Fifteen miles off Highway 62 in Eagle Point, Oregon, up a winding forested road, is a vineyard worth seeking out. LaBrasseur is situated on the sunny hillside of an old homestead of more than one hundred acres.
The third owners of this homestead, Fred and Candy LaBrasseur bought the property in 1986. They began their vineyard in 2005 on fifteen acres and are now, proudly tasting the first vintage. So far, the results are impressive. The distinctive clay or cobleigh soils are evident throughout each variety.
The 2010 Riesling is a bit sweet, with a great taste of summer and tropical fruits. Serve this chilled, with any number of summertime appetizers. It would pair especially well with softer cheeses, such as Blue, Brie or Muenster.
The 2010 Marli Joy (named after a granddaughter) won a Silver Medal at the 2011 World of Wine. This dry white Rhone-style blend is almost equal parts Roussane and Viognier. The nose is a delightful mix of nectarines, flowers and fresh mown hay. The taste is very balanced, good minerality and a long finish with a hint of spice or pepper. Serve this wine with a sharp cheddar cheese.
LaBrasseur’s 2009 Estate Viognier is simply fantastic. A Silver Medal winner at the 2010 World of Wine, this Viognier is a bit drier, aged in American, French or Hungarian oak not more than two years old. This silky smooth, fruit concentrated wine has a complex layering of flavors and textures. Try this with roast chicken or shrimp and crab salad.
The 2010 Brynn Rose is named for another granddaughter. This dry blush wine is a field blend of Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier. The nose is fruity. The taste is of berries with earthy tones of ash and grasses. Serve this blend with summer appetizers of cheese, fruits and grilled shrimp.
Another Silver Medal winner, at the 2010 World of Wine, is the 2009 Merlot. This wine, 100% Merlot, is as big as a Syrah or Zinfandel. Full of spices, pepper and earth, it is aged 9 months in French Oak. The nose alone will have one hungering for grandma’s lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs. The mouth is satisfying with great tannins, and a long peppery finish.
Fred LaBrasseur spent his career with the Medford Fire Department. His mixed red, the 2009 Ember pays homage to that time. Ember is aged in American Oak and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This exciting blend has flamboyant flavors of black fruits, chocolate and smoke. Pair this with grilled red meats.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic. Aged in French Oak, it is velvety smooth seamless wine. The taste begins with ripe cherries, cocoa and anise flavors and ends with a long, hint of spice finish. This Cab would compliment a juicy pot roast.
The LaBrasseur’s are self taught winemakers. A multi-generational venture, all their production is done on site. The LaBrasseur’s have named or will name a wine for each grandchild. A portion of each namesake bottle sold will go toward a college fund for that child.
LaBrasseur Vineyards has a quarterly wine club and wine club events, such as barrel tastings. Although a bit out of the way, this warm and friendly vineyard is worth seeking out.
LaBrasseur Vineyard is located at 2444 Cobleigh Road, Eagle Point, OR 97524. For more information call 541-865-3648 or go to www.labrasseurvineyard.com.
Shrimp and Crab Salad with Avocado and Oranges
1 small red onion
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp sugar
18 large shrimp, in the shell
2 large navel oranges
6 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 bunches stemmed watercress
1 head red-leaf lettuce, separated and torn into large pieces
Several springs fresh cilantro
12 oz. fresh crabmeat
1 large, ripe avocado, cut into lengthwise slices
Marinate the small red onion by cutting the onion into thin slices. Place the slices into a small bowl and add the red wine vinegar, sea salt and sugar. Mix well. Let stand until onion is softened, about 30 minutes. Drain.
While onion is softening, place a steamer in a saucepan with about ½ inch water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp, cover and steam shrimp until pink, about 2 minutes. Remove heat and let cool to the touch. Shell and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail segments intact. Peel and segment the oranges. Reserve the orange juice.
For the dressing, combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the reserved orange juice , plus sea salt and white pepper to taste in a small bowl. Mix well.
In a large bowl, combine the watercress, lettuce and cilantro springs. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing and toss to combine. Transfer the salad greens to a large shallow bowl. Arrange the crab, shrimp, orange segments and avocado slices on top and drizzle the remaining dressing over bowl. Scatter the marinated onion over the salad and serve immediately.