2012 Trada Pinot Noir, Dancin Vineyards

Head Winemaker Brian Denner  Photo courtesy of Jeff Danzik.

Head Winemaker Brian Denner fills barrels for aging.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Danzik.

“Our recent expansion allows us to use our estate’s natural topography for a gravity flow system that cuts out the need for pumps. We can get the wine from barrel to bottling with minimal agitation which is integral for great Pinot Noir because its delicate flavor is easily damaged” says owner of Dancin Vineyards, Dan Marca. “We want to make the best possible wine we can. That’s why natural and hands on processes are so important to us, for example we only fermented with yeasts from the fields” he goes onto say.  All great wine starts with high quality fruit in the field and Marca says that’s why “our Pinot is planted on north east facing slopes so it shades out in the afternoon. Since we do the entire winemaking process, from crush to bottling on our estate we have complete control. We taste each micro plot’s fruit so we can harvest at the exact perfect time and get it straight to crush”.

Brian Denner, Dancin’s head winemaker, explained what makes their processes great. “We sort through the clusters first in the fields and then an additional two times in the the cold room to make sure we get every single leaf, rock, bug, overripe and underripe grape. After destemming only the best makes it to the fermentation vat, the cleanest bin of grapes you’ll ever see. Additionally, we harvest each micro plot individually which allows us to carefully blend for a final vintage that not only captures terroir but also each unique growing season” he says.

The entire Dancin crew’s meticulous involvement is apparent in the wine. “We’ve made four 94 point Pinot’s and this last year our 2012 Trada was chosen after a blind tasting to be featured alongside seventy of the world’s best Pinot Noirs to be poured at the International Pinot Noir Celebration” Marca says, with obvious pride. “We are the first to focus on cultivating Southern Oregon Pinot for estate bottling. We are also the first to bring in grapes from the Willamette Valley to be crushed here.” He goes on to say, “We blend them with our estate fruit to showcase what is great about both the north and the south in a vintage called Pas de’Deux or dance for two”.

Dancin 2012 Trada, 100% Estate Grown Pinot Noir. 94 Points / Cellar Selection – Wine Enthusiast.

The wine that got Dancin selected to pour at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, the 2012 Trada is “Dark, smoky and toasty, this gripping wine is tight-knit and packed with raspberry and black cherry fruit, set against sweet baking spices. The balance is perfect” according to Paul Gregutt, of the Wine Enthusiast. Dan Marca describes it as “bright fruits and dark fruits that dance across the palate with a complicated finish”.

Named after a traditional Greek dance done on Easter Tuesday, the Trada is a blend of four clone micro plots, Wadenswil 2A, Dijon 114, 667 and 828. This wine was manually punched down and aged for fifteen months in French oak barrels. Needless to say it’s “extremely limited” and only available through the wine club, at a Dancin winemaker dinner and if any are left at the tasting room (limit one bottle max). Luckily, if you do get your hands on one of these beauties it promises to drink well for quite a few years to come.

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2014 Quady North Rosé

“The 2014 is the best vintage yet. It took us a while to realize what we wanted, to get the right combination of grapes, we needed a particular Grenache grown in the right way to achieve the dry style that we wanted” says Herb Quady.

“The 2014 is the best vintage yet. It took us a while to realize what we wanted, to get the right combination of grapes, we needed a particular Grenache grown in the right way to achieve the dry style that we wanted” says Herb Quady.

Made in the southern French style, it has a poised sweet aroma with a complex profile that maintains its lightness. A great balance of slight sweetness and acidity with floral notes ontop of flavor of cantaloupe and ripe strawberry. This is a drink now vintage best served chilled, alongside some delicious cured meat or soft cheese, and most importantly with friends.

“Even if the Rosé market hadn’t grown like it has we would still be making it. It’s a personal passion of mine” says Quady. “It’s a wine style to be impressed with emotion, to enjoy with a lifestyle to be enjoyed chilled on the warm sunny Southern Oregon evenings.”

Previously featured as a Rosé for the summer season.

Resiliency: 6/10 The sweetness and florality are best expressed in moderation.

Cannabis Pairability: 9/10 Try paired with a strong Sativa such as Green Goblin that has a strong musky skunky flavor that plays off the strawberry and melon sweetness to be paired with a dreamy and alert high perfect as the afternoon drags on and you’re ready to go swimming.

Affordability: 8/10

Dopeness: 8.5/10

2013 Cowhorn Vinyards Spiral 62

2013 Cowhorn Vinyards Spiral 62

2013 Cowhorn Vinyards Spiral 62

Cowhorn Vineyards is another great winery going back to basics. “Organic is a set of rules that focuses on eliminating adulterations, chemicals and additives while Biodynamic is the gold standard that does all of that plus focuses on cultivating life and health for the future,” says Barbara Steele, co-owner of Cowhorn Vineyards with her husband Bob. They ferment with only native yeasts from the field that they nurture and support with careful temperature control and sanitation. “This means each and every one of the vintages is affected by a unique combination of upwards of hundreds of distinct yeasts,” says Steele.

These methods have resulted in some great wine, the most essential being their Spiral 36, a Rhône style blend of equal parts Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. The 2013, still available for purchase, exhibits the similar zingy tropical citrus flavor and sustained honey finish that landed it and the 2012 vintage 91 points on the Wine Enthusiast. With a little bit of time the 2013 might show as much complexity as the 2011 vintage of Spiral 36 that ended up on Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer’s top three wines of the year. Not to bad for little old Applegate valley.

Resiliency: 9/10 Drink all day!

Affordability: 6/10 Well executed and at least more affordable than there other vintages…

Cannabis Pairability: 8/10 Pair like with like, try Lemon Haze with its zingy citrus profile.

Dopeness: 7.5/10

Upper Five 2012 Tempranillo, One for the Cellar.

How does magic happen? Is it the perfect balance of place, care and luck or is it the fact that it's fermented with wild yeasts straight from the field?

How does magic happen? Is it the perfect balance of place, care and luck or is it the fact that it’s fermented with wild yeasts straight from the field?

Upper Five’s 2012 Tempranillo is one of those rare sensory experiences that reminds you how awesome it is to be alive, also to have a tongue and working olfactory nerve. With notes of cinnamon, cherry and blueberry framed by a perfect balance of silky tannins and vibrant acidity, this vintage showcases the best new world Tempranillo has to offer. It’s an amazing wine grown right here in the Rogue Valley, and i’m not the only one who thinks so, it won a Gold medal at the 2014 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition.

“The best fertilizer is a farmer’s footsteps” and “wine is made in the field” are the theories that Terry Sullivan, owner of Upper Five lives by. However, it seems more likely that his use of Biodynamic growing practices, careful vine cultivation and attention to soil health probably have more of an effect on the final product. Though he employs the preparations he is not a Biodynamic certified grower but his meticulous “hands-on organic farming practices and hands-off natural winemaking philosophy” definitely produces great wine.

Resiliency: 7/10 Dynamic and balanced but still big, hard to drink for the entire day.

Affordability: 5/10 Unfortunately very limited.

Cannabis Pairability: 9/10 The blueberry flavor with solid tannic structure begs to be paired with the strong berry/sweet/earth profile of a strain like Grandaddy Purple.

Dopeness: 7/10

Sweet As man… Sweet As

Ecuadoras!

Ecuadoras!

“Deerlick Falls is like Sweet As man…”

True words dude, true words.

The pool carved into the rock by the south fork of the Umpqua river truly is as cool and refreshing as this Ale from GoodLife Brewing. The pool below Deerlick is around eighty feet deep and on the swirling azure bottom large orange crawdads aimlessly wander. A couple sips of the balanced malt profile of the Sweet As Pacific Ale and i’m just as blessed out as those crayfish. Refreshing while still full bodied, not too hoppy and not too malty this ale perfectly rides the balance of a summer day. Enjoy at a swimming whole near you!

Resiliency: 9/10 Enjoy all day at a swimming whole near you!

Affordability: 8/10 Cheap as Bro.

Cannabis Pairability: 9/10 Balanced brews pair with cannabis, they beg for cannabis. We experimented with the lovely Peaches & Creme

Dopeness: 8.5/10 Disclaimer this is Ferns favorite beer…

What mysteries lie below!

What mysteries lie below!

A Mermaid!

A Mermaid!

Immortal Spirits, State of Jefferson Distilling

Behind the Immortal Spirits' still the State of Jefferson flag is proudly displayed. These hardworking self made distillers make some wicked good product Southern Oregon style. On assignment for the Rogue Valley Messenger.

Behind the Immortal Spirits’ still the State of Jefferson flag is proudly displayed. These hardworking self made distillers make some wicked good product Southern Oregon style. On assignment for the Rogue Valley Messenger.

While there’s a craft brewer popping up on every corner there’s only one local distiller, Immortal Spirits. This is because “there are all these laws that are throwbacks to the prohibition era” according to Jesse Gallagher, owner. “It’s difficult to promote, to distribute, it took me nine months to get my first distilling license, I’m licensed as a liquor store here at my distillery in order to sell bottles. Luckily, OLCC has been really accommodating for us little guys”. He goes on to say that “I originally was a home brewer and dreamed of opening a brewery but this is where my passions focused. The difference is that you can make a great beer and be selling it within months, high turn around, high profit margin. With distilling you get your startup money and then you have to age your product for a long period of time, it makes it hard”.
Jesse laid out all of his products and demonstrated the drinks that best showcase them, videos available on their website. The room was hot from the still which had the State of Jefferson flag proudly hung behind it. Whiskey is all about age “we can’t compete with the guys who’ve been in the game forever, our oldest is four years. While that continues to age we’ve released our Early Whiskey, it’s young but it’s smooth” says Jesse.
Their Knarr Absinthe Verte, made with Oregon wine and homegrown herbs is served as a drink called the Garden Green, “a dangerous summer drink, the basil pumps it up and the cucumber mellows it down” according to head distiller John Madison. The herb and mint profile leads to a long dynamic finish. His favorite is still the Eau de Vie Poire, a liquor made with only Southern Oregon pears that “tastes just like my favorite fruit, the asian pear”.
“We’re DIY kind of people and we’ve had to be” says Jesse, “we fabricated the stills, for a while I was ever re coopering barrels”. He’s not sure why there isn’t a strong craft distilling scene but laughs when he describes “those people who only drink Oregon beer and Oregon wine but if they want a shot they go crack open a bottle of Jim Bean”. He goes on to conclude “there’s about to be more people concerned with hyper local distilling, we’re poised on this precipice and I really think having a tasting room serving specially designed cocktails made with our own bitters to present the best, most unique flavors possible will really help spread awareness”. If the quality and poise of Immortal Spirits products are any indication, theEarlyn the Rogue Valley has exciting times to come.

Harlequin

Harlequin

O you sweet Minx, you body seducer, you harlequin Chip n' Dale dancer...

O you sweet Minx, you body seducer, you harlequin Chip n’ Dale dancer…

The flavor is incredibly woody, rich and syrupy. It has this taste of pine needles and hickory with a zesty zingy finish. Tastes a lot like weed in the Andes and makes my body feel like it’s soaring along sheer one-lane mountain roads wearing a poncho.

The body high is amazing and quite a bit different from an Indica, it’s relaxed without being sedated and chilled without being ripped. It hits just as fast as any other cannabis I’ve had, but in a totally different way. You don’t get trashed but you definitely burned some flower. The high CBD content causes ripples of decompression while the Sativa leaves you simultaneously uplifted and energized.

This strain is a medical user’s choice. The huge CBD content with minuscule amounts of THC was achieved through careful genetic breeding. The child of three Sativas, a Swiss landrace, a Thai and Colombian Gold crossed with an Indica from the mountains of Nepal. It’s a totally unique flavor, high and cannabis experience. Though Harlequin takes a long time in the drying room and the flowering heads can get top heavy so they need support, it’s totally worth the extra effort. A must have in the four plant repertoire.

According to Steep Hill Halent this strain has a profile of:

THC: 4-7% CBD: 8-16% THCV: 0-.5% CBG: .2-.9% CBC: .04-.4% B-Myrcene: .2-.8% a-Pinene: 0-.2% D-Limonene: 0-.2% Linalool: 0-.01% B-Caryophyllene: 0-.2%

Confrérie Des Vignerons Oisly & Thésée, Sauvignon Blanc

Drinking Mimosas at the river… Wait, actually it’s just white wine at nine in the morning.

Drinking Mimosas at the river… Wait, actually it’s just white wine at nine in the morning.

2013 Confrérie Des Vignerons Oisly & Thésée, Les Gourmets, Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France.

Definite flavor of Yellow Jacket nectar, funky and honeyish without being particularly sweet. Notes of apricot, grass and gamey on the nose. With a fairly short finish it has this sour/acid body with hints of wildflower honey and women’s perfume. Feels more suited to a French countryside picnic rather than the Oregon backcountry. Still wine, still good and we’re still more than happy to drink it!

We ain’t in France no mo’ bucky.

We ain’t in France no mo’ bucky.

Resiliency: 5/10 Funk is novel but threatens to overpower as the bottle diminishes.

Cannabis Pairability: 8/10 This is begging to be paired with a Diesel, try Sativa dominant Orange Diesel. All daytime, all wild, all pungent, these two make for some funky dance moves.

Affordability: 9/10 Another blowout item, the market seems to be inundated with this product at a great price. Buy now.

Dopeness: 7/10

Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout: I Hope I Can Digest This Stuff

Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout

In the morning the bottles are found among the ashes of the camp fire proving that it was beer, it did have caffeine, we were up late and it tasted a little too much like milk for my lactose intolerant sensibilities.
In the morning. I hope I can digest this stuff guys... I apologize in advance for the car ride home.

I hope I can digest this stuff guys… I apologize in advance for the car ride home.

Beer for passing around the fire. Creamy, oaty and rich this brew held up surprisingly well so far from its March bottling date. Paired with the strain Harlequin it tastes like what I dream my ancestors home on the moors of Scotland smelled like. Earthy peat flavor with wood and granite notes. Imagine one of those slate stone houses kind of build into the hillside with moss on the roof and nettles growing at the entrance to the door.
Resiliency: 5/10 Too milky.
Cannabis Pairability: 8/10 
Affordability: 9/10 It’s no longer Stout season, trawl along on the discount shelves!
Dopeness: 7/10

Notes From the Flight Path: Anderson Valley Brewing

Fern and I recently went to Anderson Valley Brewing and tried a whole bunch of beer. All were exciting, some more than others, as the second flight found its way onto our table we felt buzzed and wide eyed and a lot like this kitten.

“You know that moment right after you take psilocybin mushrooms again and you feel like”

“You know that moment right after you take psilocybin mushrooms again and you feel like”

Notes from the flight path:

O yes...

O yes…

The Gose Family, Kimmie, Yink & Holy Gose:

Salty sour, underripe raspberry, great for the first sip but then goes down hill, long saliva finnish, like mexican lime salt or the aftermath of a tequila shot. Malty apple cider vinegar.

Blood Orange Gose:

Slightly sweeter than previous Gose. Tastes like beautiful citrus, exactly like grapefruit weed strain with its earthy hoppy profile. Like echinacea with orange. It’s not overly sweet like what we wish all kombucha tastes like. Profile of tangerine.

Experimental Botanical Gose:

Like a lemonhead or lemon-lime slurpee but a beer! Big flavor herbal, first sip is the best. Totally rad, novel and a must if you visit the taphouse.

Brother David’s Double Abbey Style Ale:

Malty aroma, 10 second finish. Flavor of malty caramel, old cola, earthy morel truffle, cherry tree, elm, oats in a cellar. This is the best thing that comes out of monasteries suppressed sexuality, fucking great beer.

Nelson Saison:

Bubblegum with pabst, light slight sour, chamomile, wheat field, aroma of floral fruit hops, pesto! pesto! pesto! Tastes like you fell face first into a French farmer’s field.

Rye Barrel Stout:

Aroma smells of rye whiskey, or a oil pan after it’s been drained, literally like a black velvet with bourbon. Starts with whiskey sweet to full rich oaky oaty middle with slight tannin finish, like aftertaste of a bourbon shot. Really rich, the rye whiskey flavor comes through so strong its really perfect for a cannabis pairing. Delicious, delicious and delicious.

Double IPA:

Very bright hops, five second delay on finnish, bright light floral and tasty. Balanced and smooth, great hop expression without an overpowering bitterness.

Boont Amber Ale:

Flavor of toasted grain, toffee and plum with a slight hop profile this is quintessential Anderson Valley. Clean, crisp and refreshing this is the perfect beer for an afternoon or to finish up a long day of tasting.