I love Willamette Valley, Oregon…It was one of the first regions I became attached to by visiting friends and now family in the region. I love that though the wine industry has grown over the years, there is still that element of charm and a personal touch with the wineries. We had an opportunity to visit King Estate and stay in their guest cottage on the King Estate property during our wine tour of the Northwest and every element of our stay had that personal touch.
King Estate Winery is big…very big, and beautiful, and though there is a large flat screen TV in their tasting room, you can experience their charm and ever present hospitality when you enjoy your tasting on their expansive patio over looking rows and rows of vines. With a focus on creating wine as sustainable and organic as possible they have an incredible operation introducing their patrons to quality wine at reasonable prices.
We had a tasting of the full line of wine made by King Estate, including a few that I was a bit unfamiliar with – their NxNW and Next lines, as well as their Domaine Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and the latest venture, Acrobat.
King Estate has really made a name for themselves with their Pinot Gris; it is the largest production varietal they have. An aromatic white wine with balanced acidity and lots of fruit forward flavor that is perfectly refreshing on a warm day. We enjoyed another bottle of this the other evening with a cold basil soup and an heirloom tomato and arugula salad. The herbal influences of the dish were nicely matched, bringing out light minerality in the wine with honeysuckle and tropical fruit flavors.
The Domaine Pinot Gris was a nice surprise. Though the flavor profile is similar, this is a more elegant and refined Pinot Gris made from only their organically grown, estate fruit. Slightly less acidic and nicely balanced.
The Next line is inexpensive and an ideal everyday wine. To find a good Oregon Pinot Noit under $20 is not easy, and the Next Pinot Noir is. It is not overly complex, just a light approachable red wine filled with lots of berry flavors. The Next Red Blend brings Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot together in a well structured blend of all Washington State fruit. We actually bought a case of this as a new go to red table wine.
Only about 150 cases if the Domaine Pinot Noir are produced each year. This is an elegant Pinot Noir aged a year and a half in new oak creating lots of vanilla and cherry aromas with earthiness, leading to cherry, raspberry and strawberry flavors filling the palate.
We opted to finish our tasting over dinner in their restaurant on the property, next to a large, inviting fireplace (the temperature had cooled to about 55 degrees.) Over dinner we enjoyed the NxNW Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A blend of wine from 11 different vineyards, all from the lower Columbia River Basin and Walla Walla regions of Washington state. I am becoming a real fan of Washington State wine. One, because they represent their varietals well, while representing place and terrior (soil, sun, slope of the land, etc.) in very approachable wines, and they are relatively reasonable in cost. This one is filled with blackberry, nutmeg and licorice aromas with black cherry, cocoa, caramel and dried fruit flavors.
This was a spot on pairing with Chef Michael Landsberg’s Deep Knee Ranch Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras, parsnip puree, local greens and a Pinot Noir demi glace. The restaurant tries to be as local-local as possible in their ingredients, much of which comes from their own garden on the estate.
We enjoyed the Signature Vin Glace dessert “ice wine” with a locally sourced Artisan cheese plate. Made from organic estate Pinot Gris grapes frozen after harvest. Pressing frozen grapes creates a concentrate, sweet juice with varietal flavor intensity and balance, and a great pairing with the savory cheese.
After dinner we retired to our quaint cottage for a night cap of one of King Estate’s newest wines, Acrobat Pinot Gris, enjoyed in front of an inviting fire awaiting us in the stone fireplace. Filled with tropical fruit, melon and green apple this is an easy drinking wine that was a great end to our evening.
One of my favorite experiences at King Estate had to be walking through the vines the next morning. We had a big day ahead so we got up just after sunrise to get some exercise before we set out. A thin layer of mist was resting in the vines and walking up and down the rows of grapes ripening, just a few weeks before harvest, helps you get a real feeling of the allure of becoming a wine maker and the draw of the vineyard. A picturesque way to end a fantastic stay at King Estate.