Willamette Valley Wines – Affordable Oregon with Union Wine Co.

Union Wine Company Pinot Noirs at the grill

Union Wine Company
The mission at Union Wine Company is to show that Oregon wines can be both affordable and high quality. We recently had the opportunity to sample a variety of their wines to see for ourselves how successful they have been. We also tried to look into a few details as to how they work their magic. We enjoyed they wines over a dinner of Spice-Rubbed Braised Brisket cooked out on our ceramic grill.

Disclosure: The wines for this post were provided as samples. No other compensation was involved and all opinions expressed are mine.

Underwood Oregon Pinot Noir 2017

Underwood Wines
The Underwood wines are the most affordable series at Union Wine company. Underwood stays affordable in part by sourcing grapes from all around Oregon. The 2018 vintage we enjoyed sourced grapes from Applegate Valley, Umpqua Valley, Willamette Valley and Walla Walla Valley. You might recognize that Walla Walla is in Washington, but the Walla Walla AVA includes vineyards in both Washington and Oregon within its’ boundaries. The per ton price of grapes outside Willamette Valley is significantly lower, which helps keep these wines so affordable. In the winery, the wines are aged in 15% new French oak for 8 months. New oak is expensive, so using a small amount in aging keeps costs down while 8 months means that the winery only needs 1 set of barrels for their yearly production. 

Underwood Pinot Noir “Oregon Grown” 2018 (sample, $14 SRP or online here) 13% abv
Eye: Pale ruby
Nose: Medium minus intensity aromas of red fruit- strawberries, red cherries, raspberries, clean earth.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium minus fine grained tannins, medium body with slight creaminess, medium alcohol, medium finish. Medium intensity flavors similar to the nose, with slightly more intensity on the red cherries.
Observations: Aptly described by the company, this wine is a nice affordable everyday wine with moderate intensity.

Kings Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2018

Kings Ridge
Kings Ridge is the next step up the quality/price ladder. Kings Ridge grapes are sourced from all over Willamette Valley, not just one single vineyard or AVA. In the winery, the wine is aged in 22% new French oak for 10 months. Slightly higher percentage of new oak and time in barrel, but they can still reuse 1 set of barrels.

Kings Ridge Oregon Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley Grown” 2018 (sample, $18 SRP or online here) 13.4% abv
Eye: Pale ruby
Nose: Medium minus intensity aromas of candied cherry, raspberry, strawberry, a touch of vanilla and cedar
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium fine grained tannins, medium alcohol, medium body, medium finish. Medium intensity flavors showing the candied red fruit with a bit more oak showing on the palate.
Observations: This wine had nice firm tannins. While the fruit was a bit muted, the lively acidity and tannins provided textural interest.

Alchemist Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Alchemist
Alchemist is the top of the line at Union Wine Company. Grapes are chosen from the best Willamette Valley vineyards accessible. Wines are processed in small lots and aged 11 months in French oak barrels

Alchemist Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2017 (sample, $28 SRP or online here) 13% abv
Eye: Pale garnet
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry, strawberry with rosemary, cedar, clean earth and forest floor.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium minus silky tannins, medium body with a creamy texture, medium alcohol, medium plus finish. Medium intensity flavors with ripe red fruits, herbs and earth as on the nose.
Observations: Of the three wines, the Alchemist showed the most intensity and complexity, showing the additional effort in a $28 wine.

Brisket at the Grill

Union Wine Company Pinot Noirs with Spice Rubbed Grill Braised Brisket
Whenever I can, I like to take “normal” recipes and convert them to outdoor cooking on my Primo Ceramic Grill. For our dinner, I used this NY Times brisket recipe as a base, modifying a few steps for a leisurely afternoon and evening outdoors at the grill.  While the plating is a hot mess, the meal was absolutely delicious, more-so thanks to the nice wines we enjoyed!

Fun challenge of doing it all on the grill!
Comments
2 Responses to “Willamette Valley Wines – Affordable Oregon with Union Wine Co.”
  1. One day, you won’t know when, but one day I will make it back to the US and there will be a knock at your door at dinner time. Fair warning.

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