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Wine Tasting in Eugene, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley. King Estate, Sweet Cheeks, Sarver, and Oregon Wine LAB are just a handful of wineries not to be missed in the area.
Rick and I recently had the opportunity to head back to our old stomping grounds, in Eugene, Oregon. We both went to college at the University of Oregon. I lived there for 15 years, moving up here to Portland just a couple years ago. Rick actually grew up there. We both love it and couldn’t wait to head back and do a little bit of re-exploring.
We love this town and talk frequently about moving back some day. I especially think about it when it takes 40-mintutes to drive into downtown Portland for work in the morning! I miss the Eugene traffic – It takes 15 minutes max to get anywhere within the city limits. I also miss the people, the small locally-owned restaurants, and the looping paths along the river. And let’s not forget the wineries. There are only a handful of them, but they are definitely wonderful spots to visit.
On this visit, we were able to check out several of our old favorites, and one new spot that I’d not yet been to.
We started with my long-time favorite, as it is the furthest outside of town – King Estate. You’ve probably heard of them, and perhaps even spotted their Signature Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris on grocery store shelves. Two things you may not know about King Estate: (1) The Estate (Domaine) wines are all made from organic grapes; (2) It has hands-down the best food to be found in Lane County (IMO). On our drive down from Portland, I let my dad in on what we’d be checking out on our visit, as he used to live there as well. When I mentioned King Estate, and asked if he remembered it. He said “Yeah, that’s some of the best food I’ve had in my life!” A statement which means a lot. But, it may mean even more to you when I let you on the fact that my dad travels internationally at least once a month. King Estate – You’ve got a big testament there!
Bob greeted us in the tasting room and immediately won me over by pouring us some bubbles. Yep! King Estate makes sparkling wine. Their Blanc de Gris dances on your tongue with flavors of light citrus and a backbone of biscuit notes. With glasses in hand, he led us through a tour of their spectacular wine production area.
After our tour – We were treated to a tasting of some of their lovely wines. Starting with their Pinot Gris (I particularly loved the 2014 Backbone Pinot Gris – $24), Pinot Noirs (huge fan of the 2013 Signature Pinot Noir – $28 & available in stores!), and heavier reds produced under the NxNW label – Walla Walla Syrah and Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
As if this tasting tour wasn’t amazing enough, the magic was yet to come – Lunch!
These are my favorite rosé wines. With a bit of acidity, berry flavors, and complex notes, they’re perfect for pairing with a wide variety of foods.
As you may have noticed (here, here and here) – I’m a big fan of dry rosés. The main reason being that, in my opinion, there is no more versatile wine for pairing with food. Rosés are known for their strawberry and raspberry aromas and flavors. This isn’t your aunt’s blush wine. Today’s rosé wines are sophisticated yet relaxed, with complex notes ranging from sweet to savory to fruity – Think patio BBQs or light lunches.
I like to think of rosé as the WHITE wine for RED wine lovers. It is actually made from red grapes which can be from any region or grape varietal (i.e. Cabernet, Pinot Noir, etc.). Rosé also begins its life much like a red wine would – The grapes are de-stemmed, crushed and placed in a fermenter. However, unlike red wines, which spend two or three weeks with the grapes skins in contact with the juice, the skins of a rosé are removed after a brief period – a few hours to a couple of days depending on the type of grape and the style the winemaker is hoping to achieve. This brief contact with the skin provides body to the wine and adds complexity. It is also what gives the wine its pink color – which can range from a light bubblegum to a brilliant ruby depending on how long the grape skins are left in contact with the wine.Unlike bold reds, rosé wines do not need to age in your cellar for years to be delicious. Just the opposite actually. It’s best to purchase them young and drink them young. The majority of wines that I sampled were from the 2014 vintage. Rosés are at their best when served chilled. However, when too cold they loose their delicate aromas and flavors. If served too warm, the residual sugar in many rosés will produce an unpleasant, cloying sensation.
I set myself to the difficult task of tasting and selecting five great rosés for you, all coming in at under $10. BONUS: They’re all so beautiful, anyone would have a hard time believing they’re bargain wines. Here are my favorites: