2018 Bow & Arrow, Rhinestones, Pinot Noir/Gamay Noir, Johan Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Rhinestones by Potland Oregon’s Bow & Arrow winery is one of my favorites, it’s a unique cuvee blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Gamay Noir coming from the Willamette Valley’s biodynamic/organic Johan Vineyard and done in a Loire Valley natural wine style with juicy fruit, fresh acidity, earthy rawness and a spicy/stemmy kick. Interesting this blend is like Passetoutgrain, which is made in Burgundy from the same blend of Pinot and Gamay, winemaker Scott Frank says he’s more influenced by wines made in the Loire’s Touraine region, where they also have Pinot Noir and Gamay and that they also get blended together in a lighter and zippier fashion. One of the most intriguing examples from the Loire is Domaine Philippe Tessier’s Cheverny Rouge, crafted with Pinot and Gamay, it more closely resembles this Rhinestones. Sometimes those Touraine reds also have Pineau d’ Aunis and or Grolleau, but those grapes haven’t quite made it to the new world yet, so Frank is left with Pinot and Gamay, both of which are grown in quantity and quality in Oregon. Loire Valley grape varieties like Melon, Chenin Blanc, and true Gamay Noir were planted in the Willamette Valley decades before Frank moved here from New York in 2001, but instead of going along with most winemakers that make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, inspired by the Cote d’Or, he followed the less prestigious and more quaffable style of the Loire, even he has helped make wine at John Paul’s Cameron Winery, one of the most legendary and iconic producers in the state, famous for his Pinot and Chards. Bow & Arrow continues to prove counter culture, sort of a workers party style wines have a place among Oregon’s new generation of wines and have brought Gamay to to people, along with other cool things to explore.
This 2018 Rhinestones is ripe in flavors, but shows a more earthy tone that the last two vintages with fresh layers of black cherry, plum and red currants along with a red peach flesh textural taste along with hints of dark florals, leather and an array of spices with cinnamon and pepper notes. There’s a serious side here, but it can be enjoyed for its vivacious lighthearted personality and it goes down with a cool crisp detail begging for smiles, simple meals and companionship. According to Frank the Rhinestones blend is determined by nature and vintage, with the 2018 getting more Pinot than the past few most recent versions as the Johan Vineyard delivered this combination and ratio for this wine. Bow & Arrow, which Scott and his wife Dana started in 2010, is a full fledged, subterranean urban micro winery located in Northeast Portland and is now a cult winery, making natural style “wine for the people” with a fanatic wine savvy fan base. The Rhinestones usually gets a whole cluster and native fermentation with exceptionally low SO2 being used and it is aged in a mixture of concrete and old barriques. This wine, as Frank notes, is the flagship of the Bow & Arrow operation and communicates what they are all about as much as anything they make. The winery tries to craft wines that are effortlessly drinkable but rewarding in their unique and complex gifts in the glass. The latest releases from Bow & Arrow are outstanding values and delivers populist drinking pleasures, especially interesting are the newer Sauvignon Blancs, the Melon de Bourgogne, the very cool Air Guitar red made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc in an Anjou style, the 100% Gamay bottlings, and the Hughes Vineyard Pinot Noir, all of which are, like this one, mineral driven, slightly funky, transparent and focused wines, keep an eye out for them or join their list.
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive