Monday, July 19, 2010

Winery Reviews: Maryhill, Cascade Cliffs, Naked, & Cerulean

What does one do after a wonderful weekend of hanging out with fellow oenophiles, drinking wine, and talking about blogging? Drink more wine, of course!

If you'll allow me a moment of mushiness, I am so grateful to have this hobby. It's allowed me to see parts of the country I never would have and to meet so many cool and interesting people!

Okay, mushiness over. Back to the wine.

Hubby and I had driven through the Columbia Gorge before, but we hadn't ever tasted the wine through there. The Columbia Gorge Wine Growers website bills the area as "A World of Wine in 40 Miles!" Part of the area is The Dalles, which, if you ever played the video game Oregon Trail, might briefly make the words "You have died of dysentery" flash through your mind. Luckily there's just wine now.

We'd seen the sign for Maryhill Winery earlier on our drive, and a huge plume of smoke plus warnings of a traffic jam due to a fire up ahead made up our minds to cross the Columbia River and check out some of the wineries on the Washington side. Maryhill did win an award:

The winery also has its own outdoor amphitheater and amazing views:

They have a long tasting list with a small fee. The highlights:

2008 Viognier: stone fruit nose, peach and honeysuckle with good structure and some tartness

2006 Reserve Cabernet Franc: grapey Cab Franc nose with some currant and cinnamon; very smooth with nice red fruit

2006 Reserve Merlot: I noted that this one is pretty. Tobacco-berry-cassis with a long, smooth finish.

Since our mission was to stock up on whites, we came away with a bottle of the Viognier.

The next stop a little further down the road was the Cascade Cliffs winery and tasting room, where Naked Winery also has staff and wine on hand. You can also get a cool picture of grape vines with Mount Hood in the background:

The highlights in this tasting room included:

Cascade Cliffs 2009 Estate Symphony: The grape is a cross between Muscat and Grenache Gris (not to be confused with the Bovin Symphony wine, which is a blend -- sorry for the confusion). Flavors of stone fruit and a little citrus.

Cascade Cliffs NV Horsethief Red (Columbia Valley): Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot
Great currant-berry nose, smooth blend

Cascade Cliffs 2008 Estate Nebbiolo (Columbia Valley)
Bright cherry nose, tart fruit & berry

Cascade Cliffs 2005 Nebbiolo
Tannins have mellowed, very smooth and elegant w/ fruit/ acid balance

Naked 2007 Oh! Orgasmic CS (Columbia Valley)
Big fruit nose, smooth tannins

Cascade Cliffs 2008 Estate Barbera (Columbia Valley)
Blackberry/raspberry, nice acidity, but smooth -- would be great on its own or with food

I also learned a valuable lesson about Washington and Oregon wine geography. When tasting room staff says that the fruit came from "the Valley," they mean the one that they're in. I got a little confused since there's a bunch of them, and they all seem to produce good grapes.

Finally, we made our way back across the river, drove through The Dalles without losing anyone to dysentery or having any livestock washed away, and arrived in Hood River for the evening. Our wine adventures weren't over yet, however. We found a tiny tasting room for an even tinier winery called Cerulean Skies. Their philosophy is "Pure, Natural, Authentic," and all the wines are organic. They're also all really good. Favorites:

2009 Chardonnay: great citrus and good acidity

2009 Pinot Gris: pear nose, very clean flavors

Red Sky Blend: 2007 Zinfandel and 2008 Merlot plus Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
This one was noted to be "grapes gone wild" with nice dark berry and raspberry flavors. A little hot, it should mellow.

Owner and winemaker Pat Graham entertained us in the tasting room. That's what I love about small wineries -- getting to know the people. We bought one of the whites, the Chardonnay. Yes, a Chard I liked! This winery will be one to watch.

Next stop: Willamette!


Joe said...

Stunning pic of Mt. Hood. The landscape is just so different out there.

You said the grape from Bovin is called Symphony? Of was that the name of the wine? Just curious...

Hudson said...

Our Bovin Symphony is n equal 33% blend of Riesling Sauvignon blanc, and Chardonnay. The symphony grape is a varietal created at UC DAvis Muscato of Alexandria and Grenache gris. It is a much sweeter wine than our "Symphony"

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, Joe and Hudson, for your question and clarification! I've corrected the text in the post. I should've asked Hudson before posting.

Sorry for the confusion!