Tag Archives: Oregon

Talking Vines and Drinking Wine with Stangeland Winery

2 May

I am a proud Californian.  My favorite author is John Steinbeck, my favorite flower is the California poppy, and I love Mexican food.  However, I can’t get behind everything Californian, especially when that thing is Pinot Noir.

There are great examples of California Pinot Noir–for instance, the illustrious Sea Smoke and the much more affordable Belle Glos “Meiomi”–but I have found that too many are high-alcohol, big-bodied wines that hurt my palate.  I mean, of all wines Pinot freakin’ Noir is supposed to be easy to drink, right?

Enter, stage north, Oregonian Pinot Noir to steal the show and save the day.

As a general rule, Oregon winemakers subscribe to Old World virtues such as restraint and elegance.  Their Pinot Gris is more Alsatian in character than Italian, and their Pinot Noir is positively Burgundian.

Part of this has to do with Oregon’s cooler, wetter climate, which lends itself to the more classical French style of winemaking.  But much of this also has to do with the winemakers’ philosophies on what wine should be.

I had the chance to taste some of this philosophy in action at a tasting of Stangeland Vineyards & Winery, held at Planet Wine.  Also at the tasting was Larry Miller, the president and winemaker at Stangeland.

Stangeland is a pioneer of Oregon wine, having planted a vineyard at the current Eola-Amity Hills AVA in 1978.  Eola-Amity Hills, which is contained entirely within the larger Willamette Valley AVA, is a very new AVA, having been designated in 2006.  Stangeland focuses on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.  I tried a number of the winery’s Pinot Noirs, in addition to one of their Chards and a Pinot Gris.

Continue reading

Advertisements

South Pasadena, je t’aime!

11 May

After an unconscionably long hiatus (I blame finals and other end-of-the-year miseries) I am back!  “Back” applies in two ways: first, I am back to posting this blog, where I intend to write posts weekly over these 14 weeks of summer, and second, I am back in California.

I will be in California for five more weeks, after which I will be headed back to DC for a few days, and then eight weeks in beautiful Wilmington, Delaware, known in legal circles as one of the locations of the Court of Chancery (where I’ll be interning) and known in pop culture circles as the nameless setting of Fight Club.  Hopefully during this time there will be wine, wine, and more wine.  If this past week has been any indication, there will be plenty of that this summer!

I have to write a few posts, one of Deep Sea Wines (which was gracious enough to send me two bottles to review), another for a great product known as the Wine Diaper (it’s probably not what you think it is), and yet another for a book by Matthew Frank entitled Barolo.  And, I’ll have to write about a very wonderful evening at Founding Farmers in DC at which a bottle of Riesling figured prominently–that’ll be coming soon.  All of these will take place in good time, but before I do I wanted to “clear the palate,” so to speak, by writing about a few of the wines I’ve had at home.

One of my habits while at home is to buy a few bottles with which to tide over my mom until my next visit.  I had purchased a few bottles during Spring Break, and to my surprise (and pleasure) I found that one of the bottles had not yet been opened.

This bottle was the Candidus from Malm Cellars.  Malm Cellars is a one-person show, helmed by Brendan Malm.  He doesn’t have a winery or vineyard, but he sources fruit from select growers to make his wines.  One such wine, his 2007 Sonoma County Pinot Noir, garnered a great review from the LA Times.  The Candidus, which is made from a bunch of undisclosed white Rhône varietals (but also apparently includes Chardonnay concentrate according to Dave from Mission Wines), is about $16.  It’s intensely aromatic–I’m thinking Viognier or Muscat (though I’m not sure if Muscat is a Rhône varietal)–with an assertive nose of quince and honey.  It’s pear-colored and appears on the viscous side.  Excellent: full of dried apricot and citrus, full bodied yet light, good acidity, very pleasant.

Continue reading

2007 St. Innocent “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noir: A Great Breakfast Wine

24 Jan

Is it obsessive to, when you are taking a bottle of wine over to a friend’s place, also want to bring a decanter and proper stemware?

Come on, you wouldn’t put regular unleaded in a sports car, right?  Yes, yes, I know that that analogy is flawed, but you get the idea.

Such was the question that plagued me when I was bringing over a bottle of the 2007 St. Innocent “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noir (from the Willamette Valley, Oregon) ($49.00 at Bell Liquor & Wine Shoppe) for a movie night with a friend.  I asked my roommate whether bringing the decanter and some Burgundy glasses would be too much.

“Um… yeah,” he replied, looking at me like I was crazy.  (Then again, this is the guy who recently ran a 50-mile marathon.)  So I decided not to bring the decanter and the wine glasses, even though the Pinot was almost criminally young.  It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I opened the bottle and poured some into wine glasses the hostess provided.

Continue reading

Tears of Morro, Tears of Joy

13 Jun

I’ve been back here in LA for a few weeks now and it’s great. We’ve been having a long spell of overcast, mild weather–perfect light sweater weather. That’s fine with me, especially since I escaped the heat and humidity of the East Coast so recently (as well as the steaming crucible of law school).

Thus, I’ve been able to go to Mission Wines, my favorite local wine spot here in little South Pasadena. I rounded up a crew of the usuals–William, his friend Sam, Chris M. and his gf, Sasha and his gf, and Jack M. from days yore–and we hit up the wine tasting this past Saturday. Manning the bar were the always dependable Dave and Matthew; Kirk from the Rose Bowl committee was there along with a spate of regulars.

The tasting started off with a 2008 Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais rosé, made from gamay.  A Beaujolais rosé?  I mean, much Beaujolais is darn close to rosé, anyway.  Nonetheless, this was a nice wine with a vibrant pink color and an austere, slightly coppery taste.  It wasn’t sweet and not overtly fruity.  It was my first Beaujolais rosé, so I was delighted to have it be a positive experience.  

Continue reading