Though some major companies are now invested in Oregon, it contrasts to both California and Washington in that the wine scene is predominantly filled with small growers. Stylistically, Oregon has continued to move towards greater variation and greater understanding of terroir, a trend that has also taken hold in California but that has yet to truly blossom in Washington (or BC for that matter). Part of that trend has been toward wines that offer greater versatility with food. Bow & Arrow are one of the more forward thinking wineries in that regard.
The Loire in Oregon
Owners Scott and Dana Frank founded Bow & Arrow within the city limits of Portland with the goal of producing Loire-style wines from Oregon fruit. Their Gamay has grown to nearly 1,000 cases, making it the largest Gamay production in the US – showing just how few US producers make Gamay. Both the Franks have years of experience in the wine and food industry in Oregon and saw an opportunity to be pioneers for a new style of Oregon wine, inspired by the bright, cheerful and affordable wines of the Loire. The resulting wines are unlike most of what is being made in Oregon today.
This Pinot Noir, which I had at the outstanding middle-eastern inspired restaurant Levant, is made with old-vine fruit from the Chehalem Mountains. It is extremely aromatic, and almost translucent in the glass, with bright acidity and peppy fruit. It is extremely delicious and food friendly wine that paired amazingly well with everything from house made pita and hummus to hearth roasted Lamb with spring vegetables. Compared to most 2012 Pinots from Oregon, which tend to be richer and denser, the Bow & Arrow Pinot couples beautifully pure, expressive fruit with lightness and succulence on the palate.
For a taste of the next generation of Oregon wine, I highly recommend you seek out Bow & Arrow.
$35 retail, $60 wine list at Levant, Portland