Getting It White

Oregon crafts German-style whites just right

White Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Müller-Thurgau are long established mainstays in select Northern European wine regions. However, their success in Oregon has thus far been limited, depending primarily upon a few individual growers, producers and vineyard sites.

White Riesling’s widespread name familiarity helped elevate it to the state’s third most planted white varietal, totaling 653 planted acres. By comparison, 127 acres of Müller-Thurgau are currently being grown.

Among the wines evaluated this month, Riesling dominated with examples from the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue valleys as well as the Columbia Gorge. The noble variety has demonstrated the ability to perform well around the Pacific Northwest.

The high quality level and distinctive character of Gewürztraminer in its native Alsace has led to an avid following worldwide, including a loyal base in Oregon. If more wineries are able to achieve the consistency of which the variety is capable, it could likely earn increased market attention.

Being a high-yield, easy-drinking wine, Müller-Thurgau has benefited from the historic Austrian hybrid’s good value.

The following are August’s Value Pick recommendations, the best of this month’s bunch.

Airlie 2012 Willamette Valley Riesling   

This Riesling expresses classic characteristics of single-vineyard Kabinett-level Mosels. Piquant, honey-accented hints of flint on the nose segue to juicy, lime-laden green apple supported by bright, steely acidity. Components linger long. $15; 597 cases

Reustle Prayer Rock 2013 Umpqua Valley Riesling 

Pineapple, melon and white peach coalesce to create a mid-mouth mélange sending a memorable message. Hints of honeycomb carry their own singular statement across the overall taste impression culminating in a zesty, juniper-like zing. $21; 375 cases

Love & Squalor 2013 Willamette Valley Riesling  

If squalor is this sublime, then Cupid and Bacchus must be fraternal twins. Add a pinch of petrol, a saturated spindle of honey, multiple milliliters of minerality and an ampule of lively acidity to a dish of baked apples. Voila, you've concocted down-to-earth ambrosia fit for hedonistic gods. $18; 440 cases

Foris 2013 Rogue Valley Riesling  

Crafting an elegant but understated companion for a freshly baked baguette need be no more difficult than washing down each yeasty, crunchy, crust-capped morsel with this well-balanced beauty that juxtaposes unabashedly tangy acidity alongside honey-caramel dipped pear. And don't spare the warm, unsalted butter. $12; 501 cases

Melrose 2013 Umpqua Valley Riesling 

Paper covers rock. Rose petals soften stone. The result is a popular palate pleaser delivering the aforementioned floral and mineral marriage along with hints of honey, petrol, crisp apple and clementine. At 2.0 percent residual sugar, it's topped off with just the right touch of sweetness. $16; 500 cases

Terra Vina NV La Famaglia Riesling 

A honeyed aroma combines with delicate tropical notes carrying the delightfully diverse flavors of just-ripened banana, earthy minerality and dried apricots across the palate. $20; 199 cases

Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Willamette Valley Riesling 

The corridor to the coast is gaining its own unique signature where floral and minerality magically meet, then are swept along by expressive acidity lending depth as it incorporates the raciness of lemon zest augmented by the exhilaration of tartness. $20; 196 cases

Wy’East 2014 Tilly Lane Columbia Gorge Riesling  

Dichotomies abound as the bone-dry desert rushes westward and meets the cool, moist valley. Opposites of softness and firmness, freshness and maturity. Can root beer coexist alongside pineapple, cloying richness next to delicate semisweet? So it would seem that a paradoxically pleasing balance has been achieved upon which the vast majority agree. $18; 250 cases

Airlie 2014 Willamette Valley Müller-Thurgau 

How can a wine variety so under-appreciated in the state of Oregon disappear so quickly? Here's a bottle that's peachy keen, mellowly melon, refreshingly fresh, delightfully drinkable and instantly gone. $14; 565 cases    

Anindor 2014 Elkton Oregon Gewürztraminer 

Southern Oregon’s coolest meso-climate is proving a welcoming place for the flamboyantly spicy sipper from Alsace. Irresistible aromas of rose petals, honey, wet slate and fresh-cut grass build a synergy joined by cinnamon and ripe melon in the mid-mouth, all superbly supported by crisp acidity. $18; 76 cases


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.


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