As those of you who have read my wine column over the past 25 or so years know, I don't make a habit of reviewing specific wineries or particular wines on a regular basis. I thought I'd take a chance and talk about a few new local releases that seem to be very nice wines and are worth scouting out and purchasing.
As many of you know, I like wines from many different wineries and wines of many styles and flavor components, from broodlingly deep reds to crispy whites. I think the following list of wines are very well-made, clean and show an excellent level of winemaking and viticultural practices. Here we go:
South Stage Cellars — The Moore family is giving Oregon wines of very high quality, lovely taste sensations and a level far exceeding the price being asked for them. I think this is the bargain winery to look for on all of their releases. Let's look at a few superstars that are currently available on the shelf.
- Viognier — This is a tough white wine to make well and the Moores have hit the bull's eye. Viognier can be very problematic in that the intensity of fruit can be overwhelming and overpower the acids, making the wine too tropical and lacking backbone. Time and again I have run into this problem with Viognier. The South Stage Cellars Viognier has the perfect balance of acid, fruit and alcohol, making this wine a pleasure to drink and enjoy with just about any cuisine. I had this wine with grilled shrimp and it was a perfect match! The other thing of note with all of the South Stage Cellar white wines I tasted was the ability of the wines, once open, to last for longer than a week in the refrigerator while losing very little of their fine character. This is a nice attribute if you are unwilling to finish an entire bottle in the course of a meal. The Pinot Gris and the Viognier were steadfast in that respect.
- Pinot Gris — Another home run! This Gris was very well-balanced, showed nice palate weight and had a very long and cleansing finish that cut right into the tuna and avocado salad. This wine had a hint of citrus, bright fruit tones and gripped the palate well all through the tasting. So many Pinot Gris can be wimpy wines with acidic flavors and intense sharpness. This wine had a gracefulness to it and a sense over very fine complexity, which is the hallmark of finely made Pinot Gris. The flavors of this wine went on seemingly forever and I think this was the final charm of this wine. Bravo!
- Chardonnay — Porsche, the very knowledgeable salesperson who tasted me on the Chardonnay, told me that this wine was about to be released soon. The wine is spectacular! So many of today's Chardonnay are so overdone, with gobs of oak, high alcohol and banana-laced flavors. This wine is one of the superstar Chardonnays, with just the finest balance points on the wine map. Balanced with intense fruit, superb acids and a hint of oak on the nose, this is the quintessential cuisine wine. I love the no-nonsense approach of this Chardonnay. It is what it is: superbly varietal with no masking of its inherent fruit with over-oaked flavors and screaming amounts of alcohol. This is a fine effort!
Roxyann — Here is another southern Oregon winery of special note.
I just tasted their Viognier and it was simply lovely on every level. Ned, the very enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable wine man who is the hard-working outside salesperson of this winery (I'm never shy on giving a good person credit), tasted me on this white wine. This wine had every component one would wish in a fine Viognier. One of the great things about Ned is that he allows the wine to speak for itself, that is, he does not try to influence the taster but allows the subtle, elegant flavors of the wine to speak for themselves. This is how fine wine people work: If the wine really has the stuff, it will need no introduction or prodding. Roxyann Viognier really shows its quality time after time and is worth every cent paid to enjoy it.
See you for more next week!