Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones finds plenty to rave about at the Oregon & Washington Wines tasting held in London this week. Relatively new to the wine-buying public, both states are producing exceptional quality wines using a wide range of varietals that include Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Our man on the ground helps you bag the best.
For many, London’s Oregon & Washington Wines tasting was an impressive eye-opener to the delights that are being made in the most North West of the country.
Hosted in the beautiful airy One George Street this was a rare opportunity to taste the largest ever collection of wines in the UK from these two regions, away from their glitzy Hollywood neighbour.
Both regions for me bring to mind elegant Chardonnay and Pinot, but there is much more to these two regions than those two grape varieties.
Of course besides the classic Rieslings of Germany, Australia and Alsace, Washington State is up there in fourth place along with New Zealand, so I guess Oregon must also be producing some. I was therefore delighted to find some pretty impressive styles on show from both States.
Firesteed Cellars Oregon Riesling 2012 RRP £15-£20, (Liberty)
Spicy, lemon curd, white peaches, lovely citrus acidity intermingling with a luscious developed palate.
Elk Cove Riesling, Oregon 2011 RRP £20-£30 (Amathus)
Perfumed, richly textured, layers of great fruit, nice acidity, fresh bright toasty finish.
Ste Michelle Wine Estates, Washington (Enotria & Coe)
There were 3 wines from this Estate, which is well known for Riesling, highlighted with their Eroica 2015 Riesling RRP £15-£20 which is a made in conjunction with the great Dr Ernie Loosen (named after Beethoven’s Third Symphony), a wine I have collected for many years, fresh, luscious and clean in its youth but with a decade of ageing develops a lovely complexity.
For those looking for something different Les Caves de Pyrene had a couple of funky Rieslings from Ouvum Wines, Oregon; Whale Memorista Riesling and Off The Grid Riesling, both from 2015 and both have great ageing potential. This winery specialises in Riesling and currently has four labels, plus a Gewurztraminer. I would certainly like to look at these again in a decade to see their full potential.
Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris
Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2013, RRP £20-£30 Oregon (Amathus)
Lovely vibrancy to this wine, well balanced, clean citrus acidity, elegance.
Willakenzie Estate Pinot Blanc 2014, Oregon, RRP £20-£30 (The Wine Treasury)
Star wine, struck match, stone fruit, bright clean, precise, luscious pure fruit, balanced, fresh clean finish, outstanding.
Chehalem Three Vineyards Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2015 £20-£30 (Seeking UK rep)
Bright and clean, fresh controlled tropical fruit, textured, ginger spiced, lemon and pear, honeysuckle, bright finish.
L’Ecole No 41 Columbia Valley Semillon 2015 RRP £15-£20, Washington (The Wine Treasury)
An outstanding wine, rarely have I seen such a great Semillon outside the Hunter Valley, great value too. Fresh and vibrant, wild flowers, honeyed, but bright acidity and easy drinking.
Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Chardonnay 2014, Oregon, RRP £40 plus (Importer: Claret-e-Ltd)
One of the best wines at the tasting, purity is superb, crisp clean flavours, evolves on the palate, delicate citrus infused fruit and guava, wet stone, builds with every sip.
Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, RRP £40+, Washington State (The Wine Treasury)
Seamless, restrained elegance, loved the fresh bright flavours, soothing cedar wood, cassis and touch of perfume, a real fabulous Cabernet that will age well.
Seven Hills Walla Walla Red Blend 2014, Washington State, £40+ (Seeking UK rep)
Dark fruits, structured, luscious long deep flavours, well-balanced oak, blackberries and dark cherries, rose petal, cassis, sweet spice and coffee aromas. Happy to drink this now but will age gracefully.
Seven Hills had a few very interesting and well-made Cabernets and Merlot and comes under the Crimson Wine Group who also make wine in Oregon under the Archery Summit Winery brand, where they specialise in Pinot Noir.
And finally Pinot Noir!
Well there were certainly a lot of excellent Pinots on show and here is just a mere cross section of my highlights.
Adelsheim Vineyard, Oregon (Boutinot)
Out of the five Pinots on offer for value and quality I would choose the Breaking Ground 2014 Pinot Noir, which was fresh, bright, luscious with intense clean berries.
Cristom Vineyards, Oregon (Flint Wines)
Six Pinots were shown demonstrating the diversity of the grape, and these wines are all pretty serious. For me the best was the 2013 Estate Pinot Noir that was a stunning example of how a Pinot should be, delicate but pure, intensely flavoured but restrained, precise but leaves a wonderful after taste. Limited intervention allowing the grapes to shine.
Beaux Freres, Oregon (The Wine Treasury)
Two beautiful Pinots from this estate (they only make the two) but with a steep price tag starting at £75. However both wines (Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014 and ‘The Beau Freres Vineyard’ Pinot 2014) were sublime wines, showing sheer class, purity, precise berries, a delicacy that shone through, silky and spiced, well worth seeking out.
Plenty of quality wines from this stable including the following;
Penner–Ash Willamette Pinot Noir 2014, Oregon
Seamless, delicate perfume, juicy white cherries, precise red clean berries that dance on the palate, a beautiful wine.
Angela Estate Abbot Claim Pinot Noir 2013, Oregon
Sweet and savoury, a deep dimension, layered, silky, deep concentration of clean berries, a wine to mature but already showing signs of greatness.
Gran Moraine Pinot Noir 2013, Oregon
Delicate strawberry and raspberries on the palate, then a savoury background, balanced well together, will evolve with time.