Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The ¡Salud! 2011 Barrel Auction

from Kelsey Ivey

Lifting its glass to the health of Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families, the wine community joined forces this weekend at one of the most successful and longest running industry fundraisers. The ¡Salud! Auction.

“As a collaboration of the medical community and the wine industry,” said Ernie Pink, owner of Amalie Robert Estate, “we are all here to do the right thing for the right reasons.” And armed with some of the year’s best wines by Oregon’s top winemakers, the industry is battling for a good cause – and winning.

In its 21st year, ¡Salud! hosts a two-day event to fund-raise money to cover healthcare expenses for the Willamette Valley wine industry’s workforce. Through the generous support of donors, the organization reaches out with much-needed programs such as flu shot clinics, trainings and more for the workers who keep the industry humming.

Kick-starting the event on Friday November 9th, the weekend affair began with a night of many bottles at the Oregon Pinot Noir Tasting & Big Board Auction.

Held at Domaine Drouhin Oregon with its yellowing vineyards ablaze in fall, the event showcased 42 of Oregon’s most celebrated wineries. Previewing the 2011 vintage, wineries served up exclusive Pinot Noir cuvees crafted custom for the ¡Salud! event. Blended from some of their best vineyard blocks and barrels, each wine sang its early glory for tasters and bidders. With only five cases available from each winery, the one-of-a-kind pinots sold to the highest bidder.

Highlighting some of the best qualities of the Oregon vintage, a few of my personal stand out Pinots Noirs of the night included:

Amalie Robert Estate
On the nose this young Pinot – which only came out of the barrel that morning –featured a light bubble gum and fruity-floral aroma followed by a delicate, fruit glissando on the palate.

Brooks Wine
Complemented by a jar of dried mushrooms, this earthier Pinot Noir balanced its soil qualities with ripe red fruits and a touch of soft acidity on the finish. A blend of Estate and Temperance Hill Pinot, this wine was Oregon effervescent through and through.

Hamacher Wines
One of the top sellers of the night, this exclusive cuvee was dark like a Willamette winter night and featured equally as sultry blue fruits. Tipping off with a hint of sweetness like a cinnamon sugar pie topping, the Hamacher Pinot Noir sold for an impressive $1,200 per case.

However, case totals didn't stop there! Mingling among French oak barrels, stainless steel fermenters and in the dusky glow of the winery’s down-turned lights, the attendees sipped and savored the wines as bids slowly crept up throughout the evening. Increasing by $25 to $50 per bid, the auction played on the heartstrings and palate of the crowd until the last bidding station closed.

Trisaetum topped the night with each case selling for $2,050 followed by runner ups: Dusty Goose ($1,600), Domaine Droughin Oregon ($1,300), Penner-Ash Wine Cellars ($1,250), Hamacher ($1,200), Beaux Feres ($1,100), Elk Cove Vineyards ($1,100) and Amalie Robert Estate ($1,063).

In total, the night raised $148,250 – a number and a cause we all can say cheers, cin cin, prost and above all Salud to!


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