International Acclaim

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been named the international wine region of the year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. About 100 miles long and 60 miles, and renowned for its pinot noirs, the Willamette Valley was chosen over Champagne and Provence, France; Sonoma, California; and Crete, Greece. The announcement was made last Thursday (11/10) by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, and will be published in the December edition of Wine Enthusiast.

—John Gottberg Anderson

Pairing wine with turkey can be challenging, even more so than with other poultry dishes such as chicken (I like chardonnay) or duck (a light red).

I’m a fan of a dry rosé. A rosé of pinot noir goes especially well with the robust flavors of a roasted turkey — but leave the sweet blush or white zinfandel for pre- or post-entrée, if you must.

Rosé wines continue to be among the least appreciated and understood of table wines. There remains a stigma, perhaps, from long-ago days when Portuguese imports Mateus and Lancer graced the wine rack of every dress-to-impress young adult who could afford something more than Annie Green Springs. Those wines had their 15 minutes of fame. There was nothing sophisticated about them.

In the past decade, rosés have had a resurgence as gifted winemakers have taught wine lovers that pink doesn’t have to be sweet. In fact, the panoply of characteristics in a good rosé can be even more distinctive than in a full-bodied red or well-oaked white wine.

I asked Jim Anderson, co-owner and co-winemaker at Patricia Green Cellars west of Newberg, what wine he might recommend with Thanksgiving dinner. His response: “I love a good rosé with anything!”

Turkey alternatives

There are alternatives, of course. In the November edition of the Oregon Wine Press, Carrie Wynkoop of Portland’s Cellar 503 recommends an Italian-style sangiovese: “The luscious cherry, raspberry and pomegranate fruit flavors and soft, lingering finish are a great pairing with turkey.”

Maryhill Winery’s 2012 Proprietor’s Reserve sangiovese ($36) is a good choice. Pat Flannery of Ashland’s Dana Campbell Vineyards suggests her winery’s 2012 Vionillo ($28), “a big, bold, fruity wine” that is a versatile blend of white viognier and red tempranillo.

My Thanksgiving table will have two open bottles. From Eugene’s Sylvan Ridge Winery, I will offer my guests a 2015 Malbec Rosé ($20) sourced from the Rogue Valley. It’s bone dry with a crisp finish, yet the Argentinian malbec grape shows raspberry and strawberry both on the nose and on the palate.

Patricia Green Cellars has just released its 2015 Chardonnay ($42), the first of this varietal from the enigmatic Ribbon Ridge winery in seven years. It’s a single-vineyard selection from the venerable Durant Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Anderson described it as very unlike a California chardonnay, lightly wooded in neutral oak and acacia. I look forward to enjoying this master winemaker’s latest release.

You see, I still haven’t sampled this chardonnay. It won’t be available for tasting until 10 a.m. Friday, when the Patricia Green tasting room, normally open by appointment only, joins dozens of other Willamette Valley wineries in celebrating Thanksgiving with pre- and post-holiday open houses.

Holiday tastings

The pre-holiday openings include nearly 100 Willamette Valley and Applegate Valley wineries. Tasting fees range from $10 to $30, including hors d’oeuvres at most establishments, live music at several, a holiday ambience at all. Nearly every participating winery is open on Saturday, but others are also open Friday and/or Sunday. The Oregon Wine Press has a full listing, or go to oregonwinepress.com for complete information.

Applegate Valley wineries west of Medford have joined hands to offer an “uncorked tour” on Sunday only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seventeen wineries will include barrel tastings and commemorative glasses for a $49 ticket price.

On Thanksgiving weekend — Nov. 25-27, nearly 200 wineries (from among more than 700 in the state) will be open for tastings. As with Patricia Green, this is a great time to visit wineries which, even in the middle of summer, have no established tasting-room hours and normally welcome guests by appointment only.

The list includes Dukes Family Vineyards and iOTA Cellars of Amity; Belle Pente and Soter Vineyards of Carlton; Dusky Goose of Dundee; Big Table Farm, Harper Voit Wines and Tendril Wine Cellars of Gaston; Freja Cellars of Hillsboro, and Westrey Winery of McMinnville.

Others open only for the holiday weekend are Patricia Green Cellars, Privé Vineyard, Redman Wines and Shea Wine Cellars of Newberg; Bjornson Vineyard, Evasham Wood (pre-Thanksgiving only) and Walter Scott Wines of Salem; Carabella Vineyard of Sherwood, and Stag Hollow Wines of Yamhill.

In Central Oregon, the Maragas Winery, on U.S. Highway 97 between Culver and Terrebonne, will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 25-27 for Thanksgiving weekend tastings. Vintages include a cabernet sauvignon, barrel-aged for four years; a barrel-fermented chardonnay; and the newly released Maragas estate dry white wine, Bianco.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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