May 30, 2011

2004 Guy Amiot Chassagne Montrachet Vieilles Vignes

Tonight, pan seared sea scallops with salad and rice, and white Burgundy. Delicious all around.

I was surprised to open this 2004 Guy Amiot Chassagne Montrachet Vieilles Vignes and finding a Guala Seal instead of cork. I've had horrible luck with synthetic "cork" products, where wine prematurely ages or tastes off, maybe plasticy. So I was a little concerned upon cutting the foil and not seeing cork.

Well, we're one for one with Guala Seal. I've enjoyed Amiot's wine in the past, but at home it's only been the basic Bourgogne. These wines aren't cheap. Happily I found a couple of this village Chassagne at auction for a steal, so tonight with scallops.

Pale color, fragrant mineral, lemon and mealy apple scents, fresh and rounded by a touch of oak. Lively in the mouth, agile even, with bright lemon and apple flavors, good length and savor, a lovely match to the rich, delicate scallops. Each sip refreshed the palate for another bite of food.

Has anyone else heard about the Guala Seal? I'm shocked that a synthetic seal has held up so well over several years. Perhaps this one is actually good, never mind the carbon footprint? I'm curious.

May 26, 2011

Enso Winery Opens in SE Portland

I'm really excited for the official opening of Enso Winery on SE Stark at 14th this weekend in Portland. Enso is a project of Ryan and Holly Sharp and Chris Wishart.

What? A winery on SE Stark next to Meat, Cheese, Bread, in an old auto garage right on a city thoroughfare? Yes, and based on Enso's soft opening earlier this month when I took a few pictures, it's going to be great.

Yes, Enso is a founding member in PDX Urban Wineries with Vincent Wine Company and six other producers. And yes, Enso is featuring my 2009 Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir as the guest winery pour through June. And yes, I'll be there in person pouring on Friday, June 3 in the evening.

But as someone who's really interested in urban wine production, especially urban wine production in Portland, I'm ecstatic to see a relatively small, neighborhood space become a working winery and tasting lounge. A place where the fermentation and barrel aging happens, and where you can stop by and sample the goods or sit for a while, buy a glass or a full bottle, enjoy some small plates of food and live a good, city life.

Essentially, this is urban winemaking at a high point. As you might with your favorite roastery or bakery, brew house or distillery, hang out at this little spot with the garage door open, watch the cars and people go by and drink some wine. Expect a new guest winery pour each month, in addition to what Enso is putting out.

I look at this spot and think...this could really catch on. This didn't take a million dollars. Maybe some day soon there will be a bunch of places in Portland like this. For now, there are only a few, and only one on SE Stark. Check it out. Maybe see you there on June 3, but this weekend is their official opening. I'll be stopping in for sure.

May 25, 2011

Vincent and the Movias

I had a pleasure of meeting Movia winemaker Ales Kristancic recently at Storyteller Wine Company in SW Portland. Ales was visiting from his native Slovenia on a whirlwind tour of various US cities that love his wine, Portland among them. I stopped by Storyteller, heard he was on the way, waited, waited some more, and finally he blew in. Almost literally.

Ales is a force of nature. He rushed in and before I knew it, was weaving stories about low and now sulfite winemaking and grapevine pollination. On many of his wines, he uses no sulfur. On some perhaps a touch at bottling. And why is their Pinot Noir planted among his cabernet and merlot on the border of Slovenia and Italy? Because it blooms earlier and encourages bloom in the other varieties. Really, I asked? Of course, says Ales. You know when you see two people together, it makes you want to get together with someone? Like that.

Oh, really. I look down at my feel. Or actually, Ales'.

So we drank (and there was little spitting) his whites of Sauvignon and Ribolla. The Sauvignon 2008 was cloudy but so fresh and crystalline, full of passion fruit. The Ribolla 2008 was more clear but earthy, red apple and bass notes. The Veliko Bianco 2007 was more like the Sauvignon, pure and fresh. The Veliko Rosso was Bordeaux like, cassis, tobacco, gravel, with great texture and length. All of these wines were tremendous.

Ales and I got to talking about my wine and he encouraged me to open a bottle, for sale in the store. So my 2009 Vincent Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, nicely fragrant but herbal after the Veliko Rosso. But look at Ales. Feel him poke you in the chest as he talks with his entire body. He tells it straight and he honestly seemed to enjoy the wine. I was happy.

Then came the moon shot. The Movia Lunar, 2006 I believe.

I won't speak of this wine as much as show it.

Pardon the blur. Ales is always in motion.

Yes, it looks like a sample. But this elixir is one of the most delicious and interesting wines I've tasted. Hugely aromatic, yellow fruited, yeasty like fine champagne but pure and focused. Words sort of fail with such a different, orange wine. I simply loved it.

Ales knew we all did. So he thought, let's smoke herb cigarettes from Slovenia. Outside we go. I managed one puff. Mint. Hmm. Interesting. I don't smoke, but right now I was willing to do almost anything.

We talked about Ales returning for some wild event/party/madness. We will see. We should hope. With that, Ales was off.

For now, shop owner Michael Alberty had an inspiration. Why not recreate the moment as best as we can? So, come to Vincent and the Movias this Friday evening at Storyteller. I'll pour my Pinot Noir, and Michael will have a selection from Movia. No Lunar though, that's crazy rare.

And of course, there will be no Ales, which is like The Who without Keith Moon. But what the hell. It will be good nonetheless. The Movia wines deliver, just like their maker.

May 22, 2011

NV Domaine Meriwether Discovery Cuvee Brut

I love sparkling wine but don't drink enough. I usually don't have much of it in the cellar, though in the past year I've purchased several bottles of Champagne and other sparkling wines. Then I fail to open them, waiting for something to celebrate.

Why do we only think of sparkling wine for celebrations? It's so good and versatile on the dinner table. And who among wine drinkers doesn't like sparkling wine?

And why don't we celebrate more? Why not celebrate a new wine account or the love of someone special?

So tonight, for those reasons or none at all, I opened a local sparkling wine, the NV Domaine Meriwether Discovery Cuvee Brut. What a terrific Oregon white wine. Pale in color, seemingly more Chardonnay even if the website says it's 60% Pinot Noir, smelling of lemons and mushrooms, tasting bright and edgy with a lemon cream middle and lovely tension on the finish.

There is even a chalky sense of good Champagne that I find so refreshing and thought provoking. What incredibly delicious wine. No one ever seems to talk about Domaine Meriwether but almost every time I try one of their wines, I think they are among the top producers of Oregon wine.

May 17, 2011

2007 Kondoli Vineyard Saperavi

It's been too long, and there are ridiculous amounts of things to write about if I can just carve out the time. New Portland urban wineries. More and better thoughts on Arizona. Late budbreak in Oregon has finally arrived. I write an article for Wine Press Northwest magazine. A crazy Slovenian winemaker visits Portland.

See, lots to get to. Soon, I promise. Especially since I think I'm done with that Wine Press NW piece.

For now, a true obsurity. The 2007 Kondoli Vineyard Saperavi from the Republic of Georgia. Yes, that Georgia. Who needs a century club when you can taste unheard of grape varieties in your own home?

Kondoli is apparently storied, the back label quoting a Georgian from 1742 extolling the producer's "noble wines." This bottling shows a dark black red color and a bittersweet herbal aroma that reminds me some of Dolcetto. The wine tastes similarly bittersweet, with floral and blackberry flavors and lots of fine tannin that provides great texture.

This is dry, savory wine. But if that's your thing, and I love it, you should find a bottle. It costs something like $16 or $17. Imported by Corus LLC, Stamford, CT. I know where you can find it in Portland.