Here is the first post in a new ongoing segment called "Wines up North from grapes down South." Many Willamette Valley wineries are now making wines from grapes grown in Southern Oregon (Dobbes Family Estates, Domaine Serene, Penner-Ash, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Wildaire... just to name a few). They, along with the rest of the world, are discovering the high-quality fruit that is coming out of the region. It is a great way to diversify their Pinot-dominated portfolios.
I am 75% excited to see these grapes getting into the hands of esteemed winemakers and creating additional buzz for Southern Oregon, but I am slightly hesitant that this could backlash on Southern Oregon. Southern Oregon could stay in the shadows of the Willamette Valley by being seen as a supplier rather than an equal producer in the Oregon wine industry. And we all know that Southern Oregon has much more potential than that!
In early March Chris took a field trip with his fellow enology students to Genius Loci in McMinnville. Genius Loci Wines are the labor of Michael Lundeen, the son of Pat Lundeen, an instructor at the Northwest Viticulture Center that Chris attends. Genius Loci is a boutique winery making wine from their estate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and teaming up with Folin Vineyard in Gold Hill to source their Syrah.
Last Friday night was as stormy as they come in Oregon. Stormy evenings and Syrah go hand in hand for me. We popped open the 2007 Genius Loci Folin Vineyard Syrah and aerated the magneta-colored wine and let it sit for "a while." Okay, "a while" turned out to be about five minutes after we caught a whiff of the nose of this wine. We stood around the decanter like vultures ready to swoop down on some tasty decay. As you can tell, we contain a lot of restraint! This Syrah was fruity and bright with a marathon of a finish. It has made it onto my favorite Syrah list and shockingly retails for $24 a bottle. When a wine like this comes across my palate at a price like that, I am thankful for Michael's generosity!