Every trip I take to a wine producing region to taste wine results in some memorable tasting room experiences. Having spent less than 2 days so far in Oregon I've already tasted some great wines and met some friendly folks.
But then I walked into Kramer Vineyards late in the day yesterday. After a few minutes at the very welcoming tasting bar sampling one of their tasty sparkling wines I was asked if I had any interest in tasting a six year vertical of their Barrel Select Pinot Noir. Any interest? I had to laugh, this is exactly the sort of thing you hope to stumble accross when you're out wine tasting. And to make it even more appealing it was an incredibly modest $12.00 for the privilege.
I was ushered into the back room where I sat with the owners and winemakers Trudy & Keith Kramer as well as their friends the Lint's (RJ & Junaita) who it turns out are in the process of getting their own winery (Plum Hill Vineyard) up and running. Then I was also introduced to Marilyn Blen who seems to do a variety of different things around the winery including acting as in house chef (more on that later).
I sat down and was poured generous quantities of the above mentioned Pinot Noirs from vintage years 2002 through 2006. The 2006 came from a barrel sample as it's a few months away from being bottled.
Each of the Pinot's was well balanced and very drinkable. In the 2001 you can detect that it's optimum drinking window is coming to a close. But it's very enjoyable right now and the color has muted a bit from the cherry red of a young Pinot to take on some rust color.
The nose on all 6 was very distinct. The 2006 promises to be a blockbuster. It has a bigger almost jammy nose with lots of dark fruit. By the time it's released next fall it should really be singing.
My favorites were the 2003 and 2004. The 2003 was incredibly perfumed and just beautiful to drink. The sort of wine you want to grab a bottle of and sit outside and consume every last drop of. The 2004 also had a unique nose which I could not quite put my finger on. Anise came to mind but I'll reconsider when I taste it again.
We then moved on to their 2004 Heritage Pinot. WOW, What a tremendous wine. A big round mouth-feel, lots of cherry and spice characteristics and a lengthy finish. Just fantastic.
It was at this point that I was asked to hang with them for dinner. How could anyone ever say no to this friendly, gregarious bunch. We enjoyed salad and a slow cooked brisket that Marilyn had prepared with her family's plum BBQ sauce recipe. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe it. Of course several other wines were poured with the meal including a unique one called Carmine I believe. It comes from several grapes being combined genetically. The last wine was a Pinot port. A terrific way to end, it paired nicely with chocolate.
Close to 3 1/2 hours after I walked into Kramer Vineyards I actually left. Richer not only with the new wines I discovered but with an incredible few hours spent with some genuinely lovely and generous people who happen to make delicious wine and sell it at a very fair price.
If you have the chance visit them. If you don't have that opportunity order some through their website KramerWine.com.