Tom Caruso
 
June 2, 2016 | Tom Caruso

Roast Chicken dinner with the 2013 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive in the Tasting Room is, “what is your favorite REX HILL wine?” And more often than not, my response will be a resounding, “It depends.” While one’s initial impression is that I’m playing it safe or don’t want to pick favorites, I proceed to explain that my view of wine mirrors that of my view of food—my favorite dish will typically be the one I’m most in the mood for. With that, it seems I have been dually tasked in choosing a favorite REX HILL wine and deciding what to pair it with.

Despite weather trending warmer and warmer here in the Willamette Valley, we’ve had a few chilly and rainy days thrust into the mix to remind us that it’s not quite summer. On those brisk evenings, I resort back to winter mode and crave something hearty – currently daydreaming about roasted chicken with some rosemary fingerling potatoes and a kale and cannellini bean couscous to round it out. My goodness, I’m starting to get hungry!

Having a dish in mind, it’s time to decide on the perfect pairing. A lot of different wines could go with this meal—red or white in color. In particular, even a lot of Pinot Noirs can go with this meal. After all, food and wine are made to go together! But to me there is one wine in particular that calls out: 2013 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir. It’s a wine that I love to explore in glass as it tends to move from a lifted dark cherry, raspberry, and violet floral/ fruit profile into more herbal and earthy components—playing very nicely with our dish of choice. There are a lot of complimentary flavors and aromatics going on here. Think of the smell of those rosemary potatoes wafting alongside fresh herbal aromas of the wine. Even more fun is the sensory experience on the palate. The mouth coating buttery texture of the cannellini bean couscous and protein from the chicken are whisked away by the fruit flavors, acidity, and whole cluster tannins of the wine. Perfection!

Time Posted: Jun 2, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Tom Caruso
 
March 31, 2016 | Tom Caruso

Oregon Wine Symposium Part Two: Climatology

Held every year, the Oregon Wine Symposium is marked as "the premier educational event and trade show for the Northwest wine community." This was the first year that I had the pleasure to attend and following this past harvest, I was looking forward to lectures on some pretty hot topics in the Willamette Valley during the 2015 season. For locals you might have picked up on my pun there, but for the uninitiated, let's just say that year after year the Willamette Valley never ceases to surprise with the forecast. We'll get to that in just a moment, but first, an overview.

The two day event is organized by the Oregon Winegrowers Association and is held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. It features more than 200 exhibitors on the trade show floor and pulls in guest speakers at the top of their fields, from local icons to world renowned professionals. And perhaps one of the coolest components is that at any point during the symposium you might just bump into one of said icons, personal wine heroes, or the like. 

This year, the lineup of speakers ranged from Patrick Criteser, CEO of Tillamook Country Creamery, to Rich DeScenzo, Group Leader of Microbiology at ETS Laboratories - essentially big picture business to DNA fingerprinting yeast cells in a winery...you get the idea. To say that there is something for every sector of this industry represented at the Symposium is an understatement. That said, there seemed to be one topic that transcended every niche of the wine business because it affects us all - climatology reports.

Dr. Greg Jones, Professor and Research Climatologist at Southern Oregon University, returned this year to provide a wrap-up of the 2015 growing season and some projections for what's ahead in 2016. Slide after slide of his presentation showed us that last year was one for the record books - not just Portland experiencing the most 90 degree days in a calendar year, but 2015 taking the cake as the hottest year in history. With much of the Northwest being victim to an El Niño pattern, we've seen the temperature of the ocean increase, which is even more drastic than land heating. The Arctic Sea ice extent is at its lowest level ever and the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator has dropped, resulting in the jet stream becoming more pronounced. Add to that a statistic like a record breaking accumulation of rainfall in Oregon between December 2015 and February 2016, it's no surprise to see meteorologists, viticulturists, winemakers, and even hospitality managers scratching their heads and wondering what lies ahead.

Queue the projections for 2016: To put it simply, Dr. Jones says to expect more of the current trend. Anywhere from 2012 to 2015 heat or beyond. With California already seeing bud break, I can't imagine we'll be far behind. Karen Peterson, Viticulturists at REX HILL & A to Z Wineworks, reported this morning that we are already seeing wooly bud stage in some vineyards! Will it be another early harvest in 2016? Will the rain let up and tourist season kick off early in the Valley? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. One thing is for certain, we can look forward to another year of surprises and I suspect another seminar full of coverage of what went down at next year's Oregon Wine Symposium.

Time Posted: Mar 31, 2016 at 3:00 PM