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#SnoothPVA: Oregon Wine Out Shines the Lights of New York City

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IMG_5458I have absolutely loved reading my colleagues articles on their SnoothPVA experience the night that Oregon wines were featured during a dinner at the Peking Duck House in New York City – here’s what some of them had to say:

Tennessee resident Ben Carter, of Benito’s Wine Reviews, wrote, “Overall I was impressed with the wines, and while I could share a ton of technical details I found this particular tasting to be the most meaningful of all that I attended during that weekend in New York.”

Amy Gross, based in Texas, of Vine Sleuth Uncorked wrote, “The spirit of collaboration seems to be alive and well among Oregon wineries and this shone through during our dinner at the Peking Duck House accompanied by Oregon wines.”

IMG_5475Vindulge’s Mary Cressler, who used to live in Oregon but now resides in Connecticut, was delighted to meet Abacela’s Earl Jones for the first time, “Fate would have it that I lived and worked in the Oregon wine industry for several years and had to travel all the way to NYC to finally meet the man behind the wines I’d admired all that time.”

Minnesota’s Jon Thorsen, the Reverse Wine Snob, was impressed with the diverse varietals of Oregon, “Living in the Midwest, I have to admit that I had pigeonholed Oregon a bit. However, sitting down to a tasting of 13 different wines, I realized that the breadth of wine being produced here is almost startling. Everything from Vermentino to Pinot Gris to Albarino to Chardonnay to Syrah to Tempranillo to Riesling and many more. In other words, much, much more than Pinot Noir.”

It was our first night in New York City, where a group of 20 wine writers from around the country gathered in the back room of a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. First to taste were the incredible, age worthy Barolos and Barbera di Astis of Scarpa Winery out of Piedmont, Italy. After a short break, the tables were re-set with fresh glasses that were filled with the wines of Oregon. This was the event of events for me – it was the one I was most looking forward to. With a true affinity and passion for the wines produced in Oregon, I was excited and proud to have the wines of my home state presented to and tasted by some of the top wine writers in the U.S. – I had no doubt I’d soon be reading comments in their blogs like those I just pointed out.

IMG_5473In addition to Charles Humble, the Director of Communications and Interactive Marketing for the Oregon Wine Board, three prominent figures of the Oregon wine industry joined us for dinner: Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Earl Jones of southern Oregon’s Abacela and Brian O’Donnell of Belle Pente – three men who have contributed to the creation of Oregon’s recognition as a world renowned wine producing region. Conversations that took place during dinner with Jim, Earl and Brian left lasting impressions with the writers.

“Aside from their excellent wine, Jim and Brian (and Earl as well) are three of just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet. The stories they told that evening about being pioneers in Oregon winemaking were a highlight of the entire trip!” – Jon Thorsen

“One blog post can’t contain everything that we experienced at this dinner. You’d really need to write a book to truly communicate all of the tasting notes, background details, and stories shared that evening.” – Ben Carter

Because my wine writing friends did such a fabulous job writing about the discussions that took place during dinner, I’m going to focus on the wines we tasted rather than the stories that were told (which are definitely worth reading on each of their blogs). Each wine was absolutely stunning, and as we tasted through the wines that were presented during dinner, I was certainly excited to be a writer who, on a regular basis, represents and discusses the wines of Oregon – I was in my comfort zone.

brandburg 11 gewurzFrom Vermentino and Albariño to Pinot Noir and Syrah, and a lot more in between, we had quite the array of varietals – clearly expressing the diverse terroir of Oregon’s varied AVAs.

Soter 2009 Sparkling Rosé: Beautiful salmon-pink in the glass, this sparkling Brut Rosé offered alluring strawberry, raspberry and fresh sliced apple aromas. Fine bubbles enlightened the palate while pleasing acidity perfectly balanced out the fruits. Although this was crisp and refreshing, it was also complex and rich – a delicious way to start the evening.

Troon Vineyards 2011 Vermentino: With a varietal that is commonly found in Sardinia, Italy, Vermentino thrives in the long warm summers of Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Alluring aromas of clove and citrus translated onto the palate as a shot of lemon-lime zest, which is exactly what I loved about this zippy wine. Super clean with bright acidity and a lasting finish, this is definitely a memorable wine.

Abacela 2012 Albariño: Oh how I love Albariño. With a focus on Spanish varietals, Abacela knows how to produce a quality Albariño year in and year out. This freshly released 2012 vintage is one of the best yet. Tropical fruit aromas and flavors of pineapple, lemon and grapefruit lead to bright and lively acidity that is perfectly balanced and down right delicious. Focused, clean, vibrant and absolutely outstanding.

IMG_5476Belle Pente 2009 Pinot Gris: I was so glad Brian O’Donnell of Belle Pente chose to bring this Pinot Gris – it’s an excellent representation of the high quality and style of Pinot Gris that Oregon is highly acclaimed for. Super juicy pears, honey crisp apples and citrus rinds flowed from front to back in seamless waves as a lovely, silky texture coated my mouth. Proof positive as to why Oregon is the number one producer of this particular varietal.

Brandborg 2011 Gewürztraminer: Another wine I was happy too see at this tasting is one of my most favorite Gewürztraminers I’ve ever had. My notes from this event echoed my notes from an article I wrote a few months ago on Brandborg wines, “On Top of the World with Perpetual Balance.” This reminded me of the Florida Keys, where I would sit on the beach under a swaying palm with a bowl of fresh cut fruit –  aromas and flavors of oranges, pineapples and grapefruit flowed in waves on the palate from front to back. Medium bodied with loads of texture and perfect balance, the finish was beautifully blessed with a shot of lemon zest.

Chehalem 2011 Chardonnay: Stainless steel fermented, this Chardonnay is all about the green apples, pears, stone fruit and clean balanced, finish. Even without any oak, this offered complex, rich characteristics that some may not think could be found in a stainless steel Chardonnay. I loved the super smooth mouthfeel.

IMG_5470Stoller 2010 Reserve Chardonnay: Aged in oak, this chardonnay displayed similar characteristics to the Chehalem with it’s apples, pears and stone fruit qualities, but the oak aging definitely brought in some vanilla and honey notes. A solid acidic backbone rounds out the fruit.

Domaine Drouhin 2011 Arthur Chardonnay: I absolutely fell in love with this Chardonnay. Pineapple, butterscotch, hazelnuts and apples. Round, rich, silky texture. Seamless. Gorgeous.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2009 Estate Pinot Noir: Having just tried this outstanding Pinot Noir a few weeks earlier during the amazing Valentine’s Day Winemakers Dinner on the peak of Oregon’s Mt. Hood, I was delighted to enjoy this Pinot once again – it’s outstanding and one of my favorites in the state. Elegant aromas and complex layered flavors of black cherries, cassis, cranberries earth and cinnamon followed by a silky mouthfeel and balanced finish. Yes, this is certainly my kind of Pinot Noir.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2009 Elton Pinot Noir: I also enjoyed this Pinot at the Valentine’s Day dinner, and it’s not only delicious, but comes from a vineyard owned by a couple dedicated to the Oregon wine industry: With no children to inherit their vineyard property, owners of Elton Vineyards Dick and Betty O’Brien will leave their estate  property to OSU [Oregon State University] and Chemeketa Community College and Viticulture Center to teach future generations of winemakers and wine growers. How cool is that? Cranberries, beet root, vanilla, mocha and earth define the Elton Pinot Noir, and it is darn good.

IMG_5463Argyle Nuthouse 2010 Pinot Noir: This Pinot was one of the big winners of the People’s Voice Wine Awards, and I can understand why. Black cherries, forest floor and white pepper are the most prominent characteristcs, but the soft tannins and juicy, luscious mouthfeel are, without a doubt, incredibly palate pleasing.

Belle Pente 2009 Pinot Noir: Another wise selection to share by Brian O’Donnell, and another fine wine to represent Oregon’s famed Pinot Noir. This wine paired so well with the highly anticipated Peking Duck that was served, just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Black cherry, black raspberry, violets, and pie spice collide perfectly with the super solid acidic backbone. Seamless from entry to finish, I was very impressed with its complexity and beautiful tannins.

Cliff Creek Syrah: With fruit sourced from Southern Oregon, this mellow yet structured Syrah offered aromas of smoke, leather and vanilla. Flavors were of dark fruits and dark chocolate, and the mouthfeel was full and round. This is an easy drinking Syrah that would most certainly please the pickiest of palates.

IMG_5464RoxyAnn 2009 Rogue Valley Syrah: To date, there’s not been a single RoxyAnn wine that I haven’t liked – they are consistently delicious. Blackberries, blueberries, cocoa, coffee and super smooth tannins finish with a gratifying dash of white pepper. I wrote in my notes, “spicy/sweet bliss.”

Brooks Tethys 2011 Late Harvest Riesling: Alluring honeysuckle and clove aromas jumped out at me as soon as this golden beauty was poured into my glass. Fresh fruit and hazelnuts on the palate are balanced out by a nice zing of acidity –  a totally enjoyable dessert wine.

Elk Cove Ultima 2010: No Oregon wine dinner would be complete without a wine from Elk Cove, and this was an awesome choice to end the dinner with. Riesling is the focus of this blended dessert wine, filled with aromas and flavors of honey, honey and more honey with a hint of peaches, pears and almonds. Just like in the Tethys, zesty acidity rounds out the fruit, leaving that palate with an elegant, luscious feeling.

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2013-SnoothPVABloggers-30deg-smallMy colleagues blogs are must reads to complete the experience of this New York City dinner surrounded by the incredible wines of Oregon.

Collaboration in Oregon Wines – Vine Sleuth Uncorked

Snooth PVA: Oergon Wine Board Dinner – Benito’s Wine Reviews

Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir and Much, Much More – The Reverse Wine Snob

Meeting Abacela Winery – 3,000 Miles East of Oregon – Vindulge

#SnoothPVA: Oregon Wine Board Dinner - My Vine Spot

Oregon Wine Dinner Makes A Great Impression – Brunello Bob’s Wine Blog