On a recent swing through the Pacific Northwest we had the opportunity to visit many vineyards, meet many winemakers and sample from many barrels.
The Pacific Northwest may not be the final frontier of the wine world, but it is an exciting one that is a pleasure to sit down and get to know.
Here are some highlights of our travels:
Scott Paul "La Paulée" Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir 2007
Graduates of both the California wine business and the Carlton Winemaker's Studio, Martha and Scott Wright launched the the Scott Paul Winery in Carlton Oregon in 2000. With access to covetted vineyards and a wealth of know-how Scott Paul has gone on to produce some extrordinary vinetages.
Assembled from the fruit of four different vineyards, this is a classic Oregon Pinot Noir. Dense, roasted dark fruit packed into an elegant and lifted body. Brooding, mushroomy, foresty earth notes and a long, leathery finish. A very adult wine.
$35.95 per bottle, $388.26 per case a 12.
White Rose Estate "White Rose Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2008
Starting with the best possible fruit and interfering as little as possible has proven to be a winning approach for White Rose Estate. Only 176 cases of this flagship bottling were produced. It was sourced entirely from the estate and raised for 14 months in 13% new French oak barrels.
Aromas of incense and sandalwood combine with black raspberry fruit notes. Layers of complex, rich spices play on the palate. Silken and balanced with softness and delicacy. This wine is a special occasion waiting to happen.
$79.95 per bottle, $863.46 per case of 12.
DeLille Cellars, "Chaleur Estate" Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA 2009
Ambitiously produced in the style of white wine from Bordeaux, the blend is 67% Sauvignon Blanc from three different vineyards and 33% Boushey Vineyard Semillon.
The Chaleur Estate Blanc is an oaked wine that is wholly integrated. Dried fig and apricot play off of flint, straw and toasted hazelnuts. Rising to the top of the palate are the fruit essences of grapefruit and gooseberry. At once creamy and bright, forceful and elegant. This should be on everyone's list of wines to taste in one's lifetime.
$44.95 per bottle, $485.46 for 12.
Having returned from a recent trip through Burgundy, that great land of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay where monks first began to designate specific vineyards over a thousand years ago, we have been enjoying the fruits of those vines and would love to share the experience.
Below is a selection of wines that express the undeniable quality and character of the land called Burgundy.
Domaine Chavy-Martin, Puligny-Montrachet 2006
It is an often stated fact that the Cotes de Beaune is the source of the world's greatest white wines. 100% Chardonnay grown on limestone soils, the whites of the Cotes de Beaune can attain depth of flavor that is the envy of many a winemaker. The nerve center of the region is a cluster of three villages called Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet.
This village level wine is bright, delicate and elegant on the nose with aromas of white flowers, peach and apricot and a stony, faintly smokey mineral note.
The palate combines a vibrant, bright attack of fresh lilac and lemon with a wave of ripe stone fruit and deep minerality.
Drinking swimingly, will age well for the next few years.
$55.95 per bottle
Jacque-Frederic Mugnier, Nuit-Saint-Georges "Clos des Fourches" 2007
They say that in Burgundy it is not where the grapes were grown but who made the wine. There is some truth to that. But when you can combine a great producer with access to a great vineyard you have found something truly special. That is the case with this bottling of Pinot Noir from Jacque-Frederic Mugnier of the Chateau de Chambolle-Musigny.
In giving this wine the previous name of the vineyard (currently Clos de la Marechale) Jacque-Frederic saught to distinguish it from the other wine being sourced there. What's in the bottle is a special selection of barrels from the vineyard's younger vines, produced for the purpose of enjoying in its youth, yet expressing the depth and complexity of this very special location.
Soft, supple and refined, this wine is more mature than its years. Lively on the nose with cedar spice and lilly pollen, the palate evolves with each taste. With decanting the richness of the fruit emerges and aromas of toast and sandlewood and bacon emerge. Fundamentally elegant, but with a brooding undercurrent.
Some would say to drink this wine now. We say drink one bottle every year for the next twelve years.
$60.95 per bottle or $658.26 for twelve