Oregon Vine2Wine Tours is very passionate about wine. We try to share our passion through this blog discussing wine related news/events, tastings where one or more of the blog denizens attend, and anything we think is interesting that is wine related. The "Tastings" and "Education" tabs will take you to blogs we have written on those areas. Here is a little more about the blog writers followed by our most recent entry.
I live in San Pedro, California. I began my education in good and great wine in 1980 by taking UCLA extension classes in wine appreciation that were taught by Nathan Chroman who ran the wine judging for the Los Angeles County Fair and also was the wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He told us that drinking better wine will make us want to eat better food. After Nathan’s classes on wine, I took the wine education classes offered by the The Wine House in Los Angeles. These classes were very informative since they not only allowed us to learn about wine regions from around the world and taste their wines but also understand how to pair wines with food by learning how their components interact with food. Although I learned a lot about wine through taking the Wine House’s classes, I had never tasted the greatest and most expensive wines in the world until I attended the wine tastings put on by Martin Weiner of the Los Angeles School of Wines . We would taste the great grand cru wines of Bordeaux(Margaux, Haut-Brion, Latour,etc), Burgundy(LeRoy, Romanee-Conte, Comte de Vogue, etc), Rhone(Chapoutier, Guigal, Chave, Beaucastel, etc), Alsace(dry riesling, pinot gris and gewurtztraminer), Germany(riesling), and Italy(nebbiolo and sangiovese). These tastings now cost about $600 each and include a dinner that matches food with a wine being tasted along with cheeses that go with the wines. All of these tastings and wine education classes emphasize the importance of matching food to wine. But the best wine tastings I’ve gone to are those from The Wine Country in Signal Hill owned by Randy Kemner. His primary emphasis is on tasting wines that go well with food
My interest in wine started back in 1995. A friend of mine made great home-brew but would always have me try a bottle of wine he liked when I was over at his house. He gave me a Merlot from Chile one day that I really liked (I usually preferred his home-brew). That bottle got me curious about the world of wine and motivated me to learn more about it. Over the last 19 years I have experienced many enjoyable events involving wine.
I worked the harvest at Ponzi winery in 2007 for my first professional wine experience. I sorted fruit, controlled temperature of tanks, punched down Pinot Noir, helped in the vineyard and bottling line - pretty much every aspect of wine making. Ponzi used native yeast, cold soaked for two-three days and punch downs two-three times per day with fermentation temperatures topping around 88 degrees. I learned a lot working with Luisa Ponzi. She is a second generation winemaker following in the steps of her father Dick (one of the original vintners in Oregon back in the early 1970’s). After working at Ponzi I worked in the tasting room at Oregon’s largest winery, King Estate. I have had a taste of the harvest and a taste of the tasting room. I have seen a larger production with King Estate and a smaller production with Ponzi. I understand why larger operations have to do certain things to maintain consistency having such a large volume and I appreciate the smaller places who ferment small bins one at a time.
My Uncle Rich (a fellow blog denizen) exposed me to the best of Burgundy in 2009 attending Martin Weiner’s tasting. I tried Richbourg, Dujak, Leroy - many of the big names in Burgundy where bottles ranged from $120-$2,200. I have always loved Pinot Noir but the intensity of the aromatics, complexity on the palate and the length of finish of some of these wines blew me away.
Living in Oregon and owning the winery tour business Oregon Vine2Wine I get the opportunity to taste many world class wines from Oregon. I enjoy the minimalist style where the grapes show a sense of place. I tend to shy away from wines that emphasize extraction or oak and that seem out of balance. Wines that are highly rated by some critics don’t always do it for me because they often enjoy lush, over extracted wines - many of which have seen extensive time in oak barrels. I have been fortunate enough to taste some of the best of Burgundy (Richbourg, Leroy, Dujac), some of the best Pinot Noir in California (Littorai, Copain, Siduri), my favorite Pinot Noir in Oregon (Walter Scott, Evesham Wood, Bethel Heights) and many other great wines. In the old world (Italy, France) wine is enjoyed with food as a meal. Wines tend to be higher in acidity and not as extracted so they pair well with lunch or dinner. Once you experience the marriage of food and wine you will never look at wine the same.
My favorite wine style shows a balance, leaning towards the austere, more acidic side. Pinot Noir is my favorite red grape and either Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite white. I find these grapes to be the most food friendly. Tempranillo from the Umpqua Valley is another grape that pairs well with cheese, charcuterie and barbecued meats.
When I judge a wine I use the typical 100 point system where a 90 is like an A and an 80 is like a B. I won’t score a wine that is less than 80 - it is either incorrect for the varietal, over manipulated or has an obvious flaw. I tend to be a little tough with my scores.
Oct 16, 2015
Chablis vs Chardonnay
This tasting was about comparing Chablis to California and Oregon Chardonnay. Chablis is a region in France to the northwest of Burgundy where they are known for wines that express minerality and have bracing acidity. Chablis has a latitude that is very close to that of Seattle and is cooler than Oregon. The tasting was done blind and our goal was to see if we could distinguish between the three regions. Here were the wines served:
2011 Domaine Pascal Bouchard Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru $81
2012 Domaine Chenevieres Chablis 1er Cru Fourchame $32
2012 Domaine Chenevieres Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet $27
2012 Domaine Chenevieres Chablis 1er Cru L'Homme Mort $36
2012 Chateau Montelena , Napa $39
2009 MacRostie, Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, Sonoma Coast $35
2013 Frei Brothers, Russian River Valley $17
2014 Walter Scott, Willamette Valley $25
2012 Matello, Dundee Hills $26
2013 Monte Ferro Dion Vineyards, Chehalem Mts (no oak) $20
2011 Girardet, Umpqua Valley (10%oak) $20
After going through the wines one time the group of twelve voted for their top three wines (5 points given for 1st, 3 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd). The overall finish for the group was:
My personal favorite was the L’Homme Mort with the other three following in that order. I had three of the Chablis pegged right away, the Grand Cru being the exception because the initial aroma was buttered popcorn. For my fourth Chablis I picked the Walter Scott from Oregon because after tasting it a second time the acidity was so impressive and had hints of limestone. Walter Scott is one of Oregon Vine2Wine’s favorite wineries and I was very impressed that it was confused with Chablis! Another great accomplishment by Ken Pahlow who makes some of the best wines Oregon has to offer.
Here are my tasting notes of the top four wines followed by a review.
1) L’ Homme Mort
Me- Lemon zest, salty air, hint of ozone, very complex. Long finish of lemon custard and intense wet stone.
Burghound- "Very pure aromas of essence of citrus, white flowers, tidal pool and iodine. There is excellent detail and vibrancy to the markedly saline middle weight flavors that possess fine intensity on the dry, focused and well-balanced finish." [BARREL SCORE 89-92]
2) Cote de Lechet
Me - intense lime/limestone with a hint of ocean. Clean finish of citrus, herbs and minerals.
Robert Parker - “The 2012 Chablis bursts from the glass with hints of smoke, slate, herbs & succulent yellow peaches..... and very nicely balanced, with considerable richness and depth.” 91
3) Walter Scott
Me - Green apple and stone fruit, hint of floral and limestone on nose, intense finish with crisp acidity and balance.
Winemaker - The 2014 Willamette Valley Chardonnay focuses on flavors of orchard fruits with an emphasis on white peach and a touch of green melon, cut with a hint of tangerine. The wine is tight and powerful, with high toned acidity and balanced richness on the palate that gives the wine texture.
Me - Limestone, hay, lemon zest on nose, good texture on palate with bracing acidity on finish.
Burghound - "An airy and moderately ripe nose of green fruit, wet stone and lemon rind possesses good Chablis character and impressively rich, round and seductively textured medium-bodied flavors that display good persistence on the clean, dry finish"[BARREL SCORE 88-91]