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Domaine Skouras, Peloponnese PGI (Greece) "Zoe" Rosé 2019 ($13, Diamond Importers)
 Despite the travail of the world at large, it is springtime and thus it’s Rosé Season!  The vineyards of Greece provide us with the delicious 2019 Domaine Skouras Zoe Rosé.  Made from Agioritiko and Moschlfilero, two indigenous Greek grapes, the Zoe Rosé delights the senses with its combination of fruit and spice elements.   A vivid pink in color, it begins with a striking visual appeal.  The bouquet bursts forth from the glass with floral scents plus ripe cherry and strawberry fruits enhanced by and hints of spiced pear and coriander.  On the palate, it is alive with juicy cherry, cranberry and strawberry fruits as well as subtle coriander spice tones.  This is a delightful Rosé that will pair well with everything from pasta salads to grilled zucchini to burgers.   
91 Wayne Belding

WRO WINE BLOG

Posted by Robert Whitley on April 1, 2020 at 12:23 AM

Winery to Watch: Oregon's WillaKenzie

 
The wines of Oregon's WillaKenzie Estate are priced to impress.  They're made that way, too.  

Winemaker Erik Kramer, who joined WillaKenzie after a 13-year career split between the Willamette Valley's highly regarded Adelsheim and Domaine Serene wineries, has been on a roll since arriving in January 2017.  

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kramer and taste one Chardonnay and three Pinot Noirs from his first vintage as well as a Chardonnay from the 2018 harvest.  All five wines were a brilliant reflection of Kramer's bedrock philosophy and approach to winemaking.  

For starters, they were crisp, fresh and clean with exceptional balance and a deft touch of oak.  Despite the generous use of new French oak barrels, the influence of the wood was remarkably subtle.

"Wood selection is about elevating without interfering," said Kramer. "Wine should be wine."

His philosophy came through loud and clear when I tasted the two Chardonnays, the 2018 WillaKenzie Willamette Valley Chardonnay ($40) and the 2017 WillaKenzie Estate Chardonnay, Yamhill-Carlton ($75).  The 2018 Willamette chard shows a wonderful touch of lemon creme, richness lifted by firm acidity and subtle hints of baking spice. The 2017 Estate Chardonnay, grown in a slightly warmer microclimate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, is richer and more opulent, with complex layers of citrus, apple, pear and spice.  

Since arriving at WillaKenzie, he's scoured the 400-acre estate (100 acres under vine) for the best Chardonnay sites.  The trick, he said, is "putting Chardonnay in really lovely spots where it has the opportunity to be great."   Suffice it to say he is off to a very good start.

The three Pinot Noirs were equally stunning, including the relatively modestly priced 2017 WillaKenzie Pinot Noir, WillaKenzie Estate Vineyard/Jory Hills Estate Vineyard at $35.  This is an elegant Pinot that shows exceptional fruit purity, impressive structure and a pleasing finish with a touch of tannin on the back end.  

"I'm looking to build palate shape with good tannin," he explained.  Hallelujah.  Too many Pinot Noir producers are so afraid of tannins that they shy away and go in the other direction with soft, flabby, oft times sweet Pinot.  

The other two Pinots are part of WillaKenzie's terroir-specific program that isolates grapes from six specific sites on the estate.  I tasted the 2017 WillaKenzie "Aliette" Pinot Noir ($65) and the 2017 WillaKenzie "Kiana" Pinot Noir ($65).  The Aliette delivers a distinctive nose of cherry and spice and is light in color though big on flavor.  The beautifully perfumed Kiana, grown in a warmer microclimate, trends to the floral spectrum of aroma, with an impressive mid-palate and exceptional palate length.

I must say I can hardly wait to taste the rest of the WillaKenzie portfolio.



Connect with Robert Whitley on Twitter at @WineGuru.


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This Issue's Reviews
 
Bordeaux 2017: Weathering the Storm
Robert Whitley

BORDEAUX, France - Although Bordeaux produces the world's most expensive and arguably its most sought-after wines, the journey from bud break to harvest is often fraught with peril for the region's vineyards. Vintage 2017 was fairly typical; a roller-coaster ride that started with an early spring followed by a devastating frost, followed by cool weather that delayed ripening, and ending with a wet autumn. Under the circumstances, it would be reasonable to assume 2017 was a bad year for the wines of Bordeaux. And first impressions appeared to confirm that. The annual Bordeaux Primeurs evaluations, organized by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, kicked off with the wines of Graves and Pessac-Leognan, where lean and sometimes green seemed to be the order among the reds. The whites also tended to be austere. What saved these two districts from disaster was careful selection by the better chateaux and a delicate hand on the throttle by a majority of the regions winemakers, helping avoid the sin of too much extraction and the green, mouth-puckering tannins that result.
Viña Los Vascos: Great Value Chilean Wines with a French Accent
Ed McCarthy

Among the Spanish immigrants that settled in Chile during the 18th an 19th centuries were the Basques. The Echenique family, of Basque origin, were pioneers in planting grapes in Chile's Colchagua Valley. The grapes they and others planted were mainly French grapes, clearly the most renowned wine grapes at that time, with a proven track record. In 1988, Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild-the corporate name of the Lafite branch of the esteemed French Rothschild wine empire-decided to expand their wine estates into Chile. After a careful search of more than 100 wineries, the Rothschild group acquired Los Vascos (which means 'The Basques,' in honor of its Basque origins). Los Vascos is located in the Caneten Valley of the Colchagua region, about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Caneten Valley provides a perfect microclimate for quality wine production, with daily winds allowing average temperatures between 68° to 77°F. Currently, 1,581 acres of the 5,000-acre estate are planted with wine grapes, making Los Vascos one of the largest vineyards in the Colchagua Valley.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Potato Gratin with Ham and Cheese


A good gratin is a wonderful thing. 'Gratin,' a French word related to our own 'grater,' describes a dish that is usually covered with grated cheese and/or breadcrumbs, then baked in a relatively small pan until it is browned and bubbly. Gratins are usually potato based, but almost anything can be prepared au gratin-seafood, eggplant, cauliflower, and much more. Gratins, which are among the world's tastiest comfort foods, are generally simple to prepare. This Potato and Ham variation on the theme is not merely delicious, but also pairs well with a variety of different wines. We liked white wines slightly more than reds with this dish, especially those with creamy textures that echoed the inherent creaminess of the gratin. The reds that performed best were light-bodied and savory, providing a contrast to the dish and hence making the dining experience compelling. Wines of both colors and types made for satisfying pairings, rendering this a one dish supper meal for which wine is easy to choose.
On My Table
Great Value from Piedmont
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

If you have ever driven from Malpensa Airport in Milan to the Barolo district of Piemonte, you would have passed the town of Canale shortly before arriving in the small city of Alba and the Barolo hills soon after. Canale lies on the opposite side of the Tanaro River from Alba and the Barolo zone, in a district known as Roero. Roero has a long history of grape growing and winemaking, and in fact Nebbiolo - the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco - is a major variety there, but the area lacks the renown of Barolo and Barbaresco, across the river. Within Roero, the Enrico Serafino winery in Canale, founded in 1878, is one of the most prominent producers. The Enrico Serafino winery is now owned by the Krause family, from the U.S. Midwest; the Krause family also owns Vietti in the Barolo zone. Although situated in Roero, the Enrico Serafino winery owns several Barolo vineyards. It is entitled to vinify the grapes in Roero, having been grandfathered in as an exception when the DOC/G regulation was enacted in 1967. In addition to Barolo, the winery produces a range of still and sparkling wines, including a white wine, Gavi di Gavi.