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Owen Roe Abbot's Table 2012
Jerry Owen, on the the vineyard side, and David O'Reilly, who makes the wine, have formed Owen Roe with a simple purpose: to produce excellent wines from grapes grown and cultivated in the best vineyards in the Pacific Northwest. We have selected top quality grapes from vineyards chosen because they are in areas that ripen fruit fully, and the fruit has excellent acidity and ph balance. These vineyards are in the Willamette, Mid-Columbia, Yakima, and Walla Walla valleys. Each vineyard is contracted by the acre, with strict controls on yields and vine development. The same high principles are found in the winery. We allow only minimal handling, racking by gravity, and excellent cooperage. From the fruit to the bottle, cork, and label, Owen Roe aims for the very best.
Each of the sites we work with are tendered by true craftsmen of the viticultural trade. The principle of good earth stewardship is very important to everyone we work with, so no herbicides or pesticides are used in our vineyards.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.