Elk Cove Riesling
Making good on my “threat” to write about wine – because it does seem like a good idea, and has become a hobby for us. (Maybe that’s part of the blogging reluctance for me – not talking about a thing that we’ve been spending a fair bit of time and money on recently.) One thing we’ve been doing for the last several years is focusing on local wines; when we were in the Netherlands we tried to stick to buying European wines, on the theory that we’d have a much smaller selection of them at higher prices once we returned to the US. Since we got to Oregon, we’ve been focusing on Oregon state wines, and some from Washington as well.

We currently belong to three, no, four wine clubs:

  • Abacela is in southern Oregon and specializes in Spanish-style wines – Tempranillo is their flagship, though they also produce Merlot, Malbec, Dolcetto, Albarino and others. We’re not in general fond of their white wines but their reds are very much to our taste. It’s too far for a day trip, but we like to stop there on the way down when we visit Ted’s parents – otherwise we just have them ship the wines.
  • Montinore and Ardiri are local to us, half an hour or so away, and like most of our local places they specialize in Pinot Noir. Montinore’s wine has been really good (including some of their whites) and they’ve had a bunch of interesting events, like an annual crawfish boil and a blend-your-own-wine Valentine’s Day event. We haven’t liked Ardiri’s wines quite as much recently as we did when we were first going there, but they’re still decent and it’s a wonderful place to go hang out and have a picnic.
  • Gran Moraine is our newest membership. Their wines are rather more expensive than most of our purchases, and disappointingly they don’t offer free tastings to members as most clubs do. We still may regret joining this one – they seem to have an unfortunate tendency to want to be elite and high status. We’d rather appreciate a place for its wines than its snobbishness. They’re owned by Kendall Jackson, but fortunately the parent company seems to let its local vineyards be run by local management. Their wines really are excellent – last time we were there we got a great Rose of Pinots Noirs for a very reasonable $20 or so – and they have some wonderful events. We went to a salmon bake there that turned out to be a tasty and fancy 5 course meal – and they comped the event for members (there was supposed to be a charge but somehow they decided not to). So that covered the cost of a couple bottles of even their priciest wine, which was when we decided to join. This is an odd club though; most wine clubs send you 2-4 bottles, two to four times a year. For this one, in contrast, you have an “allocation” of their high-end wine and can decide how much of that you want to buy. We’re still deciding on the current release – we will get some, just haven’t decided if we want all nine bottles allocated to us. We’re going there in October for a multi-course wild mushroom dinner, and even assuming they charge as they’re supposed to we’ll save more money on that one as members.

Photos of the salmon bake – this happened back when we were getting the smoke from a bunch of forest fires.
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We also just like to set out on a weekend day and visit a few new local wineries, taking along a lunch and doing some tasting. It’s a great way to spend some time with good wine and beautiful views. So that gets me to what I intended to write about – last night’s wine – before I decided that I’d better give some background.

Last night we drank a 2012 Dry Riesling from Elk Cove, a vineyard we visited a few months back that’s not too far from here. We had it with New Orleans shrimp, a salad of spinach, mixed tomatoes and bleu cheese, plus some bread, and it went beautifully. In my opinion it has flavors of spiced pears on the palate (Ted wasn’t so sure about the “spiced” part). It’s bright and quite dry for a Riesling, perfect to accompany spicy foods, and also has a surprising amount of complexity. The “surprising” part there is partly because most Riesling’s we’ve had have been much simpler, but even more because when I checked I found that it’s very reasonably priced for an Oregon wine (wines here seem to be a bit pricier than California wines on average). It’s listed at only $19 on their website, and well worth it.