There’s some crazy stuff going on in Oregon these days. There’s energy and inspiration in spades, while a desire to let the vineyard sing in the wines both drives that energy and infuses it with the kind of humility that seems to be the common denominator among people who produce truly expressive vino.
Lately, the Boss (aka “the Accomplice”) and I have been hanging out at SE Wine Collective, on Division street in Portlandia. The brainchild of owners Kate and Thomeas Monroe, it’s sheer brilliance, a place where a half dozen or so producers share equipment and space, allowing all the space and the gear to realize their various projects without the considerable investment of setting up shop solo. With a restaurant that doubles as a retail outlet, it’s essentially both studio and performance space for some of the area’s most talented, up-and coming wine producers.
Better still, it’s temple of wine passion and serious geekdom, with the restaurant offering a small, but incredibly well-chosen selection of wines from around the world to complement the menu and the resident wineries’ offerings. Last Friday, when I was there to meet my good friend Barbara Gross, of Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Thomas insisted we begin with a flight of chenin blancs from various regions from Vouvray to the Willamette Valley to Walla Walla (Thomas makes several superb, terroir-driven chenins blanc, under his mmmmm, which are, sadly, presently sold out until the release of the new vintages - - more about Thomas and Kate’s wines in another post).
Onward, then, to tasting though more wines from the Collective, a few new Cooper Mountain releases that Barbara brought along (getting more and more impressive with every vintage—more on that soon, too) and barrel sample of a Chardonnay that Thomas is making with fruit from cooper Mountain. Great stuff.
I’ve come to think that great wine is a lot like the printed word, or music – it’s best when enjoyed and explored in good company—and truly amazing when you have the opportunity to taste wine with people as passionate, inquisitive, experienced and humble as Thomas and Barbara. I could’ve hung there all evening – and am sure to be back soon. If you’re down in P-town you should check it out!