Our next stop in the search for wines for this years seder is the Pacific Northwest. Relative newcomers to winemaking, both Washington state and Oregon have evolved rapidly to become world-class sources of distinctive white and red wines. Both states are divided by the Cascade Mountain range which separates the wet coastal region from a drier interior area. Known for bright pinot noir, floral riesling and fragrant pinot gris, Oregon’s wineries are mostly located in the valleys of the west side. Washington creates some profoundly delicious cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlots from grapes grown in the more arid east.
In 2006 the proprietors of New Zealand’s Spencer Hill Estate, Phillip and Sheryl Jones, purchased 95 acres on Washington States Underwood Mountain and established the Pacifica Winery and its Pacifica Evan’s Collection label of wines. Producers of the kosher kiwi Goose Bay wines under arrangement with the Herzog family’s Royal Wine Corporation in Bayonne, N.J., the Jones partnered once again with Royal to establish the Northwest’s first dedicated kosher facility. Located across the Columbia River that separates the two states, Pacifica is ideally located to source grapes from both Washington and Oregon. Their first releases include a Washington State Meritage Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend and a Pinot Noir created from two Oregon vineyards.
Pinot noir is a notoriously problematic grape that is plagued with issues such as poor ripening, infections, extreme sensitivity to weather conditions and difficult fermentation. In Oregon, 2010 was a cooler than usual year and 2011 was so bad that the winery is not releasing a pinot noir from the vintage. Despite these issues their inaugural nonmevushal Pacifica Evan’s Collection Oregon Pinot Noir 2010 ($25) is delightful and this bodes well for the future of this winery. It opens with ripe cherry and oak scents which lead into flavors of black and red cherries, raspberry and plum with some mild smokiness along with mineral and herbal notes. Nicely balanced with good acidity and firm tannins it gets better in the glass, so you should consider decanting this before serving to smooth out the edges. The Pacifica Evan’s Collection Washington Meritage 2010 ($30) is a rich, dry, smooth and easy drinking blend of cabernet, merlot, malbec and petit verdot grapes, with aromas and flavors of dark fruits, berries, with a whisper of toasted coffee bean.
Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon
Washington Jewish Week