Pre-conference tours of the Willamette Valley: A small group of us Oregonians convinced a group of non-Oregonian conference attendees to fly into Portland days before the event so we could lead them on a tour of some of the many great wineries of the Willamette Valley, including Soléna Grand Cru Estates, followed by Soter Vineyards, and finishing at Anne Amie Vineyards. It proved to be a great success! And a special shout out to Lynette Shaw of Soléna for organizing the (way too much fun) double decker bus and memorable tour, tasting, and delicious lunch at Soléna’s Grand Cru Estates. After the tour my hubby and I were also able to show off our smoking/bbq skills by making smoked pulled pork sandwiches for the folks on the tour. Thank you to all of those who came and ate our pride and joy… our cooking. Yes, I promise to finally post that recipe on here in the very near future.
The people: In addition to seeing some old friends met at last years conference, getting to meet and spend some time with many fantastic and genuine people for the first time including, Melanie Ofenloch from Dallas Wine Chick, and Liza Swift from BrixChix. Check out their blogs, they are great and written by awesome people.
The spitting: Being probably the most disciplined spitter at the conference; it allowed me to savor every wine (yes, I spit every single one) in my glass and forced me to focus more on my sensory skills and less on any distracting surroundings.
Amazing Vineyards: Visiting the visually stunning rocky Cailloux Vineyard from Cayuse. This 10-acre completely rocky vineyard planted in 1997 produces their flagship and sought after Cailloux Syrah. I have never seen a vineyard quite so rocky before. I have been to rocky vineyards on the left bank of Bordeaux before, but never with stones so large as this. These pictures don’t do it justice, but give you an idea.
Dance Parties?!: Witnessing a late evening dance party in the hotel lobby. Perhaps if I even had one glass of wine in my system I may have participated (it looked like so much fun), but instead I watched and enjoyed. Nuff said.
Inspiration: Getting re-inspired and discovering new types of content to write about. Since I am not particularly “drinking” lots of wine these days it is no reason to slow down what I write about on this blog, so stay tuned for some exciting additions and changes in addition to the reviews, recipes, and events you’re used to reading about.
L'Ecole Nº 41, 2008 Columbia Valley Semillon, retail $13
Slight honeyed nose (but not sweet), with pear and a big and pretty mouthfeel.
This wine had a long and lingering finish and was simply refreshing and a bargain for the price!
Parducci, 2008 Sustainable White, Mendocino County, retail $10.99
Blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viogner, and Muscat Canelli. Bright, floral pretty nose with tropical fruit. Fresh pretty mouthfeel, easy drinking, simple but fun and fresh. Quick finish but really nice for price point.
Weingut Prager, 2008 Grüner Veltliner, Federspiel Hinter der Burg, Wachau, Austria, and
Rudi Pichler, 2008 Riesling, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria
Yes, I know these two are not from Washington nor even the U.S. for that matter. But during the opening of the conference, I tasted these two after loads of other wines and they just sang to me. So bright, fresh, with great fruit and minerals. They made me want to pack my bags and catch the next flight to Austria!
Pinot Noirs, including:
Stoller, 2007 JV Pinot Noir, retail $25 (awesome bargain for a good Oregon Pinot if you ask me!!!)
Soléna, 2008 Pinot Noir, Hyland Vineyard, retail $50
Admittedly it was nice, and somewhat refreshing to have some well made and balanced Pinot Noirs among fields of heavy, big reds.
Jordan, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, retail $52
This wine got me on the enticing smell alone. Rich, chocolate, cassis, black berries and cherries. Delicious mouth, luscious, with cedar, dark fruit and tannins that creep up on you at the end.
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County, retail $25
Lighter more refrained Zinfandel with good body, structure and acidity. Definitely more my style with good spice that hits you at the end.
Hogue Cellars, 2007 Genesis Meritage, retail $16
The alcohol was a bit harsh in the beginning (but admittedly I have become more sensitive to alcohol on the nose these days). After that, however was some pretty dark fruit with good texture and structure. The wine definitely had some umph and tannin on finish, but a definite great value for the price.
Boomtown, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, by Dusted Valley, retail $15
I’ve had Boomtown wines before, and even wrote about them here on this blog, and I must say, this Cab showed strong among dozens of other (and much bigger and higher priced) Washington wines. This entry-level wine for Dusted Valley showed lots of rich and intriguing fruit on the nose and great bright and expressive fruit on mouth. I really like it for the price point! Drinkable and likeable right now. Fresh, young, and fun.
L'Ecole Nº 41, library tasting of Perigee and Apogee (both red Bordeaux style blends), current vintage retails for $49 each
1999 Apogee. Loved! Smoothed out balanced and beautiful. Shows what these wines are capable of with over a decade of aging. The 2003 was still pretty big and strong, and the 2007, big as well, but was also bold with strong tannins and dark fruit. A good one to lay down to see it mature and develop!
2003 Perigee, more smoothed out and mellow than its Apogee counterpart. I loved the 2007 and bought a few to lay down and look forward to in 5-10 years.
***And the winner goes to…. Most memorable wine of the week***
2000 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, retail unknown but a quick internet search indicates it starts around $130 and up if you can find it
No this was not readily poured at the conference, but Melanie from Dallas Wine Chick opened it on the Saturday of the conference for her birthday and shared with some of us. This is the second wine of Château Margaux from Bordeaux. I must say this was probably the MOST memorable wine from the entire week. It just sang the song of a beautiful Bordeaux. Gorgeous, balanced, and oh so complex! And I will admit, I did sneak a small swallow of this one (but only this one). How could I not?! And no I didn’t pour the rest out, but instead shared with my friend Dixie of Trellis Wine Consulting. If there were anybody who appreciates French wine as much as myself, it would certainly be Dixie.
***And a special shout out to certainly one of the most "memorable", but definitely not favorite***
There was lots and lots of talk about the Mollydooker wines being poured at the conference, but I must admit, I was not swooning over the wines as much as seemingly every other conference attendee. Memorable? YES indeed. Favorite? Not so much. And for that, I think I am alone in my non-love for the Mollydookers. Believe me, I wanted to love them. I did.
The two Mollydooker wines that stand out the most were the Carnival of Love, Shiraz, retail $90
And the Velvet Glove, retail $185
Earning itself 98 points in the Wine Advocate and a 96 in Wine Spectator my first response to the Velvet Glove when it entered my mouth was “I think I just grew a patch of chest hair”. I can most certainly see the appeal to this wine for others but it was far too big of a wine for me. All of their wines for that matter were just too big and concentrated for my palate. Give me back my Bordeaux and I would have been satisfied the rest of the weekend.
There you have it. The 2010 conference, in a nutshell. For those of you who attended the conference, I would sincerely LOVE to hear some of your most memorable wines or moments. And for those of you not in attendance, I am curious what sorts of things you would like to see on this blog in the future now that I am re-invigorated and re-inspired!