On What's Hot:

In America-Santa Barbara County's phenomenal Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. In France-The Southern Rhone, Provence, and Languedoc. The quality from the South is only getting better, and the current vintage,'98, was the best vintage of the '90's. In Italy-Tuscan reds, particularly Rosso di Montalcino; Barberas and Dolcettos coming out of Piedmont; Friuli whites.


Don't miss a world of wine


In a relatively short time, the World of Wine Festival has emerged as perhaps the best annual opportunity for sampling Southern Oregon wines under one roof. And it's coming around again in less than a month.

Thirty-two wineries and vineyards plan to participate in the fourth annual festival at Del Rio, west of Gold Hill, from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

They are Abacela, Agate Ridge, Belle Vallee Cellars, Bendock Estates, Brandborg, Carpenter Hill Vineyard, Cliff Creek, Daisy Creek, Del Rio, Devitt, EdenVale, Fiasco Winery at Jacksonville Vineyards, Foris, Girardet Wine Cellars, Henry Estate, Hinman/Silvan Ridge, Joe Dobbes Family Estate, Madrone Mountain, Marshanne Landing, Paschal, Red Lily, Rosella's, RoxyAnn, Sara Powell Wines, Schmidt Family Wines, Skipping Stone, Spangler, Trium Cellars, Valley View, Velocity Wine Cellars, Volcano Vineyards and Weisinger's.

A competition will again be held in advance, with results posted during the festival. Judges this year are Andrew Fortgang, sommelier and beverage director for Craft Restaurant Group, New York; Cole Danehower, publisher and editor of Oregon Wine Report, Portland; and Kimberly Paley, general manager and owner of Paley's Place Bistro and Bar, Portland.

Organizers say fewer tickets will be sold this year in hopes of making the space — in a large tent — a little less crowded. Ticket outlets are Del Rio Vineyard, Gold Hill; RoxyAnn Winery, Medford; Elegance Fine Wines, Grants Pass; and Allyson's of Ashland. Proceeds will benefit La Clinica del Valle, the Rogue Valley Grapegrowers Association and the Southern Oregon Winery Association

AN EARLIER COLUMN MADE note of the fine yet inexpensive "R" label merlot made by RVW Company at Eden Valley Orchards, which is also the home of EdenVale wines. Now the firm has come out with a chardonnay, and it's pretty good. The wine is fruit-forward and has a creamy texture. The Pacific Wine Club store in Medford sells each for $6.99. A few more places may have them.

A lot of good wines are being made locally, but many sell for $15, $20 or even $30 a bottle or more. So it's refreshing to find quality at the lower end of the price range.

ROXYANN WINERY OF MEDFORD reports that its 2005 Pinot Gris won a gold medal at the recent Los Angeles County Fair. Nearly 4,700 wines from around the world were entered in that event. RoxyAnn's latest release, 2004 Claret, a red blend, won a silver medal at the 2006 International Eastern Wine Competition in Corning, N.Y. It's one of the oldest and largest competitions in the United States with nearly 2,300 entries from 16 countries and 34 states.

THE WINE LIST AT THAI BISTRO in Medford is relatively brief but notable for attractive prices. I had a glass of Rodney Strong chardonnay with spring rolls and cucumber salad for $4.75. The same wine costs $5.50 or more elsewhere. With an entrée of chicken in spicy sauce over cabbage, I tried Bridgeview's cabernet-merlot blend for $4.25. House wines start at $3 a glass.

KALEIDOSCOPE PIZZA of Medford continues to expand its rather amazing wine list. Now it's over 160 labels, at least 70 of them from wineries of the Rogue and Umpqua regions. Pours by the glass on my most recent visit included Velo red blend, Slagle Creek merlot, Valley View cabernet sauvignon and Wooldridge Creek chardonnay.

LIKE MANY ROGUE VALLEY restaurants that have rather limited wine selections, Shoji's of Medford pours Copperidge as its house wine, with chardonnay and merlot among the choices. But there's usually a special of the day, as well. The recent night we visited, it was Hogue riesling from Washington state for $2.95 a glass, a price that's hard to beat.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING for a drinkable jug wine, have seen Peter Vella boxes on the shelf but don't want to risk buying 5 liters of something you might hate, plan to have dinner at the Mazatlan Grill in Central Point. Peter Vella is its house wine. The usual white, red and blush table wines are $3.25 a glass, chardonnay and merlot each $3.75. I had a glass of chardonnay with my cheese enchilada dinner. Not bad.

A GOOD VALUE: The Pacific Wine Club store in Medford recently poured samples of an Australian red blend called Oxford Landing 2004 GSM. It's 50 percent grenache, 40 percent shiraz and 10 percent mourvedre. The result is fruity and delicious. Price is about $7. The Wine Advocate gave it 87 points and a "best buy" designation.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at clevelinda@msn.com.

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