Other than a few rather strange college visits with my older son (I say “strange” since it is quite difficult, at least in my estimation, to get a “feel” for a college campus when there are no students around at all), I have not really ventured all that far from Houston over the course of the last 16 months or so.
That is why I am rather giddy (and a tad apprehensive, I must say) about my planned trip at the end of this month to Oregon for the Wine Media Conference (previously known as the Wine Bloggers Conference). While it will be great to reconnect with some old friends, I will also be spending some time before the conference at Troon Vineyard, in the Southern part of the state.
I have known Craig Camp, the general manager at Troon, for over a decade now and how he has transformed Troon has truly been remarkable. What was once a footnote (at best) in the Southern Oregon wine scene is now the leader among producers from the region, championing organic farming as well as highlighting somewhat out of the mainstream varieties and styles (Troon’s orange wines and Pet-Nats are a wine geek’s wet-dream).
Recently, Craig sent me the array of new releases from Troon, which only served to get me more excited about the trip (which I did not think possible). My one gripe? The availability of bottle shot (pictures of the wines) is severely lacking on the Troon website.
2019 Troon Vineyard Côtes du Kubli Blanc, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $35. DIAM5 closure. 42% Viognier, 35% Marsanne, 23% Roussane. Cowhorn Vineyard. A rich, short of golden, yellow in the glass with tropical notes prominent (guava, lychee) along with ripe pear, peach, and just loads of scrumptious goodness. The palate? Whoa. There is so much fruit it would be easy to mistake this as a dessert wine, but of course it’s not. Rich, tons of body, layer upon layer of flavor, and enough acidity to hold it together. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2017 Troon Vineyard Riesling Whole Grape Ferment, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $20. I have mentioned before that I think I get more than my fair share of wine to try, but every once in a while I get a wine to sample that causes me to come to a full stop, causing me to ponder, to take a second (or third) glance at the label, and consume a large majority of the bottle before contemplating a review. This, of course, is one of those wines. A brilliant amber/orange in the glass with oodles of aromas: beeswax, orange rind, honey, yellow rose, and a hint of petrol. On the palate, this is 98% wine-geek: oxididative with lanolin and a rich, unctuous mouthfeel, this a wine for the free and the brave. Bravo Troon for producing a gem that is outside the mainstream, that challenges our conception of “wine.” If you are a wine geek or even a novice, this is a wine that will demand you reassess what you think wine is or can be. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Montepulciano, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. 100% Montepulciano. There is a fairly good chance that unless you are a bit of a wine geek, you have never heard of Troon Vineyard or even that world-class wines were grown in Oregon outside of the Willamette Valley. Well, you should put both Southern Oregon and Troon on your oenological bucket list. Dark in the glass with blackberry, black pepper, and even black cherry. The palate has nice balance between fruit and acidity and just the slightest hint on tannin. This wine, like its brethren in Italy, is meant for early consumption, but it might be more complex than its Italian counterparts—at least those that I have tried. Bravo. Excellent. 90 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Sangiovese, White Family Vineyard, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. Very light in the glass, a translucent crimson with numerous red (cherry, raspberry) and black (black cherry, blackberry, plum) fruit populating the nose. The palate is nothing short of joyous with a defining tartness, mounds of said fruit, but also plenty of depth, and a finish that lingers. This is not a blockbuster wine—it will not bowl you over. It is more of a subtle beauty that requires, if not demands, introspection. For short-term drinking, but this is a gem. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Troon Vineyard Syrah Whole Cluster Fermented, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $30. 100% Syrah. Under DIAM5. B.A.B. I tasted this side-by-side with the “standard” Syrah (below). This whole cluster version certainly has a touch of funk (I love the funk) but it also has gorgeous, rich fruit, which is mostly dark (blackberry, plum) but also red (cherry). The palate is incredibly full-bodied with truckloads of that fruit that fully coat the mouth in richness. Right before the mid-palate, the acidity roars in, challenging that fruit for supremacy, as does some spice, which was largely absent on the nose. The tannins are soft, silky, and mostly integrated so I think this is built more for the near term (3-5 years), but it is plenty tasty now. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Troon Vineyard Syrah, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $30. 100% Syrah. DIAM5 closure. B.A.B. I tasted this alongside the Whole Cluster Fermented Syrah (above) and there are certainly some similarities and a decided difference. That main difference? The whole cluster has some funk (which I love), but none of that here, just wheelbarrows of fruit, some spice, plenty of acidity, and, interestingly, a bit more tannic structure. This is a fabulous wine that could endure 5-8 years with little problem, but it is so wonderful now, why wait? Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Troon Vineyard Cuvée Pyrénées, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $65. 70% Tannat, 30% Malbec. DIAM5. At the end of next month, I will step foot for the first time on the grounds of Troon and I could not be more excited. Ever since Craig Camp took over as GM several years ago, I have been tasting the wines on the regular and while always stellar, they have also been gradually improving. This Cuvée Pyrénées? Holy cow. Dark crimson in the glass with bushels of black fruit, anise, pencil shavings, a bit of tar, this wine really has a crazy nose, one that could be sniffed ad nauseam, without ever really capturing the essence. The palate is rich. Even really rich, with all that luscious black fruit, a moderating acidity, and some mellow (but noticeable) tannins. This wine has a healthy life ahead of it, but now? Yowza. And Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 Troon Vineyard Tannat Estate, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $45. 100% Tannat. DIAM5. Unless you are a fan of the wines of Uruguay or of the relatively tiny appellation Madiran in southwest France, you have never heard of Tannat. Historically (at least in Madiran), these wines required at least a decade of cellar time to render the wine drinkable given the harsh tannins. But. Given modern viticulture and winemaking, this variety when grown in ideal conditions (like Uruguay or Southern Oregon), those tannins can be tamed, resulting in a subtler wine. Really dark in the glass, closer to indigo than violet with deep, dark aromas: black fruit, anise, black pepper. The palate offers more of the same, this is not a wine for someone seeking an alternative to Pinot Noir. Rich & bold, but also tart and tasty, and while not necessarily in my wheelhouse, this wine is gangbusters. Those tannins I mentioned earlier seem to be fairly silky and integrated. Until. The. Finish. While still on the silky side (I guess) those tannins jump up and grab your inner throat, asserting that this wine is ready for the long haul. Would love to taste this in a decade, but it is fantastic now. Excellent. 92 Points.