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/

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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.

Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Revana Vineyard

I was so excited when Wine Spectator recently announced their “Top 100 of 2013” list and the Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard was listed as number 17. My first visit to Alexana was in September of 2012, and since then, it’s been one of my favorites in the Willamette Valley. In addition to the specific Pinot Noir I review in this post, Alexana also makes a Riesling that isn’t as sweet as Rieslings typically tend to be, Chardonnay, and a few other Pinot Noirs. The tasting room in Newberg, OR is only a couple of years old with warm wood throughout, a bar layered with the regions various soil types for display (so cool!), and sweeping views of the Willamette Valley; it’s as gorgeous and inviting as it sounds.

Alexana was created by a cardiologist with a love for wine, Dr. Madaiah Revana, and named after his daughter, Alexandra. In 2005, Dr. Revana sought out the ideal region and an experienced winemaker to make his Pinot Noir. He found what he was looking for in Oregon, where he met Lynn Penner-Ash. Lynn helped Dr. Revana find the property which is now the Revana Vineyard in the Dundee Hills of Oregon, and the first production came in 2006. Penner-Ash wines are ranked among the finest in Oregon by the wine press year after year. You may recognize the name from Rex Hill and also from Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. I have to say that I personally agree with all the buzz and think it’s well-deserved.

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Now that you know a bit about Alexana, let’s get down to the
tasting notes of the Alexana Pinot Noir 2010 Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard. On the nose you’ll get notes of dark berries, cherry, and vanilla. On the palate, I immediately get the dark fruit followed by the vanilla with a black pepper finish. It doesn’t have the rich earth nose and taste that’s more typical of a Oregon Pinot Noir, which I usually prefer, but with this Pinot, I don’t find myself missing that characteristic. Complex, well-layered, and nicely balanced, I rate this wine 5 stars out of 5.  At just $42, this wine is an incredible value. If you see this while wine shopping, snatch it up before they’re all gone and enjoy. Once a wine is published on a list like this, it’s sure to sell out fast if it hasn’t already. If you can’t find it, don’t hesitate to try the 2011 vintage.

For more information on Alexana Winery, visit http://www.alexanawinery.com/.

To see the full list of the “Top 100 of 2013” by Wine Spectator, visit  http://2013.top100.winespectator.com/.

Stories from the Vineyard Presented by the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation

If you’re wondering what sarcoma is, I wondered the same thing when my doctor called me on January 2nd of this year to tell me I had it. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in certain tissues like bone or muscle, and it can be found anywhere in the body. What a way to bring in a new year, huh? You never think it will happen to you, and especially not when you’re in otherwise great health and just 30-years-old. It’s rare in adults making up roughly just 1% of all cancers but more prevalent in children making up 15% of childhood cancers. Sarcoma is sometimes curable by surgery (about 20%), or by surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation (about 30%), but about half the time they are totally resistant to all of these approaches, which means there is an extreme need for new therapeutic approaches.

Thankfully for all of us sarcoma cancer warriors and our families, there are organizations like the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation who work hard to help patients and their families while also funding important research to improve cure rates. As a fundraising effort, the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation presents an annual gala called Stories from the Vineyard that alternates each year between Seattle and Portland. The event features regional area wineries with wine tastings, raffles, and hors d’oeuvres.

I had the pleasure of attending the second event in the Stories from the Vineyard series this past Sunday at The Wine Cellar on the west side of Portland. They were pouring wines from Buty Winery, Tamarack Cellars, and Long Shadows Distinguished Wineries & Vineyards out of Walla Walla, WA. Quite honestly, there wasn’t one wine that disappointed. Here are notes on my favorite wine from each of the three featured wineries:

2009 Saggi from Long Shadows– a smooth yet bold Tuscan Italian style blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah with lots of dark fruit and a bit of cocoa. This instantly brought back memories of my summer in Italy when I first fell in love with wine. Random, but I have to say I love the owl on the label too! I rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.  Available at The Wine Cellar for $49.*

Buty 2010 Redivivia of the Stones – Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon (with a bit of Mourvedre too) blend with bold flavors of spice and earth as well as floral notes and dark fruit on the palate. This one is ready to drink right now and it’s lovely. I’d also rate this one 4.5 stars out of 5.  Retails at The Wine Cellar for $58.*    

Tamarack Cellars 2012 Chardonnay – Pear and tropical fruit on the nose and just a touch of butterscotch on the finish, this Chardonnay is barrel-fermented and aged in neutral French oak making it bright and crisp. I rate 4 stars out of 5. An incredible value available at The Wine Cellar for $16.50.* 

The next and final event is this Sunday, November 17th from 1 to 6 pm at Enso Winery. If you don’t have plans this Sunday, I encourage you to attend. You’ll not only be helping to support a great cause, but you’ll also get to experience a really nice event with some fantastic food and wine!

To purchase your tickets, visit http://www.nwsarcoma.org/events/stories-from-the-vineyard.

For more information on The Wine Cellar, visit http://portlandwinecellar.com/. I know I’ll be planning our next date night here!

By the way, I’m happy to share that I’m currently cancer-free and optimistic about my future. I hope some day soon a cure can be found, and until then, better treatment options.

*Note for all the wines mentioned that they may have had special pricing the day of the event so please be aware that pricing could vary.