Oregon Wine Club – August 2010

2006 Argyle Winery, “Nuthouse” Reserve Pinot Noir
You can’t always judge a book by its cover. This wine may have a playful, nutty label, but the wine inside is plenty serious, as those who know Argyle’s Nuthouse series are well aware. Argyle Winery was created in 1987 by Rollin Soles and both he and his winery have received much acclaim ever since (he is the only Oregon winemaker to have had wines ranked among the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the World an amazing eleven times. The magazine also named Argyle Oregon’s premier winery in 2000.) The winery itself was originally a hazelnut processing plant, and their “Nuthouse” label, which also includes a Chardonnay, is reserved for later-released, limited-production wines. The fruit for the Nuthouse Pinot comes primarily from their Lone Star Vineyard in the Eola Hills region, one of the premier sites for Pinot Noir, planted mostly to Dijon clones. Pinots from this vineyard are characterized by their dark fruit flavors, firm tannic structure, and ageability. The 2006 Nuthouse is bold and robust, with notes of spicy, fresh earth on the nose, and a rich, creamy texture. It is $49.75 and ready to enjoy now or over the next six to eight years.
Try it with a rack of lamb or grilled salmon.

As with so many of the most conscientious wineries, Argyle is committed to being good stewards of the natural environment on which they depend. They were one of the first LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) Certified Sustainable wineries in Oregon, and are also certified by Salmon-Safe.

2008 Cristom Vineyards Estate Viognier Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley
It’s time, once again, to remind ourselves that Oregon is not only about Pinot Noir. And there is more to explore than those other two major players, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Just when we were thinking that it would be nice to include an Oregon white wine in a summer club, one of our reps showed up with this lush, aromatic Viognier from Cristom Vineyards, in Salem, Oregon. Long known for their silky Pinot Noirs, Cristom was one of the first wineries to plant Viognier in the Willamette Valley. It had long been thought that this region was too cool and wet to grow this finicky northern Rhône variety, but they planted it on their warmest sunniest site, and had good results right from the first vintage. Winemaker Steve Doerner has been with Cristom since its inception, when he hired on with much winemaking experience, and a strong conviction do things in as traditional a manner as possible. He eschewed the common practice of using laboratory yeasts, and encouraged native yeast fermentation. Today, this is one of Cristom’s hallmarks, and it is what gives their wine its added complexity and true varietal character. You can taste it in this Viognier. It is rich, complex and floral but, perhaps because of the cooler climate, has none of the cloying characteristics that some New World Viogniers can have. It is balanced and inviting, with bright stone fruit flavors, and a long finish. It’s ready to drink now, with strong cheese or summer grilled fare. It is $27.