Friday, September 19, 2008

Off to Oregon and California

To the west coast I go; and what visit would be complete without visiting a few wineries? On Sunday the 21st J.K. Carriere will release their "regular" 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Even better, they are celebrating the groundbreaking of their new vineyard site on Parrett Mountain. I will be there to help them break ground.

Later in the week it's off to the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery in the Sierra Foothills. For an idea of what I'll experience there, see the post on Wine Terroirs, complete with many pictures. I'm very excited for my visit in general and I'm looking forward to tasting some new releases. Of course, this is Renaissance, so among their newest releases are a 1992 Riesling Late Harvest, a 1996 Cabernet and their 2002 Granite Crown, which is a blend of syrah and cab.

This post reminds me that I forgot to tell you about the 2000 Renaissance Claret Prestige, which exemplifies what it means to be a living wine.

On day one, strong graphite, cassis, tobacco, lavender, and blackberry jam aromas leap from the glass. But pay attention and you'll also find sage, cumin, and black pepper. It's tannic, yet it has almost bracing acidity, with deep, thick, sweet flavors of blackberry and cassis. Nothing overcooked or jammy here; it's a pure wine with a lot of structure —and yet after all these years, it still needs time.

A lot of time, actually. On day three, the wine's inherent minerality has only begun to emerge, and tons of rich fruit are still in the foreground. Promisingly, a hint of worcestershire joins the purple and black characteristics. Yep, this wine's life is just beginning.

Interestingly, this is a blend of 24% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Sangiovese, 12% each Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% each Syrah and "miscellaneous" grapes. Not your typical claret, eh? And yet the Claret Prestige does resemble a naturally-made right bank 2000 Bordeaux — or at least make you think it's what one should be like. In any case, it's quite nice with pork in a balsamic reduction.

I'll post a full report upon my return.

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