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Wine Review: Oregon becoming production powerhouse

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Slowly, with stealth and purpose, the enemy advances, growing more powerful and popular each day.

Admittedly, this is a strange beginning for a wine column, but it did get your attention.

The culprits in this scenario are the winemakers of Oregon and their conquests are us, the wine-drinking public. Oregon is the up-and-coming winemaking region of this country.

The most flavorful and interesting pinot noirs and chardonnays we have tasted in recent years all came from Oregon.

Left Coast Cellars is one of these beneficent invaders and if their wines are any example of what is currently coming out of Oregon, the California winemakers had better look to their laurels.

Left Coast Cellars Latitude 45 Pinot Noir ($36)
Hold on, isn’t there a French wine called Latitude 45? Yes there is, but this wine did not take its name from the French. Rather, it came from the the fact the vineyards are located right on Latitude 45. A quick phone call gave us the information that when the winery was founded, the owners wanted to name it Latitude 45, but the French beat them to it by many years. Left Coast does not have to borrow a French name to establish their quality; their wines do that for themselves.

This wine displays a dark ruby color and a broad spectrum of flavors, with cherries, plums and wild summer berries being the most prominent. There also are a host of other flavors lying in the background, with sweet spices and tobacco being the most obvious.

This well-made wine is drinkable now or can be laid down for as long as five years to gain additional complexity and depth.

Left Coast Cellars 2013 Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir ($24)
The grapes for this wine come from the carefully tended vines of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, an area that has consistently produced award-winning pinot noir grapes.

The first clue there is something special in the bottle is its deep ruby color, which is not very common in pinot noir wines. The aroma is a melding of wild berries with a suggestion of mushrooms and oak quietly lying in the background. On the palate, the wine offers an abundance of cherry and plum fruit trailing off to an equally fruity finish.

It is excellent now and has a promising future with a bit of bottle aging.

Left Coast Cellars 2014 Truffle Hill Chardonnay ($24)
This wine features the aromas of golden delicious apples, baked pears and subtle spice mixed with a delicate mineral note hidden behind jasmine and honeysuckle notes. Unlike many of today's all-too-prevalent wimpy chardonnays, this wine has a long fruity finish. One characteristic emphasized in this wine is the creamy feeling it has in the mouth, which is the sign of a better chardonnay.

Try this wine with shellfish and other seafood, as well as almost any chicken-based meals.

Left Coast Cellars 2014 The Orchards Pinot Gris ($18)
Pinot gris, also known as pinot grigio, is a white wine currently experiencing rapidly expanding popularity in the U.S.

The wine displays a pale golden color and a rich aroma of citrus and honeysuckle. The flavor is laced with the sensation of pear and melon, which carry over to the finish.

This delightful wine can accompany many foods and can be used as an aperitif.

Nixa resident Bennet Bodenstein is a wine columnist and manages ArticlesOnWine.com. He can be reached at frojhe@suddenlink.net.

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