Subscribe to our mailing list

 

HOURS
Normal Hours:
Mon 9-7
Tues-Sat: 9-7:30
OPEN
PRESIDENT'S DAY
9-7

 

CABERNET VALUE

AMAZING ALBARIÑO

CAB DRIVER'S CARmenere

SOULFUL RED RHÔNE

SURPRISINGLY GOOD TEN BUCK MERLOT

BIGFOOT CABERNET

COOL PORTUGUESE WHITE WINE

2007 VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE 

CIRO' BIANCO!

GOOD RIESLING KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES

CHAMPAGNE DE
MERFY

A FIESTA OF A TEMPRANILLO

OBSCURE ITALIAN RED

CIÙ CIÙ
PECORINO

COOL VERDEJO

FLASHY RED BORDEAUX

NEW STONY SANCERRE

MAN, OH MAN, WHAT A WINE!

ELEVEN BUCK
AMADOR ZIN

HARD-TO-BELIEVE PASO ROBLES CABERNET

STYLISH WASHINGTON MERLOT

SLEEPER of A CHARDONNAY

SUSSUDIO ???

FLORAL ALBARIÑO

SARDINIAN WHITE

NEW SONOMA RHONE-ISTE OF NOTE

REMARKABLE PINOT

LAKE COUNTY ZIN

STELLAR NEW ARTISAN RIOJA

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

STONY RIESLING

DRY MUSCAT
FROM AOSTA

FORAGING FOR PINOT NOIR

MARSELAN...A HYBRID OF CABERNET & GRENACHE

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

CASTELÃO BARGAIN

STELLAR BLAUFRÄNKISCH ESTATE

CAMPANIAN DELIGHTS

COLORFUL ZIN

DOURO DYNAMITE

PORTUGUESE RED BARGAIN

GRAND SYRAH FROM AN UNUSUAL PLACE

WHITE BURGUNDIES OF NOTE

MARSANNE BARGAIN

CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $12.99

PROSECCO FOR ADULTS

BILLIONAIRE'S WINES UNDER $30!

BARGAIN WHITE BORDEAUX

PIERCINGLY GOOD
WHITE

TOP OF THE LINE
CREMANT

ANOTHER RULLY GOOD WHITE

RESERVE QUALITY RIOJA

BARBERA OF NOTE

SUPER VERONESE SALE $12.99

PIEMONTE'S GRAND VIN BIANCO?

DELICIOUS, FRESH ROSÉS

GREAT GRUNER VELTLINER

GOOD ELEVEN-BUCK CHIANTI

FLOWERY, CURIOUS RED

OLD FAVORITE KIWI SAUVIGNON IS BACK

OLD PATCH RED
ZIN BLEND

MONCUIT'S GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE

HONEYED MUSCAT

SPICY 
GEWÜRZTRAMINER

Napa Valley Grape Info
2002

2010

Amazing FRENCH CIDERS

FIZZY LAMBRUSCO

 

 

HOME PAGE

AMERICAN WINES

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

RHONE WANNABEES

ZINFANDELS

SAUVIGNON BLANCS

MERLOTS

OREGON WINES

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS

CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

RIESLING & GEWURZ

WASHINGTON STATE

CANADIAN WINES

Adventuresome  Wines

ROSÉS !!

FRENCH WINES
ALSACE
BEAUJOLAIS
RED BORDEAUX
WHITE BORDEAUX
RED BURGUNDY
WHITE BURGUNDY
RHÔNE VALLEY
THE FRENCH ALPS
SOUTH OF FRANCE

LOIRE


CHAMPAGNE

 

ITALIAN WINES
PIEMONTE

VALLE D'AOSTA

NORTHERN ITALY

CENTRAL ITALIA

TUSCANY

SOUTHERN ITALIA


SPANISH WINES
Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights


PORTUGUESE WINES

SWISS WINES

GERMAN WINES

AUSTRIAN WINES

ARGENTINA

CHILE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

OBSCURE WINES

DESSERT WINES

CHAMPAGNES

HALF-BOTTLES

SPIRITS

CIDERS

BEER
Even Real "Bud"!

OTHER STUFF

WINE TASTING

WHAT'S OPEN


UPCOMING TASTINGS

TASTING RESULTS
  
NEWSLETTER

SHIPPING INFO

ETC.

 

TASTING REPORTS

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BLIND-TASTING

BLIND TASTING ARCHIVE

MY 2013 EURO WINE ADVENTURE BOOK

CHATEAU MONTELENA
VERTICAL


ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2007

ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2008

SCHRAMSBERG vs THE FAMOUS FRENCH

German Wine "Master Class" Tasting

S & M FOR WINETASTING GEEKS

TEAR-WAH
TASTING

2016 SF
INTERNATIONAL
WINE COMPETITON

2015 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2014 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2013 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2012 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2011 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2010 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2009 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2008 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
Periodically Amazing

2007 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The Nose Knows!

2006 SF INTERNATIONAL  WINE COMPETITION.
SPIT HAPPENS

2005 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.

2004 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING

The 2003 SF WINE COMPETITION

2002 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING 

A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels

 

 

ETC.

RANTINGS & RAVINGS

WINE ROADS of EUROPE

Food/Wine/Friends
A Photo Gallery

MASTER OF WINE ESSAY TOPICS

Old Bottles: A TASTE OF HISTORY

Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession

NEW "CULT" WINERY

Some Restaurant Reviews

HOW TO SELL WINE.
Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.

HOW TO HOLD A TRADE TASTING

$100,000 WORTH OF WINE MARKETING ADVICE:  FREE!
Mainly for Foreign Vintners

MOLDY CORKS

Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

GERALD'S TOUR DE FRANCE 2008

A TOUR OF PORTUGAL-2009

HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

PONZI'S 40th
ANNIVERSARY

ROOSEVELT'S 2005 CHILI COOK-OFF

ROOSEVELT'S 2007 CHILI COOK-OFF

Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday

ALESSIA DALL'U

CCIV

FAQs

BURLINGAME

Links

OREGON WINES PAGE 4

 

 

ANDREW RICH
We've long been impressed by the work of winemaker Andrew Rich.  He's a graduate (or survivor) of the University of Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz in  California and moved to Oregon after earning his parole from Warden Randall Grahm.

Andrew had been involved in some sort of magazine business when he decided to move to France and enroll in a winemaking school in Burgundy.  Having developed a taste for Rhone wines, especially Syrahs from the Northern Rhone, Rich applied for a position with Bonny Doon Vineyard and was hired as a cellar rat.   Next thing he knew, Andrew was in charge of making eaux-de-vie, as Randall had the brilliant idea of making grappa and the like.

From there, Andrew worked in Bonny Doon's white wine production facility and in the 1990s, he flew the coop, making his way north to Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Today he makes wine in a small facility off the main drag in Carlton, where a number of other small wine brands are trying to make a name for themselves.  

The facility is the work of Eric Hamacher and his wife, Luisa Ponzi.  Also backing this effort are grape growers, Kirsten and Ned Lumpkin.  The quartet built a winery where little wine companies could make their wines, get a solid footing in the market and blossom on their own.  The list of Carlton Winemakers Studio "alumni" includes Penner Ash, Soter and Scott Paul, amongst others.

Andrew Rich makes his wonderful range of wines here and the fellow simply understands grapes, vines and wines.  Rich still has a passion for Rhone varieties, though we view him as a Sancerrois from Oregon.

Who else makes such phenomenal Sauvignon Blanc AND Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley?  

Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Croft Vineyard, an organically-farmed site just south of Dallas.  Croft's is one of the few Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in  the state and Andrew's wine is definitely not for everyone.  We love the hugely expressive herbal, grassy notes, though the new vintage has a hint of ripe peach, too.  Some people find it too pungent and too expressive, so if you're serving some Asian-styled seafood to some limp-wristed wine drinkers, this may not be a good choice.  On the other hand, if you want to try a full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal Sauvignon, this is worth trying.  We have the 2012 in stock presently.

Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs are a delight.  If you keep tabs on the "buzz" regarding Oregon Pinots, Andrew Rich is usually not mentioned much.  That's good for us, though, since this guy is a "serious" winemaker and he makes "serious wines."

We've noted a steady increase in the quality of Pinot Noir at this winery.  

We have one bottling presently...


It's a 2013 Pinot Noir called "Prelude."

The vintage presented some challenges, according to Andrew.
It began looking like a drought year, but then in September they have five inches of rain over a four day period.
This meant they had to do a particularly vigilant selection when the grapes were moving along the sorting table.
What started to look like a fairly ripe and robust wine ended up retaining some notes of sunshine, but the Pinot Noir is a mere 13% alcohol and there's good acidity and mild tannins.
We're always delighted when a Pinot Noir smells and tastes like a Pinot Noir...Andrew is quite talented at this, actually.  
The 2013 Prelude is not a wine for cellaring...please drink it now or next year.


 


We have another interesting wine from this vintner, though it's actually made of fruit sourced in Washington's Columbia Valley.  Horse Heaven Hills, Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval provided the grapes for this Rhone-ish blend.  It's mostly Syrah with "F-O-S" (Friends of Syrah) in the blend.

Andrew calls it Tabula Rasa, as he apparently had no preconceived notions about making this wine...the 2011 is in stock presently.

There's a lovely, berryish character to the wine.  We like the red fruits, some plummy, black fruit notes and the hints of pepper and spice.  This surely is worthy of comparison to good, serious Southern Rhone wines such as some of our favorites from Cairanne, Rasteau and Sablet.  Gigondas and Vacqueyras, too, come to think of it.  It's about 79% Syrah with Grenache and Mourvedre filling out the rest.

In the realm of interesting sweet wines, Andrew offers a Gewurztraminer which is made from grapes processed while they are frozen.  This means most of the water is retained in the press and what's extracted and fermented is the "essence" of the fruit.  Andrew picked up this recipe while working at Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz and he's making his own which exceeds, in our view, the wines made at Chez Grahm.  It's nicely aromatic, sweet and crisp.  

 It's really nice to see this fellow making such good wines!

Currently in stock:  2012 ANDREW RICH "Croft Vineyard" SAUVIGNON BLANC $19.99
2013 ANDREW RICH "Willamette Valley" PINOT NOIR "Prelude"  $21.99
2011 TABULA RASA Columbia Valley RED  $16.99
2008 GEWURZTRAMINER Dessert Wine Sold Out

 

*************************************************

PHELPS CREEK

There's a small stream, we're told, called Phelps Creek and it's located in Hood River County, Oregon, a short drive east of Portland.

The region is actually better known for its cultivation of pears (Anjou) than it is for wines.  Maybe that will change as there are a number of small cellars there currently growing grapes and making some wine.

Phelps Creek is the work of a fellow who grew up in the Bay Area.  Robert Morus was a youngster back in the 1960s when the Napa Valley was just starting to get rolling as a major wine-producing region.

His father was a pilot and Robert followed in his dad's footsteps and was working for Delta Airlines when he and his wife ventured from their home base in Chicago to Portland.  They began looking for a possible vineyard site and homestead.  

He'd explored the Willamette Valley a bit, but was enchanted by a site in Hood River County which had a relatively high elevation.  Typical weather records showed this region indicated the area was climatically similar to Dundee in the Willamette Valley.  But that was because the weather monitoring station was lower down in the middle of the Hood River Valley.

Morus' vineyards are at a higher elevation and so making a light, elegant Pinot Noir is possible with careful attention to detail in the vineyard.

They have vineyards at elevations ranging from 950 feet to 1200 feet.  In the Willamette Valley, a 600 foot elevation is considered high.

The Phelps name, by the way, bears no relation to Napa's Joseph Phelps.  This Phelps was some sort of wood-worker and barrel builder back in the 1800s we're told.  Another source indicates Phelps was a prospector.  

We've got limited experience in Phelps Creek wines, but we've known the wines of Alexandrine Roy for a number of years.  She and her family make wine in Gevrey-Chambertin.  But she comes to Oregon to give advice and counsel in making wines at Phelps Creek Vineyards.

One of the bottlings of Pinot Noir is called "Cuvee Alexandrine" and we quite like the 2012 vintage.  It's medium garnet in color and the nose displays some notes of cherry and maybe a touch of pomegranate-like fruit.  It's a wine you'll find to be medium-light in body and, knowing the wines of Domaine Marc Roy in Gevrey, this wine doffs its chapeau in the direction of Burgundy.  It's elegant and feathery, so pairing it with lighter fare would certainly be appropriate.  It might do well, too, with another couple of years in the bottle.

 

Currently in stock:  PHELPS CREEK 2012 "Cuvee Alexandrine" PINOT NOIR $47.99

 

*************************************************

 

 

DE PONTE CELLARS
The Baldwin family purchased this vineyard site in 1999 and they've built a nice little winery at the property in the Dundee Hills area.  The vineyard is situated in a nice neighborhood in terms of vineyards, being in between Domaine Drouhin and Archery Summit wineries.

The De Ponte name is Portuguese and it's that of Scott Baldwin's grand-pappy, a fellow who left Europe in 1920 and settled in California's San Joaquin Valley.  Manuel DePonte, they say, produced good, "homemade" wines many years ago and this, apparently, left a lasting impression on Scott.

I gather the family had been living in the South Bay Area before venturing to Oregon and buying an established vineyard on Archery Summit Road.  
 
They hired a winemaker who'd been working at the neighboring Domaine Drouhin estate, a woman named Isabelle Dutartre.  Hailing from Burgundy, Ms. Dutartre worked at Drouhin's Beaune winery before coming to the U.S. and working in Oregon.

The vineyard purchased by the Baldwin family was planted with Pinot Noir and a white grape thought to be Pinot Blanc.  In fact, the Pinot Blanc was "Melon de Bourgogne" and it's labeled as such.  

((It seems U.C. Davis made a mistake in identifying Pinot Blanc and most of the cuttings it sold to growers was, in fact, "Melon" or "Melon de Bourgogne" and not a white variant of Pinot Noir.  There is some Pinot Blanc, said to have come from a nursery in Alsace, being cultivated in California and, perhaps, other places along the west coast.  It's murky, though, and so, who knows?))

Meanwhile, De Ponte offers a lovely, crisp, quite dry, nicely acidic, somewhat stony, minerally white wine from it's old Melon patch in the Dundee Hills.  If you're looking for a big, fat, oaky, high alcohol fruit bomb, this is the wrong bridge for you!  
But if you're looking for a lip-smacking, crisp, lean, flavorful white to pair with shellfish, it may be worth ponying up the toll for this wine.

We have the 2013 in stock presently.  No oak.  No sugar.  No foolin'.  They had a cool growing season which slowed the maturation of the fruit this vintage and this allowed the grapes to have a bit extra "hang time."  As a result, they were able to produce a really good wine.

Currently in stock:  DE PONTE 2013 Dundee Hills "MELON"  $24.99

 

 

 

*******************************************

 

 

CHEHALEM

Harry Peterson-Nedry is one of the leading proponents amongst Oregon winemakers in having a double last name.  He heads the list, followed by Lynn Penner-Ash, Dave Adels-Heim, Dick Pon-Zi, Myron Red-Ford, Susan Sokol-Blosser and Kenny & Gracie Romanee-Conti.

Harry is one of the early guys in Oregon wine growing, following not-too-far behind Lett, Adelsheim, Ponzi and Erath in Willamette Valley wine growing.  He grew up in the Southeast and has a background in agriculture and chemistry (not to mention he's capable in employing a fine command of English), which led him to grape-growing and winemaking.

In the late 1970s H-P-N began his search for vineyard land and ended up teaming up with Cathy and Bill Stoller in planting vines and, eventually, building a winery.  The Stollers have their own vineyard (and make a tiny bit of wine under their own label) along with being partners in Chehalem.  

Chehalem (an Indian word for either "gentle land," "valley of flowers" or "good Willamette Valley wines") gets fruit from several vineyards.  The first vineyard planted was their Ridgecrest site in Newberg.  It's more than 170 acres, but only 55 are currently planted.

Corral Creek is the vineyard adjacent to the winery and it was not planted by Harry & Company, but purchased from the Veritas Vineyard Winery.  It's a 40 acre site with 32 acres under vine.

And then there's the Stoller Vineyard, a 370-something acre site with a bit less than half planted to vineyards.  

They make quite an array of wines.  Riesling here is especially fine, but Pinot Noir is not to be overlooked.  There's Grüner Veltliner (!), Gamay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and something called Chardonnay.  The overall quality level is good, as Harry's a bit fussy about grapes and winemaking.
 
 

Wynne Peterson-Nedry-Chehalem...she's been the winemaker since 2012.



John House-Kostic (he's moved on to another wine repping gig and I think he and his wife have their own brand of Oregon wine called Ovum).

 

We currently have a really good 2012 Pinot Noir called "3 Vineyard."
While so many wineries these days are overly enamored (in our opinion) with single vineyard wines (small production=higher price), this is the flagship Pinot for Chehalem and it really seems to be a nicely done "jigsaw puzzle" of a wine.  

The three vineyard sites feature different soil types and the wine is a delight. The wine has easily-identifiable aromas and flavors of Pinot Noir...there's but a hint of wood here and it's a classic example of Willamette Valley Pinot.  Quite nice now, we suspect this will blossom over the next couple of years, but no problem to put it on the dinner table tonight.

 

 

Their 2013 Riesling is a 3 Vineyard blend and what a terrific bottle it is!
Some of the fruit was harvested at very low levels of sugar and correspondingly crisp acidity.  It was fermented in stainless steel and we love the intense Riesling fragrances...it's young, but already shows marvelous complexity reminding us of our faves from Germany (I'm thinking of Zilliken, JJ Prüm, Schäfer Fröhlich, etc.).
The wine has just a touch of sweetness and with the blazing acidity, it glides across the palate as a fairly dry wine.  Serving it with something spicy makes it taste rather dry.

We've tasted a number of serious Oregon Rieslings and this is one of the best.  It figures that someone hell-bent on quality like Herr Peterson-Nedry would be producing wine of this quality.

 

Currently in stock:  2013 CHEHALEM "3-Vineyard" PINOT NOIR $28.99 (750ml)
2013 CHEHALEM "3-Vineyard" PINOT NOIR $16.99 (375ml)
2013 CHEHALEM "3 Vineyard" RIESLING  $20.99

 

 

**********************************

 

HAMACHER WINES

With studies at the University of California at Robert Mondavi and stints at Chalone and Etude wineries (amongst others), Eric Hamacher decided it was too easy making Pinot Noir in California and so he ventured north to Oregon in search of a real winemaking challenge.

He's one of the founders of the Carlton Winemakers Studio and he produces his wines at that winery.  Hamacher is a big fan of Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  It's all about the elegance and finesse, not about power and fruit bomb wines.

Eric doesn't strike us as being one to toot his own horn...he lets his wine speak for itself and, if you get it, you're a fan.  If you need a lot of singing and dancing, Hamacher is probably not your wine.
 
Production is intentionally small...he makes perhaps two thousand cases of wine each vintage.  
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the center of attention and yet we tasted a fantastically good dessert wine from Hamacher, a "Port-styled" wine made from the ripe 2006 vintage.  It was fortified with a locally-made spirit and Eric produced three barrels.  He doesn't call it "Port," but "Ort"!  The first barrel was bottled after just a year.  Ruby.  Then he bottled the second after 7 years, a "Colheita."  The third barrel, Eric says, will go into bottle when it's 20 years old and his twin boys are ready for college.  A "Tuition" bottling, then...

We have a 2010 vintage Pinot Noir and it's a marvelously elegant bottle.  It was matured for about a year and a half in small French oak.  He also gives the wine a bit more bottle aging before releasing it, another feature we, as consumers, appreciate.
The wine displays a bright, cherryish Pinot Noir fruit, a note of a tea-like character, a faint note of forest floor-like tones and a hint of wood.  It's quite drinkable now and we expect it will last, well-stored, into the 2020s.


Currently in stock: 2010 HAMACHER Willamette Valley PINOT NOIR  $44.99

 

 

********************************************

 

 

BETHEL HEIGHTS

The Casteel brothers embarked on their Bethel Heights enterprise back in the 1970s, establishing a vineyard in the Eola Hills, northwest of Salem.  With the first vines hitting the ground in 1977, the winery saw its first vintage in 1984.  Terry and Ted Casteel sold fruit for some years before taking the plunge and making their own.  


They've prospered nicely and it's great to see the second generation become involved in the vineyards and in the cellar.

Ted took care of the vines and Terry handled the cellar work.  Terry's son Ben has returned to the fold after working at Rex Hill winery for some years.  I was impressed in tasting barrel samples with him in the cellar, hearing his assessments of the wines and a feel for the direction he wants to take with his winemaking.  Terry's other son Jon is also involved, though his main work is in running a mobile bottling line, a service utilized by a number Willamette Valley vintners.
Ted's two kids, both daughters, also are involved.  Mimi is learning viticulture from her Pop and she's the General Manager of the winery, in addition to the cider works she and her husband have near the winery.  Daughter Jessie is based in Chicago and she's their webmaster and eastern U.S. "Bethel Heights Winery Ambassador."

The main Estate vineyard comprises about 50 acres and it's mostly Pinot Noir with a bit of Chardonnay and small amounts of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.  In 1999 they added another 20 acres to the estate and this is called the Justice Vineyard.  There's a rather new addition of 80 acres on the eastern slopes of the Eola Hills.  They've, so far, planted 26 acres and this will soon come into production.

The old vineyards were planted "on their own roots" and while this may have seemed like a good idea several decades ago, it's turning out to be not-such-a-good-idea when the phylloxera root louse starts decimating the vines.  These days they plant using a (hopefully) phylloxera-resistant root stock and they plant far more vines per acre than they did in "the old days."


 
Despite having significant vineyard holdings, the Casteels do buy fruit.  About 30% of their production is made from non-estate grown grapes and most of this is Pinot Gris.

Of course, these days Oregon is famous for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but we find some lovely wines reminiscent of our favorites from France's Alsace.
 

Winemaker Ben Casteel
 
In fact, Ben Casteel made a visit to Alsace with a neighboring vintner and they did a nice job in exploring the vineyards and cellars of many top domaines.  No wonder Bethel Heights has a nice Riesling and really fine Gewurztraminer!
 
Pinot Gris at Bethel Heights is vinified in stainless steel and the wine does not undergo a malolactic fermentation as they want to retain the fresh and crisp aspects of the fruit.

There's a small bit of Grüner Veltliner, too.

Bethel Heights produces a good example of unoaked Chardonnay.  The wine actually has "Chardonnay" character.  Their barrel-aged wine is also rather good, showing nice fruit and light oak.

Pinot Noirs are routinely well-made and lean towards the elegant/refined end of the spectrum.  I find them, as a group, perfectly vinified and they're good as far as they go, but I often find the wines come to an abrupt halt.  I wish they'd have a bit more depth and/or length.  
 

Currently in the shop is the 2007 Bethel Heights Gewurztraminer.
They used to grow their own, but the original plantings but the vines produced a very small crop and they realized they were going to have to start converting vineyards onto phylloxera-resistant roots.  So...  

This vintage comes from the Foris vineyard in Oregon's Rogue Valley to the south.  It's low in alcohol (less than 12%) and has remarkably vibrant spice notes and fruit tones.  It's mildly citrusy and has a touch of rose petal.  Very fine!

I tasted their 2009 while visiting the winery in 2010 and about 30% of the wine was actually aged briefly in oak.  It's also really good, spot-on Gewurz!

Currently in stock:  2007 BETHEL HEIGHTS Rogue Valley GEWURZTRAMINER Sold Out


Ben Casteel and his Uncle Ted.


***********************************************************************************************

 

ALCHEMIST  (UNION WINE COMPANY)

This is a partnership between a winemaker and grape grower.  They have a few different labels, Kings Ridge, Underwood and this Alchemist wine.

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and price/value relationship of the 2009 Alchemist Pinot Noir.

It was a blend of vineyards, with 72% of the juice coming from the Dundee Hills and the balance from the Chehalem Mountain area.  They made close to 400 cases of this wine and yet priced it at a sensible level so people can afford to discover the wine.  
((We often hear sales reps say "Well, they only made 800 cases, so the wine costs more..."  Just because a wine is scarce, does not necessarily mean it's good quality.))

The 2010 is a good follow-up to the lovely 2009.  And the 2011 is another pleasant surprise, so these guys are three-for-three!  

We like the fragrances and flavors of good Pinot Noir...can't mistake it for anything else, frankly.  And there's a nice touch of a woodsy note to the bouquet and flavor...medium-bodied, supple on the palate and quite charming.

It's probably not a wine to cellar...best consumed in the near term.  And it's well-priced for a showy little Pinot.

Currently in stock:  2011 ALCHEMIST Willamette Valley PINOT NOIR Sold Out

*******************************************************************

UNDERWOOD

Years ago we could say that many wineries in Oregon had learned how to charge high prices for wines before learning how to make high-priced wines.

And the industry was focused on making wines with big price tags.  

It's still not easy to find good quality, modestly-priced Pinot Noir from anywhere...but the Underwood label from Oregon does a good job in highlighting the character of the grape and allowing people to experience a good bottle for a mere ten bucks.

It's made by the Union Wine Company (we're fans of their Alchemist label, featured above) and this is a multi-region blend of Pinot Noir from the fancy Willamette Valley with Pinot from the less-fancy Umpqua Valley in southern Oregon.

The wine spent less than a year in wood and they used but 15% new oak to season the wine...the alcohol level is sensible, too:  a mere 13%!  It's not an especially complex or profound wine, but at least it DOES taste like Pinot Noir.

Consider pairing this with simple dishes:  Meatloaf, burgers, chicken, pork chops, etc.

 

Currently in stock:  2014 UNDERWOOD Oregon PINOT NOIR (Most Places: $14) OUR SALE $9.99

 

 

*************************************************************************


Brick House photo by Kareasa Wilkins-2011

BRICK HOUSE

Many years ago, in a previous lifetime, I did a stint at a radio station owned by CBS.

They had a great stable of reporters and in those days, the news business didn't have a political slant to it.  CBS, of course, had a great tradition in those days.  After all, it was the home of the legendary Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

One of the reporters who was prominent in those days was a fellow named Doug Tunnell, whose reports were typically from Beirut, a real hot-spot in those days.  

Tunnell, it turns out, hails from Oregon in the first place.  When he was somewhat out of harm's way in Germany, he apparently developed a taste for white wine.  After a couple of years in Deutschland, he moved to France and began, more seriously, exploring vineyards and wineries.  At some point he'd read the news of a French Burgundy wine family buying a serious property in Oregon with the intention of growing grapes and making wine.  Tunnell decided he ought to turn in his microphone for a refractometer (a device used to measure the sugar content of the juice) and he and Mrs. Tunnell pulled up stakes and headed for the Willamette Valley.
 


He purchased a 40 acre property near Newberg which had an old brick house on it, hence the name of the winery.  Doug has had Tunnell Vision, it seems, with respect to his viticultural practices...he farms organically and was 'certified' as a biodynamic estate in 2005.  
 

We have his 2009 Cuvee du Tonnelier, a wine made from Tunnell's oldest vines.  The parcel was planted on its own roots back in 1990.  It's a fairly typical Oregon Pinot Noir...that is, it's not blended with Syrah so you'll find it medium-light in body and offering good red fruit aromas and flavors.  This is quite drinkable now and should remain in good condition for several more years.

We have a few bottles of 2010 "Evelyn's" Pinot Noir...this is a wine honoring Doug's mom, a woman who grew up in Carlton, Oregon.  It's his selection of a few of their best barrels and he doesn't offer this wine every vintage.  It's made only in vintages providing a level of quality which is worthy of the label.

Currently in stock:  2009 BRICK HOUSE "Cuvee du Tonnelier" PINOT NOIR Sold Out
2010 BRICK HOUSE "Evelyn's" PINOT NOIR  $59.99



*******************************************************************

SINEANN

The Sineann wines are the work of a former engineer, Peter Rosback.

Peter had moved to Oregon from Indiana and he started making some wine at home before helping out at Elk Cove winery.  Rosback met a marketing guy named David O'Reilly at Elk Cove and the two of them started Sineann which launched David to founding the Owen Roe brand.  If the two brands seem related, well, now you know the connection.

The wines made by Rosback have a lot of character and that can be in the plus column or it might be in the minus, depending upon your perspective.
The Sineann wines have a lot of character and if you're on the same wavelength, great.  If not, oh well.

I've probably been in the "not" column more than in the "plus," finding the wines to be fairly exuberant, but sometimes lacking a measure of grace, finesse or polish.

 

 

But that's Peter...He's not shy and retiring and neither are his wines.

 

 
 
He's been dabbling in making some wines in New Zealand.  Apparently he's not got enough work in Oregon to keep him busy, so he's got this other gig, too.
 
In 2012 we included Sineann's 2010 "Block One" bottling in a blind tasting of Washington State Cabernets.  And it pleasantly surprised us by winning the tasting handily!  Peter gets a bit of Cabernet from the Champoux vineyard.  It's from a site planted many years ago and it's one of the older parcels in Washington State.
The wine shows lots of dark fruit and a nicely woodsy note from the oak.  Very fine.

 
 
Peter's 2013 "White Table Wine" is actually a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  

It's a classic example of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc...nicely citrusy, very aromatic, no oak, dry...

And yet it's attractively priced.



 
We hope to find more wine in the Rosback line-up!
 

Currently in stock:  2010 SINEANN "Block One"  Sold Out
2013 "WHITE TABLE WINE"  Sold Out

*********************************************

 

 

BACK TO THE PREVIOUS PAGE OF OREGON WINES

BACK TO THE BACKGROUNDER ON OREGON WINE

 

 

 

 

 

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)Wine Tasting Today

TO INQUIRE ABOUT A WINE:  
Copyright © 1999 WEIMAX  February 20, 2017