Pinot Gris

Wine Tasting Adventure! Sweet Cheeks

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There are few things I get greater joy from than wine tasting. It isn’t just that the wine is delicious (which, of course it is!) but that the product was created by someone who put his/her heart and soul out there. Winemaking isn’t an easy business. I often compared it to being a chef – you really have to love it! It is challenging, expensive, exhausting, and most of all, rewarding. When I am able to try wines that were created right outside Eugene I totally swoon. These grapes were grown (usually!) in my home state, and made just a few miles from my house. You can’t get more local than that!

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Love this view!

Sweet Cheeks is a winery I’ve been going to for many years. I love the view, the wines, and the staff is always so friendly. This past week I realized it had been WAY too long since I’d stopped by, so I made the short trek out to the winery. My goodness it is beautiful! The views of rolling hills and vineyards is entrancing. I of course was able to try some really fantastic wine as well, and they have many in the under $20 range!

The first one I knew I had to mention was their 2014 Dry Rosé. It is no secret that I love, love, love Rosé wines, but I especially loved this one. There was a nice crispness to this wine with hints of strawberries and red delicious apples. It had an almost effervescent mouthfeel to it. If you are unsure of whether or not you love a rosé wine, you should drink this one. It was everything I love about this style of wine and more.

On the sweeter side, I tried the 2014 Rosy Cheeks. This one is very well known in the area, and is almost exclusively sold at the winery. Aged in all stainless vessels, this wine is a bit on the sweet side. However, it had nice balance and with flavors like peaches, honey, and a hint of strawberries and cream. It was thoroughly delicious from start to finish. Pair this wine with the lovely view from the vineyard and you truly have the perfect day.

Wine
Some of the line up – Makes me thirsty just looking at it!

Oregon is known for its fantastic Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Pinot Noir grapes. The line up at Sweet Cheeks was a great example of this being totally true. I loved the 2014 Pinot Gris, filled with ripe green apple and crisp citrus flavors. The 2014 Dry Riesling (being a traditionally “sweet” grape, this can be a bit tougher to find!) had flavors of honeysuckle and pear, with hints of key lime lingering on the tongue. And lastly, the 2013 Pinot Fusion (also not over $20) was one that I knew I had to share. I’ve had this wine before, but it had been a while and the age had only added to this wines deliciousness. Dark cherries, blackberries, and currants filled my palette. There was even a hint of smokiness present that I absolutely loved. This medium bodied red wine was a great value, made locally, and fantastic. What a win!

Sweet Cheeks Winery has some wonderful wines in its line up. Only a short drive from Eugene, this spot is worth checking out for the beautiful view and the fantastic selections. For a Frugal Wine Gal like me, Sweet Cheeks has many options as well. Cheers to local AND affordable wines!

the view
I’ve gotta soak in that view just one more time…

Underwood Wine: In The Can!

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The more I dive into the world of wine, the more I realize not only how cool it is (obviously!) but just how complicated. There are so many choices to be made with each wine. For the winemaker, it starts in the vineyard and extends all the way into how you want to enclose your wine. Union Wine Co. based in Tualatin, Oregon has done something quite daring with their wines, put them in a can! Their Underwood brand (that I talk about here!), is the label chosen for this. I really enjoyed the Pinot Noir in the bottle, and this past week I finally found the canned version of both the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. I snapped them up of course.

wine in a canBefore I talk about this delicious wine, I have to say that it was a very different experience taking my first sip of wine out of a can. As a fan of beverages in a can though (cold beer out of a can is heavenly!), I was very impressed. The Pinot Gris especially was an excellent fit for the can. Each sip of the Gris was crisp and refreshing with flavors of ripe grapefruit and apples. The Pinot Noir was equally delicious. This wine had a bit more body of course, with flavors of cherry and dark berries. There was a hint of smokiness that I loved as well. I remember when I initially tried this Pinot I loved how flavorful it was, yet light bodied. This wine is perfect for any occasion, and would pair great with a wide variety of foods.

I can totally see the benefits of putting wine in a can now that I’ve tried it. You don’t have to worry about breaking any glass, it’s easy to open, and it truly tasted the same as in the bottle. One benefit of bottles and corks is the aging potential for a wine, and with this kind of enclosure you lose some of that. With that being said, these wines are ready to drink now! These are meant to be delicious, fresh, and food friendly wines that are ready to sip on. The cans are the perfect choice really! Each can holds half a bottle, which is a nice amount too. I picked these up (finally!!) at my local grocery store for about $6. You can order from their website as well in 6 packs, which is pretty cool.

I highly recommend this wine as a daily drinker. Both varietals were balanced, and very enjoyable. I know I can’t wait to stock up!

Wine Tasting Adventure: Archery Summit

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On a slightly drizzly Tuesday, I was cruising around McMinnville and decided to do some wine tasting. Arguably one of my favorite activities, wine tasting is an excellent way to try new varietals and find out what new releases wineries have. Trying to taste on a weekday can be a bit of a challenge, due to some wineries only being open on weekends. However, I was able to find a few places that are open every day. One of those stops was Archery Summit. This is a winery known for its focus on estate Pinot Noir, and producing some incredible wines. Many of their wines are above my frugal price point (and worth every penny – their Pinots really blew me away!) – but they did have two that really stood out and came just a little above that $20 range. The 2013 Vireton Pinot Gris and 2014 Vireton Pinot Noir Rose were fantastic and at a great price point.

Archery Summit
Pinot Gris – chilled and ready to sip

The 2013 Pinot Gris was a prime example of why so many people grow Pinot Gris in Oregon. From start to finish this wine was delicious! In the true spirit of Pinot Gris, it was bursting with fall fruit flavors – like pears and crisp apples. But this wine also had tropical notes of pineapple, and hints of peaches. Citrus flavors were throughout as well. I would describe this wine as very lively, and it had a bright acidity to it. Pinot Gris is a very versatile wine that can be enjoyed with many things, but this one drank just perfectly on its own!

Rosé
I loved the raspberry like color of this rosé

I am always a sucker for a good rosé, so when I was offered the 2014 Pinot Noir rosé – I of course had to try it. My goodness, this rosé was well done. There wasn’t a lot of oak flavor present, due to being aged in neutral oak. It was slightly crisp, with flavors of cherry, red apples, and strawberry throughout. The color was absolutely gorgeous! Sometimes there is only a little bit of skin contact when wineries make a rosé. I love it when I winery allows a little more color to seep into the must. The dark pink (almost magenta!) was perfect.

Both of these wines sell for just $24. The quality present in these wines was incredible, and I cannot wait to stock up for the summer season. Sometimes it is worth the splurge to get a wine that is made with love, from start to finish.

As a quick side note – the tasting room at Archery Summit is located on top of a very steep hill that over looks the Willamette Valley. It is absolutely breathtaking! Stop by and see the views for yourself, they really are awe inspiring. Cheers!

Vineyard
The gorgeous view at Archery Summit

 

 

Tasting Adventures at Remy Wines

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This past weekend, I caught the traveling bug and decided to head up north to do some wine tasting. I have quite a few places I like to stop, but I always make a point to taste at Remy Wines. This is a small production winery that specializes in italian varietals. Yes, you heard it right. Remy Drabkin, the winemaker, has a passion for italian grapes in the heart of McMinnville. She of course sources her grapes from warmer regions, but there is something about the wines she makes. There is a sense of warmth and love with each sip.

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Remy makes many different varietals (mostly reds) but they sell out so fast that sometimes it is hard to get them in time! This particular occasion there were a couple that really jumped out at me. Remy has a second label that is meant to be an “every day” type of label, known as Three Wives. This second label has some incredible options at very nice prices. As a person who drinks a lot of wines in and around the $20 range, I can say that Three Wives is one of my favorite labels. I started by sipping on her “Remy’s Red” many years ago, and have tried almost every release since!

There is only one white that is currently available at Remy, the Fischerman’s Pinot Gris. It was incredible and it is sold at only $17 a bottle. Flavors of honey crisp apples and hints of lemon peel popped. It had incredibly smooth balance though, with just the right amount of acidity. There was even a hint of oak contact that created almost a buttery mouth feel. This wine is an example of Oregon Pinot Gris at it’s finest.

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I love that color!

 

I’ve always been a fan of Remy’s red blends. The Remallaia is a blend that was recently released and is made of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was so delicious! It was medium bodied with flavors of ripe blackberries and vanilla. On the end I was left with hints of smoke and cracked pepper. The whole taste from beginning to end had a nice toast to it. In traditional old world style, this wine had a good amount of oak contact. This method of winemaking creates smooth tannins, and complex flavors throughout. For an aspiring winemaker, this wine was an inspiration!

There are so many tasting rooms in McMinnville that it can be overwhelming. The Remy Wines tasting room is more than worth the visit. The ambiance is beautiful and wines are delicious – what more do you need? They are open every Thursday to Sunday from 12 to 6ish. Cheers!

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I loved this little seat – all I needed was a glass of vino!

 

 

What’s In My Glass? Vista Hills Pinot Gris

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Finding a new winery is always so exciting. On a sunny weekday, I was exploring some of the wineries in between Dundee and McMinnville, and stumbled upon the Vista Hills Vineyards and Winery. The first thing I noticed was just how gorgeous the view was! We were basically in a tree house, right among all the trees, with rolling vineyards below. It was safe to say I was impressed before I even took a step into the tasting room.

The View

Vista Hills Vineyard was started in 1997, and released their first vintage in 2001. I felt so fortunate to be doing some tasting at their lovely location. I truly loved everything I tried. One that really stood out though was the 2014 Treehouse Pinot Gris. Of course this grape is perfectly suited for our colder climate here in Oregon, but Vista Hills did a fabulous job with this wine. It was very dry (only .5% residual sugar) but was super fresh. Ripe citrus and pears filled my senses with every sip. This wine was dying to paired with fresh seared seafood, or a light pasta.

Vista HIlls

Worth notable mention were both the 2011 and 2012 Treehouse Pinot Noir, as well. While obviously two different years, I enjoyed each equally. The 2011 was a bit more on the masculine side, with notes of tobacco, smoke, and cherry. The 2012 was a much bigger wine full of flavors of spice and black fruits. I really couldn’t pick a favorite between the two!

Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery have some truly phenomenal selections. The next time you are exploring the Willamette Valley, I highly recommend heading to the Treehouse and sipping on some fantastic estate grown Pinot Gris while soaking in that view. Cheers!

What’s In My Glass? Portlandia Pinot Gris

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Portlandia is not just a great show anymore – it’s a winery producing some award winning wines! I picked up a bottle of this very hip looking wine and opened it on a beautiful summery evening. I loved the golden color and crispness throughout. Oregon Pinot Gris is truly delicious and a perfect grape to be grown here.

WINEThe 2013 Portlandia Pinot Gris was such a treat! Very true to Oregon style, I got flavors of crisp green apples and fall pears, with a hint of meyer lemon (not too much citrus – just right!). Produced in Dundee by winemaker Jody Thoet, this wine really stands out in terms of its quality and its mission to produce nicely priced Oregon varietals. I loved that the grapes were sourced from vineyards all over the state (from Willamette and Rogue Valley specifically). Sourcing from many vineyards creates a wine that truly represents our gorgeous state.

I found this at my local grocery store, although you can find it at many places including their website. Enjoy with fresh seafood, grilled chicken, or on it’s own. Cheers!

The Frugal Wine Gal: Anne Amie Pinot Gris

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Wine is one of my favorite things. I study it, read about it, drink it, and just enjoy its creation. Another joy of the wine experience is going straight to the source, the vineyards and tasting rooms. Anne Amie is one of those wineries that are just unforgettable. The view, the staff, the wines are all perfect! I was able to make the trek out there recently and was so inspired. It is hard not to be with views like these!

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Now, the view is one thing, but the wines that Anne Amie creates are heaven. I mean it. While they primarily focus on the Pinots, like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc – they are all very distinct and delicious! They also grow Müller Thurgau on their estate that was planted all the way back in 1979, when it was Chateau Benoit. Fun fact! Mark Nicholl of William Rose Wines and Oregon Wine Lab used grapes grown here for his almost released 2014 Müller Thurgau. I had the chance to try it this past week at the wine lab and can’t wait to pick up a bottle once it is available, make sure and try it for yourself. It is heavenly!

Anne Amie
Look at that blue sky!

The 2014 Pinot Gris was very light. It had a crispness and effervescence that I loved. Flavors of crisp green apples and lemon popped with each sip. There was almost a hint of herbaceousness to it, and it had a very bright acidity. From start to finish, this truly was an example of Oregon Pinot Gris at it’s finest.

Anne Amie
Pinot Gris and Rosé of Pinot Gris – same label but very different wine!

You may think that the 2014 Rosé of Pinot Gris might be similar to the 2014 Pinot Gris, but they were definitely different. One similarity I would say was the light bodied, effervescent quality of both of these wines. Both were dying for a beautiful sunny day as well. The 2014 Rosé has grapes that come from the Huntington Hill Vineyard. This wine had the most gorgeous color in the glass. It was a shade of pink that reminded me of a sunset. On the nose I got scents of bright red berries. The first sip gave me flavors of sweet red delicious apples and a slight hint of grapefruit. I loved the balance of sweet and citrus.

Anne Amie
The tasting room is simply gorgeous

Both of these wines were crisp and dry. Perfect to be paired with many different foods and experiences. For me, wine is about enjoying with food and friends. Or sometimes with a great show at home after a long day. Anne Amie wines are not only enjoyable, but made with a care and quality that I’ve come to love. The tasting room is right outside of Carlton, Oregon and absolutely worth the drive. The wines themselves are worth the trip, and the view is simply an added bonus. Cheers to delicious and local Oregon wines!

Anne Amie
I loved these candles, and they smelled incredible

New Winery Alert! Cória Estates

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Finding a new winery is always so exciting. There are so many that I can’t wait to explore that it can almost be overwhelming! Recently, I heard of a winery that was just recently opened (and still expanding!) just outside of Salem. Cória Estates was one great find! They have three phenomenal wines released currently. Their first vintage was in 2013, and they produced Pinot Gris, Rosé of Pinot Noir, and Pinot Noir. These are the wines I was able to try and I loved them. Each was very distinct of course, but really well balanced.

Coria

All of their wines are made from estate grown grapes, and they have 90 acres total. Now that is a lot of vines! They are planning of planting more grapes this year too. The 2013 Pinot Gris was the first taste I had, and it was so crisp – flavors of lemon peel key lime popped right away. I would describe this as dry, but absolutely balanced. It was fruit forward with a bright acidity.

The Rosé of Pinot Noir was one that I had to take home with me. It was so fruit forward, yet perfectly dry. I love a good dry rosé and this one really stood out. Flavors of strawberry rhubarb and ripe cherries were really distinct, but the mouthfeel was almost creamy. It was very fruit forward overall with a nice dry finish. Wine Spectator Magazine also rated this 90 points! I have a bottle of this in my fridge I can’t wait to sip on.

Coria

The last taste I had was of the 2013 Pinot Noir. Oh my goodness. This wine smelled very bold to me, that is I got notes of spice and tobacco. The color was lovely, and it had flavors of blackberry, currants, and bit of white pepper. It was still very smooth throughout and had the perfect balance of tannins. It was just what I want in a Pinot.

Coria
I loved this cool decanter. It decants quickly – so that you can sip on your bottle that much sooner!

Their site for growing grapes is relatively cold, which means that the fruit develops a little slower and has more hang time at the end of the summer. Combine the quality fruit and talented wine making, and Cória Estates has it nailed. All of these wines were right around our $20 price point as well. Check out their tasting room just south of Salem, it’s a bit off the beaten path but the drive is totally worth it. Cheers!

What’s In My Glass? Torii Mor Pinot Gris

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When cruising through downtown McMinnville, Oregon there are banners that line the road that say Torii Mor Winery. This is part of what inspired me to check out their tasting room! While I will say I had heard of this winery before, until I made the trek out to their tasting room I hadn’t had the pleasure of trying any of their varietals. I am so glad I took the time to check out their beautiful facility. They even make their own brandy from their own Pinot Noir, which is out of this world!

Torii Mor

Located in a renovated mother in law suite, this quaint tasting room had a fun feel to it. The name “Torii Mor” translates to “Gateway to the Earth” in Japanese and the whole tasting room had a theme that matched this.  The other cool feature of this tasting room was the sensory wall! It was full of tiny jars that had various flavors that you might find in wines. Pineapple, butter, and peaches were a few of my favorite scents. This is great for those trying to work on their wine tasting skills.

Torii Mor
The sensory wall – such a cool idea!

The 2014 Torii Mor Pinot Gris was super delicious. Ripe pears, crisp citrus notes, and tropical flavors filled my senses. This wine would pair perfectly with seafood, or just by itself! The best part is this wine sells for only $18. For an Oregon Pinot gris in this area, and this good – this is a steal. Cheers!

What’s in My Glass? Montinore Estate

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The sunshine has been poking its head out again these past few days, so I decided to head out on a wine adventure. Interestingly enough, many wineries aren’t open in the middle of the week – but I did find a spot that had a fantastic wine list: Le Bar at Marché. This restaurant has some of my favorite food in town and their wine list does far from disappoint. So, on a Wednesday afternoon I ordered myself a glass of the 2014 Montinore Estate Pinot Gris.

Montinore Estate
Montinore Estate vineyards (Photo Credit: Montinore Estate)

I’ve seen the Montinore Estate label many times and it was definitely on my list of “to try” wines. After trying this varietal, I can’t wait to make a trip up north to Forest Hills to try the rest of their selections. This was one of those wines that was pleasant from the moment it hit my senses. The nose was crisp and had hints of tangy, yet sweet grapefruit. I was expecting this to be more on the tart side throughout, but it was definitely not. Flavors of tangy key lime first hit my palette, then it changed into more toasted and tropical fruit flavors. It was light bodied and incredibly smooth, especially on the finish. My goodness, this wine was just plain delicious.

What really drew me to this wine was not only that it was from 2014, a vintage I have not tried much of (since many of the white wines produced this past fall are just being bottled – or are still aging), but that it was made from certified organic and biodynamic vineyards. These two topics are an article in themselves, but I hadn’t actually tried a wine that was certified in both organic and biodynamics. This wine had some very interesting (and delicious!) characteristics though. It was a very distinct Pinot gris. Growing grapes, and making fantastic wine out of those grapes is a form of art. Montinore Estates have created a masterpiece with this 2014 Pinot Gris, that’s for sure.

Winemaker
White winemaker, Stephen Webber, taking samples out of a barrel (Photo Credit: Montinore Estate)

The 2014 Pinot gris was just recently released, and they sell it for $16 a bottle. What a great deal! I paired this wine with a simple salad made with meyer lemon vinaigrette, but as we know Pinot gris pairs well with so many things. Pick this bottle up and open it on a beautiful sunny day, it is just dying to be drank.

Cheers!

lunch and wine
Fresh salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette, fresh bread and butter, and the 2014 Montinore Estate Pinot Gris – YUM!