Today’s Cellar Note includes three varietal wines from two very different wine regions in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon’s Willamette Valley is represented by Oregon Trails Wine Co. Pinot Noir and Washington state’s Columbia Valley by Pacific Crest Wine Co. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both brands are part of the Wine Trees portfolio of wines. We received all three as tasting samples.
Admittedly a tasting of three wines from two wine regions as diverse as the Willamette Valley and Columbia Valley is hardly an exhaustive exploration of what these regions offer – both wine regions are the largest in their respective states. But, these three wines are representative of widely-planted grape varieties in both regions and all offer tasty examples at a reasonable price.
2016 Oregon Trails OTWC Willamette Valley Pinot Noir — translucent ruby in the glass with earthy, berry bramble aromas. Flavors of dark cherries, blackberries, berry bramble and dusty earth are supported by soft, drying tannins and bright acidity. The body is relatively light and the finish is medium in length. 13.2% abv. SRP $19.99
This Pinot gives me the color, aroma and flavors in the glass that I expect from Pinot Noir. It’s nicely balanced and very sippable. It will pair with a wide range of food from pizza (one of my favs with Pinot) to pasta or chicken.
Say Willamette Valley to any wine drinker and she will think Pinot Noir. The variety is the most widely planted in the sprawling AVA and thrives in the region’s variable soils and relatively cool climate.
2015 Pacific Crest Wine Co. Centennial Trail Chardonnay — medium yellow in the glass with generous stone fruit aromas backed by dusty gravel and a suggestion of toasted bread. Flavors of ripe melon and stone fruit mingle with citrus zest and a citrus pith finish. The weight is on the light side of medium. 13.2% abv. SRP $16.99
This Chardonnay is a very good value and shows nice balance, flavor and body. Sip it on a warm afternoon, or while you’re preparing dinner. Pair it with appetizers, pasta salad or roasted chicken.
Chardonnay and Riesling are the most-planted white varieties in the Columbia Valley AVA and the Chardonnay vineyard that is the source of the grapes for this wine was planted in 1981.
2015 Pacific Crest Wine Co. McNary Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon — light ruby in the glass with aromas of plums and dried alfalfa. Dark fruit flavors of plums and ripe blackberries mingle with dusty earth and hints of alfalfa hay. Tannins are a bit drying and well integrated with the flavors, which are medium in length. 13.7% abv. $19.99
This approachable Cabernet Sauvignon is priced right for a weeknight dinner and it will pair nicely with burgers, turkey chili, pork chops or pasta.
Production notes don’t indicate if this single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% or not, but the McNary Vineyard is planted to Merlot and Syrah in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon. White varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Vineyard notes indicate the site is cooler than most in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which lies along the Columbia River between Oregon and the Yakima Valley AVA.
Wine Trees was established in 2008 under the leadership of Bruce and Kim Cunningham. Prior to that Bruce started in the wine business with Aussie Wine Direct, a consumer-direct importer and brand developer of Australian wines, in 1996. The business relocated to California as AWDirect in 2004 and after that Wine Trees was founded. AWDirect specializes in brand development, consumer-direct services and bottling services.