Showing posts with label Applegate Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Applegate Valley. Show all posts

Friday, June 29, 2018

"O" Is For Oregon, Orange

There's change underway at Troon Vineyards in southern Oregon's Applegate Valley.  Some folks say "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," but the folks at Troon said, "let’s make it better."   Winegrower Craig Camp tells me it’s not just a new label for the 2017 Riesling Orange Wine Whole Grape Ferment.  They have worked for several years to convert the estate to biodynamic farming and winemaking.  Camp says, "As we bring our soils and vines back to health each new release from Troon Vineyard will gain in complexity and pleasure."

The orange Riesling is an unusual wine, to be expected from a winery which has experimented freely with grape selection and even produced a co-fermented "blend."  The designation of "whole grape fermented" was used because Camp says "skin fermented" sounded "kind of yucky."  As always, the grapes from the estate's Kubli Bench were crushed and fermented with native yeasts.  The "whole grape" means the skins stay in there, which is what gives the wine its interesting orange tint and incredible herbal notes.  Alcohol sits easy at 11.5% abv and the wine retails for $20.

The 2017 Troon Vineyard Riesling, Orange Wine, Whole Grape Ferment, Applegate Valley, Kubli Bench Estate Bottled - now that's a mouthful - offers a light touch of tannins, a vibrant acidity and crisp dryness that makes it an extremely refreshing sip.  It's one of the more complex white wines I've tasted.  There's a strong herbal whiff on the nose, backed up by stone fruit.  The tartness hits the perfect middle ground and the wine is as dry as the proverbial bone, so put this wine on the dinner table with full confidence.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Oregon Vermentino

If Vermentino grapes were as commonplace in American vineyards as Chardonnay, maybe the ABC attitude -- Anything But Chardonnay -- would be ABV instead. They're not, though. And they probably won't be anytime soon. That's why I cherish them whenever I can.

Troon Vineyard's Craig Camp talks about two of their Vermentino wines, sounding like he's trying to choose his favorite child: "The 2016 Troon Red Label Vermentino, Applegate Valley is in the classic, richer, but still zesty style of Sardegna. The 2016 Troon Blue Label Vermentino, Cuvée Rolle, Applegate Valley was a co-ferment with 10% marsanne. It was named Cuvée Rolle (rolle is the name for vermentino in French) as the inspiration for this co-ferment comes from the richer rolle blends of the Languedoc in Southern France. As an interesting side note, there is actually more vermentino planted in France than in Italy." That should have them Rolle-ing in the aisles at the next tasting. The Red was fermented in steel tanks, while the Blue was done in oak barrels. Both were aged four months in neutral French oak.

Troon Red Vermentino Applegate Valley 2016

Camp calls the red label Vermentino a "decidedly different" expression of the grape, "grown on the granitic soils of the Kubli Bench in Oregon’s Applegate Valley."

This wine is one of three different styles of Vermentino produced at Troon. They call it their "sitting on the Italian Beach" Vermentino, made from grapes grown in Troon's sustainably farmed vineyards in southern Oregon's Applegate Valley. They picked the grapes a little earlier for this bottling than for the Blue Vermentino, which was left to ripen longer. Alcohol hits only 12.5% abv and it retails for $15.

The Troon Vermentino is a light straw gold color and very clear in appearance. The nose is savory despite apple, lime, peach and tropical notes. There's a waxy, lanolin scent and some minerals, but the salinity is just what I always hope for in this grape. The mouthfeel is full, yet the acidity is racy. Sea salt tones color the apple-meets-lemon-lime fruit and an earthy element weaves its way through it all. That salty flavor stays around a good, long while, too.

Troon Blue Vermentino Applegate Valley 2016

Don't over-chill your white wines. Troon's website pleads with you to refrain from refrigerating their Blue label Vermentino. They say a slight chill "emphasizes the wine's fruitier character," but a serving temperature in the mid-60 degree range "emphasizes the wine's savory qualities as well as its lightly tugging texture." They claim that, chilled, you're looking at notes of "yellow plum, papaya-with-a-squeeze-of-lime and guava." The slightly warmer expression "favors aromas of Spanish almonds and whispers of amontillado Sherry."

In old-country fashion, they tread the grapes by foot for this old-country varietal wine. It hits 12.5% abv and retails for $22.

The Troon Blue Label Vermentino looks so delicate in the glass. The pale color made me anticipate a light-hearted wine. It's a deception. The nose has notes similar to the Red Label, perhaps a little more savory - even yeasty. On the palate, the mouth is full and has great weight, while bringing a little more salinity to the show than the Red. Despite the almost creamy mouthfeel, the acidity is zippy and fresh.

The third Vermentino in Troon's line up, the Black Label, spends a year in barrel on the lees. The 2016 is expected to be bottled in the spring.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Oregon's Orange Riesling

From southern Oregon's Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyards has released a Riesling to contemplate. The 2016 Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment doesn't look like a Riesling. It has a faint burnished orange color, like apple cider. It's not made like most Rieslings, either. I’ll let General Manager Craig Camp tell you about that. He came to Troon from Napa Valley last year, and this incredible wine is one that "fully reflects" his winemaking goals.

In this wine, as in all from the 2016 vintage, Camp says it was all about "native yeast ferments, no additives (enzymes, acids, sugar) and no new oak barrels."  He says the orange Riesling was "produced essentially the same way" as the winery's red wines. The grapes were "first crushed by foot, destemmed, then it was transferred to one-ton fermenters. The native yeast fermentation started after 48 hours and completed in ten days. The fermenters were punched down by hand once a day. It was then pressed into neutral French Oak barrels for three months. That's it." And that's enough.

The wine staff made the decision to bottle earlier than planned to maintain freshness, and it is a fresh wine. Camp says the wine "should be consumed young and fresh, but as this is the first time we've made it we really don't know how it will age, I'll be keeping some bottles around to see how it develops." I wish I had that kind of patience.

He likes the Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment with tapas, but its freshness and structure would allow a pairing with a wide variety of dishes. This Riesling offers alcohol at only 12% abv and retails for $20.

The wine’s orange color is immediately interesting. The nose is beautiful - orange blossoms, peaches and pears, oh my. On the palate it drinks like a red wine, full and flavorful. There even seems to be tannic structure. The fruitiness I expected revealed itself instead as savory. Salinity drapes the apple flavors beautifully. I should mention, it's dry, by the way. And the acidity is fresh and lively.

Camp tells me that Troon will continue the "orange wine" program this year with a second vintage of the Riesling and a Vermentino done the same way. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Dark Malbec Of Oregon

The back label of the Troon 2013 Blue Label Malbec, Rogue Valley explains that Malbec "loves the granitic soils washed down from the Siskiyous in the highlands above the tributaries of the Rogue River." The grapes came from Troon's estate and the Varner-Traul Vineyard. The two were vinified and aged separately before blending. Alcohol ticks 13.7% abv and the wine retails for $29.

General manager Craig Camp likes to think of the wines of Cahors and Madiran. "Black wines" they used to call them. Nowadays, he says, dark color is the norm, not the exception. "Obviously we are not making Cahors and Madiran, in Oregon," he says, "we are making Applegate Valley" with echoes of those places in it. He credits the area's unique climate and distinctive granitic soils. "The naturally softer tannins of the Applegate Valley also help refine the more edgy side of these varieties."

Camp says the wine is a signpost to a new direction, a new style of winemaking at Troon, one that includes "natural yeast and malolactic fermentations and minimal use of new oak."

The Troon Rogue Valley Malbec is a deep, dark delight. Inky black, this wine offers a nose of black raspberry, blackberries and black olives. There is smoke at the top of the glass. The savory notes carry over to the palate, with a dusty, earthy side that barely tips the balance from the fruit. Earth lasts long on the finish. Good Oregon earth.

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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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.