A phenomenal day today... so much so that I must create two entries because things developed in two directions...the wonders of wine and the magnificence of the Oregon Coastline.
A one hour and fifty seven minute ride led by my British tour guide, GPS, began to take on a disastrous character when her shortest distance programming (rather than shortest time) told me to leave I-5N and take secondary roads to get to my first destination, Domaine Serene, the winery Robert Parker refers to as the Chateau LaFite of Oregon Wineries.
What a great faux-pas, if that's what it was, because we took a trip through countryside I may never have seen and it let me discover things like the huge acreages of hops that are grown here in Oregon, as well as the row upon row of orchards dedicated to the growing of hazelnuts. The Babe and I also got to scale the Willamette River in a cable-powered ferry on Wheatland Ferry Road. Pretty awesome for $2.
To be quite honest, apart from the hazelnuts and the hops, the agricultural landscape in most of the area looks a lot like Southern Ontario except for the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. Corn is in full swing as well as all the apple orchards, blueberry farms, market gardens and various mixed farm produce. There is one other big difference today, the Willamette was 86 to 92F depending on where you were. The harvesters were not happy.
Domaine Serene is what everyone dreams of when they fancy their winery dream: Hispanic architecture on the top of a mountain surrounded by rows of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
I tasted a very good Chard, two Pinots I was already familiar with (Yamil and Eventstad Blocks) and then a cross tasting of Rockblock Syrah, the 2007 and the 2008. This proved quite interesting as they showed the differences 2 different years of weather can make as well as 2 different blending styles. The 2007 was much creamier and more fruit forward with overtones of caramel while the 2008 shone in minerality and elegance and showed good acidity. Both were more than 14 per cent alcohol that provided a warm toasty impression and made both appropriate for some nice Lamb Shanks.
I was supposed to meet Grace Evenstad at the winery today, but she was suffering on a Mediterranean Tour so I left her message at the office to say I would see her this Winter.
Then a 45 minute ride to The Ponzi Vineyards with a brief lunch stop at Subway in Dundee.
As much as Domaine Serene is chiseled out of the landscape, Ponzi Vineyards is a pastoral function of the landscape, right down to the structural reality of being built on the side of an incline that feeds the harvested grapes in the high end of the facility and distributes the wine from the lower end of the facility so that gravity eliminates the need for pumping and cycling the must and the effluent.
Anything Pinot is what this tasting was all about... Blanc, Gris and Noir. All were creamy and delicious with good acidity and thirst quench and they screamed to be mated with some pan-fried Halibut steaks cooked in butter and seasoned with orange juice.
I was supposed to meet Maria Ponzi as well, but she was off site and the Tasting Ambassador assured me she had not vacated to the Med, at least not today.
I'm very disappointed in my ability to happen upon good food recipes to go with these great wines I'm experiencing although my next adventure for the day showed promise in that regard.
Since it was only 3:30 and my touring was complete, I decided I could trust my guide to take me on the legendary tour of Highway 101 down the coast of Oregon from Lincoln City to Florence...it was breathtaking...a drive everyone should put on their "Bucket List".