White Flight Delight
Savor these Rhône- and Loire-Style Whites
A number of Oregon microclimates are perfectly suited to growing Rhône-style whites from the famous French river valley. Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc have been planted here — Viognier currently stands as the most prominent. Over the course of the long valley formed by the Loire River, Sauvignon Blanc in the east, Chenin Blanc in the center and Melon de Bourgogne at the western end all produce wines of distinction and distinctively unique character. The success already achieved by certain producers demonstrates that, under the right circumstances, Oregon will prove a very hospitable home for these time-honored wines.
Folin Cellars 2014 RVW Rogue Valley White Wine
With 95 percent Viognier to just 5 percent Malvasia Bianca, there was no legal barrier prohibiting Folin from using the varietal name. But something about that tiny touch of a tasty grape best known for making sweet dessert wine from the island of Madeira has made a real difference here. Notes of green apple and white pepper enhance the fresh fruit flavor. And it should be added how the greenish gold color is mesmerizing. $20; 7,250 cases
Quady North 2014 Pistoleta Rogue Valley White Blend
Four varieties blended may sound a lot like leftovers, but this “little gun” combination of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc packs a barrel full of quaffable enjoyment. Acidity and fruit are in perfect balance. $19; 880 cases
Season Cellars 2013 Southern Oregon Viognier
Here’s a wine that hits the Rhône-style sweet spot. Classic Viognier viscosity delivers a full palate impression enrobed in an enticing floral aroma. Honey and anise sidle soft and silky across the tongue. $22.50; 185 cases
Quady North 2014 Steelhead Run Southern Oregon Viognier
Quady declares itself to be a “small lots” specialist, which means there won’t be lots to go around. So, if you run across this wine, grab it up as you ponder a pleasing as white peach flavor brightened by lively acidity passing over your palate. $21; 170 cases
Hawkins Cellars 2014 Columbia Valley Viognier
The tropics meet the Northwest in this robustly round supper sipper that features a delicious sextet of green apple and coconut, honey and citrus, pineapple and apricot. $25; 145 cases
DePonte 2013 Dundee Hills Melon de Bourgogne
A confusing grape in that it sounds like it’s from Burgundy but makes a crisp white wine from the Loire Valley. DePonte’s vines are decades old, and the resultant flavors reflect how puckery dry can transcend to clean and quite nice with hints of cantaloupe and sea salt. $25; 1014 cases
J. Albin 2014 Jesse Estate Willamette Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Head swiftly out to Silverton for a bottle or two of this complexly delightful but tiny production gem that features layers of lime, butterscotch, minerality and a whiff of Central Oregon pine. $22.50; 80 cases
Leah Jorgensen 2014 Loiregon Rogue Valley Sauvignon Blanc
The play on words leaves no question what this Panner-Hanson single-vineyard wine is aiming for. Citrusy notes play with dry pineapple on a light, lively palate. Be sure to decant for a superior experience. $20; 122 cases
Quady North 2014 Applegate Valley Grenache Blanc
This underrated Rhône white is actually one of the most prolifically grown in France. Almost as clear as water, this well-balanced wine is refreshing, offering hints of pear and lychee. It tastes so good and drinks so easily, its 50 cases may already be gone. $21; 50 cases
Upcoming Value Picks: July 2015: rosé and white blends ($20 or less); August 2015: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Grüner Veltliner ($25 or less); September 2015: Chardonnay ($35 or less); October 2015: Pinot Blanc, other white varietals: Auxerrois, Vermentino, Albariño, etc. ($25 or less); November 2015: Pinot Noir 2013 ($45 or less); December 2015: dessert and sparkling ($30 or less).
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.