Showing posts with label Oregon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oregon. Show all posts

Monday, May 1, 2023

Trusty Steed From Oregon Delivers

Pinot Noir does not exactly put me in mind of horses. I think of Cabernet or something else strong and brawny in association with equine animals. Firesteed, however, has made the connection between horses and Pinot since the winery's establishment in 1992. 

Firesteed even partners with Dreamer Horses Colorado, contributing to the support of retired horses as they live out their lives.

The grapes for the 2021 Firesteed Pinot Noir were grown in various areas around Oregon, but the wine was cellared and bottled in Quincy, Washington. The juice was aged in a mix of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Alcohol resides at 13% abv and the retail price is $17.

This wine smells delicious - a bright cherry overlay with raspberry and coffee notes, plus a generous supply of earthiness. The palate holds plenty of red fruit with mocha, tea and a hint of vanilla in the flavor profile. The tannins are gentle and the sip is quite smooth. This is a lovely example of Oregon Pinot, one that bridges the gap between California and Burgundy very well. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Doing Backflips For Pink Wine

With the heat of summer digging in across much of the U.S., this is a great time to look for a cool, refreshing rosé wine. It's a great time to drink pink. And here we have a rosé over which you'll likely flip.

Made under the Foley umbrella, a California wine outfit, Acrobat uses grapes from Oregon to make their wines. This rosé combines Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes, partially whole cluster pressed and partially pressed in the saignée method. The wine was vinified then aged for two months in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol rests comfortably at 13% abv and the retail sticker reads $15.

This pale pink wine has a nose of strawberries, green parts and all. It is a fresh and lively aroma, one that invites the sip deliciously. The palate shows more strawberries, along with some stone fruit and a hint of salinity. The acidity is refreshing and will make for good food pairings across a wide range of dishes.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Oregon Pinot Noir, Mostly Willamette Valley

Wine importers Mack & Schühle have made a name for themselves, searching out wines from across the world and bringing them to U.S. wine lovers.  One of their latest discoveries did not require much travel.  United Ink has three wines from Washington's Columbia Valley and an Oregon Pinot Noir, which we delve into today.

United Ink Pinot Noir 2019

This United Ink Pinot Noir comes from the Oregon appellation, which is quite large, however most of the grapes were grown in the Willamette Valley.  It is a 100% Pinot Noir varietal wine, made by winemaker Joe Dobbes in Dundee, OR.

The winery says all the fruit "was destemmed and processed without crushing the grape berries, which results in longer fermentations, more complexity and softer tannins."  All lots underwent full malolactic fermentation, and 30% of the wine was barrel aged in neutral French oak, with the remainder getting stainless steel.  All the aging took place on the lees, the yeast cells which were spent during fermentation.  The wine's alcohol content reaches only 13% abv and the retail price is $22.

This Pinot has a medium ruby tint and carries aromas of raspberry, minerals, cola, black tea, clove and a touch of cinnamon.  The palate is equally complex, with fruit that wavers between sweet and tart, a savory earthiness and an acidity that refreshes.  The tannins were forceful at first, but they calmed themselves after a bit of air.  It may be a tad too rowdy to be called elegant, but it is a close call - and a tasty one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

This Willamette Pinot Gris - Just Wow

California wine négociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He buys already produced wine from established makers on the down low, with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club, which he calls a wineocracy, bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

The 2017 Cameron Hughes Lot 631 Pinot Gris is Hughes' first such varietal in nearly ten years.  It has been on the competition circuit and has collected awards along the way.  The grapes came from an unnamed, family-owned Willamette Valley estate, and are certified biodynamic.  The wine was made in stainless steel tanks and rested on the spent yeast cells for four months, gathering weight and creaminess in that time.  Alcohol is restrained, 13% abv, and the wine sells for $12.

The pale wine has a beautiful salinity on the nose, draping itself over the citrus flavors.  It smells like the ocean, almost like a Sardegna Vermentino.  The palate is just waiting for shellfish.  Great acidity, great fruit and all the sea you can drink.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Oregon Trio Makes Tasty Chardonnay

It was only six years ago when three brothers formed Marshall Davis Wines in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon's Willamette Valley.  They don't get top billing over the wine, though.  Sean Davis, Ryan Marshall and Matt Marshall are shown only in silhouette on the label.

The website offers that winemaker Davis is a minimalist, "letting each vineyard express itself, with more attention paid to textures and tannin management."  A sample of the 2017 Marshall Davis Estate Chardonnay was made available to me, and I can tell you he makes a pretty good one.

The Chardonnay grapes came from the Marshall Davis Vineyard.  The wine is fully oaked for 16 months, but only 20% of that wood was new.  Alcohol tips in at 13.2% abv and the bottle retails for $39.

This wine's nose comes on with bright citrus and stone fruit, and plenty of it.  Oak is apparent, but not overdone, thanks to the neutral oak.  On the palate, a savory streak paints the grapes with an even hand and provides a counterpoint for the ripe fruit.  The acidity is very lively.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Oregon Pinot Noir - On The Nose

Lenné Estate is in Yamhill County, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  They say "site is everything," and they have a minimalist approach to making wine.  They say the grapes are good enough to do the heavy lifting themselves.  They boast of having some of the poorest soil in the county, which makes the vines work harder to squeeze out their tiny, concentrated grapes.  The 20-acre vineyard produces three different lines of Pinot Noir, and this is about their estate brand.

Their website proclaims "deep root Pinot Noir," which I don't think has anything to do with Dr. Cross Deep-Root Hair Oil, a late-night mainstay on some flamethrower radio station across the border from Texas.  If it does, I stand corrected.

I don't know who belongs to the "nez" on the label, but it’s quite distinctive.  Maybe it's Len the hen's profile, the guy who started his family's migration from London to Oregon, maybe not.  It makes me think of Danny Kaye, but I doubt that’s who it is.

This Oregon Pinot Noir is extremely dark in every way.  It's tough to see through a glass of it and it's tough not to notice the blackness in the nose, too.  Black currant, black tea and black coffee dominate.  The palate is also shrouded from light.  The tea note is perky and the dark fruit lively.  Nice acidity and a lengthy finish put a nice bow on the package. 

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Oregon Pinot Noir Bridges Cali-Burgundy Gap

Lenné Estate is in Yamhill County, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  They say "site is everything," and they have a minimalist approach to making wine.  They say the grapes are good enough to do the heavy lifting themselves.  They boast of having some of the poorest soil in the county, which makes the vines work harder to squeeze out their tiny, concentrated grapes.  The 20-acre vineyard produces three different lines of Pinot, and Le Nez is one of them. 

Their website proclaims "deep root Pinot Noir," which I don't think has anything to do with Dr. Cross Deep-Root Hair Oil, a late-night mainstay on some flamethrower radio station across the border from Texas.  If it does, I stand corrected.  Do you think the label is a little too "on the nose?"

The 2015 Lenné Estate Le Nez Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is nearly a third composed of Pommard, 115 and 777 clones with the rest made up of clones 667 and 114.  It's bottled under the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, racks up 14.2% abv and sells for $35.

This is a medium-dark Pinot Noir with a nose that screams about the earth.  Dark and dirty, the aromas center on forest floor, coffee grounds and black tea.  That's right up my alley, unless we're talking Pinot Noir.  Then I prefer something more subdued and elegant.  The palate, however, gets more along those lines.  There's some tea, and some dark berry, and they get along great together.  It's not exactly Burgundian, but it's not California, either.  It strikes a beautiful middle ground.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Oregon Chardonnay Recalls Earlier Style

The wines of Alloro Vineyard grow in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, on a plot of land where there is a working farm, 100 acres of sheep, cattle, fruit and nuts.  The 34-acre vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Muscat grapes. 

The Alloro 2016 Chardonnay is aged in French oak, 10% of which is new.  Alcohol tips 13.7% abv and it retails for $34.

The 2016 Alloro Vineyards Chehalem Mountains Chardonnay serves as a sort of bridge between old-style and modern Chardonnay.  It has an oaky presence, but not one that's off-putting.  You'll get a whiff of it on the nose, but it's the tropical fruit you'll remember.  The mouth is quite full and juicy, with a nice acidity and a medium finish.  I paired it with a gumbo and was quite pleased.

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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, April 30, 2018

A Great Oregon Pinot Noir

This winery is named for the Oregon Trail, which rewarded 19th century explorers with the fertile land of the Willamette Valley.  The valley was under 400 feet of water a much earlier point in history, with volcanic soil and marine deposits carried to it over time.  The winery promises ripe fruit and minimal intervention in the cellar with their Pinot Noir.

The 2016 Oregon Trail Wine Company Pinot Noir carries alcohol at 13.2% abv and sells for about $20, pretty reasonable for a good Pinot - very reasonable for a great one.  You'll hear the word "Burgundian" tossed about a bit when Oregon Pinot Noir is talked about, and this wine is a good example of why.

The wine is medium dark in the glass with a gorgeous nose of smoky, red fruit.  Bright cherries have the shade of earth thrown over them with an overlay of sage. In the mouth, tannins are firm and acidity is great and the palate is ripe and a bit savory.  It's a bold wine, but the brawn is kept in check.  At no time did I think I might possibly be drinking a Syrah.  It's a middleweight, right where Pinot ought to be.

There's wine from all 50 states.

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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. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

California, Oregon, Provence In One Rosé

Elouan Rosé promises "the opulence of California, the elegance of Oregon." The problem is, there's not a word about Provence anywhere in that blurb. That's what the wine brings to mind for me.

Elouan is not just a California winemaker packing a carpet bag and heading north to explore different terroir. It's a man about wine, Joseph Wagner, practicing Pinot in places north of his usual stomping grounds. He calls his Oregon outfit Copper Cane Wine & Provisions, and he furthers his familiarity with Pinot Noir in a region that has become famous for the grape.

Wagner says that "Oregon’s coast offers great diversity, giving us the ability to select a range of vineyards that give us versatility in style and a broad range of characteristics to enhance the final blend." From the Willamette Valley comes acidity, from the Umpqua Valley a richness, from the Rogue Valley, ripe flavor. The warmer Rogue region is where most of the grapes were grown, so the cool-climate savoriness is muted.

"This is a bespoke rosé where grapes were grown and harvested with the specific intention of making rosé," Wagner writes, "and not a saignée rosé, which can be a by-product of making red wine." And don't you just love people who use the word "bespoke?"  The wine retails for $22.

It's a beautiful rosé, with an almost brilliant pink-orange color that says, "This is gonna be fun." A nose full of strawberries and limes promise good things, and when you take a sip, there they are. Cherries, strawberries, citrus and fresh acidity grace the mouth, just like they are supposed to in a great rosé. I want this with sandwiches made from leftover turkey. And ham. Right, like there's leftover ham.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Marriage Of Malbec And Tannat

Sitting in companionship with the varietal Malbec and Tannat Troon wines, the 2013 Troon Black Label MT Reserve puts the two together.  The wine is a co-ferment of 55.67% Malbec and 44.33% Tannat. Those specifics come from Troon Vineyards' general Manager Craig Camp, who calls it  "a true marriage of these two complementary varieties."  He says they indicate a new path for winemaking at Troon, "including natural yeast and malolactic fermentations and minimal use of new oak."

The two grape varieties make Camp think of Cahors and Madiran, and the "black wines" that come from those French regions. They work together as well as they do separately. This wine has an alcohol content of 13.7% abv and retails for $50.

The Troon Black Label MT Reserve is dark and foreboding, not just in its blackish color but in its nose and palate. The aromas are savory and earthy; campfire smoke, baseball glove, cedar chest and Kalamata olives chase the blackberry smells around the glass. As for the flavors, black fruit, spices and licorice dominate. A healthy whack of tannins and a vibrant acidity make for some excitement in the mouth. The experience is not soon forgotten, as a lengthy and savory finish just won't go away.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Black Wine Of Oregon: Troon Tannat

This Applegate Valley wine, the Troon Blue Label Estate Tannat 2013, is from the dirt of southern Oregon, estate-grown, and it puts Troon’s general manager, Craig Camp, in mind of the wines of Madiran. As well it should. It's as black as wine gets, like the wines of that French region. Also like Madiran, it's Tannat, and it comes with the expected tannic structure for which that grape is known. His Troon Malbec had the same sort of effect on him.

The Oregon terroir offers a racy acidity and a strong fruit presence, with alcohol at the bargain rate of 13,7% abv. It retails for $29.

This dark, indigo wine - actually, no light gets through it, so let's call it black - smells of the blackest blackberries and earthiness earth. There’s a smoky touch to the nose and a hint of black olives, too. On the palate, it's pretty explosive. First of all, the tannins couldn't hide if they wanted to, and they don't want to. Have a steak ready, heavily marbled. Flavors of brambly black and blue berries, plums and black raspberries come forward from their earthy home and carry a savory mineral streak with them.  Berries remain on the finish.

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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Eclectic Wine From Oregon's Applegate Valley

The unusual name of this Oregon label is a literary nod to James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans," which does not refer to 2:00 a.m. in your favorite beach bar. That’s the last of the Mojitos, and it came along much later.

Cooper's hunter hero, Natty Bumppo, is also known as Hawkeye.  Further, he is also known as La Longue Carabine, or "the long rifle." He is from civilization, but prefers the wilds. He holds Indians as his closest companions, but has no Indian blood. He is eclectic, drawing from different cultures that which suits him best.

This wine also pulls disparate influences together in a fine blend. A whiff of Sicily disguises that southern Rhône feeling with the grape varieties showing the lawlessness of the frontier. The wild-eyed mix has roughly equal parts Vermentino, Viognier and Marsanne, with a swish of Roussanne thrown in.

from Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans"
Troon general manager Craig Camp calls the cofermented wine "exotic," and says the grapes find "their distinctive highlights in the expansive aromatics and rich texture." And it’s all from Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyard and Oregon. It has only 12.5% abv and sells for $34 at their tasting rooms.

The 2014 Troon Blue Label Longue Carabine, Applegate Valley is an appealing, golden straw colored wine that offers a great white wine nose of honeyed apricot, Meyer lemon and stones in a stream. The minerality of southern Oregon comes through strongly on the palate, and the acidity is positively bracing. There is a hint of the seashore in this wine, unusual since it grew near the mountains, not the coast. The finish is crisp and juicy. The grapes perfectly display the civilization of their heritage against the wildness of their home.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Resonating Pinot Noir

Does wine resonate? If we mean does it "produce a deep, full reverberating sound," no. At least mine doesn't. But if we mean does it “evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions, yes. If we mean does it "meet with someone's agreement," it sure does around here.

Résonance is French winemaker Louis Jadot's first foray outside of Burgundy. It's way outside of Burgundy. In fact, it's in Oregon's Yamhill-Carlton region. The Resonance vineyard is full of Pinot Noir vines that were stuck in the ground in 1981. This single-vineyard wine hails from Oregon, but has enough Burgundian influence to make you think it took French in high school. It evokes images of Burgundy.

The Résonance Pinot Noir is medium-dark and sweet smelling. The dark plum and raspberry aromas carry a lovely influence of oak barrels and black tea. The palate is full and features mainly plum with hints of coffee and tea. It's not particularly big, or muscular. There is more of a savory aspect that wants to shine through. On the second night the bottle was open, a sense of tar began to creep in but the tannic structure stayed firm. The wine has a reasonable 13% abv number and a zippy acidity.

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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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