The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2013

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URTE PHOTO CO SY OF TH NEYARDS E EYRIE VI A young David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, pioneer of Oregon's Willamette Valley, at his first harvest in 1970. who sacrificed their careers as urban professionals in California to migrate north and grow grapes in an area that had not yet been proven. In a group effort to make worldclass wines, these early pioneers shared information, resources and marketing ideas at legendary monthly meetings held at the Tigard Fire Hall in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ultimately, this hard work paid off when Willamette Valley was granted elite status as an official American Viticultural Area in 1983. Today, Pinot Noir is the poster child of Oregon's wine industry. With a cooler climate and shorter growing season than California, the elegant flavors of red, black and blue fruits and nuances of earth, mineral and spice are lifted with high levels of natural acidity and low pH. Beyond Pinot, there is also a new resurgence in highquality white wines from the region, particularly with Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris. In celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the Willamette Valley AVA, here are some of my favorite picks from wineries that helped make Oregon what it is today: innovative and delicious. PHOTO: JANIS MIGLAVS The Willamette Valley Wineries Association "Pinot in the City" tasting, which includes a trade component, will take place in Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2013. For information, go to Ponzi: Alsace in Oregon When Dick and Nancy Ponzi arrived in Willamette Valley in 1969, their hearts were set on making Alsatian-style wines. After planting their first vines of Pinot Gris vines in 1978, the Ponzi family has become one of Oregon's premiere producers of the varietal. The Ponzi 2012 Pinot Gris ($17) is a great example of this commitment to quality. Crafted by winemaker Luisa Ponzi, this elegant wine features fragrant aromatics and flavors laden with ripe tropical fruits, key lime pie, white pepper and zippy acidity. Sexy and delightful. Adelsheim: Chardonnay Renaissance Although Adelsheim Winery has earned a reputation for producing complex Pinot Noirs and marvelous dessert wines since 1972, proprietor David Adelsheim and winemaker David Paige are huge fans of Chardonnay. Recently, consumers have started to catch on, especially after tasting the winery's elegant new release, the Adelsheim 2011 Cattlin's Reserve Chardonnay ($45), a fruit-focused wine with core flavors of fresh apple pie, Asian pear, white chanterelle mushroom, cinnamon, mineral, plush suede texture, vibrant acidity and a dry finish. Sokol Blosser: The Eco-Friendly Tradition Lives On From the minute Susan Sokol Blosser arrived in Oregon in 1971, her focus has been to make rockstar wines while treating the land with respect. Since 2005, the 100 acres of estate vineyards have been certified organic and recently the winery opened its innovative new eco-friendly tasting room. The purity of the estate comes through in the Sokol Blosser 2010 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($38), the latest release of this wine, with attractive aromas of ripe red fruit, rose petals and wild herbs. On the palate, the flavors of ripe cherry, red currant and pomegranate are melded together with a fantastic fusion of earth, mineral, spice and fine French oak. Erath: A True Pinot Pioneer Another Willamette Valley pioneer was Dick Erath, who planted his first Pinot Noir grapes in the Dundee Hills in 1969. Today, the Erath wines are crafted by Gary Horner, who works with fruit from many special vineyards. The Erath 2010 Prince Hill Pinot Noir ($50) is made with the Pommard clone planted in 1983 and newer plantings of Dijon clones 115 and 777 grown at elevations of 500 to 700 feet in the Dundee Hills. Together, this delightful combination creates deep and complex flavors of Bing cherry, red currant, cranberry, citrus zest and a long lingering finish. Elk Cove: The Single Vineyard Concept After founding Elk Cove Vineyards, Pat and Joe Campbell have been producing single vineyard–designate Pinot Noirs since 1979. Today, their talented son Adam Godlee Campbell is making ten to twelve Pinot Noirs per year. Among the stunning new offerings is the Elk Cove 2010 Roosevelt Pinot Noir ($75), a deep-textured wine with a pleasurable flavor profile similar to gourmet s'mores stuffed with wild berries and dark chocolate inside a graham cracker crust drizzled with raspberry coolie and hints of smoke. september 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  105 TP0913_104-156.indd 105 8/22/13 10:30 PM

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