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The Cellar: Great Wine Grabs From Oregon + Washington State

Friday, July 26, 2013

 

Pacific Northwest winery was the theme of the night at the 'Evening with Wine' event.

At the most recent ‘Evening with Wine’ event at the Providence Wine Academy participants tasted a series of outstanding wines from Washington and Oregon, known collectively as the Pacific Northwest. The following is a review of three wines that were ‘Crowd Favorites’ and are available locally.

2011 King Estate Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The first flight (as always poured blind) pitted the $17 Pinot Gris from Oregon’s King Estate against the similarly priced, small-production 2011 Ransom ‘Brooks Vineyard’ Riesling from Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills, and the award-winning $40 2009 Chaleur Estate Blanc from Delille Cellars. With enough of participants experiencing the single vineyard Riesling to be too high in acid and the Chaleur being over concentrated and oaked, it was the Pinot Gris that took top marks.

Located in Eugene Oregon, King Estate’s 1000 acre property currently has half of its acreage under vine, making it the world’s largest organic single vineyard. King Estate made 1300 cases of this benchmark Pinot Gris, which is a blend of 6 different vineyard blocks planted with vines that range in age from 4 years to 16 years old. After fermentation the wine aged on the dead yeast cells for 5 months with occasional stirring, adding body and creaminess to a wine that boasts apricots and pears.

2009 Soter ‘North Valley’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The second blind-tasting pitted two fantastic $30 Pinot Noirs against each other in a head-to-head battle. Although the two wines; the 2010 ‘Chehalem Mointain’ Pinot from Siduri and 2009 ‘North Valley’ Pinot from Sotor Vineyards, come from the same (Willamette) Valley, they are from two different vintages – making them extremely different structurally. When Oregon Pinot Noirs are at their best, they are often praised for displaying the best of California and Burgundy, i.e. the ripeness and richness of sunny California and the earthiness and finesse of Burgundy.

The two wines were truly different–almost like tasting a Californian Pinot next to a classic Burgundy. The ’09 Soter (which won the battle) is richer in body and in flavor with dark ripe fruit and higher alcohol, partially a result of a warmer grape growing season. The ’10 Siduri was leaner, brighter with much more red fruit and savory flavors. It was cooler in 2010 which resulted in less ripe grapes and wines with more acidity. Participants preferred the ’09 Soter with the fatty meats and cheeses, which the ’10 Siduri had a hard time standing up to.

2010 K Vintners ‘The Deal’ Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington

The final flight featured three red wines–all from Washington’s Columbia Valley (which continues to be a hotspot for serious red winemaking made from an increasing number of varietals); the 2010 ‘The Deal’ Syrah from Charles Smith and the folks at K Vintners, the 2009 Merlot from Canoe Ridge and the $54 2010 ‘Artist Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon from Woodward Canyon.

The winner was K Vintners ‘The (real) Deal’, cool climate Syrah. This $40 single vineyard bottle of wine is made from grapes sourced from the 72 acre Sundance vineyard located within Columbia Valley’s Wahluka Slope. Charles Smith and his team only made 210 cases of this wine, which is available locally. This is not a heavy Australian Shiraz, nor is it a rustic (and tannic) Northern Rhone syrah. It is a style of Syrah that is relatively unique and worth seeking out. After having been aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak, this medium-bodied wine is balanced and elegant, rich in spicy dark and red fruit flavors. Stunning wine!

The evening also featured a sparkling wine and a Rose. If you’d like see a complete list of the wines tasted, click here. While at the website feel free to sign up for the next tasting, which will be held on Friday, August 23rd and will feature the wines Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and Southwestern France.

Cheers!

 

Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question.

 

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