A fine vacation . . .part 1 of 3

October 2016

After a relaxing and rain-filled 3 days in Lincoln City, on the beautiful Oregon coast, Teresa and I headed south along Hwy 101 .  Our destination is Roseburg. . . and the beginning of this wine adventure.  We had lined up to visit 9 wineries.  So, for as much brevity as I can muster . . I will review them in threes . . . . starting with . .

Wednesday’s first stop – Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards.  Their tasting room experience is rather unique.  Instead of your standard bar-type tasting room, they have you sitting in their Wine Cave, amongst the barrels of sleeping wines.  A seated tasting is something that also includes some interesting bites to compliment the wines.

Our first taste was of their 2015 Viognier, one of the better more flavor intense Viogniers I’ve tasted.  From the label – “Elegance, power, and definition!!! Juicy-fruit gum and luscious tropical fruit aromas of ripe banana, papaya and pineapple are anchored by a distinctive mineral note. This wine offers a generous mouth-feel… full and round… with a distinctive oily texture that fills the palate and powers its way through a bright, balanced, long, spicy finish with an elegant “kiss” of oak.”

Next up was their 2013 Pinot Noir – Winemaker’s Reserve.  IN the Willamette Valley we have a plethora of good to great Pinot Noirs to choose from.  It is sometimes a valid experiment to try those not grown here.  This pinot was very well balanced and fruit forward, with a level of acidity that produced a salivating desire for more.  From the label – “A feminine wine with aromatics of red berries, smoke and coffee notes. A mouthful of wild berry, red currant, spice and earth… silky fine tannins provide the framework for a lengthy, complex finish.”

Third was the 2013 Syrah – Winemaker’s Reserve. I personally labeled this one Unimpressive.  There are so many really good Syrahs in the Rogue and Umpqua valleys.  This, IMHO, is not one of them.  Really sort of  . . .blah.

Last was the 2014 Tempranillo.  Ending a tasting on a disappointment is never a good thing.  But, that is unfortunately where this tasting ended.  Another “almost there”.


In downtown Roseburg, in a former car dealership showroom, sits a relatively new winery tasting room . . . Paul O’Brien Winery .  I first met winemaker Scott Kelley at the McMinnville SiP in 2015.  I have been a huge fan ever since.  It would be time well spent to read the link about Scott and his business partner Dyson DeMara.

We began this tasting with their 2014 Pinot Noir. It started with an excellent nose, medium body and a superb mid palate flavor.  It was very fruit-forward with a bit of spice on the finish.  Excellent beginning.

The 2011 Grenache has yet to disappoint me . . .it is what drew me to Paul O’Brien in the beginning.  Great fruit, medium body and great balance through-out.  Moderate acidity and a silky finish.  Tough to beat.

His 2013 Tempranillo was superior to the previous one.  Higher in acid than the Grenache, and fruit driven; peppery through the mid and a really nice finish.

My personal fave of this tasting is the 2009 Petite Sirah. Pure silk . . . with a hint of spice.  It begins with and excellent nose, fruit for days . . . .this wine, sometimes known as Durif,  is bold and fruit forward.  It is known for its extraordinary deep color and full-bodied flavors of blueberry, chocolate, plums and black pepper.

On to the Whites . . . 2013 Charlemagne . .Nice balance, bright acidity and “Candy” on the nose.  Very interesting. . . I’ll defer to the winemaker on this one . . “Made in the Burgundian style this blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Blanc has bright acidity, sweet vanilla oak and complex pear and stonefruit flavors. We pressed the Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc together before fermenting in small french oak barrels.  This wine spent a year in barrel to develop complexity, integrate the oak and allow the yeast to breakdown and enhance the mouthfeel.

The 2015 Rosato is next.  It is a Sangiovese rose’ . . .The nose opens with Strawberry, watermelon and wet stone. Bright acidity on the palate balanced by a delicate fruit core and refreshing finish.  100% Sangiovese whole cluster pressed and fermented low and slow to preserve the fruit.

Next 2015 Orsation Riesling . .again, candy on the nose (like Jolly Ranchers or something) . .smooth light bodied and a nice easy drinking flavor.  A tribute to the Rieslings of Alsace . . .[Read more]

We finished with the 2015 Gewürztraminer. There was some amazing tropical fruit on the nose.  Smooth on the mid palate and light bodied.  A truly great palate cleanser.  From the winemaker – Fermented slow and cold preserved the amazing flavors this Alsatian known for. You will find aromas of Tangerine, lychee and spice in the nose with a off dry finish in the mouth. A wonderful wine to be served with spicy Thai food, Indian cuisine or sushi.


Oregon’s oldest estate winery and the birthplace of Oregon Pinot Noir . . .Hillcrest Wineryis a location NOT to miss.  Started in 1961 by Richard Sommer, the proverbial Father of Oregon wine, and reborn in 2010 when it was acquired by Dyson and Susan DeMara, Hillcrest Winery has a unique history.  Dyson DeMara is one of those people who I could stand and listen to for hours. . .and I have done so.  He is a walking wine encyclopedia and very entertaining.

We started our tasting adventure with one of my personal favorites, 2013 Le Pig Barbera. This wine is delicious, full-bodied and very well-balanced with supremely integrated tannins.  That integration creates a silky smoothness.  It is naturally smoky and has a spice that will go perfectly with anything pork.

The 2013 Jordi is a Spanish influenced blend of Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Tempranillo . . .which on paper makes no sense.  But in your glass it is very interesting.  It has a milder nose than I expected with an excellent mid palate flavor and a dry finish.

The 2013 Pinot Noir is from estate grown fruit, unusual for southern Oregon.  Very full fruit on the nose, a smooth mid palate, and a touch of acid.  This lovely pinot completes it’s sensory assault with a nice long finish.

Dyson introduced us to his 2013 Anonymus  which is a mystery blend, hence the name.  It begins with a moderately fruity nose and a silky mid palate.  This wine continues with excellent fruit flavors and a not too dry finish.  Had to take this one home.

We then tried 2 different Tempranillos . . .2012 Umpqua Ribera , and 80/20 blend with Cab Sauv.  Fairly pleasant with a light nose, great mid palate texture and a dry finish.  The second is the 2012 El Grande – 100% Tempranillo .  A really fresh fruity nose and good fruit in the mid palate, though it got very quickly astringent (mouth drying).

Our last big red wine was the 2011 Perfecti . . .from the label – “Old vine Carignan, Syrah and Grenache farmed beyond organic with horse and plow. This wine we make with our good friends Marcel and Carrie in the village of Maury,France. The 2011 Perfecti has a deep black color and rich minerality. The most intense wine we make at ¾ ton per acre.”  I found it to have an unusual nose, sort of “earthy” . . .The fruit texture and flavors are wonderful and has a silky smooth mid palate which transitions to acidic and dry.  This wine would be awesome with some rich, fat-driven food, like Prime rib or fondue.

We then sampled a couple nice Rieslings.  Most folks in Oregon do a fairly light version of Rieslings, that are pretty forgettable.   Both of these examples were delicious and worth remembering.  2013 Slate Mtn Riesling,label – “Our first completely dry Mosel Riesling. Fermented in Fuder, this steely Riesling shows how classic a dry Riesling can be. Typical of the style the Germans drink, this wine reminds me of the flavors of Riesling with the architecture of Sauvignon Blanc. The ultimate red wine drinkers white wine!”  Light, bright and dry, but with a full mouth-feel . . 2013 Fuder Riesling – label – “Classic “Half Dry” German style. This wine is savory and not sweet. My favorite style when you drink the Fuder it’s almost like biting into a green apple. This wine is the wine of choice for us when were having spicy and medium and lighter textured foods. My go to wine. Recently this vintage of our Fuder took first place in a tasting of 14 Rieslings from around the world.”  Full and silky mouthfeel with a bright and cheery nose.

Lastly, we were offered a taste of some newly finished wine that hadn’t even been labeled for sale yet.  His 2015 Dry Gewürztraminer is and will be, our perfect Thanksgiving wine.  It is very bright and fruity, sparkling but not too sweet,  with a smooth mid palate and finish.  One of those that I could just keep drinking til it’s gone.  So we had to get two.














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