Monday, August 09, 2010

Some very eclectic and affordable Willamette Valley white wines have been popping up recently, seemingly in the footsteps of the original untraditional blend of nine grapes found in Sokol Blosser’s Evolution. These unexpected conglomerations of white varietals are wonderfully food friendly, interesting and approachable wines that pair well with a range of summertime menus.

One sniff n’ sip of Montinore Estate’s ’09 Borealis at a recent tasting transported me from the warehouse I stood in to a red checked blanket on a grassy hill, lazing under a tree with a canning jar full of the stuff. This fresh, sunny, slightly off-dry combination of Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling is perfect picnic wine, ripe with fruit but maintaining enough acid to drink with chicken sandwiches and summer salads. It's only about $13 a bottle, and organic, too.

When I dined at Castagna recently, I was presented with the challenge of selecting a wine that would be both economical and that would pair with the multitude of dishes that would soon arrive at our table for five. Twenty different dishes – how could you choose anything but a blend? Chef Matt Lightner’s cooking is complex, with an emphasis on freshness and delicacy. The wine that satisfied was Matello’s “Whistling Ridge” ’08 white wine. This Alsatian-style blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer grown in the Ribbon Ridge AVA is silky, full-bodied and slightly off-dry, with great acid and a subtle aroma of ripe fruit (retail price $18).

Finally, the '09 Amrita by Cuvée A (Anne Amie’s second label) is an array of aromatic varietals that changes with each harvest. It's fresh with a blast of exotic fruit and citrus bright acid, minerality and medium body. The wine is a nice accompaniment to Thai food, light picnics (with salads containing summer fruit) and, as the winery's website suggests, Bánh mì (about $16).

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