Last week I attended, with a small contingent of other wine women from the Okanagan Valley, the North American Wine Tourism Conference in Portland Oregon, organized by Zephyr Adventures. At the opening night reception, sponsored by Touring & Tasting, I was able to sample some wines from assorted wine regions throughout the US; many that I was unaware produced wines of any quality. There were definitely some pleasant surprises from some unlikely states including Colorado, Texas and Virginia. I tasted a delicious Gewürztraminer from Stone Cottage Cellars in the West Elks AVA of Colorado. It had the beautiful aromatics of classic Gew, just a hint of sweetness and lovely flavours with a long finish. Another wine that impressed me from Colorado was a Cabernet Franc from Boulder Creek Winery. It was full-bodied and had ripe fruit flavours of plum, berry and a hint of spice. From Lewis Wines in the Texas Hill Country I tasted a pleasant Viognier-Chenin Blanc blend. It had the wonderful apricot flavours from the Viognier and some nice retention of acidity (which I hadn’t expected from Texas, never having had wines from there before). I had some wonderful bubbles from a winery in Virginia that is owned by Donald Trump and run by his son Eric. On offer at the tasting was the SP Rosé from Trump Winery, a deliciously crisp Traditional Method sparkling wine made of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir. It has a lovely delicate mousse with flavours of citrus, berries and a hint of floral.
There were also of course the regions that many more people normally think of when asked about wines from the US: California, Washington and Oregon. Of these states, there were plenty of tasty wines but a few really stood out to me. The 2012 Pinot Gris from Provincial Vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon had crisp acidity, a round mouthfeel, with flavours of pear and melon. The 2011 Barbera from TeSóAria Vineyards and Winery in Southern Oregon was delicious, with ripe tannins and flavours of dark berries, cocoa and coffee. Nottingham Cellars from the Livermore Valley in California had a tasty Petite Sirah on offer, with aromas and flavours of dark berries, cherry, cinnamon and hints of vanilla, full-bodied with well-integrated tannins. There was some representation from Canada as well from both Ontario (fabulous dry Riesling with petrol notes from Henry of Pelham) and the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association here in the South Okanagan – I couldn’t resist tasting the new Cabernet Franc from Tinhorn Creek and the Pinotage Icewine from Stoneboat – both delicious!