Wednesday, April 16, 2014

White Wines from Southern Oregon

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Posted by Burke Morton On March - 20 - 2010

The longer I've been in wine, the more captivated I am by white wine and the wide range of possible flavors that it can give you. This spectrum of flavor is far, far broader than it is in red wine, but somehow white wine has become less satisfying to us as a wine buying public. I don't think white wine has more of an intellectual appeal, besides such a descriptor is better reserved for specific wines that are somehow more mentally stimulating than emotionally nurturing. I can see many possible reasons why red wine has become so popular, though I suspect that it'll be quite a while before I decide I don't have better things to think about than this. For now, I'm willing to settle on the idea that white wine is becoming less fashionable.

If indeed white wine has become significantly less fashionable, then that means that too many people will miss out on the two very exciting wines that hit my glass the other day, both from Foris Vineyards in southern Oregon's Rogue Valley.

I have a long history with Foris, back to the days more than a decade ago when they had a bad label design, which I will admit I actually kind of liked for the fact that you simply couldn't stop looking at it--like a train wreck! Well, if it happened to get you to pick it up, as it did me, you'd find a mesmerizingly chewy Pinot Noir, and you'd go back and buy more. Now the labels have some sleek style, more reflective of all of the wines in their line-up, especially the whites. I love the Pinot Blanc from Foris, but the public doesn't clamor for Pinot Blanc the way I'd like, so common business sense meant that I spent more time getting under the skin of the excellent Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.

I tasted the Riesling and the Muscat Frissante recently, and they were evocative, fulfilling wines. The Riesling--which is a standby for me--is scrupulous, teasingly aromatic, and tensile, plus it is dry enough to make you rethink your definition of "dry". This is great winemaking, because the Riesling is utterly drinkable, and for $13 that's overachieving.

The Muscat is made in the Moscato d'Asti style, so it has plenty of sugar and plenty of acid to buttress that; low alcohol and light fizz so that you can consume it on your deck in the heat of the day; and such an expansive, perfumed aroma that you feel like you've walked into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. $15 seems cheap for this wine! This one is probably a one-off, because there is usually only enough fruit every year for the dessert wine. Since 2009 yielded a bumper crop of Muscat, I'd take advantage of this and buy a case and drink it liberally, as few wines will bring as much joy this summer as this one will.

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3 Responses

  1. Bryan Wilson Said,

    Hello Burke,

    Thanks for the wonderful comments on our wines and a very well writen, thought provoking article. Both the Frissante and the Riesling are new wines for Foris and help bring focus to our little alpine valley that does well growing Alsatian varietals as well as Pinot noir.

    The Frissante will be a steadily growing product for us as we have planted more Early Muscat, Riesling, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris as well. As to suggesting a case purchase, of course I agree…at 7% alcohol, just two bottle a day is all that we ask…we’ll make more!

    Bryan Wilson, Winemaker, Foris Vineyards

    Posted on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:21 am

  2. Van Said,

    Wow, GREAT piece of writing! And I agree, wholeheartedly!

    Posted on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:22 am

  3. Burke Morton Said,

    Bryan–thanks for adding to the knowledge base: I am so happy to have info directly from the source! I hope that with the additional Muscat, you will also be able to offer a dry, still Muscat (though I do not know whether Early Muscat works well this way). Is Early Muscat more reliable than either of the Muscats a Petit Grains or Muscat Ottonel?

    Posted on March 27th, 2010 at 12:47 am

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