February 14, 2010

Valentine's and elevage

Today my wife and I went for a terrific bicycle ride around the Willamette River in downtown Portland, then down the Springwater Corridor along the Willamette to the Sellwood neighborhood. After, we went to a cafe on Division St. for coffee, tea and sweets. If you think it always rains in Portland, be sure it only rained on our drive home. Otherwise, mild and simply perfect conditions for an afternoon by the water.

Tonight, homemade spinach and goat cheese fritatta and a few wines, all in small bottles. First, an appertif of NV Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs. This bottle had great sparkle and a fresh color, but it's clear it was an older bottling. Not the fresh lime and apple notes I see in so many reviews online. Rather, mushroom, dough and fresh apple aromas, more like a note from an aged vintage Ruinart bottling. The wine was fresh in the mouth, bright and lively but clearly mature flavor-wise with mushroom, nuts and yeast. I can't say this was representative of typical bottles, yet I loved it and didn't find anything bland, as some reviewers note.

Then a half bottle of our 2006 Vincent Pinot Noir Wahle Vineyard from Oregon's Yamhill-Carlton District. How do you write a note of your own wine? You don't, except to say it was powerfully fruity with surpring oak influence for having been aged in 5 year old French oak. This isn't my style of pinot, but it's fresh and tasty. I can't complain. I think it's good, ripe vintage Oregon pinot.

For dessert, a glass of 2001 Domaine Trapadis Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel, a true AOC Rasteau dessert wine from mostly grenache and some syrah, carignane, cinsault and mourvedre. This is lightly fortified to 16.5% with some residual sweet, much like Banyuls and Maury. I simply love dessert wine like this. Deep ruby color, plummy, spirity aroma with loads of pepper and spice, then a modestly sweet, grenache vintage port-like flavor with lots of ripe tannin and long, lingering flavors. This smells like it's maturing a bit but the tannin will take several more years to resolve. Still, this is delicious, robust but savory sweet wine. No candy flavors, nothing bitter, just a lovely balance of flavors. Terrific with chocolate and my sweetie.

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