14 March, 2017
Left Coast Cellars WinesPosted in : Other Sparkling Wine Types, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wine on by : The Gourmez
Obligatory disclaimer: Left Coast Cellars provided these wines for my review for free.
My experience with Left Coast Cellars (website here) is not a long one…but it has certainly been a fruitful one. And I didn’t even intend that to be a wine pun.
Ivy Hover is Left Coast’s marketing director, an A+ person, and my fellow panelist at the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference. The picture above is of our group immediately after the Wine Samples panel, which was a discussion among folks in the industry and bloggers like myself on the winery–blogger relationship.
That conference was my first introduction to Left Coast Cellars, by way of one of my absolutely favorite wines from the four-day experience: their Queen Bee Bubbly.
I was thrilled to see the bottle appear in a shipment of samples Ivy sent my way last fall — the very same shipment I am just now getting to reviewing here. Note: Had you attended that panel, I would have highly discouraged you from taking so long to review samples! Alas, I had a trip to Mexico, an apartment move, and more excuses I could generate for failing to review these wines in a timely manner. But really, all I can say is Ivy, I’m sorry! And I am so glad I had the chance to analyze Queen Bee more thoroughly at my leisure. My high opinion improved!
2015 Queen Bee Bubbly
This impressive sparkling wine is notable for a few reasons. Reason #1: The color has a beautiful suggestion of pink — the corona of the sun, no less, no more. It is sweeter than your average sparkling wine not because it’s a sec, or sweeter style bubbly, but because, Reason #2, Left Coast Cellars uses honey produced from bees on their estate to provide a touch of floral sweetness. There is woody depth added, too, as that encapsulated yeast residing in the bottle, Reason #3, gives it uniquely earthy characteristics. And those bubbles are also remarkable as they generate an upward tornado for quite some time — this is no fast-fleeing vixen of a sparkling wine, and that is Reason #4. Its notes are jasmine, Asian pear, bay leaf, and lime. Well worth the asking price of $36.
But Ivy had more delights awaiting me, mainly of the white wine persuasion, which was a delight to sample as I have very little Oregon wine experience thus far. It’s also a delight because Left Coast Cellars is unafraid of experimentation. You don’t see this next wine often.
Left Bank Pinot Blanc 2014
This pinot blanc, not to be confused with the White Pinot Noir that Left Coast Cellars also makes, comes from an ancient clone of pinot noir that typically yields a less expressive wine than many other white grapes. This bottle was an exception to that rule for me: Buttery french toast with an eggy crunch, topped with a strongly spiked vanilla bourbon glaze and fresh pears. A metallic tang makes you check for griddle flakes before it shifts to evergreen. You feel compelled to greet the morning and the Great Outdoors. $20
Care to take a hike? The Left Bank Pinot Blanc 2014 may just inspire you to — after breakfast. But there are even more options among the ancient pinot noir clones from Left Coast Cellars’ vineyards…
Left Coast Cellars Pinot Gris 2015
It’s rare I find a wine that reminds me of North Carolina grapes … and still appeals, but the scuppernong-like marshland funk in this bottle is distinctive enough to intrigue. Brown sugar notes come with butter and yolk—the makings of an excellent cookie dough. Its body is flat, but that’s a positive in this case, which is another comment I rarely make or think. In this case, it allows those baking notes to come through. Throw in baked green and gala apples and find yourself wondering why more cookies don’t feature that fruit. Light cinnamon and nutmeg accentuate rather than dominate. $18
Left Coast Cellars has five other white and sparkling wines on their website! But they also dabble in the darker side of pinot, offering three different ones from grapes picked in varying regions of their vineyards. Their most affordable pinot noir comes from a blend of the Dijon, Pommard, and Wädenswil modern-day clones and is named for the family’s daughter, Cali.
2014 Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir
Cali’s Cuvee’s clarity fools you into thinking this will be a light wine, but its muddy red tone is the better gauge.
There’s grit in here, ground soil for a garden plot that waits for you to begin the work. Hints of carrot, sautéed eggplant, and herb subsume the fig and black cherry fruit. Drink it and dream of harvests to come. $24
Thank you, Ivy, for this deep dive into Left Coast Cellar’s collection! The earthiness of these wines makes a lot of sense as the estate borders a wildlife refuge and houses hiking paths by the orchards. I imagine a visit would conjure just as much lust for the outdoors as tasting the wines did on its own!