Baron-Wahl - They were tasting a vertical of the Pinot Noir from 06, 07, and 08. The 06 had a big warm nose and a thick mouth feel. Vines were still somewhat young. The 07 had a huge nose and was smoky with a long finish. Slightly bitter and dilute. The 08 was light and fruity with no smoke on the finish.
Cliff Creek has been a favorite for a few years, but we came away from this tasting somewhat disappointed. The 07 Red Red Wine tasted pretty much like grape juice, almost candy-like. The 06 Merlot was slightly bitter and thin, and the 06 Cab Sauv lacked sufficient fruit. Fortunately the 04 Claret was still pretty interesting, although a bit tannic. The 05 Syrah was not too fruity and had almost a burned taste. What was going on? Wrong glass shape? Maybe our trip to Washington spoiled us for southern Oregon reds? We'll certainly give them another chance, but we were disappointed.
Joe Dobbes was tasting wines from both his labels, starting with his 09 Wine By Joe Rosé - not too sweet, not too bitter, very nice. The 07 Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir was nice and light but fairly plain. The 06 Griffin Cuveé Pinot Noir was interesting with a lot going on and a long finish. The 06 Nuestro Sueno Pinot was very smokey and earthy, well made and balanced, but not much going on. Their late harvest Viognier was good but slightly flabby. Not too sweet however.
Elstrom was a back again this year and was pouring their 07 Pinot Gris which was delightfully crisp, like biting into an apple. The 08 Pinot Gris had good flavor but not enough acid. The 05 Pinot Noir that we liked last year was still good with earthy fruit and somewhat restrained. The 07 Pinot Noir was very good with earthy fruit, but more of it than the 05. The 06 Pinot Noir was boring and forgettable.
Fox Farm - We had a nice conversation with the Fox Farm owner who has recently opened a tasting room in Newberg for small wineries that were too small for their own tasting room including some of our favorites. They were tasting their 09 Pinot Blanc which was nice but not enough acid. The 08 Pinot Noir was light and smooth with nice fruit. The 07 Syrah was somewhat restrained with good fruit. The 09 Pinot Gris was very floral and almost had a Riesling nose. Not enough acid.
South Stage was a winery that we hadn't tasted before from further south in Oregon. Their 08 Chardonnay was nice and crisp, lightly oaked. The 08 Viognier was crisp and spicy. The 07 Alchemy was a blend of Tempranillo, Carmenere and Cab Sauv. It was OK but a little light. Their 08 Sauv Blanc/Semillon sweet blend was just too sweet and syrupy.
Quailhurst - We had visited them over Labor Day weekend last year and certainly enjoyed their beautiful horse arena and barns as well as their food. I recall the wine being just OK, which as confirmed today. Their 06 Virtuoso as an interesting white blend of 6 grapes - nutty with decent acid. Their 03 Pinot Noir was old and hot without much fruit left. The 06 Pinot Noir tasted like rotten meat. Seriously, although it may have just been a bad bottle. The 08 Pinot Noir was fine, light with strawberry notes.
Vitae Springs was also a winery that I don't believe we've tasted before. They had a self-made 08 Riesling that was nice and bright with good acid. Their 06 Pinot Noir was deep with dark fruits and good balance. The 07 Pinot Noir was good but very light, almost watery.
Youngberg Hill was there again, and we'd also tasted their very good Pinot Noir at McMinnville recently. The 07 Natasha Pinot Noir was good, but we'd just had salami that didn't work well with the wine. The 07 Jordan was very nice - earthy with dark fruits. The 08 Jordan barrel sample had good fruit and smooth tannins.
Another excellent event at Dobbes with lots of good Pinot Noir. I think our trip to Washington may have made us a little pickier about warm climate reds from Southern Oregon, we'll have to see. I definitely need to give Cliff Creek another try. Maybe a day in Carlton soon...