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 Vineyardsand 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 . DysonDeMara 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 Wineryproduces a glorious pink blend of Pinot Gris and Muscat called Passionthat 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 Cheeksand 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 Umpquais a spicy Rhone style blend of Grenache and Syrah with plum, berry and dark cherry flavors.  Their Red Planetis 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



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