Delicious wines from up north – Willamette Valley
I recently was given the opportunity to taste some delicious wines from up north. No, not Napa Valley, but a little farther north. Thanks to the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, I sampled a selection of their finest wines.
The Willamette Valley is on the west side of Oregon, south of Portland and north of Eugene, along the Willamette River near Interstate 5. The region is best known for its world-class pinot noir wines.
With 500 wineries, the Willamette Valley AVA has two-thirds of the state’s wineries. The climate is mild year-round with cool winters and warm summers, making it comparable to Burgundy, France, the original home of pinot noir. Here are some recommendations.
Willamette Valley red wines
A to Z Wine Works 2015 Oregon Pinot Noir – $20
This vintage delivers striking aromas of black cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries overlaid with spices and has a rich, dark color. The palate mirrors the aromatics with complex pure red and blue fruit flavors, dusty tannins, and juicy acidity. This wine earned 89 points from Wine Enthusiast and was Best in Class at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Firesteed 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – $17
This wine offers aromas of red cherry and a hint of maple syrup. They carry forward on the palate with red currant, cranberry, strawberry and rhubarb flavors. This wine finishes with smooth notes of chocolate and caramel.
Rex Hill 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – $35
This wine opens with notes of ripe black cherry, plum, blackberry and red fruit mingled with lavender, peppercorn and a hint of French oak. Flavors of black and red fruit deliver balance and acidity with oak notes. This pinot noir earned 92 points from Wine Spectator.
Torii Mor 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – $28
This pinot has aromas of berries, cherries, wildflowers, and roses with fresh rich and sweet flavors and a hint of spice. The sweet spice carries through to a rich, elegant mouthfeel and a long sweet, complex fruity finish.
Torii Mor 2016 Alloro Vineyard Pinot Noir – $60
This is delightful wine with light vanilla and dark cherry perfumed sweetness. The bright, spicy and dark cherry flavors deliver a concentrated spicy tannin texture and a long finish layered with acidity, fruit flavors, and spiciness.
Willamette Valley white wines
Firesteed 2016 Willamette Valley Chardonnay – $24
Pears, apple and the aromas of lemon and grapefruit combine to deliver a refreshingly crisp acidity and clean finish.
Left Coast 2017 White Pinot Noir – $24
This white pinot noir has distinct aromas of white cherry, nectarine, citrus, and beeswax from a light straw-colored wine. It has a rich mid-palate of spiced pear blending with ripe honeydew, wet stone, and a mineral finish.
Torii Mor 2015 Chardonnay – $35
This chardonnay has a sweet floral and citrus aroma and light gold color. Semi-sweet flavors of apples, green olives and vanilla-oak spices with notes of brown sugar and a bright acid and tannin texture deliver a long, rich barrel fermented, buttery-fruit flavor.
Willamette Valley sparkling wines
Kramer Vineyards 2016 Blanc de Blancs – $42
Citrus aromas of lemon, with brioche, and almond carry simple acidity, green apple and more lemon to the palate. Minerality and delicate bubbles deliver a long finish. Only 84 cases were produced.
Kramer Vineyards 2016 Brut – $38
Fresh aromas of apple, pear, lemon, and honey with a crisp citrusy flavor, this sparkling wine finishes with wet stone and lime. Only 84 cases were produced.
Kramer Vineyards 2016 Brut Rose – $42
This is a dry rose with aromas of tangerine, Rainier cherry, and strawberry and a nice balance of acidity and minerality. Only 84 cases were produced.