Plenty of 'Tastes' for area wine lovers

First-rate local wines once again highlighted the annual A Taste of Ashland. Some, as you might expect, retail for $25 to $30. But there also were some good ones for half as much.

Some of the best I found were:

  • Cuckoo's Nest Early Muscat ($13), a very pleasant, sweet white with a bit of sparkle.
  • Paschal 2005 Syrah ($30), fine peppery flavor.
  • Foris 2006 Dry Gewurztraminer ($13.50). Foris has long made great gewürztraminer, and this is one of its best yet.
  • Foris 2006 Maple Park Pinot Noir ($30), best pinot of the event.
  • Velocity 2005 ($25), Gus Janeway's excellent red blend, made of malbec, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
  • Shasta View nonvintage Armonia Rossa ($25), another first-rate red blend, this one from Montague, Calif. — cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, merlot and syrah.
  • RoxyAnn 2007 Pinot Gris ($16.50), a deserving award-winner, silky and flavorful.


Some others worthy of note include Cuckoo's Nest Pinot Gris ($16), Paschal 2007 Pinot Gris ($18), Devitt 2006 Chardonnay ($18), South Stage Cellars Pinot Gris ($18), LongSword 2007 Dolcetto ($18) and RoxyAnn 2006 Claret ($26).

A Taste of Ashland offers an approach different from most tasting events, in that patrons walk from gallery to gallery to sample wine and food and enjoy the art. The 2009 celebration, held April 24-26, was one of the best — aided by ideal weather.

THE REGION'S OTHER BIG walking and tasting event, Medford's The Taste of History, comes up on Saturday, June 13. Hours of the wine and food tour will be 1 to 5 p.m. More than 20 stops are slated.

Wineries taking part include Del Rio, Foris, Paschal, Devitt, LongSword, Trium, Valley View, Pebblestone, RoxyAnn, EdenVale, Schmidt, Daisy Creek, Rising Sun Farms, Rocky Knoll, Weisinger's, Applegate Red, John Michael and Velocity.

Tickets are $25 in advance (online at www.thetasteofhistory.com), $30 on the day of the event. Free historical tours are planned in the morning, as well as a barbecue dinner in the evening.

RESTAURANT WINE, a bimonthly journal on wine for the hospitality and wine industries, selects one winery in the world as its winery of the year, based on the quality, value and consistency of its wines during recent years. For 2009, that honor has gone to La Crema of Sonoma County, Calif. Some of its wines are sold in the Rogue Valley.

About the same time I read that notice, I had the opportunity to sample a number of La Crema wines ­— three chardonnays and four pinot noirs made with grapes grown in different areas.

The winery's 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30) was the best of the three with exquisite, gentle flavor and a long aftertaste. Almost as good is the 2007 Los Carneros Chardonnay ($30), so soft and gentle and yet full of flavor. La Crema 2007 Sonoma County Chardonnay is less expensive at $23 and not quite in the same league but still worthy, especially after being open a day or two.

The four reds I sampled were all pinot noirs, priced from $25 to $50. Sometimes cheaper is better but not in this case. La Crema 2007 Anderson valley Pinot Noir ($50) was clearly the best — delicate and delicious with a light fruit flavor. The 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir ($38) was a close second — like liquid candy, gentle and fruity, with a long aftertaste. The winery's 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir ($38) was mildly flavorful but not as good as the other $38 entry. And finally there was La Crema 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($25), a bit harsh at first, better on day two, juicy and jammy.

FOUR DAUGHTERS IRISH PUB in Medford has expanded its selection of wines, almost all of them local. Dining the other night, I enjoyed Cuckoo's Nest pinot gris with my salad and Slagle Creek merlot with my steak, each $6 a glass. RoxyAnn, Velo and Foris also are on the list.

THE WORLD OF WINE Festival at Del Rio isn't until Aug. 29, but if you buy a ticket prior to June 15, it'll cost you $60 instead of $70. Call Del Rio at 855-2062 or RoxyAnn at 776-2315.

ALSO SAMPLED RECENTLY:

ONEHOPE Sauvignon Blanc ($10), a fine crisp dry white and a good value. Half of the profits are being donated to American Forests, a nonprofit group that plants trees in fire-devastated areas.

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

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