Open wallets for gifts of local wine

I suspect most folks who read this column would prefer not to spend more than $10 to $12 on a bottle of wine.

Except during the holidays.

When it comes to giving holiday gifts, planning Christmas dinner or thinking ahead to New Year's, most of us are more likely to open up our wallets.

The 29th annual Jefferson Public Radio wine-tasting, held Dec. 3, provided an opportunity to get some good ideas. About 30 wineries took part and most poured two or more wines.

As with all events of this kind, it's impossible for one person to sample everything. But of the wines I did manage to try, these were my favorites:

  • South Stage Cellars 2007 Vintner's Select ($24), a tasty red blend. It's 70 percent merlot, 30 percent syrah and was made at RoxyAnn.
  • Cowhorn 2008 Spiral 36 ($18), a delicious white blend that is roughly one-third each viognier, marsanneand roussanne,
  • Cuckoo's Nest 2006 Two Birds ($19), a fine blend of 54 percent cabernet sauvignon and 46 percent syrah.
  • RoxyAnn 2006 Reserve Pinot Gris ($20), a superior white from the Medford winery known for producing fine pinot gris.
  • Troon 2008 Kubli Bend Zinfandel ($24), another notable zin from the Applegate.

Some other good wines included Agate Ridge 2008 Viognier ($21), Weisinger's 2006 Claret ($26), Valley View 2006 Anna Maria Cabernet Sauvignon ($24), Quady North 2007 Syrah ($25) and EdenVale 2004 Heritage Red ($18).

Two additional recommendations, as sampled at The Meadows wine-tasting on Dec. 5:

  • Wooldridge Creek's 2006 After Hours Red ($20), a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
  • Rosella's 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($26), another special red from the Applegate Valley.

NOT ALL OF THE WINES poured during the Jefferson Public Radio tasting were in the $18-to-$30 price range. Cliff Creek of Sams Valley has introduced a lower-end label called Red, Red Wine. I tried and was impressed with its merlot and red table wine that is mostly syrah, each $12. I've since seen them at Food 4 Less for a little over $11.

EDEN VALLEY ORCHARDS, home of EdenVale Winery, has launched a monthly "Rogue Wine Tasting" series. The idea is to showcase wines from a number of Southern Oregon wineries, side by side, one varietal or category at a time.

It's planned for the first Sunday of the month. The theme on Dec. 6 was cabernet sauvignon with seven winery participants. Next up on Jan. 3: chardonnay. After that, the schedule is: Feb. 7, pinot noir; March 7, pinot gris; April 4, white blends; May 2, award-winning wines; June 6, viognier; July 11 (second Sunday because of July 4 holiday), red blends; Aug. 1, syrah; Sept. 5, tempranillo; Oct. 3, dessert wines; Nov. 7, other reds.

Hours for the public will be 2 to 4 p.m. The charge is $15 and includes light food pairings as well as the wine.

For more information, check out or call 514-512-2955, ext. 3.

WHILE SOME WINERIES have started charging tasting fees, the Artisan Tasting Room in Central Point has gone the opposite direction. The room, a joint project of Daisy Creek Vineyard and Madrone Mountain Winery, had a fee when it first opened but dropped it when the economy went sour.

The room is at 245-A Front St. (Highway 99), Central Point , between Rogue Creamery and Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates, open daily noon to 5 p.m.

I stopped by to sample Madrone Mountain's new 2008 Starthistle Cuvee. As with its predecessors, it is named in honor of a certain noxious weed. Unlike its predecessors, it is drier. The wine blends riesling (59 per cent), huxelrebe (37 per cent), viognier (3 per cent) and sauvignon blanc (1 per cent). Price is $24 for a full-sized bottle.

Two other wines I enjoyed that day were Madrone Mountain 2008 Dessert Viognier ($24) and Daisy Creek 2008 Sangiovese Rosé ($18). The viognier is especially significant because it is made from Daisy Creek Viognier. It offers the sweetness you'd expect of a dessert wine.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at

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