Hello friends. It’s geeky Oregon white wine day!
Hello…? Anyone still there…?
This is one of those days where I’m glad Full Pull doesn’t have outside investors. I’m glad we don’t have silent partners. I’m glad we’re not a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric.
On the grounds of sheer capitalism, offerings like this don’t make sense. But on the grounds of the passionate exploration of the outer reaches of our respective palates, an offering like today’s makes all the sense in the world.
2010 Grochau Cellars Pinot Blanc
Pinot Blanc is freaky.
It’s a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. So imagine you’re growing Pinot Noir, and all your vines have red grapes, except for one cane, whose grapes are all white. Mutant!
Like Professor Xavier in X-Men (told you this was a geeky day), a few dedicated vignerons coddled these mutant vines, and cultivated them into vineyard blocks of their own.
Pinot Blanc’s other most noteworthy characteristic is that it’s a dead ringer in the vineyard for Chardonnay, which leads it to be accidentally inter-planted with Chardonnay in many places you wouldn’t expect. This includes Champagne, where it is actually one of the permitted varietals (although used in miniscule quantities compared to Chardonnay and the two more famous Pinots: Noir and Meunier). Its high natural acidity and fairly neutral character make it a terrific option for sparkling wine, and it is the workhorse varietal in Cremants d’Alsace, the sparkling wines of the French region on the border with Germany.
From Grochau Cellars, today’s Pinot Blanc is single-vineyard (Yamhill Valley Vineyards) and small-production (182 cases). Typical of 2010, it has low alcohol (12.5%) and high acid. And typical for the varietal, it’s fairly neutral aromatically. It’s a pleasure on the palate, a mix of mineral, quinine, and cucumber, all awash in zippy acidity. There’s a Hendricks Gin-and-Tonic thing going on here that kept me returning to my glass over and over again.
2009 Elemental Cellars Auxerrois
Auxerrois is another varietal that sees its finest expression in Alsace, where it is the fourth most planted varietal, after Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It is frequently a blending partner of Pinot Blanc in those Alsatian Cremant sparklers.
The grape has a long history in Oregon, with the first clones brought over in 1977. Adelsheim has grown Auxerrois since the mid-80s and has bottled it varietally, I believe, since 2003. That said, it remains a curiosity, and you can count on one hand the number of domestic producers putting Auxerrois in bottle.
This comes entirely from Zenith Vineyard, an Eola-Amity Hills site, where about 1% of its 70 acres are planted to Auxerrois (planted in 1997). Witness Tree winemaker Steven Westby has his own label, Elemental Cellars, and that’s where this is bottled.
Aromatically, this Auxerrois is reminiscent of Chablis, with smokey, flinty tree fruit. On the palate, it drinks more like a Muscadet: an acid rush of chalk and mineral. I was seduced by this bottle for one main reason: it’s a killer oyster wine. Living in the Pac-NW, where we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to those brackish bivalves, I’m always looking for strong local pairings, and this is one of the best.
2010 Trisaetum Dry Riesling Coast Range Vineyard
Okay, so Riesling itself, not so geeky. But Dry Riesling, from a fascinating site at the base of the Coast Range Mountains, in the southwestern corner of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA? Maybe a little geeky.
This is a fascinating vineyard site, containing ocean sedimentary soils that spent millions of years under the Pacific Ocean. Estimated at 55 million years old, the soil is mostly Willakenzie, with some volcanic erratics. It’s a terroirist’s dream, and unsurprisingly, James and Andrea Frey planted it to terroir-expressive grapes: Pinot Noir and Riesling. The resulting Riesling is excellent: very intense and mostly dry, all full of mineral and tangerine. It’s mouth-filling and palate-coating, with a strong acid spine.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
Mix and match as you see fit up to 24 bottles total, and the wines should all arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.