Fall for Summery Whites from Oregon’s Biodynamic Brooks

While we may be firmly in fall, these whites from biodynamic Brooks in Oregon’s Willamette Valley will bring back the joys of summer to your glass.

On a beautiful fall day during harvest in 2018, I visited Brooks on a press trip with a group of wine writers from the LA area where we met with winemaker Chris Williams (featured in several photos below).

Of course this year, harvest has been more challenging between COVID and fires. Testing for smoke taint takes time and labs are inundated.

A few weeks ago, on September 15, Janie Brooks Heuck of Brooks emailed about the fires, starting with the important news that the winery and team were safe:

Honestly, it feels like a nightmare. This is day 6 of fires. Over 1,000,000 acres have been burned in Oregon alone. Thousands have been evacuated. People have died. People have lost their homes. So much wildlife is affected. The air quality had been hazardous in all the cities surrounding us for days. It is not safe to be outside.

Some growers and winemakers have experience with vineyards and fire issues from working with fruit from Southern Oregon and the Columbia Gorge. Sadly, fires during this time of year are not new to those growing regions. But for the Willamette Valley proper, we have never seen anything like this.

The industry has moved quickly working with experts in California and Australia to gather as much information as possible. There are documented protocols to follow to help with winemaking to mitigate the impact of the fires on the wine. One of the biggest problems is the combination of how close we are to harvest and that there are very few labs in the country that can test for smoke impact. Those labs have a 40+ day backlog and are inundated with testing requests from the vineyards in California who have been battling fires for weeks. Harvest has started so we as an industry have to act based on the best information we can get knowing there is a lot we do not know.

On an uplifting note, watching my colleagues, our industry as a whole, being faced with difficult decisions and the circumstances and responding with grit, determination and passion to do their very best is motivating. We have tremendous strength in the Willamette Valley. It has never been an easy place to grow grapes and make wine and the industry is standing tough!

With regards to COVID, the tasting room which has a large deck and below the deck, an open area near the “kitchen” garden. The tasting room has been open when the air quality was decent. More on COVID here in “A Willamette Valley Visit for Pinot Noir from Sustainable, Biodynamic Estate Wineries: Antiquuam, Brooks, Cooper Mountain, and Montinore.

There’s a lot more to the Brooks story which I will be sharing along with a vertical of my favorite Pinot Noir of theirs, Rastaban! Soon!

BROOKS WINES

2017  Brooks Estate Vineyard Riesling, Eola-Amity Hills
2018 Brooks Estate  Pinot Gris
2017 Brooks Amycas  White Wine, Willamette Valley

MENU

  • Oysters
  • Cheese board; dill havarti, goat cheese, goat cheese with herbs, pate, Dorothy’s creamery
  • Brats
  • Green salad with tangerine and spicy pecans
  • Uni pasta
  • Grilled Salmon

2017  Brooks Estate Vineyard Riesling Eola – Amity Hills
ABV 12.5%; SRP (sample)

Color: Pale daffodil, a hint of green.

Nose : Elderflower, anise, lemon balm, it does not smell like a German riesling.

Palate: There seems to be a bit of residual sugar on this wine, but great acidity balances the sweet. lemon drop candies, sweet and tart, a yin and a yang. The tart lingers on the finish for quite some time.

Palate: Fantastic with the bratwurst, The wine is alright with oysters, but not exceptional. The wine brought out a nice kick in the great basin nuts that were on the salad, There was also a subtle heat in the uni pasta that was enhanced with the wine.

To Try: Sue wanted this wine with a spicy Thai meal.

2018 Brooks Estate  Pinot Gris
ABV 14.2%; SRP (sample)

In a coursed meal, pair this wine with oysters.

Color: Pale lemon, a bit of green.

Nose: Fresh grass, ocean breeze, fresh fennel fronds, anise seeds, fennel pollen, lemon. This is a very fresh nose.

Palate: Anise seeds, a bit of petrol, lemon zest, peachy finish, purity of fruit, purity of character, lovely vivaciousness, very bright and lively.

Pairing: Really really good with grilled bratwurst. Great with herbed goat cheese, as well as regular goat cheese, great with dill havarti, So fantastic with oysters, Marshall liked this wine with the salmon, and I found this wine to be fantastic with our tangerine salad.

2017 Brooks  Amycas White Wine, Willamette Valley
ABV 13%; SRP  ; I purchased this wine on sale.
30% Riesling, 25% Muscat, 20% Pinot Blanc, 15% Pinot Gris and 10% Gewurztraminer

In a coursed meal, pair this wine with a fresh greens, tangerine salad topped with goat cheese and spiced nuts.

Color: Light lemon, lemon chiffon

Nose: Pink grapefruit, pomelo, saline, petrol, gooseberry, anise, lemon balm

Palate: Mint lemonade, lemon head candies, honeysuckle nectar, eucalyptus, Myr really liked this wine she found it to be mellow and soft, very easy to drink and enjoy without food, what a great greeter wine.

Pairing: Very nice with herbed goat cheese, I wanted goat cheese topped with sundried tomato and garlic. Great with dill Harvarti, Something unexpected is how well the wine went with the aged Beecher cheddar, it brings out a sweetness in the cheese and a yummy tart fruit in the wine. This wine wasn’t so great with the Dorothy’s creamery cheese, in this instance the wine preferred goat milk cheese over cow’s milk cheese, with the exception of the Beecher’s aged cheddar. A very oyster friendly wine.

UPDATE: I went into the way back machine on google photos to add some from my visit to Brooks during harvest (above) plus this video which I just posted on twitter.

Coming up this week: Napa cabs and Krug’s role in the fires there, Peju’s merlot with lamb chops, two merlot with meatloaf and more to come including some interesting Italian wines made in Oregon by Montinore! Subscribe!

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