Tag Archive | Gamay Noir

Glacial Lake Missoula: 2011 Gamay Noir

Tonight Jon cracked open the Glacial Lake Missoula 2011 Gamay Noir.  It is the first vintage of this Gamay Noir, which is sourced from Rebecca’s Vineyard in Southern Oregon.

Glacial Lake Missoula is located in Blaine, Washington, near home.  This local winery produces small batch wines, sourcing from some of the best vineyards in Washington and Oregon.  The 2011 Gamay Noir is sourced from Rebecca’s Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley, in southern Oregon.  The higher temperatures make for a more robust wine than the grapes from the Willamette Valley further north.

The wine has a ripe blackberry nose, and is fruit forward with flavors of blackberry and cherry.  It has very low tannins and a mellow acidity.  It was made by bleeding off 25% of the juice, and aging the rest for eight months in new French Oak Hogsheads.

This is a drink now wine, so enjoy!

A Home Buying Wine Tour

So, it’s one week until closing. We are just waiting, and getting the last bit of our packing finished. Our financing has been finalized for weeks, so other than packing, we really haven’t had a lot to do. Our buyer, however, is still not ready to go with her financing and it is making me nervous. Her mortgage officer is trying to reassure our agent that everything will be ready to go by closing, but I’m still nervous. I can’t understand why it should be taking so long if things are happening as they should. So, in the meantime, I’m trying not to think about it.  Yes, I’ll admit it – I try to be very organized about these things, and it annoys me to no end when other people are not, if it affects my world. And this certainly affects my world.

I have been a bit absorbed with this whole home process lately, and my wine and travel blog has been suffering. We haven’t had time to do much wine tasting! I’m looking forward to turning that around once we move and get some semblance of a normal life back. That said, we did do a local mini-tour last weekend in honor of harvest weekend with Jon’s mom and sister. We went to two local wineries – Willow Tree and Glacial Lake Missoula.

Willow Tree Vineyards is a new winery in the area, having opened their tasting room in April. As you drive in, it certainly doesn’t look like much. There is a ramshackle single-wide trailer on the driveway to the winery, and the winery itself is housed in a non-descript pole building. Which isn’t that uncommon for wineries in this area. Don’t let that deter you. Once you walk inside, the tasting room is tastefully decorated, with a fireplace, comfy seating, and a stand-up tasting bar. They also have had chocolates and cheese and crackers out each time I’ve been there, which is a huge bonus. I’m usually hungry in the afternoon, and the nibbles are great to hold me over until dinner. The co-owner is usually serving, and she is warm and friendly and knowledgeable about their wines. It is a winery where you feel welcome!

Willow Tree has several whites, including a Sauvignon Blanc, two vintages of Chardonnay and Viognier, and a Pinot Gerwurztraminer. My favorite of these is the Sauvignon Blanc, which has a crisp minerality that I enjoy. Jon likes their more heavily oaked Chardonnay. Willow Tree is currently having a labeling issue with the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency) on their “waiting to be released” Blue Heaven, which is a Blueberry Riesling. Yes, Riesling combined with Blueberry juice. We got to barrel taste it, and it was delicious. Which makes the fact that the ATF has now rejected 7 versions of the label especially frustrating for Jon’s mom and me, as we have to continue to wait to buy it! Willow Tree also has several good reds, including a Carmenere, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. Unfortunately, all the reds are currently sold out except for the Cab Franc. So, we are eagerly awaiting next year’s releases. What a nice problem for a new winery to have!

After we left Willow Tree, we headed out to Blaine to visit our favorite local winery, Glacial Lake Missoula. Tracey was holding down the fort with a friend, as Tom took a trip down to Oregon to pick up grapes. They are branching out and producing a Chardonnay and a Gamay Noir. I’m very excited about both. The Chardonnay will be another “enrobed” wine, which is Tom’s name for a white wine that is colored (and flavored) with the skins of red grapes. A white wine that looks like a red. And depending on the temperature you serve it at, it can taste completely different. Their current “enrobed” wine is a Marsanne, which is excellent, so I can’t wait to see what they do with the Chardonnay. And Gamay Noir is one of my favorite varietals, so I’m super-excited to try this one. Of course, as they are just crushing now, both wines have awhile until release. It is just so hard to wait!

I’m sensing a theme with this post. Waiting…. One of my least favorite things to do. Hopefully in one more week, the wait for the house will be over. Stay tuned.

P.S.  After posting this, I learned that our buyer’s loan docs are finalized and at the title company!  So everything should be good to go now!

 

Chehalem – YUM!

Sadly every wine tour has to come to an end, and we wrapped up our Memorial Day tasting tour with our favorite – Chehalem. Chehalem is one of the wineries that Jon’s grandfather told us we had to try, and he was right about it’s quality. Chehalem has a tasting room in Newberg, Oregon that is very conveniently located as you head north on Highway 99. It is a standalone brick building, and once you are inside, you are greeted by local art on the walls that changes quarterly. Whoever is in charge of the art has done a great job choosing beautiful works that really fit the wine country and local agriculture theme. I’ve been tempted by several of the pieces. The tasting room staff are always friendly and knowledgeable about the wines, and are very down to earth and fun to talk to.

But this trip we didn’t go to the tasting room – twice a year they open up the winery for tastings there and tours, so we headed there instead. The winery is a few more miles north on 99, close to August Cellars on the other side of the road. We got there and checked in, and told them we are wine club members, which gave us the privilege of a barrel tasting of their 2010 vintage “Best of Barrel” wines. We got our glasses and were told to head on over and start tasting the whites, and Harry would come get us when he was ready for our barrel tasting. We got our wine club shipment a few weeks ago, so we were looking forward to the opportunity to tasting some of the new releases before we opened our bottle.

We started our tasting with a perennial favorite – the Inox Chardonnay. The Inox is a stainless steel aged Chardonnay, so it doesn’t have the oak flavor that so many Chardonnays have. It is an extremely crisp and clean Chardonnay, that pairs well with spicy food and rich foods.

The second wine was a Grüner-Veltliner – a varietal that isn’t very common in the United States yet. The grape is primarily grown in Austria, Slovia and the Czech Republic, where it is commonly grown on extremely steep terraces where it is difficult to retain the soil. Apparently when DNA researchers went looking for the parents of the Grüner-Veltliner grape, they found that one parent was the Traminer grape (also a parent of Gerwurztraminer) and the other parent was unknown. Eventually they discovered one lone vine hanging on in an abandoned vineyard in Austria. The pasture had not been used as a vineyard since the late 1800s, and this was the last remaining vine they could find. They are currently trying to cultivate this last vine to see what kind of properties its grapes have. But I digress. Chehalem’s Grüner-Veltliner is a refreshing white with a lot of minerality.

The last white that we tried was the 3 Vineyard Riesling. This wine is one that I have discussed before in a previous post. I’m happy to say I enjoyed it as much the second time I tried it.

After we tasted the whites, Harry came and got us for our barrel tasting. We happened to be the only ones going on the barrel tasting tour at the time, so we got a private tour. Harry is the owner and founder of Chehalem, and his knowledge and expertise are evident when he talks about his wines. It is Harry’s opinion that the 2010 vintage won’t be horribly ruined, even though the spring weather was cold and rainy, and we got early fall rain as well. For him, it is all a matter of the expertise of the winemaker – and if anyone can do it, Harry can.

The Chehalem Barrel Room is big and plain – not a lot of ornament, just a commitment to making good wine. Each year, Harry selects one barrel from each of the four Pinot Noir vineyards (one isn’t really its own vineyard, rather a section of the Ridgecrest vineyard), and that becomes the “Best Barrel” for the year. That barrel is aged and bottled as a single vineyard wine that is sold as futures to wine club members. The theory behind the Best Barrel choice is that it represents that absolute best of that vineyard for the year. Harry also chooses a Best Barrel for the Chardonnay. This is what we had the opportunity to taste that day. And I tell you, these wines were amazing! We started off with the Chardonnay, which is aged in oak. The other barrels of this Chardonnay become the Ian’s Reserve Chardonnay, so it was nice to have the opportunity to see what our bottle might taste like. The oak on this wine is light and not overpowering, with a light butter that gives it a richness. Jon was head over heels over this wine – I foresee buying futures of it – well, in the future.

The four Pinots each had different characteristics. We tasted Stoller, Corral Creek, Wind Ridge and Ridgecrest. Harry explained the differences in the types of soil and the temperatures of the vineyards. With his descriptions, you can really taste the differences and how the vineyard plays a role. They were all amazing, but our favorite was the Wind Ridge. Wind Ridge is actually a section of the Ridgecrest vineyard, at the highest elevation of the vineyard along a ridge. This is a fairly young planting, and you can tell that the wine is going to improve with age as this vineyard matures. When we have a bit more disposable income, we will certainly be interested in buying these futures wines.

After the barrel tasting, we headed back outside to where they were tasting the reds. They started us off with the Cerise, which is one of my absolute favorite wines. Frankly, I don’t think it gets enough credit. The Cerise is a blend of 80% Gamay Noir and 20% Pinot Noir, and it has a rich Bing cherry flavor. It is really like drinking a delicious cherry pie. It is very reasonably priced as well, with the 2009 vintage retailing for $24.  Unfortunately, you don’t see it around outside the winery much, I think because they don’t produce much of this wine.

Next we moved to the 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, which is a blended Pinot Noir that includes grapes from Chehalem’s three estate vineyards (that means that Chehalem owns the vineyards, and they don’t buy the grapes from someone else.) The 3 Vineyard Pinot is a great wine – it has excellent structure, and a nice balance between the fruit and the light oak that it is aged in.

We finished off with the 2009 Corral Creek single vineyard Pinot. This is a big Pinot, mixing cherry and chocolate tastes, but still delivering without being overpowering. It was a great wine to finish off the tasting.

We brought home several bottles for ourselves, and purchased some for Jon’s mom as well. She has been interested in Chehalem since trying their Inox Chardonnay a couple of years ago. Our Chehalem wrapped up the Memorial Day tasting weekend, but we can’t wait for our next visit.

Artisanal, Arsenal – However you say it – great wine!

The second day of our tasting tour took us to Newberg, Oregon. We decided that we would focus on just a few places, since we had done so many the day before. I received an email from Artisanal Wine Cellars a few weeks before, announcing that they were opening a new tasting room in Newberg. They also offered half off their tasting fee for their first two weekends in the new location. We had first tried Artisanal when we visited August Cellars last November over Thanksgiving weekend, and we really enjoyed their wines. Ever since then, Jon has been talking about “Arsenal” and wanting to visit again. I don’t think he’ll ever get the name right. The owner/winemaker Tom Feller is a science guy, who likes to explain the effect of the soil, the residual sugar, and the PH levels of the wines he produces. It reminds me a lot of Tom at Glacial Lake Missoula, whose exacting detail and scientific attention result in some fantastic wine.

So armed with our coupon, we ventured on in. The tasting room is in a historic building on the main drag of Newberg, with beautiful wood floors and the original exposed brick wall. It has a great feeling – the kind of building that strikes you with its elegance, but still you feel very comfortable. We were treated to a tasting by the owner/winemaker, and we started with a Viognier/Roussanne blend called Dovetail White. It was a light, fresh table wine – great for summer. The Viognier was very nice, with a nice balance of floral and apricot – it has a lot of flavor without being too heavy, as some Viogniers are. Their third white was a lovely Pinot Blanc, with nice apple flavor, stone fruit and a hint of honey. I enjoyed this wine immensely.

After the whites, we moved into the reds with the Evangeline Gamay Noir Rose. Of all the Roses that we tried over the weekend, this one stood out as the best by far. He explained that he uses a different process to make his Rose, by aging the wine for a few days with the skins to give it a robustness that many of the Roses lack. It is going to be a perfect summer wine!

Next, Tom led us through the Pinot Noirs that Artisanal produces. First we tasted the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which is a blend of the three vineyards that they source they Pinots from. It has a cherry flavor with a light body and a touch of chocolate, and is a great everyday drinking wine, considering its reasonable price. We sampled the Jubilee Pinot Noir, a single vineyard Pinot from their Jubilee Vineyard. The Jubilee is a relatively light Pinot, with the tart cherry flavor shining through. It is excellent, but Jon and I both preferred the smokier, more robust Pinot that comes from the Adams Vineyard. We finished with the Reserve Adams Vineyard Pinot – also an excellent smoky, heavy, with flavors of blackberry and lots of spice on the palate.

We left there with four bottles and wanting more – wishing that the money fairy were coming to make a visit at our house anytime soon.