Charlie Opines About Wine

In my search for interesting wines to serve to guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I attend many planned and impromptu wine tastings. I am happy to share my experiences with you. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oregon Pinot Envy on Cape Cod

We are back at home at our Cape Cod bed and breakfast and I am working harder than ever to find new and exciting wines to serve guest who will be visiting our inn this season. Now that we are home in Sandwich, my job is made easier since I only have to travel a few blocks to attend the weekly Wednesday wine tasting at the Belfry Bistro cosponsored by my friends at Cellar 55 Wine Merchants.

Last year I did a Pinot Envy blog, but last Wednesday night it was an all Oregon show. A nice opportunity to see the different winemakers’ styles and the variation caused by the location, terroir, of the same grapes and all within the same state. Pinot can be a difficult grape to grow but, after years of experience, the farmers and winemakers in Oregon are at the top of their game. 

Spencer from Horizon Beverages was our tour guide as we tasted our way around the state of Oregon. Each of our four Pinots was pared with a food offering that complimented the selected wines. We had two 2008 and two 2009 vintages. The 2008 Oregon vintage is acclaimed as one of the best in the last decade and the 2009 is also receiving high marks, as attested to by the wines we enjoyed tonight. 

Most of Oregon’s wine country hugs the Pacific coast from the Washington state line to the California border. The largest concentration of vineyards and wineries are in the Willamette Valley Appellation (AVA), running southwest from Portland down to Eugene. Our Oregon oenology journey started with an R. Stuart & Co. 2009 Big Fire Pinot Noir from McMinnville, OR. This lightly oaked, dark berry-flavored wine was pared with Gazpacho. Together, the soup pulled out a hidden spiciness in the wine that enhanced the flavor experience of both; a nice refreshing spring paring that I could see enjoying on my patio.  

Next we moved a little further down the Valley to the Dundee Hills sub-AVA and the Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards’ 2009 Pinot Noir ‘Willamette Valley’. The tasting notes said, ‘In our true “classique” style, this wine is approachable and fruit-forward upon release.’ I am not sure what is meant by the classique style, but it sure was what I call a ‘mouth-full’; it was very heavy in a good kind of way. The paring with Pinot Marinated Roasted Olives was a good match. The big difference in style made it impossible to compare the 2008 and 2009 vintages.

Our next stop took us to the end of the Valley, Eugene, and one of Oregon’s largest and best know producers, the King Estate Winery. We enjoyed a Signature Collection King Estate 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir. Lighter and fruiter than the Lange, it pared nicely with a Brie and Red Grape Quesadilla. I have also enjoyed other King Estate wines from their Acrobat and NxNW labels.
We end our Oregon wine wondering back up Valley in Carlton, not far from Dundee Hills. I think they saved the best for last when we finished with Alexana Winery 2008 Pinot Noir Dundee Hills. This luscious and smoky wine was paired with a delightful Cherry Clafouti. The 2008 Alexana gets my vote, but I have to admit I was introduced to this great wine last Thanksgiving by a friend who had lived in Oregon and had the inside track on Pinot Noirs.

I am no longer envious of Oregon’s Pinots, just better informed with some great ideas for guest at our Sandwich bed and breakfast. Come join us at the Inn and see what I am serving.

Happy Wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts

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