Umpqua upset at Australia’s Six Nations Wine Challenge

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Stephen Reustle, owner and winemaker at Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards, and his wife, Gloria, held their first media luncheon ever at The Bent Brick in NW Portland recently to celebrate their Six Nations Wine Challenge win with their 2012 Syrah Masada Bloc. Viki Eierdam After October’s Six Nations Wine Challenge upset, I’m already imagining Steve Carell cast as Stephen M. Reustle and Charlotte Ayanna as his beautiful wife, Gloria, in an upcoming wine flick entitled A Heavenly Vintage detailing their road to winning Best Syrah of the New World much like Bill Pullman as Jim Barrett in the fabulously entertaining 2008 Bottle Shock.

Up against stiff competition from the rest of the United States, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia—where the epic event was held and the country that enjoys a world-renowned reputation for their Shiraz—Roseburg, Oregon’s own Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards won top honors with their 2012 Syrah Masada Bloc.

Up against stiff competition from six New World countries—including Australia which enjoys a world-renowned reputation for their Shiraz—Roseburg, Oregon’s own Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards won top honors with their 2012 Syrah Masada Bloc. Reustle - Prayer Rock

The impact of these recent events is predicted to bring the same flurry of interest to the Umpqua Valley as the historic 1976 blind Paris winetasting did to Napa Valley when Château Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay won the white wine section of this game-changing competition.

Already known as the first winery in the U.S. to produce grüner veltliner, Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards is no stranger to recognition in the wine world. This 8,000 case per year winery has racked up over 400 medals in the seven years it’s been entering competitions. Stephen’s all estate-grown grapes are a representation of 14 varietals planted on 40 acres of hillside.

The Bent Brick's syrah-inspired rice pudding dessert with a chili-infused sauce took on apple pie characteristics with a vintage of Reustle's decadent Riesling. Viki Eierdam

To celebrate what Stephen referred to as “an absolute highlight in my life,” he and his wife, Gloria, held their first media luncheon ever at The Bent Brick in NW Portland recently. Owner and chef, Scott Dolich, paired Reustle’s syrahs with beautifully fresh, tried and true ingredients that bring out the smoky characteristics of this varietal like earthy chanterelle mushrooms and peppery Belgian endive in the salad, chanterelles garnishing the tender hanger steak and semolina fried onions and even a smoked butter to spread atop Ken’s bread between bites. Interestingly, I noticed the bread was not as popular as it normally is because Reustle’s syrahs are not the high alcohol bombs of old. He intentionally keeps them at a food-friendly, under 14 percent range rather than the 16.5 percent 2013 Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz in one of our flights that made my eyes start watering before I even took a sip.

Stephen’s beautiful wife, Gloria, smiles as he describes Gloria’s Syrah, “masterfully both simple and complex, she captivates you with her vibrant color, seductive aroma, and exotic body” and I’m talking about the wine, he clarified. Viki Eierdam

There’s an elegance and complexity in Reustle – Prayer Rock’s wines that evolves as each glass is allowed to open up. The front of the palate is greeted with intense black fruit and as the wine makes its way from mid-palate to the back the pepper, licorice and baking spice characteristics introduce themselves and intensify with the warming of the wine to body temperature.

A special treat of the luncheon was the opportunity to taste their first U.S.-produced 2005 Grüner Veltliner which is a big white wine grown widely in Austria that has the acidity to stand up to long cellar aging. After 10 years, it presented luscious and full-bodied.

Reustle – Prayer Rock Vineyards is open for tastings from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The sit-down wine tasting and appetizer pairing in their stunningly-created wine cave is a highlight of any visit.

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My Top Six Wine Movies

A smattering of wine movies I've been wanting to post a blog about wine movies for months so here goes. Some are obvious, some not so much.

Year of the Comet: This 1992 movie is the oldest in my all-time favorites and, as such, is a bit campy but it was created by the same folks who brought us Princess Bride which is a classic. Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Daly are adorable together and, with Daly's dashing good looks, it doesn't event take long to ignore his cheesy mustache. She's the daughter of a wine auctioneer with a great bit of knowledge that goes unnoticed by her father until she stumbles across an extremely rare bottle of wine. Daly plays her crass, unsuspecting hero as bad guys chase them across Scotland.

A Walk in the Clouds: Sometimes it doesn't appear that Keanu Reeves can walk and chew gum at the same time but he always looks great doing it. Paired with the gorgeous Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, he's a soldier returning from war to an aloof Debra Messing when a chance encounter with Sanchez-Gijon lands him in the midst of her family and their vineyard. The scenes with Anthony Quinn are priceless.

Sideways: Admittedly, I wish there was a PG version of this movie because I totally do not get the crude sex scene that's thrown in, like, 15 minutes before the end of the movie that has nothing to do with anything. Aside from that, I'm a huge fan of Virginia Madsen and I love how Sandra Oh's character allows extremely expensive and well-crafted wines to just be drunk because that's really what wine's for. I do not like Paul Giamatti (in anything) but he and Thomas Haden Church's characters are suppose to be putzes (is that a word) and they do it phenomenally well. If you like road-trip movies and wine, it is what it is.

A Good Year: Russell Crowe's character is a successful investment broker who inherits a family member's Provence vineyard. It happens all the time, very realistic. Regardless, he deals with work balance issues, there's a love interest and he learns about wine.

Bottle Shock: On the list, this is in my Top 2. 2008 Bottle Shock is based on true events that occurred in 1976...events that put Napa on the map. You will learn things about wine from this movie and be entertained in the process. The cast includes Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Chris Pine. The interactions between Alan Rickman and ex-pat Dennis Farina's characters are as entertaining as the ones that take place on the family vineyard between best friends, Chris Pine and Freddy Rodriguez as they battle for the heart of the new vineyard intern, played by Rachael Taylor, and Pine and his dad (played by Pullman) as they engage in a war of the wills.

Somm: This 2012 movie is actually a documentary about the much-touted Master Sommelier journey. In its over 40 years of existence only 219 (to date) have held the Master Sommelier title world-wide. It's a glimpse into an obsessive, exhausting and consuming passion. A must-see for wine lovers.

Pick up a bottle of your favorite Sauv Blanc, Cab or Pinot Noir and settle in with a couple of movies that'll just leave you wanting to learn more about wine.