Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2006 Nuthatch Syrah with Short Ribs at GTF

Back on track with our series on the May wine dinner at Gathering Together Farm, the main course the evening was a dish featuring short ribs paired with a Nuthatch Cellars 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah. The beef short rib, served over bok choy and potato puree with dandelion gremolata, were good but could have used a little more spice. It was more of a traditional homestyle preparation as opposed to an asian or fusion style. While not disappointed with the ribs, I had hoped for a little more complex of a dish.

Nuthatch Cellars has a limited production of less than four hundred cases per year and in doing so are able to give meticulous attention to the entire process -- hand labeling and corking every bottle. Located in the foothills west of Corvallis, OR, they source fruit from some of the heavy hitting vineyards in the Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, Umpqua Valley, and Columbia Valley appellations. They only make "big ass reds" and do a great job at it.

The 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah uses vineyard designate grapes from the Walla Walla Valley. This full bodied wine is described, "with luscious blackberry fruit and a backbone of refined tannis, it has a long, sustained finish. Aged 16 months is 70% French and 30% American oak, it is unfiltered and unfined." I found a nose of tobacco on the wine, and Chris noted a "puckery action" upon taste. All agreed this was a wonderful big red and we got the desired spiciness out of the wine versus the ribs.

Well folks, that's it for this course. Next up, finishing the series, Rick is going to chroicle our experience with dessert - a strawberry & rhubarb japonaise with Harris Bridge Winery Pinot Noir dessert wine.

Until then, make a comment and tell us what you like to pair a syrah with?


Saturday, June 20, 2009

"That's how a good Pinot Noir tastes!"

On Tuesday, after what has become our regular Tuesday evening hang out, I invited Cassie and Andrew over to have wine with me. It had been about a month since I last had any wine due to a very busy schedule since the end of the academic year at my University. The number of summer projects has been astonishing and every passing day makes me long for September when the students will have returned and things will slow down - but I am not really complaining, I love what I do and where I work. So as much as I have wanted to have a glass or two of wine, I have often been too tired at the end of the day. I know, I know, "too tired for wine?!?!" but I digress.

Andrew and Cassie came by and after going through my now half-way decent stock of wine (not only have I not been drinking wine, but I also have not been procuring wine!), Andrew decided that I should open a bottle from Domaine Drouhin. The wine selected was a 2006 Pinot Noir from their Willamette Valley label. I have been holding onto this bottle for about 4 months. I won it as part of a charity event that one of the student groups was sponsoring. I had done my research and knew that there would be high expectations for this bottle of wine - and clearly Andrew did as well because he was a bit more anxious than I was to open it. Cassie is not as well versed in wine, so Andrew and I had to muster enough excitement for the three of us - not too difficult a task.

I didn't want to be rude and type this while I was entertaining, so I pulled out my "a wine lover's journal" and tried to make notes while still paying attention to my guests. I have to admit that we didn't really let this bottle breathe much. Between it being a bit late and looking forward to drinking this pinot, we may not have done it justice by letting it aerate. I say that because the nose on this wine was strong initially but I don't know I would call it "full-bodied." We sniffed it and although taking long breaths, we only initially got the "heavy" aromas that pinots have - the spices and oak barrel. It is also completely possible that that is the way this wine was developed.

The legs were also amazing - nice and even with a good coating on the glass. The palate was so incredibly enjoyable. Upon tasting it, Andrew's response, "That's how a good pinot noir tastes!" made us all laugh a little bit. I have used "crisp" and "clean" to describe wines before, and I won't want to take away from those wines or this one either, but it would use those adjectives and "smooth and delicious."

The hue dynamics of this wine is definitely worth noting. I was standing up when I poured our glasses each time, and looking down on the glasses, the hue is a beautiful light red-grape color. Not a deep grape like grape juice, but almost like apple juice of a light red coloring. My seat was next to a lamp in my apartment and when I swirled my glass and held it up to the light, I was taken aback that while looking at my glass from the side, the color was a very deep non-transparent red. I wasn't sure if it was just me so I asked Andrew if he noticed that as well, and he confirmed. I can honestly say, I do not recall having that experience with a Pinot Noir before, but it could be that I have not been that observant in my previous consumptions of red wines. Either way, major league kudos to Domaine Drouhin on the hue.

This was an amazing bottle of wine, I only wished I had another in stock. Drinking this wine reminded me how much I missed drinking wine. I know I need to be more intentional about making time to enjoy something that brings me pleasure, within reason of course! And although a little bit on the more "pricey" side of wines, I would definitely recommend it.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Introduction

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rick Goranflo and I am the newest contributor to the Oregon Wine Blog. You see, this day has been quite some time in the making. I've been learning more and more about wine since meeting Josh and have been keeping up with the OWB since its inception.

Before contributing to this blog, I gained a marginal amount of internet stardom as Bob Woodshed; the creator of the [BW] Beer Blog. I absolutely love great beer and blogging about it was a blast, but I found over time my interests started leaning towards wine. Specifically, my time in both the Willamette Valley and the Palouse drew me to big reds. To give you a good idea as to where my preferences lie, Willamette Valley Vineyard's 2005 Griffin Creek Cab Franc is one of my all time favorites.

Today I almost solely dedicate my effort to wine. The [BW] Beer Blog has ceased updating and I guess you could say I am exclusively writing for the OWB. I find this especially fitting as I like to think my suggestion to Josh is what started this blog in the first place =)

In short, it's an honor to be contributing and I look forward to getting to know all of this blog's readers. I also hope to add a little of my blogging expertise to add some new fun things to the site. Feel free to leave a comment and say hi or give any suggestions.


Monday, June 15, 2009

720 Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir with Roulade of Halibut

Next up on the docket at the Gathering Together Farm Wine Dinner was a Roulade of Halibut perfectly matched with the 2006 720 Cellars Pinot Noir. The halibut was wrapped in pork belly over israeli cous cous, with almonds and quince pasta. We all agreed that the almonds added a ton to the dish, and greatly enjoyed the pairing.

720 Cellars describes itself as a "gravity-flow winery to produce 1,000 cases of ultra-mega-double-secret-super-premium wine in 720 square feet of workspace." I suspect this is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek description, but what I do know is that 720 produces some quality wines in Philomath, OR. OK, so they're actually a small lot production winery that works out of a garage of sorts, but Nick does some equipment sharing with them and has been lucky enough to visit the facility and taste out of the barrel and has nothing but amazing things to say.

In describing the 2006 Pinot Noir, 720 says "The range and spectrum of this wine is a swirl of the bright raspberry and cherry end of the spectrum finishing with a foundation of darker elements of blackberries and cola." We found this to be a very traditional Oregon Pinot with a nice earthy nose and a bit sharp on the finish. It really worked with the halibut. Rick thought it was "really good", and this pairing reminded me how versatile Pinot Noir can be. With a production of only 400 cases, better pick some up while you can.

Next up on the journey of the wine dinner we'll look at short ribs with Seven Hills Vineyard Syrah and wrap up with Harris Bridge Winery Pinot Noir Dessert Wine and dessert. Beyond this series, we have a ton of exciting things in store for the blog. We have posts queued up for a delicous Col Solaire red wine, a review of a oregon wine book, and plans in the works for a Tour de Vino celebrating the Tour de France. It should be a great summer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

GTF Wine Dinner - Amuse Bouche with Emerson Pinot Gris

Continuing the series from the May 24, 2009 Gathering Together Farm wine dinner, following a rousing farm tour we quickly served the Amuse Bouche. While being served a mushroom soup with green garlic foam and brioche, a glass of 2007 Emerson Pinot Gris was poured for each diner. While some of my mushroom-averse compatriots less enjoyed this warm soup, I found it to be crisp and delicious.

Emerson Vineyards, a family-owned winery located in Monmouth, OR, produces Pinot Noir and Gris, Syrah, and Chardonnay while focusing on stewardship and sustainability as a core tenet. Elliot Johns, the winemaker, is a gradu
ate of Oregon State University's fermentation science program. Winery tasting notes on the 05 Gris note, "Emerson Vineyards Pinot Gris is silvery and brilliant. This vintage expresses gooseberry and honey aromas with flinty, minerally back notes."

We immediately detected the strong floral basket on the nose of this wine, with a crisp and tart lingering finish when consumed by itself. When paired with the soup, though, the finish was cut making a very refreshing and pleasant match. General consensus was very favorable for this wine, although Rick noted he would have enjoyed the riesling more with this course and Alyssa wasn't a fan of the whole course. Probably more of that is related to the aforementioned distaste for mushrooms.

The next course of the dinner didn't have a separate wine poured with it, and thankfully we made friends with the staff and ended up with an extra pour of the Gris to enjoy with the Salade Compose. The deconstructed salad of baby carrots, new potatoes, snap peas, Walla Walla onions, meyer lemon vinaigrette, and garden aiola also worked very well with the wine.

Keep your eyes on the blog for the next piece in the series, a look at the Roulade of Halibut matched with 720 Cellars Pinot Noir!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gathering Together Farm Wine Dinner - Territorial Riesling

On May 24, 2009 I had the pleasure of once again participating in a wine dinner at Gathering Together Farm, an organic farm in Philomath, OR. During the on-season the farm hosts a wine dinner once per month, pairing a 5-course gourmet dinner cooked onsite with local wine. Joining me on this journey were Nick, Kristen, and Chris from Block 15 Restaurant and Brewery; Rick, a budding wine blogger; and friends Gordon, Megan, and Alyssa. I bring to you the collaborative review of this event in a multi-part series:

2005 Territorial Riesling

A typical wine dinner pairs all courses with offerings from a single winery. This particular evening, though, we were treated to the wine buyer's selection of Willamette Valley wines. Waiting as we walked in the door was a glass of Territorial Riesling. Founded by two Lane County wine growing families, Territorial produces a variety of whites and Pinot Noir out of their facility in Eugene, OR.

Matched with some crackers and meat, we found that this wine was the perfect start for the evening. With 2% residual sugar, the off-dry style gave a little sweetness that was just right -- it treated the palate without being overwhelming. Even Rick, an avowed fan of reds who typically avoids riesling, enjoyed this one. Another notch on the sugar would have definitely taken it out of his range. With an alcohol content of 11%, this vintage retails at $15 per bottle and is available throughout the valley.

Keep your eyes on the blog over the next two weeks as we work through the courses and wines of this dinner. Next up, the amuse bouche and Emerson Pinot Gris. In the meantime, if you can make it out to the farm for a dinner or weekend breakfast - do it. Unfortunately for you all, the wine dinners are all booked for the remainder of this year, but they have good food all the time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brief Hiatus

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So it's been a very very busy time here in Corvallis, and I sit here on the eve of another business trip which will take me out of the country for the next week. Point is, there hasn't been a lot of time to post lately. I have some good stuff brewing though including a review of Gathering Together Farms recent wine dinner as well as an amazing bottle of 2005 Col Solaire Red Wine. Look for these to come out in about a week and a half, and until then, drink well!