OPC 2016. A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity!

When I would say to my friends that I am going to Pinot Camp they looked at me funny and said…”What is Pinot Camp?”. It certainly is a fair question since it sounds kind of odd just put like that. Oregon Pinot Camp, held in the heart of the Willamette Valley is an organization dedicated to helping educate those in the wine industry about this region of the United States that is rich in wine history and of course, Pinot Noir.

As we all know, Oregon does more than just Pinot Noir, but it is this red that has put them on the map as a region of the world to take notice of. OPC is a place for those of us in the wine world to go to gain more appreciation of what this area is all about.

I will attempt to give you a rundown of each day’s events. It is a short camp, but packed with activities. I want to relay to you what I have experienced. I have waited a long time to be here, and am very excited to be a part of this adventure in 2016. I would like to take a moment to thank my boss for letting me go, since it is dangerously close to our busiest time of the year. I have confidence that my assistant will keep things going while I am gone.

Day 1…Checking in.

I drove down to McMinville on Saturday and was greeted at the hotel by the assistant wine maker for Firesteed, Peter (sorry,I forgot his last name). It was a nice touch to have someone from a winery at the hotel to watch over all of us. After checking in, we all caught a bus to Sokol Blosser for registration, wine tasting and food. Sokol Blosser is a beautiful property with vineyards at the base of Dundee Hills.

Check in was seamless and the crew was friendly and accommodating. There were 50 wineries represented at the tasting under covered booths on the lawn. The weather was perfect and the wines were amazing. Food was provided by Crown Paella and it was an amazing spread. I didn’t have time to taste through all the wines there, but I did find a couple that I had never tried and I would like to share those with you. Before I do that however, I would like to say that although the majority of wines were Pinot Noir, there were quite a few whites as well. Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and white blends were all there along with of course… Rose’.

There were a couple of wines that really stood out to me. Alexana Winery 2014 Pinot Noir was absolutely stunning. A nose of cinnamon and Asian spices lured me in immediately. Very delicate on the palate with loads of cherries and Asian spices coming through seamlessly front to back. Red flower notes underneath with a hit (slight) of white pepper sneaking into the party on the finish. This baby has everything I look for in a good Pinot and although I have no idea of the price, I will seek it out.

At the Anne Amie table I had the chance to taste a “kitchen sink” white blend that really showed well. 2015 CuvĂ©e A Amrita was light on the palate and a “10” in the delicious category. It wanted to be sweet, but never went there. Good balance of acidity and fruit made it both a good food white and a good summer sipper. I could see this with shellfish, white fish or Asian fare. It was perfect with the paella.

The 2014 Brooks Pinot Noir was an excellent example of why folks that love Burgundy, tend to favor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Very earthy with notes of rusty cherries and tobacco and an underscore of red flowers. Balanced acidity with a little “dirt” thrown in the picture makes this a Burgundy lovers dream without the outrageous price tag. This baby will age nicely over the next 5-8 years.

The 2014 Hyland Estates Riesling made the Riesling geek in me come out in spades. As soon as I put my nose to it and smelled rubber boot, I had to give it a whirl. Diesel and apples on the palate backed by balanced, not cutting acidity. It had a little mushroom element to it that rounded it out. I could have used a little more acid, but overall, I thought this was an excellent Riesling that would make any fan of old world Riesling happy.

The 2014 St. Innocent Vitae Springs Vineyard Pinot Blanc really caught my attention. This is new world all the way, but certainly has enough going on to please most palates, I was particularly impressed with the balance of acid and fruit. The mid-palate showed a ton of muscle, but then it drifted into a drier finish. I am quite sure this bottle is going to be expensive, but for those of you that would like to experience a Pinot Blanc for the first time, this would be a good place to start.

If the rest of the camp is anything like the reception, I am in for an experience of a lifetime. I will keep you posted.

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

Posted in Main | Leave a comment

FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

A boatload of wine

A boatload of wine

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think that I’m lucky. Well, they’re right, and I wouldn’t give this job up for the world. The only thing that makes my job hard, is my feeling of responsibility to taste the samples given to me as quickly as possible and to put my reviews either in my Moleskine, on my Youtube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV), or right here on Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2013 Rossi Cairo Gavi (Gavi, Italy)… $12.

Aromas of white flowers and wet stone with a nice hit of tangerine. Nice balanced acidity supports fresh notes of orange and tangerine with a wet stone element sneaking in. Tangerine notes linger on the dry finish. This Gavi is balanced and somewhat complex. Pretty good for the money. (B+)

2013 Echeverria Propuesta Red (Maipo Valley, Chile)… $10.

A little stink action on the nose with notes of cherries, rose petal and licorice. The tannins are a little soft with a chalky edge to them, supporting notes of currants, tobacco and cherries. Notes of asparagus sneak in underneath. There is just enough acidity to pop the fruit notes on the mid-palate into the finish. If this had just a little more muscle it would be awesome. It is an excellent value as it is, and I know a lot of you will like it. (B-/B)

2013 Brandborg Vineyard & Winery “Love Puppets” Pinot Noir (Umpqua Valley, OR)… $25.

Aromas of menthol, cola and Root Beer, with underlying cherry and bark notes. Nice balance of acidity and fruit on the palate. Cranberry and cherry notes come through on the palate with a nice hit of rose petals. Bark and Root Beer notes hit on the mid-palate leading into a finish with a little acid and menthol kick. This baby seems a little young and may need a year or two to show off. (B/B+)

2013 Sobon Estate Old Vine Zinfandel (Amador County, CA)… $12.

Deep rose petal and currant notes with a pinch of tobacco and raisin (yes, I said it!). Ripe currants all day on the palate supported by soft tannins and a touch of white pepper that lingers on the finish. This is Barney basic Zin that is delicious without getting hot on the palate from alcohol. (C+/B-)

2015 Whidbey Island Winery Pinot Gris (Yakima Valley, WA)… $14.

Pears, apples and mandarin jump out on the nose with hits of papaya. Ripe apple notes on the palate with a little papaya and mango thrown in. Citrus notes make a presence on the mid-palate into the finish, joined by notes of white pepper. This is an interesting Pinot Gris because it feels round in the mouth without going into the fat mode, which is hard to do. (B)

2014 Maylandie Corbieres (France)… $10.

Aromas of red flowers, cherries and tobacco with a little sweet vanilla underneath and a touch of wet stone. This baby is crunchy on the palate if you can relate. Under-ripe cherry and cranberry notes with a little blueberry thrown in. Good balance but a bit on the acid side, giving it a mouth-watering finish. A bit on the SweetTart side. This is a love or hate relationship. 50% Cinsault, 50% Carignan (C+/B-)

2012 Robert Ramsey Cellars Cinsault Mckinley Springs (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $30.

A little challenged on the nose, which surprised me. Just a touch of stink action with a little currant leather and earth coming through. Good intensity front to back on the palate with a nice underscore of acidity. Notes of currants and a touch of raisin, joined by notes of leather and tobacco. Chocolate notes join the party on the delicious finish. So much for a challenged nose. (B+/A-)

2013 Lone Birch Syrah (Yakima Valley, WA)… $12.

Blueberries smoke and bark on the nose with just a touch of licorice and violets. Currant notes come through on sweet tannins with a fresh element underneath. There is a violet hit on the mid-palate with blueberry notes joining in on the finish. A delicious, easy to drink Syrah. (C+/B-)

2013 Waitsburg Cellars “Three” White Boushey Vineyard (Yakima Valley, WA)… $18.

Apples and honeydew melon on the nose with a little hit of white flower and wet stone thrown in. Very clean on the palate with notes of slate, chalk and wet stone coming through with a touch of apple and pear. Wet stone and slate notes are prominent front to finish. This white is just a touch boring for my palate. (C/C+)

2014 Basel Cellar Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $17.

Cut grass and grapefruit on the nose with a splash of lime. Slightly round and polished on the palate with notes of ripe melon and a touch of ripe apple on the mid-palate. Tangerine and mineral notes sneak in on the dry finish. (B/B+)

2012 Waitsburg Cellars “Three” Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $21.

Currants, tobacco and leather on the nose with an interesting nutmeg element thrown in. Excellent structure on this wine. Currant, cherry and tobacco notes front to finish. Loads of red flower notes join the party leading into a slightly grippy, delicious finish. Mineral notes linger on the back-end with just a hint of worn leather. 73% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 7% Mourvedre (B+)

2011 Basel Cellars Claret (Columbia Valley, WA)… $20.

Licorice and currants on the nose with just a touch of rose petal and leather. Solid acidity with brooding dark fruit underneath on the palate. Chocolate notes come through front to finish where it lingers. Good structure and nice balance of acidity, tannins and fruit. (B+)

2015 Elk Cove Vineyards Rose`(Willamette Valley, OR)… $16.

Cherry Bubbleyum on the nose with a touch of pie crust and dried herbs. Strawberries and cherries on the front of the palate evolving into sweet rhubarb notes on the finish. Nice, balanced acidity gives this rose` a dry finish with a little pink rose petal element hitting on the back side. A Rose` lovers Rose` for sure. (A-)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

Posted in Friday's Thirteen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FRIDAY’S THIRTEEN…

A boatload of wine

A boatload of wine

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think that I’m lucky. Well, they’re right, and I wouldn’t give this job up for the world. The only thing that makes my job hard, is my feeling of responsibility to taste the samples given to me as quickly as possible and to put my reviews either in my Moleskine, on my Youtube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV), or right here on Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

2014 Duck Pond Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon)… $10.

Pears and apples on the nose with a kiss of melon and white flowers. Nice creamy mouth-feel, but remains dry. Apple notes are prominent on the palate backed by creamy pear notes with a little hit of lemon grass on the finish. (B/B+)

2014 J Winery Pinot Gris (California)… $17.

Aromas of perfumed herbs, apple and melon with a touch of pear skin coming through. Good balance and weight in the mouth with notes of melon, apple and pear that blend nicely front to back into a clean, decently long finish. (B/B+)

2014 Cougar Crest Viognier (Walla Walla, WA)… $15.

One of my favorite wines to smell is Viognier… In most cases it is very fruity and floral. This one from Cougar Crest did not let me down. Aromas of banana, peach and melon with hits of coconut meat and a little celery action. Fairly rich on the palate with notes of banana, papaya and mango. The fruit is rich, but the wine remains clean in the mouth, avoiding any heaviness. Good balance front to back with peach and coconut meat notes joining the action on the finish. A very good example of what Washington State can do with this varietal. (A-)

2013 Davis Bynum Chardonnay River West Vineyard (Russian River Valley, CA)… $23.

A load of oak on the nose with notes of smokey pears and hits of butterscotch. The oak is overwhelming on the palate…You can almost chew this wine. Pear notes come through, but it’s almost like someone smeared pear butter on a board and served it up wood and all. The fruit tries to come through with some pineapple notes on the finish, but the oak is too dominate. (D+/C-)

2014 Altesino Rosso (Toscana, Italy)… $19.

Aromas of rose petal, soft older leather, tobacco and cherries with a tiny hit of cranberry coming through. Nice cherry fruit on the palate with a tobacco edge. Plum notes are the backbone of this wine with a nice balance of acidity. A mineral component sneaks in on the back of the mid-palate leading into a cherry, chalky finish. This is a well made wine for twenty bucks with a good balance of fruit, acidity and tannins. (B/B+)

2011 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico (C. Berardenga, Italy)… $20.

Very savory on the nose with a little saline action, joined by notes of dark cherries a hint of tobacco and forest dirt. Sweet tannins support cherry and mineral notes front to back with a little worn leather underneath. Licorice notes hit on the finish with a touch of grip to the tannins. This wine shows old world rusticity with enough fruit to keep new world wine drinkers interested. (B/B+)

2013 Campos De Risca Monastrell-Syrah (Jumilla, Spain)… $12.

The name of the winery means the field of rocks which I thought was very cool, and the wine is made from organically grown fruit. It’s real grapey on the nose with a backdrop of red flowers. Plum and strawberry notes come through big time on the palate front to finish. Nice acidity backs the fruit along with a good hit of minerals. Rose petal notes sneak in on the mid-palate leading into a plum jam element on the finish joined by notes of white pepper and crushed rock. It never ceases to amaze me how these wines from Spain deliver so much at ridiculous prices. (B/B+)

2013 Baron Des Chartrons Bordeaux (Bordeaux, France)… $9.

This Bordeaux is very challenged on the nose with slight cherry, tobacco and crushed rock notes. This baby is very tart on the palate, showing notes of under-ripe cherries with some minerality and worn leather notes backing it up. This puppy is bright and simple. If you like this style and the price, knock yourself out. (C-)

2013 Davis Bynum “Janes Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, CA)… $30.

Aromas of cinnamon, Asian spices, cherries, cola and black tea. You want to get me excited about a Pinot, throw these aromatics in the mix. Dark, ripe cherry notes are prominent on the palate without getting heavy. Notes of Root Beer and Asian spices join the cherry party with hits of black tea sneaking in. Long pleasing finish. This Pinot has nice balance with enough acidity to keep everything in check. (B+/A-)

2011 Camaraderie Cellars Cabernet Franc (Washington)… $20.

Intense aromas of currants, chocolate and violets. Smooth tannins support notes of currants and chocolate front to back, with hits of pencil lead sneaking in. This is really a chocolate party in the mouth with cherry and violet notes making an appearance. Seamless flow across the palate into a long, delicious finish. This is not a Cab Franc for fans of Chinon (which I like a lot). That being said, there are a ton of you out there that are going to love this baby. (A-)

2012 Benson Vineyards Merlot (Lake Chelan, WA)… $26.

Blackberries and cherries on the nose with just a hint of licorice. Nice intensity of fruit on the palate with good balance. Notes of currants and dark cherries on smooth, polished tannins. Hints of tobacco come through on the mid-palate, with just a touch of chocolate showing up on the clean, fresh finish. This winery out of Lake Chelan continues to impress me with their wines. (B+/A-)

2012 Browne Family Vineyards Tribute Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $29.

Deep and sultry on the nose with notes of cherries and black plums, joined by notes of violets and an interesting sugar element. Structured tannins that have a little grip action support notes of dark cherries and currants. Tobacco notes lie underneath with hits of milk chocolate sneaking in on the long finish. Yes, this wine has fruit, but it also has good balance of acidity and tannins telling me it will age for 5 to 8 years and only get better. (B+/A-)

2013 Double Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $25.

Ripe cherries and wilted rose petals on the nose with just a touch of tobacco. Very fruit-forward on the palate with notes of currants and ripe dark cherries coming through. Very polished in the mouth but surprisingly not hot alcohol wise. Red fruit notes sneak in on the back-end with a little licorice joining the party. To have so much fruit and show the balance it does is impressive. This is a new world cab and proud of it…Not for those yearning for the old world. (B+)

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

Posted in Main | Leave a comment

BITS & BOBS…

I recently took a trip over to eastern Washington, the heart of Washington wine country with my lady friend Susie, who has never walked in a vineyard or visited a winery. It was refreshing to spend time with someone who was eager to learn about something that means so much to me. Here are a few bits & bobs about our trip.

Ziggy Stardust in the Blues.

Ziggy Stardust in the Blues.


We stopped by Sleight Of Hands Cellars in Walla Walla and Trey Busch graciously gave us a tour of one of his new projects in the Blue Mountains, a vineyard he calls Ziggy Stardust. When we got there, I understood his exuding excitement. This vineyard sits on a 35% slope facing south/southwest. He’s planted Marsanne, Grenache and Syrah in an area that reminded me a lot of the Douro in Portugal. He is going to get grapes out of it this year, so keep your eyes peeled, this s@^t is going to rock it, especially with the wine making skills of Mr. Busch at the helm.

After admiring Ziggy Stardust, we trekked over to the “Rocks” district and met up with Rich Funk from Saviah Cellars to visit with him and tour Funk Vineyard. Bud break is about 3 weeks ahead of schedule in 2016 so Rich is looking at an August harvest which might be the earliest ever if Mother Nature continues in the same direction.

Rich and Trey talked a bit about the rocky soil in the area and how it affects the fruit. Because of the heat that is retained in the rocks after a hot day, the grapes literally ripen in the night as the heat radiates from the stones. Rich allowed a ground cover this year between the rows to stave off some of the heat spikes that the vineyard had to deal with last year.By doing this, he will be able to have more control on the ripening process. If the grapes get too warm, they will shut down into survival mode…Something that can delay the ripening process.

We had a chance to meet the Funk family at Saviah Cellars as they were deeply immersed in bottling some of their 2015 wines. We were impressed with their kindness and hospitality. Rich makes some amazing wines at Saviah Cellars and I would suggest you get in their wine club if you want some of the wines that are not available in stores. As an example, the 2013 Saviah Tempranillo. This juice is stunning, and it is flying out of the tasting room. They only made 151 cases of this wine, and at $38 bucks, it’s a steal.

After Walla Walla, we made or way to Prosser and stayed at Dessert Wind Winery. They have a few rooms that you can stay at and Susie and I were deeply impressed with the facility and the wonderful service there. A big shout-out to Bree who was about as friendly and accommodating as a person can be. I am a fan of Desert Wind Wines and their Merlot is something you have to experience (get off that hate Merlot train please).

We made a quick trip to Red Mountain so Susie could see one of my favorite appellations in the state. We stopped in at the Fidelitas tasting room, a very cool modern feel. Charlie Hoppes has always impressed me with his wines. I scored a bottle of the Ciel Du Cheval Merlot and as you might have guessed, it was stunning.

Our next stop was in Mattawa to visit Wahluke Wine Co. and Milbrandt’s wine makers Josh Maloney & his assistant Emily. We did some barrel tasting of some of their vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a new project for Milbrandt so stay tuned, you are all in for some amazing cabs. They are also embarking on a new white wine portfolio that is still in its infancy. We had a chance to taste a couple of the wines for this project which is headed up by Emily. I am very excited to see what they come up with because the whites are exceptional.

One new little fun fact I learned on the trip… Walla Walla has less vineyard acres planted than Red Mountain…Something I never really thought about. For as long as the appellation has been around, Walla Walla has a little less than 3,000 acres planted, whereas Red Mountain (a younger appellation) has just over 4,000.

Cheers!
Stan The Wine Man

Posted in Main | Leave a comment