January has been an exceptionally cold and snowy one for the Pacific Northwest. A series Pacific fronts blanketed the Raptor Ridge Estate Vineyard in nearly a foot of snow, and at higher elevations the surrounding mountains are accumulating snowpack that will thankfully last deep into summer, replenishing local aquifers. Summer seems a long way off, but now's a great time to look towards the year ahead, and share with you the events and wine that we have planned for the next 3-6 months.
Our Flight Club Members will receive twelve vineyard-designate and cuvee Pinot Noirs over the course of the year, with some new additions joining the lineup. This coming March we will introduce three Pinot Noirs, including the fifth bottling of our Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir and the new Estate Vineyard 777 Clone Pinot Noir. Taste these wines together to reveal the subtle differences that may be found within clonal selection from the same vineyard. Our work also continues with many of our established vineyard-designate sites, and we mark the second year of production of the Temperance Hill Pinot Noir. Wine Club and Raptor Ridge fans are also advised to look towards the release of the 2015 Tempranillo, which will be released as an extended Reserve, having spent 2 full years in French Oak.
(Map of Langelois, and surrounding vineyards - Austria)
In 2016 we held three food and wine pairings to celebrate three unique Raptor Ridge wines: the 2015 Estate Grüner Veltliner, the 2015 Auxerrois and the 2014 Tempranillo. For each event we offered an educational look at the variety, and partnered with European examples of the same variety, paired with regionally themed foods.
Merroir/Terroir with Grüner Veltliner and EaT: An Oyster Bar
At the April 2016 launch of this new series we hosted Raptor Ridge Flight Club members and guests for our celebration of Gruner Veltliner and Oysters. Portland’s EaT: An Oyster Bar displayed four different Pacific Northwest Oysters, and explained the concept of “merroir,” or the idea that the surrounding environment dictates the flavor characteristics of oysters. Jonathan brought in 4 distinct Austrian Gruner Veltliners, and led guests through a tasting designed to place the Raptor Ridge Estate Vineyard Gruner Veltliner in the greater context of Gruner around the world. In Austria, the hills overlooking the Danube, where the premier Gruner Veltliner in the country is grown, are rich with loess, or wind-blown glacial silt. Our own vineyard shares this geological trait with its Austrian counterparts, and we chose mineral-driven, stainless steel fermented Austrian wines to further accentuate the terroir similarities. We are happy to announce that this event will be reprised on March 26th of this year!
"Auxtoberfest" with Auxerrois and Alsatian feast from Recipe
We continued this educational theme in Autumn, and released the debut vintage of our Auxerrois, sourced from the Eola-Amity Hills. Auxerrois is a curious grape in the USA, occupying a miniscule share of Oregon’s acreage under vine, but a hugely important grape in Alsace, France. Following a rule passed in 1945, producers of the grape in Alsace are permitted to label the resulting wine “Pinot Blanc.” Subsequently, the majority of Alsatian wines labelled Pinot Blanc, as well as a large chunk of Crémant d’Alsace, contain Auxerrois. Tending toward luscious, ripe-fruited expressions on the nose and palate, Auxerrois carries a mid-palate weight and moderate acidity similar to that of Chardonnay. We wanted to pair our neutral French oak-fermented Auxerrois with regional cuisine that matched its rich flavor and texture, so we asked Recipe (Newberg, OR) owner and chef Paul Bachand to prepare food inspired by Alsace and Germany – house-made charcuterie, cured fish and the classic choucroute garnie were among the offerings. We poured our 2015 Auxerrois with 4 Alsatian wines, including bubbles from to producer Meyer-Fonné. In attendance were journalist Jade Helm and photographer Andrea Johnson, whose efforts resulted in a great article published in Oregon Wine Press
Lastly, as the season changed from fall to winter, we warmed up the tasting room with paella pans and served our 2014 Tempranillo with 4 Spanish Tempranillos. Portland’s Crown Paella joined us and prepared two typically Valencian paellas – duck confit, chorizo, and local chanterelles complemented the earthy richness of the red wine perfectly.
In 2017 we are looking forward to repeating each of these regionally inspired events, bringing in new European varieties, unveiling the recent vintages at Raptor Ridge, and giving our guests an opportunity to broaden their geographical knowledge as they taste. New to this event series this year will be a rosé celebration – expect the 2016 Raptor Ridge Rosé of Pinot Noir paired with French and Italian rosé, and an array of Mediterranean bites. Tickets to the second-annual Grüner and Oyster celebration are currently available on our online store. March 26th, 11am-2pm. Join us!