Monday, June 25, 2012

Willamette Valley: Winery Visit Highlights.

Tasting Team member Dr. J. wraps up his report on his recent Willamette Valley, Oregon visit by sharing highlights from several wineries.
I wanted to make mention of a few more highlights of our stops.
Anne Amie caught my attention because like St. Innocent, I had tasted their Pinot Noir at a tasting once before and thought it was exceptional. They were very familiar with Toledo as their winemaker was in town in early May for the Pedaling for Pinot event. I didn’t stick to my tasting notes too well, but I can tell you the Pinot Noir was exactly as I remembered it…wonderful. We took a bottle of this along with a Müller Thurgau dessert wine duo. I’ve enjoyed this wine dry the few times I’ve had it, but it made an incredible sweet wine as well.
In a back-to-back tandem, we made stops at both Torii Mor and Lange Estate. This was a long, winding journey up the side of steep hillsides on stone roads. Torii Mor has a beautiful Japanese garden and as well as very picturesque premises. Both whites we tried, the Pinots Blanc and Gris were excellent summer sippers.
There were three different Pinot Noirs from distinct vineyards. It was getting hard to distinguish between them; visiting several wineries a day. It’s safe to say that we didn’t try a bad Pinot in all of the Willamette Valley. We finished with a Syrah Port. I love Syrah and Port, so this was the best of both worlds! It was perfectly sweetened with rich berries, spice, and earth notes. We wanted a well-versed collection of great wines to take home with us, so we nabbed a bottle of the Gris and the Port.
At Lange Estate, the trio of single vineyard Pinot Noirs really shined. These are about as good as they get. Trying to pick what to take with us was difficult so we went with a bottle of the “Lange Estate Vineyard” Pinot Noir due to its 92pt. Wine & Spirits Magazine rating.
Other notable stops include Hyland Estates and Owen Roe. Hyland Estates is a newer winery and it was a nice change of pace to see Riesling and Gewurztraminer on the tasting list. The Riesling has a great fruity nose with great acidity and crispness on the palate. The Gewurztraminer was very aromatic; something this grape
is known for. It was nice and bold with a long, dry finish. We took a bottle of each of these exceptional whites.
Owen Roe is one that was on my list before we even got there. These are usually top-shelf wines in our local depots, and I had previously sampled an incredible Cab Franc. In research beforehand, I found out that they do not have a tasting room and you have to call for an appointment to taste. Luckily for us, they were very welcoming and got us right in. Everything on their list was outstanding; from the Syrah to the Merlot and red blend, to the Cab Sauvignon and Cab Franc. We were very impressed.
The Willamette Valley is a great place to visit for some exceptional wine. Our only regret is that we
were there on a Monday and Tuesday when many of our other “must-visit” wineries were closed.
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