Eugene Weekly : Wine : 4.1.10


Foolin’ Around
Tea baggers can’t be choosers
By Lance Sparks

We’ve had too many fools to fool around: I hope Eugeneans had the chance to view the recent tea-bagger demonstration, screeching hatred of the health reform bill and captured on YouTube, wherein a counter-demonstrator sat in front of the ’baggers, guy holding a sign noting that he had Parkinson’s disease. Two truly macho badass ’baggers got in guy’s face to let him know that he’d get no “handouts” in this neighborhood. One ’bagger went so far as to throw money in the sick guy’s face, then strut away most manly. Makes you wonder how his species handles health care, and what novel forms of fundraising they employ on his planet. My brother David suggested maybe Mr. Bag had smoked too much Palin.

I’m fairly sure the macho ’bagger wasn’t connected to wine — as maker, grower or otherwise — largely because winefolk have such a strong record in support of a wide variety of charitable causes — and I’ve never heard of anyone in wine-world tossing, say, a glass of pinot into the face of a person suffering from a crippling disease.

For a rather different view of how community oughta work, check out the epic efforts of Robert (Bob) Canaga, who set out this year to stock the annual auction supporting the Oregon Mozart Players by soliciting one bottle from every Oregon winery. Canaga’s blog  tells a lovely tale ( of generous people and tasty tipples. More than 250 wines will be auctioned (some silent, some oral) at this year’s event, titled “Rhapsody in Blue,” starting at 5:30 pm Friday, April 9, at the Eugene Hilton. Call 541-345-6648 for reservations and prices — also to arrange phone bidding, if you must. Canaga’s blog, while fun to read for many reasons, also contains a list of the wines, most quite spectacular — but I really want Howard Hughes’s hat (auction item).

It’s generally known that hard economic times have slowed wine sales and driven down prices, at least for consumers, so the generosity of the winemakers must be applauded. At the same time, as consumers we might cheer ourselves by finding superb quality wearing affordable tickets. Like these:

Last year’s bargain in high-flavor pinot noir is back for a reprise. Veridian 2007 Estate Grown Pinot Noir ($13!) is just terrific for the price — distinctive cherry/raspberry fruit, some spice notes, enough oak to add depth, enough acidity to complement rich foods. It’s also proof among some Oregon pinot-fiends that the 2007 vintage produced some jewels of genuine Oregon pinot noir character; one very knowledgeable nutball of our acquaintance insists that 2007 was the BEST vintage of the decade. Sheesh, what a crazoid — but he’s no tea bagger.

Of course, there’s added evidence from Lemelson’s Six Vineyards 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($18), rich and round and satisfying, with a pretty pinot profile, flavorful and well-balanced.

Want a super Oregon chardonnay? Finding Domaine Meriwether 2005 Chardonnay Willamette Valley ($16) might take some sleuthing, but following this trail will lead to a glass of pale gold elixir. And, yeah, I got the year right; Buzz Kawders, owner of Domaine Meriwether, said, “It’s our philosophy to let our wines have time in the bottle before we send them to market. That gives the wines the chance to round out and come together.” This chardonnay had time in neutral French oak barrels, melding the chardonnay flavors for citrus and tropical notes, carefully framed and balanced.

All that, no foolin’, no baggin’ …