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Vertical tastings are special occasions

Let's say you have a winery that's produced the same kind of wine for six or more years. And you've managed to avoid selling out each year. You held back a few cases of each year's release.

You could have a vertical tasting: Invite a select group to taste and compare the same kind of wine made in six or more consecutive years and then, perhaps, buy a few bottles.

That's what RoxyAnn Winery of Medford recently did with its claret. Guests sampled the red blend from 2002 through 2007. RoxyAnn claret consists of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc (malbec was added to the 2007 wine).

Tasting a blend over six years can be especially interesting because percentages of the three wines used varied from year to year. Merlot dominated earlier wines while cabernet sauvignon was more prevalent later.

The 2002 Claret, for example, was 52 percent merlot, 26 percent cabernet sauvignon and 22 percent cabernet franc. The 2007 version consisted of 45 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent each merlot and cabernet franc, plus 5 percent malbec.

RoxyAnn did two vertical claret tastings for groups of 20 at modest fees. They were popular, selling out quickly, with lengthy waiting lists.

"There were real distinctions between the various vintages, but there were also amazing similarities that could be attributed to our soil, our climate and the people who made these wines," says Michael Donovan, managing director at RoxyAnn.

My favorites were the 2002 and 2007.

Will there be more vertical tastings?

"Due to the limited availability of older vintages of RoxyAnn claret, it will be difficult to re-create this tasting more than once a year," says Donovan. "However, we look forward to other vertical tastings of our pinot gris, viognier and syrah in the coming year."

To receive information on future tastings, sign up for e-mail notices at www.roxyann.com. Click on "Join Email List."

NINE SOUTHERN OREGON wineries won medals at the 2011 Portland Seafood & Wine Festival.

Gold-medal winners were Crater Lake Cellars 2009 Grenache, EdenVale 2005 Tempranillo, Spangler 2008 Petit Verdot and 2008 Cabernet Franc and Troon 2006 Old Vine Meritage.

Winning silver: Agate Ridge 2008 Primitivo and 2007 Cascade Terrace Red, Cliff Creek 2006 Merlot and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Crater Lake 2009 Viognier, Girardet 2008 Frostbite Gewurztraminer and Melrose 2009 Pinot Gris.

And bronzes went to: Agate Ridge 2008 Pinot Gris, Crater Lake 2008 Old World Blend and nonvintage Firehouse No. 4 Red, Girardet 2009 Chardonnay, Melrose 2008 Tempranillo and 2007 Equinox, Misty Oaks 2008 Pinot Blanc, Spangler 2009 Malbec and 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Troon 2008 Insomnia Port.

ALSO SAMPLED RECENTLY:

  • Trifecta 2007 Pinot Noir. The red wine (or one very similar) that Applegate Valley Wine Co. (Troon) has been selling by the keg to restaurants now is available in bottles. It's a first-rate wine. Regular retail is $20, but I got it on sale at Harry & David Country Village for $12.99.
  • Robert Mondavi 2008 Chardonnay ($20). This white is a cut above the less expensive Mondavi Private Selections and Woodbridge wines, and the difference shows. This one is tangy and crisp, somewhat fruity and not too heavy on oak. The flavor holds up well for several days.
  • Salmon Creek 2009 Chardonnay. This inexpensive California white is sold only in restaurants. The Wharf Fresh Seafood Market & Eatery as well as Sizzler, both of Medford, each have it for about $12 a bottle. It's a deal at that price — not a great wine but drinkable with dinner.
  • Oxford Landing 2009 Chardonnay. If you like your chardonnay crisp and tropical, consider this Australian import. It's a really pleasant wine to go with Indian food, and they have it on the list at Medford's India Palace restaurant for $15. A good buy.
  • Rudolf Muller 2009 "Rabbit" Riesling. This German white, also known as "The Bunny Wine," is sold in Octavin boxes that are equivalent to four bottles of wine. Cost runs about $24, often on sale for less. It's on the light side but still offers a nice, clean, crisp, fruity flavor.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at clevelinda@msn.com.