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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Geek Note 10/24/2011

The Geek Note


Welcome everyone to fall in Southern Oregon.  The leaves are rapidly turning gold, yellow, orange and red but haven’t quite left the tree yet.  It’s always been a favorite time of year for me, October and its cooler but still comfortable days.  A walk in the woods or a drive in the country always brightens the day.  A look at all the hanging fruit in the vineyards tells a story of a cool summer.  The grape growers hoping for another week of warm and hot weather to bring a really good crop.  Some have picked early it may show in green wines and a sugar shortage over the coming weeks to make up for the lack of ripeness in some of the early picked grapes.  The Willamette has been hit much harder than Southern Oregon, more rain and cooler weather they are facing mold, bird loss and at the least a watery wine from this vintage.  We just took a trip up I5 through Oakland, Eugene then up 99 from Albany to McMinnville.  Wine stops at tasting rooms for Triple Oak Vineyard, LaVelle, and the tasting rooms in McMinnville.  I worked my way home via the coast with a night in Bandon and came home through Winston.  It always fascinates me how many different and diverse the number of wine makers in Oregon are. 

Sunset off the Oregon Coast

Back in the harness after that road trip weekend, here’s the Agenda for this Geek Note:

Average Cost of Wine in Southern Oregon
A visit with O.Jay Merrill and the wines of Merrill Cellars
What should we talk about now ?
The Buyers Guide Additions and FAQ
Upcoming Wines to be tasted

What should that bottle of Merlot really cost?
As a consumer you get a feel for how much a bottle of wine should cost for that basic, merlot, chardonnay or other favorite Varietal.  How much is the name worth, a trip from France, Italy of Australia.  Why and how could those wines be cheaper than the ones made down the road at my local winery\vineyard.  Places to starting answering that question, how about the book Wine Wars by Mike Veseth:

A in depth look at the wine industry, globalization and its effect on wine, you’ll learn bunches

Now take a look at “The Truth About Wine  Prices” from, you can go to the page by clicking the picture.


This should give you some instant perspective about that local bottle of wine you just bought.  Is it over priced or a bargain ?  If you’re a vintner, winemaker you may be asking the same question, or the question of “How do I compare to the other Southern Oregon producers ?”.  Well Oregon Wine Geeks is here to help with that question.  We have been compiling the website retail costing data that producers sell their wine at.  You may see it cheaper in a wine shop, or more expensive in a restaurant, but we used the price the producer sells a bottle for non-club discount.  The average, minimum and maximum price of a bottle is based on the 918 wines in our current database that had pricing.  This is the high level look, we are saving the different varietals and style averages for another article.  But we’d love questions and feedback.

Wine Prices in Southern Oregon

Does this mean a bottle of white wine over $19 is overpriced and that bottle $11 Cabernet Sauvignon is bargain ?  Hard to tell, but for the average price and above I expect a good to very good bottle of wine don’t you ?

The Wines of Merrill Cellars
If you haven’t had the chance go by the Merrill Cellars tasting room in Jacksonville, its next to McCully House right behind the Umpqua Valley tasting room.  If you get there on a day the O.Jay Merril the vintner is pouring you will get the whole story of the label, the wines and the adventure that brought him to winemaking.  If you’re really lucky his friend Allison will be there and you can listen to the sultry sound of her British accent lull you to better places.  O.Jay asked us if we would review all his current releases and write tasting notes for them.  We gladly accepted the challenge and the wine and notes are below, as well as on the site.

Merrill Cellars Current Releases 10/12/2011

2008 Merrill Cellars Cotes du Rogue

This is an inky Rhone red blend with some Petite Sirah instead of Mourvedre.  The nose shows black fruit, leather, tar, wood and floral characteristics.  A black fruit forward on the palate with a very complex full bodied middle.  The finish is long, tannic and compliments the middle, fruit and nose. This will improve further with aging but very enjoyable now.  A Cotes of a slightly different drummer.   91 points  $35

2010 Merrill Cellars Cotes du Rogue Blanc
This white blend of Viognier and Marsanne is silver tinted and very clear.  Floral nose, pears, and apricots abound.  The mouth feel is a light bodied with a pleasant pear fruit, a touch of vanilla and a mineral acidic finish. Great nose, a sumptuous fine white wine. 87 points $16

2009 Merrill Cellars Pinot Gris

A light lemon colored Pinot Gris, with a citrus nose, floral hints and minerality   The palate has fresh fruit, stone fruit, with full body cleansed by a balanced acidic finish.  Crisp and fresh with a balanced light finish. 89 points $16

2008 Merrill Cellars Pinot Noir
A translucent ruby Pinot, the nose is exuberant black cherry, charcoal and a hint of loam.  This is a joy in your mouth, a wonderful black fruit forward with a white pepper middle and graphite on a tannic finish.  An expressive and full bodied Pinot Noir, a palate pleaser 91 $28

2008 Merrill Cellars Syrah

A very dark opaque red wine, it has good legs and lovely color.  This Syrah has a huge nose, blackberry cobbler, cigar box, roasted meat and vanilla.  Once you can stop sniffing this wine the palate rewards you with full bodied fruit forward flavor with a huge supple tannic finish that lasts and lasts. This may cellar well for next 2 to 5 years if you can wait for it. A big bold wine for bold cuisine or just good company. 92 pts $30

2010 Merrill Cellars Viognier Reserve
This Viognier is a light golden, translucent varietal with a pear and tropical nose.  The palate has a wonderful fresh fruit that rolls into the acidic finish.  This is a really well balanced and versatile Viognier that may be matched with food or on its own for a pleasurable interlude.  Superbly balanced white wine.  91 points  $25

Some Future Topics and Books to read
I would like to have a some comments and feedback from people over these general topics:

Is Oregon Pinot Noir Over Priced ?  Over-Filtered,  Over –Oaked.  I’ve heard all three of these claims lately.  Some may have some validity, what say you?

Should the Willamette Valley start being a little more diverse with its varietals, should pinot move over a touch and let’s see how some other red varietals do that far North.

Is Southern Oregon too Diverse, to many varietals no clear leader?

What is your favorite Wine Book ?

Latest Buyers Guide additions for this week include:
Some notes on buyer guide additions:  We tasted a lot of wine since the last geek note, a few wines came off the guide for availability and one that raised its price.

New Additions:
2007 Abacela Cabernet Franc
2009 Abacela Garnacha
2010 Deer Creek Vineyards Chardonnay
2009 Deer Creek Vineyards Merlot
2010 Deer Creek Vineyards Pinot Gris
2009 L.Donovan Grenache
2008 Merrill Cellars Cote Du Rogue
2008 Merrill Cellars Pinot Noir
2008 Merrill Cellars Syrah
2010 Merrill Cellars Viognier
2007 Pebblestone Cellars Syrah
2008 Rosellas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re interested in why and how wines are on the buyers guide please check out the FAQ for the Buyers Guide.  If you are a producer and want to submit your wines for tasting please email us.

Upcoming Wines to be tasted:
On the upcoming Tasting to do list are:

2006 Christian Moueix Pomerol
2007 Soter Pinot Noir Mineral Springs
2006 Triple Oak Vineyard Pinot Noir
2008 LaVelle Vineyards Trilogy
2010 Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc Eisele Vineyard
2010 Folin Cellars Mourvedre Folin Vineyard
2010 Folin Cellars Ambassador Cuvee
2009 Quady North Cabernet Franc
2008 Giradet Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Barrel Select
2008 Brandborg Pinot Noir Bench Lands
2009 Tesoaria Barbera Attila

The end of another Geek note is in site, of course comments are welcome, please email them to


Posted By: Ted Weldon @ 7:34:54 PM


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