After a deliriously happy visit to the Southeast Wine Collective, we slowly ambled down the road a bit to ENSO Winery, self-described "urban winery + tasting lounge. ENSO is a small batch wine producer, the fruits of a single winemaker's labor—Ryan Sharp. The wide-open space is self-consciously hip with rough-hewn woods, industrial-style lighting, chalkboard menu, and a mottled cement floor. A fun setting for a not-so-serious tasting of ENSO wines.
We each ordered a flight of five wines—Lisa the white, Gary the reds. Big picture, we found most of the wine pleasant, one was exceptional, and two were not to our liking.
These are the ENSO wines we most enjoyed:WHITEResonate White $14/bottle
Resonate is ENSO's lower-priced label, designed for everyday drinking.A blend of Sauvignon Blanc from Oregon and Muller-Thurgau from Oregon, the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Lisa noted a "bright, honeysuckle nose and a snappy grapefruit on the palate."REDCounoise 2011 $30/bottle
Counoise is minimally planted in the Pacific Northwest and is traditionally used as a blending grape. ENSO's offering is 100% Counoise, aged in neutral oak. Gary found the wine "very earthy, from the nose to the palate, with strawberry notes throughout. And the taste? "Like strawberry rhubarb pie with alcohol and humus." Lisa had to ask, "Is that a good thing or bad review?" If you are big on "terroir" in your wine, you'll enjoy CounoisePetite Sirah 2011 $32/bottle
This was the true standout of the ENSO portfolio. Deep and dark berries but smooth as silk. Big taste but not too big. Not too much alcohol, nicely balanced. Gary raved about the wine and thought it would be the ideal companion to a rib eye steak.
ENSO's tasting lounge serves all in-house wines plus a nice selection of other local winemakers, including Vincent, Seven Bridges, and Helioterra. Most wines are well priced at $10 per glass. If you're in the neighborhood, stop in, take a seat at the bar, and soak up Portland's Southeast vibe. A glass of local wine and a cheese plate will make for a most enjoyable afternoon.Carbo Loading for the Trip Home
Lest you get the impression that all we did in Portland is drink wine, we end this post with an ode to Voodoo Doughnuts. Yes it's a tourist mecca. Yes, we waited in line at 11pm, serenaded all the while by a first-rate street band. And we'd do it again tomorrow.
Gary, who can fall asleep after a triple espresso gorged on the Diablos Rex, a chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting, red sprinkles, a vanilla pentagram, and a chocolate chip middle. Lisa ordered the more refined Lemon Chiffon Crueller, which she devoured in 3 bites. All Voodoo doughnuts are hand made. The flavors are bright and clear, the dough fluffy, the fillings not too sweet. The perfect doughnut and a great way to end a memorable trip to Portland. We'll be back!