Pulling up to a converted granary in the downtown of wine-centric McMinnville, Maria & Rob Stuart welcomed us with open arms and open bottles of their fantastic pink bubbly, Rosé d’Or.
Founded in 2002 by Rob, the winemaker and namesake, the winery produces authentic Oregon wines that are passionately crafted to be both easy to drink yet exquisitely diverse. Showcased under two labels – Big Fire (everyday drinkers) and the traditional R. Stuart label (reserve) – the wines deliver quality with each sip and live up to their “Seven House Rules.” My favorite?….number 7 – Good friends, good food, good wines – period. Amen to that!
And that is exactly what the Stuarts dished up for us at this very special wine experience…plus, so much more!
First we sampled six different Pinot Noir barrels, which were available for blending. Taking notes, we recorded the color, aroma, flavor, texture and acidity of each.Weber The first barrel from a vineyard in the Dundee Hills, featured characteristics of spicy dark cherries, pepper and nutmeg. Hischy With a more ripe cherry flavor, the second barrel from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, sipped with a juicy tenacity like biting into a fresh nectarine. Courting Hill Moving on to a barrel from the Willamette Valley site, the Pinot noir sipped with a light and tight body with notes of dark fruits. Elkhorn Ridge The fourth barrel also from the Willamette Valley highlighted a similar dark fruit flavor with blend of plum; yet with a rounder texture and soft tannins. Temperance Hill From a site in the Eola Hills, this Pinot noir hit the tonged with high acidity and cool blackberries and blueberries. Daffodil Hill The final barrel from the Eola Hills AVA filled the palate with rich tones of earth and a light cola flavor like a soda fountain that was low of syrup.
Then, the fun began! With a setup like an intoxicated mad-scientist spread out on the table before us – beakers, measuring tubes and wine glasses – we started slowly adding wines together in increments of 100 ml.
Calculating the percentage of each wine, we blended first the Elkhorn and Daffodil Hill to find a base that satisfied our mid-palate and then added the needed acidity from the Temperance Hill to make the Pinot zing and finally added a dash of Hirschy.
The results gave us our very own blend, which we graciously names “Gratitude.” With a ruby, red color and beautiful halo, the Pinot noir compounded in the mouth with luscious tannins and a layered flavor profile of rhubarb, raspberry, cherry and touch of white pepper. Finishing with fresh cranberries and a hint of toasted almonds, the wine will hopefully be a happy Thanksgiving pleaser.
And the best part of all….. after a little bottle time, R Stuart & Co Winery, will send us each a bottle of our creation when it is ready to go! I can’t wait to taste it!
*Thanks so, so much to Maria & Rob for hosting us and bringing this unique wine tasting experience to life with laughter and knowledge!
For a good laugh, also check out this photo of me on the Eugene Daily News trying to be all techie!