Anderson Family Vineyards – Oregon wines of distinction

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Before the mayhem of the Wine Bloggers Conference began earlier this month, I took some extra time to explore the different AVAs of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, known for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  One winery that came up in conversation over and over again was Anderson Family Vineyards.  Recommended by several friends, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Sitting on top of a hill, the sweeping views of the Dundee Hills AVA are breathtaking.  Just below the estate vineyards, a hazelnut orchard sits on the flats.  Set up an armchair, and I could sit there for days!  The Anderson family started off as growers of premium Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, selling these grapes for over 20 years.  After a while, they wondered why they weren’t’ using some of the amazing fruit for themselves, and the winery was born.  Currently, Anderson Family sells 1/3 of their grapes to area wineries, and uses the remainder for their own label. Cliff Anderson began his search in the 1980s for land that would produce grapes that would rival the great wines of Burgundy.  His belief that vines that struggle and need to reach for water, becoming deeply rooted, become amazing wines led him to the heart of Oregon wine country – the Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley.  Situated in the rolling countryside outside of Newberg, they found a property with steep hillsides full of broken stones and basalt.  In 1992, the vineyard was planted. Organically farmed, the Anderson Family creates wines in small lots with native yeast, in a gravity flow winery.  Carefully taken care of each small batch of wines, they move a little slower here.  While many larger operations have already released the 2010 vintage, Anderson Family is holding back; there will be no wine before it’s time! We had the opportunity to taste through the current releases with assistant winemaker Jonathan Riekert, a rising star of the area who is passionate about Pinot Noir as well as the Oregon terroir. 2009 Pinot Gris – There is something special about Oregon Pinot Gris.  I can’t quite describe it, but it combines the creamy nature of Gris with the crisp acidity of a Pinot Blanc in a beautiful swirl. 2009 was a warmer vintage for Oregon, but it was peppered with cool nights, as well as a few cooler days which helped keep the acidity in this wine.  With no malolactic fermentation, and 100% stainless steel fermentation, there are beautiful green apple, grapefruit and Asian pear notes.  With a dusting of nutmeg and a nutty finish, this is what I love about Pinot Gris. This wine was a bit of accident, as the vineyard was thought to be planted to chardonnay, I am glad they found this hidden gem! Next, we tasted a vertical of Chardonnay.  Much more European in style, these are lean and racy.  Just what I like! 2007 Chardonnay – 2007 had a longer growing season than some other years, which gave the grapes time to […]

Gris, Grigio, Good Grief!

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So Summer hasn’t quite arrived here in San Francisco, but I decided that I needed a little white wine.  I know I know, you’re thinking “Bratty!  What have you done!”  Those of you who have followed my antics over the years probably realize that I have an abnormal appreciation (er obsession with all things pinot (noir), so today I decided to stick with the pinot theme and taste some Pinot Grigio.  I mean Gris. Normally, I run away and scream in horror when I see the words pinot and grigio together as they evoke a certain…Real Housewives of Nowhere  bad $5 wine swilling horror.  But, I’m happy to say that two wines from the Robert Oatley family are actually a lovely departure from the cheap Italian varietal.  Yes, I know there is good Pinot Grigio, but it’s just attacked and tortured by the bad. So, starting with the 2009 Tic Tok Pinot Grigio, which retails for anywhere from $10-13, I found a light tropical touch on the nose, lemon and mango in the body, and a light refreshing texture.  The edge of baking spice rounds it out nicely.  There was a lot of grapefruit, lychee and nectarine fruit flavors and it had a nice weight without  being heavy.  It’s a lovely summer white, though  not a terribly complex wine, but at $10 average, it’s a great summer sipper for patio parties and BBQs. After the Tik Tock, the 2009 Robert Oatley Pinot Gris, Adelaide Hills is a deeper golden hue, as it sits on the skins for longer to give depth of flavor and color.  This wine is richer than the Tic Tok and has pear and spice notes.  It’s a great sipper to replace your chardonnay! Robert Oatley has been making wine in Australia for over 40 years, and the family has been around since convict days.  Pretty good for a prisoner, no? I love a good pinot gris, especially as the weather heats up.  I challenge you to go out and find a great pinot gris to bring to you next party! Thanks to Robert Oatley for providing me with this slurpalicious whites!