When we talk about domestic wine, the conversation is often dominated by one state: California. The wines here tend to express a stereotypically American "loudness" of bold, juicy, oaky flavors, big textures, and high alcohol. But for those who appreciate the more subtle and elegant approaches to wine - especially in these warmer Summer months - simply look to the north … to Oregon.
Believe it or not, wine has been made in Oregon since the mid-1840's and today there's over 700 active wineries in the state. Yet it's only in the past few years that Oregon wines have received the love and attention their winemakers have been giving them for over a century. The three major regions of the state include Columbia Gorge AVA (sharing land, grapes, and styles with neighboring Washington state), Southern Oregon AVA (the tag-team of two regions formally known as Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley), and the crème de la crème of the Pacific Northwest, the Willamette Valley AVA.
The year-round mild climate and predictable lack of extreme heat or cold make the Willamette Valley an ideal region for replicating the French stylings of Burgundy and Alsace: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and of course, the stubborn and challenging Pinot Noir. The darkest of these Pinot grapes has a bad case of Goldilocks syndrome and needs growing conditions to be just right, which is what has made the Bourgogne Rouge such a world famous wine. Enter winemaker André Mack who captures Willamette’s pinot-producing ability in a bottle (and label) cleverly called Oregogne.
Compared to California, these wines are more delicate and soft yet stand up to some bold American food pairings, and when juxtaposed to their French counterparts, the Oregon offerings show a touch more body, less funk, and still work wonderfully with traditional European entrées and gamey meats. In short, if you're looking for the summery counterparts of old-world classics or the all-purpose versions of new-world models, Oregon is at your service.
Stop by NosVino on Saturday, Aug. 19, for your chance to meet winemaker, André Mack and taste his lineup of Oregon Wines!
For more great wines and events, visit www.nosvino.com.