Three stunningly delicious white wines from three winemakers you need to have on your radar.
Thomas Houseman from Anne Amie, Elizabeth Clark from Airlie Winery, and Birk & Karl from Iconic Wine.
Anne Amie Vineyards 2014 Cuvée A Amrita, Carlton, OR. $15 per bottle, 13.2% ABV.
Winemaker Thomas Houseman’s tribute to vinho verde, this is an under-the-radar Willamette Valley delight! A six-wine blend with (grapes listed from most-to-least) Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer) from four vineyards in the Willamette AVA, this wine shows delightful aromatics of wildflowers, lavender, and honeysuckle along with a pale gold hue. In the mouth, it awakens the palate with an unusual approach of fresh berries, pear, pineapple, starfruit, apricot and quince. Far more fun than my usually desired Bordeaux blends and unequalled in essence, ‘Amrita’ means ambrosia- as in the nectar of the gods. I think they got this name right. Have a friend that loves white wine? This is the perfect gift bottle. Have a look at the classic, 19th century designs on some of these bottles. The kicker is, I thought all the wines I tasted from Anne Amie Vineyards were both excellent and impressive, but the Cuvée A was a delightful, inexpensive, no brainer that I immediately wanted to buy a whole case. BAM!
Seven White Blend 2014, Airlie Winery, Monmouth, OR. $15 per bottle, 11.9% ABV.
My palate told me I was tasting a high end blend from a classic chateau, so imagine my surprise when I found it was an blend from Oregon! Tasting winemaker Elizabeth Clark’s refined and delightful Seven White Blend changed my mind that Oregon’s best export is Pinot. I couldn’t’ believe that she makes this wine every year with similar results, and Clark explained to me that keeping a blend consistent from year to year is challenging. She contended that while there will be subtle variances in fruit profile each year, it is the fruit-to-acid ratio that is the key and always stays the same- providing the same wine profile wine with faint differences. It absolutely works, but don’t take my word for it: with such a fun and lovely wine at a low price per bottle, you won’t have enough to compare to next season unless you purchase by the case. A white wine lover’s go-to, you should find some before its gone. This lady is madly talented and her work is delicious- I truly enjoyed her other wines too, but the blend just knocked me for a loop.
Heroine Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012, Iconic Wine, $29/bottle, 13.5% ABV. Birk O’Halloran and Karl Antle are the winemakers who form the tiny company Iconic Wine. These guys flew in under my radar and it was a NYC somm who turned me on to their wines. When I saw the list of who is serving their wines, (think Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Oceana, Blue Hill, Tribeca Grill just for a few!) I bought a couple of bottles. After tasting, I wished I had purchased more! I served a bottle of Heroine Chardonnay to a group of ladies who adored it, and against six other wines that night, it was the clear winner. Focused citrus fruit melds delightfully with acid for an ideal mouthfeel, the finish shows salinity, and chalky limestone with just a hint of oak. A solid sense of terroir and personality from a wine that is so balanced and easy to drink it’s almost criminal…or Heroic! David White of Terroirist Wine blog did a great profile on Birk and you can find it here.
Their label is not only young at heart, but it’s refreshing. I’m a fan of classic, old world styles and labels, but I found this label unapologetic and entirely fun, much like their cork design, scribed with the image of a lightning bolt corkscrew.
I have yet to meet Birk & Karl in person, so I snagged this pic from their website (apologies to the unnamed photog), which I think shows their sense of humor and exuberance even at snooty wine events.
Who are the independent winemakers you’re following? Share with me, on JvB UnCorked!