Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2011 Cooper Hill pinot gris (Oregon)

Can you believe there is actually talk out there about “certifying” wine bloggers? Of course, this was started by snooty wine snobs who felt they were the only ones who should be blogging about wine. Yeah, and they also fully support Syrian president, Bashar al-Asshat, in his efforts to violently quell all civil uprisings. So, I decided to pay a visit to the admissions office at the local Wine Bloggers College and witness who are the latest incoming “ultra-premium” students to the blogosphere. Let’s start in our backyard in Renton with a 21 year-old man who cutoff a State Patrol car while getting into the carpool lane. After he was pulled over for sheer stupidity (and unsafe lane change), the officer found his frontseat passenger was an inflatable doll. The driver assured the officer that he was a good driver and was only headed to Greg P. Utt’s BYOI (bring your own inflatable) lemon party. Staying local, a Seattle man was stoked to have won the lottery to watch a practice round at famed Augusta National Golf  Club during Masters Week only to find his dog had eaten all four tickets. He made the dog vomit up the contents and pieced back together 20 pieces of the goo-covered tickets then notified the green jackets of the accident. Americans blaming their dog’s degustational habits as an excuse… a tradition unlike any other. Looking through some out-of-state applicants resumes, a 19 year-old Indiana man (Gawd Tim, isn’t INDIANA just the “most important state”!?) was apprehended by police for walking around his neighborhood butt-nekkid. When the officer asked why, the gormless prat countered that it was “opposite day” and he “just wanted to be free.” He got his wish and received free lodging at the County jail. Washington has more “rockstar” winemakers per capita than any other wine region in the world, so it’s no surprise that a member of a heavy-metal band in Florida sent in his application with his essay attached stating how he is the only known dipshit for receiving rabies shots after he found a bat flying in his room and it divebombed past him, squirting piss in the man’s eye. Ozzy Osbourne was rumored to have sent a congratulatory cable welcoming him into the brotherhood. Finally, there’s the 95 year-old former Montana rancher whose application was rejected after he proclaimed himself as the world’s oldest performing clown. He obviously forgot about a much older-looking blogging clown in Greg P. Utt. As an encore, from a pile of international wannabes, there’s 41 year-old Samantha Brick. She wrote an essay in the Daily Mail on the downsides of being pretty and how women hate her for it. This Deborah Harry-meets-Uma Thurman-lookalike proclaims her lack of surprise when she is treated to a bottle of champagne, be it at a restaurant or on an airplane, compliments of admiring men, then rambles on to build a case of how women around her treat her with hostility and that she can’t help being so pretty. A complete lack of modesty and blaming the world for not treating her better. Level: professional wine blogger.

A couple of danglers here… I will agree on this: Whitney Houston HAD a great voice. But, that was so 1988 Olympics and Super Bowl XXV ago. Then came the choice of Bobby Brown for a worthless husband and the downfall began. She was a coke-head, and not the carbonated type. She couldn’t sing any better than someone holding a piece of cardboard at a street corner. At the time of her death, her blood contained marijuana, Benadryl, Xanax, and Flexeril and she had 60% blockage in her right coronary artery. Sadly, musicians who die from illicit drugs are so common that Wikipedia even has a dedicated listing of “drug-related deaths” dominated by musician’s names. So, go ahead and admire her earlier songs, but don’t tell me how much she will be missed after her drowning. That Whitney Houston died a long time ago. What died recently was a menace to society—a false idol to all the young girls who aspire to do great things. Secondly, I bid adieu to my crazy Arizona followers as legislators there are proposing (AHB 2549) to make it a crime “to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd, or profane language…” So, basically, readers there can no longer cuss in their feedbacks to this blog. It’s just not enough that they already harass my brethren, via ASB 1070, to require documents proving they belong in this great country (and clearly a slant against all Hispanics south of the border). I mean, whatever happened to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”? Just another overhyped marketing slogan written by a wine blogger, I guess.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards (CMV) is the lovechild of Dr. Robert John Gross and his wife Corrine, and his passion for pinot noir. He first planted pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris vines on this volcanic plot in Beaverton back in 1978. Dr. Gross, 72, grew up in NYC and graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a medical degree. Besides his psychiatric practice, he has added the sciences of homeopathy and acupuncture to his repertoire in neighboring Portland. Initially, the first vintages of grapes were sold to other wineries until 1985, when the Grosses worked with consulting winemaker Rich Cushman to begin making wine and later released their inaugural vintage in 1987.

Oregon has a few pioneers of wine that we know about. David Lett, David Adelsheim, Charles Coury, Dick Erath, and Cal Knudsen, to name a few. Well, add Dr. Gross to the list. Aside from starting his vineyard in the late 1970s, his vineyards achieved organic certification from Oregon Tilth in 1995 and “biodynamic” certification from Demeter in 1999, both well long before it was chic to farm without the use of synthetic pesticides. Of trivial fact is, in 2002, CMV became the first U.S. winery to produce a no-sulfites-added wine with the words, “Made with 100% Organic and Biodynamic Grapes” as prescribed by the newly formed National Organic Program restrictions.

Fast forward to today. The Grosses have brought in a full-time winemaker in Gilles de Domingo (in 2004) and have expanded vineyard acreage to four sites (1978-Old Vines, 1982-Meadowlark, 1995-Farmington, and 1998-Johnson School) covering 123 acres with five varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Tocai Friulano, and Pinot Blanc. There is one oddity in the wine lineup—a malbec made from Tupungato Mendoza grapes (Argentina), and one curiosity in a pinot gris vin glace, checking in at RS 15% and ABV 12.5%. One of Bob’s daughters, Duck-alum Barbara, 31, has taken the generational reins at the winery, starring in the Sales and Marketing role after serving valiantly as Director at various organizations such as Chehalem Mountain Winegrowers, Demeter Biodynamic Trade Association, Washington County Visitors Association, and as past president of North Willamette Vintners. All this while pursuing coursework through UC-Davis in wine marketing. Not bad for someone with a political science degree from the university of moss-and-snot down in Eugene, and I hear she’s a darn good Oregon pinot noir historian.

To the wine…

Browsing the wine shops, I was looking for a local wine from the 2011 vintage that wasn’t a rosé. I couldn’t even find a riesling, much less anything from Washington but here it was, an Oregon pinot gris screaming “buy me!”

Food pairing was a phat, 7-dollar beef burrito from one of those “organic” joints. Serendipity in a weeknight, take-out dinner. Highly recommended.

Tasted at 49-62 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: just a shade darker than a good albariño. Nose: tangy high notes of grapefruit, honeydew, and Granny Smith apple. Mouthfeel: light with an acid bite. Tail trail: 5 seconds. Flavors: green melon, pear, floral notes transitioning from slightly sweet to tart with a back end of pink grapefruit and a slap of acid enough to make this a great shellfish pairing.

Alcohol: 13%. Willamette Valley AVA. pH 3.19. TA 0.60%. RS 0.58%. Harvested on Oct. 29, 2011. Average Brix at harvest: 21.5. Four vineyard sites. 15 blocks. Stainless fermentation. No racking. Stirred once a week. No fining. Bottled on Feb. 21, 2012. 4500 cases. Made with organically grown grapes. Carbon Neutral winery.

Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $13. Paid: $11. Music pairing: “So Good” by B.o.B. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

24 hours post: the wine is much softer on the acids and with tropical flavors of guava, mandarin orange, and tangerines in full expression. Beautiful! UPgrade the rating to a 90 (2/2/3/3).

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