Though prolific in its vinous output, the Pacific Northwest tends to hover very slightly in the shadows of more well-known United States wine regions. (Napa, for instance, rarely needs an introduction.) If you’re Pacific Northwest wine curious, these five selections, ranging from affordable to standout splurges, provide a perfect introduction to both the region’s terroir and its winemaking talent. Our suggested pairings will help to enhance your wine tasting experience.
GC Wines: 2019 Convivial Willamette Valley Red Wine, $20
An energetic expression from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this wine is a take on a Burgundian blend called ‘Passe-tout-Grains,’ which combines Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes for a juicy, approachable wine. Adorned with a colorful pink label that’s perfect for a casual celebration, this approachable red pairs well with almost anything, from charcuterie to simply-prepared salmon to beef stroganoff.
Matzinger Davies: 2020 Unabridged Sauvignon Blanc, $33
Made by married winemakers Anna Matzinger and Michael Davies, love and care abound in this bottling of Sauvignon Blanc from Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. Whole cluster pressed and aged for 10 months in cigar-shaped barrels from Master French Cooper Philippe Grillot, this minerally-driven wine screams for oysters, yet Anna says it goes just as well with an evening of Netflix and a bowl of sweet onion potato chips.
Bryn Mawr Vineyards: 2017 Tempranillo, $50
Family-owned Bryn Mawr Vineyards honors the wines that make the Willamette Valley world renowned, while slightly pushing the envelope to explore future possibilities. This luscious and delicate wine is medium garnet red with a slight brick red hue on the rim. It features notes of warm baking spice, cocoa, and cinnamon that intermingle with faint raspberry and fig notes to make a lovely spiced bouquet. Try this one with hearty pasta dishes, like a thickly layered lasagne.
Nicolas-Jay: 2018 L’Ensemble Pinot Noir, $70
This name of this Grand Cru-level offering from the Willamette Valley means “the whole” or “together” in French. Winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo of Burgundy’s famed Domaine Méo-Camuzet carefully chose the most memorable barrels of 2018 for this multi-vineyard wine bursting with flavors of dark red berries and sarsaparilla. Pair with rack of lamb with a cherry glaze.
Fidélitas: 2018 Fidélitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $75
Family-owned Fidélitas hails from the tiny Red Mountain region of Washington – the pinnacle of the state’s wine production. Sourced from mature vines on the winery’s estate, this rich Cabernet boasts loads of black fruit flavors and has rich complexity and depth. This wine, which will drink well through 2040, pairs perfectly with a bone-in ribeye. Its long cellar life makes it a great gift.
All photos by Fran Miller