Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Pair of Pinots from Adelsheim

Regular readers will know that I don't drink as much wine from Oregon as I should (or Washington, either). Living in California as I do, my state's wines tend to push other West Coast bottlings to the side, there is surprisingly little on the store shelves. In the past this has left me wondering about what I was tasting in some of the wines I drank. Comments left by readers on the site convinced me that sometimes what I was tasting was a problem with the specific bottle, and so I was delighted to accept samples of recent Pinot Noir and Pinto Gris vintages from the well-known Oregon producer Adelsheim to help me put some of my recent tastings in better focus.

The wines were a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris from the 2006 vintage. What I observed about both wines was their freshness and a purity of taste that can often be lost in warmer weather versions of these same varieties. They reminded me much more of Old World wine than New World wine, but at the same time they were unlike anything else I've ever tasted.

The first wine I have to recommend, the 2006 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, is clearly at the beginning of its life. (available from online sources for between $20 and $30). Though it's drinking beautifully now, it will only improve over the next 12-24 months. It poured with a clear, bright garnet color and there were aromas of smoky cherry and a bit of earth. The fresh fruits made the first taste impression, with flavors of raspberry and black cherry. As the wine opens a bit, there is some spicy cedar and a bit of earth in the finish to keep things interesting. Very good QPR and if you can manage to hold on to it until next fall, you may discover that it can be even notched up a bit into the excellent category.

The second wine, the 2006 Adelsheim Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, was a revelation. (available online for between $13 and $20) If this is Pinot Gris, what have I been drinking until now? It was a clear, pale straw in color and had delicious aromas of peach, honey, and a kiss of carmelized sugar. There was lots of acidity in the wine,w hich kept the peach and apple flavors in mouth-watering balance. During the long, luscious finish the back of your throat filled with honeyed, peachy aromas--which sent you straight back to the glass for more. This was a dry yet intensely aromatic wine and represented excellent QPR.

We drank both wines with the same meal, and it was a toss-up which was better with it--a real testament to the food-friendliness of both. I made a simple poached salmon and served it with Indian cucumber raita, a side of saffron rice pilaf, and some Punjab eggplant (from a packet at Trader Joe's, I'm afraid, though you can make it from scratch). Both the red and the white wine worked beautifully with the full array of dishes and neither were overwhelming nor overwhelmed by any one dish.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm glad you got to try Adelsheim again! And even more glad that you like them!

I'll be looking for that Pinot Gris, for sure.

Mo said...

The Adelscheim is our favorite Pinot Noir! I just bought a bottle of the '06 last weekend. I'm not sure it will last until fall... We were hoping we wouldn't drink it until Easter. :) I have not tried the Pinot Gris, but will now. Thanks!

Justin S. said...

I had a bottle of the Adelsheim Pinot at a Ruth's Chris a couple of years ago at my guest's suggestion. I would never have remembered the name until I saw your post. No mistaking that label.

I do remember that it was pretty darn good.

Dr. Debs said...

I'm glad I gave it a second try, too, Wine Scamp. Mo, go for it. That Pinot Noir will be great with Easter food. And Justin, glad to help you locate the mystery wine that you enjoyed so much. I hate when that happens to me in restaurants!