Nestled between such illustrious neighbors as Domaine Serene and Domaine Drouhin, White Rose Vineyard is producing grapes of incredibly high quality in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
(I realize that I sound like a marketer for the winery here, but nothing could be further from the truth. I was just so blown away by the wines I tried the other day that I haven't been able to stop thinking about them.)
While the vineyard may be best known for wines produced at other wineries from its grapes (ie, St. Innocent, Torii Mor, and Panther Creek, just to name a few incredible producers sourcing from White Rose), that is about to change. I had the opportunity to try three different wines of theirs from the 2008 vintage, and they are phenomenal. The purity of fruit that I experienced is, undoubtedly, one of the better Northwest wine experiences of my life. Let's discuss the winery. From their website:
In the summer of 2000, Greg Sanders knocked on the door of an old farm house sitting at the top of the Dundee Hills in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The house was just up the gravel road from a few of Oregon's most notable wineries: Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Domaine Serene. Surrounding the farm house was a small vineyard, self-rooted in 1980, that over the years had become known for the quality of its fruit. St. Innocent, Panther Creek and Torii Mor, had all purchased fruit from this site, bottling wines and designating them as "White Rose Vineyard". Having been an impassioned fan of pinot noir for many years, it was Greg's dream to own a vineyard from which he could produce artisanal, hand-made wines of outstanding quality. His search had led him to the top of this hill, and when he left, he took with him the deed to a dream.
All hyperbole and mystification aside, the proof is in the pudding: This is a great vineyard site; the concentration-combined-with-elegance found within their wines leaves me without doubt of that.
Another interesting aspect: The utilization of whole-cluster fermentation, something that I always find fascinating! I asked the winery representative (whose name escapes me - forgive me!) if the goal was to introduce a green element, and he said that they felt that with Pinot whole-cluster fermentation actually could improve the purity of fruit! Very intriguing stuff.
I tried three wines:
2008 White Rose Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - This was the wine that I felt was fully evolved. It was ripe, full (for Pinot), and luscious. My first reaction was 'yum!'
2008 White Rose Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir - This wine had a fair bit more tannin and grip than the previous one, and might have a nicer mouth feel in a few months. The winery calls this their 'appellation series.' Really nice black cherry layers, along with the classic Willamette herbal element. Very nice.
2008 White Rose Estate White Rose Vineyard Pinot Noir - The top tier of the three that I tried, this is the one made entirely from White Rose's estate vineyard. They do the most whole-cluster fermentation on this one - up to 40% (I think) as opposed to the other two, which might have been only 10%-20%. Very spicy, very nice. Made in a seductive, smooth style, but with enough going on to be intriguing. Balanced, delicious. Certainly the best of the three, and also the most expensive - about $75, compared to about $41 and $26 for the other two.
So - I guess I can add Dayton, OR to the top of my list for wine destinations. White Rose, Serene, Drouhin, and Archery Summit are enough to make a trip of it. I'm going to try and head out there in the next few months. Anyone have any good suggestions for wine stops in the Willamette?