Southern Oregon Wine Adventure . . Day Two – Roam the Rogue

This was the day I had been waiting for. . .Roam the Rogue.  A self-guided tour around the Upper Rogue Winery region.  My wife and I have spent the majority of our wine touring time in the Willamette Valley /YamhillValley area, we felt it was time to visit more of our gorgeous state.

Since we completed our first leg of our journey in Jacksonville, it seemed logical to begin this portion at the southernmost end of the tour,RoxyAnnWinery.

AtRoxyAnnWinery,our tour began with their Chardonnay.  I enjoy Chardonnay so much more when it is fermented in oak rather than all stainless steel, and this Chard was right on par.  It is 100% in barrel fermented which gives in a lusciousmouth feeland tastes of creamy citrus flavors.  A very pleasant beginning indeed.  Second on the docket was theirSyrah. . . also very nice.  Dark and juicy with some substantial, yet supple tannins.  It rounds out to a really silky, spicy finish.  I had planned to also try their Claret, which seems to be readily available in most large retailers, but alas, I got distracted (easy to do at times) and we left . . . headed to stop #2 on the tour.

Agate Ridge Vineyardsis a small boutique producer just up the valley a bit.  Our tastings began in their outside tasting area, replete with tastynibletsto tempt our hunger.  Their first offering was theirSemillon-SauvignonBlancblend.  This loveliness took me by surprise.  Intensely floral on the nose, it explodes with citrus flavors and textures of an Alsatian style fermentation.  Gloriously creamy mouth feel, it is one I will need to explore further.  Their second offering was withoutdoubtone of the highlights of the entiretour .. . for me.  It is simply called 2011DKEstate Reserve.  It is a blend ofGrenache,Syrahand PetiteSyrah.  This wine was named after the winemaker’s dad who, as I recall her story, really started Agate Ridge and passed away just before they unveiled this beautiful Rhone blend to the public.  It spent 34 months in oak, which is typically unheard of, which allowed those rather heady varietals to mature and smooth out, thus producing a gloriously smooth and luxuriant beverage.  I highly recommend the 2011DKEstate Reserve.

LaBrasseurVineyardsis a small, and somewhat off the beaten path winery.  It is a family owned and run operation that has produced some really delicious wines.  We started the tasting adventure with their Riesling, which is different than most.  Instead of fermenting all of the sugar out, they have chosen to leave about 2.5% of residual sugar, which honestly is a very welcome change from what is the norm.  My wife especially enjoyed the delicate floral notes that very ably balanced the crisp acidity.  Next up was one of their mainstays,Syrah.  This 2012Syrahwas replete with dark brambly fruit and a surprising touch of smoke.  We thought at first it had somehow been captured in the glass from being in the room with the wood stove used to heat the tasting room.  Really a great one to search out.  I also got to taste one of their red blends.  I decided to try Ethan Cole, a 50/50 blend ofPrimitivoand PetiteSyrah., and which is named after one of theirgrandkids.  Ethan Cole is a very bold, smooth and beautiful wine that fills your mouth with dark cherry andan earthy notes.  Well done.

Kriselle Cellars Tasting Room

KriselleCellars was one of the location I was most looking forward to seeing and sampling since we had run into the owners, Scott and KrisellSteingraber, a few months prior at one of our favorite wineries inMcMinnville.  The landscape and tasting room atKriselleCellars are amazing.  Architecturally it was withoutdoubtthe nicest tasting room on the tour.  The view from the patio, which overlooked their property, was breathtaking . . . and the wine wasn’t bad either.  We started with their Sauvignon Blanc.  It was tart, citrusy and very well balanced with a pleasant lingering finish.  The next step was directly into Di’Tani.  It is a superb blend that sits squarely on top of Cabernet Franc, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Malbec in the party to help round out and add different textures.  It has a wonderfully fruit forward nose, and truly delivers those full flavors on the palate.  A superb balance of tannins and acidity.  I had found another favorite on this trip, as I kinda figured I would.  And I couldn’t stop there.  Scott produces several other warm weather varietals, so of course I had to try them all.  TheSangiovesewas excellent.  It is a traditional light Chianti with nice fruit notes, well balanced and a slightly dry finish.  TheMalbecwas full-bodied andspicy .. . but not overly so.  And it too finished dry on the palate.  The CabernetSauvignonhad a very similar profile to theMalbec, but the fruity nature carried the show while the spiciness took a back seat.  And finally, theTempranillo, which has a superbflavor right up front, but gets a bit astringent on the mid palate.  I think that if this Temp was laid down for a couple years, it would mellow the tannins and that in turn would complement the classic dark fruit.  All around an excellent tasting flight atKriselleCellars.

Kriselle Cellars patio view
Quite a view at Cliff Creek Cellars

Cliff Creek Cellarswas just a short trip down the road.  The view across the expansive vineyard out to the mountains in the distance was really awe inspiring.  They started us with their White-WhiteBlend. It is really nice and refreshing Rhone blend ofViognier,PinotGrisandMalvasiaBlanc.  This Greek varietal has a slightly sweet nature to it and I think theMalvasiaadds that character to an otherwise fairly pedestrian blend.  I really enjoyed it.  It would make a great summer patio wine.  Their red offering was aSyrah.  Good nose and quite nice mid-palate fruit expression.  Very smooth and balanced.  Cliff Creek offers a few other wines including a Rose`, which I tried and a Claret, which I had tried previously at their tasting room inNewberg.  Both were good expressions of Cliff Creek.

Folin Cellars Tasting Room

FolinCellarswas our next stop.  Definitely the second nicest tasting room on our tour.  The grounds around the building are well manicured and the building is quite striking.  They started us off with theirViognier, which was just OK.  Not as much character or texture as others.  Second up was theirSyrah.  Great nose and a really good fruitymid palateflavor, then smooth to the finish.  Their food pairing was excellent.  It was a Five Spice Asian inspired pulled pork in a phyllo dough cup.Had to take that recipe home.

Del Rio Vineyardsis our last stop on the tour.  And I think we were both tired and ready to be done.  But we really didn’t want to short-change Del Rio just because they are the last one, so we pushed ahead – and we were glad we did.  They started us off with theirPinotGris.  I know I’ve mentioned it before . . . not really a fan of mostPinotGris and this was no exception.  It is OK, just not really what I had hoped for in flavor and character.  Their red offering was a surprise,PinotNoir. . . Southern OregonPinotNoir.  It is very light bodied and well balanced.  The tannins were not prominent, but neither was acidity, and it had a nice easy fruit flavor . . .  currants, strawberries, a slight touch of smoke.  Well done.  But we weren’t done yet.  I had seen in the wine stores something they have called Rose Jolee.  It is their take on a traditionalrose’.  So, I had to give it a swirl.  Gottasay,I loved it.  Slightlyeffervescent blend of Early Muscat and Riesling with a touch of Cabernet Franc andSyrahfor color.  It hasa bit ofresidual sugars, but not cloying.  I think this one is my new go-to summer refresher.

So . . . there you have it, seven wineries along the Upper Rogue area of Southern Oregon.  Several which have become new favorites of ours.  I hope that my notes will help you in divining which of these great producers you should visit on your next trip.


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