Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wine Country Oregon: Vermentino From Troon Vineyards

It was more than mildly surprising to open an e-mail and find that Craig Camp had moved. The longtime standard-bearer for Napa Valley’s Cornerstone Wines, Camp announced that he had decided to pursue his "vision of winemaking not in the Napa Valley, but in the Applegate Valley of southern Oregon at Troon Vineyard." He went on to explain that the opportunity to tout Troon’s "natural wines from this unique terroir" was an offer he couldn’t turn down. He looked forward to "making wines with indigenous yeasts, trodding by foot, using almost no new oak and working with exciting varieties like vermentino, tannat, sangiovese, malbec, syrah, roussanne and marsanne." Even though his former company had a stake in Oregon for Pinot Noir, this was going to be full immersion.

Camp reported that the Troon property had been planted in 1972 by Dick Troon, so the roots go deep. He also reported 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 wasted no time in lauding Troon’s "high-altitude, granitic soils" of their "benchland vineyards high above the Applegate River."

Troon Blue Label Vermentino Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2014

This wine is an 80% Vermentino, 20% Sauvignon Blanc blend. The grapes were picked and pressed together and fermented sur lie. The act of fermenting the wine in contact with the lees, or spent yeast cells, gives the wine a fuller, rounder mouthfeel. The alcohol is a very restrained 12.5% abv - Camp says only very warm vintages will go much higher - and a scant 167 cases were made.

The nose offers a good deal of tropical fruit, but not the usual suspects.  Guava and a gentle lemon note are joined by a mild sense of lanolin and stones. An extremely earthy aspect layers just underneath.  On the palate, there’s a zippy acidity that’s really bracing, and really craving some oysters.  Actually make that a plate of grilled calamari and scungilli, if you can find such a delicacy where you are.  I’m in L.A., and that request is generally met with "Huh?" Camp suggests seafood fritto misto.

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