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Over the past year, I've been becoming more aware of, and excited by, Oregon wines and wineries. Oregon has some great growing conditions for particular varietals, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, White Reisling, and Zinfandel. Last September (2002), I spent some time touring the Willamette Valley vineyards of Oregon, and discovered several wonderful "finds" among the small wineries.

This tasting was put together in a short period of time due to schedule conflicts with my friends, so it was a little smaller group than usual. It also involved some new people who hadn't tasted with us before, and a lot of the regulars from the past were missing.

Instead of doing our normal 2 flights of 4 wines, I decided that with the smaller group, and being on a Sunday night (where I'd have to wash a lot of dishes before work on Monday) that I would do 3 flights of 2 wines each. This also let me explore some areas of wine (mainly whites) that we as a group normally don't taste very often.

To start the tasting, I pulled out two wonderful white wines:

Sokol Blosser has become one of my very favorite Oregon wineries, and I've turned several of my friends onto their Evolution wine which is a Meritage of 9 different white wine grapes. Since many of the people at this tasting had already tried that wine, I instead opted for the Pinot Gris varietal which is a nice characteristic wine for that grape. Chateau Benoit is one of the prettiest wineries I've visited outside of Napa, and their White Riesling is tremendously crisp, clean, and very nice on a warm summer day.

Along with these wines, I served a cheese course including a wonderful Blue from Whitestone in New Zealand. It's got an incredible creamy texture, and paired very nicely with these whites.

Before dinner, I poured one more flight, the one consisting of Oregon's premier varietal, Pinot Noir:

Along with the wines, I served some goat cheese, a "stinky" french cheese, and spiced pecans.

The Pinots of Oregon are so different from the flat Pinots that come out of Napa Valley. Several people in our wine tasting group have "sworn off Pinot", disliking the flat finish and lack of fruit in most of the Pinots that are crafted in California. When I went to Oregon last year, I was actually worried about Pinot Noir being the big varietal up there since I wasn't a big fan. I must say, that drinking amazing Pinots from some extremely good wineries has changed my mind. Other wineries to look for are Sokol Blosser (although some of their Pinots are produced in less than 150 case quantities!), Cristom, and Amity (especially their Schouten vineyard).

The final flight was served with dinner, which was originally going to be a vegetarian affair, but the day before the tasting, one of my friends received 8 lbs of fresh Blue Fin tuna from a friend, who had caught it off of San Diego. Given this last minute change, the menu ended up being:

With this incredible food, I served the following wines:

The Owen Roe vineyard is located in Newberg Oregon, but their wines are made from small vineyard designates throughout the Columbia Valley region of Oregon and Washington. The Hillside Vineyard is actually located in The Dalles, Oregon. I'm not 100% positive that the Sineann Zinfandel is from Oregon (since the Columbia Valley region encompasses parts of both Oregon and Southern Washington), but the vineyard where the grapes for this Zinfandel came from are managed by the same person who manages the Hillside Vineyard from the Owen Roe wine, Lonnie Wright.

As you can tell by the food pairings, I actually used ginger in most of the dishes I served. It went perfectly with the wines, and added a bit of spiciness to he meal. I completed this theme in the dessert.

To finish the evening off, I served a dessert of Fresh Seasonal Fruit with a Muscat/Ginger reduction sauce, along with two 375ml bottles of dessert wine:

Both of these wines are very sweet, with the Ponzi being 14% residual sugar (picked at 30° brix), and the Sokol Blosser being a whopping 26% residual sugar. The Sokol Blosser is done in the style of an ice wine, where hole clusters of grapes are frozen before pressing. It was served ice cold having been put into the freezer when we started eating dinner.

A perfect ending to a great tasting.

Hosted By: Robert
Attendees: Adam

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