From Crater Lake we headed east over the mountains and down into Oregon's most exciting new wine country in the south of the state along the I-5 corridor in Ashland/Medford and points north. As we were staying at the Winchester Inn while attending the wonderful Oregon Shakespeare Festival, we decided to try their highly rated restaurant Alchemy (www.alchemyashland.com) which was a total treat.
Our server Hallie spoke to us about her love of wine and had hopes to own a vineyard one day and was most kind in offering tastes from the wine list. We loved many of the areas Viogniers, so we tried the 2013 Trium Viognier which just didn't do much for us. We returned to our favorite local winery (which we had discovered the first night in Oregon at Andina in Portland) and adored the Quady North 2012 Steelhead Run Viognier from the Applegate Valley. We visited the winery earlier that day in adorable Jacksonville and fell in love with their tasting room manager Davis, who poured everything he could find for us (we left with two cases and a new wine club membership---as I write this 4 days later, we have just shipped back close to 20 cases we purchased and I can't even add up the new wine club memberships we have!). The wine was awesome, the plain French bread with a nice salted herb butter was unremarkable.
The day we had just completed included three wineries, a farmer's market and the most awesome of cheesemakers in all of Oregon and perhaps the entire US of A, Rogue Creamery. As soon as I saw the menu starter of Stuffed Endive with Pickled Garlic Beets, Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue, Honey Tarragon & Shallot Vinaigrette, which also had sunflower seeds and micro greens, I was in love. Will, forsaking our hometown, ordered the Dungeness Crab Salad with Baby Arugula, Orange Supreme, Garlic Lemon Aioli, Sunchoke Chips and Hazelnut Oil which was a wonderful treatment of so many local Oregon ingredients. We love the fact that there is so much amazing local farm fresh stuff here that appears on every menu. The crab was actually quite wonderful, but we still prefer Maryland Blues.
We moved onto another wonderful Oregon wine on Hallie's recommendation, which we have not had for some time, 2010 Cristom Vineyards "Mt Jefferson Cuvee" from the Willamette Valley (where we were heading the next day). This wine's name was also important in that our main reason for coming to Oregon was for my cousin's wedding the previous weekend, which was indeed held at the foot of Mt. Jefferson!
The wine is rich and creamy and truly an ideal Pinot Noir from Oregon and went magnificently with both varied main courses:
Will had the Trio of Diver Scallops which were seared and given various treatments.
Anaheim Chili Corn Relish, Heirloom Tomato, Sherry Bacon Vinaigrette, Corn Puree, Grilled Leeks and a Kaffir Lime Risotto. It was a superb dish marred only by the fact that the risotto was like a crunchy block of rice; perhaps the chef needs to start with some basic pasta training.
They got my Stuffed Quail perfect with a light stuffing of rabbit sausage with Italian black plums and a superb Purple Haze Goat Cheese Polenta along with Fig Marsala reduction, Grilled Asparagus and Pea Tendrils. I was one happy camper.
We decided to be adventurous with our dessert wine choice and went for a local 2009 Abacela Port, which really needs work. We had tasted several Petite Sirah local ports and we felt they just were not quite right in general; this was okay, but no prize.
Layered Chocolate Cake of chocolate sponge, chocolate mousse all wrapped in a Chocolate Ganache shell with pecan brittle, salted Caramel sauce, Orange marmalade gelee and whipped cream was okay, but just a bit too much for my palate.
We need to learn to stick to the amazing fresh local Oregon berry desserts.
We climbed the two flights back to our room, packed and headed off to bed, knowing that this is a region we must return to..and sooner than later.