I attended the McMinnville Wine and Food Festival with my family. We checked out the vendors attending this year and made it our objective to visit all the vendors we had interest in. I was most interested in new wineries or wineries from the southern area that I have not had a chance to visit yet. I want to warn you that tasting very small amounts of wines in plastic glasses made it a tad challenging in getting detailed aromas and tastes. Some of my notes will not be as detailed as I would like but I hope you get the point and can use them to help find a new wine to enjoy.
The first winery was Mia Sonatina Cellars and this being the first of many wines I was sure to taste I figured I would start off with just one. I chose the 2002 Allegro. It is a red blend wine and, at $10, I thought to myself, what a nice price. This wine showed a nice fruit aroma and it had a full body, soft tannins, with a nice long cherry finish. I found this wine a great value at the price.
Eola Hills was the next tasting stop. Yes, I know, neither new or from the southern region but as we all know, when your spouse loves a wine and the winery is at an event, you must stop and see if they have it. My wife loves the Sangiovese made by Eola Hills, and to be honest it is one of my favorites also. The 2002 Reserve Lodi Sangiovese $20 showed a nice strong dark fruit aroma. The wine itself had a big fruit feel to go with a nice body and a long finish that shows cherry and strawberry in it. I love this wine with food and canít see any reason not to have it with pasta, grilled beef or any other dish you like.
Next wine poured at the Eola Hills table was the 2000 La Creole Reserve Chardonnay $15. It had a nice wood and nut aroma. The taste showed a nice soft oak effect with a crispness not usually seen in a Chardonnay with nice butterscotch on the finish. This Chardonnay was one I actually liked and, as those of you who read these articles regularly know, I do not usually get excited by Chardonnay. I found this Chardonnay a great wine and an even a better value. I am not sure if this one will be easily found in stores but if you are looking for a Chardonnay and having a hard time finding one, give this one a try.
2000 Wolf Hill Pinot Noir $40 had a strong fruit aroma and long lingering effect. I know this sounds odd but I am not sure how else to explain a wine from which I was still enjoying the aroma a bit after the first smell and before the first taste. It had a full body with what I can only describe as a complex dark fruit taste. I found this a great wine but at $40 felt it was a tad overpriced compared to other wines.
The last pour was the LBV Cabernet Sauvignon Port $30 which had a nice green vine and fruit smell, and the taste had a full and very long finish. I have been hunting for good ports made in Oregon for a long time and this I can tell you is one of them. I have only found about five I would buy and this is one of them. The only reasons I did not buy one today was I bought three bottles of the Sangiovese and the day was still young.
Eugene Wine Cellars was the next tasting stop. The first one to be tasted was 2001 Viognier $16 which showed a nice crisp citrus aroma with a light oak, fruit forward wine with a long finish and full body. I was pleasantly surprised how well the taste of the grape showed through with this wine. Usually I see Viognier and Chardonnays that are overly oaked and you canít really taste the grape. This wine was not one of those and that was a large part of why I feel this was a very good wine and, with a $16 price tag, a great value also.
2001 Pinot Gris $10 had a nice fieldish aroma and the wine was crisp with citrus, long finish and nice body. I found this wine to be one I think would best work for enjoying on your porch on a summer day enjoying fresh fruit and nice snack foods. It would also work with pasta and most shellfish dishes.
2000 Cabernet Sauvignon $18 aroma showed a nice blend of cherry and plum. The wine had nice soft tannins with currants of cherry and cranberry with a long finish. This wine would pair well with just about any beef based dish you could imagine and I feel it was a very good wine and well priced and you could cellar for up to three years.
2001 Pendervine Pinot Noir $18 had a dark fruit aroma that was very nice and showed some tannins, cranberry, plum currants, full body and long finish. This wine shows enough tannins that it could be cellared and enjoyed over the next year. I found this wine to be a good wine and a good value.
The last wine here was the 2001 Vin Glance $12, a dessert styled wine. The aroma was a strong sweet honey and the taste was a thick bodied, long finish, well balanced wine. If you donít like some of the overly sweet syrupy styled wines that are being made, this one is for you. I ended up buying a bottle of this.
Dimmick Cellars was next on the list to try. The first wine was the 2002 Viognier $20. It had a nice buttery smell and a very nice buttery taste, tropical fruit but a hint of acid. I like this one also for it was not overly oaked and had a full body with a long finish. If you are looking for a nice not over oaked wine add this one to your list.
2001 Pinot Noir $18 had nice but aggressive berry and cherry aromas. The wine showed good tannins, with balanced plum and berry currants. It had a nice pleasantly long finish. I felt this wine was a great value and at the price I would recommend a case since I feel this wine will mature nicely over the next three years. The only reason this wine did not go home with me was I have a large amount of Pinot Noirs in my personal cellar at this time.
2001 Syrah $18 showed a nice bright red fruit aroma. This wine explodes with cherry on the palate and has soft tannins to give it a nice full body and long finish. The fact about this wine that I found most amazing is the fruit is from the Red Mountain area in Washington. For those of you who do not follow the Washington wine scene, the Red Mountain area grapes are usually only found in wines in the $30 and up range. So if you are looking for what is probably the best deal I have seen, get one and enjoy it with some steak or buy a case for it will cellar well over the next few years.
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon $18 had a nice strong dark berry aroma. The fullness of this wine's body goes well with the plum, cranberry and soft tannins found in it. The finish seems to stay with you long after you are done enjoying the wine. I know I have raved about each of the previous wines of Dimmick Cellars but this was by far my favorite and, in my opinion, the best. I have a feeling this winery will be a strong competitor in future competitions and if they every get a tasting room, I see a lot of wine being poured.
Namaste Vineyards was the next winery to be visited. The first one to be tasted was the 2002 Pinot Noir $25. It opens up with red fruit on the nose and had cherry currants with very light tannins. The body on this wine is light and the finish was a tad short but nice. This wine does not show great age ability. I liked this wine and can see it as a nice light wine to pair with poached salmon or a relaxing day wine. The only problem I had was the price, and for the price I would expect a more complex wine.
The 2002 Barrel Select Pinot Noir $35 was a very enjoyable wine. It had a strong cherry aroma with a hint of mustiness. This wine somehow felt softer than the first Pinot Noir but it also was a more complex wine. It had currants of cherry, plum and cranberry running around your mouth. The full body effect and lingering finish of this wine were all the things the first Pinot Noir was not and for that I had no problem at the price. I feel this wine was a $35 wine and they should have very little problem find people to enjoy it. This is a wine that could be cellared for about two years and could also be enjoyed now with a nice steak.
2002 Namaste Blanc $12 is a white blended wine made from Chardonnay and GewŁrztraminer. It has a strong tropical fruit aroma that I really liked. The wine itself had a nice body with tropical citrus currants and a soft finish with light metallic taste. If you are looking for a nice unique white wine to enjoy during a nice spring day, I recommend this one for I canít say I have tasted a wine like this and I am shocked it took a nice new winery to bring this nice combination to market.
Melrose Vineyards located west of Roseburg was the next tasting on what so far has been a great day. The first wine was the 2001 Pinot Noir $20. This wine had a strong cranberry and strawberry fruity aroma and the taste had a tangy start, nice tannin balance, cherry currants and a long smokey finish. I found this to be a great food wine and the tannins give it an age ability that makes this a wine to have. So much so I ended up buying some.
2001 Merlot $18 was next up. It opens with a smokey and wet wool aroma. I know these two aromas donít really help sell this wine but you have to trust me when I say it worked for this wine. The wine itself had a nice body, strong red fruit currants and a nice long lingering finish. This is another great food wine and with not a lot of tannins showing I would not want to lay this one down for very long. To be honest, I bought this wine also.
The 2001 Baco Noir $32 was the last wine to be tasted. For those of you who have not had a Baco Noir yet, this is typically a thick, dark wine and has lots of flavor. This one had a nice leather aroma coming off the wine and the taste had a cherry, raspberry mix with a hint of spicy pepper on the long finish. I like this wine but at $32 did not find it to be a value to me. I will admit most Baco Noirs I have seen are in the $25 to $40 range so the price to me was not out of line for this type of wine.
Overall, I was impressed with Melrose Vineyardís wines and if you are traveling any where near the Roseburg area stop by and taste a few of their offerings.
The last winery I was able to taste on this day was Palotai Vineyard. I started off with the 2002 Chardonnay $12. The aroma had a nice balanced lemon to it and the wine showed a lemon currant with citrus and tropical fruit on the sides. It also had a very nice acidic crispness to it. As Chardonnays go, this one climbed up to the top of my list easily. I felt I really could taste the grapes and not the barrel and to be honest if I did not have more than enough Chardonnay already I would have purchased this wine also. If you, like me, like more grape and less barrel in your Chardonnay this one is for you.
2002 Pinot Noir $18 was the first of the three red wines. It had a musty dark fruit aroma coming off the wine. The wine itself had soft tannins and was a great fruit bomb. I know that term is used a lot these days but I am sure if you got a bottle of this you would agree. It also showed hints of plum and leather on the finish. This was a good wine and, at this price, a good value.
2002 Merlot $15 showed an aroma of roses and violets. Here comes a funny coincidence -- the winemaker asked me what I smelled and when I mentioned roses and violets, he started to laugh for he also got those aromas but I guess most other people do not. The wine had nice tannins with rose and beef currants running around. I felt this was a great value wine and have not tasted a Merlot this good in a long time.
2002 Barrel Select Pinot Noir $25 was the last wine for the day. It had nice earthy and floral aromas, taste showed a bold fruit, nice tannins, spicy pepper and a cranberry/raspberry finish. This was a good wine and in my opinion was under priced so I would get some while you can.
I had a great time at the festival and if you did not get out to it this year, please try to get out next year. It gives you a great chance to sample wines and talk to the winemakers in most cases.
Mia Sonatina: http://www.miasonatina.com/
Eola Hills: http://www.eolahillswinery.com/
Eugene Wine Cellars: ph 503 342 2600
Dimmick Cellars: ph 503 810 9182
Namaste Vineyards: http://www.namastevineyards.com
Melrose Vineyards: ph 541 672 6080
Palotai Vineyards: ph 541 464 8127