Friday, July 23, 2010

Tasting in the Willamette Valley-Day 3

Day 3 (July 17, 2010) With John
We wanted to explore the Dundee Hills, revisiting some of the wineries we went to in 2008 as well as visiting some new (to us) wineries.  My GPS unit directed us to a variety of dirt/gravel roads, some of which where necessary, and others not.  Our first stop was Bergstrom which we had enjoyed on our earlier visit.  They have a tasting room with a patio with a beautiful overlook of their vineyards.  In 2008, Bergstrom was one of my favorite stops, but I was less enthralled with this visit.  They are still making enjoyable wines, but I tasted fewer that I wanted to buy.  Fortunately, I still have  couple 2006's from our last visit.

The "Red Hills" jory soil of Dundee Hills at Lange
After leaving Bergstrom we wound through a series of dirt roads to arrive at Lange (3 miles off any paved road). They had redesigned their tasting room and built a new building since our visit two years earlier.  In preparation for our visit to Lange, I had reread Brian Doyle's book, The Grail, which chronicles a year in the life of a winery with many conversations with Don and Jesse Lange.  The Lange wines were good, but unlike our previous visit, when they had opened all three single vineyard bottlings, they opened only the Freedom Hill, indicating that it was showing the best of the single vineyard offerings.

After leaving Lange, we went to Ayoub winery where we had made an appointment.  Mo Ayoub welcomed us and showed us his new, as yet non-functional, winery built adjacent to his home.  He then invited us into his kitchen where he had opened a bottle of his 2008 wine, along with a spread of cheeses, bread and almonds.  Mo is making an incredibly enjoyable and complex Pinot Noir which continued to develop as it opened up.  In the course of our conversation, Mo talked about the Chardonnay that he made and he and John struck up a discussion about Burgundian Chardonnays.  Suddenly, a smile crept across Mo's face and he said "You may be in luck" as he went to his refrigerator and pulled out a barrel sample of his '09 Chardonnay.  Indeed, we were fortunate.  This was another beautifully made wine which, as it warmed up, delivered a wonderful balance of fruit, acid and minerality.  This visit was definitely the highlight of Day 3, and I'll be looking forward to the '09 releases.

We continued down the hill to Winderlea, a relatively new winery with a glassed-in tasting room overlooking the valley and owned by a couple in their "second career".  The wife of the partnership was pouring in the tasting room alongside a staff member who was congenial and knowledgeable.  The wines were pleasant, but nothing stood out as a must buy. After leaving Winderlea, we headed to Carlton where we tasted at two of the tasting rooms.

Tyrie Evans is the tasting room for Ken Wright Winery.  I was not impressed by the wines they were pouring, though I've had a Ken Wright from 2006 that I really enjoyed.  Our next stop was Scott Paul, across the street, who makes wine as well as importing wines from Burgundy.  Interesting, but again, nothing outstanding.  We also stopped into The Tasting Room in Carlton because we had had an enjoyable visit in 2008, but did not taste here.

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