Quite a few new wines have been released this
week, and some wines have reduced sale prices. It's time to think
about spring white wines, and there are some lovely Rieslings,
Chardonnays, and Pinot gris out at good
Oregon Pinot noir
2003 New Releases
and Sale Wines
2003 was one of Oregon’s
most unusual and challenging vintages—but it may also turn
out be one of the most highly acclaimed. Pinot noirs
from some of Oregon’s leading producers show just how far
Oregon’s winemaking skills have advanced: despite unusual
conditions, the 2003 wines show surprising balance and power.
Record heat, on numerous
occasions exceeding 100° F, combined at first with excessive
dryness and then with the ambiguous benefits of spots of rain to
make the 2003 harvest one of the most challenging winemakers had
ever seen. Despite the challenges, the 2003 Pinot noirs show structure,
great full flavors, and a hint more "stuffing" than the
2002s. In some cases, I found the wines more interesting than the
Perhaps it's the vintage, perhaps just an additional year of vineyard
age, but the terroir of the vineyards seems to show through
the fruit to a greater extent than earlier vintages.
Francis Tannahill -
Exceptional Vintage from Sam and Cheryl
Sam Tannahill and Cheryl
Francis have released their 2003 wines, and all are highly recommended
and quite limited. Their Pinot
noir "The Hermit" 03$33.75 has aromatics of cassis, blackberry, roses, graphite, smoke, spices
jump from the glass. In the mouth, the wine is large scaled and
possesses tremendous purity, depth, concentration, and power. The
finish goes on and on with the sense of the power of the wine lingering
long after the wine has left the mouth.
Sam and Cheryl show their
ability to work with Syrah with their "Mason Dixon" Syrah
a wine that is inspired by Côte Rôtie. Francis Tannahill's
Syrah has the gamey, rustic, hedonistic flavors of a Rhone wine.
This wine's cool and compelling aromas of black and white pepper, tar, smoke,
graphite, violets and game envelope the olfactory senses immediately
after the wine is poured. On the palate the wine builds effortlessly
to a culmination of swwetness, ripe tannin, fruit, and succulence.
One of my favorite white
wines from Oregon is the very limited Francis Tannahill
Gewurztraminer "Dragonfly" 03 $22.50. Huge aromatics of lychee, rose, acacia blossoms,
perfume, lavender, and spice with a palate that mimics the nose
and continues with a balance of viscosity, purity, weightless,
and power. You cannot ask for a more pleasant white wine for sipping
and enjoying with grilled chicken, Salade Nichoise, or Bruschetta.
All of the Francis Tannahill
wines are very limited in quantities.
Jimi Brooks passed away
in August of 2004 at the age of 36, from an unexpected heart attack.
He was one of Oregon's most promising young winemakers. His wines
are now being made for Brooks Winery by a group of Willamette Valley
winemakers. The winery is being run by his sister, Janie. A few
of his wines are just being released in Spring of 2005 - the Janus
The 2004 wines were made by family and friends. Jimi is survived
by his son, Pascal Brooks, and his sister, Janie Brooks Heuck.
Winery Pinot Noir "Janus" 03 $28.99/$26.09 has intense aromas of
dark black cherry, small red fruits, spice, graham, and minerals,
a long, plump lingering finish. From Highland and Momtazi Vineyards
fruit. Winemaker - Jimi Brooks.
Very very limited is
Winery Pinot noir "Rastaban" 02 $49.95/$44.95. Jimi
held back the very best couple of barrels of Momtazi Pinot noir
vintage and created this very limited wine. It's a tribute to his
skill and a reminder of how talented he was. The wine has both
intensity and balance, with the beautiful balance that marked the
best of Oregon's 02 Pinot noirs.
Jimi was also known
for his skill with Riesling, and the Brooks
Winery Riesling 04 $15.45 $13.90 has classic German
style Riesling notes in the nose with a mandarin orange feel in
the mouth. Lots of fruit with a lengthy
Fruit came from Eola Hills, Stein, and Ana Vineyards. His Brooks
Winery Amycas White 04 $12.50/ $11.25 is a blended
white wine with rich pear, rose petals, and tropical and citrus
aromas. The mouth feel is rich, layered with pear & stone fruit flavors on
a frame of vibrant acidity. If you like Caymus Conundrum, this
is the wine for you. Blend is 25% Pinot blanc, 2% Gewurztraminer, 29% Gewurztraminer,
Eola Hills, Ana, and Stein Vineyards. It's a super-delicious summer sipper at
a great price. Very limited.
White Rose Vineyard changed
hands about five years ago, and new owner Greg Saunders is now
releasing his second vintage, the 2003 Pinot noirs. White Rose
Vineyard is a 25 year old vineyard previously known for the elegant,
lovely Pinots produced from it by Patricia
Creek, and St Innocent Wineries. The vineyard
has been re-trellissed according to Greg's design and the site
is now cropped at 3.2 pounds
of fruit per plant, with 45 square feet of canopy per pound of
fruit. The vines are 20-25 year old Pommard clones, self rooted
in 8x10 foot spacing.
The winery produces three
wines: a great value Pinot called Nekia, a miedum range wine called
Quiotee's Lair, and their highend "Estate". Available now is theWhite
Rose Pinot noir "Nekia" 03 $18/$16.20. It's
a big juicy fruit bomb, ready to drink and just loaded with spice,
cinnamon, and big blackberry flavors. Coming this summer is the
White Rose Quiotee's Lair $40/$36, an Avalon Reserve
Pinot noir Club Selection. The Quiotee's Lair shows a big, structured
backbone of silky tannins that support fruit flavors of marionberry and cassis,
intermingled with intense spices including cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. The Estate
Pinot noir 03 $60/$54 does not yet have a release date.
All of the White Rose 03's have a strong sense of place, with hints of fresh
turned earth, minerals,
and herbs. This is a wine producer to watch.
The grapes come from
the Ana Vineyard, part of the Weber Vineyard that was sold to Andy
Humphrey, who manages the property. Andy also manages the remarkable
Goldschmidt Vineyard. The wine is made for Ana Vineyard by Mike
Etzel of Beaux Freres. Here's a chance to purchase a Mike Etzel
creation at a price considerably below the $75 of his 95 point
Freres "Estate" 03 $75/$67.50.
The Ana Vineyard
Pinot noir 03 $38.95/$35.05shows off Mike Etzel's winemaking skills.
The wine has intriguing foresty, herbal notes in the nose, like
the scent of a forest floor on a warm day. It is a delicious, medium
Pinot noir with loads of fruit. It has a dark ruby color with sweet
black cherry aromas and has a lovely soft palate with fine tannins.
200 cases were made. The Ana Vineyard 03 will be an Avalon
reserve Pinot noir Club selection in 2005.
Pinot noir 03 $40/$36 received 93 points from
Wine Spectator! Here's what they said: "Packs an amazing
amount of dense flavor into a lithe, elegant package, layering
cherry, boysenberry and exotic spice character,
which extends into a long, long finish. Has all it needs to develop
beautifully. Drink now through 2015. —H.S."
Irreverant, fun, unusual blend of Pinot noir and Syrah
This is the highest score ever from
Wine Spectator for the Willamette Valley Pinot noir from Penner
Ash! The wine has big lush blackberry and cherry fruit with hints
of licorice and spice. It is explosive and dense with well integrated
wood and sweet vanilla lingering on the finish. Blended from grapes
sourced from Shea, Momtazi,Seven SPrings, Palmers Creek, La Colina,
Goldschmidt and Bethel Heights vineyards. Highly recommended.
Penner-Ash has also released a new,
non-vintage "Rubeo" Red
Wine $18.95/$17.05. Rubeo means "blonde" in
Spanish, and that's what the vineyard workers call Lynn, thus the
name for this user friendly blend of Pinot noir and Syrah. Don't
analyze- just enjoy it! It's big, balanced, and lively -- drink
and enjoy. Who thought that Pinot noir blended with Syrah could
be so much fun. No illusions to intellectual wine analysis here,
just snappy, quaffable ready to drink red wine, impeccably created
by a master winemaker.
Two great sales this week from Oregon.
TheEvesham Wood Pinot noir "Anden/Seven Springs" 01 $18.75/$16.88
was $30but it's been reduced to clear it out for the new vintage.
A meaty, rich Pinot, drinking extremely well in 2005 and into 2006.
The 2001 version is a little more soft-textured than what we usually
see from this site, but the "signature" meaty, earthy
and plummy character of the vineyard are all in evidence in the
resulting wine. In addition the high glycerine content of the vintage
makes for a long rich finish.
Ridge Pinot noir Reserve 02 $29.50/$26.55 was
$39. After Joe Dobbes left the winery, the wines varied in
quality and style, and we only sold their always excellent
Early Muscat. We recently re-visited the wines are were quite
pleasantly surprised, Some of the better deals from
the South Willamette are available from this lesser known winery. Along
with the Pinot noir Reserve, the Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah
are quite good for the price. The Silvan
Ridge Syrah Del Rio 01 $20.95/$18.86 in particular,
made from Del Rio vineyard fruit, shows a lot more
body than you'd expect for $21.
Dessert Wine - Update on Ice Wine
Ste Michelle White Riesling Ice Wine 03 $36/$32.70received 95
points from Wine Spectator and
sold out quickly. We are happy to report that the winery has releaed
a bit more and we have the wine (for now) in stock. Pricey for
an American ice wine but a bargain compared to German or B.C.
ice wines, this wine was made from grapes that were picked, frozen
on the vines, and made with a bit of trans-atlantic phone calling
between winemaker Bob Berthau and German vintner Ernst Loosen.
It holds its own with ice wines three times its price.
While Riesling, like Rosé,
suffers from the grocery store garbage that calls itself by its
noble names. If you can look beyond the cheap, sweet swill, loaded
with artifical flavors, there's a quiet revolution going on in
the Northwest. Very limited production of delicious, complex, refreshing,
intriguing Rieslings are being made from old vinetard blocks of
long neglected Riesling.
The Brooks Riesling, mentioned above,
sells out immediately every year. Chateau Ste Michelle makes a
highend Riesling, Eroica, but our vote is for their Chateau
Ste Michelle Dry Riesling 04 $8.99/$8.09. That's the
wine that CSM winemakers drink at home. It's their "little
secret". It's made
with all of the skill and some of the same fruit as their higher
end Rieslings, and it's one of the best around, from anywhere,
for the price.
At the risk of making someone at
CSM upset, I have to say that. for the price of the Eroica, I'd
rather have the Chehalem
Dry Riesling 03 $21.99/ $19.79.
Harry Petersen-Nedry just has a knack for white wines, and this
one is a gem. The wine has the perfect balance of stone fruit and
flowering vine aromas and flavors, complemented by a cleansing
mineral zing. This is a wine we sell out of fast.
It's not too soon to start thinking
about stocking up on white wines for the summer. while the Northwest
may be better known for its Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon
red wines, the area makes a wide array of excellent whites, many
at very reasonable prices.
One of my favorite white wines from Oregon is the very limited Francis
Tannahill Gewurztraminer "Dragonfly" 03 $22.50.
Huge aromatics of lychee, rose, acacia blossoms, perfume, lavender,
and spice with a palate that mimics the nose and continues
with a balance of viscosity, purity, weightless, and power.
You cannot ask for a more pleasant white wine for sipping and
enjoying with grilled chicken, Salade Nichoise, or Bruschetta.
Rich Sauvignon Blanc Les Vigneaux" Croft
Vineyard 04 $17.95/ $16.16 will be out in late May, 2005. It's
one of our most popular summer whites, and for good reason. The
wine possesses the Croft Vineyard’s signature notes of pineapple,
guava, passion fruit, citrus, and just a hint of gooseberry. It
is rich, round, with complex notes of mineral and fresh spring
water in the finish. Perpetual favorite, sells out quickly. It's
a lassic summer sipper, with the sophistication to work well with
Andrew is one of the few winemakers
in the US to make a Roussanne. His Andrew Rich Rousanne
03 $17.95/ $16.16 is Avalon's choice for "Big White" of
the season. This is an incredibly full-bodied white wine brimming
with flavors. Roussanne is rare in the US and Andrew has produced
a delicious and different white with this wine. Honeysuckle, cream,
white peach, and clean fresh spring water are flavors that come
to mind when drinking this wine.
food and wine pairings
with this wine in the story:
Heights Chardonnay 02/03 $19.00/ $17.10 is a
perennial favorite among our local customers. Flavors of
pears and apples with some tropical notes shine through
with this wine. It has a nice integration
of wood, spice, and fruit,
and is rich in the mouth, with good balancing acidity.
Blanc 04 Price: $12.99/ $11.69 From
Peter Rosback (Sineann) and Aron Hess (Daedalus) this is their
bargain second label. A blend of
five grape varietals:
Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The wine
is aromatic, complex and very drinkable. And too cheap! The wine
very full bodied white - super refreshing and perfect sipping wine.
Just delicious. Last year's sold out quickly- this is a perfect
summer sipper and you can't beat the price. Another bargain for
lovers of Caymus Conundrum.
About Jean Yates
Jean Yates is owner of Avalon Wine, and
has worked to promote Oregon and Washington wine for over 19
years through her wine shop, web site, and articles.
Jean previously worked in the computer
industry and does most of the work on the Avalon website. She is
a passionate photographer and many of the images on this site are