Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Kids On The Block In The Willamette Valley

I was fortunate to be invited to an open house held yesterday at the Portland Wine Project, an urban cooperative winery much like the Carlton Winemaker's Studio. The purpose was to show off the wines of two "New Kids" in town, our own Vincent Fritzsche (Vincent Wine Co.) and Anne Hubatch (Helioterra). In addition, they were showing off a cooperative project that involves Vincent and Anne plus two others - John Grochau of GC Wines and one who for some reason has to remain nameless.

On to the wines:

Vincent Wine Co.
2009 Eola-Amity Hills pinot noir
2009 Zenith Vineyard pinot noir

The Eola-Amity wine is from Domaine Coteau and Walnut Hill vineyards and Zenith is, well, Zenith - owned by Tim Ramey (a local securities analyst in his other life), his wife Kari  and St. Innocent Winery. Zenith is in a saddle in the middle of the Eola-Amity hills right down the way from Bethel Heights, and has been a vineyard source for St. Innocent and others for many years, primarily under its former name of O'Connor Vineyard.

Showing the almost predictable heat of a warm vintage, these are nevertheless well-made wines from Vincent's second commercial vintage. I was especially taken with the Zenith. Predictably, it's the more expensive of the two, but it has a certain meatiness that I sometimes associate with the Pommard clone that it's made from. Showing lots of nice black fruit typical for the AVA. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the other wine, which is a very nice value for $24, but the Zenith is a clear step up.

2009 Willamette Valley pinot noir
2009 Vintner's Select pinot noir

These wines are from three vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills. People there must be very accommodating to new winemakers. Once again showing the typicity of the AVA, they show nice dark cherry and blackberry fruit, along with somewhat less heat than the Vincent wines (at least at this point). The Vintner's select is simply a barrel selection from the larger whole and, while an excellent wine, isn't as big a step up from the Willamette Valley wine as Vincent's Zenith is from his E-A bottling.

White Wine
Red Wine

Catchy names.

Good - no, GREAT values. The white is made from - I'm guessing now because I forgot to ask - primarily pinot gris with perhaps a bit of sauvignon blanc thrown in. It's lively and refreshing. The red is syrah, mourvedre and counoise, all sourced from Eastern Washington. This may be a value on the order of some of the better Southern Rhone and Languedoc wines from the 2007 vintage. Nicely meaty and chewy, it will be a fabulous wine to slurp around the old Weber for the next few summers if you're lucky enough to get some.

I also have a report on the Grochau (GC) and Boedecker wines but I'm tired of writing for now.