PICK of SOUTHERN OREGON: Abacela | Garnacha | Umpqua Valley | Oregon | 2012 | $29 | 88 pts

Abacela FinalOregon wine is not all about the expansive Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and its six sub-appellations; nor is Oregon wine just about Pinot Noir. There are ten additional officially recognized winegrowing regions across the state where winemakers are producing a broad array of varieties and styles in a diversity of growing conditions. One of these regions is the Umpqua Valley, which lies within the Southern Oregon AVA in the southwestern corner of the state. The Umpqua Valley’s northern areas are marked by a cool, marine-influenced climate not entirely unlike the Willamette Valley, but the appellation’s  southern climes are markedly more Mediterranean — warm and dry. This is home to Abacela Winery and Vineyard, just southwest of Roseburg, which specializes in the noble varieties of Spain and Portugal that are perfectly suited to the area’s arid climate. Abacela is best known for Tempranillo — proprietors Earl and Hilda Jones planted the first Tempranillo vines in the Pacific Northwest in 1995 — but the winery’s more limited offerings are also noteworthy. Abacela’s Garnacha (Grenache) is one of those, and the 2012 tells why. This is an intriguing wine, with aromas that suggest kirsch, bay leaf, and eucalyptus followed by flavors that bring to mind ripe black cherry, roasted black plum, and oregano, with an edge of toasted walnut on the finish. The wine is full-bodied, firm, and savory on the palate, with modest tannins,  forward acids, and very slight, cedar-tinged oak (it aged in French oak, 5% new and 95% neutral). It should pair well with sharp, aged cheeses, seared pork tenderloin, stuffed peppers, and other hearty fare.

Availability: Abacela produced only 219 cases of the 2012 Garnacha, so for availability and purchasing options visit them virtually at www.abacela.com. For information on the wineries and wines of the Umpqua Valley, visit www.umpquavalleywineries.org.

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