It’s hard to imagine, but not so long ago, wine experts turned up their nose at Napa. California wines, competing with their French counterparts? C’est ridicule! Yet, starting with the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 where Napa swept the reds and whites, new meccas of wine goodness have been popping up all around the country. One of the latest hotbeds to hit the vino shelves is the great Pacific Northwest. Between its diverse regions of soil and climate favorable for producing fruit with low pH and on point acidity, the Pacific Northwest has burst into the wine scene with distinct flavor, power and personality.
One of our favorite labels from the Pacific Northwest has to be Owen Roe from David O’Reilly. From its memorable labels (like the severed hand of Sinister Hand) to its complex layers and balance of fruits and spice, Owen Roe’s wines are silky on the palate and big on personality. Such a strong core can only be developed by the history and soil it comes from. Steeped in Irish heritage, the winery is named after Owen Roe O’Neill a 17th century patriot from County Cavan Ireland (where David is originally from) who led an army against Cromwell based principles of integrity and liberty, two ideals that inspire the wines at Owen Roe and are commemorated through images on each of the Owen Roe labels. Continuing the tradition of integrity in his vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Washington’s west end Yakima Valley, Owen Roe’s grapes are hand harvested and bin fermented with manual punch downs and finally aged in French Oak bringing forth the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
- Syrah Ex Umbris ’09: Latin for “out of the shadows”, this started as a one-off produced from the smoky grapes of a wildfire, but has become a signature Syrah. Deep plum and dark cherry greets you on the nose with a velvet palate of blackberry, peppercorn and black licorice against plush tannins.
Sinister Hand GSM ’09: Besides having one of our favorite conversation labels (depicting the result of a rowing competition between the O’Neills and O’Reillys where in order to reach land first and own it the lagging rower sliced off his hand, tossed it on shore, and became king), this Grenache blend brings a complexity that’s hard to pass up. 79% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 3% Mouvedre, and 2% Counoise.
Yakima Red Bordeaux-style Blend ‘09: Showcasing the world-class Merlot and Cabernet-Franc grapes of the Yakima Valley, the fruit is from several small vineyards from the cooler western end of the region, where the long days of sunshine and moderate temperatures in the evening conspire to produce lush aromatic grapes with lovely acidity and low ph. The result is a lush black cherry, bright red berry and cassis layers with a toasty spice finish.
Don’t have a weekend to jet up to the Oregon / Washington border? Never fear my wine enthusiasts, we’ll bring the Pacific Northwest to you (minus the weather). Join us this Thursday 5/5, Cinco de Mayo, to take a tour through Owen Roe’s great Northwest best paired with our own Southwest feast.