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Old 11-01-2004, 06:15 AM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default [LONG] Holiday TN, part 1: Willamette Valley

As promised earlier, I did manage to make an excursion (along with 7
assorted family members) to the wine region just outside of Portland, OR
over the Christmas holidays. Before getting there, however, my
winemaker cousin Matt and I opened a number of interesting wines at
Christmas dinner:

2000 Turley Hayne Vyd Zinfandel:
A very forward nose of oak and varietal berry fruit was followed by more
of the same on the palate, accompanied by a rich mouthfeel and soft
tannins. It didn't really accompany any of the food at the meal, but
was still very nice to drink on its own.

1998 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz:
Still quite backwards when opened, we decanted it and left it to open
over 30 minutes. The nose showed herbal qualities on top of a deep
sense of dark fruit. On the palate, it had a balanced entry and was
still fairly tightly knit, but finished with plummy fruit and some
astringency. In contrast to the Turley, this wine went very well with
the lamb. It clearly has several years left ahead of it.

1994 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape:
A nose of cherry and smoked meats. In the mouth it was rich, balanced
with a core of cherryish fruit and a smoky, meaty finish. Really
lovely.

2002 Owen Roe "Ex Umbris" Syrah:
Jammy blueberries and smoke in the nose. On the palate, it had an
acidic entry, with flavors of smoke and vanilla with meaty overtones and
an acidic finish.

[this wine was a gift of an assistant winemaker at Owen Roe to one of my
cousin's husbands. The story is that they hand harvested these Syrah
grapes from a vineyard that had survived wildfires, hence the smokiness
of the grapes...]

1999 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:
A nose of mint, pine and oak. In the mouth, pencil lead and tannin,
followed by mintiness. It had a thick mouthfeel and had a modestly
tannic finish. A very good wine, but worth all the hype??

Our excursion to the wineries of Yamhill County began with lunch at the
Dundee Bistro operated by Ponzi. While waiting for the gang to arrive,
we tried a flight of Ponzi's wines at the wine bar.

2002 Pinot Gris:
A nose of stones, peaches and pineapple. The first impression in the
mouth was of alcohol, with a tart entry and flavors of minerals.
Overall, a bit thin.

2002 Arnis:
A floral nose with mineral notes. On the palate, it was crisp with a
metallic taint to the flavors and a tart finish. Not terribly
interesting.

2002 Pinot Blanc:
A nose of minerals and a hint of pineapple. Flavors of tart pineapple
lead to a thin finish. Again, not very interesting.

2000 Chardonnay:
In the nose, toasty oak and a hint of vanilla. Thin flavors were
dominated by vanilla. Blah!

1999 Chardonnay Reserve:
What is this? A New World Chardonnay less oaky in its reserve
bottling? Go figger! Stone fruit, pineapple and stones in the nose; a
slightly creamy entry, pineapple in the mid-palate and a clean, slightly
buttery finish. Much more interesting.

2001 Pinot Noir:
Sappy and green in the nose with a sense of tart fruit; slightly tannic
entry led to a hollow mid-palate. Young vines, perhaps?

2000 Pinot Noir Reserve:
The real deal. Rich varietal fruit in the nose; a slightly tannic
entry but here there is cherryish fruit to follow before a somewhat
short finish. Much better, though not a blockbuster.

Lunch, however, was a very fine affair. My duck confit salad was well
done (and the homemade duck confit was impressive) as were the other
dishes.

After lunch, we headed to an appointment at Chehalem, where the very
charming and informative director of direct sales (subbing for the
normal taster on Dec. 26) opened for us:

2002 Pinot Blanc:
A great nose of tropical fruits and melon; on the palate, a sense of
creamy pineapple and minerals. Without doubt, the best New World Pinot
Blanc I've ever tasted.

2002 Pinot Gris Reserve:
In the nose, pineapple. A creamy mouthfeel with somewhat muted
flavors. Less interesting than the Pinot Blanc.

2002 Dry Riesling:
Pineapple and tropical fruit in the nose. Explosive mouthful of
tropical fruit, quite dry with a crisp finish. Several of the white
wine drinkers felt that this was the wine of the day.

2001 Pinot Noir "Three Vineyards":
A light nose of strawberryish fruit and rose petals. Reasonably rich
in the mouth, slightly tannic at entry and a bit thin in the finish.
Very reasonable for an entry level Pinot Noir.

2001 Pinot Noir "Stoller Vineyard":
A nose of smoke with deep cherry and butter; on the palate, powerful and
slightly tannic with a deep sense of light, cherryish fruit. More
expensive than the earlier PN, but with the stuffing to justify the
price.

Next stop was Lange which, despite an earlier visit in 2001, required
assistance to locate. Ironically, this out of the way tasting room,
accessible only by gravel road, was PACKED with people when we arrived!

2002 Pinot Gris Reserve:
In the nose, pineapple, alcohol and flinty notes; somwhat creamy
mouthfeel, with flavors of pineapple and grapefruit and plenty of
acidity. Not as good as the 2000 was, but still very good example.

2002 Pinot Gris:
A nose of grapefruit; on the palate, citrusy and crisp with a clean
finish. Much simpler than its reserve counterpart.

2002 Chardonnay Reserve:
A closed-in nose that showed mostly alcohol; on the palate, flavors of
toast and citrus with an acid finish. Much less interesting than the
Pinot Gris (as we found on our previous visit).

2001 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
There was some heat in the nose (too warm?), but also cherry fruit; in
the mouth, lightly fruity and a bit thin. Not too interesting.

2001 Pinot Noir Reserve:
A nose of alcohol and smoke; a round entry was followed by flavors of
cherry and smoke and a surprisingly tannic finish. Much better than
the cheaper PN.

2000 Pinot Noir Three Hills Cuve:
A tight nose, showing mostly alcohol. Overly acidic entry, but creamy
mid-palate with a limited sense of fruit and a short finish. Maybe it
just needs more time, but at this moment seemed much less promising than
the '01 Reserve.

We finished our day at Torii Mor, where in contrast to Lange we were the
only visitors. One good reason to make this your final visit is that
it houses a beautiful and comfortable sitting room, ideal for those
whose interest in the winetasting experience may be flagging (or for any
designated drivers).

2002 Pinot Gris:
A light nose of green apples; in the mouth, creamy pineapple. A good
but not profound example.

2002 Pinot Gris Reserve:
A nose of pears and stones; a rich mouthfeel with flavors of white
peaches and pears. Very nice.

2002 Pinot Noir "La Fleur du Cte Rouge":
A nose of smoke, earth and dark fruit; Slightly thin on entry, it
fleshed out with dark fruit and acidity. Very reasonable Pinot Noir at
a very attractive price.

2001 Pinot Noir Oregon:
Sulfur in the nose, smoke underneath; Medium-full in body, with decent
fruit and a lightly tannic finish.

2001 Pinot Noir Reserve "Deux Verres":
A nose of butter and cherryish fruit; fairly rich entry with soft fruit
on the palate, and a slightly tannic finish.

2001 Pinot Noir Olson Vineyard:
More sulfur in the nose (Jean couldn't get past it) and smoke beneath
it; on the palate, rich mouthfeel and red fruit, flower petals and an
acidic finish. Hard to get past the sulfur to really assess this wine.

2001 Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard:
A nose of bright, cherryish fruit; on the palate, and initial sense of
fruit, medium full body, smoky complexity and a slightly tannic finish.
My favorite Pinot Noir of the day.

2001 Pinot Noir Temperance Hill Vineyard:
In the nose, sulfur and tart fruit; in the mouth, rich and soft, but
finishes dry and acidic. Again, the sulfur made this a hard wine to
accurately evaluate.

Overall, we were very please with every one of our stops. The Pinot
Gris were not quite as impressive as they had been in 2001, but the
Chehalem Pinot Blanc was an eye-opener, and the quality of the Pinot
Noirs was undeniable, though most of our favorites cost $35-60. The
Torii Mor 2002 "La Fleur du Ctes Rouge" was the QPR winner for the
Pinot Noirs, though the Chehalem Three Hills was close behind it.
Thanks to all who offered their advice. Perhaps when we return in
2005, we can get to Willakenzie, Panther Creek, Cristom and/or Witness
Tree.

Mark Lipton




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Old 11-01-2004, 07:49 AM
Xyzsch
 
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Default [LONG] Holiday TN, part 1: Willamette Valley

2000 Chardonnay:
In the nose, toasty oak and a hint of vanilla. Thin flavors were
dominated by vanilla. Blah!

1999 Chardonnay Reserve:
What is this? A New World Chardonnay less oaky in its reserve
bottling? Go figger! Stone
fruit, pineapple and stones in the nose; a
slightly creamy entry, pineapple in the mid-palate and a clean, slightly
buttery finish. Much more interesting.


Is it less oaky, or does the reserve have more stuffing to balance out the oak?
Just curious.

Thanks for the notes. I'll have to make a trip out there.

Tom Schellberg
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Old 11-01-2004, 10:32 AM
Nils Gustaf Lindgren
 
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Default [LONG] Holiday TN, part 1: Willamette Valley

Hello Mark;

Lovely taste notes. Keep `em coming.
In a few of your descriptions, you talk about a good quality for price (not
that exact wording), however, you dont say how much the wine in question
costs, except at the end, you mention an interval of USD 35 to 60 (being in
my never very humble opinion between the level of 'Ouch' and 'that REALLY
hurts').
Id be curious to learn what you consider a fair price for the products in
question. For reasons unbeknownst to me, US wines tend to be very expensive
in Sweden - entry level wines selling for SEK 130 (c USD 16) etc - so Id
like to know what they cost at the place of origin!

Cheers

Nils Gustaf

--
Respond to nils dot lindgren at drchips dot se


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Old 11-01-2004, 07:09 PM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default [LONG] Holiday TN, part 1: Willamette Valley



Nils Gustaf Lindgren wrote:

Hello Mark;


Hello, Nils, and Happy New Year to yourself and Xina from Jean and myself.

In a few of your descriptions, you talk about a good quality for price (not
that exact wording), however, you dont say how much the wine in question
costs, except at the end, you mention an interval of USD 35 to 60 (being in
my never very humble opinion between the level of 'Ouch' and 'that REALLY
hurts').


Sorry about that. I didn't note down the prices of the various offerings (in
truth, I was struggling just to keep notes, period: too many distractions)


Id be curious to learn what you consider a fair price for the products in
question. For reasons unbeknownst to me, US wines tend to be very expensive
in Sweden - entry level wines selling for SEK 130 (c USD 16) etc - so Id
like to know what they cost at the place of origin!


I'd say that I consider a price of USD10-15 reasonable for a regular cuve
white, 15-20 for a "reserve" bottling that merits the name, 15-20 reasonable
for a red intended for near term drinking, 15-25 for a "vin de garde" and
25-35 for a luxury bottling. This is not to say that I won't pay more, but I
would have to be convinced of the quality before paying any more (as I do for
some of my favorite wines from France).

These cutoffs are of course entirely subjective and YMMV. My definition of
"reasonable" price for a wine has also increased as my income has. However, a
useful standard of comparison is wines from other countries: we can get most
good NZ SBs for USD15-20 (barring Cloudy Bay) and regular cuve bottlings from
Alsace and the Loire for the same price. Austrian GVs run a bit more money,
but can still be had for around USD20. We can also get good quality CdRs, Cru
Beaujolais and wines from the Midi for USD12-18, and Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux
for a little more (USD15-25). Burgundy is always the bank breaker, but even
so good "Bourgogne" bottlings (e.g., Claude Dugat) will cost USD30-40, which
competes very favorably with the Reserve Pinot Noirs we were tasting in
Oregon.

HTH
Mark Lipton

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Old 11-01-2004, 09:59 PM
Mark Lipton
 
Posts: n/a
Default [LONG] Holiday TN, part 1: Willamette Valley



Xyzsch wrote:


1999 Chardonnay Reserve:
What is this? A New World Chardonnay less oaky in its reserve
bottling? Go figger! Stone
fruit, pineapple and stones in the nose; a
slightly creamy entry, pineapple in the mid-palate and a clean, slightly
buttery finish. Much more interesting.


Is it less oaky, or does the reserve have more stuffing to balance out the oak?
Just curious.


AFAIC, it was less oaky in the absolute sense. There was no toastiness at all in
the nose, and very little sense of oak on the palate. There was a roundedness
that I'd attribute to oak aging, but if so it seems like they used neutral oak
barrels.



Thanks for the notes. I'll have to make a trip out there.


And well you should, Tom. If I'd had more time, I'd spend 2-3 days visiting many
more places. If I were alone, I'd go to Archery Summit and Dom. Drouhin.
However, you might want to time your visit to get to taste those highly
anticipated 2002 Pinot Noirs...

Mark Lipton



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