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Eugene Weekly : Wine : 10.02.08




On the Brink

There’s always compost

By Lance Sparks

Looming disasters elicit all sorts of responses from folks, but Mole is special. If the little guy saw a tornado pass over a sewage pond on the way to his house, Mole’d be hoeing in his garden, hatless, probably say, “Well, we’re gonna get a lotta fresh compost.”

This morning, I rolled into our office cum wine lab, found Mole wearing a garish aloha shirt, shorts, flip-flops. Also straw hat, mirrored Varnets. He beamed me a smile, “Beautiful day, huh, Sleut’?” I glanced out the grime-streaked window: thick flannel-gray clouds, soggy mist. I shook water off my dripping fedora, draped my raincoat on the rack, said, “Lovely. Indian summer, huh?” If anything, Mole’s grin beamed brighter. Sarcasm doesn’t much register on Mole’s screens.

“Yeh! And we gots lotsa great quaff fer the peeps this month!” He bounced around the desk, spinning bottles so I could read labels, shifting piles of tasting notes, squaring up the keyboard with our new flat-screen monitor. “But first we gots t’ take care of da kids.”

He gave me the bent eye. Sweetest guy in the world — except when it comes to kids. Anybody who harms a child should hope never to cross paths with Mole, ’cause he’ll pull the person’s plug if he gets the chance. This month, he’s excited about the charity wine auction for the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Emerald Valley. He’d done-up a Mole-style flyer:

TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT! BE THERE!

Charity wine auction benefits the kids of

Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Emerald Valley!

The Broadway Bistro, 200 W. Broadway

6:30 pm Oct. 2

Great wines, many rare and collectible

Sid Voorhees calling the lots!

BRING SUM BUX AND GIVE!

Fair warning: Mole will be there, too, so don’t be a tight-butt with a buck — it’s for kids, see? Now, on to other business:

Kat and I spent a week in historic Jacksonville (yeah, Oregon), enjoyed great grub and hospitality at Jerry Evans’ Jacksonville Inn, including a benchmark dinner on the sun-warmed patio and four nights in one of the Inn’s cottages, actually sleeping in the bed where Karl Rove dozed when the Current Occupant and entourage flew in to examine the ravages of the Biscuit Fire in ’05. Bushie and Laura got the Honeymoon Cottage, of course, with the Prince of Darkness just a shout away. I’m not superstitious but I can’t deny having some really creepy dreams on that pillow.

But the main biz was Rogue Valley wines, and we plan a hefty report, later, ’cause these folks are setting up to generate serious, near-future wine-buzz. Just for instance, Don and Traute Moore (Quail Run Vineyard/South Stage Cellars) are planting hundreds of new acres between J-ville and Ashland, and they’re not alone. We swung out to Valley View Winery, one of the region’s oldest, tasted delish Valley View/Anna Maria Rogue Valley 2005 Tempranillo, plus superb viognier, one of the state’s best chardonnays. Find it: Anna Maria 2004 Chardonnay ($22), rich in fruit (pears, apples), deft touch of oak (vanilla notes), nicely balanced for food. Many of Oregon’s best winemakers (e.g., Joe Dobbes) have been making super big reds from grapes grown in the Rogue’s valleys, but local folk are rising with their own. Watch for other labels: Roxyann, Troon, Belle Vallée, Weisinger, The Academy, Long Sword, John Michael (bubblies), Schmidt Family, Cricket Hill, Wooldridge Creek, Rosella’s, Bridgeview, Applegate, Jacksonville Vineyards, Agate Ridge, Crater lake Cellars, Del Rio, Edenvale, Paschal. Some of these rarely get out of the region. You might have to visit. Aw, shucks. One consolation: There might not be a more beautiful area in Oregon for autumnal splendor — and it’s usually warmer and drier.

We’ve been raving about Rieslings for years, especially those native to the Northwest. Okay, so we often put Oregon first — so sue us — but we have to admit that our northern neighbors can get it right: Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling is just terrif and a bargain ($12), widely available. But be careful: This is not Ch. Ste. M.’s usual off-dry Riesling (which is quite drinkable, tho’ much sweeter) which wears a white label. Watch for the yellow label to get these fresh Asian pear/green apple flavors and mineral notes.

Two outstanding bottlings of pinot gris: Erath 2007 Oregon Pinot Gris ($12) is creamy without being cloying, rich in ripe pear/peach flavors, fine for sipping. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2006 Pinot Gris ($15) is stylish, polished, crystal-bright in the fruit, worth every penny.

Gifted pinot noirs: It’s not too early to think about Christmas and Uncle Jeffy, the family pinot-head; either of these wines will bring out the hoggish worst in Unc. Broadley Vineyards 2007 Estate-Sundance Barrel Selection 2007 Pinot Noir ($49.95) is silky-smooth, medium-bodied, terrific and distinctive. Capitello 2006 Succession Cuvée Pinot Noir ($70?) is deep, rich, velvety, with a long, lingering finish. Both wines are exemplary of the variety and of Oregon’s lands and waters, both made by talented wine-crafters, both in very limited supply; the Capitello, for instance, is a special cuvée of only 380 bottles and sports a unique, pressed-on pewter label, collectible in itself. Either wine would make Jeffy very, very happy.

Mole has a closing message: “Come to th’ auction tonight. Bring some love for the boys and girls. See ya there.”