Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brad Top 10 Wines of '09, 7-10

7. 2005 WildAire Reserve – A person who works in the wine industry in Oregon gets to try a bunch of limited-production wines that should be incredibly popular but aren’t quite yet. Matt Driscoll is making this wine with the best techniques and with as much heart as anyone in the valley, and his 2005 is starting to sing. I think it’s sold out, but never fear, there are vintages after 2005 to grab, too. Matt has a sticker on the back of his F-150 that says “No Wimpy Wines,” and he isn’t about to let that happen to a WildAire. He demands low yield and high extraction, giving his wines power and long finish. The 2005 envelopes the mind in velvet, coating the entire tongue and enriching the nose with purple aromas of plum and Turkish delight. Behind all this is waxed fir, black caps, and Snickers pie. I only wish I would have drunk this with game instead of pasta, but that’s only in my imagination.

8. 2001 Château de la Peyre, Fargues, Sauternes – You get two experiences as a foreigner in wine country. One is the experience where no one knows you from Bob Hamilton and you get a tour and a tasting. There’s nothing wrong with this and, in fact, it can be pretty relaxing. The other experience is that you know someone who knows someone and you get a lot of talking and tasting in a little cellar that a handful of wine lovers ever visit. Château de la Peyre, whose holding is next door to the famous Château de Fargues, whose owners also own Château d’Yquem, is made in a large outbuilding in a suburb filled with ranch houses. Here, we got the second kind of tasting from a Sauternes producer who makes red wine, dry whites, sweet table whites, white brandy, and the regular old sweet, botrytized stuff we know as Sauternes. We tried all of them, including three vintages of the brandy. Despite the impossible amount to drink, I still remember the 2001, though we couldn’t buy it. It had orange peel, caramel, honey, and oak coming out of a dark yellow/orange liquid that the winemaker said had about 30 brix after his three passes through the vineyard. Top that off with the diesel oil smell of botrytis and you have a wine that you can remember 8 months later.

9. 2006 Remy Wines Lagrein – Michael makes wine here and so does Matt, but their vineyards are elsewhere. Remy’s lagrein comes from Illahe, so I have no idea how she makes such mind-blowing stuff. American oak and magic is all I can come up with. My dad planted lagrein because Bryce Bagnall had told us that he thought the valley was the perfect place for it, and even if it wasn’t, a person could blend it with pinot to give the pinot color. A person could do that, but we never will because Remy has already made a Cinderella out of this poor obscure grape. I had this wine most recently at an Oregon Wine Board dinner with some slow-roasted duck. Good pairing. It’s not the most palatial mouth you can have in a red: it is more refined and less rococo than a big Italian. You have to keep in mind this is a cool-climate grape. What it offers is perfect balance between the tropical tiki of its oak and the wild berries and cherries of temperate regions, filling the senses with worldly happiness.

10. 2002 Broadley Vineyards Marcile Lorraine – It’s not every day I walk down from the office in the pole barn and get to taste one of the best wines of the year. Thanks to wine club member Gary Mudge, it happened during harvest at the exact right time to keep me going. Broadley’s stout, expressive pinots are the stuff of legend, but I had a bad bottle once, so I was glad Gary brought this wine around. It had true charpentier, brown leather, blueberry, spicy, figgy, candied cherry smells—like drinking in a home library with walnut bookshelves and an oil lamp burning with a blanket over your lap while reading a leather-bound volume of Jane Eyre. At least that’s what I was thinking about at the end of harvest. The wine kept me going.

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