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Old World Wines, New World Style

June 2016

The history of wine is largely the history of Europe.

Conquering Romans planted the first vineyards in the Loire Valley in the first century A.D., and the wines there became the most-desired wines in Europe by the High Middle Ages. In Alsace, wines alternately took on characteristics of French and German wines as the region changed hands — particularly Pinot Noir, originally from Burgundy, but taking on many of the white wine characteristics predominant in Alsace. And of course, the Italians lead the way with big red wines, with regional variations that have held for centuries.

The history of wine in Oregon is much more recent, with the first vines planted here in the mid 1960s. Winemaker Chuck Coury is a central figure, if an enigmatic one. He smuggled in vines from Alsace in a suitcase and planted them at the vineyard now owned by David Hill Winery. The “Coury clone” of Pinot Noir, originally described as a Pommard clone, is now thought to be either another clone of Pinot Noir, or — most controversially — not a Pinot Noir at all. DNA testing is underway as we speak.

This month, we’re celebrating winemakers that produce Old World varietals with a New World style. For the whites, we’ve got an Alsatian-style Riesling from David Hill, from the vines originally planted by Coury — and a Loire-style Melon de Bourgogne from Grochau Cellars. For the reds, we’re highlighting a Super Tuscan blend from Alfredo Apolloni, whose heritage goes back to the family vineyard on the Adriatic coast of Italy — and an Alsatian-style Pinot Noir (from those original Coury vines!) from Teutonic.