Tag Archive | Pinot Gris

Boomtown Pinot Gris

Another tough couple of weeks at work, but at least it is the weekend!  When I got home from work, I cracked open the Boomtown Pinot Gris.  Boomtown is the second label from Dusted Valley, a Walla Walla winery with a tasting room in Woodinville.  Two Wisconsin natives with a dream for wine making opened a winery in Walla Walla, and they make some really good wine!

The Boomtown Pinot Gris is a wonderfully balanced wine; crisp with just a little sweetness.  It is certainly a Pinot Gris done the Washington way, with much less of the sweetness of the Oregon style Pinot Gris.  Not that I don’t love a good Oregon Pinot Gris, but this one is fantastic!

Boomtown Pinot Gris

Boomtown Pinot Gris

I paired mine with a tuna fish sandwich with pickles, because, hey, I like to class things up on a Friday night.  And you should drink what you like, and sometimes don’t worry about whether or not it goes with what you are eating.  Don’t tell anybody, but I had dinner in my pajamas too.  I said it was a long week!

Boomtown is available at grocery stores, restaurants, and through the tasting room, but you can’t buy it on their website.  If you see it, pick some up!

Pinot Gris, Gumbo and a Movie Review

Last night, Jon took me on a date and I generously allowed him to pick the movie.  We walked downtown and had dinner at our local southern Cajun restaurant, Bayou on the Bay.  It is one of my favorite restaurants in town, with a good variety of southern favorites, like fried okra, hush puppies, gumbo and jambalaya.

We started out with one oyster shooter each, served in a shot glass with cocktail sauce.  You can add vodka if you would like, and perhaps one day I’ll try that high-octane version, but I love the non-alcohol version.  Jon had the vegan jambalaya with an IPA, which he thought was great, and spicy!  I had the gumbo with a Duck Pond Pinot Gris.  My gumbo was wonderful, with the sweetness of the Pinot Gris balancing the spice of the andouille sausage and other spices in the gumbo.  Our service was friendly and quick, and we had plenty of time to get to our movie.

Jon has a penchant for odd, indie movies, and his pick kept up with tradition.  We saw Anomalisa.  I’m still pondering it.  It is an animated film created with puppets about a middle aged man who wrote a book on giving great customer service, and he is giving a speech on his book in Cincinnati.  In his world, everyone is the same; everyone he sees has the same face and voice, with only differences in their hair and clothing.  He is clearly depressed, irritable and hopeless – exactly the opposite of the persona he portrays in his book.  Then he meets a woman who is different…

Jon and I took away very different messages from the film, and spent a while chatting on the way home (I don’t want to give it away in case you plan to see it).  We could each see the other’s perspective, and were intrigued by each other’s differing opinions.  From that perspective, it was an interesting film, and it did stimulate quite a bit of dialogue, but I’m not sure I could say I “liked” it.  But perhaps not all movies are intended to entertain – and instead we need to search for the learning opportunity.

So, I put it out to readers – have you seen Anomalisa?  What did you think?

 

King Estate: Pinot Gris

Even as the weather is turning cold and stormy, I was craving a white wine.  Luckily I had a few on hand, so I uncorked a bottle of King Estate 2011 Pinot Gris.

King Estate is one of the larger Oregon wine producers, located in Eugene Oregon.  They have four lines of wines; King Estate Signature, King Estate Domaine, Acrobat and NxNW (North by Northwest).  Their winery and tasting room also contains a fine dining restaurant, and they offer tours of the wine facility.  I haven’t been there, because we generally try to visit the smaller producers, but it looks to have a lovely patio with a pretty view of the vineyards.

King Estate Signature 2011 Pinot Gris

King Estate Signature 2011 Pinot Gris

The 2011 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris is a nice Oregon style Gris, aged for 5 months in stainless steel.  It has a crisp, bright acidity and a peach and pineapple nose.  The flavor is tart balanced with sweet, with flavors of crisp green apple, and a touch of lime.

The perfect kind of wine for a hot day on the patio.  The kind of day I wish weren’t nine months away…  Cheers!

Mouvance Winery – Pinot in Idaho?

The second winery that we visited in Boise was such a surprise!  Who knew that we would find Oregon Pinot in Idaho?  Turns out the owners, who live in Boise, purchased a 50 acre vineyard site near Salem, Oregon.  They worked to build the vineyard and opened the winery in Carlton, Oregon, but moved the winery in 2012 to Boise.  They opened their downtown Boise tasting room in March 2013.  The grapes will continue to come from their vineyard site in Oregon.

We started our tasting with the 2009 Pinot Gris.  It is 98% Pinot Gris and 2% Riesling, and is full of aromas and flavors of honey and pear.  It is a more creamy Pinot Gris, rather than being crisp and acidic.  I tend more towards the crisp, citrus Pinot Gris, but if you like a creamier Pinot Gris, you will love this one.  We had the 2011 Rose next, a light Pinot Noir Rose with strawberry and light cream flavors and vanilla on the finish.  It had far less citrus flavor than is typical in a Rose, but the heavier mouth feel and creamy flavor will appeal to many.

The 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir had strong flavors of black cherry and spice – without overpowering tannins.  I really enjoyed this wine, and it is very reasonably priced at $25 dollars a bottle.

The last two wines we tasted were two different expressions of the Pinot grapes in their vineyard, the 2009 Judith Marie Pinot Noir and the 2009 Donna Jean Pinot Noir.  The Judith Marie has flavors of fig, date and mocha, and a smoky toast flavor on the finish.  Jon preferred this one.  My favorite was the Donna Jean, with stronger blackberry and plum flavors mised with smoke and wood aromas.  Both were excellent, both were young and I’m sure both will be even better after a bit more time in the bottle.  Of course, they are both sold out now, so you’ll have to get the 2010, which I have no doubt are just as good.

The owners, Lonnie and Judy, came out and chatted with us for a bit, taking a break from their barrel cleaning chores.  They were very friendly folks, and we chatted about marathons and the upcoming wine country half marathon.  Sorry there are no pictures, but I was just enjoying the wine so much!  It is certainly a place we will visit again!

Melrose Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris

I’m ready for spring.  Apparently, Mother Nature is not.  It has been cold and rainy for days – stopping only long enough to taunt us into thinking the weather might improve.  As of April 11, it has already rained 1.82 inches for the month, when the average for the entire month of April is 2.59 inches.  Today the sky dumped a lot more rain, but that isn’t calculated into the total until tomorrow.

So to celebrate spring, and our commitment to keep trying new wines that we haven’t tried before, I opened a bottle of the Melrose Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris.  I purchased it on our most recent trip to Costco for $14.99.  Melrose is in Roseburg, Oregon, on the banks of the South Umpqua River.  Melrose started growing grapes in 1996 for their first vintage in 1999; the winery was founded in 2000.  By the photos on their website, I think I would love a visit, especially because the tasting room is located in a 100 year old barn on the property.

At first taste, this wine had more than a hint of floral and light butter flavors.  Which was curious because this wine was aged in 100% Stainless Steel.  However, after being open for a couple of hours, those flavors had largely departed to leave a crisp Pinot Gris with apple and pear flavors.  After doing a little research, I discovered that Melrose aged 33% of the grapes Sur Lie for 4 months.  The lees are the dead yeast that are created by the fermentation process – to age a wine Sur Lie means that the winemaker does not filter out the lees through a process known as racking.  I think that yeasty flavor was what I was picking up at the beginning.

Melrose Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris

Melrose Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris

Overall, I enjoyed this wine quite a bit.  With my busy week at work, I didn’t have much time at home in the evenings, so I actually had this wine for four days before Jon polished off the bottle.  The wine held up very nicely until the end.  My recommendation would be to let the bottle breathe for a while after opening, particularly if you like a crisper style of Pinot Gris.  And if you try this wine, let me know what you think!

The Kitties are Hot… But the Chehalem is Chilled!

Today it reached a whopping 87 degrees, which is pretty darned hot here in the Northwest.  Of course, this week at work has been insanely busy, so mostly I spent the days inside in the air conditioning, except for a couple one block strolls to meetings in other buildings.  But since our house doesn’t have air conditioning, it is much hotter at home than it is at work.  Today when I got home it was 80 degrees on the first floor, and hotter upstairs where our bedroom is.

The kitties are stretched out on the bed looking like they are going to melt.  I feel badly for them, because they are furry and can’t get any more naked than they already are.  But I didn’t feel sorry enough for them to offer them any of my Chehalem 2010 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris.  I wasn’t going to offer Jon any either, but he just took some!

Chehalem 2010 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris

My brain is too hot and tired to work up a very sophisticated review, so this will have to suffice…

The winemaker’s notes say, “from a cool, low-crop vintage, there are exotic tropical fruit, jasmine, pear juice and papaya aromas and flavors, and racy lemon sorbet and spice palate impressions, set on-edge by great acidity and perfectly balanced minor residual sugar. Perfect food wine.”  It got a score of 90 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, if the scores are something that interest you.  On the nose, this wine has a nice, light minerality combined with sweetness.  It tastes of Golden delicious apple and pear.  It is fantastic on it’s own or with food.  In fact the only negative thing I can say is that the bottle is almost empty!

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.