May 15, 2013

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Streamlining it with Helioterra Wines


Helioterra wine tasting at Sundance

My first experience with winemaker Anne Hubatch’s Helioterra Wines was of her crisp, fresh and totally focused 2011 Pinot Blanc.  I instantly fell in love with the elegant floral and sweet citrus aromas.  The mouthfeel was gentle and smooth, and the streamlined minerality was not overpowering, but just perfect. It was different from other Pinot Blancs – feminine, elegant, pure.

Hailing from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Anne’s love for the land is what brought her to the world of wine.  Her degree from University of Wisconsin in Geology and Environmetal Studies put her on the path to Oregon, where she realized a passion for winemaking.  After working with some of the most notable names in the Oregon wine industry, she enrolled in a local viticulture college where she studied winemaking.  Although Anne has been making wine for twelve years, she produced her first vintage under the Helioterra brand in 2009.  The name Helioterra is derived from geological influences: Heliolite, which is Oregon’s gem stone, also known as the Sun Stone, and terra, the Greek word for earth.  Anne selects grapes from high-quality vineyards in the Pacific Northwest, and she crafts her wines at Portland’s SE Wine Collective, a unique urban winery made up of four like-minded artisanal wine producers.


The purely refreshing and focused Pinot Blanc

A few weeks ago, Anne was in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon, at Sundance Wine Cellars, pouring her entire line-up of Helioterra Wines, and I was excited to not only try the newly released 2012 Pinot Blanc, but all of her other creations, as well. Hauled down from SE Wine Collective, Anne brought with her six different Helioterra wines that, much to my delight, all displayed the lovely feminine, streamlined elegance of the 2011 Pinot Blanc that I had tried last summer.

Helioterra 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc (256 cases):  Much like the 2011 vintage, sweet Meyer lemon and floral notes really stood out in both the aromas and flavors. Soft minerality and a super creamy mouthfeel was finished off with a shot of lemon zest on a lingering, beautiful finish.

Helioterra 2012 Willamette Valley Melon de Bourgogne (71 cases):  Green apples with a hint of wet stones flowed on to the palate in waves of fruity goodness with a touch of lemon custard.  Elegant minerality and acidity were extremely smooth, enhancing and rounding out the fruity juiciness to perfection.


Winemaker Anne Hubatch

Helioterra 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé (70 cases):  This dry Rosé is going to be a favorite of mine this summer.  Strawberry, cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors were balanced out by a zesty acidic backbone.  Focused and streamlined, the juiciness and lemon-lime core took hold of my palate and left it feeling altogether refreshed.

Helioterra 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (284 cases):  Oh, how I love Oregon Pinot Noir. Gorgeous aromas and flavors of dark cherries, cranberries and earth were all magnified by the perfect amount of acidity.  Rolling from front to back in palate pleasing waves, the finish is slightly smoky with a tiny hint of white pepper spice.

Helioterra 2011 Columbia Valley Mourvèdre (98 cases):  I was immediately reminded of Fall, with aromas like blackberries, cinnamon spice, orange zest and cranberries.  Flavors were similar with the addition of mushroom and thyme.  Full bodied with solid tannins, yet completely focused and, yes, streamlined.


2011 Mourvèdre – delicious

Helioterra 2011 Columbia Valley Syrah (109 cases):  Aromas of black and red fruits along with smoke, leather and coffee notes, this was full and round on the palate with nice sleek tannin structure and a super long and black peppery finish – extremely well balanced and truly a great representation of the varietal.

Anne also has a second brand – a not-so-serious side of wine with a super fun label: Whoa Nelly Wines.  I didn’t get to try any from this brand, but I love this found on the Whoa Nelly Wines website, “Everyone knows a Nelly. She’s the girl who grew up to be a kickass chef, ship’s captain, rock star, literary goddess, organic farmer, roller derby vixen, or tattoo artist. Our own Nelly grew up to be a winemaker. Today, she wears more dirt on her brow than powder, but when she cleans up… Whoa, Nelly!”

With as small as the production is of the wines that Anne makes under the Helioterra brand, I highly suggest you don’t pass by a bottle on the shelf.  Her streamlined, feminine and elegant wines  are most certainly a treat that should not be missed.

Visit SE Wine Collective at: 2425 SE 35 Place, Portland, OR 97214