Big and Beautiful

Warmer growing regions yield robust reds.

This month’s Value Picks include wines made from grapes grown in Southern Oregon and the Columbia Valley, and whose heritages can be traced to France’s Rhône, Bordeaux and Savoie, Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero, and Italy’s Piedmont and Apulia wine regions.

Melrose 2012 Umpqua Valley Estate Tempranillo

Sweet, fresh, dark fruit comes forward in the aroma and redoubles its presence with blackberry and cherry flavors embraced by peppery chocolate accents in the mid-mouth. Dusty vanillin tannins lend additional interest to a long finish. $30; 471 cases

Plaisance Ranch 2012 Applegate Valley Tempranillo

Bright red cherry merges into red licorice and continues to spicy bell pepper interlaced with youthful tannins. An underpinning of juicy plum and a wisp of smoke complete the layers of flavor from a grape with Spanish origins. $25; 250 cases

Abacela 2011 Umpqua Valley Estate Malbec

Why Bordeaux vignerons have discontinued using Malbec in their varietal mix is something of a mystery when a New World wine such as this comes along. Depth marries finesse while toasty tannins complement a merging of dark berry, spice and leather. $26; 451 cases

Maryhill Winery 2011 Columbia Valley Malbec

Seductively silky softness quickly captures the palate and hints of licorice and cracked pepper enhance the dark fruit while overall balance leads to a long, flavorful finish. $22; 1,100 cases

Agate Ridge 2011 Rogue Valley Estate Primitivo

A bright, ripe raspberry aroma leaps from the glass and dances precociously across the palate to be joined by a touch of sweet tomato and savory spice. Fresh, lively and berry good throughout. Primitivo, from Apulia in Southern Italy, is related to Zinfandel. $26; 203 cases

Angel Vine 2011 Columbia Valley Primitivo

Juicy raspberry on the nose joins with flinty earthiness that seamlessly evolves into dried cherry. The result is a rich, round mouthfeel wrapped in resolved tannins that bring together a still young and satisfyingly fruity wine. $20; 350 cases

Abacela 2011 Umpqua Valley Estate Dolcetto

Abacela has captured Dolcetto’s drinkability while squeezing out a ton of fruity flavors to enhance the enjoyment. Notes of dried apples, strawberries and cranberries are present with cinnamon spice and a touch of resolved tannin. $22; 247 cases

Plaisance Ranch 2011 Applegate Valley Rogue Prestige

Briary berry and smoky bacon-wrapped dates create a surprisingly delightful flavor combination in this 100-percent Mondeuse Noire, a variety from the Savoy or Savoie region of eastern France. Though seldom produced here, the wine proved to be very likable and dangerously drinkable. $30; 160 cases

Wy’East Vineyards 2012 Columbia Valley Syrah

The palate is engulfed in a rush of rich, engaging berry flavors accompanied by floral accents and a tantalizing hint of white truffle. A full-bodied, beautifully balanced wine whose consistency of character carries through from start to finish. $28; 156 cases

Agate Ridge 2011 Southern Oregon Estate Syrah

Already a big boy, this Syrah shows signs of an even better future. Elements of tar, coffee, dark berry, cherry and chocolate are evident, complemented by sturdy tannins. Solid structure and good balance make this Oregon version of the Rhône variety is a real keeper. $30; 90 cases

Cliff Creek Cellars 2008 Southern Oregon Syrah

This round, mouth-filling wine displays distinctive flavors of cola, pepper, earthiness and minerality. Aeration releases a depth and complexity of character that builds as it breathes. Such an already well-aged wine still available in the marketplace is rare. $25; 818 cases

Mystic Wines 2011 Columbia Valley Barbera

A variety with ancient roots in Italy’s Piedmont region, this Washington-grown example presents a juicy flavor reminiscent of spiced gumdrops. Cherries topped with a touch of wood tar might be another way to describe the taste impression, which turns out to be quite tasty. $30; 172 cases

About OWP Value Picks


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.

*February 2015: non-Bordeaux red varietals and blends ($30 or less); March 2015: Bordeaux red varietal blends ($35 or less); April 2015: Pinot Gris ($25 or less); May 2015: Pinot Noir 2012 or 2013 ($30 or less); June 2015: Rhone- and Loire-style whites ($25 or less); 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).


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