Wines of the Pacific Northwest

Dear Feastlings,

Every now and again, we get so caught up in the virtues of French, Italian or Spanish wines, and we do it to our own detriment, because we ignore wines from our own (admittedly somewhat broad) neck of the woods.  And yes, there’s a reason that California is the first place that leaps to mind when we talk about “wine country,” but it’s nice to remember every now and again that the wines of the Pacific Northwest do give the Old World a run for its money.  If you join us at this month’s Last Sunday tasting on the 27th at 3:30, you’ll taste a wine or two that wears its New World pedigree as a badge of honor, but you’ll also discover wines you’d be hard-pressed not to compare to their French counterparts, and compare them quite favorably.  You’re invited to join us along with Mike Galkin and taste some very special wines, some food that’s been paired to them specifically, and maybe learn something along the way.  Family still in town?  Bring them along.  Or hide from them at the tasting.  That choice is yours alone to make.  The tasting will be $30 and includes the food pairings as well as a discount on the wines.  Give us a call at 326-9363, since web and email reservations won’t hold you a spot.

Pacific Northwest

2014 Helioterra Wines ‘Stavig Vineyard’ Melon de Bourgogne, Willamette Valley                      $24.00

In 2009, Anne Hubatch made her first Helioterra Wines. The name draws on geological inspirations, symbolizing Heliolite, the Oregon state gemstone (more commonly known as Sun Stone), and terra, the Greek word for earth. The sun and earth are natural partners for the growth of quality wine grapes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An Oregon “Muscadet!” Melon de Bourgogne remains a rare breed on this side of the world, and we’re so thrilled it’s found a foothold in Oregon. Helioterra’s 2014 version is the perfect blend of crisp and delicately sweet: aromas of lemon curd, shortbread, and honey are fortified by a full palate packed with graham, bacon fat, Mt. Hood strawberry, and rose pepper. If you like zippy, dry whites, Melon de Bourgogne is a must-try.

2013 Januik Winery ‘Cold Creek Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Columbia Valley                                   $34.00

At Januik Winery, they believe single vineyard wines should only be made when a particular site yields an exceptional wine that reflects the unique character of the vineyard.. Following traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques, grapes were harvested at the peak of flavor, pressed and fermented in primarily new French oak barrels. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation for added complexity and richness and was aged sur lie for ten months to integrate the oak and fruit.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rich and elegant, the Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay is packed with creamy pear and citrus aromas. Layered with hints of vanilla and mineral flavors, the finish is bright, balanced and lingering.

2014 Brooks Wines Amycas, Willamette Valley                                                                                       $18.00

Amycas is a delightful, crisp and floral blend of 30% Pinot Blanc, 28% Riesling, 10% Pinot Gris, 15% Gewurztraminer and 17% Muscat with good acidity and lovely aromatics.  It is inspired by the Edelzwicker (edel = noble, zwicker = blend) wines found in Alsace, and like its French cousins is very pleasureable, with or without food.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Such an elegant, delicate perfume on  the  nose  of  gardenia,  lilac, jasmine and orange blossom. Notes of white roses, applesauce, lychee, honeysuckle,  lavender  and  spice. Ultra refreshing and floral, with bright  acidity,  ripe  tangerine, passionfruit, grapefuit, papaya, and lychee nut. The texture is slightly oily and viscous, yet finishes tangy and  tart  with  lemon  and  lime, green apple and fresh peach.

2013 Whoa Nelly Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley                                                                                      $18.00

A wine as rich on the nose as it is spirited on the palate. This is a playful yet elegant Pinot made from a variety of Pinot Noir clones and a mix of vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley. This deliciously light, bright, tantalizing wine will knock your boots off.                                                                                                                                                                                         Aromas of dark cherry, cardamom pod, cigar box, graham, and mineral spice. The palate is lively and focused with an initial burst of pretty red fruit with lingering notes of pomegranate, sweet spice, and great acidity.

2013 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills $42.00

Eyrie Vineyards was officially founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966 when they planted their vineyards in the Red Hills of Dundee, about 30 miles SW of Portland. The Letts settled on the name Eyrie (EYE-ree) after the red-tailed hawks who make their home in the fir trees near the top of their original vineyard plantings. All grapes for this wine came from our own vineyards in the Dundee Hills. The vines average 32 years of age. Vines are non-irrigated, own-rooted, Guyot-trained, spacings varying from 12’ x 6’ to 6’ x 3’. We use no herbicides, systemic chemicals or insecticides, and we never have. Vineyards floors have a native cover and no tillage. Hand harvested.  Extended barrel oak aging for 18+ months. We believe that oak flavors obscure the wines, so new French oak only accounts for about 8% of the barrels; the rest are truly neutral, with an average 20 year fill history. The wines are aged on the fermentation lees and racked only during blending.                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Quite austere when first opened, this drinks best after significant aeration or decanting, which is no surprise with any Eyrie Pinot Noir. Light strawberry and cherry fruit sits stiffly framed with crisp tannins, underscored with ample acidity. There’s a well-matched herbal component as well. This is at least a 10, if not a 20-year wine. Drink 2020 through 2030.” – 91 Points, Cellar Sellection, Wine Enthusiast — (12/1/2015) Paul Gregutt.

2006 Modern Wine Project Red Blend, Columbia Valley                                                                       $27.00

From the wonderful 2006 vintage in Washington State comes the “newest” release from the Modern Wine Project, a side label of the cult winery, Sleight of Hand Cellars, in Walla Walla, WA. 44% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Malbec. This red blend was aged in mostly new French oak for 30 months, and has been in bottle for the last 4 years, undisturbed.

This wine is just entering its “drink now” stage, and show amazing richness, purity, and vibrancy for a wine that is 9 years old. The unique blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec has wonderfully complex flavors and aromas of black fruits, olives, herbs, white pepper, and finishes with plush, approachable tannins that carry the mineral finish for minutes.

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