Conjure some lip-smacking delights
by Lance Sparks
Every spring here comes as a shock and a reminder: We live in a slice of Eden. Sure, we’ve got our share of Tea Baggers, Mad Hatters and wingnuts, racists and land-rapers, assorted crooks and crazies. But this little corner of America, this soggy wedge of the Northwest, is (still, despite our worst efforts) so beautiful it almost, some days, hurts the eyes. I don’t want this to get out beyond our borders, I’m not going to post it on my blog or paste it on a chat-wall, but here we are, first week of March, and plum trees are blushing pink, alders and filberts have flushed that piercing chartreuse, and rhodies are rioting. Hyacinths, jasmine and daphne perfume the mist-sweetened air; walking through some parts of the garden can be intoxicating, like sneaking through the dressing room of a seraglio. For no good reason, the sun today rose into a clear, baby-blanket-blue sky, not a cloud in sight, just a light breeze stirring the scent and stunning the senses.
Thoughts naturally turn to food and wine, right? OK, maybe other activities, too, but those definitely supplemented by good grub and grape. And since our luck seems to be running on something like the Prime Roll, we can gleefully note that our local grape-growers and wine-minders have shelved our markets with taste treasures, many of which can be found almost nowhere else. I mean, some of the yummiest Oregon wines are produced in such minute quantities that they just don’t get out of our valleys and almost completely escape the notice of the global wine press which focuses the attention and shapes the buying patterns of wine-seekers in mass markets like, say, Noo Yawk.
Cases in point: Oregon now has about 400 wineries, with more coming (some going) many of which are mom-and-pop jobs with just enough production to stave off starvation (OK, slight exaggeration). One such, and one of our favorites, is Lumos Wine Company in bustling Wren, some miles east of Corvallis, a mom-and-pop-kids-and-goats enterprise that turns out some lip-smackin’ wines, organically grown, salmon-safe, a few hundred cases per vintage. Mom is PK McCoy. Pop is Dai Crisp (his real name, far as we know). See the kids and goats, vines and slopes at lumoswine.com. Find the wines in good stores. Find Lumos 2008 Pinot Gris ($17), creamy mouthful of pears and citrus, some peachy notes (700-plus cases). Still available, Lumos 2006 Pinot Noir Temperance Hill ($32) is round and ripe, with dark-fruit flavors, stylish and a bit sassy, dash of spice (500-plus cases). Oregonians should just hog these wines.
Cooper Mountain 2007 Pinot Gris 20th Anniversary Reserve ($11) is just lovely, crisp and clean, with pear/apple flavors, an incredible bargain. And these guys have been organic for decades and are now certified Biodynamic (organic to the Nth power).
Yearning for Big Red? J. Christopher 2008 Syrah Columbia Gorge ($15) delivers dark fruits with meaty notes, is full-bodied and mouth-filling, with lingering finish, impossible to beat at this price.
We’re still in Paradise but rapidly paving the perfection and screwing up the garden, so let’s enjoy while we can. Carpe diem, neighbors.