Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summertime...and the Drinking is Easy

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It's finally starting to warm up here in the Willamette Valley - sunshine, flowers in bloom, dry weather, and fresh new produce. I am enjoying an increase in vitamin D intake and the influx of lovely summer veggies appearing every day at the farmer's market and co-op. My staff and I enjoyed the end of the school year with a brilliant and tasty barbecue by the river. With each new summery addition I crave more, and this includes looking for some lovely wines to drink as I look forward to grilling, chilling, and visiting friends.

I was fortunate enough to get an invite to an industry tasting at Spindrift Cellars in Philomath, OR. I'd passed this local boutique winery and tasting room often on bike rides, but the desire to top my record for the Philomath loop always bested my desire to stop. I was pleased to join owners Matt and Tabitha Compton for a chance to sample a wide variety of their wines - some for sale in the tasting room, and others unavailable now in the tasting room.

I was most impressed with the spread laid out for us upon my arrival - over 15 wines lined up for tasting, several cheeses, brownies, crackers and spreads. I was the first in attendance, so I was treated to some special attention while tasting - a lovely chat with Matt about Spindrift, his commitment to making quality wines, and their interest in developing green and sustainable practices. I learned that their bottles are made of 65% recycled glass, and that their vineyards are certified sustainable. I found both Matt and Tabitha to be warm, open, and invested in their art.

I tried all of the wines in the lineup and decided to highlight those that I liked best...

2009 Gewurztraminer - I found this wine to be surprising and lovely. The nose was strong and lively with hints of melon and honey. I found it drier than other gewurztraminers I've tried, with an acidic bite up front, with a soft spicy finish. I noted a lingering heat that made me think of hot chilies, and made me want to take a bottle down the street to the Woodsman and pair it up with a mild thai curry. It was well-balanced, and had a clean texture that left me wanting to sip more.

2010 Pinot Gris - Not currently available in the tasting room, this wine hit me with its strength and bright sharpness. The nose was open and tart with a high floral note that hit me late as I moved away from the glass. I found it to have an intense citrus flavor blended with the coolness of peach and melon. The finish was full of mouth-watering tart - almost green apple. What I loved the most about this wine however was the texture - smooth and satiny over my tongue and palette, it invited me to keep sipping. I would drink this wine well chilled by the glass, or pair it up with grilled chicken or flavorful fish. It positively invited summer in to stay.

2010 Pinot Noir Rose - this wine stood out to me as unique and fun. The nose hinted of champagne, summer fruit, and citrus - all of which matched up when I tasted it. I found new strawberry at the front, with a mid-palette citrus and a finish that made me think of summer wedding toasts. The texture was sharp and clear - the only thing that would have made it better would be just a hint of sparkle. I was also impressed by the color - a gentle peach glow that was as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. I made sure to pick up a bottle on my way out to save for late summer toasts with a berry salad or simply on its own.

2008 Lewisburg Pinot Noir - Matt described the location from which this single-vineyard bottling came as a warm and sunny location that brings out acidity and big flavors (thank you Matt for all of the lovely new tidbits you taught me!). I found the nose loamy and almost herbal - the kind of Pinot Noir that I really enjoy. The flavor was calmer than the nose promised, but offered tart cherry flavors up front, with a movement to darker fruits and chocolate later on. in discussing the wine with others at the event I learned more about aging wines, and was told that this wine will only improve and open up further in the coming years (the Spindrift website promises its drinkability between 2012 and 2020). Despite the statements that this wine still has a way to go, I enjoyed it thoroughly, and would love to drink it along with grilled steak fajitas and corn on the cob out on the deck around sunset.

2008 Syrah - This wine, made from grapes in the Walla Walla Valley, ended my tasting with a delightful bang. The nose was bold and spicy with a promise of dark fruit. I found the taste aligned with the nose, adding in a smokiness and a hint of oak. There was a green finish that made me think of blackberry leaves and deep forest moss. The texture was full and rich and made me want to drink it alone, or perhaps pair it up with freshly picked morels.

Thank you Matt and Tabitha for being wonderful hosts, and for sharing with me your thoughts and love of the wines that you make. I look forward to hitting up Spindrift in the future, as well as trying my bottle of '08 Lewisburg Pinot Noir in the coming years! Tasting your wines helped to herald in the summertime!

1 comment:

  1. Spindrift will always treat you right! What did you think of the Pinot Blanc?