REX HILL
 
December 22, 2011 | REX HILL

The Most Excellent Wines of the Year (In our little universe)

He Said...
- Mike Willison

We thought we'd take a slightly different tact with our "Best of..." list for 2011 by looking at three totally subjective, categorical winners from the past year. They may not be the highest scoring critic's darlings, or even an uber-cool, never-heard-of ancient variety made by forensic retracing of the steps of Thomas Jefferson's cellar hand, but they were what we loved over the course of one painstakingly beautiful year of wine drinking.

The Wine We See Everyday-

2010 REX HILL Willamette Valley Pinot Noir- Yeah, I know I'm a bit of a stinker for choosing this one since I've had it and you haven't, but I've been so excited about this ever since we decided on the final blends and the results are absolutely delightful. It’s a perfect snapshot of the 2010 vintage, with as much distinctive character as I've seen from this varietal in many years. If you’ve ever smelled living mistletoe (don't eat it) you may recognize the earthy, bright, and tart berry nose. Classic red fruit profile with so much snappy acidity you can dance to it.

The Wine in our Neighborhood-

2010 J.K.Carriere Glass- You'd have to be some kind of a jerk to not absolutely adore this wine and everything that Jim Prosser & Co. do up on Parrett Mountain. It might be the best rosé this side of Domaine Tempier, at a fraction of the cost, with the added bonus of supporting one of the best people in the state of Oregon. The wine is but a whisper of salmon colored, with the faintest suggestion of fresh fruits and hazy visions of swirling summer afternoons wearing a blousy linen shirt as some glorious former version of yourself. The perfect wine for the dog days, but the ideal wine for this awful time of year, too. I mainline the stuff when I am not in my cryogenic chamber being revitalized.

The Rest of the Known Universe-

2009 Hirsch Grüner Veltliner Lamm- That's right. The best wine I had all of last year was an Austrian white wine. Second place was a German, and I’m not telling what it was, but Terry Theise is involved. Grüner can be too steely and laser beam, too green, too goopy, or too plain; not this bad boy.  Imagine some insane minister of flavors, phenolics and esters (Mother Nature) is on her meds and they are actually working. What a delight! The only regret I have is that I drank it too soon, most likely. Maybe a repeat for 2012.

 

She Said...
- Carrie Kalscheuer

2011 was a year of domestic touring and tasting. I was out and about on the west side of our fair country like never before. Therefore, I'm going to focus on those wines that grabbed my attention not just because of what came out of the bottle, but also because of my personal experience with them and the steps that led to their production. Sorry, Italy. You know I love you. But this year belonged to the good 'ole U.S.A.

In House Pick: 2009 REX HILL Roserock Pinot Noir

I have the great fortune of working for one of my favorite wineries in the world. I can, and do, wax poetic about almost every bottle we produce. Narrowing my selection down to just one isn't something I can easily do, so to say that this bottle got my top pick is akin to a mother choosing a favorite of her children. It's just wrong. But this was the one wine we made this year that didn’t just make me wax poetic, but made me step back, take a deep breath, and be ever-so-grateful for my employee discount.

In the 'Hood: 2008 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir

I’m not alone in thinking that Evening Land is doing some exciting things these days. Our friends down the road have gotten some excellent acclaim as of late – and for very good reason. Their 2008 Seven Springs is elegant, focused and fresh.

The World At Large: Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

This was a very difficult choice. I've had a prodigious amount of fantastic wines this year (it’s a dirty job, but you know what they say…). Beating out the likes of Chappelet Cabernet Sauvignon, Darioush Viognier, Littorai Chardonnay and Failla Pinot Noir is no easy feat. Several factors contributed to my choice: the company with whom I opened the bottle, the hard-won accomplishments to which we toasted, and the perfect combination of yeasty, toasty, fine-moussed goodness that is Schramsberg's Blanc de Noirs. I want more. Now.

Time Posted: Dec 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM
REX HILL
 
December 7, 2011 | REX HILL

Our Top Ten Wish Lists for the Wine Industry in 2012

Another in a long line of Top 10′s. More like wishful thinking, we have compiled a list of the things we’d love to see for the next year. Maybe at the end of 2012, we will check back to see who has the prognosticator’s great gift. Onward…

He Said...
- Mike Willison

10. Backlash-lash: whether it be a backlash against un-oaked Chardonnay, weird-varietal-loving sommeliers, hating California Cabernet, or the 100-point scoring system, I predict that next year we see a backlash against the backlashers that will, hopefully, calm the frenzied fray a little. I’ll be hating the haters that hate so much that I'll achieve a furious inner peace.

9. QR codes: The buzz of interest surrounding QR codes for wine bottles and bottle shops will never beat into a boil, but rather fizzle away gradually like the slowly decreasing PR staff for Mariah Carey.

8. Txakoli is the new Ugg boots and shorts. Someone somewhere is still doing it, but you just don’t understand why, maybe you never really did.

7. Lunch Wine will emerge as a growing category for the industry. Slowly at first, but steadily the idea that a low alcohol gulper can make a cup of soup and a half sandwich a lot more interesting. People everywhere will become more successful and the economy will be improved. ½ bottle sales will skyrocket.

6. Pinot Gris has long suffered because of its very loud and relatively annoying Italian brother that has nothing particularly important to say. 2012 will be the year that Pinot Gris wins the "Cool New Guy" award at High School and everybody wonders where he's been all their lives even though he’s been there all along.

5. Americans figure out geography: If you’d like to learn about wine, you must first understand geography. We have figured this out and will soon be able to point out all kinds of interesting places on maps despite what Jay Leno would have you believe. As a result we become better international travelers and Canadian college kids start wearing USA flags on their backpacks.

4. Your mom stops giving you wine gadgets for Christmas: After this year you are putting your foot down. You do not require any more weird openers, coasters, shirts that say "me knows Pinots" on them, anything from the Sky Mall magazine, fruit wines from Michigan or the "neat wine made with chocolate." Enough already, egad.

3. Bloggers and pundits will still argue over whether social media drives sales. Maybe the question needs to be re-defined in terms of relevance. Does social media get more people talking about, thinking about, learning about and possibly drinking wine? Wouldn’t that then sell wine?

2. The 100-point system will not go away, but rather people will begin to see it for what it really is: a guide. When this happens, the people that score these wines will no longer wield the magic wand over the heads of the suffering dolts below. We will consider their selections and scores and then make an informed opinion based on our palate preference.

1. People will stop the ballyhoo about alcohol levels in wine. I prefer lower alcohol wines, but I also like to see what each vintage brings. Forcing alcohols down, or up, is an act of pandering, not one of terroir.

 

She Said...
- Carrie Kalscheuer

1. Bag-in-Box and Screwcap take over the world. As both consumers and producers alike grow tired of the thousands of gallons of wine lost to cork taint and oxidation, better (albeit admittedly less sexy) enclosures will start to take over, ensuring quality wine with every bottle – or, er…box as it may be.

2. North American wine regions will be recognized as more than "California." Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and even Mexico have established up-and-coming, internationally acclaimed wine regions. Further, states with vastly different wine regions will become known for those on an individual basis, rather than lumping all of them together under "Oregon" or "New York."

3. The triumphant return of Merlot. Finally, the backlash caused by both my dad and Sideways calms down and consumers once again herald the release of single-varietal, not-overly-oaked, age-worthy Merlot from all over the world.

4. The individual palate will outweigh the 100-point score. People will stop putting all their eggs in the score basket and begin to trust their own taste buds. A good starting point, the score has gotten diluted, overblown, and uber-ubiquitous. (My current fave: a lovely, low-scoring 85-pointer.)

5. Chardonnay will become the Willamette Valley’s principal white grape. With such similar conditions to Burgundy’s incredible Chardonnay growing regions, it’s not so far off for me to hope for similarly-styled wines that fit both my palate and my pocketbook.

6. Sparkling wine will be …consumed like still wine, rather than saved for celebratory events. One of my favorite everyday pairings: potato chips and Champagne!

7. Classic wine paraphernalia enjoys a renaissance. No more bubbling aerators, motorized wine keys and pressurized stoppers. Decanters will once again be the belles of the ball, and everyone will own a Screwpull.

8. Wine will be served at the right temperature. There may be no better thing that the restaurant industry can do for the wine industry than actually present wines the way they were intended to be presented.

9. The United States decides to better regulate its wine industry. No more doling out AVA status to every Tom, Dick and Harry who just happen to have gotten first place in line at the TTB. "Reserve" will mean something more than just a heftier price tag, and California will actually have to make 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in order to label their wine Cabernet Sauvignon.

10. Mobile Websites for Wineries will help facilitate tasting experiences and wine purchases. Consumers will be able to make appointments on their way to the winery, download driving directions, and purchase bottles of wine with ease - all from their smart phones.

Time Posted: Dec 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM