Wine Notes from Oregon

So I had a few glasses of wine in Oregon (snicker, snicker), though I didn’t actually go wine-tasting (seeing as I don’t want to take Kiddo with me, Adam is a beer guy, and the pretensions of wine-tasting are definitely not my mom-in-law’s thing). Instead, we did something much more our style: we drove to Cost Plus and picked out local Northwest wines there.

One wine was Snoqualmie Vineyard’s Naked Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley. “Naked” of course because it is made from organically grown grapes. I enjoyed this one because it was rather warm during our Oregon visit and I appreciated that this wine didn’t thwonk me over the head with its oak and butter notes. It was light in every way, yet still flavorful with just enough stone fruit, butter, and wood to give it some weight.

My mother-in-law and I both loved Firesteed’s 2006 Pinot Noir from Rickreall, Oregon. Cathie had already bought the bottle sometime before we arrived and we both liked it so much that, when we were at Cost Plus, she bought another bottle. It was well-balanced with mellow wood, full of herbal and floral scents and flavors. It tasted like nature, like it belonged in the outdoors.

In interesting (stark, even) contrast to the Firesteed was the 2006 Pinot Noir from Benton-Lane Winery (really cool label). This wine was “certified sustainable and salmon safe.” It was extremely fruit-forward…in fact, it kind of blasted me with it, along with the strong scent of roses. Cathie and I just weren’t fans of this one. It lacked the earthy, soil flavor and balance that I love in a pinot. This struck me as a pinot in cab’s clothing.

Now, my question is this: was the Benton-Lane just a different pinot from the Firesteed? Or was it a bad pinot? I’m taking a guess the Benton-Lane was just not good. Like children’s literature, in wine there is a difference between quality and taste. Sure, I enjoy wines that more knowledgeable people would call poor quality (Clos du Bois, dammit), but they’re just my personal taste. Likewise, there are great quality wines that just aren’t my taste, like Merlot. The B-L was neither my taste nor was it good quality. I’m in the midst of reading Natalie MacLean’s Red, White, and Drunk All Over and she had this to say about pinot noir:

In the New World, pinot noir is sometimes brutally treated to extract maximum flavor to compete with bolder wines such as shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Grapes are left to ripen to excess on the vines, the juice is fermented for an extended period and then heavily oaked. Wines made this way taste cooked, sweet, and heavy, qualities that prompt some to mock them as ‘vinicolas’.

In my vast knowledge of wine (hahaha!), I’m guessing that is what happened with the Benton-Lane. But I don’t know either. I find wine endlessly fascinating and confusing. So much so that I’m tempted to go back to the top of this post and replace all periods at the ends of sentences with question marks. Observe:

In my vast knowledge of wine (hahaha!), I’m guessing that is what happened with the Benton-Lane?

Eat, drink, and use declarative sentences.


Natalie MacLean said...

Thanks for reading my book Laura! I'm keen to hear what you think when you're done.



Editor of Nat Decants Free Wine Newsletter

Author of Red, White and Drunk All Over

Unknown said...

Natalie, I'm thrilled you stopped by! I'm enjoying the book very much - thus far, I find it very approachable and entertaining. I'll be sure to review it on the blog when I'm finished.

There's one passage I particularly love, which I was going to quote here in the comments...but I think I'll make it its own post.

Natalie MacLean said...

Thanks Laura! would you like to e-mail me via my web site so we can also connect off-line?