Bordeaux Inspired

Oregon crafts expressive interpretations of French Bordeaux classics

Under French law, only six wine grape varieties are allowed for Bordeaux reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. Though still technically legal, very little Malbec remains in Bordeaux, having been almost totally destroyed by a 1956 frost. Carménère, too, is rarely used. Thus, for the purposes of this tasting, only examples of the first four have been evaluated.

Foris 2011 Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon   

Tobacco and herbaceous notes accented by green pepper mark this well-balanced wine whose berry fruit and resolved tannins contribute to a long finish. $20; 339 cases

Pheasant Run 2009 Walla Walla Valley Bank Vault Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 

An expansive aroma of rich chocolate and macaroon rolls out of the glass segueing to a round, tasty palate pleaser that combines the above flavors with tropical fruits and orange zest. $22

Ledger David 2012 Rogue Valley Cabernet Franc   

Expansive flavors of stewed plums and sour apples make for a downright delicious wine featuring layers of complexity that simply don’t want to stop. Somewhat difficult to define but we really liked it. $28

Spangler 2011 Southern Oregon Cabernet Franc    

Dried prunes and green peppercorn augment a pungently floral nose. These intriguing elements create a supple softness in the mouth accented by a nicely defined touch of tannin. $26; 256 cases

Watermill 2010 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon   

Dark, deeply pigmented color introduces black plum wrapped in tangy pepper and spice. Toasty caramel, accented by a dusting of cocoa treats the mid-mouth. A profoundly big and satisfying wine. $24; 702 cases

Van Duzer 2011 Sorcery California Cabernet Sauvignon   

Although Van Duzer is predominantly Pinot-centric, the owners also have vineyard interests in Sonoma, from where this Cab was sourced. It really hits a sweet spot in balance with concentrated dry fruit, pepper, tomato and smoky notes. Drinking beautifully now. $35; 614 cases

Eola Hills Cellars 2010 La Creole Reserve Oregon Merlot   

A big, beefiness sets this wine apart. Tannin, toast, leather and smoke lend further interest to the experience. A flavorful hint of fig accents the finish. $20; 339 cases

Watermill 2010 Walla Walla Valley Merlot   

Dark fruits and berries dominate the round, mouthfeel that brings appeal to this full-bodied wine. Tannin is present on the palate, but not obtrusive.  $24; 704 cases

Marshall Davis 2013 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon   

An interestingly compatible collection of flavors juxtaposes earthiness and rose oil, coffee and roasted sesame. Plum plays across the palate leading to a long, lingering aftertaste. $29; 100 cases

Slagle Creek 2012 Estate Southern Oregon Merlot   

Biggest of the big boys in this bunch, tannin doesn’t get in the way of full, round flavors of dates and figs accented by a whiff of cedar. $18; 225 cases

Watermill 2010 Walla Walla Valley Petit Verdot   

Very little of this obscure Bordeaux variety is grown in Oregon, but this one shows off its straightforward stuff. Dark and dense, rich and flavorful with good balance. Very well made. $32; 129 cases

Foris 2012 Rogue Valley Fly-Over Red   

A blend of 57 percent Merlot, 24 Cabernet Franc and 19 Cabernet Sauvignon, it delivers depth of flavor with hints of strawberry, rhubarb, caramel and white chocolate. $14; 2,542 cases

Marty/Love & Squalor 2011 Oregon Red Wine   

Perhaps this is what the best Southern Oregon red will turn out to be. A blend of 60 percent Cab Franc; 25 Merlot and 15 Cabernet Sauvignon come together to create layers of round, rich flavors including smoke, dry fruit and briary berry. A touch of oak vanillin tops it off. $15; 600 cases


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