Teutonic Crow Valley Vineyard Riesling 2016
Without a clue as to how to start or find investors for financial backing, we (Barnaby and Olga) started on a long journey into one of Oregon’s most difficult industries- the wine business. As our luck would have it, a friend of ours offered her fallow farm land in Alsea, Ore., to start a vineyard. So in 2005, along with a handful of good friends, we put 2000 vines into the ground, mostly Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc. As we were learning how to manage the vineyard, Barnaby left his restaurant career and started as a rookie at a shared winery facility in Carlton.
Because we love the wines from the Mosel Valley so much, we began traveling there every summer and have met many local producers who make superb Rieslings. As we got to know them, we convinced some of them to let us import small quantities to the U.S. [Most local wineries in these small villages sell directly to customers and don’t bother exporting their wines out of the country because of the hassles associated with the paperwork and delayed payments.] Through time, we have made good friends there and look forward to our annual visits. In addition to importing their wines, these winemakers have been very helpful with sharing their winemaking techniques with us. Thanks to this exposure, our wines, especially our Rieslings, are known for being stylistically close to the wines of the Mosel, Alsace and other old world winemaking regions.
We produced our first commercial vintage in 2008: two barrels of Pinot Noir from our estate vineyard and three barrels of Pinot Meunier made with fruit from a U-pick vineyard. From there, we have increased our production by purchasing fruit from vineyards in colder sites, higher elevation and always look for dry-farmed vines that are ideally 30 years old or more.
Today, Teutonic Wine Company produces roughly 5,000 cases of wine per year, including a rich variety of wines that are typical to the Germany’s Mosel region. These varietals include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chasselas, Gewürztramer, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. All the wines we make, with the exception of one blend, are single vineyard wines.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a continental climate moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture and the production of elegant wines.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation vineyard sites.
The valley's three prominent soil types (volcanic, sedimentary and silty, loess) make it unique and create significant differences in wine styles among its vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based, Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. In the most southern stretch of the Willamette, the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA soils are mixed, shallow and well-drained. The Hills' close proximity to the Van Duzer Corridor (which became its own appellation as of 2019) also creates grapes with great concentration and firm acidity, leading to wines that perfectly express both power and grace.
Though Pinot noir enjoys the limelight here, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay also thrive in the Willamette. Increasing curiosity has risen recently in the potential of others like Grüner Veltliner, Chenin blanc and Gamay.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. It can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and the best exmples can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Tasting Notes for Riesling
Riesling can be a sweet or dry white wine. In any case it usually has a high acidity and stone fruit, citrus, spice and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Perfect Food Pairings for Riesling
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, freshly shucked oysters and most Asian food. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
Sommelier Secrets for Riesling
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.