On Wine and Food Matching:

There are no rules! Try everything and see what you like. Forget the old "red with meat, white with fish"-it's completely irrelevant. Instead, if you live in a climate like the Northeast, you might make a seasonal choice: red in winter, white in summer. But a good wine will carry any dish.


Local tempranillo wins again

A tempranillo from Medford and a syrah from the Applegate Valley have won the top awards at this year's Greatest of the Grape. Judges singled out EdenVale's 2003 Tempranillo and Valley View's Anna Maria Syrah for their platinum medals.

Results of the professional judging were announced at the finale of the 2008 Greatest of the Grape annual wine and food party staged by the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association. It's held each March at Seven Feathers in Canyonville.

Judges this year were Bob Bentley, founder of the Olympic Peninsula (WA) Enological Society; Paul Sinclair, longtime member of the "Wine Press Northwest" tasting panel; and Lance Sparks, "Eugene Weekly" contributing writer specializing in wine.

It was another fine bit of recognition for the EdenVale Tempranillo, which had already won a gold at the 2008 Oregon Wine & Seafood Festival in Portland and silver at the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle competition. And the Anna Maria Syrah is a personal favorite of mine.

The judges also awarded three gold medals and four silvers in the Greatest of the Grape competition. Golds went to Brandborg 2006 Pinot Noir from Elkton, Cliff Creek 2004 Syrah from Sams Valley and Spangler 2006 Cabernet Franc from Winston. Winning silver medals were Anindor 2005 Fallen Oak Pinot Noir from Elkton, Foris 2006 Pinot Blanc from Cave Junction, Juliana 2006 First Harvest White Blend and Melrose 2006 Viognier, both Roseburg area.

WHEN WINE COLUMNIST and critic Condé Cox recently presented his second of two tastings comparing Southern Oregon wines with similar ones from Europe, I attended. And local wines again withstood the test. Especially three from Valley View Winery near Ruch.

The Valley View Anna Maria 2005 Tempranillo compared favorably in a blind taste test with a similar wine from Spain. And the Anna Maria 2006 Viognier and 2003 Syrah held their own with wines from France that were equivalent in varietal and price.

"Tempranillo from Southern Oregon competes in the world market," said Cox. "Southern Oregon makes excellent viognier," he also remarked. And later, "Syrah has a future here."

Cox is Portland Monthly's wine critic and has a Web site at www.placeintheglass.com.

The wine bar at Ashland's Winchester Inn, where this tasting was held, presents several wine-related events each month. To see what manager Andy Phillips has planned, check the Web site www.winchesterinn.com. Click on "dining/wine bar" and then on "view wine events." No computer? Phone 488-1113.

GET READY FOR ANOTHER new local wine label later this year. Don and Traute Moore, who have long been growing grapes for others, are coming out with their own wines. They'll be called South Stage Cellars, the same name they selected for their new tasting room in Jacksonville (covered in our March 19 column).

The wines are being made by Joe Dobbes at his facility in the Dundee area, using Moore-grown grapes. They include pinot gris, semillon-sauvignon blanc, viognier, pinot noir and two red blends.

Samples were poured at a mid-March barrel tasting in Jacksonville. The whites should be released in mid-2008, the reds some months later.

Speaking of the Moores, the aforementioned Spangler cabernet franc that won gold at Greatest of the Grape was made with their grapes.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS, up near Salem, makes a variety of wines. They include the Griffin Creek label using grapes grown by the Moores of Talent. But as you might expect, the signature wine is pinot noir.

Pinots from Willamette Valley Vineyards are known for good quality at a fair price. While some Northern Oregon pinots command prices of $40 or more, Willamette's go for $25.

The latest release, 2006 Pinot Noir, continues that tradition very well. It's a delicious, quality wine with subtle, interesting flavors. The winery reports that the 2006 harvest was one of the best on record in both quality and quantity.

I BOUGHT A BOTTLE OF Redwood Creek chardonnay some years ago, disliked it and vowed not to try it again.

Then in February of this year, I attended a Medford fundraiser at which a rather pleasant chardonnay was being served. The brand? Redwood Creek. Either my taste buds changed or the wine has improved.

I next bought a bottle, 2006 vintage. Same result. A pretty decent white wine for the money ($9.19 for a 1.5-liter bottle at Food 4 Less).

Avoid the cabernet sauvignon, however. I tried that one, too (same price), and it was harsh and overly earthy, although it did get milder and more pleasant after being open for three days.

Redwood Creek is one of the many brands under the Gallo of California umbrella.

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

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