Rogue Valley, Oregon
Draeger's Market - Blackhawk, $14.99
With a modern winemaking history dating back only to the early 1960s, Oregon is certainly finding its groove. The era of just a few small pioneering properties like Hillcrest Vineyards, Knudsen-Erath and Eyrie Vineyards has passed. Oregon's wine industry has blossomed and currently boasts over 300 bonded wineries. Do yourself a favor and search out offerings from some of the state's premier producers like Argyle, Domaines Drouhin and Serene, Ponzi, Sokol Blosser (their "Evolution" white blend is one of the hippest, tastiest wines on the planet...) and WillaKenzie Estate.
Oregon is home to five winegrowing valleys: Willamette, Umpqua, Columbia, Walla Walla and Rogue. Positioned at an elevation higher than the four others, the days in the Rogue Valley are generally hotter and nights much cooler.
The grape varieties planted within Rogue Valley are more diverse as well. Commercial vineyard plantings range from Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Early Muscat to Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and even Zinfandel. Such varietal diversity is due in large part to the numerous and distinct microclimates found within Rogue Valley itself. For instance, the western boundary, which is only 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is quite damp (approximately 60 inches of yearly precipitation) when compared to the appellation's eastern border (far less than 20 inches). Luckily for wineries like Foris, only 15 percent of annual rainfall in Rogue Valley occurs during prime grape growing season - April through October.
As for Foris' 2004 Gewürztraminer, here are my thoughts:
* Color: Very pale. Blond, translucent straw.
* Nose: Vanilla bean, green apple, Bartlett pear, white pepper, orange blossom, rose petal with a smattering of Alsatian-like kerosene (a good characteristic).
* Palate: Tangy pear, lychee nut, lemon and mineral. Only moderate acidity (perhaps the wine has already peaked and is a bit tired). Pepper and spice at the mid-palate. Creamy texture.
* Finish: Rapid. Pure white fruits.
Classic cuisine pairings would include Chinese and Thai. Also try with crab cakes, salt-and-pepper grilled shrimp and seviche. Would be awesome with Marcona almonds seasoned with paprika and sea salt or curried cashews!
Let your palate be the final judge...
Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.