On a nearly daily basis, I am asked, what my favorite wine is. This is an impossible question to answer. Without being condescending, I am always grasping for the most diplomatic way to explain that there’s no real answer. My tastes changes every day, it really depends on what my mood, the weather, or my current interest. All of that said, I am finding myself smitten by a particular region at this moment. The
Why is The Pacific Northwest so great? It’s not just Sasquatch and Redwoods. There’s something exciting about the wines they are producing, and the spirit in which they are producing them. I’ve fallen in love with not just the quality and style, but also the ethos.
But what makes the wine so uniquely great? It’s a combination of many things, but 2 factors are critical, Culture and Geography. First let’s examine The Pacific Northwest as a Wine Growing Region. The area I am really referring to begins about 60 miles south of
The Wine Culture of The Pacific Northwest benefits from something called the “Algonquin Round Table Effect”. Which is to say that the people that are making the wine are comprised of a) Locals, outsiders and disaffected wine insiders from around the globe (often dissenters from California) b) People of disparate backgrounds in different industries all inspiring each other. The original Algonquin Round table was comprised of writers, actors, and critics. The new version is comprised of brewers, farmers, chefs & vintners. The outsider approach and the relative newness of the region have allowed this group to reinvent the entire “foodie” culture from the ground up. Cute animal labels don’t fly here. Most wines have a true sense of place. Many are organically grown, and most are sustainably farmed. There is a true frontier spirit in this region, a neighbor helping neighbor approach. While their viticultural history only dates back 30 years, its relative youth give the producers perspective. You won’t find castle replicas or sprawling Italian villas with $20 tasting fees. The Pacific Northwest isn’t about tourism or what plays in
The style of the region is it’s own, while very reminiscent of a diversity of great regions. If California, and most of the new world, are about sweet fruit and oak flavors with varying degrees of tannins, and France, and most of the old world, are about earth flavors, and high acidity, Pacific Northwest is about a balance. The balance between fruit and earth, between tannins and velvet is rare. The wines have the ability to lean either way very naturally. The amazing thing, that I keep coming back to, is the tendency for each wine to accurately show it’s varietal character. Something that is often rare in the new world. This surely comes from the soul of the region, to be able to craft something special because the circumstances leading up to this wine are so special. One of the extraordinary abilities of wine is it’s ability to reflect the place from where it came and the people that made it. Wines from the