of vines to an acestor of the Arnoux family. To this day, the Arnoux family farms this land and makes wonderful wines. Food pairing – sipping on a warm day. Grilled chicken or pork. Spicy dishes. Perfect for a picnic. Great with ham for Easter Dinner. Great with turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving Dinner.

The Reds:

Cave Anne de Joyeause Camas Syrah 2009 (Languedoc, France) $12.99 – Cave Anne de Joyeuse is a high quality cooperative in Limoux, which was founded in 1929.  Today it has 650 members.  All the individual growers must adhere to rigorous procedures that are defined and monitored by the winery’s oenologists.  The cooperative is also committed to preserving the environment and to sustainable agriculture – the result of this commitment is best shown by the fact that over 80 varieties of orchid which are native to the region have spontaneously regenerated in their vineyards.  Since 1994 they have been recognized by the label “Protect The Planet” for work methods which are compatible with sustainable agriculture and the promotion of bio-diversity.  This Syrah is ripe and smooth, showing nice dark and red berry fruit.  Excellent wine at a great price!

Bliss Pinot Noir 2009 (Mendocino County, California) $17.99 – The cooling influences for growing wines in this area are ideal conditions for Pinot Noir and the result is a moderately-priced California Pinot that tastes like Pinot and is only 13.5% alcohol.  It is NOT Syrah-like, which Pinot never should be, but too often is.  Aromas and flavors of violets, raspberries and cherry cola.  Long, elegant finish with a little earthy spice on it.  Food pairing - Versatile enough to pair with everything from seasonal salads to your favorite poultry dish. Perfect with roasted veggies, chicken kebabs or partnering with your favorite fare.

Carol Shelton “Wild Things” Zinfandel 2008 (Mendocino County, California) $21.99 - From the award-winning winemaker Carol Shelton. Aromas of black cherry, plum and raspberry fruit combine with a beautiful hint of vanilla-oak loveliness, smoothly textured in mouth, very creamy and round, the finish is long and has lush jammy fruit — this wine is dangerously good! Remember – you are what you drink ….

Bank Note "The Vault" Red Blend 2009 (Napa Valley, California) $36.99 - Bill Knuttel consults with winemaker Pete Nixon to create the Banknote Wine Company, specializing in limited-production hand-crafted Napa Valley Wines. This Zinfandel based blend (45% Zinfandel, 30% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon) selected from only the finest Napa Valley Vineyards showcases ripe, concentrated dark fruit flavors that finish with a touch of spice and sweet tannins. The sheer boldness of this beauty makes it a great match with grilled steaks and chutney-accompanied dishes. Why so many labels? According to the winery, they couldn't decide on one banknote to represent the wine, so each case of Banknote wine has twelve different banknote labels.

The Cider:

Eden Ice Cider Caville Blanc Blend (Vermont) $29.99 – Think beyond dessert with this cider!  It goes well with sharp cheddars, game, patés and more.  Made from MacIntosh, Empire and Russet apples to provide sweetness and full body, Calville Blanc to add acidity and citrus notes and Ashmead’s Kernel that adds tannins for structure.  Ice Cider brings the essence of pure apple to a sophisticated wine. Vermont’s natural winter cold is used to concentrate cider to the optimum balance of sweetness and acidity. The unique blend of traditional and heirloom apples produces a complex, delicious flavor that complements food yet may be savored on its own.  Featured in Food and Wine Magazine!