2018 A Championship Bottle, Broken Radios, Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris, Whistling Ridge Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
If you are interesting in exciting and rare Oregon obscurities, you’ll want to discover and get on this under ground winery’s mailing list, and especially intriguing is this Broken Radios rouge made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Gris! At one time this wine would be considered a sacrilege, I mean who would ever blend anything with Pinot Noir, let alone its wimpy cousin, right? Well we are in a new age and there is an explosion of co-fermetted wines using a high percentage of white grapes in the cuvee and while you may think it is weird, you should know that Pinot Gris, while often and maybe mostly is known for white wines, it itself is not a white grape in reality, it is serious almost as dark as Pinot Noir when ripe on the vine and name actually means Pinot GREY in French as Gris and Italian as Grigio, sometimes you see the clusters with a ruby/orange tint, but the last time I was in Germany at harvest you couldn’t tell the Gris from the Noir. That all means this wine is not as weird as it might first seem, much the same way we are discovering that some Grenache wines are a combination of Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris, a combination now being explored in California by Randall Grahm in his, post Bonny Doon project, Popechuum Vineyard. The Broken Records rouge is smooth and supple fruited with a dark ruby hue in the glass and has a very lush and opulent mouth feel that flows with mostly a comforting array of Pinot fruit with black cherries, plum and strawberry along with light flowery aromas, delicate spicy notes and a faint sensation of golden raisins that seems to fade away under the weight of the red fruit after the first sip. After the initial impression and looking for the exotic, this wine ends up drinking really nicely with a ripe silky nature and goes great with food picking up its game and being a superb team player with a variety of cuisines, I found it held its own with Sushi rolls, spicy tuna and chili crab were surprising delicious with this wine. This bottling is super hard to find, especially as there were just about 60 cases made, thanks again to Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland for turning me on to this slightly geeky and wild collection of wines.

It was only last year I became aware of this unique micro winery that is based in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, that was inspired by the wines of Friuli in northeast Italy, with influences coming from the legendary wines of Kante, Vigna da Duline, Gravner and Radikon to name a few, though not just these orange wine greats as Championship Bottle makes some pure and crystalline whites that are full of mineral charms and vibrancy as well as wines like this Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris blend. There has been a move towards northern Italy in Oregon for decades with their Pinot Gris wines becoming well known and the state’s biggest success in white wines in then market place, but now Pinot Bianco (blanc) is proving to be even better and rarities like Fruliano are gaining traction here, anyone that has had Pinot legend John Paul’s Cameron winery’s Giuliano white blend with know just how good these wines can be, and Championship Bottle’s versions are lovely as well. The winery believes, Oregon’s cool climate and the unique soils of the Willamette Valley allow for the production, with their offerings being all hand crafted in tiny lots, of (mostly white) wine with texture, bright minerality and elegant acidity. At this moment, because of special circumstances, the Broken Radio is not steady member of the lineup here and they may not make it in future years unless we get lucky, but I love their exceptional Sauvignon Blanc called Lost Verses and the Silicone on Sapphire white blend even more and I’m excited to try their latest releases. This Broken Radios, from a site set on the marine sedimentary soils and sitting between the famous Beaux Freres and Patricia Green estates, was a co-fermentation of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris on their skins, which the winery says, drinks like something in the world of Cru Beaujolais fan fiction (their words) while retaining a sense of spice and depth of black fruit that lets you know it’s from Ribbon Ridge. There was 25% whole cluster used in this one and it was aged exclusively in used French oak, seeing ten months of aging on its lees before being bottled without filtration. This harmonious and juicy wine comes in at just about 12.6% natural alcohol and Championship bottle, like Portland’s Bow & Arrow, offers something different from the mainstream, it’s exciting times for Oregon’s alternative varietals and wine styles.
($35 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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