The New Terroir
Alexandrine Roy is a fourth-generation winemaker at Domaine Marc Roy, located in France’s Burgundy region. She joined the family winery full-time in 2003. Three years ago, she became a consulting winemaker at Phelps Creek in Hood River, where she puts her mark on seven to nine barrels each fall.
What drew you to making wine in the Columbia River Gorge?
I love the elevation and the fact that the Columbia River is close, bringing some freshness and moisture.
What is the difference between Burgundian vs. Oregon pinot noir?
In general Burgundy pinot is more classic—that is to say less explosive at the front. Why? Our constant rainfall year-round in Burgundy ripens the grapes more easily. Also, French winemakers tend to emphasize vinegrowing instead of winemaking. At Phelps Creek, I am trying to produce Oregon wine by taking this newer vine fruit and employing classic techniques such as using native yeasts.
How does the terroir here differ from your estate in Gevrey-Chambertin?
Burgundian soils are very old, poor clay-limestone with a lot of rocks and gentle slopes, whereas Oregonian soils are young, fertile, and mostly volcanic.
What is the most important thing about wine?
Making wine is a continuation of work in the vineyards. Keep it as natural as possible. Terroir says it all.
Taste of the Wild
Ever since Dayton’s Joel Palmer House opened in 1997, it has lured gastronomes from far and wide for its wild mushroom–themed fare, from Heidi’s three-mushroom tart to a tantalizing candy cap mushroom crème brûlée. We asked chef Christopher Czarnecki for the lowdown on Oregon’s wild mushroom bounty.
Where do you find your mushrooms?
Chanterelles are at the coast—as are coral, morels, and lobster mushrooms—all within a 20-mile range of Lincoln City. We get porcini up in the mountains, outside of Sisters. Morels are temperamental—they don’t come back in the same spots year after year.
What’s your favorite ’shroom?
Matsutake. They’ve got a unique flavor and aroma. The texture is like abalone: really firm. But they’re a pain to clean.
There’s no maitake on your menu. How come?
We don’t use shiitake or enoki very often, either, because they’re cultivated and don’t usually have the character of wild mushrooms.
What type of wine goes best with mushrooms?
The wild mushroom/pinot combination is a match made in heaven. The earthiness from the mushrooms and the wine brings forth the fruit. Our wine list has over 500 Oregon pinots on it.
The Budget Oenophile
Amalie Roberts, owner of the intimate Kir Wine Bar in Northeast Portland, is known for her eclectic taste in affordable wines. We asked her how to find value in Oregon’s traditionally pricey wine market.
Is it getting easier to find bargain Oregon wines?
There is a new trend here toward lower-priced, entry-level wines, which is positive as long as we don’t lose the taste profiles that make us “Oregon.”
What characteristics do you expect from great, inexpensive wines?
Purity of fruit, qualities of the varietal, and a sense of place. I love Patricia Green Cellars’ ‘Dollar Bills Only’ pinot noir ($17) and the Commuter Cuvée pinot from Grochau Cellars ($15).
Where do you find the best value?
Whites and rosés. Matt Berson of Love & Squalor—he’s a winemaker to watch—makes an excellent pure Riesling for $18. I like Matello’s pinot rosé ($15) and J. Christopher’s ‘Cristo Irresisto’ (a show-stopper at $12).
What are the best places in Portland to drink value wines?
I’m a huge supporter of Bar Avignon, Southpark, and Vino Paradiso for knowledgeably selected and reasonably priced local wines.