Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Aged Pinots from the Same Vineyard

2005 is maybe my favorite Oregon vintage ever.  Ripe, plump fruit and good acidity led to good body and great balance.  I still have a number of bottles from Elk Cove and wanted to experiment to see how they're progressing.
Belonging to the Roosevelt Club, Elk Cove's mailing list, allowed me access to vineyards and bottlings not generally available in the marketplace.  Patton Valley Vineyard was news to me.  Interestingly, I managed to find - while living in Portland - Patton Valley Vineyard 2005 Estate Bottled as well.  So, on a recent poker night the two were opened.
Both are located in Gaston, OR. a region I find produces bigger, darker, riper styles of pinot than much of the rest of the Willamette Valley.  The Patton Valley Vineyard is NW of Gaston and NNE of Elk Cove.  The vineyard sits between 400 and 500 feet and has good exposure.
The Patton Valley Estate showed ripe fruit and immediate accessibility but also showed hints of some slightly tired fruit right away as well.  It was a bit clumsy but thoroughly enjoyable.  In fact, it outshone the Elk Cove for about an hour.  This wine sat, mute, in the glasses, tight as a drum.  After the hour open though, the Elk Cove spread its wings and soared with ripe, red fruit mingling with hints of mushroom and leather and a much more complex palate feel.
Neither bottle had any wine left after a few hours but the Elk Cove emptied first.  As I recall it was about $5 more expensive than the Patton Valley Estate but the difference in the wine was well worth it.
I will happily explore more Patton Valley wines when the opportunity arises.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Different Approaches

Years of work in the wine business taught me that people are like snowflakes.  Some are just plain flakes, but no two palates are alike.  Rarely does a reminder of this difference present itself so immediately as a page from a magazine I saw recently.  
Louisville Magazine's February issue has some feedback from staffers responding to a classic question: "What is your idea of the perfect meal paired with the perfect wine?"  Responses hit just about every angle.
The Predictable: "...a medium-rare filet mignon...with a glass of Cab."
The Laissez Faire: "...whatever somebody else chose for me.  The deciding is the hardest part."
The Foodie: "I'm thinking about a big bowl of crab chowder with bacon, potato, corn, celery and onion pieces and loads of lump crab, alongside an iceberg-lettuce wedge with blue-cheese dressing and a frisky Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc."
The Unusual: "I would have to say a Tempranillo with blue cheese and truffle honey."
The Independent: "Some wine snobs may say my favorite meal, filet mignon, and my favorite wine, Sonoma Cutrer's Russian River Valley Chardonnay, do not pair well. To them, I say, au contraire."
[Note: this wine geek - I endeavor to not be a snob - finds that pairing to be horrific...but, the contributor and I agree about the approach, drink what you love.]
and, my favorite, The Hilarious: "At this one party in college, in a frat house basement, I remember a group of ladies drinking Franzia.  I can't recall the vintage but do remember they'd ripped open the box and removed the five liter plastic bladder of Chardonnay.  They drank directly from the spigot.  They called this game 'slap the bag.' I tried some.  Still don't have any pairing suggestions. Condoms?"
Vive le différence!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pasanella & Son

I have been quiet here lately.  Superbowl sandwiched between two weekends of Mardi Gras festivities will tend to do that : little time or inclination, less reading and not much in the way of great wine consumed.
My brother and his wife finally got out of their previous lease and moved into a new place in Jersey City recently and it reminded me of the Sandy disaster that seems so long ago to those of us not surrounded by the continuing struggle.  I was also reminded that I never wrote about my visit.
I was in New York City shortly after the storm devastated the area for a birthday weekend and decided to make a trip to South Street Seaport to support Pasanella & Son.  Having recently read Marco's entertaining book, Uncorked (look for a review here soon), and seeing that their website announced being open for business despite suffering extensive flooding, by brother and I headed out on an adventure.
The area was indeed a mess, complete with moldy smells all too reminiscent of Katrina for me, but Pasanella was indeed open.  They seemed surprised to have visitors though and were only offering the three wines they make in Italy.  Although I was a bit disappointed to not be able to wander the shelves and explore, I bought one of each and they encouraged a return in a few days when they expected to be fully operational.  
All the wines are organic and sourced from Maremma in Tuscany.  Here are my reviews:
The Bianca was a 2011 made from 100% vermentino.  Citrus, floral notes with an almost lemon curd feel but crisper and lighter than that implies.  It was tactile, juicy and featured an impression of sweetness due to mouthwatering acidity.  Impressive, I would buy lots of this!
Rosato 2011 displayed strawberry and was a bit simple on the palate but with blazing acidity.  I found it nearly too much and I love acid in wines.  This only meant an adjustment: don't drink this at the pool, drink this with food.  We had steak that night and it paired brilliantly.
Rosso 2010 is 100% sangiovese and had loads of the dry cherry style expected, but so rarely delivered at a reasonable price! Medium weight, cherry middle and dry but not tough.  Hallelujah!
For just under $120/case these wines are a steal.  The Rosato appears to be sold out but the others are in stock and available. Pasanella wines (I have not tried the sparkling wine yet)
Thanks to Pasanella & Son, can't wait to visit under normal conditions...although now you will have a harder time talking me out of your "house wine."