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Speed Wine Tasting and Blogging in Portland

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You know about speed dating, but what about speed wine tasting?  In Portland at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference we're tasting Oregon whites and rosés at a breakneck rate, and blogging about it live as it happens.  Ten wineries showed up to pour, trying to convince us that their wines are blog-worthy all in five minutes.  Is this a good way to try wine, or just a gimmick?  Let's go...

First up -- Amity Vineyards.  Matt from Amity offers a 2009 estate dry Riesling.  Ninety-one cases made.  Old vine Riesling -- some planted in 1971.  There's petrol and flowers on the nose and it is super dry with lots of citrus.  Not bad for $20, but you have to get it at the winery.  This one has potential. The bell rings for a winery change.  Go!

Winery #2 - Brooks.  I don't know this winery.  Jaime is here, and it's her family winery. We've got the Ara 2009 Riesling. More flinty minerality in the bouquet, with white flowers too.  $25.  A little off dry, not too sweet at all.  Lots of citrus with a little creaminess from stone fruit.  Liking this one!

30 second warning...

Now -- Francis Ford Coppola Winery.  What are they doing here in Oregon?  Thought it was going to be all Oregon wines, but I guess not.  They're pouring Votre Sante, a 100 percent Chardonnay, a second wine to the main brand.  $10.  I'm more of an ABC drinker, and this doesn't win me over.  I love the label, laser cut grapevines, looks a little bit like lace.  Good tip:  look for Coppola's interview with Howard Stern on YouTube.  Alas, not a contender for me.

And on to the next... John with Alexana Winery.  This winery is owned by Dr. Revana who owns the Revana winery in Napa.  This is a 2011 Pinot Gris.  The Oregon winery sources fruit for this wine from the Dundee AVA of Oregon.  500 cases made and retail is $26.  This is one of the best Pinot Gris wines here at the conference.  Revana also has a winery in Argentina.  Lynn Penneer-Ash makes the wine; that's why I like it as I am a big fan of Penner-Ash wines. I definitely want to see this wine again.

Whoa this is going super fast now! Here comes Johan Vineyards, pouring their 2009 reserve Chardonnay.  This is the first winery I visited on the pre-conference tour.  It's in the Willamette Valley.  Loved their Gruner, and I'm on waiting list for when it is released later this year.  They also make these incredible "experiemental" wines, especially their Pinot Gris wines.  Dan, the winemaker is pouring.  Creamy nose, citrus, pear shine through.  $32 per bottle.  Oak is 50% new and for 18 months.  Nicely integrated.  It's an elegant Chard, not one of those big butter bombs.  Small operation, 3000 cases.  They also make a Blaufrankish. Can't commit.Time's up!

Five rounds down five rounds to go.

Benton Lane's up now, pouring 2011 Pinot Gris.  Their labels look like big postage stamps.  We're told a fun fact, Pinot Gris was first planted in the United States in Willamette Valley in the late 1960's.  Shows us photo of how grape clusters are kind of pinkish.  This wine was just released.  More honey on nose.  It's nice, not the best... hard to follow the fabulous Alexana.

Yikes... now another winery. Maryhill Winery is pitching us.  This is another non-Oregon winery, located in Washington State.  They are pouring a 2011 Rosé of Sangiovese.  Nice change up!  85K cases per year. Absolutely light rose color!  Nose is full of strawberries and lots of it on the palate.  Has a little minerality and lots of acid. OMG it's only $9.99.  They make 32 kinds of wines.  Won Best of Show Rosé in West Coast Wine Competion this year.  I can taste why. Worth searching for!

Next up... the Doctor is here.  Riesling from Mosel (guess if you can have a Cali and Washington State wine you can bring in international wines too).  Yes, it's a Dr. Loosen Riesling.  Yipee. It's a dry (Trocken) wine.  Called "Red Slate" because the slate in the vineyard where it grows is red.  Pretty cool.  Classic Mosel Riesling.  And it's only $15.  Great starter wine for people who are afraid of Riesling.  Do not fear Riesling!  Available in most of the United States.  Definitely need to see again.

Here is the team from Recuerdo, bringing their 2011 Torrentes.  Recuerdo is owned by Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley, but Recuerdo is in Mendoza in Argentina. Recuerdo means memories in Spanish.  They brought goodies!  A cute little bottle of the wine.  Fantastic esp. at $15.  Floral nose, some nice minerality.  Grapes come from a high desert vineyard at 3200 ft. with sandy clay. Good acidity too, and they brought a recipe for a shrimp and chorizo dish.  Can't wait to try.  In 2013 they will open spa and hotel.  Book me now. $17

A Portuguese wine from Herdade do Esperåo, the Duas Castas 2011 is next. Semillion and Viosinho make the blend.  Clean and crisp.  The winery is in the Alentejo region of Portugal.  Honestly by this point my head is spinning.  Hard to go last.  Not a great first impression.

We are done.  Wow, what a fast hour! Not sure this is the best way to try new wines. As you are sipping, each winery rep is pitching.  So you start blogging, and of course don't hear everything said.  You barely have time for one or two sips.  Based on this tasting, I'd like a second date with the Alexana Pinot Gris and either the Amity or Brooks Rieslings.  But I've decided to skip the live speed blogging round with the red wines.  I'd rather take my time getting to know each glass.

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