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

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.

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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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, March 10, 2014

Wine Country: Oregon - Elizabeth Chambers Cellar

Winemaking has been going on in Oregon since the mid-1800s.  The first winery popped up in 1847 and an Oregon wine won the blue ribbon at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  Prohibition killed winemaking in the Beaver State and didn't resume until thirty years after the ban was repealed.  California winemakers ventured into the state during the 1960s to take advantage of the cool-climate Willamette Valley for growing Pinot Noir grapes, and the rest is history.  Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris have come to represent Oregon wine.

Elizabeth Chambers - call her "Liz" - says, "It may be because I am a woman, but I am not interested in seeing who can make the wine with the biggest muscles.  I want to drink wines that have table manners, wines that can dance.  I want elegance and style in my wines."

Elizabeth Chambers Cellar is in McMinnville, Oregon, in the northern part of the Willamette Valley.  The boutique winery was founded only last year, and Chambers has just released her initial wines.  The winery and tasting room are located in the town's historic power plant, an electrifying locale to say the least.  Chambers is a third generation Oregonian whose family helped pioneer winemaking in the Willamette Valley.  Her mother loved butterflies, and that's why that blue one floats across the label of her Pinot Noir.

Also on the label, Chambers says, "We partner with local growers who use environmentally friendly farming techniques to grow grapes that reflect each site's distinctive terroir."  The Willamette Valley was Snooth's Region of the Year in 2013, so she seems to be in the right place at the right time for terroir.

The Elizabeth Chambers 2011 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Winemaker's Cuvée is a limited production blend, 100% Pinot Noir, utilizing grapes grown primarily in Freedom Hill Vineyard and selected blocks from the Lazy River Vineyard.  The wine has alcohol at 13.3% abv and sells for $32.

Winemaker Michael Stevenson does not believe in excessive manipulation, saying, "Ninety percent of what is in the bottle is determined by what we pick in the vineyard."  The wine is aged for ten months in predominantly used oak, in keeping with his minimal intervention program.

This Pinot Noir is rather lightly tinted and smells of raspberry, but the fruity aroma really has to elbow its way through a savory crowd of leather and mushrooms.  It conjures up a masculine image of tromping across a forest floor with a weathered leather vest, but on the palate a more feminine presence takes over.  It's an elegant sip, with restrained tannins, bright acidity and flavors of cola and tea.  Strawberry on the finish lingers like a soft kiss.

The wine is quite impressive and very distinctive.  Chambers and Stevenson can be proud of their first vintage.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Savory White Wine Of France, California And Oregon

Serendipity is a beautiful thing.  I stumbled upon one wine event on the way to another that was being held in the same hotel at the same time.  The event featured wines represented by the Estates Group, a division of Southern California wine distributor Young's Market Company.  Here are some quick notes on some very fine - mostly savory - wines.

Dominique Lafon Wines

Dominique Lafon is considered a pioneer in Burgundy and one of France's finest winemakers.  He oversees his own properties and is the consulting winemaker for America's Evening Land Vineyards as well.  Lafon took over his family’s estate in 1987 and raised a few eyebrows as he moved away from traditional farming methods involving chemicals.  He improved the quality of the fruit and proved his critics were wrong when they said his wines would never amount to anything.  His bottlings - particularly the premier cru wines - command a hefty price.  My thanks to the hosts for allowing me to step in and sample.

Bourgogne Blanc 2010
Smoky nose with tropical fruit.  Savory grapefruit edge on the palate, but not tart.  Gentle acidity.

Bourgogne Blanc 2011
Light nose, savory flavors of melon, cantaloupe.  Gentle acidity.

Meursault 2011
Lightly smoky nose , savory pear on the palate.

Meursault Les Narvaux 2011
Smoke, pear juice aromas, savory flavors of pear and white peach.

Puligny Montrachet, Premier Crus Champ Gain 2011
Nice, savory melon and pear.

Volnay Villages 2011
Delicate nose of strawberry and roses.  Bright cherry and strawberry on the palate.

Beaune Epenottes Premier Cru 2011
Beautiful acidity.  Nose of dusty strawberry, palate showing beautiful cherries and roses.

Volnay Les Lurets 2011
Lovely, delicate nose, bright fruit palate.

Evening Land Vineyards

Always seeking great vineyard sites, Evening Land started with Occidental Vineyard in Sonoma Coast, moved north to Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon's Willamette Valley, then to Burgundy.Producing wines in California, Oregon and Burgundy presents some logistical hoop-jumping as well as some neccessary duplication of efforts.  Winemakers Isabel Meunièr and Cristophe Vial oversee the Evening Land wines in America and France, respectively.  Dominique Lafon consults.  The company’s Central Coast California offerings will be going by the wayside as their American arm shifts its focus to the Sonoma Coast.

Au Château de Bligny Pouilly-Fuissé 2011  $28
Malolactic fermentation, 35% of the wine spent eight months in french oak, the remainder rested in a tank.  Tropical fruit on the nose, with a mouthful of minerals, tangerine peel and lemon. Brilliant acidity

Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills, Seven Springs Vineyard 2011  $65
Whole cluster pressed, and the herbal element comes through.  Aged eleven months in oak, another five months in steel tanks.  The Eola-Amity Hills AVA is located within Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Smoky oak on the nose, savory fruit on the palate.

Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2011  $25
Single vineyard, two miles from the Pacific Ocean at 900-foot elevation.  Barrel fermentation in French oak, whole cluster pressed.  Smoky minerals with a savory, tart palate.

Au Château de Bligny Bourgogne Rouge 2011  $25
Least expensive of the Evening Land French wines.  Half is aged in French oak for ten months, the rest in stainless steel.  Aromas of roses, light cherry flavors.

Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2011  $50
Aged 16 months in French Oak.  Funky nose, cherry and strawberry on the palate.

Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Occidental Vineyard 2011  $120
A real terroir wine.  12-14 months in French oak, a miniscule amount made.  Smoky funk dots the nose, while the palate shows delicate flavors of  cherry and plum.