Whimsical Whites

Image: Nick Stokes

The Pro: Ken Collura

Andina’s celebrated wine director and sommelier launched his career as a nationally syndicated wine writer credited for discovering easy-drinking, off-the-radar gems. We tapped into Collura’s love of the obscure to unearth these indie bottles pushing the boundaries of Oregon white wine.

1. Dobbes Family Estate

2011 Grenache Blanc • Crater View Vineyard • Rogue Valley • $26

How’s this for a wine obsession: each year, Joe Dobbes purchases all the grenache blanc grown in the state of Oregon. Thanks to the 2011 vintage’s hallmark acidity and brightness, this limited-production wine is vibrant and complex, with a silky weight thanks to more than five months aging in neutral French oak barrels.

2. Adelsheim Vineyard

2012 Auxerrois • Ribbon Ridge • $25

This bright and zingy white varietal (pronounced oak-sair-wah) hails from Alsace, where it generally ends up blended into the local sparkling wines. On its own, it’s a superb partner for seafood. The Adelsheim family is one of only seven wineries producing the varietal in the United States.

3. Abacela

2012 Albariño • Umpqua Valley • $18

This crisp, clean varietal hails from Galicia in northwestern Spain, and it’s difficult to find renditions made in the States that taste like their delicious Spanish brothers. This one succeeds, thanks to the light hand of winemaker Andrew Wenzl. Drink it young—its flavors of green apple and zippy lemon zest are great with oysters.

4. J. Christopher

2012 Cristo Misto • Oregon • $14

Fermented in stainless steel, Jay Somers’s lively, dry blend of sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and Riesling sparkles with snappy acid—perfect for balancing foods with a bit of richness. Uncork a bottle to complement soft, creamy cheeses or substantial fish like halibut or salmon.

5. Matello wines 

2012 Whistling Ridge White • Willamette Valley • $24

This rich, refreshing white is made with a combination of Riesling, pinot noir, pinot blanc, and gewürztraminer grapes. Winemaker Marcus Goodfellow has a knack for drumming up an element of surprise in his white wines, and the 2012 cuvée is no exception—you’ll find a pleasing hint of residual sugar with bouncy acids and a long finish.

Southern Oregon Stars

Image: Nick Stokes

The Pro: Savanna Ray

Wildwood’s savvy sommelier helps hone the next generation of wine professionals as an International Sommelier Guild instructor and lends her palate as a member of the board for the Willamette Valley’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. Here, Ray shines a light on five stellar selections from Oregon’s other wine country. 

1. Brandborg Wines

2011 Gewürztraminer • Umpqua Valley • $18

Terry and Sue Brandborg create beautiful wines in the newly established, cool-climate Elkton Oregon AVA. This bottle’s floral nose, stone-fruit flavors, full body, and generous acidity reveal the exciting potential of the region. Pair this beauty with Thai takeout—its weight and touch of sweetness can handle the spice. 

2. RoxyAnn Winery

2009 Tempranillo • Rogue Valley • $26

Rich with aromas of dark cherries, leather, vanilla, and coconut, this spicy, earthy wine offers solid tannins and well-integrated French and American oak. Pair with rib-eye steaks or smoked meats as the weather gets cooler for a sophisticated taste of fall.

3. Velocity Wine Cellars

2008 Velocity Malbec • Rogue Valley • $24

Winemaker Gus Janeway established Velocity Wine Cellars to focus on the many faces of malbec. This well-structured specimen reveals aromas of earth, chocolate-covered black currants, and spice meeting flavors of cocoa powder, juicy dark cherries, and star anise. 

4. Kandarian Wine Cellars

2010 Syrah • Carpenter Hill Vineyard • Rogue Valley • $30

Jeff Kandarian’s boutique wines satisfy cravings for the bolder side of Oregon’s vines. This Syrah showcases the varietal’s savory smokiness, with notes of bacon, blackberries, and black pepper balanced by refreshing acid. Pair it with roasted lamb chops and mashed potatoes.

5. God King Slave wines

2012 Sauvignon Blanc • Rogue Valley • $19

Serving up flavors of fresh-cut grass, green apple, and key lime, this full-bodied, balanced wine is the creation of native Oregonians Christine Collier and Chris Jiron, a young couple bringing new energy to Southern Oregon’s deep-rooted wine history, with delicious results. Sip alongside goat cheese covered in honey.