Thanksgiving weekend is one of two times during the year that are important and special in the wine industry. Most wineries are open and active the entire weekend with special deals and opportunities. One of those was a special introductory class on wine appreciation. I had hoped for something of a bit more advanced in sensory education, but this was quite informative nevertheless.
The class was held at Willamette Valley Vineyards, south of Salem and concentrated on the 4 major elements that affect wine . . . Tannin, Sugar, Acid and Alcohol.
We were given a control wine and 4 separate sample glasses. The wine in all 5 glasses was Willamette Valley Vineyards 2015 Estate Pinot Noir. Also in front of us was a small plate with 4 items on it. A typical black tea teabag, a packet of sugar, a small slice of lemon and a 1/2 oz cup of vodka. We added each item to our sample glasses one at a time and drank and discussed the effects each item had on the “control” wine. A very interesting experiment.
Afterward we sat down in the cellar to a tasting of some new releases.
2016 Gruner Veltliner – I immediately got aromas of bright citrus like grapefruit and Meyer lemon. The structure was very bright acidity and excellent balance. I would think that any food with a spicy or strong flavor would be highly complimented by this wine.
2015 Vintage 42 Pinot Noir – Bill Fuller’s second vintage after his retirement and triumphant return to wine-making. This pinot has delicate red fruit aromas, soft acidity and medium body. I was impressed by the exquisite balance of flavor, structure and acidity. A superb choice. All Tualatin Estate fruit.
2010 Cabernet Franc – Aromas of dried plum and a satiny mid palate. Fruit is subtle on this one, much more subdued than I expected but it did produce a long, smooth finish.
2012 Quinta Reserva Port-Style – This all pinot noir port-style wine is a marvelous representation of how versatile the Pinot Noir grapes can be. This wine has gorgeous aromas of dark cherry with a hint of plum. The fruit flavors are bright, though the mid palate is velvet. And a truly excellently long finish. If you’ve never tried it, you owe it to yourself to treat your palate to this wonder.
Our second and final stop was at Bjornson Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills area. I was anticipating a multi-winery experience, but unfortunately I didn’t read the advertisement well enough and we missed the event by one day. However, the experience was not at all disappointing. Bjornson Vineyards produces some very excellent pinot noirs well as a few other varietals.
2016 Auxerrois – This Alsatian white wine grape isn’t widely planted in Oregon. I’ve enjoyed it at only 3 locations thus far. This wine was light citrus as well as a touch of herbs on the nose. The body was light, crisp and dry.
2013 Bjornson Vineyard Family Pinot Noir – This cuvee exhibits the classic aromas of red and dark fruit and the body is on the lighter side. The great red fruit flavors lead into a balanced finish that leads ever so refreshingly acidic.
2013 Bjornson Vineyard Edward Pinot Noir – A blend of primarily 777 and Pommard clones. A very classic profile with a bit more red fruit. Superb fruit flavors that also exhibit dark cherry. The finish includes hints of baking spice and lingers excellently.
2013 Bjornson Vineyard BW#21003 Pinot Noir Barrel Select – The name of this amazing wine is a bit odd, and the story is interesting, but I could never do it justice. You’ll just have to go and check it out for yourself . . .in the mean time, I can say that this Pinot is a gorgeous garnet color and has a bright nose of red fruit . . .very classic Pinot. The body is medium to heavy in structure and the flavors are quite pronounced, and a hint of sour cherry.
2014 Bjornson Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir – Again. . very classic aromas, and an underlying aromas similar to a wine cellar. hints of oak and spice. The mid palate is silky and well structured. Though this one has a bit more tannins than the others so far.
2015 Bjornson Vineyard ART Pinot Noir – Excellent bright red fruit on the nose and the flavors deliver as well. Medium bodied and superb structure as well as a nicely balanced finish.
2015 Chardonnay – Pronounced aromas of honey and a hint of grass on the nose. Crisp citrus flavors dominate. The finish is long and lingering, unusual for a Chardonnay.
2016 Argenta Rose’ of Pinot Noir – Your nose will be greeted with rose petals and strawberries. The structure is crisp and very fruity with luscious red fruit. The finish turns a bit tart with hints of apple that was very mouth-watering.
The tasting room is a gorgeous facility, fairly new it seemed . . sitting atop a hill overlooking West Salem. A beautiful view to enjoy. and Gerry was a marvelous host. You owe it to yourself to seek out and enjoy this property.