Holiday White Wines: Oregon Offers More Than Pinot Noir
by Jennifer Cossey Hendrickson OPB | Nov. 27, 2013 midnight
"Many who visit a wine shop for a bottle to bring to the Thanksgiving table will be guided to a Pinot Noir, usually something from Oregon. Or perhaps the wine steward will direct your attention to a Gamay Noir, sometimes called Beaujolais. These are both great choices, and make no mistake, these wines will be on my dinner table. But whites can also bring a spark of life to a table and an edge to a meal.
Traditional whites for the Thanksgiving holiday tend to be Rieslings and Gewürztraminers from Germany or France. But Oregon does a fine job with these classic holiday wines as well. Riesling isn’t widely known as a major player in Oregon vineyards, but in the 1980s it accounted for one-fourth of all the wine produced in the Willamette Valley. As the industry grew, other grapes came into fashion, and Riesling vineyards were torn out in favor of new trends. Today, Riesling is making a comeback. The grape itself is often misunderstood as being sweet, making a cloying wine. In some cases it is, but in Oregon it is often a balanced wine with a minimum, if any, amount of detectable alcohol, an acid profile to make it food friendly and a lower alcohol percentage than most other whites.
Matt Berson, owner and winemaker of Love & Squalor Wine, agrees. “I love the transparency and purity of Riesling and the stylistic variety,” he says, “and after bubbles, it is hands down the most versatile wine for pairing with food.”
Berson started making Riesling after being inspired by some of the greats of Riesling production in the Willamette Valley: Tad Seestadt of Ransom Wines and Spirits and Jimi Brooks of Brooks Winery. Berson was also drawn to the grape after working in the German winegrowing region of the Mosel for esteemed producer Dr. Loosen. He made his first Riesling in 2006..."