2011 Amity Vineyards Pinot Noir

IMG_20140225_190451I haven’t had the chance to visit Amity Vineyards yet in Amity, OR, but it’s on my list after trying their 2011 Pinot Noir.  On the nose, it has nice ripe cherry and earth with a bit of smoke. On the palate is where it surprised me the most; it’s fruit-forward for a Oregon Pinot Noir with lots of bright cherry and strawberry and a small touch of Oregon earth on the finish. This Pinot has a beautiful mouth-feel that’s soft and smooth. Overall, it reminds me more of the type of Pinot Noir you find out of the Russian River Valley in California. This wine could easily be overwhelmed by food so keep it light or just enjoy it on its own. I happen to love finding a wine that doesn’t NEED food to bring out the best notes it has to offer.

I can’t remember exactly where I purchased this bottle, but I do know it was just under $20. Finding a Pinot Noir under $20 gets me pretty damn excited. If you’d like to find this wine near you, check out http://www.wine-searcher.com/. This website makes finding wines near you effortless.

For more information on Amity Vineyards, you can find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amityvineyards.

2010 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée Dundee Hills

What do you do when snowed in for four straight days? At our house, we drink lots of good Pinot Noir! One Pinot we enjoyed was the 2010 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée Dundee Hills. It kept us warm and entertained during the unusual and endless snow Portland received, and I’m happy to say it was just what we needed. 20140209_105353

Sokol Blosser’s tasting room is fun and modern and usually quite busy on a summer day, but don’t let that scare you away. They offer some nice outdoor seating that provides a perfect opportunity to slow down and enjoy the vineyard.

On the nose, this wine has a lot of funk and smells of pure Oregon wine country. The palate also has that same burst of funk and earth with hints of dark fruit and a bit of cola. I probably should have let these breathe over night to open up more of the fruit. If you love earthy Pinots, this is the one for you.

For more information on Sokol Blosser, visit http://www.sokolblosser.com/

Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2011

I had big plans for this cold winter here in Portland that included lots of big Washington reds, California Cabernets, and Oregon Pinot Noirs. Instead, my son has brought home every germ floating around at preschool and I’ve spent the last month (MONTH!) with an upper respiratory infection. That’s really just a fancy and less pathetic way of saying I’ve had a bad cold. I’m finally on the mend and was able to enjoy a delicious California Chardonnay from Hartford Family Winery.

Hartford is a small production winery located in Forestville in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, CA. I really connect with their winemaking philosophy, which is “character through adversity”. The Hartford family believes this applies to both people and grapevines. They feel that adversity builds character and personality, in both. That rings so true.

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My first and only visit to Hartford was back in September of 2012 with my husband and our favorite wine friends visiting from Atlanta. I still remember it so well because it was one of those perfect, sunny California days. The fountain and gorgeous gardens, which you can kind of see around us in the photo, make the grounds perfect for enjoying a glass or bottle outside. The staff here was very warm and welcoming and knowledgeable about the wines they were pouring as well. I look forward to a return visit in the future.

IMG_20140209_095055The Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2011 is the color of pale gold and smells of green apple, butterscotch, and subtle notes of tropical fruit. On the palate, the tropical fruit comes forward with lots of kiwi, melon, and pineapple giving it a tangy mouth feel. This is a medium to full-bodied wine that’s a crisper style California Chardonnay due to the cooler climate. Pair this with sweet or smokey dishes. If you pair it with something too salty, it will bring out more of the oak notes. This can be good or bad depending on your personal preference, but I think you would lose some of the nice tropical flavor. I’ve seen the price online around $29.99, but I purchased it for $19.99 through Liner & Elsen in the Nob Hill area of Portland. They have an awesome selection of wines so check them out if you’re local!

In previous posts, I’ve been giving the wines I review a rating on a scale of one to five stars. I’ve decided to drop this portion of my posts because I think wine is so subjective to personal preferences and our individual taste buds. You can tell from my tasting notes how I feel about the wine, and I don’t drink wine I don’t like anyways; life is much too short for that!

Fore more on Hartford Family Winery, visit http://www.hartfordwines.com/.

Merry Edwards 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Merry Edwards is thought of as the Queen of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County, CA (or maybe in general) so I was pleasantly surprised to find a Sauvignon Blanc as part of the tasting flight during my first visit a few years back in Sebastopol, CA. I’m a big fan of the Sauvignon Blanc varietal because there are so many great values to be found; you can drink an awesome bottle without breaking the bank. I particularly enjoyed quite a bit of it while living in Atlanta because it’s so refreshing on a hot day. Don’t say it. Don’t even say “Hotlanta”. Moving on…

IMG_20131225_201504The Merry Edwards 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with lots of flavors like pear and tropical fruit with creamy oak on the palate and nose. The finish offers nice tangy acidity with a citrus finish thanks to the cooler growing year of 2011. I rate this wine 4.5 stars out of 5. This wine would go nicely with white fish, shellfish or goat cheese, but since I don’t eat any of those things anymore, I like to pair it with green vegetables such as asparagus.

For more information on Merry Edwards, visit http://www.merryedwards.com/index.asp.

Frank Family Vineyards Rouge Sparkling Wine

Two years ago while visiting Napa Valley, I visited Frank Family Vineyards in Calistoga, CA for a tasting and picked up this sparkling. The wines are fantastic and I can’t recommend enough a stop by if you’re planning a trip or live in the area. It’s a busy place, from my experiences, but worth wading through all the people and being patient.

IMG_20131231_1920262013 was a great year for many people I know bringing new babies and weddings, but for us, it was an extremely difficult and scary year so it was a must to celebrate the end of it with something special. This sparkling fit the bill. It’s the perfect holiday drink because of its gorgeous dark red color. It would also be great for Valentine’s Day. It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir, and offers a nice strawberry and blackberry essence on the palate. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. A little dry, but not too dry. You get where I’m going with it all; it just has the right mix. I rate this sparkling 4 stars out of 5. We had this along with a plate of olives, veggies, hummus, and mixed nuts and it went well together. It would also stand up to something more substantial like poultry or fish. Retails for $45.

For more on Frank Family Vineyards, visit http://www.frankfamilyvineyards.com/

Domaine Serene 2010 Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir

The tasting room for Domaine Serene is located on breathtaking grounds in Dayton, OR. It reminds me of being in Tuscany with the architectural style as well as the roses everywhere. On a nice day, head outside to enjoy the views from the patio, and on a not so nice day, remain inside and enjoy your tasting flight by the fireplace. Both sound pretty great if you ask me. The tasting fee is $20 per person and changes seasonally, which makes it fun to visit several different times a year. 

20131224_174526On Christmas day, we treated ourselves to the Domaine Serene 2010 Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir. Aromas of vanilla, cherry, and mushroom give way to wonderfully balanced acidity on the palate making this wine silky smooth. Flavors of bright red fruit hit you up front followed by classic Oregon earth on the finish.  I rate this one 4 stars out of 5. Available on Domaine Serene’s website for $45, and I’ve also seen this around the Portland area at a few different places like New Seasons and Bale’s.

If you’re thinking Domaine Serene sounds familiar to you, but you’re not sure why, it may be because Wine Spectator recently placed the Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve 2010 in the number three spot on their “Top 100 of 2013″ list. This one retails for $65 a bottle. In general, Domaine Serene has been thought of as a top Pinot Noir producer in Oregon for some time now.

For more on Domaine Serene, visit http://www.domaineserene.com/index.cfm

Bergström Wines – Newberg, OR

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a post, and all I can say is that in the span of a few weeks, it was Thanksgiving, my son’s 3rd birthday, and the end of him taking naps. I’m still in mourning over the loss of nap time. Luckily, we managed to sneak away one Saturday and do some tasting at Bergström Wines in Newberg, OR.

Bergström Wines consists of five estate vineyards totaling 84 acres that span across four Willamette Valley appellations. I love that they farm all of this without the use of harsh chemicals, systemic or fertilizers. Bergström produces approximately 9,000 cases each year, including two Chardonnays and nine different Pinot Noirs.

I always enjoy a visit to Bergström, but this was a particularly exciting tasting experience because many of the new 2012s had just been added to the tasting flight. In case you haven’t heard, 2012 is THE year for Oregon wine. The weather provided an ideal growing season producing some of the best wines the area has seen to date. While the 2010s and 2011s needed a little more time in the bottle before they were ready, the 2012s are enjoyable straight away.

Here’s a look at the tasting flight we had that is $15 (refundable with $100 purchase):

First Pour: 2011 Old Stones Chardonnay
Price: $35*
Notes: Bright, neutral French oak, aromas of lemon and lime, like a lemon Jolly Rancher on the palate. Juicy. This goes well with food but is also enjoyable on its own.
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Second Pour: 2012 Gregory Ranch Pinot Noir
Price: $57*
Notes: Blackberry, vanilla, and cinnamon on the nose. The vanilla hits me right away on the palate followed by dark cherry. Lovely in its complexity and layers. The 2012s are big Pinots and this is no exception. Doesn’t just the description of this alone make you want to try it right away?
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Third Pour: 2011 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Price: $50*
Notes: The nose and palate offer lots of berries and earth. Only 18 cases left. Age this one.
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Fourth Pour: 2011 Le Pré Du Col Pinot Noir
Price: $60*
Notes: Mushroom and herbs on the nose with a hint of sweet fruit like strawberry and smoke on the palate. Only 15 cases left.
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fifth Pour: 2012 Temperance Hill (not on the tasting flight)
Price: $60*, sold out
Notes: I’ll just start by saying if you want to try the 2012 Pinots from Oregon, act fast. This one is already sold out and that’ll be the trend this year. Side tip, joining a wine club is a great way to get your hands on more of the 2012s that are sure to sell out. The San Francisco Chronicle and Wine & Spirits magazine have previously named this the top Pinot Noir in America. It’s very earthy on the nose with notes of mushroom and moss. Blackberry and cherry on the palate. Full-bodied and complex. You could age this for many years, but I’m not sure who has the patience. My favorite that I tried one this particular day.
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sixth Pour: 2011 Bergström Vineyard Pinot Noir (not on the tasting flight)
Price: $80*
Notes: Bergström’s flagship Pinot Noir. This wine is smooth and balanced with lots of that great earthiness I happen to love. This will age well for years to come with proper storage.
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

For more on Bergström Wines, visit http://bergstromwines.com/.

* Prices reflect those listed on the tasting flight menu at the winery. Pricing and availability may vary outside of the tasting room.