Decanting with Delkin
Irish Rebels Celebrate
New Reason to Drink
By Fred Delkin
Portland was the scene of an Irish Revolution celebration in tribute to a new Irish whiskey carrying the
name of the legendary symbol of Irish independence, Michael Collins. The new Teardrop Lounge, sited on
NW Everett in the Pearl district, hosted a gathering of local bar owners, managers and servers invited to
taste what is described as "the strong character, bold heritage and uncompromising authenticity of the Irish
spirit" as embodied by this beverage.
To glorify the atmosphere of this Hibernian dedication gala, the historical film on Collins' life, starring Liam
Neeson and Julia Roberts, was projected on the lounge wall. The whiskey proved worthy of the theme, both
as a smooth blend and as a 10-year-old single malt. The unusually skilled bar tending staff of the Teardrop
mixed a variety of Collins-based concoctions ranging from traditional cocktails to original recipes from
mixologists in Manhattan, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver and, yes, our own Portland.
Our tastebuds refused to be insulted by the Collins concoction of a "Mick & Ginger" (2 parts blended whiskey
to 3 parts ginger ale), or an "Irish Jack Rose" incorporating the blend with Calvados apple brandy, lime juice
and Grenadine, but we would not insult the single malt with anything but drinking it 'neat' or over rocks.
Michael Collins bottlings emanate from "the last independent distillery in Ireland," The Cooley in county
Louth. The Irish distillery scene has definitely shrunk since the late 1800's, when there were over 1,300 plants
producing over 400 branded whiskeys. The Cooley opened in 1987 and is the lone Irish distillery to double
distill and use peated, malted barley. This writer discovered the Irish form of whiskey when living in San
Francisco. Tullamore Dew, Jameson's, Bushmill's and Murphy's are the Irish whiskey standards now joined
by Michael Collins.
The Grand Dalles joins Oregon winery ranks
The Columbia AVA appellaton just released its neweat label, The Grand Dalles, sited (of course!) near The
Dalles, OR. This is the project of a young couple who left former pursuits to tackle the challenge of creating
fine wine. Scott Elder left the world of high tech, while his bride Stephanie relinquished a professional writing
career. They met at Intel in Beaverton, but agreed to pursue a joint career in vinoland. Scott was raised on a
Kansas farm and was exposed to wine during postgraduate study in France. Stephanie originated in upper
New York state. The couple decided to follow the tutelage of Bacchus after marrying and chose the wilds of
Oregon as the scene for establishing their vino adventure.
Their 160-acre vineyard is planted with both red & white grapes. Their initial release includes a bone dry
Riesling (LeRoy's Finest-named after a vineyard consultant), a Chianti-style blend of Sangiovese &
Cabernets, bothSauvignon & Franc, (Gampo-named after Stephanie's Italian grandfather) and a
Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon blend (Home Place-celebrating Scott's return to farming) We
complimented the pair on these initial bottlings, which they declare are suited to their taste preferences as
opposed to what the majority palate might prefer.
Only in the Alsatian region of France have we tasted a bone dry Riesling similar to Leroy's, a wonderful
accompaniment to shellfish. Gampo has a smoothness unusual in a Chianti-style bottling and is definitely
enjoyable with a wide variety of pasta, meat or fowl. Home Place has an edge, thanks to its Cabernet
component and demands good red meat as its meal match.
The Grande Dalles' founders have yet to produce more than a few hundred cases of their vino progeny, and
this places their current bottlings in a high retail price bracket ($60 each for the reds, $30 for the
Riesling).Wine aficianados will say these sips are worth it, but with flood of very drinkable domestic and
imported labels responding to the burgeoning American wine consumption with reasonable pricing, The
Grande Dalles needs to lower its price points to grow beyond its current very narrow market niche. We
admire the founders' skill and determination and believe they will build a profitable future for their new son
© 2011 Oregon Magazine