Friday, July 29, 2016

Wine Country Oregon: Troon Zinfandel

You may have noticed, like I did, that Craig Camp has moved. The longtime partner in Napa Valley’s Cornerstone Wines is pursuing his "vision of winemaking" in the Applegate Valley of southern Oregon at Troon Vineyard. He wholeheartedly touts Troon’s "natural wines from this unique terroir."

Camp reports that the Troon property was planted in 1972 by Dick Troon, so the roots go deep. He also says that winemaker Steve Hall was a recent hire - two years ago - and that the team is looking ahead with vision. Camp knows a thing or two about terroir, and he wastes no time in lauding Troon’s "high-altitude, granitic soils" of their "benchland vineyards high above the Applegate River."

Camp compares this Oregon Zinfandel to a Côtes du Rhône for its value and simple pleasures. He says, "One of the great failures of the American wine industry is that most wines under $20 are boring industrial wines." He feels European wines offer better value for the price.

He calls Troon's Red Label Zinfandel, Applegate Valley 2014 "Zesty and full of brambly zinfandel fruit," and says it "is quite distinct from most California versions. Burgers, pizza and sausages are just waiting for this zinfandel." And at $18, it stays under the $20 barrier. Winemaker Hall says there is a tiny dollop of Carignane in the mix and, once co-fermented, they aged in French oak for nine months. Just over 500 cases were made.

Vineyard image from Troon
As a big fan of Zinfandel, typically a California grape, I was excited to try the Oregon version. It strikes me as a little tamer, a little less rowdy, but just as fruity and spicy as the Golden State variety. It’s a dark ruby wine purpling at the rim and smelling of black cherry and raspberry, with a memory of holiday pies cooking. A touch of nutmeg and cinnamon is always a welcome aroma. The wine sits well in the mouth, full and rich and not too tannic. Fruit forward but not simplistic, it shows an almost Cab-like elegance but carries a playful palate at its heart. The spices really come out in the flavor profile with a mineral-laced earth note that I imagine to be the expression of the cooler climate, as well as the dirt. There's a lot of "black" in here, but it's lightened by a touch of "red."

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