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Southern Oregon

Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment 2016

Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment 2016

Southern Oregon wines never fail to surprise me, such is the case with Troon's 2016 Whole Grape Ferment Riesling from Applegate Valley. Burnished gold in the glass, with oxidized notes—baked apple, lemon oil, grilled pineapple, almond skin, and yellow flowers. On the palate, texturally speaking skin contact is quite evident, as is the case in most orange wines. The medium-length finish is slightly herbaceous too. Crushed herbs and lemon pith. 12.0% ABV | Sample Troon Vineyard 9.1 Points ...

Ledger David Rouge Valley Southern Oregon Tempranillo 2015

Ledger David Rouge Valley Southern Oregon Tempranillo 2015

Ledger David's 2015 Red Valley Tempranillo displays some hard angles on opening, especially in terms of acid balance. It's much better on the second day, yielding soft aromas of plums, bing cherries, cedar, and violets. Medium bodied, and tightly-wound, with powdery tannins and a spicy hit of black pepper that charges in the back palate and gradually fade to Dutch cocoa powder process. Needs decanting. 14.7% ABV | sample Ledger David Cellars 8.8 Points ...

Ledger David Rouge Valley Southern Oregon Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Ledger David Rogue Valley Southern Oregon Sauvignon Blanc 2016

This is my first experience tasting David Leger wines, and I am absolutely blown away by their 2016 Rogue Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It opens with eccentric rings of guava, kiwi fruit, juniper berry, and chervil. On the palate, it's an acid metronome—an electric, energetic pulse that flows in and out of a tropical and orchard fruit core, culminating in a burst of pure, white grapefruit. I look forward to tasting more from this winery. 13.4% ABV | Sample Ledger David Cellars 9.3 Points ...

Reustle Prayer Rock Winemaker's Reserve Tempranillo 2014

Reustle Prayer Rock Winemaker’s Reserve Tempranillo 2014

Precise as all Stephen Reustle's wines are—the 2014 Winemaker's Reserve Tempranillo is opaque quinacridone violet in the glass, with a swirl one can coax from it classic varietal aromas of earthy sun-warmed terra cotta tile, aged leather and dried herbs, all neatly folded into a background of black cherries and plums. It's softly textured on the palate, with a warm and dark fruited core cradled in a pillow of toast. 13.9% ABV| Sample Reustle Prayer Rock 9.0 Points...

Troon Blue Label Longue Carabine 2014

Troon Blue Label Longue Carabine 2014

A bit of a kitchen sink blend, reminiscent of some of the complex whites I've run across from South Africa—Troon's Longue Carabine 2014 is composed of 43.81% Marsanne, 27.35% Viognier, 12.65% Vermentino, 8.79% Riesling, 5.0% Roussanne, and 2.4% Sauvignon Blanc, all from the Applegate Valley—offers cadence in its aromatic range. Bruised pear, yellow apple, star gazer lily, a pinch of granulated honey. Vermentino shapes the palate with its characteristic mineral spine, giving lift to this fleshy white. 12.5% ABV | Sample Troon Vineyard 9.0 Points...

Terry Brandborg, Stephen Reustle, and Earl Jones

Umpqua Undercover

The Umpqua Valley has a streak of wildness to it. Sparsely populated, its towns lie scattered amidst a series of rugged, undulating hills thatched in spikey Ponderosa pine and black oak. The Umpqua River and it's winding tributaries churn and tumble through a network of valleys formed by the collision of three mountain ranges—the Klamath, the Coast Range, and the Cascades—before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. In the 1800s, prospectors dredged and panned sandbars of the South Umpqua and the Rogue rivers, in search of match head-sized nuggets of gold. It's this dramatic history and landscape that colors the region, whose wines I'd never tasted despite fifteen years in the wine industry, most of them spent in the Pacific Northwest. As I would quickly learn on a pre-harvest junket in 2015, the wines from the emerging Southern Oregon AVA are as complex and surprising as the terrain itself. On that cloudless mid-summer day, I found myself squinting into bright afternoon sunlight, listening to winemaker Earl Jones as he explained the significance of the Klamath-Coastal fault line that runs through his tidy south-facing vineyard blocks. Looking more like an archeologist than winegrower, clad in khakis and a weathered hat, Earl explained the...

Abacela Barrel Select Tempranillo 2005

Abacela Reserve Tempranillo 2005

Abacela's 2005 Reserve Tempranillo is opaque, with only the oxblood-rim belying age. It's mature now, but has a long drinking window ahead of it, perhaps another 5-8 years. The nose is rich and complex, a melange of black cherries and plums, Christmas cake, leather, and dusty earth. The attack reveals mouth coating, grippy tannins and earth commingling with black fruited core. Wonderful tapicity, this wine was poured in a blind tasting against Tempranillo from the Toro region and our panel of tasters couldn't suss it out. Abacela 9.2 Points ...

Abacela Reserve Tempranillo 2009

Abacela Reserve Tempranillo 2009

Tempranillo grown in Southern Oregon, in this case Umpqua Valley, shows great promise, as Abacela has demonstrated time and again through their bottlings of this earthy, Spanish queen. The 2009 Reserve Tempranillo is resplendent in an earthy mantle of dried blood, brick dust, roasted black cherries, and plums. The balance on the palate is spot on—lots of acid lift propping up this wine’s otherwise serious countenance. Chewy tannins, sundried tomatoes, char, graphite, and black pepper hem in substantive energy. Abacela 9.3 Points ...

Leah Jørgensen Cellars Oregon Tour Rain 2014

Leah Jørgensen Cellars Oregon Tour Rain 2014

This is the second bottle I've tasted from Leah Jorgensen, on finishing my glass, I can honestly say her wines leave me with more questions than answers. The 2014 Tour Rain reminds me of some of my favorite wines from the Bourgueil. With a brilliant dark magenta robe, this Oregon Cab Franc is seductive and multifaceted. Dusky plums and Queen Anne's cherries are couched in layers of dried rose petals, pomander ball, cinnamon bark and brown spice. It's medium-bodied, beautifully balanced and concise. Tart cherries, sweet tobacco, hibiscus tea, warm wicker. All of which leads me to wonder, who is this young winemaker? She's definitely one to watch in Southern Oregon's evolving wine scene. 13.4% ABV | Sample Leah Jørgensen Cellars 9.1 Points...

Leah Jørgensen Cellars Cabernet Franc 2015

Leah Jørgensen Cellars Cabernet Franc 2015

Quite possibly the best example of Oregon Cabernet Franc I've ever tasted. Ruby robed with violet reflexes, Leah Jørgensen's Cabernet Franc captivates the senses with aromas of mulberries, marionberries, incense, and anise. In the mouth it's velvety and supple with cashmere-like tannins lending support to a red-fruited core. White pepper and hibiscus tea at the close. 14.5% ABV, though you'd never know it. Sample Leah Jørgensen Cellars 9.1 Points...