Friday, October 2, 2009

Back on the Wine Road Again

Okay, I’ve taken an ever-so-slight detour from tasting room reviews to discuss the unexpected project consequences on my life, but I’m back on track now and ready to report. Hope you can forgive my self-indulgence.

After leaving Daedalus Cellars, with a greater sense of peace (Namaste Christine) and a 2006 Pinot Noir (partly because I just love their gorgeous label by designer Chris Noud of NowDesign), my inner calm was quickly evaporating and my patience tried by the bumper-to-bumper traffic along Highway 99 through Dundee. While attempting to make a left turn during rush hour, waiting for some kind soul to let me in, it occurred to me that perhaps Daedalus’ should capitalize on the traffic; providing respite to weary-eyed drivers, tired of riding their brake through town. Doesn’t a glass of Pinot sound so much better?

With that thought in mind, after finally making my way in to traffic, I quickly veered back out again and directly into Argyle’s tasting room.  Earlier in the day, while at Archery Summit, I was chatting with this California girl (with great shoes) about where she had been and what she had liked. She was looking for some recommendations on where to go next and I was trying to figure out what she liked, so I wouldn’t steer her wrong. She told me she didn’t enjoy Argyle—thought the wines were way overpriced for what they were (this coming from someone who was paying Archery Summit prices). I was surprised and expressed my opinion that they must have been sold out of some of their best wines or perhaps it was just an off day. I’d visited before and always enjoyed the experience. Indeed, some of the wines are a bit spendy, but they do something called Extended Tirage; a bubbly blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, bottle-aged for 10 years sur lees, and at $50, is actually a terrific value (easily, compared to a Dom Perignon—which it does).

Argyle’s tasting room is located in a classic white Victorian mansion with wrap-around deck and gardens straight out of a magazine. When I stepped inside, it occurred to me that many others had the same brilliant idea to try and let the traffic die down a bit, as a spot at the bar was not to be found. I patiently waited for some space to free up and finally getting to taste, found I wasn’t feeling completely blown away either. The service was extremely impersonal (though they were really busy) and the wines, though good were indeed a chunk of change, perhaps even “overpriced” to quote my California girl (except that Extended Tirage!!). I do know that I have loved these wines in the past (especially the Blanc de Blanc), so I think it was just a matter of my personal experience souring my taste… shame.

Preferring to fight traffic on the road instead of traffic at the bar (believe it or not), I left Argyle feeling not quite as satisfied as in visits past. While waiting again for an opening in the long line of cars, I concluded that perhaps my Argyle visits have always been good because they were always the first stop of the day, the tasting room was always quiet and the bubbles were a fun way to open the day and your palate. Sometimes timing is everything.

Back on the road, I chose to round out my downtown Dundee excursion with a visit to Dobbes Family Estate (DFE). Dobbes tasting room had a very interesting feel. From the outside, it looked like a little country club café; and from the inside, it looked like a treehouse you’d find in Swiss Family Robinson. With a giant cedar tree growing through the center, the cedar-line walls and ceiling lights cleverly mimicking skylights lent a very relaxed and a comfortable feel. Orion was behind the bar, pouring both his knowledge of the wine and some of the wittiest banter I’d heard yet that day. He’s the kind of guy you want pouring your wine, he’s completely unintimidating yet very well educated on his product, he was attentive and funny—I was impressed (not an easy feat). As he provided personal tableside service to a group sitting outside, he officially called “Dobbes Happy Hour” (as the tasting room is open an hour past most other tasting rooms, until 6:00pm) and within seconds, the previously quiet bar was steadily humming along—Orion having no problem juggling the growing crowd.

Joe Dobbes (who also makes the more affordable Wine By Joe) is a veteran winemaker, with over 21 vintages in the Willamette Valley. He makes a crisp and clean Pinot Gris, an exotic and full-bodied Viogner from the Rogue Valley, several Pinot Noir cuvees (blends) as well as several single-vineyard Pinots, of which I particularly enjoyed the DFE Nuestro Sueno Vineyard Pinot Noir; packed with structure and concentrated aromas of black fruit (plum, blackberry, blueberry…), anise and loam, this wine was drinking very well and would only benefit from additional cellaring.

While Orion shrewdly remarked on how gas and wine are the two most expensive liquids in the world (a tidbit I’ve yet to confirm as fact), I realized both were depleting my already-drained back account, so I said my goodbyes and I took off headed for home feeling success in a good day’s work tasting wine and touring wineries. Next stop, Carlton—this time I’m going for sure! Until we sip again…



6512 and growing said...

You *do* have an pricey obsession there girl, but my friend Tamara never did like to skimp.
ps: I liked hearing about the "unexpected project consequences" on your life. Glimpses into your life are always welcome.

Tamara Belgard said...

Thanks Rach! Other unintended outcomes: New friends - AWESOME! Rapidly growing wine collection - AWESOME! Dwindling bank account from fore-mentioned wine and gas - not quite so awesome.