I met Herb last week. He stood behind a table, in a black shirt and cap. His wines lined up in front of him. Nothing else. Flanking him towered suit and tie representatives from Oregon‘s famed Pinot Noir producers. They had flyers, business cards, banners, and slideshows of vineyard porn on small screens.
I tried their wines, heard their soliloquies, but kept returning to Herb. His black, cracked hands poured each bottle. He said even less. I felt that he itched to return to his vines, tanks, and family in Southern, Oregon.
The Rogue Valley arcs over the fringes of South East Oregon. Protection from high hills and deep river valleys make this Oregon’s driest and warmest AVA. But it’s still Oregon. Just over 20 wineries and a thousand acres struggle to ripen grapes in this wild, cool climate.
Herb Quady left a posh Associate Winemaker gig at California’s rebellious, Rhône Ranging, Bonny Doon Vineyard (see post), and took a risk on the Rogue. Since 2005, he has planted his family and vines here, morphing a rally-cross slope littered with rusted vehicles into vineyards.
I loved Herb’s wines. His Steelhead Run Vineyard Viognier is sky-lit, floral, citric, and very good (4 of 5). Other wines show great aspiration. But as Fall cools, my weekly drink would have to be:
Herb sourced this from the first vintage of his own organic Syrah vineyard (clones 470 and 877), blended with four of his favorite neighboring growers. Sorting is hand done, but some stem and underripe fruit stays in for complexity. 12 months of aging in large barrels aim to showcase the fruit.
Dark ruby color runs right to the rim, thanks to thorough extraction and no filtering.
Extra bold, youthful esters of dry vanilla, tobacco spice, white pepper, and maraschino cherry waft to my nose.
The dryness, higher acid, moderate tannin, alcohol (13.5), and body all point toward a Syrah that is neither California, nor Australia, nor Southern Rhône.
Edgy but forgiving flavors of drying plum, tart maraschino cherry, tobacco smoke, and white pepper follow suit for quite a length. I blink and think I am in the Crozes-Hermitage: home of bright, unheavy, cherried, mineral, pure Syrah.
4-2,A is cool climate Syrah. Food is its friend but it tastes delightful alone and very good (4 of 5). One could cellar it for five years or more and still find something lovely. The 12 months of oak barrel, at times, exceed the lovely, bracing, cherry fruit. But without that char and spice, this would be too simple.
Quady North’s wines show great promise. For tonight, with leaves turning, I would drink Herb’s 4-2,A 2008 Syrah.
- What is a Rhone-style wine? (noselegsbody.com)
- Napa of the Northwest (mensjournal.com)
- Apparently, No One Likes Syrah Because It’s Too Slutty (theatlanticwire.com)
- Quick Sip: Bonny Doon Vineyard 2011 Le Cigare Blanc (vinespot.blogspot.com)
- Experience pays off with 2011 Oregon Pinot (sfgate.com)
- Southern Oregon winemakers are picking grapes, one of the earliest harvests in years (oregonlive.com)