Value Picks for March 2009

2007 Del Rio Vineyards Rogue Valley Viognier • $20 (267 cases)

It has been a decade since partners Rob Wallace and Lee Traynham first planted their highly regarded Del Rio Vineyard at Gold Hill in the Rogue Valley. The vineyard has grown to more than 200 acres, and its grapes are prized by nearly two dozen top Oregon producers. They now make small quantities of wine under their own label, most of which are sold at the tasting room. The 2007 Viognier is a crisp, tightly knit package, full of spicy, succulent flavors wrapped in a tantalizing floral aroma. It’s one you keep on swirling, sniffing and sipping.

2007 Roots Columbia Valley Viognier • $19 (150 cases)

With this lush, viscous Viognier, Roots co-owner/winemaker Chris Berg once again shows the deft hand that has marked his wines since the first Roots release in 2002. At its best, the noble white Rhone variety can harmoniously encompass many components from almond, honey and spice to stone fruit, citrus and pears. The latest Roots Viognier delivers much of that mélange in rich, creamy, beautifully balanced mouthfuls that linger on the palate. A lot of wannabes would want to be like this wine.

2007 Melrose Umpqua Valley Viognier • $18 (140 cases)

Like Chardonnay, Viognier can elegantly express itself in several styles. This version from Melrose’s estate vineyards introduces itself with an enticingly toasty oak aroma that leads into a bright, crisp, medium-bodied mouthfeel combining apple and melon notes with hints of vanilla. Exhibiting a very desirable attribute in common with others that ranked high in this tasting, its aftertaste is persistent and pleasurable.

2007 Silvan Ridge Rogue Valley Reserve Viognier • $18 (830 cases)

Eugene-based Silvan Ridge sources the fruit for this wine from Del Rio and Ousterhout vineyards, both in the Rogue Valley. The lively, vibrant side of Viognier comes out here, conveyed through fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavors complemented by crisp, tangy acidity and a mineral counterpoint in the finish.

2007 Spangler Southern Oregon Viognier • $18 (289 cases)

Although the lightest bodied of any of the wines selected for recommendation this month, the Spangler puts it all together from the standpoint of current drinking enjoyment. Toastiness in the nose is followed by a piquant, citrusy aroma. Bright acidity lends backbone to the soft, tasty fruit flavors, and the elements harmonize nicely throughout to create a synergistic sum exceeding its individual parts. ◊

The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected the above wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the retail marketplace. But a call to the winery or your favorite wine merchant will best determine where they may be purchased. The above wines have met the following criteria: Produced by an Oregon winery; retail price below $30 per 750 ml. bottle for Pinot Noir or $25 for other varietals; currently available to consumers. Wine evaluations were conducted using a single-blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.

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