Having just finished devouring the latest issue of Wine Spectator, I sit back reflecting on specific articles within this ever so popular “Wine Geek Bible”. I myself anticipate it’s arrival, and pour through it’s pages, therefore I do include myself in this designation.
After spending many years in my neighbor state California, and cutting my teeth on the fine wines of Sonoma and Napa, I love to read the reviews and recommendations for their wines and wineries. However, now residing in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon, I eagerly scan the table of contents for anything pertaining to my state. I was awarded this issue with a fairly outstanding article on Oregon Pinot Noir, and recommendations on some of our most notable producers. Argyle, Domaine Serene, Penner-Ash, Archery Summit, Ponzi and others appeared to make the grade.
Having visited and tasted a majority of the wineries in the Willamette Valley, I have indeed found some of the best of wines, especially Pinot Noir, being produced by smaller wineries never mentioned in this or any wine journal. Maybe someday, someone will engage on an adventure to find and write about the “still unknown” wineries of Oregon. How we have forgotten the way things used to be in the early days of Napa/Sonoma county.
I do however agree with the articles choices of “Top Wines / Top Values”, with some exceptions, but everyone has opinions. Within the article, I found reference to “Oregon Pinot Gris”, and Carabella Vineyard as “The Leader” in that varietal. Although in my opinion, this winery does produce and excellent Pinot Gris, I would look to a “leader” to someone like the King Estate Winery. Pinot Gris is their main focus, and always has been. With over 1000 acres, and over 600 acres planted in grapes, along with the production and sales of 200,000 cases of Pinot Gris ? Hello! In addition to this, their Pinot Gris, of which there are multiple varieties, are found in fine dining establishments everywhere. Just Saying.
My last pet peeve as you will, is the mention of “some of the better wines outside the Willamette Valley” that are “finding a footing” in the wine world. Lumping Rogue Valley wineries and their grapes into a category of producing cheap fruit for blending into cheeper wines by big northern wineries, or just for tourists is just wrong. In one word I can argue that fact, Troon. Troon Vineyard has been producing in my opinion again, some very excellent wines, on their own.
Then there is the Umpqua Valley wines, that never seem to get their due. I take exception to hearing them referred to as “finding their footing”. Names like Henry Estate Winery, established in 1972, Hillcrest, and Abacela, the first to produce “stand alone” Tempranillo, and still the best, are not just “finding their footing”. For that matter, Hillcrest Estate Winery is the oldest estate winery in Oregon, founded by Richard Sommers in 1961.
So, I leave you with this thought. Although it is great to hang with the big guys, it can sometimes be more rewarding to befriend the small new stranger.