Posted by: David Stewart | November 26, 2014

The Radio of Wine

I know it’s hard to believe, but when I was in college, there were very few options for listening to music: records or the radio. As I started working part-time in school, I was finally able to afford to buy my own stereo and records. I didn’t even bother with getting a radio tuner, since I never listened to the radio, and it seemed like such low quality sound.

Dad said to me: “But how do you find out about about new music?”

A reasonable question! Often times a favorite musician would issue a new album, or I would hear about music from someone else. “If you like that, you might like this.” But radio presents a way to sample music directly. So when I had saved up enough money, I bought a tuner.

Wine can be quite similar. If you find something you like at a price point you are comfortable with, why not just keep buying it and drinking it!

On the other hand, you might have friends who share your tastes and can offer some insight into new wines. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something like radio for wine?

The wine tasting festival is kind of like the Radio of Wine.

You are issued a wine glass, sometimes a cheat sheet of the wines available or a “spit cup”, and cast loose to try wines. Usually there are a few nibbles of cheese to cleanse the palate, but you are on your own.

I just attended one of these events this week. For $20, we were introduced to 11 different wineries and 30 different wines. I had heard of only a few of the wineries and only tasted the wines of one of them. These were all tiny operations without their own tasting room, so the person pouring the wine is either the farmer or winemaker – or sometimes both.

How many of these places will still be around in a few years? Who knows. But guaranteed, all of them had their passion on display and their wine on sale. Here were some standout introductions for me:

Harper Voit– Winemaker Drew Voit draws from his experience at Domaine Serene and Shea Wine Cellars to craft excellent wines for his own label, and to consult with several others who were at the tasting. But none of these wines taste the same! Once again, proving the point that different growing areas for Pinot Noir can produce very different results, even in the hands of a single winemaker.

Antiquum Farms– The farming method is totally Old School, the winemaking by Drew Harper of Harper Voit, but the result is fantastic. The 2012 Juel Pinot Noir was a standout.

Eminent Domaine– Their sophomore effort, a 2012 Pinot Noir, has already snagged a 94 point score from Wine Spectator. Pretty impressive for vines planted in 2009!

Leah Jorgensen– The “Pirate Queen” has followed a very different course than the rest of the pack. Cabernet Franc is a leading star here, and a Loire-inspired style.

If you are looking for a major wine radio experience and you are in the Portland, Oregon area for Thanksgiving 2014, there is a Thanksgiving Weekend open house at Beacon Hill Winery from 10AM – 4PM, Friday and Saturday the 28th and 29th of November, 2014.

And be on the lookout for wine tasting festivals. They are a great way to tune in on a new wavelength.


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