New World Gems: Trisaetum Wines from Portland, Oregon

The wines from Portland were a real revelation to me this summer when I visited Portland for the Society of Wine Educators conference. I thought many that I tried were really worthy of note. I also took a number of seminars on the wines during the conference. I learned a lot about how things were in the past and what to look for in the future. One grape that everyone kept mentioning was Chardonnay. Apparently, the original clones that they used for the Chardonnay wines were not the ones that were appropriate for the terroir in Oregon. One of the wineries whose Chardonnay I really liked was from Trisaetum. The winery with this very complicated to pronounce name was started by Andrea and James Frey in 2003. It is a conjunction of their children, Tristen and Tatum’s names. The winery is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA and they make small lots of acclaimed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. They also have property in Yamhil-Carlon Ava and in Wichmann Dundee high above the Dundee hills AVA. James Frey is the winemaker.  The have different fermenting and aging vessels including stainless steel, concrete  and oak. The family also has an art gallery in their winery which displays the art work of James Frey who is also a painter and a photographer. Passionate about abstract expressionism, he created all the labels for the Artist Series labels for his Pinot Noir.

The Chardonnay that I tasted was the 2015 Willamette Valley Chardonnay. A found notes of apples and honey, orange and citrus too. Nice acidity together with mineral notes and a long finish made the wine incredibly pleasant. I would love a glass right now maybe paired with pasta with pesto or flounder. The wines are not inexpensive and this is the only reason why I think people aren’t clamoring for these wines. I guess it is a strategy and it seems to be working because Oregon is getting a lot of well-deserved attention. A lot of the discussion was about whether or not the wines were “Burgundian.” I heard that word used often and also that the vintners in Oregon don’t want to be compared to Burgundy, an interesting take since so many French Chateau owners seem to be present in Oregon. I really liked the wines on their own merits, French influenced or not.

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