Ordeaux - South Bank - Red Wine 2019
The Ordeaux label came about almost by accident: After going to northern Oregon's Columbia Gorge AVA to look at a planting of Saperavi — a red grape indigenous to Georgia and rarely found outside the country's borders — Jeff Vejr was shown some Cabernet Sauvignon vines that immediately caught his attention. It turns out, these plants are from an old, forgotten French clone of Cabernet that has much smaller clusters and berries than anything else in the U.S. Inspired by the old-school Napa Cabs of the 1970s and 1980s that he loved, Jeff decided to to try his hand at producing wine from this unique fruit. The results have been spectacular: beautifully ripe, restrained wines that speak of the land, contemplative winemaking and the quality of the fruit.
The Ordeaux South Bank Red Wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, with the rest equal parts Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The vines are dry-farmed and own-rooted, planted at 244 meters on basalt and loess soils in the windy hills above The Dalles, Oregon in the shadow of Mt. Hood. The wine is fermented and aged in Tonnellerie Quintessence wooden eggs; is unfined (vegan) and unfiltered; and produced with low levels of sulfur. Ordeaux's South Bank Red reminds me the of classic Bordeaux and California red blends from the 1980s: moderate, restrained and balanced with an alcohol of only 12.22%! In the glass, the wine shows a gorgeous dark garnet color with enticing aromas of blackberries, roasted red peppers, paprika, river stones, dried earth and red flowers. The palate has layers of flavor and an astonishing ripeness of fruit for such moderate alcohol; you may think you'd find hard, unripe tannins and excessive acidity, but that is not the case at all: there is an admirable balance of power, finesse and refreshment. Enjoy with grilled marinated flank steak alongside summer vegetables.