I bought this on a whim. Maybe it’s because I’m reading Passion and Pinot and the main characters are on their way to Oregon. Maybe it’s because the first wine that truly touched my heart was from Willamette. Or Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time studying the wines closest to home (Napa and Sonoma) that I felt like venturing across state borders. So it is with that notion that I present my first step onto the Oregon Trail of Wine.

About the Wine: The Oregon Trails Wine Company 2015 Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Willamette Valley. The AVA is home to over 500 wineries, predominantly specializing in Pinot Noir. And it’s no wonder, with it’s utterly cool climate and it’s delicate sedimentary soils that this would be the ideal growing place of the thin-skinned, somewhat fickle grape.

There’s very little I can tell you about the production of the OTWC Pinot Noir, but I can tell you that it is distributed by Wine Trees, sellers of boutique wines world-wide.

The other thing I can tell you is that the wine is “bottled and cellared” by Wine Trees in Santa Rosa, California and that the winemaker’s signature on the back belongs to Douglas Danielak who is a pretty well-known Napa Valley winemaker. But despite all of this Cali-influence, I have to say the flavor profile is 100% Oregon.

13.2% ABV

Flavor Profile: I’m looking at my notes and the first thing I wrote was “Whoa, if that’s not the pinkest red.” True, looking at it again at this moment, this wine has the most engaging fuchsia color which, to my eyes, is a purple so light that it plays with pink. Now although the nose doesn’t spring from the glass like some wines do, once you stick your schnoz in there, you cannot deny the fresh pink-berry atmosphere — cranberries, pomegranates, under-ripe strawberries — it’s like a bushel of berries right in front of your face.

And the palate parallels that notion perfectly. OTWC Pinot Noir is light, bright, with a good dollop of acidity (which upon further inspection is reminiscent of orange zest or lemon peel) and just the most delicate hint of green herbs (namely mint). And this is one of those wines that really doesn’t have a finish. It exits the room just as boisterous as in entered — and I’m not complaining. The utter liveliness of the wine is enough for you to take another sip, pour another glass, buy another bottle.

Food Pairing: Think Italian here, but think light Italian. The first time I enjoyed OTWC Pinot Noir I had a simple caprese salad with a side of fresh bread. Loved it. The freshness of the tomato perfectly paralleled the acidic line that runs through the wine while the basil brought those subtle herbaceous qualities to the forefront. Meanwhile the spinach base added a bit of body and texture to this extremely light wine. And the fresh mozzarella gave the wine a roundness to the mouthfeel that was, I’ll admit, a bit lost when drinking the wine alone.

The second time I enjoyed this Oregon Pinot Noir, I paired it with a grilled chicken sandwich, garnished with cranberry sauce, caramelized onions, and sour cream, with a side of tomato basil soup. This time it was the tart cranberries, the bite in the onion, the acid in the soup that paralleled that line of acidity in the wine. Conversely the creamy nature of the bisque and the sweetness from the cooked-down onions amplified that lost softness in the wine. And, of course, it was the chicken that gave the whole experience a bit of body.

More Info: As far as I can tell, this is the only wine with the OTWC label. But for more information about OTWC, visit the Wine Trees website. I found the OTWC 2015 Pinot Noir at Whole Foods (Sale Price: $15).

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