Abacela Winery 2008 albarino (Oregon)

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on December 11, 2009:

Tonight’s column is dedicated to those fun-loving, freespirited Oregonians, who absorb my ribbing and splash me back with some damn fine pinot noir. A Seattle high-school “drug-and-alcohol-intervention” specialist at an inner-city school was indicted for selling oxycodone. Looks like he was telling the kids “no selling” so he could corner the local market. Now that’s a novel way to keep kids off drugs…Seattle-style! This may be taste-less but here we go…the coffee shop where the Lakewood cops were gunned down will reopen on Saturday. Would you go there for your “shot” of espresso? Orygun’s Revenge: a West Seattle park totem pole was stolen last week and found 200 miles away in Keizer. Guess they were upset about out-ing the dude who felt remorse for killing a pet fish but had no problems assaulting his ex-gf. Okay, one shot for Tiger…we knew he was making a living playing 18 holes, but we just didn’t know those were 18 “ho’s”. Ayyy…

I’ve been meaning to spiel about Abacela Winery ever since my Tempranillo column a few months back. Agreed, Abacela is the first known winery in the Pacific Northwest to plant and vinify Tempranillo way back in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Owner/vigneron Earl Jones (not the Darth Vader voice) is not your typical Spain-ophile. Of fact, he is a true bluegrass brother (think…Churchill Downs) who has “thoroughbred” in his blood (and drawl in his larynx). When he was a medical student in the SFO area back in the 60’s (and when Rioja was 88 cents a bottle), he couldn’t afford those big bucks, $5 Napa cabs and also didn’t find those as interesting as the Riojas. For the next couple of decades, he slowly figured out that those Spanish wines he loved were made from Tempranillo grapes and that no one in the USA grew Tempranillo. Fast forward to the 90’s, he did geographical and meterological research and figured the southern Oregon area most closely matched that of the Rioja/Ribera del Duero regions. Note: he chose weather similarities over soil, for all you hooked-on-terroir curmudgeons. He purchased an early 1800’s homestead in the Umpqua Valley of southern Oregon in 1993, and like Jed Clampett, up and moved his family to the quiet town of Roseburg, pop. 22,000. He ordered cuttings from UC-Davis and other nurseries and the rest is history. His vineyards lie in the southern part of the AVA, which is more known for their zinfandels…yeah, Oregon zinfandel, believe it. Umpqua Valley with its 20 wineries is spotted as “America’s Last Great Undiscovered Wine Region”…not anymore! Abacela is decidedly New World in its timid use of oak so that the fruit can speak for itself.

I have gone out on a precipice and touted Albarino as the next “hot” grape to land on dinner tables across the Northwest, especially Washington State. This is a great white wine that feels like a cross between viognier and gewurztraminer. Spanish wines are rising in their popularity for both great values as well as distinctive flavors. We know about the reds of Chile (carmenere) and Argentina (malbec), and even Italy (sangiovese). What we don’t know from an “emerging” region is a solid white wine that is both versatile as a starter as well as a “headliner” and doesn’t leave that “grassy” feeling (NZ sauvignon blanc). If I want grass, I’ll smoke grass, thank you.

Tonight’s pairing was culled from that current phenomenom known as “social media”, aka Twitter. I constantly scan my “followers” list and check their websites for entertainment value and I found one in @TheFauxGourmet, hosted by Jeannie Rose Field of New York. She is a recent graduate of the NYU School of Law and did an internship with the United Nations in Thailand. She is also lesser known for pairing viognier with kimchee soup. Yikes! Get to know her from her excellent essay on ethnicity! Btw, I think you are 100% ethnic American. But, I digress.

Getting back to the food pairing, I was so entranced with the pictures from the November 10 blog that I went out and decided to try out the recipe. Got all my ingredients from a Korean market and added some fungibility to “Asian-ize” the recipe, as if it needed any more. If you’ve had lettuce wraps from PF Chang’s, I can tell you her recipe is just as good, yet much more satisfying…because I made it! Oh, and yes, the wine was a wonderful addition with its bold citrus and stone fruit notes. Twitter does work and if you’re not on it, I can only ask…”what’s on your phonograph tonight, gramps?”

Color: 10k gold. Nose: almonds, peachmon (peach-lemon), terpenes galore. Mouthfeel: weighty for a white. Tail trail: 6 seconds. Flavors: crispy lemon pie, stone-sharp canned peach (peach is a stone-fruit…get it?), a drupey nectarine (a drupe is another stone fruit descriptor…get it?), green apple. Overall, the dominance of stone fruits with a lemony finish.

Vineyard: Abacela’s Fault Line. Southern Oregon AVA. Harvested Sept. 28-Oct. 12, 2008. 22.3 brix. pH 3.26 (no kidding). TA 0.806% (duh). Aged in stainless. Bottled Feb. 17, 2009. 1106 cases. Alcohol: 13.3%. Released April 1. Rated: 92. Value: $28. Paid: $20. Preferred over viognier. My choice to go with raw shellfish. Stelvin+ cap. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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