Sunday, August 23, 2009

Too far South for Pinot noir?

We visited King Estate last week (pictured). It's in the boonies, about ten miles west of Cottage Grove.

What a grand winery! It must have been Oregon's most expensive (and expansive) place, until Dom. Serene was built. The tasting alcove is in the restaurant, which is inside and outside. Very elegant indeed. In fact, the architecture makes it worth a trip.

They have about 600 acres of grapes, and over 300 of them are in Pinot gris (their "signature grape," according to Kevin, one of the best-informed, brightest wine pourers I've yet met. They have three labels of gris. I liked the middle one (Signature) the best; it's $17 retail and has a nice nose and is good on palate. I can get it for you at wholesale if you like. The Domaine gris ($25) was Jane's favorite of the three. The Pinot noirs were OK, but I don't recommend them. I think K.E. is too far south and hot for Pinot noir. Also, the trellis high wire seemed too low to me (you can see it in the photo)--PN grapes need about 12 leaves per cluster to reach full ripeness. Maybe it's different in the hot semi-desert (kidding, but it seemed like it) down there, but I suspect the the viticultural practices limit the wine's quality (though I'm sure the vineyard workers would protest with reasons why the trellises are OK).

We also visited Ch. Lorane, which has a great deck high above a pretty lake. Most of the wines are not recommendable, but we found a rose from Tempranillo and a Viognier that were OK. I went there because they make some wines from hybrid grapes, but sadly they're not going to convert any vinifera lover. I still think that is possible, just not at Ch. Lorane.

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