The Most Excellent Wines of the Year (In our little universe)
- Mike Willison
We thought we'd take a slightly different tact with our "Best of..." list for 2011 by looking at three totally subjective, categorical winners from the past year. They may not be the highest scoring critic's darlings, or even an uber-cool, never-heard-of ancient variety made by forensic retracing of the steps of Thomas Jefferson's cellar hand, but they were what we loved over the course of one painstakingly beautiful year of wine drinking.
The Wine We See Everyday-
- 2010 REX HILL Willamette Valley Pinot Noir- Yeah, I know I'm a bit of a stinker for choosing this one since I've had it and you haven't, but I've been so excited about this ever since we decided on the final blends and the results are absolutely delightful. It’s a perfect snapshot of the 2010 vintage, with as much distinctive character as I've seen from this varietal in many years. If you’ve ever smelled living mistletoe (don't eat it) you may recognize the earthy, bright, and tart berry nose. Classic red fruit profile with so much snappy acidity you can dance to it.
The Wine in our Neighborhood-
- 2010 J.K.Carriere Glass- You'd have to be some kind of a jerk to not absolutely adore this wine and everything that Jim Prosser & Co. do up on Parrett Mountain. It might be the best rosé this side of Domaine Tempier, at a fraction of the cost, with the added bonus of supporting one of the best people in the state of Oregon. The wine is but a whisper of salmon colored, with the faintest suggestion of fresh fruits and hazy visions of swirling summer afternoons wearing a blousy linen shirt as some glorious former version of yourself. The perfect wine for the dog days, but the ideal wine for this awful time of year, too. I mainline the stuff when I am not in my cryogenic chamber being revitalized.
The Rest of the Known Universe-
- 2009 Hirsch Grüner Veltliner Lamm- That's right. The best wine I had all of last year was an Austrian white wine. Second place was a German, and I’m not telling what it was, but Terry Theise is involved. Grüner can be too steely and laser beam, too green, too goopy, or too plain; not this bad boy. Imagine some insane minister of flavors, phenolics and esters (Mother Nature) is on her meds and they are actually working. What a delight! The only regret I have is that I drank it too soon, most likely. Maybe a repeat for 2012.
- Carrie Kalscheuer
2011 was a year of domestic touring and tasting. I was out and about on the west side of our fair country like never before. Therefore, I'm going to focus on those wines that grabbed my attention not just because of what came out of the bottle, but also because of my personal experience with them and the steps that led to their production. Sorry, Italy. You know I love you. But this year belonged to the good 'ole U.S.A.
- In House Pick: 2009 REX HILL Roserock Pinot Noir
I have the great fortune of working for one of my favorite wineries in the world. I can, and do, wax poetic about almost every bottle we produce. Narrowing my selection down to just one isn't something I can easily do, so to say that this bottle got my top pick is akin to a mother choosing a favorite of her children. It's just wrong. But this was the one wine we made this year that didn’t just make me wax poetic, but made me step back, take a deep breath, and be ever-so-grateful for my employee discount.
- In the 'Hood: 2008 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir
I’m not alone in thinking that Evening Land is doing some exciting things these days. Our friends down the road have gotten some excellent acclaim as of late – and for very good reason. Their 2008 Seven Springs is elegant, focused and fresh.
- The World At Large: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs
This was a very difficult choice. I've had a prodigious amount of fantastic wines this year (it’s a dirty job, but you know what they say…). Beating out the likes of Chappelet Cabernet Sauvignon, Darioush Viognier, Littorai Chardonnay and Failla Pinot Noir is no easy feat. Several factors contributed to my choice: the company with whom I opened the bottle, the hard-won accomplishments to which we toasted, and the perfect combination of yeasty, toasty, fine-moussed goodness that is Schramsberg's Blanc de Noirs. I want more. Now.