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Why chefs love Oregon Pinot Noirs

Next time you’re lucky enough to be in Oregon wine country in June, stop at a farm stand and pick up a pint of local strawberries. They’re practically a different fruit altogether than the ones at the supermarket – sweet, clean and lively, a tango on your tongue. Pure, natural acidity drives the ripe fruit flavors to the forefront, just like it does with Oregon wine grapes.

Oregon’s unique climate makes this possible.  While the state is drenched from November through May, the marvelous summertime weather remains a well-guarded secret. Northern latitude provides especially long, sunny days, with an hour more daylight than Napa and Sonoma, yet it’s not nearly as hot. The grapes take their time ripening, allowing the clusters to gradually develop nuanced flavors over the course of several months. The real magic happens at night, where the temperatures drop precipitously, often 40 degrees below their daytime highs. This enables the acid levels to escalate right through harvest.

That lively acid provides the framework that supports a mouthful of fruit flavors, and enables the wines to age gracefully over time. Structurally, Oregon Pinots tend to be acid-driven rather than guided by tannins, a big reason they’re ready to drink fairly young and complement such a wide range of cuisines.

Just as chefs brighten their dishes with a squeeze of lime or a splash of vinegar, so too does the Oregon winemaker leverage this critical component to enliven fruit flavors. And many chefs will tell you that it’s not Limoges china that makes their offerings command attention on the plate, it’s a glass of thoughtfully crafted Oregon Pinot Noir.  Lot18 members will be treated to many of these elusive, food-friendly wines over the coming months. Bon appétit!

Strawberry Photo: Lelo in Nopo

Vineyard Photo: Janis Miglavs