Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Pacific Northwest.

My Wines of the World class tonight ventured up north into the two states that lie above California - Oregon and Washington. Week 15, with 24 wines, aimed to showcase the vinous-wares of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) which is a relatively young, but snappily growing wine region.
To be quite honest, I rarely ever drink wines from this part of the world. The PNW is a region of the United States that is conventionally perceived as having no real, modern day, cultural identity.   When I think of the PNW I think of the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline, not vineyard vistas.  Maybe the entire wine industry up there, in the top-left corner of the contiguous United States, needs to hire a better public relations firm. The entire state of Washington has about 45,000 acres under vine, that's about the same amount of acreage as Napa County. Oregon has less than half that amount at around 21,000 acres. On paper, the PNW looks like ideal wine country: Washington and Oregon are at about the same latitudes as Bordeaux and Burgundy and benefit from longer daylight hours and generally cooler temperatures than here in California.  
So what about the wines?  Perhaps my palate has become a little jaded at this point in the semester, as I was once again underwhelmed by the evening's offerings.  Thankfully, they do not bottle any American Vitis wines in the PNW, so at least I was in familiar territory with Vitis vinifera.  The best white of the night for me was a King Estate Winery, 2011, Pinot gris.  The best red wine was a 2009 Pinot noir (and that's saying something that I picked a Pinot noir), hailing from the cellars of Domaine Drouhin. Does it take a well established Burgundy producer to make a decent Pinot noir in the PNW?  I don't know.  Domaine Drouhin also happened to be the most expensive wine of the evening with a Burgundian-esque price tag of $55.99.  Both wines were from Oregon. Washington fell a little short in the wine department for me, although I did choose to photograph two Washington Cabernet Sauvignons.  I just liked the raptor-adorned labels.


NHwineman said...

V-girl, yeah, the Kestrel is kool (I prefer Sparrow Hawk family Falco sparverius), and the 2010 King Estate PG I scored 90 points.

Vinogirl said...

NHW: The Kestrel wines were OK, good colour extraction, but somehow disjointed on the palate. I'm glad you reinforced my impression of the Pinot gris.