Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Left Coast Wines Cool Off Summer Heat


When the heat’s turned up, it’s time to cool down. Here are a pair of fresh wines from Oregon – so chill out!

What To Bring To Dinner

When my wife told me that we were going to visit friends for dinner recently, I knew what my job would be. I was tasked with picking just the right wines to accompany our meal.

The usual – or should I say the easy – way is to bring a bottle of red and a bottle of white. It was just so blasted hot that I couldn’t endure the thought of a drinking heavy red vino.

My solution was right at hand. I grabbed a couple of nicely chilled bottles from Left Coast Estate. Left Coast is a sustainably-farmed, solar-powered winery making award-winning wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Oregon Pinot Gris is the perfect antidote for summer, so I selected the 2018 “The Orchard” Pinot Gris. I also was excited to taste a very unusual sparkler, the 2017 Queen Bee Bubbly.

A Left Coast Style Meal

IMG_20190621_181406We arrived at Jim and Caroline’s to enjoy what I’ll call a West Coast style meal – nice, light dishes joined together with wine and great conversation. For starters we had olives, cheese and charcuterie. There is no better beginning to an evening than opening a bottle of sparkling wine. So we did.

The Queen Bee Bubbly is one of the most unique sparkling wines I’ve had. First, it is sealed with a crown cap. Once the top is popped, what’s inside is also very different.

Sparkling wine made in the traditional method gets its fizz from a secondary fermentation in the bottle. In the tirage process sugar, yeast and wine are added into the bottle to start the second fermentation. The bottle is capped to contain all the bubbles that are a byproduct of the fermentation. Except in this case, honey from the Left Coast estate is added.

Also different is the encapsulated yeast that’s visible in the bottom of the bottle, adding some more visual intrigue. But enough science! The wine is fantastic. Out flows a wonderful froth and on the palate there are honey notes and flavors of apple and white blossoms.

The Bubbly is 100% Pinot Noir – it is from Willamette Valley after all. Although fermented in French oak, it is sprightly and light. There is a smidge of sweetness, so I’d call this Extra Dry in the flavor spectrum rather than Brut.

IMG_20190623_162202_395Wine For A Summer Soup

Our next course was gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup, with shrimp. Caroline nailed this and served it in shot glasses. It was time for “The Orchard” Pinot Gris. The wine is so dubbed because the vineyard is planted at the site of a historic apple and pear orchard dating back to pioneer days.

Pinot Gris pairs perfectly with spicy foods and the gazpacho had enough jalapeño added to give it a nice kick. The chilled Pinot Gris has juicy fruit flavors of green apples and tropical fruit.

It is aged primarily in stainless steel (5% in neutral French oak) to keep the pure fresh flavors. The Pinot Gris displayed great versatility, proving a nice pairing with the artichoke soufflé.

For dessert we had excellent chocolate-peanut butter brownies. Since that’s not a natural fit with white wine, a grabbed a second brownie instead of another glass.

In addition to being perfect summer refreshers (I write this as the heat index is 100+ in North Carolina) they won’t put a bite on your wallet. The Pinot Gris is $18 while the Queen Bee is $36. It’s your opportunity to cool off on the Left Coast this summer.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

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