By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
This week, we enjoyed Shigoku oysters and steamed mussels, paired with Pinot Gris and other wines from the Northwest and around the world. World Famous Taylor Shellfish developed the Shigoku (Japanese for ‘ultimate’) in 2009, using a special growing system of rack and bag that tumbles the oysters in a tidal-like motion that encourages them to develop a deep cup and rounded edges for easy shucking. These delicious Shigokus and Mediterranean Mussels can be ordered from TaylorShellfishFarms.com, a great resource for people who have little access to fresh shellfish. (Taylor ships promptly using Styrofoam and gel packs to keep their product cool.)
With grape-harvest season now underway, you may find me making a comment or two about touring in some of our wine country as well.
Steve and Carol Girard founded Benton-Lane in 1988. Their southern Willamette Valley location was the source of the winery’s name, it being near the border of Benton and Lane Counties in Oregon (open noon to 5pm daily). My tasters were thrilled with this delightfully fresh and food-friendly wine. Look for melon and pear with citrus notes and crisp acidity.
From the inimitable Charles Smith, Vino Pinot Grigio is created in the Italian style with melon, floral notes and pear, all wrapped up in rich mineral and citrus flavors. You can visit the fabulous Charles Smith Jet City winery near Boeing Field in Seattle Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 6pm – great wine tasting with views of airplanes and Mount Rainier. His winery in downtown Walla Walla is open daily, 10am to 6pm.
Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard has been producing Pinot Gris for more than two decades, being involved in the establishment of the varietal as Oregon’s leading white wine. Tastings and tours are available daily at the Calkins Lane winery west of Newberg. Enjoy this light and refreshing Pinot Gris with your shellfish or other light fare for its aromas and flavors of white peach, minerality and pear blossom.
This special blend of five vineyards was crafted by the winemakers at King Estate to highlight the nuances and character of each vineyard site. Delicious stone fruits, pear and mineral pair well with delicious oysters and mussels! The King Estate visitor center offers tasting and brief tours of the facility. The in-house restaurant brings gourmet, white-tablecloth dining Willamette Valley wine country – reservations recommended.
This wine is crafted from grapes grown only at the winery estate
vineyards. It offers a rich and elegant profile with flavors of
nectarine, apricot and tangerine with hints of tropical fruits and
flinty mineral. Visit this showplace Oregon wine estate near Eugene as
This single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Charles Smith comes from the Ancient Lakes AVA near the town of Quincy in Washington State. It offers aromas and flavors of herbs and grassy hay with a strong vein of minerality and gooseberry – a great match for oysters. See visiting information above for the two Charles Smith facilities in Washington State.
This Sauvignon Blanc by veteran Washington winemaker Mike Januik is blended with 20% Semillon to enhance the wine’s character of melon, citrus, spice and tropical nuances. The Novelty Hill/Januik Winery is in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country and offers a variety of tasting experiences in their stylish, award-winning tasting room. Food selections from Chef Seth Fernald are offered on weekends.
Three Rivers Winery
Winemaker Holly Turner crafted this bright and food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc from grapes grown at the Gamache Vineyard near the Tri-Cities in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Holly prefers her Sauvignon Blanc in the “crisp and zingy” style, so look for melon, tangy citrus and a bouquet of floral notes. When you visit Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla, you can play some golf on their 3-hole pitch and putt course!
Dobbes Family Winery
This wonderful wine topped the charts with my tasters when paired with savory oysters and rich steamed mussels. The wine is at once both rich and flavorful, and tangy with citrus and acidity. Look for aromas of orchard blossom, honeysuckle, nectarine and lemon leading to apple and peach flavors with highlights of grapefruit and lemon zest.
Pat Spangler is one of Oregon’s most talented and innovative winemakers. He has evolved his popular Viognier to make it both a consumer favorite and a medal winner up and down the coast. Look for tangy Meyer lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle and stone fruits balanced with ample acidity to complement shellfish and other foods. The winery south of Roseburg is open 11am to 5pm daily.
Abacela’s Albariño has always been a favorite with my tasters, but I have been remiss in not touting their Vine and Wine Center, which doubles as a tasting room and educational center for sustainability and green living, open 11am to 5pm, near Roseburg. But DO try the 2016 vintage of the Spanish variety Albariño for its rich apple and pear flavors with notes of white flowers and orchard blossom.
Lobo Hills is the only winery in Washington State to produce the unusual variety Auxerrois – now known to be a cross of Gouais blanc and Pinot Noir, the same parentage as Chardonnay (DNA don’t lie!). Tony Dollar crafts this wine from grapes grown at Inland Desert Vineyard, producing an oyster-friendly wine that offers pear, lemon zest, grapefruit and mineral.
The term INOX is the French designation for stainless steel, indicating that this popular wine did not undergo oak-barrel fermentation or aging. INOX Chardonnay has always been a hit with oyster wine lovers for its aromas and flavors of green apple, citrus, wet stone, spice and floral notes. Visit Chehalem Wines’ tasting room in downtown Newberg, Oregon – open daily 11 am to 5 pm.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
My interest in Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington, goes all the way back to the late 1970s, just after the winery opened its doors. For over four decades it has been a tourist destination for those seeking a delightful wine country outing less than an hour from Seattle. Stop by when you can and perhaps they will pour you their delightful Dry Riesling offering sweet citrus, apple, mineral and honey.
Wines from other areas
This zesty Sauvignon Blanc is named for the Sauvignon Blanc block in the winery’s vineyard in the San Bernabe AVA, Monterey, CA. Winemaker James Ewart places great emphasis on harvesting the grapes at just the right time to get the perfect balance of flavor characteristics. Look for grassy lemon-lime, kiwi, stone fruits and melon – nicely balanced to accompany seafoods.
This wine is an annual favorite of my seafood wine tasters, coming from the northwestern corner of Spain in the Rias Baixas Denomination de Origen (D.O.). It is slightly lighter on nose and palate than Sauvignon Blanc, offering aromas and flavors of lemon zest, stone fruits, apple and spicy mineral – excellent with half shell oysters.
Here is another annual favorite with my oyster and seafood wine tasters... going back a dozen years! Blended with small amounts of Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, the wine offers aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, melon, citrus and floral notes. You can visit the Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens in Fulton, Sonoma County, California, daily from 10am to 5pm.
The strides that have been made in box wines in the last decade are remarkable. Bota Box has led the way with green packaging and recyclable containers, but most of all with a consistent product that pleases the palate across a broad selection of wine varieties. If you are having a seafood party, be sure to include this value-priced offering for its citrus, lemongrass, stone fruit and melon flavors with bright acidity on the finish.
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To find contact information for most of the wineries
in the above text,