Diese weine sind ausgezeichnet. This phrase simply states what a German would say after tasting this month’s Value Picks. “These wines are excellent.” That conclusion would, of course, be reached as the result of a blind tasting such as was conducted to select the wines described below.
Please note that we call this month's wines “Germanic,” rather than German because not only are they from Oregon, but only two of them — Riesling and Müller-Thurgau — have true German roots. Gewürztraminer's heritage stems from the Alsace, which, although it boasts deep historic ties to Germany, is officially a part of France.
All these varieties show real promise in Oregon. Riesling, in particular, is gaining traction as a future star in the state. Refreshing zest, appealing apple and mouth-tingling minerality mark Germany's finest white, which is finding a welcome home here.
Gewürztraminer arouses almost as many detractors as it attracts admirers, but those who love the variety at its most intensely flavorful are ardent about it. Regrettably, they can find only a small number of Oregon producers who consistently get it right.
When care is taken to bring out the best in Müller-Thurgau, its light, fruity easy drinking style delivers the goods. The good doctor who invented it and whose name it bears, succeeded in his goals of high yield, simple yet engaging flavors and low cost.
Arcane Cellars 2011 Wheatland Estate Willamette Valley Riesling • $16 (380 cases)
Characteristic aromas of Riesling shout out from the first sniff. Grapefruit meets tangy minerality and a touch of sweetness marries with bright acidity, bringing solid structure to this nicely balanced wine.
Anam Cara Cellars 2012 Nicholas Estate Chehalem Mountains Riesling • $22 (300 cases)
Juicy peaches and supple pears play on the palate in a smooth harmony with a soft, sweet high note. The overall impression is refreshingly ripe and very varietal.
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Willamette Valley Riesling • $14 (16,600 cases)
One of Oregon's largest Riesling producers couldn't be doing it better. No compromise due to size, this wine is round and appealing on the palate, offering up flavors of green apple and freshly mown grass with a touch of sweetness and a long, lingering, fruity finish.
Melrose Vineyards 2012 Estate Umpqua Valley Riesling • $16 (390 cases)
Lively acidity teams with stone fruit sweetness to fashion a light, bright, sweet delight. A hint of cherry pit adds to the charm of this satisfying wine.
Yamhill Valley Vineyards 2012 Willamette Valley Riesling • $18 (217 cases)
Hints of honeysuckle and sour apple are carried on a light, fresh structure that keeps teasing with delicate flavors so beautifully balanced you can't get enough.
Foris Vineyards 2011 Rogue Valley Gewürztraminer • $14 (813 cases)
For years Ted Gerber's Gewürz has consistently come out on top in comparative tastings. This one is classically dry, yet full-bodied with bitter orange and caramel flavors. He must go to France and bring back bottles of Essence d'Alsace. St. Joseph's
2011 Estate Willamette Valley Gewürztraminer • $10 (450 cases)
Varietal spice is very nice. Describing the characteristic aroma and taste of Gewürztraminer isn't easy. Yes, it’s like spice but not hot or peppery, more nutty with raisin and caramel. You’ve got to taste it to understand. So taste some of this, then you'll understand.
Kramer Vineyards 2011 Estate Yamhill-Carlton Müller-Thurgau • $12 (250 cases)
This could be called the Rodney Dangerfield of varieties, i.e. it gets no respect. Kramer is out to change that. This wine gets your attention with a touch of sweetness, a fan of freshness, a bowl of fruitiness and a cost that fits anybody's budget.
Airlie 2012 Estate Willamette Valley Müller-Thurgau • $12 (259 cases)
Light and nice. Light and nice. Light and nice. Bursting with airy, light, bright, clean, fresh, citrusy, easy to enjoy flavors. Did we say light and nice? Light and nice.
The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected the following wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the marketplace. Wine must be: 1) produced by an Oregon winery; 2) priced (retail) $30 or less for reds, $30 or less for Chardonnay, $30 or less for dessert and sparkling wines, and $25 or less for remaining varietals; and 3) currently available to consumers. Recommended wines were selected using a double-blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.