Sunday, February 7, 2010

Firesteed Cellars, Rickreall, Oregon

Snow fell heavily in most of the midwest and northeast over the weekend.  Cold, snowy weather outside is always a reason for me to build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy a nice red wine and a good book inside. 
I had been looking for another bottle of the 14 Hands merlot at the wine store, when the clerk recommended this wine, the Firesteed 2007 Pinot Noir, instead.  After reading the wine notes on the label, I thought I'd give it a shot.  "A bright, easy to drink version of the classic Burgundian grape, this pinot noir is a medium-bodied red wine with exuberant (exuberant?)cherry and berry fruit flavors and aromoas."  "Ok", I thought to myself, "I'll try it this weekend.  Who can walk away from EXUBERANT on a snowy February evening in Ohio?"

I've enjoyed Oregon wines before and I was definitely open to trying a new one - even though it was from a "cellars", not a winery.  If you remember, "cellars" will typically buy grapes from vineyards and create their own wines, "wineries" grow their own grapes and develop their own wines.  In many cases, it's a minor difference, and one I try not to get too snobby about.  Besides, I liked their rendition of a horse on the label.

I opened it on Saturday night and enjoyed my first glass.  It is a rich medium-bodied wine, as promised on the label.  At first the spicyness threw me off.  It was almost smoky and tobacco-filled.  But the second glass was smooth and filled with a blend of summer fruits - raspberry and strawberry especially came through.  The Firesteed Pinot Noir is an elegant dinner wine and has a very nice finish.  I would recommend it with pork or chicken, or just one or two glasses on their own.  This particular wine is 12.4% alcohol and was born from grapes sourced from throughout the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue and Walla Walla Valleys, creating a truly Oregon blend.  The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts propagated from cellars in Burgundy, pressed during the last days of fermentation, and racked as soon as the wine finished malolactic fermentation. Just a touch of barrel-aged wine (about 20%) was included in the blend to round out the flavors and enhance complexity

Apparently Firesteed began its life as a "virtual winery" in Oregon, buying grapes from around the region and processing them at a local winery who had extra capacity.  In 2003, Firesteed purchased Flynn vineyards and developed the brand into a "traditional" winery in Oregon.  I don't know their reasoning for this - maybe it was the right price, right place, right time to buy a winery and surrounding vineyards.  Maybe the owner just wanted a cool tasting room.  Who knows?

I'd recommend a stop at their tasting room and retail shop.  Next time I'm in the area, I will definitely make a point to visit.  Their  hours are daily from 11am to 5pm. (I still think it's so funny that many Oregon wineries close their tasting rooms at 5....)  Located 13 miles west of Salem, Oregon and 2 miles north of the intersection of Pacific Highway (99W) and Highway 22.

1 comment:

  1. Really liked this review Beth. It told me what to expect, some interesting facts and triva, and I sure love your sense of humor too!
    Mark Fellure