tasting Oregon wines


We had our first class of the new season at Gretchens, a tasting of wines from the Willamette and Rogue Valleys of Oregon. It’s been a long time since the last one – it felt good to be back volunteering in the demo kitchen. The class was full, which was great – the tastings don’t always get as good a response as the cooking classes, which is always a shame. But this was a good one, and Tom the wine rep outdid himself as usual.

Tom the wine rep

willamette wines

The lineup was unusual in that there were as many whites as reds. I’ve recently been feeling more interested in whites, so that was cool with me. The wines we tasted (with some of my notes that I scribbled down) were:

  • Willakenzie Estate Vineyards Willamette Pinot Blanc: very acidic, clean tasting.
  • Ponzi Estate Vineyards Willamette Pinot Gris: bright but a little creamy, holds up to spicy food very well.
  • Kings Ridge Willamette Riesling: very good, not very sweet. A little creamy with a definite floral note.
  • Rex Hill Vineyards Oregon Pinot Noir: nice pinot, excellent with smoked blue cheese
  • Hinman Vineyards Rogue Valley Red Blend: nice big tannic red, great with steak.
  • Silvan Ridge Rogue Valley Reserve Syrah: round and fruity, very straightforward and tasty.

infinite shrimp cake and crostini

To go along with the wines, we did three plates of appetizers. The first plate, which went with the first two wines, was a shrimp cake with chile-lime sauce and a crostini topped with sauteed peppers and a bit of Tillamook cheddar cheese. The shrimp cake went especially well with the Pinot Gris, which had a certain spicy butteriness to it.

pear, hazelnut and bleu cheese salad

The second plate matched both the Riesling and the Pinot Noir remarkably well. It was a mixed-greens salad with vinaigrette, sliced pears with a bit of sweet dressing, chopped hazelnuts and smoked blue cheese. It was a great salad, and the Pinot and the blue cheese were made for each other.

assembling crostini plates

Finally, to stand up to the final two big red wines, there was a do-it-yourself crostini plate, with sliced steak, roasted red onions, pan-seared portobello mushrooms and a dab of sour cream with horseradish mixed into it. We piled it all up together and it was delicious. I liked the food best with the red blend, but J preferred the syrah.

The mood of the class was happy, and folks stayed talking and scraping their plates late into the evening. A good first tasting!


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