Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sips on the Road: Oregon Unwine'd - Portland, OR

 As I walked into the first ever Oregon Unwine’d event at the Left Bank Annex (@leftbankannex) in Portland, I must have looked like a combination of a kid in a candy store and a deer in the headlights. I had no idea where to even start. My journey in wine has so far kept me very much in Washington (save for a few trips here and there) and Oregon is a region I have not had a chance to really explore. I can honestly say I think I can count on just two hands how many of the 100 wineries in attendance I had tasted before. This created a unique opportunity for me as I set about my tasting: no bias. Since I hadn’t really explored the regions of Oregon wine country at all, I really had no preference when it came to one area over another. I started making the rounds starting first in tasting whites and rosés and quickly realized that Oregon knows a little somethin’ somethin’ about rosé. Rosé of Pinot noir to be more precise. This already light grape transforms beautifully into a crisp, dry, and very appealing rosé. I knew just a few wineries into my tasting what my focus for this event and my post was going to be about. And so, without further ado, the best of rosé at this year’s Unwine’d event (in alphabetical order)!

2011 Abecela Grenache Rosé: Ok, I lied when I said they were all Pinot noir rosé.. This delightful Grenache rose is hails from the Umpqua Valley from a winery that planted some of the first Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest. The color on this one was incredible and looked just like the strawberries and cherries in the flavor. At only $15, it’s a summer steal!

2011 Benton Lane Winery Rosé of Pinot Noir: This is a Willamette Valley wine that I was drawn to because of its cute postage stamp type label (remember, I have no bias at this tasting, I know nothing. I get to judge wines by their labels until I try them!). Apparently this harvest was very late and the longer hang time for the fruit produced the fantastic flavors in this wine. This is another $15 great buy.

NV Chateau Bianca Winery (@ChateauBianca) Northwest Comfort: this was probably the most unique rosé I’ve ever tasted (and I mean that in the good “unique” way, I have definitely had some bad “unique” wines too). Technically considered a “dessert wine”, it has spices in it that I haven’t seen before in a wine. While at first taste it seems odd and weird, it goes on to intrigue the palate a bit. I think my direct quote was “well this is fun!”. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold, which seems unusual, but after tasting it I would have to agree. It’s definitely one of those different wines that leaves you wanting another sip and you just can’t figure out why. But you don’t fight it! Pick this one up for about $10.

2011 Lange Estate Winery (@Langewinery) Rosé of Pinot Noir: This is the very first Rosé of Pinot Noir from Lange, sourced from the Mia block of their own estate vineyard. It was produced to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the winery, and what a treat it is! It’s light and delicate, with more of the mild citrus tones over heavy cherry flavors. You can find this one for $19, pick it up for the summer.

2011 Luminous Hills (@luminoushills) Aura Estate Grown Rosé of Pinot Noir: This was a fan favorite and was one of the ones I was sending people over to try as well. This wine hails from the Yamhill-Carlton District, which is a high elevation site. I loved how the label popped on the bright wine. A fabulous find for $21.

2011 Patton Valley Vineyard (@pattonvalley) Pinot Noir Rosé: This Willamette Valley wine is 100% estate fruit. It was another that was beautiful in color and showed great flavors of berries. This one wasn’t listed in our program with price, but some online research showed it should run around $18?

2011 R. Stuart & Co. (@rstuartwine) Big Fire Dry Rosé: This is an awesomely awesome summer sipper that you could enjoy just about any day of the week. It’s dry but not overly so and the aromatics are nice. Another one in the right price range too, pick it up for $16!

2011 Van Duzer Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé: This wine was so pretty! Not only is the label adorable, the wine itself was clear but with a sharp salmon hue. This was intentional for the winery, and comes forth in the aromatics. This was one of the last I tried of the day, and I was thankful for the referral to the table! This Willamette Valley wine can be purchased for $16.

I must say, it was actually a lot of fun to go to a tasting event where I really can just try whatever I want since I really don’t have much to base anything on. I find that at Washington events I tend to skip certain things that I have preconceived notions of, regardless of if I’ve tried it before. That certainly wasn’t the case at Unwine’d. I was also thrilled to hear how excited the winemakers were, as this was one of the first times that wineries from all over Oregon have gotten together for a tasting event like this. They are missing out, and all Oregon winery tastings need to come together more often! I can say that I’d definitely head back down south for another one if the opportunity arose. For now, I’ll just have to settle for a winery tour the next chance I get!

(the crowd enjoying the upstairs tasting area at Unwine'd)

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