Oregon Wine: It’s Not All Pinot Noir

by | Dec 12, 2016

When you first hear Oregon you think about Pinot Noir.  I know I do, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. That was until I spent 3 weeks with Craig Camp and Troon Vineyard…online with #winestudio.

I’ve known Craig for quite some time and he recently left his position in Napa and moved full circle back to Oregon with Troon Vineyard.  I am so glad I got to spend this time with him and learn all about his new venture with Troon and the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon.

The Applegate Valley AVA is 5 hours north of San Francisco and 4 1/2 hours south of Portland, Oregon.  The region is named after the Applegate Rive and is the warmest and driest growing region in Oregon.Within the Applegate AVA there is the sub region of Rogue Valley AVA. In the Rogue Valley there are 3 valleys with distinct microclimates.  This enables the region to brow both warm and cool climate grapes.

Troon Tasting Room – Photo provided by Craig Camp – Troon Vineyard

Troon was founded in 1972 by Oregon wine pioneer Dick Troon. Originally a cattle farm, Dick realized the ground was good for growing grapes.  He made the switch and experimented. In 2003 Dick sold the vineyard and winery to Larry Martin shortly before he passed away.

Photo provided by Craig Camp – Troon Vineyard

At Troon their philosophy is to allow the vineyard to dictate what you plant. Let the terroir choose the varieties then you find the people who like to drink them. This is what makes the vineyard thrive and the wines so good. All the grapes are hand harvested. They don’t add any acids, enzymes, sugars or any new oak.  All the vineyards are sustainable. Once the grapes are picked they us the trodden (foot stomping – think of the I Love Lucy episode) to crush the grapes. Believe it or not, feet are more gentle and don’t chew up the stems. Then the red wines are punched down by hand with no pump-overs. This allows for a more delicate extraction of the tannins. Then the wines are put into French oak barrels that are 3 years or older.

I was lucky enough to taste three selections from Troon. Their Vermentino, Sangiovese and M*T Reserve. They did not disappoint! I was quite impressed overall quality was great. Just to decipher, their Black Labels are their reserve wines.

Troon Vermentino – Photo provided by Craig Camp – Troon Vineyard

2014 Troon Vineyard Black Label Vermentino, Applegate Valley – This is a white wine that has different names depending on the country you are in.  It’s called Pigato in Liguria, Italy; Favorita in Piemonte, Italy and Rolle in France. Once crushed by foot the wine is placed into 3 year old French oak barrels and aged for twelve months on the lees. This was co-fermented with 4.5% Early Muscat. (Co-fermented is when they combine the grapes at crush).  The wine had a nice bouquet of citrus, lemon, honey and a hint of hazelnut as the wine warms in the glass. Flavors of lemon, green apple on the palate that was nicely balanced. Rich but not heavy with nice acidity. I paired this with Kielbasa and Kale soup. SRP $29

Under the old Oak tree – Photo provided by Craig Camp – Troon Vineyard

2014 Troon Vineyard Blue Label Sangiovese, Rogue Valley AVA – This wine was co-fermented with 7% Syrah and that gives it a richer color since Sangiovese tends to be a lighter color wine. Natural fermentation for this wine occurs outside under their old Oak wastree in 1 ton fermenters with the the temperature being controlled by Mother Nature.When first opened this wine screaming strawberry, almond, fig, clove, nutmeg, baking spices.  On the palate it had balanced acidity, soft tannins, red berry fruit, thyme.  As it opens the baking spices that were in the aroma turn into a nice soft peppery spice. I paired this with your classic pasta and red sauce.  SRP $35.

2014 Toon Vineyard Black Label M*T Reserve, Southern Oregon – This wine a blend of 60.1 % Tannat and 39.9%  Malbec. Tannat is known to be very tannic. But the granitic soils of the Applegate Valley soften the tannins and blended with the Malbec it helps round out the wine. The vines these grapes are grown on are between 8 and 10 years old. There are only 200 cases of this wine made.  It will be great for cellaring at least 4 to 5 years. It’s a complex wine with a very concentrated black raspberry aroma, with plum and vanilla. Flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, and plum fill your mouth with a subtle hints of chocolate. This wine screams meet.  I paired it with Shepards Pie.  SRP $50