Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Vintages Rolling Out Of Area Wineries

Hooray! We are now in one of my very favorite times of the year. The bulbs are breaking through the soil. The days guarantee sunshine broken every few moments by torrential rains or even wet snow. Everything is just on the edge of coming out of winter hibernation. Most important to me is that the region’s wineries are releasing their new vintages and retiring the old ones.

At Terra Blanca, Keith & Renee Pilgrim just held their annual Onyx release weekend. If you haven’t ever attended this annual gala, I can truly tell you that you are missing out. Keith & Renee pull out all of the stops, sharing their wine with the public. This includes even their special library wines at unbelievable prices.

My wife and I had a wonderful time at the winery’s Onyx dinner. The entire meal, catered by Leo’s Blue Moon, was entirely paired with red wines, which I considered brilliant!

I was very impressed with the 2005 Onyx. Keith makes every other vintage immediately drinkable, opposed to a vintage that must lay down a few years. This year’s Onyx is a little tight in the bottle, but with a little swirling of the glass opened up beautifully with plenty of stone fruit and spice, slight tones of lavender, leather, and a wonderful balance of tannin.

Charlie Hoppes has also released his newest vintage of Fidelitas M100 and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. I ran into Charlie the other night at a tasting, and enjoyed several wines from his portfolio from his Semillon to his 2004 Malbec.

The 2007 Fidelitas M100 is named after Hoppe’s Grandmother Mary who was honored with the label on her 100th birthday a few years ago. Mary’s name lives on with this amazing Bordeaux blend. Filled with beautiful, jammy plum and dark fruit flavors, laced lightly with cedar and smoke. This new vintage is every bit as drinkable as it is affordable.

The Fidelitas 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is another of Hoppe’s amazingly artistic treats. His steadfast dedication to Bordeaux wines is clearly evident by the way he continues to make really good Cab. Like the 2005, I was impressed with the flavors of black cherry, blackberries, and licorice. It has a long, lingering finish with a beautiful balance of fruit and tannin.

Fidelitas 2006 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon fills the nose with blackberries and herbs. This dark, rich wine shows all of the best of the LaTour and Windrow vineyards that the grapes were sourced from. I especially enjoyed the long finish and silky mouthfeel.

The great thing about both of these wineries and their wines is that they are readily available throughout Eastern Oregon. You can find any of these vintages at local wine shops and establishments.

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