A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Pinot Noir’

Gaston, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on July 7, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2032; A Landing A Day blog post number 450.

Dan –  Drifting away from150 with this OSer landing in . . .OR; 77/65; 4/10; 2; 151.2.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

Here’s my closer in landing map, showing that I landed about 8 miles from Gaston (and not far from Forest Grove & Cornelius, which are actually Portland suburbs):

landing 2

 Although Forest Grove & Cornelius are much bigger, I’m sticking with Gaston for the post.

 Speaking of Portland, here’s a broader landing map, where you can see Portland and my previous Gladstone landing (near Clackamas) – remember Scuba RX?:

 landing 4

For some reason, StreetAtlas has excellent stream coverage near my landing.  Check out this streams-only shot:

 landing 3

As you can see (sort of), I landed in the watershed of the Sain Creek (crazy name, eh?), on to Scoggins Creek; on to the Tualatin R (2nd hit). What you can’t see is that the Tualatin flows on to the Willamette R (11th hit) and on to the Columbia (143rd hit).  Imagine if I had landed right in the creek . . . that would be in Sain.

 Here’s an oblique GE shot, showing that I landed in hilly terrain, mixed agricultural and woodlands:

 ge 1

Backing way the heck out and looking north – here’s a broader view showing the greater Portland area and the Columbia with its majestic turn to the west on its way to the Pacific Ocean:

 ge 2

So, while perusing internet information about Gaston, I found that there are some wineries nearby.  I was having trouble finding my hook, so I figured that maybe it’s time for a wine post.  I couldn’t remember featuring wine before, and I know I haven’t landed in the Napa or Sonoma Valleys.  Perusing way back in ALAD archives, I found that my fifth post (landing number 1587, December 1, 2008) was near Elkton Oregon (about 160 miles south of this landing).  In that post I mentioned the River’s Edge Winery (in the Umpqua Valley wine region).  In fact, I posted a picture of a label of a 2002 Pinot Noir:

 Rivers Edge 2002 Pinot Noir

It turns out that Pinot Noir is the featured wine in the greater Gaston area.  The two closest vineyards to my landing are the Elk Cove Vineyard, and Patton Valley Vineyards.  Here’s a GE map:

 ge 3

 This, about Pinot Noir, from Wiki:

Pinot Noir is a black wine grape. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the grape variety’s tightly clustered dark purple pine-cone shaped bunches of fruit.

Chehalem_pinot_noir_grape    wiki s

Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France.  It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

 I consulted with my friend Bob Prewitt who has taught wine appreciation courses and really knows the ins and outs of the wine industry (he used to work in Napa and currently provides marketing advice to the hospitality industry, including resorts, hotels and wineries).  I told Prewitt (he goes by “Prewitt” more than “Bob”) about my landing, mentioned the two nearby wineries, and he emailed back:  

The two wineries are highly regarded and make a variety of Pinot Noir that sell around $50+. Great appellation.  Elk Cove makes a reserve that sells out at $100.  I don’t know the back stories except that the vintners are highly regarded as true artisans making some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir which are regarded in a class almost at the premier Cru Burgundy level.  Hugh Johnson once said, “I’ll drink anything as long as it’s red and as long as it’s Burgundy . . .”

OK, OK.  Prewitt’s a good friend, but I can’t keep up with him on all things wine.  “Appellation?”  “Cru Burgundy?”  I don’t have a clue.  And who the heck is Hugh Johnson, and why is he talking about a Burgundy (which I remember back in my college days as a super cheap Gallo jug wine)?

 Well, the Burgundy question  isn’t hard.  I mean, just forget Burgundy jug wine.  That’s not even on the radar for the wine crowd.  Burgundy is a region in France, and pinot noir is a primary grape of the Burgundy region.  Therefore, a pinot noir is by definition, a burgundy.  Get it, Gregoire?   Oui.

 To confirm, here are some words fromWiki about Burgundy Wines:

The most famous wines produced here—those commonly referred to as “Burgundies”—are dry red wines made from Pinot noir grapes and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. 

Whoa!  A Chardonnay is a “Burgundy???”   Live and learn.  So, what about Cru Burgundy?  Well, this about “Grand Cru”:

Burgundy has a higher number of appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more nonspecific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy goes back to medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry.

 Oh man, this is getting deep.  But Wiki gave me a link to Grand Cru, which actually directed me to simply “Cru.”  Under Cru, I found “premier Cru Burgundy,” which is the term Prewitt used.  Here’s what Wiki has to say about it:

Premier cru is a French language wine term corresponding to “First Growth” [so “cru” = “growth”], and which can be used to refer to classified vineyardswineries and wines, with different meanings in different wine regions. For Burgundy wine, the term is applied to classified vineyards, with Premier cru being the second-highest classification level, below that of Grand cru

OK, but now I have to circle back to “terroir.”  As a geologist (and someone who knows just a little Francais), this word has some substance, some …  je ne sais quoi.

From Wiki:

Terroir (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, “land”) is the set of special characteristics that the geographygeology and climate of a certain place, interacts with a grape vine’s genetics.

Wait a second!!  I’ve got to break in here.  Let me focus on how Wiki tells us to pronounce this word:  tɛʁwaʁ.   Are you kidding me?  One person in a thousand has a clue what that means!  Here’s my attempt:  tare – whah.  Make your mouth all Frenchy when you say “whah” – you know, a little throat, a little breathy, a little accent.  Anyway, back to Wiki:

 Terroir can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the wine.  Terroir is often italicized in English writing to show that it is a French loanword.

The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site. The amount of influence and the scope that falls under the description of terroir has been a controversial topic in the wine industry.

So, what about appellation (a term Prewitt also used)?  From Miriam-Webster:

A geographical name (as of a region, village, or vineyard) under which a winegrower is authorized to identify and market wine; also : the area designated by such a name.

OK, fair enough.  But how about  Appelation d’origine controlee (which came up twice)?   I can guess that this has to do with the authorization mentioned in the above definition.  Well, here’s what Wiki has to say:

The phrase translates as “controlled designation of origin” and is the French certification granted to French geographical names for wine.   These geographical names are under the auspices of the French government bureau Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité.

Those French take their wine seriously.  One more thing:  Prewitt quoted Hugh Johnson.  This, about Hugh from Wiki:

Hugh Johnson (born 1939) is a British author and expert on wine.  He is considered the world’s best-selling wine writer.  His vintage work – The Story of Wine – was a 13-part TV series for Channel 4 and Boston P.B.S., first airing in 1989. Since 1977 he has compiled his annual Pocket Wine Book, selling many million copies in up to 14 languages.  He was selected Decanter Man of the Year in 1995, was promoted Officer in the French Order Nationale du Mérite in 2004 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2007 ‘for services to wine-making and horticulture’.

I suspect that old Hugh would be a fan of the top-shelf Pinot Noirs from Elk Cove & Patton Valley . . .

Well, enough about wine already!  Ca suffit!  

Here’s a closer-in GE view of the Elk Cove Vineyard (the more scenic of the two local vineyards):

ge 4 elk

Here’s  an even closer-in GE shot:

ge 5 elk

And, yet closer-in:

ge 6 elk

So, I just happened to be checking out the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs and I bumped into Oregon Pinot noir again!  Here are excerpts from an LA Times article by Ben Bolch (who thinks the Spurs will beat the Heat) and here’s why (pay particular attention to item #3):

[Side Note:  I wrote the draft of this post a while back, before the series concluded with the Heat winning in seven games.]

1. The Spurs are a more complete, cohesive and consistent team. They don’t sell as many jerseys  . . .but, the steadier team wins this race.

2. The Gregg Popovich factor.  Popovich could easily be the best coach in NBA  . . .

3. Duncan > Bosh. At 37, Duncan seems to be aging like one of the top-shelf Pinot Noirs from Popovich’s Oregon-based A to Z Wineworks. . .

4. The emergence of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. . . .

5. San Antonio’s improved defense. . . San Antonio figures out a way to minimize an opponent’s strength as well as anyone in the league. Yes, we’re talking about you, LeBron James.

OK.  Obviously, what caught my attention is the fact that the coach, Gregg Popovich is an owner at a vineyard in Oregon.  Hmmmm.   It turns out, it’s only 10 miles south of Gaston.  From the website of the A to Z Wineworks, this about Popovich:

While best known for coaching the San Antonio Spurs to four NBA titles, Greg Popovich enjoys a rich life away from basketball. Well-read, he was a professor at Pomona-Pitzer from 1979 to 1986, and is an authority on Soviet history.  He has applied his thirst for knowledge equally to wine as a collector for over thirty years.  Not only is Gregg an expert in the provenance of his collection but he also has a superb palate and is conversant with winemaking techniques.  His eclectic 3,000 bottle above-ground cellar sits apart from the house as a retreat where he can, as he puts it, “sip wine and work out x’s and o’s.”

 [Recently-added comment:  I wonder if Greg took some solace in wine after losing the NBA championship . . .]

I’ll close with some Panoramio shots of the Elk Cove Winery.  First this, by  KYoung55:

kyoung55

And then this, by Brent Muno:

Brent Muno

And this, by Gregg Child:

Gregg Child

I’ll close with this shot (looking west) also by Brent Muno:

 brent muno 2

That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

 

 

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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