Oregon's "New" Whites Reveal Refined, Detailed Sips

Vintners have done several decades of research in vineyard conditions

Many Oregon vintners are taking whites more seriously than they have in the past. Several decades of viticultural research and trial and error with vineyard conditions and clonal selection have lifted the region’s white wines out of their adolescent state to become more refined, detailed whites.

How can we categorize these wines? Oregon’s whites possess fine purity of fruit but aren’t usually fruity, and the taste resembles the crisp flavors of tree fruits such as peaches and apples. A cooler climate and longer days translate into longer growing periods and subsequently more developed, nuanced flavors and textures.

“White Table Wine,” (Gewurztraminer)
Sineann, Yamhill Carlton, $14
Made entirely from Gewurztraminer, the folks at Sineann wanted to downplay the varietal nature of the wine by labeling it simply as white wine. And indeed, this possesses all the virtues of Gewurz—spice, texture and roses, with none of its excesses. Dry with good acidity, this is one to try with chicken or pork on the grill.

J. Christopher, Sauvignon Blanc
2009, $20
The best domestic Sauvignon Blanc I’ve tasted this year. Sourced from the lower Willamette Valley, this is very much like France’s Sancerre, but more lively and spicy.

Adelsheim Pinot Blanc
2010, $19
Suave and cheery with soft melon flavors and a floral component you can taste. The most versatile wine of the group and a great one to enjoy with the first sweet corn of the season and then carry on to the starched flavors of autumn.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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