2012 Quady North – Bomba

Most of the write-ups I’ve read on this wine call it a “fruit bomb”.  They ain’t lyin’.  There is so much dark glorious fruit on the nose it is mesmerizing.  Dark cherries, currants, plums and raspberries waft up into my senses like a blanket, filling my nose with warmth.

The first sip is tantalizing and warm, and a bit astringent with firm yet supple tannins creating a backbone.  From that first taste on, it is simply a heavenly journey.  It has a lush and smooth flavor that wraps around your tongue like a mink coat.  From the back label – “This wine is a ticking time bomb of absolute deliciousness.  Bright, soft, lush but capable of delivering a punch.”  I agree 100%.

Thanks Herb!  Another one out of the park!

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 – Day 2

**Whew!. . Just found my notes from our 2nd day of tastings on Memorial day weekend.  Thought I had lost them**

For Day 2 we decided to stick fairly close to home and see some previously unvisited venues in Yamhill county.

Domaine Drouhin was stop #1.  First of all, what a beautiful facility.  The views from their deck are breath-taking.  And the wines are equally so.

I normally don’t favor wines from the Dundee Hills because of the predominance of minerality that typically inhabits wines from this AVA.  I am very happy to say that these wines were absent that dominant characteristic.  Which for my money, allows the fruit to be dominant rather than the location.

Rose of Pinot Noir – Pretty typical example of this wine.  Good fruit, moderately acidic and refreshing.

Chardonnay – I’m typically not a big Chard fan, but this wine could sway me.  It wasn’t buttery, like CA Chardonnay, but it had a very distinct smoothness about it.  The fruit came through very well and the structure was robust and welcoming.

There were then 3 different Pinot Noirs to taste.  The mineral flavor that is so common amongst Dundee Hills Pinots was not present in any of these offerings.

Dundee Hills ’13 – Moderate structure, good balanced acidity, fruit-forward


*Roserock ’13 – Also had very good structure, the tannins bolstered this wine nicely, the balance was superb and the acidity was right on point.

*Laurene ’12 – Creme de la creme of their offerings.  Laurene is a great example of what makes most 2012 Oregon Pinots so sought after.  The round mouthfeel, full structure of the tannins, the balanced acidity and the dark fruit flavors that dance across your tongue.  Just excellent.

Colene Clemens was stop #2.

The adventure started with  –

*Rose of Pinot Noir .  The nose was robust with floral notes, the fruit on the palate was also very vibrant, light acidity and structure was quite good for such a subtle wine.  Overall, one of the best roses I’ve ever tasted.

We next did a deep dive into Pinot Noir.  I think all 4 of the Pinots we were offered were delicious, for various different reasons.  All were either 2012 or 2013 vintages.

Margo ’13- Very soft and feminine structure, subtle flavors, smooth and balanced.

*Adriane ’13- PLUSH, GORGEOUS and ELEGANT!  A superbly balanced wine of unsurpassed greatness.( Dijon clones: 115, 667, 777, Pommard and Wadenswil)

Adriane ’12 – Brambly on the nose, more vegetal and acidic than the ’13.

Victoria ’13 – Another soft, feminine and well-balanced offering.

Beacon Hill Winery has quite a storied past.  The grounds and facility are truly gorgeous.  I tasted several of their wines and found most to be quite nice, but no real standouts in the group.

Pinot Gris – Alsatian style, nice, crisp and creamy

Rose of Pinot – smooth and tart.  Mid palate drops out and the finish is unremarkable

Dundee Pinot Noir ’11 – 100% 777 clone, nicely round, slightly tart with light mineral notes.

Chehalem Mtn Pinot ’13 – from Dick Erath’s original plantings – Very vegetal aroma, balanced and smooth, and yes. . slightly mineral

*La Colina Pinot ’14 – Soft and feminine, similar to my favorite Whole cluster fermentation.  Easy and plush with no mineral quality

Natalie’s Estate was our last stop and one I was looking forward to trying.

Pinot Gris – Unusual nose, could quite pin down the aroma, seems an Alsatian style ferment.

*Tempranillo ’14 – Nicely round, smoky and smooth.  Very nice

Stable 39 ’14 – A bled of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot.  A bit harsh, needs some time to mellow and meld together.

Merlot ’13 – Smooth with a touch of spice.  And an added bonus was smoky nature from the fire in Southern Oregon that occurred while these grapes were maturing.

*Sangiovese ’13 – Nicely balanced with a dried fruit aroma on the nose.  Very smooth.


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Memorial Day Weekend 2016 – Day 1

As most winos know, Memorial Day weekend is a big event in the Wineries.  This weekend is one of (sometimes) two weekends that some small boutique wineries open to the public for tasting their wares.  Knowing this, we generally venture out into Wine Country to sample some choices that are fresh to us.  And as usual, for us anyway, I make a plan, an itinerary of where I’d like to go based on research of the areas available.

We had decided to venture out into some wineries in Yamhill County that we hadn’t, for various reasons, ever visited before, as well as heading up the Columbia Gorge to Hood River.

Our first stop, and my most anticipated, was Aniche Cellars.  I was especially intrigued because all the wines they produce are blends . . . mmmmm.  What was also particularly great about this tasting room experience was the plethora of notes provided about each wine we sampled.  The winemaker is very creative in her naming conventions as well as providing entertaining datasheets on the contents.  Awesome stuff for a wine nerd.

We started the day with Tzippy – a blend of reisling and gewertztraminer that was slightly sweet and reflected pears and citrus.  a really lovely fresh white wine.  Bombadil – is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Picpoul.  I got hints of anise, and it seemed a bit tight, lacking in fruit flavors.  Maybe it needs more time.  Lizzy – Rousanne and Marsanne.  This one has more fruit flavors than the previous with more obvious notes of citrus, but still very light.  3 Witches – this one is a blend of Counnoise, Cinsault and Mourvedre . . . seemed to me to be very Pinot Noir like.  Good fruit on the front and very smooth, finishes long with a spicy tone.  7 Gables –  Magnificent Southern Rhone blend, GSM plus . . . A superb flavor profile, virtually unmatched by any other I’ve tried before.  It carried a light spicy note through its long finish.  Really excellent wine.  Barbariccia – Super Tuscan, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  First of all. . .a HUGE fruit bomb on the nose, very much the ones that grab me immediately.  It continued with a solid structure, very well balanced tannins and acidity and a pleasing long finish.  Be Holden – Big and Bold Bordeaux blend (Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv).  The aromas were very solid and fruit-forward, smooth through the mid palate and very well balanced.  Goat Boy – Bordeaux blend primarily of Cab Sauv.  Sor to f a strange initial aroma, but a great balance, very smooth and had good spicy quality at the finish.  Last but nit least was Tyger, Tyger  – A bonus pour as we were the only ones in the tasting room at the time and I guess she liked us  . . .This is their “premium” wine at $64 a bottle.  Blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv and Petite Verdot, it was SUPERB!!  The smooth silky mouth-feel was throughout the entire length of the experience.  It finished with a clean acidity that required another taste.  Truly great.


Our next stop was Cerulean Wine.  They had 6 offerings on that day, starting with their Tempranillo Rose’.  I tend to like rose’ made from bolder grape varieties, but this wasn’t one of those times.  Initially it had an odd, sort of funky aroma to it.  Couldn’t really put a finger on the specific source of the smell.  It was crisp, but really lacked any forward fruit . . .disappointing.  Chardonnay was next.  It was pretty typical for most Chards made in OR and WA.  Good solid flavors and aromas, but not extraordinary.  An ’09 Gewertztraminer was next on the agenda . . .This was a very good wine.  Very smooth, really good fruit and solidly full bodied.  I suspect this was done in a sur lie style as the creaminess and fruit were very evident.  A ’12 Pinot Noir was next.  Initial pour was not awesome.  The attendant quickly opened a fresh bottle and gave us another go.  Good fruit, a bit tight but could open up over time and balanced acidity.  Next was ’10 Nebbiolo , and I had high hopes for this one.  Not disappointed at all.  Good solid fruit and structure, high acidity and a long finish.  Finally, we came to Red Sky, a blend of Barbera, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Merlot.  Super smooth, solid fruit and really well balanced.  Had to take one of those home.


Stave and Stone is a brand new tasting room/winery in the area and it was suggested we check them out.  Their tasting was accompanied with a tidbit of gnosh to enhance the experience, which was exquisite.  Most of their offerings were very good, nothing that different . . .with the exception of their Reisling.  Better than most I’ve tried, this reisling is very fruit forward, initial flavors of peach and nectarine with a hint of lime.  Loved it.  Have to also include their Cab Sauv in this exception list.  Nice and jammy . .super smooth with a touch of spice.


Our final wine stop was Springhouse Cellar.  Have to say right off the top, I enjoyed pretty much everything they produce.  Their Grenache has great fruit on the nose, smooth all the way through, light and not heavy-handed.  The Sangiovese has a superb fruity nose with tight fruit and a finish of cherry cola . . .awesome.  Their blend is called Ruins Red (and I did take 2 of these home).  This guy is a Super Tuscan (82% Sangio) with excellent fruit and spice on the nose, supreme fruit forward character, and a balanced structure.  Last option was their Tempranillo, which I qualify as a really great food wine.  It has a light nose, spicy but moderately fruity.  Not overpowering but really pleasant.

2013 Kirkland Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel

I read about this wine a few months back on the Costco Wine blog and decided then that I had to try it and review it, as best I could.

Right off, the aroma of dark ripe berries hits your nose, along with a spicy note I can’t quite place.  It carries with it a sense of warmth and comfort . . .reminds me of good port.

The tannins are very supple and smooth, there is a hint of vanilla, but the acid coupled with that spice dances across my tongue.  It’s really quite invigorating, without being too much.

According to the back label, the fruit for this wine comes from vines that average 45 years old . . .tenured and low-yielding plants.  Greatness can come from such things.  And for only $9.99 .  .this is a steal for those of you who enjoy a really nice Old Vine Zin.


2012 Remy Wines Barbera

Remy Drabkin has a knack for taming those “rowdy” Italian varietals and encouraging them to give up the very best parts of themselves.  This 2012 Barbera has been languishing in my cellar for about a year . . .and since I had 2 bottles, and since I LOVE what she does . . . I decided to pop one open and see just what was going on inside.

Everything about this wine is complex and nuanced.  The aroma is loaded with deep dark fruit smells, as well as spice, like cinnamon and sage.  Upon tasting, I discover that there are flavors on my palate I just cannot describe.  The acidity is blended with spicy notes that tickle the tongue.  The tannins are quite tame, as it relates to astringency, but the robustness of the fruit and the structure of the tannins together  product a full, round flavor that is  . . .well, quite honestly, baffling.  Can I just say, I find it DELICIOUS!  The sheer complexity of this flavor bomb is just too much.  I NEED some Lasagna . . . STAT!!20160325_131228[1]

2016 McMinnville Wine and Food Classic (Sip)

This festival has become our personal favorite wine and food extravaganza of the season.  Partially because of the vast array of wineries represented, and partially because it so close to home.  Oregon and Washington wines are represented by  a diverse field of great wineries, 68 in total.

I have typically gone into each wine festival with a “plan of attack”, because there are so many wineries, a normal person could never make it thru sampling all of them . . .nor would you likely want to.

My plan this year was to try wines and wineries that I haven’t tried before, as well as some of my favorites.  I started with 13 wineries I wanted to enjoy, though as we went along I decided to judiciously eliminate those that I had recently sampled at the Portland Seafood and Wine Fest.  I also got drawn in but a couple known faves as we wandered the floor.

Our first stop was Delfino Vineyards and I was very happy to get a chance to talk with Jim Delfino himself.  He has a terrific handle on what it takes to produce truly authentic artisanal wines.  I chose to sample his Mezzo Mezzo, a Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauv and Merlot which was smooth, silky and would be very nice with food or just camping on the couch.

I quickly found my self drawn toward Hillcrest Vineyards .  Dyson DeMara is a winemaker/philosopher who I could stand and listen to for hours.  His profound knowledge about all things viticulture is astounding and his take on what can be temperamental wine varieties is really wonderful.  I especially enjoy his Barbera wines. . both Le Pig and This Little Piggy.

My wife is a huge fan of semi-sparkling Pink wines and we were fortunate enough to encounter 2 of her favorites during our wanderings.  Noble Estates Winery produces a glorious pink blend of Pinot Gris and Muscat called Passion that is light and slightly sweet, very pleasing, particularly as a palate cleanser for someone like myself who tends toward deep, dark red wines.  The other fave pink pleaser is from another Eugene area winery, Sweet Cheeks Winery.  Their offering is called Rosy Cheeks and is an excellent refresher.  From their website: A flavorful blend of siagneés from parcels of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah. A beautiful pink color, lusciously fruity with a hint of vanilla on the palate. Notes of wild strawberry, cherry and tropical fruits. Fermented like white wine to retain fruitiness. This wine has some sweetness but is balanced by the good acidity and a wonderful mouth coating texture in the finish.  

I found Ankeny Winery as we ventured around.  They make a great variety of wines, but I decided to only try their Marechal Foch.  It was excellent with a deep smoky aroma and flavor that lingered nicely without the astringency of some other grape varieties.

At Marshanne Landing I discovered 2 of their awesome blends, Red Planet and Cote Du Umpqua.   The  Cote Du Umpqua is a spicy Rhone style blend of Grenache and Syrah with plum, berry and dark cherry flavors.  Their Red Planet is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and was one of (if not the best) red blends I had all day.  Really smooth and flavorful dark ruby beauty with aromas of rose, currant and plum. Luscious spicy flavors of rose, raspberry, black cherry and currant make this an elegant wine for many dining occasions.

Ribera Vineyards is a small boutique winery that produces a few wines. . .all great.  I have been drawn to their Confluence blend  which brings together Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise . . . deliciously I might add.

And as our last stop, I HAD to finish at Paul O’Brien Winery.  I’ve blogged about Scott Kelley in another posting, but I am such a huge fan of what he creates I must say more.  I started with his 2013 Pinot Noir.  It was fruit forward, smooth and smoky . . a delicious to the last sip blend of Clone 114/115 and 777.  Next was his Rosato , a crisp rose’ made from Whole-cluster fermented Sangiovese.  Then had to go after his Petite Sirah . . . wow, so heavy, like a winter blanket for your tongue.  My wife decided to try his 2014 Moscato . . . so great. . . Semi-sparkling, light residual sugar and delicious.   This description from their website is so perfect, I had to include it. . .While working in Italy Scott had the opportunity to meet Paulo Saracco in the Piedmonte region of Northern Italy. Paulo is famous for making one of the most beautiful Moscato d’ Asti wines. Taking the knowledge and experience back to California, Scott created the Moscato Bianco wines at La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi. This year we found some amazing Muscat here in the Umpqua Valley and could not resist replicating this style. By stopping the fermentation where the sweetness is perfectly balanced by the acidity we are able to deliver a refreshingly sweet wine that leaves you wanting more. This wine has a bit of natural Frizzante preserved from the primary fermentation. Served Ice cold its great with fresh fruit desserts. One of our favorites is to macerate strawberries in a bit of Moscato and serve over pound cake with a bit of whipped cream. Enjoy!

The Sip! McMinnville Wine & Food Classic  is always a really fun festival, filled with wineries from Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, SE Washington and right here in the Willamette Valley.  As always, I suggest you put this event on your calendar for next year . . . Facebook Page


Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend -2012

You know how it is when you wander the wine aisles at Costco . . . So many great options.  And many are very affordable.  I love to try things that I see in numerous  locations to see what the allure is about them.  Such is the case with this H3 Red Blend.

There are so many great Vineyards in SE Washington and they NEED to be sample and regaled about by wine lovers.  We can’t let California be the only place to get great Cab Sauv or Zin.  Hence, we sample. 

On the nose, this wine is jammy and full of blackberry and spice notes.  Upon tasting, I note that it is a bit tilted toward acidity, sort of like a great Sauv Blanc.  The tannins are soft and allow the tangy acid to linger for a long finish.  This would awesome with something savory or spicy  like a pepper steak or even fajitas.  And for $8.99, get a couple bottles.