Bottle of red or bottle of white? We asked our resident wine expert, Ginny Mitchell, to weigh in on some of her favorites on the Trenchermen list.
Southern Oregon is an area I am very passionate about right now. Recently, I was introduced to a handful of producers in the region creating truly unique wines. I think there is a general misconception that red wine from Oregon is always Pinot Noir. While this holds true for the famed Willamette Valley, the Umpqua Valley, encompassing the new Elkton AVA (American Viticulture Area), and the Rogue Valley have a hotter climate that bodes well for a number of varietals. This can mean everything from Tempranillo to Syrah to Gewurztraminer. Not only is there more variety, the wines are often more economically priced.
At Trenchermen, we offer four different wines from Southern Oregon. The following are two of my favorites:
Brandborg 'Love Puppets' Pinot Noir, 2008, Umpqua Valley, Oregon $70
I'm a huge fan of Brandborg wine in general, so much so that on vacation in Willamette Valley, I drove the three and a half hour drive to Elkton just to see the winery and hang out with the winemakers (who are salt of the earth, great people). Terry and Sue Brandborg set up shop in Elkton in 2001 after searching for the ideal spot for growing Pinot Noir. Located in the Umpqua Valley, Elkton is 25 miles from the coast and is a cooler region found in the valley.
I am especially obsessed with 'Love Puppets' because it is very reminiscent of a Burgundy Pinot Noir, showing incredible terroir and characteristics of tart red cherry, caramel, and allspice while maintaining finesse. With a lighter body and beautifully balanced acid, the 'Love Puppets' pairs well with a variety of dishes.
Cliff Creek Cellars 'Claret', 2007, Rogue Valley, Oregon $74
Traveling further south to Rogue Valley AVA, you'll find Cliff Creek Cellars. Veteran winemaker Joe Dobbes apprenticed in both Germany and France, honing his craft with some of the most prestigious producers in the world. I was recently introduced to the Cliff Creek Cellars 'Claret'. This red 'Bordeaux' blend comes from estate fruit grown on Sams Valley Vineyard. The blend is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot, aged for over a year in French oak.
Tasting this wine was an experience in itself. When I took a whiff of the wine, I immediately knew I was going to enjoy it. The nose is intense and intricate, offering aromas of cedar, clove, allspice, violet, bacon and anise. The palate presents white and black pepper as well as darker, overripe fruits. This full bodied, juicy wine is perfect for the winter season!