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Wine at Willamette

Jim Colby, Willamette Wine Steward, has a simple life philosophy, “I surround myself with good wine and good people.” From customers to wine producers, Jim spends his days celebrating all that is wine. Readers can find his opinionated take on wine, beer and coffee here.



drcOne great thing about Market of Choice, and the Beer and Wine department, is the commitment to furthering the education and experience of our stewards. A couple of weeks ago, some co-workers and I had the opportunity to visit a coalition of wineries that included some of the best wine producers from the Willamette valley. This group is called the Deep Roots Coalition (or DRC).

The overriding purpose of this group is to greatly increase the awareness that, with few exceptions, irrigation for vines has a largely negative impact on the quality of the wine. In the 1970s, a lot of producers in California began what was then the rare practice of irrigating their vines. This seemed like a great idea, getting more juice from the same plants. Another perceived advantage was that growers could use previously arid, unsuitable land to grow vines. Followers and fans of great wine know that this is not how you choose land to plant vines. The French concept of terrior tells us that if a particular vine is not suited to the land, it should not be planted there. This idea also extends into the weather of the area. Each wine should be a representation of that piece of land, including the weather that occurs during the growing season.

The historic principle of terrior is circumvented with irrigation. A number of negative things happen. The root structure itself stays at the surface with the water, preventing the vine from developing through the different sub soils that give wine its depth and character. Vines can and do grow as deep into the soil as 35-40 feet when the roots are not irrigated. With irrigation the berries are larger and the ratio of juice to skin rises. This increases the sugar in the grape, which in turn boosts the alcohol content, and can result in a “hot” wine. These are just some of the examples that you can learn more about by researching dry-farmed wines on the Internet.

Positive attributes of the movement to non-irrigated vines are evident from all of the producers that are carried at Market of Choice: Evesham Wood Vineyards, Brickhouse, Eyrie Vineyards, and Cameron Winery are just some of the highly regarded wines that are available now. Any time you are looking for something new, or just have a question that’s been on your mind about wine, don’t be afraid to ask. Market of Choice always strives to have knowledgeable and helpful Wine Stewards to assist you on your next wine adventure

grapes123I’m excited and looking forward to March 15 and our first Festa Piemontese Wine and Culinary Festival. Joining us from Italy:

•    Carlo Deltetto Jr. from Azienda Agricola Deltetto, pouring Roero Arneis 2012, Barbera d’Asti Brame 2011, and Roero Riserva Braja 2009. http://www.deltetto.com/

•    Sandro Barosi from Cascina Corte pouring Dolcetto di Dogliani Vigna Pirochetta 2009, Langhe Nebbiolo 2009, and Barnedol Rosso Vino da Tavola. http://cascinacorte.it/

•    Loredana Addari and Nicola Argamante from Ruggeri Corsini pouring Langhe Bianca 2011, Barbera d’Alba Superiore Armujan 2010, and Barolo San Pietro 2008. http://www.ruggericorsini.com;

•    Paolo Grasso and Valentina Grasso from Ca’ del Baio pouring Moscato d’Asti 2012, Langhe Nebbiolo 2011, and Barbaresco Valgrande 2009. 

vinesinsunDrop by from 4:30 to 7:30 pm for answers to your questions about the wines and winemaking, the terroir, the climate and the inhabitants of this beautiful area in Italy.

Chef Anna Marlin from Italy will also be on hand to talk about the regional cuisine and offer samples.

Many of you will recall our previous Spanish events. The crowds were incredible. So get here early and join in the fun!

Ken wright photos 004Every year, I pay a visit to Ken Wright Cellars to taste the new vintage from the barrel. On my visit this year we tasted through five barrels. When tasting en cuve, one must bear in mind that the wines are young, many times not done with malo, and have not been racked or fined.

Freedom Hill: Light, lively, pie cherry. Hints of scone. Overall, I found this to be somewhat mono-dimensional for this vineyard. Further development should occur after racking and bottling.

Guadalupe Vineyard: Very light body, hints of bell pepper were somewhat obscuring the cherry and deep fruit characteristic of this vineyard. Somewhat awkward (to be expected at this stage) with little integration of fruit and or other characteristics.

Canary Hill Vineyard: Showing very well, despite obvious malo. Medium purple, lush cherry pie fruit with very good, dusty tannins and hints of pie crust. Very nice length.

Carter: Dark purple, cherry kirsch liquor and subtle notes of cinnamon and tangerine. Good weight and length.

Savoya: My favorite. Very good development at this stage. Integrated kirsch, blood orange, and pie crust notes with gravelly tannins and very nice length. Showing some power at the end, this should develop added complexity after racking and bottling.

Also tasted:
2011 Pinot Blanc: Linear, solid mineral underpinning to green apple fruit with crispness and snap in the finish.

2010 Celilo Chardonnay: Always one of my favorites, the 2010 is unquestionably one of the best Chardonnay sites in Washington State. Beautiful nose with nuts and apples; medium body with pinpoint focus on the integration of fruit, nuts, and chalky tannins that coat the inside of the mouth and provide length at the end.

Another wonderful white from the south in France just landed. Domaine Delsol Picpoul de Pinet 2011 is deliciously detailed with pinpoint lemon and meringue framed by bone dry acidity. Any good shellfish with this will elevate the flavors to an exquisite level. 9.99/750ml.

Just inland and to the north, the eponymous limestone Pic rises above the hermitage of Pic Saint Loup. The brothers Ravaille (Xavier, Jean-Marc and Pierre) farm 20ha. of higher altitude vineyards with vines from 30 to 40 years old, planted on red clay. The Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup Tour de Pierres 2010 is made from 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mouvèdre. Natural fermentation, 12 months aging in foudres and barriques.  Inky purple in the glass. Intense aromas of lavender, smoke and berry. Chewy, powerful tannins overlain with notes of oregano, black olive, leather and roast beef flavors. Very long on the finish. 17.99/750ml.

From vineyards planted on 12ha. located in Castello Faletto, Piemonte, Monchiero Dolcetto d’Alba 2010 is ruby red in the glass, fresh and lively with berry and lightly tart at the end. 9.29/750ml. The winery and vineyards were established in 1950 by two growers, the brothers Reno and Maggiorino, who became dissatisfied with just growing and decided to make wine as well.

Les Vignerons du Quercy is a co-op located in the district of Quercy in SW France. The 33 growers farm 135ha. in the AOC Coteaux du Quercy. The wines from this AOC are not predominantly Malbec, as they are in the better-known Cahors AOC (located within the larger district). Les Hauts Lastaur Coteaux du Quercy 2009 is made from 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Malbec, 20% Gamay, and 10% Merlot. Vines are grown in argilo calcaire soils. Earthy, hints of lavender, black truffle, loads of cranberries, and stony length. 10.79/750ml.

Stay tuned for our Festa Piedmontese event, happening at your Willamette Market Friday, March 15. Winemakers from Azienda Agricola Deltetto, Poderi Ruggieri Corsini, Cascina Corte, and Cà del Baio will be present to pour wine and talk about their work. A master chef from the area will also be on hand  to prepare and serve regional cuisine.

Can it get much better? You bet! 15% discount on unmixed wine cases of 12/750ml. and 10% on mixed cases. To place orders or for inquiries, please call 541-338-8455, 541-510-1616, or contact me at jimc@marketofchoice.com.

Our tasting schedule this week:

Friday, Feb. 15, 4-7 pm – Fire Mountain Brewery.
Saturday, Feb. 16, 5-7 pm –  Viña Cartín Albariño 2011, Fanti Sassomagno Sant’Antimo Rosso 2010
Picpoul de Pinet is a widely planted varietal in the south of France, especially along the Mediterranean littoral. I’ve been working with the Cave de Pomerols Picpoul since my visit to the winery in January of 2006. There, over platters groaning with mounds of live, squirmy oysters, I fell in love with this limpid, green wine showing lemon highlights in the mouth and dry, mineral driven acidity underneath. The grapes ripen in loose, large round bunches with a tendency to drop overripe fruit.

Caves Coopérative is a large co-op in the Pomerols commune. It sources from 1200 ha. of vineyard lands between Mont St. Clair and the sea. Soils are mainly clay/calcareous. A few hours of skin maceration followed by pneumatic pressing and draining. Vinification in stainless steel with temperature control and double decanting. Enjoy with fresh shellfish and light seafood!

11.49/750ml at your Willamette Market and featured on the Today Show!


Welcome to the New Year; I’m confident it will be the best yet!

I’ve always liked the wines of the Savoie, and the mountains poking awesomely skyward. The two combined make interesting reading. In 1851, an Englishman, Albert Smith, made an ascent of Mont Blanc, albeit, mountain climbing was a bit different back then. Smith found it necessary to bring along 60 bottles of Vin Ordinaire, six bottles of Bordeaux, ten bottles of something called St. George (Nuits St. Georges?), 15 bottles of St. Jean (Chateau La Fleur St. Jean, between Petrus and La Fleur, in Pomerol?), three bottles of Cognac and two bottles of Champagne.

It’s amazing they made it to the top. Mr. Smith capitalized on his exploit by staging a huge show in London that included a diorama, St. Bernard dog, and a clutch of live chamois (goat-antelope) that caused some consternation when they used the parquetry floors as a bathroom.

Well, you don’t have to travel to Chamonix to experience alpine fever. You can get a taste of the alpine romance – dare I say sublime romance – right here on Willamette Street, chamois not included. White wines from Savoie are crisp, minerally, sometimes with notes of lemon and hazelnut. Usually low in alcohol: 11-11.5% is not uncommon for the whites.

Domaine de la Rosièr Jongieux 2011 is a fine example. Made from Jacquère grapes grown on vineyards planted around Lac du Bourget. 11.49/750ml.

Further north, and across the border in Switzerland, Chateau d’Auvernier Neuchatel Blanc 2010 represents a step up in quality, showing more intense and interesting flavors that develop as the wine breathes: on attack it coats the palate showing lime notes interspersed with baked scone flavors, subtly blended. Made from 100% Chasselas Fendant Roux, a varietal brought to Switzerland from the Middle East by returning Crusaders. 20.99/750ml.

Jean Perrier and Fils has been making wine in St. André les Marches since 1853 when Catherine Perrier started growing vines on the slopes of Mont Granier. Jean Perrier et Fils Savoie 2010 Mondeuse Cuvèe Gastronomie is made from Mondeuse grapes grown in Chignin, Francin and Jongieux on Argilo-Calcaire soils with a SE exposure. Manual harvest, pneumatic press and heat-regulated fermentation. Deep blue tending to purple in the glass. Blueberry, blackberry and hints of pepper with a fine initial attack and a medium finish. $16.79/750ml.

In the beer cellar this week

Drakes Jolly Roger Barleywine 2012, San Leandro, California. 7.99/220z. +dep.

Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River, Oregon. Yeah! Skiing Hood was never so good – all flavors! 3.99/500ml. except FaLaLa Winter at 4.99/500ml. +dep.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ales: English Barleywine Style. 2009 Sherry Cask and 2011 Calvados Cask Ale. Rated 91 (Exceptional) Beer Advocate. 9.69/9.3oz.

Our tasting schedule

• Saturday Jan 19, 4-6 pm – Blue Dog Mead

• Friday, Jan 25, 5-7 pm – Sierra Nevada Brewery

• Saturday, Jan 26, 12-3 pm – Full Sail Brewery

Wine case discount of 15% on 12/750ml. unmixed and 10% on 12/750ml. mixed. To place orders call 541-510-1616, 541-338-8455, or order at jimc@marketofchoice.com.
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