Wine: Experience Northwest flavor with these Oregon wines

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From the January 9, 2014 edition

Seems like it’s about time we sampled the latest from Oregon.

It’s a pretty major wine-making state (at least by U.S. standards) known first — and possibly only — for its pinot noir, although it produces a handful of other varietals.

And although California-made wines by far dwarf the selection of domestic bottles, Oregon’s are often grouped with Washington, since both Northwest states are somewhat-prolific wine producers.

This 2011 Hedgeline Vineyards Pinot Noir ($12 at Brewer’s Yard Kroger) is a decent example. The bottle label gives credit for the region’s underlying flavor profile to its “lush mountainous highlands and arid desert lowlands.”

Before a sip, the scent is somewhat smoky; try it, and you’ll find a smooth taste with raspberry and blackberry flavors and a bit of a peppery aftertaste. It mellowed out a bit with time (and a few sips), and went well with a root vegetable and beet stew. The same would likely be true of anything roasted or perhaps sausage-stuffed peppers or chunky-sauce pasta.

Want to put on a mini Oregon wine tasting? Look for labels from the Willamette, Rogue River or Umpqua valleys. A label I’ve heard a lot about for a while now and written about before is Cloudline. Although I wanted to discover something new here, Cloudline does make a much-acclaimed smooth pinot noir that’s readily available in Columbus.

Photo by Meghan Ralston