Hip, Hip, Rosé

Hip, Hip, Rosé

“They’re both the same grape but they taste completely different,” exclaimed my friend, Kelli, as we tasted through a few 2016 rosés at her Mother’s Day gathering this past weekend.

I was beaming at her ‘aha’ moment. It is one of the most wonderful things about the world of wine; the many expressions of even a single varietal let alone ...

Read More

Current Stoller chardonnay releases show restraint and complexity

Chardonnay…say the word and, like this years’ election, most folks have a strong opinion. “I don’t like chardonnay,” is typically the reaction. No matter how many times wine writers espouse its virtues, it appears the bad rep of this grape will take longer to be forgotten than yesterday’s headlines.

Nevertheless, we charge on, particularly those in the Northwest who are so close to  what Melissa Burr, director of winemaking at Stoller Family Estate, refers to as a “renaissance for Chardonnay.”

Under the guidance of owner, Bill Stoller, his land was planted to 10 acres of chardonnay well before it was the cool thing to do. Now the Willamette Valley boasts over 1,000 acres of this noble grape—still trailing far behind the nearly 100,000 acres that California tends but we like to think our winemakers appreciate chardonnay for what it is rather than what it’s not.

As one might expect, Stoller offers a couple different chardonnay options.

Viki Eierdam
Viki Eierdam

Their 2015 Dundee Hills Chardonnay is 100 percent unoaked—aged for six months in stainless steel. The first smell hits clean and fresh with a hint of lemon/lime citrus notes followed by vibrant acidity and graphite on the palate. 2015 was a hot one but this wine is coming in at 12.5 percent, a testament to Stoller’s ability to gauge just the right time to pick for flavor and approachability. Great food options are hard cheeses, lightly grilled white fish (I.e. scallops, halibut, cod), cream of zucchini soup, roasted chicken, a garden fresh summer salad, simply prepared pork like pork chops. Think light and slightly earthy. Retail: $25

The 2014 Reserve Chardonnay has been (dare I say), aged in French oak for 12 months. French oak is not American oak, folks. It’s soft and elegant and imparts luscious richness, not an overtly buttery characteristic. In this case, it adds to the depth and complexity of the wine and brings food pairings to another level of sophistication. The savory, lemon grass and earthy nose of the wine gives way to stone fruit like a soft white peach on the palate. Avocado and corn salad is a perfect example as well as a butter leaf salad with peach slices or snap peas, roasted vegetables, white cream pastas, crab, lobster, savory fried chicken or creamy pork dishes with sautéed mushrooms. This would also be the ideal brunch bottle. I’m always saying chardonnay is oft-overlooked with breakfast. Why should bubbles have all the fun? This is the ideal egg dish pairing. Retail: $35

 

¡Salud! serves up pinot with a purpose for Silver anniversary

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of ¡Salud! and you can be sure the cuvées will be better than ever!

A wildly successful program that provides healthcare for Willamette Valley vineyard workers, ¡Salud! earned this recognition by partnering with Tuality Healthcare, premier Oregon pinot noir winemakers and lovers of Oregon pinot from all walks of life.

Maria Ponzi said "...The least we can do is provide health care for our vineyard workers.” Viki Eierdam
Maria Ponzi said "...The least we can do is provide health care for our vineyard workers.” Viki Eierdam

Since its inception in 1991, ¡Salud! has raised over $11.6 million. According to Leda Garside, RN and services manager, approximately 4,000 people were serviced through Tuality Healthcare in 2015 thanks to the funds provided by ¡Salud! events put on throughout the year. Of that number, 30 percent are children of vineyard workers and 12 percent are spouses. Garside stressed that “it’s all about families” when targeting preventative medical care.

From a mobile medical unit, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, vaccinations and a variety of other testing can be conducted as well as eye screening (crucial for the amount of time vineyard workers spend in the sun) and limited dental care. Referrals to community providers are handled on a case by case basis.

According to Leda Garside, RN and services manager, approximately 4,000 people were serviced through Tuality Healthcare in 2015 thanks to the funds provided by ¡Salud! events. Viki Eierdam
According to Leda Garside, RN and services manager, approximately 4,000 people were serviced through Tuality Healthcare in 2015 thanks to the funds provided by ¡Salud! events. Viki Eierdam

At a recent press event held at Ponzi Vineyards, Maria Ponzi said “The Oregon wine community has really been raised on sustainable farming and we’ve extended that idea by caring for our own. We rely on this industry. This program (¡Salud!) is so essential and becomes more so as we move forward.”

She went on to say “They’re expecting over one million people to come through the Valley this year. The least we can do is provide health care for our vineyard workers.”

This year marks the fourth annual Summertime ¡Salud!, held on Thursday, July 28. The day begins with a wine tasting reception, gourmet hors d’oeuvres and an al fresco dinner at Stoller Family Estate. Wineries from Oregon, France and Australia will be pouring 13 spectacular wines and this is your chance to reserve ¡Salud! Cuvées before the premier November event.

From a mobile medical unit, a variety of preventative care tests and procedures can be conducted. Viki Eierdam
From a mobile medical unit, a variety of preventative care tests and procedures can be conducted. Viki Eierdam

The Annual Big Board Auction and Gala is a two-part event beginning Friday afternoon, November 11 at Ponzi Vineyards where guests enjoy heavy appetizers, taste over 40 ¡Salud! Cuvées and bid on lots of five cases of pinot noir crafted exclusively for ¡Salud!

“They’re very unique cuvées you can’t get anywhere else and you can only get them one night,” Ponzi said.

The party continues on Saturday night, November 12 at Portland’s historic Sentinel Hotel. A more upscale event, the evening begins with a sparkling reception followed by a silent auction, multi-course dinner, live auction with a frenzy of paddles and live music and dancing at the after-party. To emphasize its Silver Anniversary, ¡Salud! has invited the founding wineries and Tuality Health Care workers to partake in the festivities.

For more information or to purchase ¡Salud! event tickets, go to http://www.saludauction.org/.

Stoller Family Estate : The substance of one man’s vision

Stoller-solar-panels.jpg

A network of rooftop solar panels is just one of the many features that garnered Dundee Hill’s Stoller Family Estate its LEED gold certification. Viki Eierdam Distinguishing oneself in a sea of approximately 400 wineries is no easy feat but Stoller Family Estate has managed to do just that through a combination of elegantly crafted estate grown wines and laying claim to the world’s first LEED gold certified winery.

A sweeping, tree-lined drive welcomes visitors to their expansive grounds that have been in the Stoller family since 1943. South-facing slopes are covered in 195 acres of vines with clumps of oak trees scattered about and a state-of-the-art tasting room and winery sits as its crowning glory. The whole effect weaves not just a visual feast but is the substance of owner Bill Stoller’s vision to preserve that which he has built up for generations to come and leave a legacy of environmental stewardship through the application of sustainable practices.

At Stoller Family Estate south-facing slopes are covered in 195 acres of vines with clumps of oak trees where a turkey farm once stood. Viki Eierdam

A network of rooftop solar panels contribute to about half of the winery’s electrical needs; the floor-to-ceiling glass brings the outdoors in while introducing natural light to the main tasting room; and Stoller has taken full advantage of the slope of the property to employ gravity flow winemaking—a process that has been around since the 1800s wherein gravity, as opposed to mechanical means, is used to move the wine through its various steps. Energy conservation is one goal in adopting this method but gravity flow is also widely believed to produce a superior quality wine through the gentle handling of the grapes at all stages.

Seven grape varietals —with pinot noir and chardonnay constituting the vast majority of the plantings—enjoy the Jory soil of this Dundee Hills vineyard. Layers of organic material, silty clay loam and clay create this well-draining soil that brings a minerally characteristic to the wines of Stoller.

Baking spice characteristics married with the inherent earthiness found throughout the Willamette Valley in Stoller’s 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir showed off the blackberry and ginger balsamic roasted pork tenderloin topped with blackberry jus beautifully. Viki Eierdam

A luncheon catered by Bon Appétit—students from George Fox University who invest nearly one third of their food and beverage budget on locally-grown ingredients—proved a fitting introduction to Stoller’s portfolio on an unusually blustery August day a few weekends ago. The crisp elements and tropical notes of their 2014 Dundee Hills Chardonnay paired seamlessly with a Hood River pear with thyme-infused onion and buttermilk blue cheese appetizer; a summer watermelon salad accented by red raspberries, shaved onion, fresh mint, feta cheese and purple micro radish mimicked the soft floral tones and light red fruit notes of the 2014 Dundee Hills Rosé.

Winemakers noted the 2011 harvest with mixed feelings. I’ve even talked with vintners in the Chelan area who scrapped the harvest all together. For those who chose to persevere, the wines are proving age-worthy and Stoller’s 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir is no exception. Baking spice characteristics married with the inherent earthiness found throughout the Willamette Valley showed off the blackberry and ginger balsamic roasted pork tenderloin topped with blackberry jus beautifully although, as a vegetarian, it was the mushroom with corn polenta and marinated peppers that I happily devoured.

Finishing off this Yamhill County food showcase was a peach upside-down cake with vanilla-poached blueberries enjoyed between sips of Stoller’s 2014 Single Acre Riesling that presented with a delicate peach aroma and balanced acidity that complemented the sweetness of the dish.

Stoller Family Estate, located in Dayton, Oregon, is open daily from 11 a.m-5 p.m.

**If you like what you’re reading, follow Corks & Forks by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or follow Corks & Forks on Facebook.