Mar 22, 2014

Posted by in Articles, Best Case Scenario, Featured | 0 Comments

Best Case Scenario: Brooks Ara Riesling 2010

I’ve popped the cork on the second bottle of Riesling from my Best Case Scenario of 12 Oregon Rieslings that were specially selected to illustrate this particular varietals elegance in translating Oregon’s beautifully diverse and unique terroir – a varietal that many believe to be Oregon’s best kept secret.

Starting with the driest of the 12 Oregon Rieslings, which was Argyle’s 2011, I’ve moved to the second driest of the 12: Brooks Winery 2010 Ara Willamette Valley Riesling.  Using the International Riesling Foundation scale provided on the back label of over 26 million Riesling bottles, the arrow that relays the sugar to acid ratio of the wine is pretty close to the very end of the dry portion of the scale – allowing me instant knowledge that the Brooks Ara Riesling is going to be pretty close to bone dry – my favorite kind of Riesling.  I love wines with a lot of acidity; they’re proven to pair well with a plethora of foods and, well, food with wine is certainly an everyday part of my life.


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The ’10 vintage Ara Riesling from Brooks Winery – complex and truly elegant.

The 2010 Brooks Ara Riesling ($28) is one of my all-time favorite Rieslings in the world because of its focused clean fruit characteristics, undeniable balance perfection between fruit and acid and pure elegance.  Aromas of honeycrisp apple, apricot and lime are highlighted by hints of orange blossom and honeysuckle.  On the palate, rich, complex, seamless waves of tropical fruit (like juicy pineapple), flow elegantly from front to back where the lime zest and herbal notes take over on the long and totally palate pleasing finish.  I love telling folks that Oregon has some of the best, terroir driven Rieslings in the world – the Brooks Ara Riesling is undeniable proof of my bold, yet spot-on, statement.

Brooks Winery winemaker, Chris Williams, tells us about the 2010 Ara Willamette Valley Riesling:

Tell us about this wine:  We started making this wine in 2003.  It is a blend from two of our favorite vineyards–our estate which was planted in 1974 in the Eola Amity Hill and holds some of the oldest vines and Riesling vines in the Willamette Valley.  The other vineyard is Yamhill Vineyard that was planted in 1984.  Our Ara highlights the combination of finesse and focus Riesling is capable of in the Willamette Valley.  Its complex layers of aromatic and palate sensations offer a great example of the wines we make at Brooks.  Ara is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere.

What is your stylistic objective with this Riesling and how do you achieve it? The vineyard sources in this wine are from two soil types.  Our Estate is volcanic and the Yamhill is on sedimentary.  Since we have been working with these vineyards, we have found notable differences in the profile of the fruit that we believe are attributable to soil type.  The volcanic soils of our Estate consistently produce a high citrus tones and high minerality.  The fruit from the Yamhill Vineyard carries substantial stone fruit characteristics providing a rounder heavier palate.  It is the combination of these dramatically different sites that we believe compliment each other in a way like no other!  Ara is our reserve.  300 cases per year.

The IRF scale tells all, and this is certainly my kind of Riesling - almost bone dry.

The IRF scale tells all, and this is certainly my kind of Riesling – almost bone dry.

Why do you make Riesling?  For all the reasons you can make great pinot noir in Oregon, we believe you can make Riesling.  Unique in Oregon, Riesling, primarily dry in style, is our primary focus for a white wine and has been since we began in 1998.  Our own vineyard is one of the oldest Riesling plantings in Oregon, and we source grapes from other historic sites in the region, as well as from new vineyards that show promise of becoming legendary Riesling resources over time.  Riesling is what inspires us.

What makes Oregon a great place to grow Riesling?  The cooler climate overall allows for acid retention, while the longer days of sunlight during the ripening phase enhance phenolic development.

Is there an Oregon style of Riesling? What is it?  Not in our opinion.  Everyone has there own approach and this diversity is a testament to the varietal!

Provide an example of an “unusual” Riesling pairing that you love.  One of our most surprising pairings was our dry Riesling with a salad of greens and a vinaigrette.

What other styles of Riesling do you make and why?  We make 7 Rieslings, 4 dry, 1 medium dry, 1 medium sweet and 1 sweet.  The versatility of the styles you can make and the challenge with finding the right balance is our passion!

How long will this wine age?  We don’t know yet.  First vintage was 2003 and it is still drinking great!  Seems at prime between 5-7 years.

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Brooks Wines winemaker, Chris Williams | photo: Brooks Wines Facebook page

For the wine geeks, like me:

Alcohol: 11.5%
pH: 2.92
Acidity: 9.8g/L
Residual sugar: 4.7g/L
Sustainability practices and/or certification: 50% Estate which has been biodynamically farmed since 2002, certified effective 2012 and 50% Yamhill Vineyard which is LIVE certified and Salmon Safe.

US Markets/Distributors OR: Oregon Brand Management, CA: Revel Wines, TX: Hear Hear Distribution, IL: Cream Wine Company, NY.NJ: Frederick Wildman, VA. DC. NC. SC. DE. MD, LA: International Wines, WA: Vinum Importing