Thursday, June 28, 2012

Exploring The Wineries of Hood River, Oregon

Tasting Team Member Dr. J continues his winery reports from his recent visit to the Northwest.
To break up our journey from the Willamette Valley to the Walla Walla Valley, we made a stop in Hood River for a night. There were quite a few signs for wineries. It’s hard to imagine there could be any not-so-good wineries in Oregon, but when you’re new to an area and there are several to choose from, how do you pick the best stops? Our first pick was based on recognition and achievements. Cathedral Ridge was named Oregon’s winery of the year in 2007. Their winemaker, Michael Sebastiani was listed as one of the top ten winemakers of the year by Sonoma Sommelier magazine. The premises of the winery are just beautiful and would be perfect for picnicking or even weddings.
Our tasting consisted of wines of the 2009 vintage. We started off with a Pinot Gris. The citrus and apple notes followed by a balanced acidity make this a pretty versatile wine.
The Chardonnay, one of their multi-medal winners, is full-bodied with buttery hints and lemon on the nose. On the palate it is “butterscotchy” as they say, and I couldn’t agree more. I was in love with this one.
Riesling is a wine that I used to prefer sweet. Anymore, I’m really leaning towards the off-dry to dry bottles. It turns out that this one is just under 3% residual sugar, yet drinks more like an off-dry wine. With light acidity and flavors of apple and sweetened grapefruit, this one pairs well with various nuts and curry dishes.
Continuing on to the reds, we were in for pure enjoyment. The Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend (50/50) has black cherry and chocolate on the nose. It is very smooth and balanced with soft tannins.
Bordheauxd Red (pronounced board head) was the big winner of this stop. Their previous 2007 vintage was rated 91 points by Wine& Spirits Magazine. It is an equal blend of Cab Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. With such an array of aromas, it’s hard to pinpoint any certain one. This wine showcases the complexity of each grape and the distinctiveness of the Columbia Gorge climate.
We finished with one of CR’s most prized wines, the Syrah. There are aromas of forest floor and wildflowers that lead to tastes of berries, spice, and pepper. I had to flip a coin between getting a bottle of this and the Bordheauxd. After all, it was still only the middle of our trip.
I am still pondering joining the Cathedral Ridge wine club. This place was simply wonderful.
Two other stops in Hood River that I’d like to make mention of include Springhouse Winery and Naked Winery. These were based on proximity and did not disappoint. We had to check out Naked just because of its name. Each of the wines on their list is named in sexual innuendo. We happened to catch them early in the day before they got too busy and were treated to their list top to bottom. I have to say, it’s much more than just the name that’s enticing. The wine was excellent.
Springhouse had a great lineup as well. The standouts for us were the Chardonnay and the Cherry Ort. A friend of the winemaker had a lot of cherries left over that he didn’t know what to do with. It was decided to make a wine from them. An ort is a scrap of food left at a meal and pretty fitting both for the name and to hint at the style of wine that it is. The Ort is made just like the famous dessert wine from Portugal, but careful because you can’t use that word…

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Beau @ Cathedral Ridge said...

Hi! We just came across this wonderful post about your visit to our winery, and wanted to say thank you for taking the time to visit and taste our wines. We hope that you had a great trip and a great experience out in the Gorge. Cheers!

Dave Nershi, CSW said...

Beau - Thanks for the note. Your winery and outstanding wines highlighted the trip. We wish you continued good luck with your winemaking and will continue to recommend you to our readers.