Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tasting in the Willamette Valley-Day 2

Day 2 (July 16, 2010)-With John

Grapes on a sample vine at Bethel Heights.  The vineyards themselves were just experiencing bud break.
We decided to explore wineries in the Salem area on our second day.  We began with an early tasting at Evening Land which is located in an industrial area of Salem.  Ian, our host spent 90 minutes with us in the barrel room pulling samples of their 09s from barrel after barrel, first pinot noir and two chardonnays at the end.  The various pinots were from different blocks that were differentiated by altitude, grape clone and even soil type.  While the first two pinot samples were quite simple, the the remaining samples were developing nicely with a lot of fruit character and nice complexity.  After seven or so pinot samples, Ian went to the chardonnay barrels, explaining that they were making their chardonnay in the Burgundian style.  Several of the wineries that we visited made this claim, but not all followed through.  John, much more knowledgeable about Burgundy than I recognized these chardonnays as indeed, Burgundian.  They had clean and crisp fruit with a great balance of acid and minerality.  Very pleasant to drink, even at this early stage.  Ian had a busy day ahead of him, so we were especially grateful that he was so generous with his time.  This visit was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  Unfortunately, they sell no wine out of this facility, but I'll be looking forward to the '09 release, though their wines are pricey.

We had a couple hours before our next tasting so we stopped to get sandwiches for later while we waited for other wineries to open.  Our next stop was St. Innocent which has a lovely tasting room, grounds, and event center.  Their wines tended to have a spicey character imparted from the soil which mostly, were not to my liking.

View from Bethel Heights
We continued up the hill to Bethel Heights which was pouring a couple whites and several pinot noirs.  Several of the pinot noirs were enjoyable with nice fruit and complexity.  After taking time to enjoy the view from the tasting room, we headed to our next appointment a few miles back at Evesham Wood.

When Erin greeted us, he told us that the latest news was that he and his wife had just purchased the winery from its original owners that week.  He took us through the barrel room, pulling samples from barrels of their 09 wines.  Evesham Wood is making some very nice wines and Erin has his own label, Haden Fig, which we sampled from bottle ('08) which was also very good.  Again, no sales at the winery, so this will require some hunting and waiting for the 09 releases.

Our last stop was at Cristom.  They poured two whites, then we took a break on their deck to have lunch. Afterward we tasted through their pinots, which, possibly due to our fatigue, did not seem remarkable.

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