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Drink Crush:

June 18, 2012

Au Revoir Pinot Noir!

Great, under-the-radar wines from Southern Oregon to drink now

By Katie Kelly Bell for, reprinted with permission

Wine expert and “Adventures in Taste” blogger Katie Kelly Bell Sips Her Way Through Southern Oregon and Selects the Best-Kept Wine Secrets with Nary a Pinot Among Her Picks

The vineyards of RoxyAnn Winery The vineyards of RoxyAnn Winery












It’s a good bet that your wine store does not have a dedicated aisle for wines from Southern Oregon.  Sure, everyone knows about Willamette Valley and their lovely Pinot Noirs, but who can say they’ve taken a gamble lately on an Albariño from Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley?

There is more to Oregon than Pinot Noir and winemakers from Southern Oregon’s Rogue, Umpqua and Applegate appellations have the laurels to prove it. Working with a uniquely versatile soil and climate, producers are cultivating award-winning examples of Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Albarino. All in one place.

The trophy cases are filling-up, consider: Abacela’s gold medal Tempranillo Reserve (made by former Emory Professor, Earl Jones),Quady North’s 90-point Wine Spectator ratings on Viognier and Syrah and RoxyAnn’s gold medal Pinot Gris.

These attentive, small-production, mom-and-pop operations sell most wines through the winery for now. But this best-kept secret scenario won’t last; gold medal winnings and 90-point ratings tend to draw crowds. The time to buy is now; here’s a list to get you started:


Abacela’s Albariño 2011

Abacela's Paramour 2005 Abacela's Paramour 2005

Heaps of mouth-watering citrus and some whiffs of perfume all held together with a zippy mineral backbone; this is one of the best Albariños I’ve ever tasted. Pair it with fish, drink it alone, with friends, just drink it. $18


Abacela Paramour 2005

This wine was a big secret up until its recent release. It is part of Abacela’s 20-year vision to craft an American Gran Reserva style Tempranillo-- a wine style that was, until now, only made in Spain. Winemaker Earl Jones states, “We knew that this 2005 vintage would be the first Paramour release right at the crushpad. The exquisitely ripe fruit was in perfect condition, and we selected only the finest lots for the Paramour concentrating on making a proprietary Tempranillo blend that is greater than the sum of its parts.” $90


Quady North Cabernet Franc, 2008

RoxyAnn Claret 2008 RoxyAnn Claret 2008

Dense, but with silky velvety edges and some serious dark fruits. This is a wine to love now and in a decade or two. It’s also a 93-pointer from Wine and Spirits and Winner of Best in Show at the 2010 World of Wine Competition.  $35


RoxyAnn Claret 2008

A hedonistic blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Think: dark chocolate-covered-cherries and spice box, a wonderful wine for the price. $26


As reprinted with permission from Katie Kelly Bell’s “Adventures in Taste” blog, covering epicurean wine, food and travel finds at

Abacela winemaker Earl Jones (right) Abacela winemaker Earl Jones (right)