Oregon Pinot: Oh Yes
Oregon has made a name for itself for its world class wine. Oregon produces some of the best pinot noir and pinot gris in the world and has become one of the standards that the pinot pair is judged by. Situated close to the same latitudinal lines and sharing similar climate to Burgundy, France, its no accident that Oregon wines exemplify the best the finicky and difficult pinot noir has to offer.
There is no shortage of wine varieties being grown in Oregon but for now it’s the pinot that tops our list of the best the state has to offer. Both pinot noir and pinot gris beg to be paired with food. Pinot noir, loaded with aromas and tastes of cherry, raspberry and a touch of mineral and leather would be great with a roasted rosemary and garlic chicken. Pinot Gris, with its delicate stone fruit, pear, and nutty fragrance is a perfect accompaniment to Salmon served with a sweet and sour onion confit. Both wines offer the wine drinker pleasure from the first sniff to the last taste.
A winery that demonstrates this relationship between food and wine is the King Estate Winery located just 40 miles south of Eugene. The estate, which sits atop a hillside surrounded by beautifully tended vineyards, reminds us of a European chateau. Pinot is king in Oregon and the King Estate winery is the leader for great wines that will not make your wallet thinner than a Hollywood actress. Their wines are widely available. They have a comprehensive culinary program and a staff that is always looking for great new food matches to pair with their wines. They publish both a pinot noir and a pinot gris cookbook with fantastic recipes that bring out the best characteristics of each varietal.
King Estate Winery was founded by the King family in 1979. They started with a vision of making the best wine possible and spared no expense in making this happen.
King Estate has been practicing organic farming practices since their beginning and is one of the largest organically farmed wineries in the country. It has now become fashionable to be “organic” and the King Estate planned ahead and built a world class composting program that converts all the waste from the winemaking process into fertile mulch that is spread over the vineyards eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.
Loraine nursery, owned by the King Estate and located at the winery grows and develops vineyard stock not only for themselves but also for vineyard owners around the country looking to match the quality of Oregon’s best.
Oregon is a wine lover’s paradise with the only sadness created by the fact that most wineries are small and their availability is scarce outside the region and the wines can be a bit pricey. The state has been blessed with several great vintages between 1998-2002 and so far 2003 is looking very good.