When someone mentions the USA what do you think of? What are they famous for? What do they excel at? I guess you’d have to say something like basketball, electing reality TV/movie stars into office, the 2nd amendment (guns) and The Simpsons… yeah that sounds about right.
What if I were to say wine? No, they’re not famous for it like France, Italy or Spain are, but do they excel at it?
Out of the 50 states in the USA, 49 of them produce wine (Alaska being the only one not to) and there are some amazing things going on at the moment. Since the end of prohibition, the American wine industry has gone from strength to strength. You can be forgiven for believing that the only wine to come out of the USA is Blossom Hill’s Californian Zinfandel but look a little past this and you’ll find there’s more to American wine than Blossom Hill and Gallo Family.
I had the pleasure of stumbling upon the 2011 Primarius Oregon Pinot Noir in Tesco the other day and couldn’t resist purchasing it. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Oregon Pinot Noir or even Oregon for that matter, all you need to worry about is trying the wine.
Oregon is really a great producing region. Situated on the north-west side of the USA, it’s close to the Pacific Ocean and south of neighbouring Washington State so it gets a fair bit of rain. During the summer, on the days it stops raining, it gets warm and has a great temperature. The climate has been likened to Burgundy, France (arguably the greatest region in the world for wine production; specifically Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), so you can understand why I got excited when I saw this bottle in Tesco for under £10 (£9 in fact).
So, an old uni friend of mine came over, I opened up the bottle and poured a glass for us both. We gave it a smell and immediately could detect subtle aromas of cherry, almost like Bassett’s cherry drop sweets. Upon the first slurp the subtle cherry smell carried through into the mouth, it was was light in aesthetics and taste, which made for easy drinking. The finish was slightly sour, which could be likened to a sweet berry that just wasn’t quite ready to be picked, but in a good way as it added a bit of complexity to the wine and prevented it from being dull.
I paired this with Duck a l’Orange (That classic South Yorkshire dish) and made the orange sauce with the wine and a bit of cinnamon. The sauce paired well with the duck (cooked medium) and the wine just about stood up to the zesty taste of orange and the spicy notes of cinnamon.
Overall this was a good Pinot Noir; it was light and had elements of complexity to it. I think it may have been a bit young to actually pair it with food, potentially needing a year more in the bottle to develop, but it did serve as a great compliment to conversation, keeping us both going back for more. It was effortless to drink. The perfect accompaniment as we put the world to rights and listened to Charles Bradley’s cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’ (give it a listen).
For £9 I would definitely recommend that you give it a try.