Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's A Miracle!

Okay, maybe it's a miracle. But after a cold and wet spring and a coolish summer, the rains of early October didn't bode well for the wine grape crop here in the ol' Willamette. Dammit.

But look what is apparently on the way! It's actually been updated since this graphic was put up and the predictions are for a couple of degrees warmer next week. Perhaps all my good friends in the wine making and wine growing businesses will be saved. I hope so.

Fingers crossed, kids!

EDIT: Apparently I've posted a dynamic link, so the forecast you're looking at is the current forecast, not the original forecast for October. Sorry. I should have taken a screen capture.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Sad Day

It's with great sadness that I acknowledge the death of Steve Jobs in this space. I really have nothing further to say except to quote Steve when he was trying to recruit John Sculley from PepsiCo. "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

Rest in peace, Steve.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs - An Early Look

Over the last week, I've had the pleasure to taste 13 different 2010 pinot noirs from the Willamette Valley, either bottled wines or final blends. I'll spare everyone the play-by-play, which I find boring, in favor of an overall impression.

The wines tasted were as follows:

GC Commuter Cuvee
Ayres Willamette Valley
Seven of Hearts Willamette Valley
Seven of Hearts Lia's Vineyard
Seven of Hearts Armstrong Vineyard
Seven of Hearts Special Reserve
Luminous Hills Lux
Vincent Willamette Valley
Vincent Ribbon Ridge
Vincent Zenith Vineyard
Vincent Armstrong Vineyard
Helioterra Willamette Valley
Helioterra Vintner's Select

Across the board, the wines are a hair short of stunning. The vintage is a sort of 2008 restrained. Everything, from aromas to balance to flavors to balance, is perfect. They're only lacking the 2008s' ethereal and soaring aromas and sappy fruit. The Vincent and Helioterra wines are quite nice. The Seven of Hearts and Luminous Hills wines [i]are[/i] stunning. The Grochau and Ayres exhibit a cola component and a touch of sour cherry that I personally find a bit troubling, but it's not overwhelming. Tannins are fine but substantial.

In the long run, there's a chance they will actually be better than the 2008s, but that requires a Ouija board more accurate than mine.

Back up the truck.

PS - If you like restrained, French-ish chardonnay, buy the 2010 Seven of Hearts. It's not bottled yet, but when I tasted it I shouted to the empty room, "WINNER!".

Disclosure: I work part time for Seven of Hearts/Luminous Hills, but Byron knows I'll call crap wines crap if it comes to that and that I don't hand out accolades willy-nilly. The wines are that good.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grrrrrr . . . The Oregon Liquor Control Commission "Sting"

So . . . two women walk into a wine tasting room. I know, it sounds like I'm starting a bad joke, but stay with me. This is not a fabricated story, it's the sad and awful truth. It happened just Friday.

One of the women is older, the other is younger and talking on her cell phone the entire time. The older one approaches the bar, greets the server and responds, "Yes," to the server's question about whether they're both tasting. The younger one is across the room with her face obscured by the phone. She looks a little young but the server doesn't want to interrupt her conversation to ask for ID because it would be rude - leaving aside how rude it is to walk into a wine tasting room while yapping on your telephone to begin with, of course.

I think you may have an inkling of where this is going given the title of this post, so let's go there together.

The server pours the requisite ounce of wine into each of two glasses which remain sitting on the bar, untouched. Just then, the younger woman removes the phone from her face and turns toward the bar. The now-horrified server comes to the sudden realization that, not only is the customer probably underage and absolutely needs to be carded, but that she may have just been "stung" by the OLCC.

Sure enough. The older woman identifies herself as being from the OLCC, demands to see the server's permit to pour alcohol (which she's fully entitled to do) and announces that the server has violated the law by serving a minor. Then the police officer they'd dragged along enters the room from the street to issue a citation. An extended (and probably heated I'd think) discussion then ensues involving the quite smug and haughty people from the OLCC, the server and the winery owner. After what was apparently some extended wrangling, the end result is that the untouched glass doesn't matter and the server is appearing in court next week.

What an incredible crock of shit. I'm sorry, but there's simply no other way to describe this that conveys my sense of outrage at a scheme that is completely driven by entrapment. I learned years ago that if a police officer drives 80 miles an hour on the freeway and you're following, matching his speed, it's entrapment if he then tickets you for speeding. It's the same thing with police officers posing as hookers. The "customer" has to make the first mention of money for sex. Well, how is this any different?

The OLCC deliberately brought a minor into a room where the only thing served is alcohol. It's really classy alcohol, but alcohol nonetheless. Her role, as obviously scripted by a public enforcement and oversight agency we're supposed to trust, is to obscure her face as much as possible until the magic moment when the wine is poured. The "money shot" if you will. She NEVER speaks to the server and the only person who does is a legal drinker and SHE is the one who says they're both tasting. This is deceptive and it's underhanded. It's devious and sneaky beyond belief and it's absolutely shameful that this server was set up so blatantly.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been entrusted to watch out for the public's welfare in matters related to alcohol, not concoct fairly elaborate schemes in which upstanding people will be tricked into technical violations of the law. Go do something important, people.