This week we attended the monthly Supper Social at the Southeast Wine Collective in Portland. The Collective is one of our favorite places to recommend – especially to out of state visitors. Most are flying in and out of Portland and in a short trip can’t visit all of Oregon wine country. With 10 urban wineries and 20 varietals under one roof, this working winery and tasting room give visitors a chance to taste a wide range of Oregon wines.
Special tasting opportunities at the Collective include the Guest Winemaker Series. Every week they host either a Collective or guest winemaker at the tasting bar so visitors can taste with the winemaker and get their thoughts first hand.
Supper Socials occur monthly and vary by theme. Some include cooking or wine demonstrations. All include an opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow wine lovers, ask questions of the winemaker, and try pairings from some of Portland’s most renowned restaurants.
The December 2014 Supper Social featured food from Kachka. This Portland restaurant features authentic Russian cuisine and has been named “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater and Willamette Week, “Cuisine of the Year by Portland Monthly and has received mentions in the New York Times Restaurant Report, Don’t worry there is plenty of gratuitous full frontal foodity later in this article.
The real treat for wine geeks like us was the chance to try sparkling wine from five different producers. Sparkling wine is a bit of a well kept secret in Oregon. We love sparkling wines but they can sometimes be a bit predictable. If you know the method of production you can guess the flavor and style profile. We were excited by both the quality and the diversity of this line up. These Oregon producers threw us some curve balls.
Kramer Vineyards 2011 Brut is a 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot noir traditional method sparkling wine. Kim Kramer explained that this is the wine she set out to make when she began crafting sparklings in 2006. These wines must just keep getting better. This is the only one in the line up we had tasted before and we were excited to have it again. Very pleasing on the nose this wine offers juicy yellow apple flavors with a crisp clean and delicate balance on the palate. We normally make quick work of a flute of sparkling wine but were running our mouths long enough to experience changes in the glass. Within a few minutes we noticed prominent notes of dusty minerality.
|Photo courtesy of ENSO|
ENSO Owner/Winemaker Ryan Sharp is known for experimenting. In the past he has made a still, rosé, and an orange wine from Pinot gris. Those in the know might have had their expectations about his sparkling but there was a surprise twist. Not only was it 100% Pinot gris, but it was also crafted using the *method ancestral. ENSO claims this is their first and probably last sparkling. We hope that isn’t true. This wine had such interesting baking spices on the nose and palate.
*Method ancestrale or method rurale is an uber traditional way to get bubbles in your wine. It sometimes happened by accident which is how sparkling winemaking began. In this method the wine is bottled during primary fermentation with residual sugar so the fermentation continues in the bottle and traps the carbon dioxide bubbles. ENSO did disgorge so most of the sediment has been removed. The bit that remains lends interest and, according to Sharp, ageability to the wine.
These wines were paired with house cured coho salmon roe which we all piled atop yeasted blinis with chives, butter and egg; veal tongue dressed with pickled cranberries and horseradish cream; bay shrimp “olivier”; and baltic sprats – little smoked fish on pumpernickel toast.
Buns stuffed with dungeness crab and rich broth were perfect for dunking and devouring. This sparkling is a first for Division. This winery is owned and operated by Tom and Kate Monroe – who also founded Southeast Wine Collective. Lovers of French wine, especially the Loire and Burgundy regions, the Monroes crafted this wine from Chenin Blanc (from Yakima), Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Kate Monroe explained they chose these varietals for “lots of texture.” This wine is not yet released and is a bit like a toddler. Just when you think you have a hold it shifts a bit beyond your grasp – slippery bugger. There is a definite orange zest and spice. We are excited to see where this wine is going but are certain it will be full flavored.
Who could resist dumplings filled with foraged mushrooms paired with a sparkling Willamette Valley Pinot noir. Beautiful depth of color, delicate strawberry flavor, a fantastic mousse, and a crisp finish define this wine. Owner and winemaker Jim Prosser sourced this fruit from the oldest block, Front Block, on the prestigious Temperance Hill in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. Normally he makes Antoinette Pinot Noir from this fruit but the cooler 2011 vintage produced “perfect chemistry for sparkling.” Prosser explains, “My sister is my general manager, When I told her I planned to make a sparkling she said ‘Oh good, bubbles, there’s not many better ways to lose money.'” Prosser might have a little fun proving his sister wrong!
We admit this is not a classic pairing – but it totally worked. The brisket was so melt in your mouth tender it didn’t need the tannins of a big red to tenderize it. The latkes were served with applesauce that paired well with the fruit in the wine. This is truly a petrol lover’s sparkling wine. This is Teutonic’s first sparkling release and it fits Owner/Winemaker Barnaby Tuttle’s criteria of “old and cold, wood and wild” – old vines, cool climate, neutral wood (no stainless) and wild yeasts (for the primary fermentation.) If you think their 2009 sparkling Riesling has something to say, get ready in a few years for the 2013. Barnaby Tuttle said, “I could get hit by a bus and die happy now that I have made the 2013 sparkling Riesling.” Click here for the description on what a “pain in the arse” it is to make sparkling.
|Photo courtesy of Teutonic Wine Company|
For information on upcoming food and wine events at Southeast Wine Collective see this site. But don’t hesitate to pop in for a random visit. There are always artisan food options and a broad selection of Oregon wines.
Collective Winery Members
- 5Q Wines
- Division Winemaking Company
- Fullerton Wines
- Jackalope Wine Cellars
- James Rahn Wine Cellars
- Jasper Sisco
- Helioterra Wines
- Ore Winery
- Willful Wine
- Vincent Wines