Good Light

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Elouan Pinot Noir Celebrates Its Oregon Terroir

BY KATHY CASTEEL

Add elegance to your summer table with an Oregon Pinot Noir. The medium-bodied wine’s fresh taste and bright acidity complement a wide range of warm-weather fare.

Elouan Pinot Noir brings the essence of cool-climate terroir to your wineglass. The fresh cherry aroma ushers in a delicate flavor of cherries with a hint of raspberries and an undercurrent of plums. You might detect a bit of vanilla creaminess before a flush of moderate tannins melds into a short but smooth finish. This Pinot Noir is an amiable wine for your table — it pairs well with pork, duck, wild game, salmon, grilled lamb, sweet Italian sausages, bacon and just about anything with mushrooms. It’s also nice with a cheese plate, particularly soft cheeses with flatbread or pita. Decant for about an hour before serving. For a more refreshing sip, try chilling the wine for 20 minutes.

The winemakers at Elouan have emulated the successful sourcing philosophy introduced by its California sister wine Meiomi — blending grapes from the top Pinot Noir regions for a richer, more complex style. Elouan’s grapes come from the Oregon valleys of Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue. These cool-climate regions enjoy a mild growing season, developing an intense structure and vibrant acidity that is distinct from California Pinot Noir.

The 2013 vintage, released in 2014, is the first for Elouan, a project of Joe and Amber Wagner’s Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Wagner, whose father, Chuck, founded Napa Valley’s Caymus Vineyards, also produces wines under the Meiomi and Carne Humana labels to market through Copper Cane. Elouan is Wagner’s first foray into Oregon; he chose the name Elouan — which means “good light” in Breton, a Celtic language spoken in Brittany, France — as a reflection of Oregon wine country’s typically cool weather yet abundant sunshine.

Oregon wines taste very different from wines produced in southern climes. The mild climate remains steady throughout the growing season, without the temperature spikes and drops that punctuate more southerly vineyard regions. The slow ripening maintains the acidity levels without producing an overabundance of sugars, resulting in a nuanced and subtle flavor. The northern wines are more balanced, lacking the bursts of sweeter fruit flavor found in California red wines.

The heart of Oregon wine country is the Willamette Valley, which has a latitude and climate on par with Burgundy, France. Richard Sommers, known as the father of Oregon Pinot Noir, took note of this similarity and planted the first vines in the Umpqua Valley in the late 1950s. Pinot Noir grapes in the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue valleys of western and southwestern Oregon thrive in the temperate maritime climate of the region.

Elouan retails for about $25 a bottle. Look for it at your favorite local wine shop and on the wine lists of your favorite Columbia restaurants.
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The Wagner family’s winemaking roots go back more than 150 years, stretching from Missouri to California’s Napa Valley.

 

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