February 22, 2010

Excellent wine dinner in Newberg

A small group of us descended on Subterra in Newberg on Friday night for dinner and special wines. The occasion? We were the growers and buyers of a new vineyard on Ribbon Ridge that will be the primary grape source for Vincent Wine Company in 2010 and beyond. I'm thrilled about the site and working with these new and enthusiastic (like me) growers. And if wine dinners with this crowd approach this night's line up, I'll never miss a gathering.

To start, NV Bouchard Champagne Infloresence that was more fruity than I recall from my last time trying it in December. That's no knock. This just showed more exuberant fruit along with great chalky, minerally flavors. Really nice stuff.

Next came an oddity, the 2004 Ponsot Morey St. Denis Clos des Monts Luisants Blanc Vieilles Vignes, an all or nearly all bottling of aligote. It showed some oxidation at first, then revealed more depth and lots of nerve from the acidic aligote grape. I really enjoyed this wine and would have gladly spent more time with it. Then the 2001 Deiss Schoenenberg Grand Cru, sweet and golden Alsatian wine that may not have the cut and precision of other producers, but I loved it.

My contribution was the 1997 de Montille Pommard Pezerolles, a wine I brought as an example of hot vintage pinot noir (given our recent propensity to hot years here in Oregon, specifically 2009). At first there was a very Oregon black fruit and earth aroma. Not surprising, somewhat, given the historic dominance of Pommard clone pinot noir here in the Willamette Valley. With time it showed more Burgundian earth and minerality aromatically.  In the mouth, it was always taut and Burgundian, lacking the sweetness of Oregon wines while still showing great fruit and integration and freshness. This is young de Montille, yet it's open and simply delicious. I wish I had more of this.

To compare, we had a 1993 Gaunoux Pommard Rugiens, which I admit I didn't spend enough time with. Classic old school red burg here, floral and meaty fruit aroma, taut in the mouth and subtle. This is one of those wines I'd love to have in my cellar but I didn't spend the time necessary to cozy up with it tonight.

Why? I was excited to try the 2008 Ayres Pinot Noir Pioneer, all 667 clone from Oregon's Ribbon Ridge and an impressive showing. Obviously much more sweetly fruited than the Burgs, but showing a depth aromatically and length in the mouth that suggests long aging and development. Which just about sums up what I think is so promising about the 2008 here in Oregon. Don't be fooled by the primary sweetness of so many wines. They will unfold, and have the balance and structure to hold together for many years.

Then the 2008 Luminous Hills Pinot Noir Lux from the estate vineyard southwest of Carlton in Oregon's Yamhill-Carlton district. Blind, I thought this was 2007, and really, really good 2007 wine. Why? The light color, the perfume and the wine's lacy elegance. This is unlike any 2008 wine I've tried so far, clearly from a producer who's not looking for extraction or color. In some respects, I don't know how '08 didn't give something more dense and purple. Yet there's great intensity here, aromatically and on the palate. This should be long lived and makes me think again how I approach everything from when to pick to how warm to ferment. I really liked this and it made me think, a lot.

Finally, a special selection for dessert, the 1986 Ch. d'Yquem Sauternes. I don't recall ever tasting this bottling but it showed true to many notes I've read. Fresh, young, lacking the power of great d'Yquem vintages....but I simply loved this wine. What balance. There's plenty of sweet botrytis yet there's refreshing acidity and a long, long finish. The wine is medium gold in color and showing similarly youthfulness in the mouth. Hold for a while yet. I bet another decade or three with bring out an intense caramelized sweetness that gives it more power. For now, it's simply excellent and an absolute treat to drink.

With that, we resolved to have many more dinners of similar quality. I'm in. Who's with me?

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