A trip to Pinot Camp in Oregon in 2008 (yes, three days of intensive Pinot Noir study, tough work, especially the gala dinners) have converted me (Simon Taylor) into a total Oregon Pinot-phile.
This is the one place in the world which can engender Pinots to rival Burgundy in terms of finesse and longevity. This should not be surprising: after all the northern Willamette Valley, source of 82% of the state’s wine, is the same latitude as Burgundy, and has a very similar climate, albeit being drier in summer (which might necessitate drip irrigation but does keep the vines healthier), and mildly cooler - 68 degrees F being the July average. Harvests are usually at the end of September. Ever since 2008 we have been the sole importer of the splendid Brooks Pinots.
Here at SVS we find California tricky. Wine produced in the Sunshine State seems to fall into two camps - the huge sea of cheap, nastily sweetened fruit-juice purveyed by Gallo et al; and the highly superior wines of boutique wineries with prices to match.
The unique feature of California is of course, the grape variety Zinfandel. Related to the Italian Primitivo, this was introduced to the States around 1830. If cropped low it makes terrific wine, either fresh and fruity for immediate consumption or denser and more black-fruited for keeping. It’s a great accompaniment to a good big steak. We try always to have some of the great Ridge Zins in stock.
“74% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, 17% Carignan and 1% Mouvedre, based on very old vines, and all aged in exclusively US oak barrels, about 20% new....”
“Pale crimson tone. Gentle berried fruit scent with a hint of coffee. A beautifully perfumed and light Pinot, showing lifted, ripe summer fruit...”
“Fruit from estate vineyards plus other organically farmed vines. 40% new oak. Although this currently shows plenty of mocha oak, and juicy berry and...”
“We have been looking for a good value Zinfandel for some time, and thought this measured up: with a big and beefy nose, delivering a generous gush of...”
“In this vintage 73% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane and 9% Petite Sirah and 1% Mourvèdre. Bouschet, a traditional field blend from ancient vineyards...”
“The Beckett family have 100 hectares of their own vines and also buy from other growers for this fruit-forward, exuberant example. Strawberry,...”
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