A weekly roundup of my favorite things this week in the categories of wine, food, travel, and lifestyle.
Since returning to Oregon I’ve tried to immerse myself in Pacific Northwest wines, specifically on understanding the intricacies of each wine-growing region. This week I had the opportunity to spend some time focusing on two different regions located within the greater Willamette Valley – Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville AVA. This weeks Friday Favorites are dedicated to some brief photo highlights of the trip.
I can’t decide what I loved most, the wine, the scenery, or the weather.
Stag Hollow Vineyard (Yamhill, Oregon)
I loved the wines from Stag Hollow. I purchased a few that I can’t wait to try over the length of an evening (or two)… stay tuned.
Lenné (Yamhill, Oregon)
Steve Lutz, proprietor of Lenné
We spent the afternoon at Lenné Estate leading a twitter #winechat tasting on their 2010 Pinot Noir. Throughout the afternoon we spoke with proprietor Steve Lutz about the history of the vineyard, his winemaking philosophy, and tasted through several vintages of his Pinot Noir. We also got to catch an absolutely stunning sunset over the valley.
The following day we met up at Youngberg Hill Vineyards to meet with several winemakers from the McMinnville AVA, and taste examples from the region.
Not typically a huge Pinot Gris fan I was really impressed by the 2013 Pinot Gris from Coeur de Terre ($17).
Winemaker Scott Neal explains that the white wines of the region really capture great acidity, brightness, and freshness. This was definitely evident in his 2013 Pinot Gris that was crisp, fresh, citrusy, and zesty with bright acidity.
I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for more Pinot Gris from the McMinnville AVA, especially Coeur de Terre.
The Pinot Noirs of the region are characterized by dark black berry fruit, earthy tones, and intensity. The wines I tasted reflected lots of these characteristics, along with tobacco and pepper notes. The 2012 vintage specifically, was a warmer year yielding big bold wines. I was curious to see how they would taste with bolder food, so I took a few of the bottles home that night to serve with dinner. We decided to grill up a flank steak that had been marinated in soy, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, ginger, and rosemary. Not your typical Pinot Noir pairing… but we rarely play by the rules.
The savory flavors of the sauce were awesome with the earthy and dark Pinots and really brought out some savory characteristics in the wines. I especially loved the way the 2009 Maysara “Asha” Pinot Noir paired with the steak. Proof that you can go beyond the typical salmon and light dishes for Pinot. The bolder and darker examples of the varietal are great with a lean cut of beef like flank steak.
Barrel 47 Restaurant (Carlton, Oregon)
This newly opened restaurant, located in downtown Carlton, has a simple, yet specific, mission – “to provide quality food and drinks by using the freshest, local ingredients, in a relaxed friendly environment. It’s a great little pub, in a great little town.”
During our casual dinner I enjoyed some tasty fish tacos (I loved the fact that they were grilled not fried!), served in a soft blue corn tortilla, and topped with a creamy chipotle aioli. Though this is wine country the restaurant has a great little cocktail list.
I had to try a drink they call The Smokey Barrel (a smoked themed cocktail? Can you blame me?), made with bourbon and Smoked Cherries from Republic of Jam. It was fantastic and the cherries had the perfect mild smoke infusion and wasn’t overly sweet. I will definitely be attempting this cocktail at home, that’s for sure!
Though they are known more for cocktails and beer don’t pass a chance to peruse the wine list. The single page list focuses strictly on local wines (made within the Yamhill-Carlton region) at incredible prices. The wine prices are just a smidge above retail, which is unheard of at most restaurants. Owner Andy Rabung told me he simply wants people to be able to enjoy some nice local wine at affordable prices. I say start with one of their signature cocktails then move on to the wine!
Next week I’ll tell you all about the lovely B&B I stayed at in Carlton.
What’s on the agenda for your weekend? Hubby is going to be smoking a prime rib tomorrow. He must have missed the memo that Christmas is still 8 months away. Crazy man!
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