2021 Brooks Winery, Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
There is lots of excitement at Brooks Winery these days and it was great to see Janie Brooks Heuk, who runs this innovative Oregon winery that specializes in Pinot Noir and Riesling and who just announced her long time assistant winemaker, Claire Jarreau, is taking the lead role here and comes into this with tons of passion, experience and precision. As Claire looks to raise the bar here at Brooks after finishing her first harvest in charge with the 2023s, I got a chance to sample through the current releases, all of which are delicious and soulful examples, making me think there will be something even more special coming down the road. The pale green/straw and gold 2021 Willamette Valley Dry Riesling from Brooks is a dynamic, vivid and crystalline wine with mineral and acidity leading the way on the taut lighter bodied palate with racy lime, unripe tart peach, muskmelon, crisp green apple and quince fruit, all accented nicely with loamy/stony notes, saline, oyster shell, lemon oil, delicate white flowers, herbs and sour grass. Mouth watering and zippy, this Riesling is refreshing and bracing, so best to match it up with your Summer cuisine and raw foods. This Willamette Valley Riesling comes from a selection of vineyard site across the region and a complex mix of mineral rich and marine sediment soils, including mature vines at the Hyland Vineyard, which certainly adds some pedigree here, even in small does. Janie is a big advocate for sustainable practices and has certified her estate in biodynamic framing, and focuses on organic grapes from non-estate sources, as seen here.

The Brooks Winery, founded by the late Jimi Brooks, who tragically passed away much too young, and based in the Willamette Valley’s Amity-Eola Hills, as mentioned here and beyond, is an inspirational tale starting with passion, leading to heartbreak, then to love of family and responsibility to community. As I’ve said before I’m honored to have had an early look in on this great journey in American wine and it was a pleasure to catch up with Janie Brooks Heuck and taste through the new releases. The Brooks wines, up until this vintage have been made by Chris Williams, who as a winemaker believed in low intervention and traditional methods, and the wines are lovely, dynamic and filled with life, they have plenty of acidity to keep their fans happy, especially in the Riesling, as seen here. Originally inspired by his time in Burgundy, Jimi Brooks focused on a rustic whole cluster style with his Pinots that showed a Nuits-Saint-Georges personality and old world charm, something that has continued at Brooks, especially with the captivating Rastaban bottling, always a favorite of mine, and the Rieslings are also distinctively old world versions, both in dry and sweet styles. The Riesling, which is bone dry and about 12.5% natural alcohol, was direct to press crushed and fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures with aging also done in the stainless tank with a short period of lees contact and bottled quickly to preserve transparency, verve and freshness, which is perfectly captured here in the 2021 edition. I highly recommend the Brooks lineup, who are west coast leaders in Riesling and think this wine in particular is a great way to start exploring Oregon dry Riesling.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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