On the 3rd day we pair Riesling with a Tamales!

Libertine Riesling with Tamales

As we arrive at the 3rd of our 12 days of Wine, we are channeling a little decadence.  When I spoke with Alex Neely about pairing the Libertine 2015 Dry Riesling here was his suggestion:

This holiday season pair the 2015 Riesling with pork tamales doused in your favorite hot sauce. The flowery aromatics and kiss of residual sugar in the wine provide the perfect compliment and balance to the dish. My wife’s family has been eating tamales every Christmas Eve as long as she can remember. Since we have been together it is a tradition we continue in our house and have even introduced to my Southern family, much to their delight.

Alex Neely, Owner/Winemaker Libertine Wines
Libertine Wines, Alex Neely
Libertine Wines, Alex Neely

I will admit to not being anywhere brave enough to try making my own tamales, and I knew that here in Vegas I would be able to find a place locally that had them, so I went on a search.  What I found was a local Mexican family owned restaurant that has become a Vegas staple for Tamales.  Doña Maria Tamales has been in Vegas since 1980.  They make great tamales and have a fresh tortilla maker in front of the kitchen which is fascinating to watch.

I did a bit of research on how Tamales came to be a Christmas dish and found a great piece “Tamales: A Christmas Tradition”

The decadence tie in

Tamales a special event food, created typically in large quantities and meant to be shared with friends and family, I found this to be reflected in the Libertine label with Bacchus, the God associated with Festivals.  The tie in continues when you realize Bacchus was also the god of agriculture and “Corn was a very important crop in Mesoamerica, with people believing that people were created from corn. Tamales, because they were wrapped in corn husks, became part of ritual offerings. ” (from Tamales: A Christmas Tradition)

2015 Libertine Dry Riesling

Libertine Riesling
2015 Libertine Riesling

This wine comes from the LaVelle Vineyard in the Willamette Valley.  36 hours of skin contact and fermented outdoors for 5 months in neutral oak.  Alex aged them sur lie for a year and a half.  Unfiltered and unfined, it was lovely and decadent.

The Pairing

Libertine Riesling with Tamales
Libertine Riesling with Tamales

Normally you think of riesling and it’s bit of sweetness as calming spicy foods. Alex had suggested dousing the tamales in our favorite hot sauce.  I’m a little “white bread” on this one.  Michael doesn’t do “spicy” anymore, so we didn’t do the hot sauce,  and we actually found that the wine intensified the spicy notes in the tamales.

The wine had petrol on the nose and green apple.  It was tart and crisp on the palate and leaves your tongue a little buzzy!  While it increased the spiciness of the dish, the wine itself became sweeter on my palate when I paired it with the food.

We met Alex at a festival this past summer and you can see our interview with him here.

It’s not easy to find his wines, but they are worth searching for.  They are available mostly in Portland, but also in Beaverton and Hillsboro…all in Oregon.  He has a page of supporters, so go visit them and taste his wines!

As always be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date on all of our posts.

Vista Hills Vineyard and the Uncommon Wine Festival 2018

Sunset over the vines at Vista Hills Vineyard in the Dundee Hills

Vista Hills was the setting for the “Uncommon Wine Festival” that we’ve been talking about so much. This years was the 9th annual and before heading down there we had a chance to speak with Dave Petterson, Vista Hills Winemaker about the festival and how it got started.

The Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills Vineyard – The Mega Mix

The day itself was spectacular, not too hot, not too cold. The vineyards were beautiful, the wines were flowing, there was even a group on horseback that stopped by the festival, before continuing their ride through the vineyards.  And of course there were makers of “uncommon” wine there to talk and taste with.  Enjoy our Mega Mix of the day!

While we couldn’t catch Dave during the festival, we did have a chance to taste a few of his “Uncommon Wines”

2017 Fool’s Gold Blanc de Noir

100% Pinot Noir, this blanc de Noir gets pressed and gets no time on the skin, which allows for this lovely light coppery color. They fement it with a champagne yeast. They only made 121 cases of this wine.

The grapes come from their newest vineyard block that was planted just 10 years ago in 2008. Block L sits are around 720 feet. This is all Dijon clone 115.

2016 Rumble Seat Pinot Gris Rose

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

They call it a Pinot Gris Rosé, but it is really made in the style of an Orange Wine. You can’t find this on their site anymore. It is incredibly popular with their wine club and disappears quickly. Luckily, we snagged a bottle at the festival. As with all their bottles, it comes with a story.

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills

Rumble Seat 2016 Pinot Gris Rosé from Vista Hills label detail and story

2017 Duchess Pinot Noir Rose

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills

This wine is truly “Uncommon” the nose is cotton candy. Not what I normally look for in a wine, but…it was weird and fascinating. So, yeah, we left with a bottle of that too. Here’s it’s story.

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills label and story

Duchess 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé from Vista Hills label and story

The day was truly spectacular and the opportunity to meet and speak with all of these winemakers was once in a lifetime, well, until next year and the 10th annual “Uncommon Wine Festival”.

Take a visit to our page filled with all the fabulous winemakers that we met at the Uncommon Wine Festival filled with photos and interviews.

And for more information on Vista Hills Vineyard visit their website at http://vistahillsvineyard.com/

Update:  As we were finishing up this post yesterday in preparation to release this morning, the news broke that the Coppola Family was buying Vista Hills.  You can read about the acquisition here  https://www.kgw.com/article/money/francis-ford-coppola-buys-vista-hills-vineyard-in-dayton/283-607159415

We wish everyone at Vista Hills all the best and thank them for creating an Amazing Event with the Uncommon Wine Festival, as well as for creating beautiful wines and a magical place in the “Treehouse” to taste them.

read all about the Winemakers

Don’t forget to check back with us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles as we continue to explore Oregon Wine Country. And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Wine, Art & Hedonism with Libertine Wines Alex Neely

Libertine Bottle Shots

Libertine (as defined by Alex Neely)

Noun | lib er tine | \ ˈli-bər-ˌtēn \

“One who eschews all cultural values, pure hedonism”

On a side note Merriam-Webster tells us that the term originally meant “freedman” when it appeared in 14th-century English and evolved to include religious and secular freethinkers in the 1500s.  Freethinker…that pretty well describes Alex Neely.

We met Alex at the Uncommon Wine Festival held at Vista Hills Vineyards, an event that would seem to attract and showcase freethinkers in the wine world, so Alex was right at home.

Alex Neely, Winemaker

We spoke with Alex about how he came to wine making.

“I used to purchase wine for a fancy food store and I was a cheese monger as well.  I decided to go into wine production, so I called up the guy whose new world Rieslings I respected the most and that was Barnaby at Teutonic. So then I’ve been with Barnaby since 2014, as his assistant and helping run the vineyards, and then I’ve been making this label at Teutonic since 2015.  Started out with just some rieslings, and then just started getting some Dolcetto this past year in 2017 and I’m not too sure what the next year will hold but, we just keep adding on.“

The name Libertine Wines comes from the definition above and was shaped by his time at Reed College

“I majored in religious philosophy and mysticism and minored in hedonism”

We all laughed at that.  I was thinking back to college and figured, I kinda minored in hedonism also, but then…after reading about Reed College, I’m not sure it was a joke. Regardless, the wines he makes are an homage to that opulence.

“It’s how I live my life, I eat, drink and smoke whatever I care to and don’t worry about it.”

This stuff is new!

You won’t find this everywhere.  Alex just started releasing these wines about 3 months ago.

“I’m very new on the scene, but I’ve been hitting the market pretty hard, so we are in about 20 different places in Portland right now, but that’s it,  I just sell in Portland right now.  And then things like this, I’ve been to a couple, this is I think my 3rd group event, and then I’ve done like a whole bunch of other random tastings.”

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Art on the Labels

The labels will catch you.  They are the type that definitely draw your eye in a line-up of bottles.  Attracted to art that speaks of the wine and the story, his labels are unique and evocative.  From Carravaggios to psychedelic artists, you won’t forget these bottles.

“My wife helps me out as well she was an art history major at USC.  So I’ll find some goofy picture online and she’ll tell me what it is.”

2017 Sunnyside Vineyard Dolcetto Rosé

2017 Sunnyside Vineyard Dolcetto Rose

2017 Sunnyside Vineyard Dolcetto Rose

We started off tasting his 2017 Dolcetto Rose.  The fruit comes from the Sunny Side Vineyard down by Enchanted Forest. This vineyard in near Salem and sits off of Sunnyside Road near Rogers Creek.  The elevation is a little over 660 feet and the vineyard sits on a slight slope facing south west.  Soils here are Jory and Nekia. (Information from everyvine.com)

This rosé is foot stomped and sits in the cold room to soak on the skins for 2 days.  He then presses it off and it ferments with wild yeast.  It goes into neutral oak with just a tiny bit of sulfite as a preservative.  It’s unfiltered and unfined.

The label on this is “The Inspiration of Saint Matthew” by Carravaggio.

“And the legend has it, you’re not supposed to harvest Dolcetto until after Saint Matthews Day, so once I discovered that, I ran to my calendar and I was like s*^t, should I harvest this? Luckliy it was two weeks after, so all set.  I really like that he was the master of Chiaroscuro and I really like the contrast of the red against the black.”

The 2017 Acid Freak Rose

Libertine 2017 Acid Freak Rose

Libertine 2017 Acid Freak Rose

This wine was a bit of an accident, but a happy one.

“So I had a half barrel of Dolcetto rosé fermenting and there’s not much you can do with a half barrel once it’s done ‘cause it will oxidize.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but then I was pressing my Riesling off, it was late at night, I had filled up my holding tank  and there is still about 30 gallons left in the press pan and I said “screw it” I’ve had Riesling from Piedmont before, so I just pumped it into the Dolcetto barrel, they finished fermenting together, and then I liked it so much, I threw another barrel of each at it prior to bottling.”

With a wild yeast ferment in neutral oak, it again is unfiltered and unfined.  Just 71 cases were produced.

It is a familiar contradiction in the glass.  He says “Gentle yet rough. Soft yet hard. Strange yet familiar”.  It’s all that. I left with a bottle.

The artwork on this bottle came from him Googling “psychedelic picture”.  This picture popped up by the artist Larry Carlson.  The picture really embodied the wine for Alex so he contacted Larry and bought the rights.

2016 LaVelle Vineyard “Botrytis” Dry Riesling

Libertine 2016 Lavelle Botrytis Dry Riesling

Libertine 2016 Lavelle Botrytis Dry Riesling

This wine is a botrytisized skin contact Riesling.  It’s funny to hear a winemaker gushing over fuzzy gray grapes, but nobel rot will do that to you.

“So this particular year it came in with super pretty fuzzy gray noble rot, just perfect stuff.”

He found out about the botrytis from the guy growing the grapes, who asked what he would like to do with it.  Alex, unafraid, told him to let it go as long as it looked pretty, he was happy with it.  Botrytis has to have the right conditions, so this doesn’t happen every year and Alex was happy to have the opportunity to play with this. It hung a bit longer and developed nicely, then his wife and he footstomped the grapes and let them sit in the cold room for 5 days.  It went into the press, fermented and sat in barrel for 8 months.  At the time of this tasting it had been in bottle for over a year.

This wine has a beautiful nose and then surprising acid on the palate with a little tannic grip from the skin contact.

The artwork for both of the reislings is “The Triumph of Bacchus by Cornelis de Vos”.  Alex came across this painting right after he decided on the name Libertine.  ” I feel it embodies the true baroque opulence and pure hedonism of the Libertine. It is also a fun Rorschach Test as people tend to project their own personal views upon it. ”

2015 LaVelle Vineyard Riesling

This wine is also from the La Velle Vineyard, which is the oldest Vineyard in the south valley, 40 minutes or so North West of Eugene. The Riesling sits at the top of a hill at about 700 foot elevation.

This wine is the same vineyard, the same blocks as the 2016 “Botytis” Riesling.  2015 was a hot year and Alex wanted a slow cold ferment, but their production facility at that time was in the middle of the woods and without a cold room.  As a result it fermented outside through the winter, with Alex checking it monthly.   He definitely got a slow fermentation, it took 6 months to finish.  It then sat on the gross lees in neutral oak for another year and a half.  At the time of tasting it had been in the bottle for about a year.  It has the big rich style typical of 2015 vintage and a tiny bit of residual sugar, with great acidity.

On the beauty of honoring the vintage

“So the two (Rieslings) are drastically different because of the year.  I’m very vintage driven, I’m like let’s let the year shine through, everybody is like “Let’s let the soil shine through”, but there are a lot of other components going on.  I mean I could put a bunch of additives in there to make them all taste the same year after year after year, but where’s the fun in that?  My lob would be boring as hell.”

You can find Libertine Wines online at https://www.libertinewines.com/

On facebook or on Instagram where they have a great new sexy photo shoot posted with those bottles!

While they currently do not sell their wines on their website, they have a list of places you can find it in the Portland area https://www.libertinewines.com/where-to-buy

Keep checking back as they expand their reach!

You can also read our piece on the Uncommon Wine Festival, with our interview with Dave Pettersen the Winemaker and CEO of Vista Hills who founded the event, and check out other interviews we did at the festival with Ryan Pickens of Esther Glen Farm and Winery , Ariel Eberle of A Cheerful Note Cellars  and Jim Fischer and Jenny Mosbacher of Fossil & Fawn.  We look forward to bringing you interviews and discussions with all of the winemakers from this event, as well as details and visits with wineries in each of the Willamette Valley AVAs.  So check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles  and don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And if you want to dive into details on the Willamette Valley, you can read our recent post Oregon’s Willamette Valley AVAs – a Primer

The 9th Annual Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills

Willamette Valley Wine Country panorama

While we are visiting the Willamette Valley we will be attending the Uncommon Wine Festival at Vista Hills Vineyard.  Vista Hills Winemaker and GM, Dave Petterson took a little time out of a busy day in the cellar to talk with me about the origins of the event.

John and Nancy McClintock, the owners of Vista Hills started planting grapes in 1997. They started as many vineyard owners do, simply as growers. Around 2006 they started thinking about making wine and building their own label and tasting room. They brought on Dave Petterson as their GM and Winemaker to do just that in 2007.

Dave has been part of the Oregon Wine community for 20 years and he has always seen it as a supportive community. As a small winery, they were constantly looking at ways to get their wines out there and with the tight wine community that the Willamette Valley was at the time (and still is),they knew lots of people who were looking for the same thing.

In 2000 there were 139 Wineries in Oregon, in 2007 about 350 and today 725.

(Information from Oregon Wine Industry Statistics from the Oregon Wine Board)

In 2010 Vista Hills started the “Uncommon Wine Festival” to give themselves and other small producers they knew, a venue to get their wines tasted and seen.

This is a supportive wine community. Producers are generally smaller, in fact 70% of all Oregon Wineries produce 5,000 cases or less annually.

(A little perspective…there are producers in California who make more wine annually than the entire state of Oregon)

Quality has always been really important here. You will notice this in the labeling. Federal Regulations through the TTB allow for a bottle to be labeled from a place if 75% comes from that place. In Oregon, if it says Oregon on the label 100% of those grapes must be from Oregon. With specific AVA listing on a label, the Federal Government says 85% while Oregon says 95%. Same with Varietal labeling. Over most of the world the standard is 75% of a variety in a wine and you can call it by that name. In Oregon, they upped that to 90%. In Oregon, quality matters. 

(Information from Oregon Wine Industry Statistics from the Oregon Wine Board)

The winemakers who participate in the event come from all over the Willamette Valley. Most, but not all, are sourcing fruit. I have to admit that I love this. This gives you the opportunity to try different wines that may come from the same vineyard and see a different interpretation of that fruit by another winemaker.

Dave will be pouring what he calls his “backwards” wines at the event, his orange wine and his white pinot noir. His orange wine he has a love/hate relationship with (orange wines can be notoriously difficult). It is a white wine made in a red style, while the white pinot noir is a red wine made in a white style. He didn’t think he would continue making the orange wine after the first year, but the response from their club to both of these wines has been terrific. I love hearing that there is an interest in these more adventurous wines.

The festival last year was so large and busy, that they expanded it to 2 days this year, running Saturday July 7th and Sunday July 8th.

 

**Just released!  The list of Winemakers for the event include:

A Cheerful Note Cellars, Fossil & Fawn, Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Esther Glen Farm & Winery, Joyful Noise, Maloof, and Libertine!  (Expect to hear all about all of these winemakers when we return!  I’m off now to visit their sites and learn all I can about them!)

Here’s a little from their press release:

“UWF has become a Treehouse Tasting Room tradition and one of the most anticipated events we host all year,” said Dave Petterson, winemaker and general manager at Vista Hills Vineyard. “As a small producer in a big industry, we understand the importance of deserved exposure and creating wines that truly stand out. The UWF excels on both accounts.”

While Pinot Noir will make a prominent showing at the UWF, other varietals like Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Gewürztraminer will make appearances, often crafted in experimental fashions. Guests can sample wines and purchase bottles to take home. Accompanying the wine will be bento from Phat Cart PDX. Vista Hills will be pouring some of its own micro-production offerings as well, including two vintages of its signature Pinot Gris Rosé Orange wine and the Fool’s Gold Blanc de Pinot Noir.

The Uncommon Wine Festival is a launch pad of sorts, having featured many labels on the cusp of success and expansion. Past featured labels include Teutonic Wine Company, Fausse Piste, Love & Squalor, Jackalope Wine Cellars, Guillen Family Wines, Johan Vineyards and many more.

You can visit the Vista Hills site for information on this and all of their events.  But for the quick details the event runs from 11-4 both days and the $35 tasting fee covers samples sips from several wines from each of the producers.  Come early, cause wines may run out!  Also Phat Cart Asian Fusion will have short ribs and bento bowls for sale when you get hungry!

Sunday July 8th will also be the Wine Country ½ Marathon starting and ending at Stoller in the Dundee Hills. They will be pouring at that event also and look to see many of the participants at the Uncommon Wine Event later that day! So it will be a full day of great events in Oregon Wine Country!

 

***So we attended the event and it was spectacular!  Watch for a post detailing the event and for some in depth interviews with the amazing winemakers who where there!

We look forward to bringing you interviews and discussions with some of the winemakers from this event.  So check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram