Feel, Smell, Taste, Explore – Washington, Oregon, and California
Washington Chardonnay & Apples
Washington grows over 30 varieties of apples. Apples just so happen to be a primary flavour note in Chardonnay. It is a classic note in many Chardonnays around the world, but because many styles of apples grow in Washington, the state offers a unique set of circumstances for getting better acquainted with the apple notes in its Chardonnays.
Washington Chardonnay grapes benefit from the long sunlit days and cool brisk nights during the growing season. Creating Chardonnay wines that are bright and delicate, with ample aromas and a palate to match with a crisp finish. Of all the apples Washington grows, two stand out in their Chardonnays the most – Jonagold apples and Granny Smith. The sweet honey-scent notes of the Jonagold and the soft but lemon-like character of the Granny Smith translate into the glass with Washington Chardonnays.
Oregon Pinot Noir & Cranberries
Heading southbound to Oregon, this state is a significant producer of fresh cranberries. America’s original superfruit, this tangy berry, has been a part of American life since the 1550s. Oregon is one of the few states that grows cranberries while at the same time making stellar Pinot Noir. Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs are even famed for the cranberry flavour notes that they have.
The warm and dry summers of the region, mixed with the ocean air, produces Pinot Noirs with beautiful red berry fruit notes and great acidity on the palate. The character of fresh cranberries is translated through the vine and into Oregon Pinot Noirs. So munching on a couple of cranberries from time to time can help train your nose and palate to pick up on these cranberry notes better.
California Cabernet Sauvignon & Black Cherries
California is the largest winemaking region in the whole of the USA. The state is known for its ability to produce great food and wine. It is also a massive agriculture region as a whole. If you have dipped your toes into California wines, you would already know by now that Cabernet Sauvignon is King in California. Rich in flavour and high in tannins, one of the classic notes that you can find in California Cabs is black or dark cherries.
And just like the wine grapes that started the California wine industry, cherries too were brought to the state by Spanish missionaries. Both industries had their ups and downs. It is easy to remember Prohibition and the Judgement of Paris tasting by Steven Spurrier comparing California wine with French on the wine side of things. However, in the same decade as that famous tasting, where California wines came out on top, the 1970s is when the state went all in on black or dark cherries. With their sweet flavours that pull in woody and nut-like aromas, Black Cherries are a part of the flavours and aromas of California Cabernet Sauvignons. Enjoy a bottle of California Cab Sauv alongside some California black cherries, and from the nose to the palate, you will be able to taste how the wine translates this fruit’s character into the glass.
Understanding wine to the fullest is all about creating aromas and flavour memories. The more you explore, the more you will decode what is happening in the glass!
Sommelier, wine writer, creator of experiences, and advisor for all things wine!
An active Sommelier with a growing network at home and worldwide, Renée has brought her love of wine into everything she does. She is a wine communicator online under the name @wine.by.renee, a Host of wine parties and experiences, a TV wine personality on Cityline and CHCH in Canada, and a writer in many publications. Including her column The Wine Effect in the Distillery District Magazine, as a Feature Writer in Monarch Wine, as well as Holr Magazine and Waterfront Magazine. She is passionate about bringing a different side of wine to the table. A side that’s romantic, but not pretentious and above all, driven by the intent to enjoy good wine.