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The Cellar: Discoveries from the Pacific Northwest

Friday, February 24, 2012

 

If you are an avid wine drinker, surely you will have had your fair share of Californian wines. But did you know that they also make great wines in other parts of the Pacific Northwest? They do! This week is all about the wines from Oregon and Washington State; a great ‘burger Merlot’ and delicate Pinot Gris. Both are delicious, ready-to-drink wine and great everyday $15 values.

2009 Foris Pinot Gris, Rogue Valley, Oregon

The most interesting white grape varietal out of Oregon these days is Pinot Gris, better known as Pinot Grigio in Italy. Generally speaking, Pinot Gris’ out of Oregon have more body and pronounced fruit flavors

than their Italian counterparts. I am constantly impressed by the level of quality one gets in Oregon Pinot Gris and for very little money. First planted as recently as 1966, Pinot Gris has steadily grown in popularity. Today Pinot Gris is the white wine is now the most often associated with Oregon.

Ted Gerber planted his first vines in 1974, with the hope of growing premium Alsacean varietals in the remote southwest corner of Oregon. Officially established in 1986, Foris is now family-owned Estate, with vineyards and a boutique winery surrounded by the beautiful, rustic Siskiyou Mountains. Their 2009 Pinot Gris, awarded 90 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, is one of the better under $20 Pinot Gris/Grigios I have had in a while - fully dry, crisp and floral made without any oak. Its ripe fruit runs the gamut from citrusy to tropical, making this a surprisingly complex wine.

2009 14 Hands Merlot, Washington State

Almost all of Washington State's plantings are located in the western part of the state where rolling farmland shape the viticultural landscape. The climate during the short summer is dry and warm, sometimes hot

even and desert-like (this stands in stark contrast to the areas winters with are cold – sometimes arctic style). As weird as it may sound, the conditions during the hot summer months are ideal for growing Merlot and the Washington produces some of our country’s best, as well as Merlots for everyday sipping. If you’ve never had a Washington Merlot, this is the week to try one.

The grapes for 14 Hands Winery 2009 Merlot were sourced from vineyards throughout the State, including the famous Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, and Wahluke Slope. After harvest the fruit was gently de-stemmed, crushed and then allowed to soak for 48 hours to extract as much color and flavor as possible. This is a fruit-forward, full-bodied style of Merlot which I find to be easy-drinking and very ‘un-offensive’. It has a lot of dark fruit and very soft tannins. Made from 78% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% other ‘premium red varieties’, as the label reads.

Enjoy!

Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected]. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocal’s Wine Cellar on Facebook. 

 

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