Year 12 | 26 January 2020 | TO ENTER | TO REGISTER

US West Coast produces wines of world-class quality

Oregon and Washington are the USA's answer to Burgundy and Bordeaux, respectively. For elegance and balance, the Pacific Northwest is your thoroughbred

California may be the most famous wine-growing state in the USA, but the entire West Coast produces wines of world-class quality. I'd like to introduce you to the styles of the Pacific Northwest — specifically, Oregon and Washington.

Oregon and Washington are the USA's answer to Burgundy and Bordeaux, respectively. The wines made there are beautiful and quite different from the same versions made in California. Oregon, which sits on the same latitude as France's famed Burgundy region, is best known for its "Burgundian"-styled pinot noirs and elegant chardonnays. And Washington is fast on the heels of California, producing great cabernet sauvignon and merlot, among other varieties.

Of course, one of the most exciting and educational ways to experience what a wine region is all about is to travel there. An extremely close second is to taste the best examples of what different regions have to offer and compare them to one another. I suggest that when you are entertaining friends and clients that you always serve two wines in order to compare them intellectually. This is the best way for your guests to learn something specific. Accordingly, I am going to suggest some wine pairings that will best accomplish this "educational component" of any dinner events you conduct.

Chardonnay is not exclusively grown in California in the United States at the highest quality level. Many sommeliers prefer the chardonnays grown in the Pacific Northwest in fact. Believing that there are more than a few California examples exhibiting enough oak to cover up the subtlety of the fruit and "terroir."

These two examples will show you the elegance and complexity of this grape, while not sacrificing the wonderful fruit that USA wines have come to be associated with.

Chardonnay is destined for great things in Oregon; their pinot noirs have already reached legendary status. It's amazing what these dedicated producers are making now, and we can't wait to see what their future holds.

These wines possess delicate bosc pears, chamomile tea, and honeysuckle high-toned aromas, alongside baked apples and lemon custard-like flavors. They are brimming with ripe fruit and balanced by juicy acidity. What else should we look for in great chardonnay?

Although still in its youth, relatively speaking, Washington is growing in quality by leaps and bounds. Chardonnay has become the leading white wine varietal alongside the red: cabernet sauvignon. One of the main things that has made Washington's wines unique is its climate. The High Steppe Dessert in Eastern Washington has very warm days, and then the temperature plummets into very cool nights. The warm days ripen the grapes, and the cool nights help them retain a refreshing acidity.

The chardonnays are a great example of this. They show seductively ripe fruit on a full textured frame, and the lively acidity will dazzle your palate. These wines can rival some of the great white Burgundies at a fraction of the cost.

In Closing
For power chardonnay, California is your Clydesdale. For elegance and balance, the Pacific Northwest is your thoroughbred.

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by S. C.
05 march 2012, World News > America