I thought I'd write about some Oregon releases that have been very well received over the past few weeks. All are superbly crafted, deserving special note and a place on the table.
- Springhill Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir — This is a profound pinot noir laced with stunning layers of spiced fruit, dark flavors of berry and plum and finishing with just a hint of delicious oak. I have always loved the wines from this small producer and the 2006 is no exception. One of the charming aspects of this particular release is its very intense varietal flavors. There is no mistaking this wine for anything but opulent pinot noir. So many times we see light, unfocused pinot at high prices. This wine delivers the goods. $34.95 per bottle.
- Holloran Willamette Valley 2006 Pinot Noir — This is the unfiltered 13.5 percent offering which pours a rich, dark mouthful of delicious wine in the glass. The broodingly long flavors are accented by a bouquet of old roses and oak and the finish seemingly goes on forever. This is the most "French" in style I've encountered in an Oregon pinot noir for a long time. It is one of heat from the alcohol but superb integration with the rest of the wine, including the front and back palate fruit. This is an amazing effort. $39.95 per bottle.
- South Stage Cellars Rogue Valley Viognier 2008 — I am not a big fan of higher alcohol white wines. Many wines over 13 percent seem to replace crispness and thirst-quenching aftertastes with tremendous amounts of heat, which can obstruct rather than compliment cuisine, especially light fare which is associated with dry white wine. This lovely wine is an exception by offering crispness with good, integrated heat in the finish. We had this wine with Indian food and the choice could not have been better. The other nice aspect to this wine is the silkiness of palate throughout the taste sensations, which lingered as the dinner progressed. Very nice. $21.95 per bottle.
- Boedecker Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2008 — Pinot gris can be a funny wine to make well. The classic gris is fresh, clean and cleansing on the palate. This wine fits this description exactly and offers other special treats, such as a hint of citrus, dry tropical flavors and a wonderful nose of lemon peel. I love the complexity of this wine and its ability to go with so many different offerings. We had this wine with fresh, cold crab and drawn butter. The wine cleansed the palate perfectly and was just the white with crab. $19.95 each.
- Westrey Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2008 — I think this is going to be a banner year for pinot gris in Oregon. It seems that the acid levels and fruit in the north are going to give us outstanding white wines as well as pinot noir. The Westrey is a fine example of well-made pinot gris, an almost textbook example of classically defined gris on every level. The nose has hints of lime and lemon twist with a back round of pear. The palate is silky but fresh and has very good weight, which can be a tricky but important attribute in well made pinot gris. Serve this fine wine with seafood, cold salads, poultry or Thai food and watch the magic. This is one of the nicest releases of pinot gris in a long while. $19.95 per bottle.
I am very excited by the 2008 vintage in Oregon and believe that we are going to see some exceptional releases come our way very soon. I will keep you up to date as the vintage progresses.
Lorn Razzano is owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.