Every quarter we ask Jacques to write up an update on the state of the vineyard and the winery. Our fall update is always a treat because Jacques shares his reflection on harvest and crush and his hopes for the vintage! Read on for the insider scoop on the 2016 harvest at Torii Mor from the winemaker's perspective.
As expected, harvest had a very early start, we started seeing picking bins on trucks at the end of August, mostly for sparkling and the younger vines. At Torii Mor we stretched the start of harvest to September 7 when Hoy vineyard next to Rex Hill, reached 24 + brix with good flavors.
The cooler summer (compared to previous years) and the cool down at the end of August and early September allowed for great flavor development, the sugar came in high. The last Pinot Noir grapes came in on September 23rd with Kolb vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Olson Vineyard was picked on the 20th, and the Olson Chardonnay on the 29th, which was our last fruit for Torii Mor.
We have almost finished pressing the Pinot Noirs, a couple fermenters have slowed down and needed some heat and TLC, and they are on their way to be done in a few days. All the Pinot Noirs have great flavor, a cross between the jammy 2012 vintage and the fresher 2014 vintage.
The harvest crew is still active, starting the last step of harvest, cleaning all the equipment before putting it in storage until next harvest. It’s time to button up the winery for winter.
The holidays will be here before we know it and generally, holiday parties mean opening up those hidden gems we have in our cellars: old wines. Whether you've aged them yourself or bought them years after they were released, this post will help you through three steps to successfully open your precious aged wine.
Ideally, the aged wine you want to open has been stored on its side in a cool, dark, humid environment for its whole life. If you bought a wine already aged, then you can bet it's been stored well. With an aged bottle you've just received, let it sit for a few weeks before opening it to let the sediment settle.
When you've decided on your event at which you want to open your wine, stand your bottle upright to let the sediment sink to the bottom. How long you do this depends on how old your wine is: anywhere from a few hours to a month. If your wine is less than twenty years old a few hours or days should do the trick. If it's up to forty years old, let it stand for closer to a month.
When you're ready to open your wine, you have a few options. Make sure the liquid in the bottle is clear; you can do this by shining a light (like a bright flashlight or a candle) through the bottle.
If your wine is under twenty years old you can still easily use a normal corkscrew with little trouble. If it's older, or you suspect the cork is degraded, use an Ah-So. This two-pronged gadget wiggles in between the cork and the bottle and gently lifts it out in one piece.
If the cork gets pushed into the bottle whole or the cork crumbles into the bottle, don't panic. Your wine isn't ruined and there is still a way to enjoy your aged bottle.
Depending on the type of wine you're opening, a great way to separate the sediment from the rest of the liquid is to decant it. Gently pour your wine into a decanter, shining a flashlight or candle underneath the neck so you're able to stop pouring once sediment reaches the neck of the bottle.
If you're enjoying a bottle of wine that is a less-tannic grape, it's advisable to not decant, as the extra oxygen could dilute flavors and cause the wine to flop. Old Burgundy are a good example of this. However, you can easily separate sediment from the wine without decanting. Strain the wine through unbleached cheesecloth if you have high amounts of cork crumbles or sediment, or it's a less tannic wine.
What bottles are you hoping to open this holiday season? Let us know in the comments on Facebook!
One of the perks of the wine club is the delicious recipes included with every shipment. We love to do wine pairings around here, so this is a great treat to inspire a dinner during the week!
This week I'm featuring one of the recipes from our September Club shipment. If you love this recipe and want more delicious wine pairings like this, join our wine club! You get wine four times a year, get incredible benefits (like discounts, special promotions, and events), and special treatment as part of the Torii Mor family.
On to the recipe!
Beet and Chevre Tarte Tatin - Pair with our 2015 Pinot Blanc
2 Large Beets
Creamy Goat Cheese (Chevre)
1 Granny Smith Apple
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let chevre sit out to come to room temperature. Take both large beets in a roasting pan lined with foil, and season with oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap and cover beets with foil, and place into oven for about 55 minutes or until knife tender, let cool.
Take the apple, and cut it into thin pieces. Place into water with a little vinegar, in order to maintain color, and set aside.
Take the beets, and remove the skins, slice into thin pieces roughly the same size as the apple.
In a small baking dish, lay down first the beets to cover, then spread a layer of chevre on top, cover with apples.
Take the filo dough and cut to the size of the baking sheet. Place the dough on top of the baking dish and bake until the center is warm and the cheese is runny. Gently take a knife and cut around the edges of the pan, and flip onto a plate so that the baked dough is on the bottom. Serve hot with a sharp knife.
We're honored to be featured in a new book by Susan Gehringer, knitting and food aficionado (and a wine club member!). Her book Northwest Knits and Eats features five wineries in the Pacific Northwest, each with a paired recipe and knitting pattern. It's a fun book, filled with fun knitting patterns, delicious recipes, and several fantastic wineries from Washington and Oregon; we're so excited to be one of them!
Susan's theme for the Torii Mor chapter was the coast. The book features a beautiful shawl pattern and a delicious salmon dinner paired with our 2011 Olson Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, perfect for a seaside dinner at the Oregon coast.
You can buy the book from Susan's website, Grist Creative and be sure to stop by our tasting rooms for a special book signing and knit-a-long! Join us at the Dundee tasting room on Sunday, Oct 2, 5-8 pm, and Thursday, Oct 20, 5-8pm, in Woodinville.
And in celebration of this fantastic new release, we're featuring a special recipe from the book!
This delicious rice pilaf will pair nicely with salmon, chicken, and of course a glass of your favorite Torii Mor Pinot Noir!
Wild Rice with Cranberries from Northwest Knits & Eats
1 c. wild rice
2 Tbl. butter
½ c. sweet onion, finely chopped
2½ c. water
½ c. dried cranberries, chopped
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cracked black pepper
zest of ½ lemon, minced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Toast wild rice in a pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, remove from heat and place in bowl, set aside.
Melt butter and add onion, cooking until translucent.
Add rice, water, cranberries, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, approximately 60 minutes or as instructed by the package directions. During cooking, add more water if needed to keep rice from scorching.
When rice is finished cooking, stir in lemon zest and lemon juice.
craving more? get the book at www.gristcreative.com
There are a million reasons why every home cellar should have a few single vineyard Pinot Noirs. Not only are they a unique addition to your cellar, they're the sort of wine that can easily elevate a weeknight dinner or the perfect pair for a fancy dinner party. With a chameleon-like ability to pair with most any event, single vineyards should be a necessity in your cellar. Today, we're highlighting five reasons why you should have these special gems in your home cellar.
And what single vineyard wines does Torii Mor make you might ask? We have a great variety! Whether you love the funk of the Alloro, the bold Olalla and La Colina, or the ever-changing Nysa, we have something for you.
It's been one year since we started our blog for Torii Mor. We've had so much fun sharing our inspiration, our antics, and special sneak peeks to you all year long. Today we're doing a roundup of our favorite blog posts from the past year.
We've had a variety of posts on this blog, from wine pairings to vintage reviews, from event details to gift guides, we've posted a little bit of everything.
One of the most loved blog posts was our Halloween Wine and Candy Pairing post. Who doesn't love an excuse to enjoy Halloween candy and wine together?
And we can't the vintage posts. Oregon is special for many reasons, but something that makes our wine so distinct is the variety our vintages bring to every bottle. We detailed the 2013 Vintage and the 2014 Vintage last year!
And of course, we had to do a few travel posts for out of towners. Get Outside in the Willamette Valley offered ideas for a variety of activities to explore everything the valley has to offer.
Every vintage has its challenges, its thrills, its perks, and its cons. Some people would say to focus on vintages, others would say to focus on the producer and not worry about the vintage.
No matter how you spin it, vintages can give you a clue about the wine you're about to drink and can help you better understand where the wine came from, how it was grown, and what the winemaker did to get it to your weeknight dinner. As well, digging into each vintage can be a fun exercise, because you can learn a bit more about the area the wine is from, how vines grow, and how a vineyard is managed and kept healthy.
The 2014 vintage was one for the books. Unprecedented weather and yields made 2014 a vintage hailed as the "vintage of a lifetime".
So what made this vintage so epic for Oregon wine?
Numerous factors go into each vintage: climate, daily weather, rain, wind, sun, heat, cold. For 2014, the stars aligned and whatever could go right, actually did.
Everything started early, due to warm days and warmer than usual nights All the major milestones (harvest, bud break, verasion, etc.) were several weeks early due to the warmer nights which allowed the grapes to ripen fully earlier than if the nights had been cooler. These warmer nights were what actually broke the heat records, rather than the daytime temperatures.
As well, there was a lack of disease pressure. Oftentimes, certain weather patterns can make vines more susceptible to various diseases, which of course, are a concern. However, in 2014, the vines were safe from diseases, which was one less thing for winemakers to worry about as they prepped for harvest.
Harvest began early in the valley, during the first week of September and was finished in more places before the first week of October. Here at Torii Mor on our Olson Estate, we started harvest September 12 and finished October 10th due to our higher elevation.
The 2014 vintage was a vintage of high quality and high quantity. If you were to ask a winemaker what problems the 2014 vintage presented, most of them would say there wasn't enough space to ferment all the grapes they brought in from their vineyards! Our Olson Estate Vineyard brought in 25% more grapes than estimated!
As these delicious and beautiful 2014 wines start to roll out, snatch them up. They are a special vintage and worthy of a spot in your cellar.
The bright, warm days of summer make way for a variety of fun experiences. In the Willamette Valley wineries stay open late, put on exclusive parties (like our White Party in August!), or host tours of their properties and vineyards.
But there is another must-do winery activity that makes for a memorable event: a picnic.
Charming, simple, and refreshingly elegant, a winery picnic elevates a simple wine tasting trip to an even better experience. Not only do picnics mean delicious food, but there's something about a picnic that brings out happiness and cheer. Add in the sunshine, and you have a blissful afternoon ahead of you.
But what makes the perfect picnic? Here are our top tips for a winery picnic to take your picnic to the next level.
Top Tip #1: Pick your place.
There's a reason we have a phrase with the word location in it three times: location, location, location truly makes the difference for a memorable picnic. And you won't find better locations than in the Willamette Valley. Especially with the views...depending on your vantage points you can see Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the three Sisters (on a VERY clear day), and the entire valley at your feet. Breathtaking? Yes. Memorable picnic viewing? Most definitely!
For wineries with spectacular views:
Top Tip #2: Bring water...but leave the wine for the winery.
One of the joys of picnicking at your favorite winery is enjoying your picnic while also sipping your way through a flight of wines. Which makes picnicking at a winery a little bit easier. The drinks are already prepared for you! Just bring water for the group, and a non-alchoholic beverage if you have little ones or non-wine drinkers in your party and you'll be set to go.
Top Tip #3: Bringing your own food is a great idea...but so is taking advantage of local eateries.
If planning and packing your own picnic seems daunting, never fear. Wine country is full of eateries and delis offering food to go. With so many good options, it's almost easier to grab your food and go straight to your picnic winery!
Our favorite grab-and-go eateries:
Top Tip #4: No need for a blanket...enjoy a table!
Most wineries have space outside to enjoy a picnic lunch with your tasting flight. No need to bring a blanket, sit on hard ground, or worry about ants getting into your food. Enjoy a table with comfy chairs and let your picnic worries fade into your glass of wine.
Top Tip #5: Bring Napkins
We don't need to explain this one, do we?
What are your favorite places to picnic? We'd love to hear!
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