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Italy in Oregon

August 26th, 2010

I made the mistake of going to Italy in the Valley, an event showcasing the Italian varieties made by Oregon producers.  Last year’s event was pleasant, but there were only 3 wines of the 15 or so that I liked.

So this year, with 26 wines to taste, I was anticipating an interesting afternoon.

What I got was a mosh pit, no spit cups, chunky stem-less glasses with which to taste, and a run on the advertised pork sandwiches, leaving an uninspired vegetarian version.

The sheet describing the varieties had many errors.  Who would describe Sangiovese as tasting like strawberries?  Black cherries and leather, yes, but strawberries?  And for Lagrein, one of my favorite varieties, they list it as a blending agent with Pinot noir!  Where?  None of the wineries I visited in Alto Adige used Lagrein in their Pinot noirs.  So where?   Since when is Vermentino grown in Piemonte? Well, miniscule amounts of Favorita are indeed grown, but they are not made in much quantity and not very well distributed in the wine world.  The folks who wrote this list put it as a major variety grown there.  I don’t think so.  Tuscany, yes, particularly in Bolgheri and the Maremma.  Sardinia and Corsica, yes.  And in France, Vermentino is known as Rolle and is grown throughout Provence.

Getting to taste the wines took major effort.  You had to push through hordes of people to get to the tables, taste quickly, and spit on the grass as no spit cups were in evidence.  And since there were so many people, it was next to impossible to engage a producer and ask questions.

So what wines did I like?  More than three wines this time.

Marchesi Vineyards

Dolcetto 2009

Showed a bright cherry flavor, with great acidity and personality.  But at $25 a bottle, I could get a Piemontese version cheaper.

Ponzi Vineyards

Arneis 2009

Always a favorite, this wine showed bright apple notes, fresh clean acidity and a touch of almond.  Good depth of flavor and some length.

Remy Wines

Lagrein 2007

One of my favorites at these tastings, and also generally, this wine showed nice leathery and berry notes with its tannins under control.  Crisp acidity kept it nicely taught.  And Remy brought down her price for this, which used to be a princely $60/bottle. Now retails for $48.  Still high, but not outrageous.

Tartan

Dolcetto 2006 and 2007

Both showed very nicely, with bright cherry notes and fresh acidity.  The 2006 had a bit more body of course, but both wines showed well.  And slightly better priced at $22,

Troon

Vermentino 2008

Maybe Troon’s best wine.  This southern Oregon beauty shows bright citrus flavors, supporting acidity and nice length.  Very pretty wine.

Viento

Barbera 2007

Nice dark cherry flavors, and a slightly rustic but pleasant style.  The amount of oak used was judicious, and the whole package was a very nice drink.

Italian varieties, Oregon