Summer With Willamette Valley Wine: 5 New Whites to Try
The Willamette Valley, just west of downtown Portland, produces some of the finest Pinot Noirs found today, and the cool climate that suits temperamental Pinot vines so well also produces world-class whites. The growing season of 2011 was (even for Oregon) extremely cool, and wineries harvested grapes an average of two to three weeks late — missing the first of the heavy fall rains by the skin of their teeth.
Vintners and drinkers alike waited on pins and needles for the outcome as the harvest was processed, fermented, pressed and aged. While most of last year’s reds won’t be released for another year or two, quite a few whites are already on tasting room shelves. When the first bottle was opened, the Oregon wine community breathed a collective sigh of contentment. Weather notwithstanding, the white wines of 2011 are showing strong.
Now that the summer sun has finally made its appearance (cross your fingers it’s here to stay), we’re ready for a cool glass of white wine — and in true Portland fashion, we’re keeping it local. Enjoy our five picks for the Willamette Valley’s most recent vintage, now available at wineries and regional tasting rooms.
2011 Anne Amie Cuvée A Amrita: Anne Amie’s Amrita, or “wine of the gods,” is a different blend each year, highlighting the unique profile of each growing season. This year, we find a blend of ten varietals (primarily Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Vermentino), sourced from seven Oregon estates. This lightly effervescent wine is floral on the nose, with peach, summer strawberry, and a hint of citrus on the palate ($12; 6580 NE Mineral Springs Rd., Carlton).
2011 Adelsheim Pinot Gris: Sourced from twelve different vineyards in the valley, the winemakers of Adelsheim (now in their 28th year of bottling Oregon wines) present a rich, dense Pinot Gris, heavy on the palate but crisp and refreshing. Hints of tropical fruit and apple pair well with spicy-mildly spicy summer BBQ dishes ($19; 16800 NE Calkins Lane, Newberg).
2011 JK Carriere Glass WV White Pinot Noir: JK Carriere’s winemakers worried like the rest of us about the future of their 2011 harvest, but luckily this vintage of Glass — a local favorite in the dry Rosé category — left them “happily dumbfounded” by their good luck (and of course, their months of hard work). This bone-dry but fruity wine presents notes of peach and lemon fruit. Serve very cold for a pick me up on a hot summer day ($20; 9995 NE Parrett Mtn. Rd, Newberg).
2011 Chehalem Grüner Veltliner: Out of the latest harvest comes — in the winery’s opinion — one of the best vintages in recent decades, from a rich and ripe fruit thanks to the late season sun, small vineyard production and low rainfall. This year’s Grüner Veltliner, historically grown in Austria and Slovakia, brings bright notes of lemon verbena and a strong floral characteristic, balanced with green apple and a light vegetal snap. A traditionally food-friendly varietal, try this one with... well, with just about anything ($21.60; 106 S. Center St., Newberg).
2011 WillaKenzie Estate Grown Pinot Blanc: The record-breaking late harvest here led to a light and crisp, fruit-forward Pinot Blanc. With hints of lemon, tropical fruit, a lightly mineral finish and a rich floral nose, this silky smooth and refreshing wine pairs well with a variety of fresh-from-the-grill summer dishes ($21; 19143 NE Laughlin Rd., Yamhill).
Top photo via Anne Amie Vineyards on Facebook
Best Tap Lists in Portland
Portland Fruit Beer Festival