January 05, 2011

Oregon's most mysterious wine

I've long heard about Cameron Winery's nebbiolo project, but never until recently did I see any bottled wine, much less have a taste. I'd heard of nebbiolo vines grown in the Clos de Bess section of the estate vineyard in the Dundee Hills, perhaps the only local planting (please correct me if that's wrong). I'd heard of pruning issues with the vines over the years, where apparently the first few buds on a cane aren't fruitful. Something you might know or learn if you lived in Italy's Piedmont and prune accordingly, meaning different than you might with pinot noir. I'd even seen a small barrel of nebbiolo wine in the Cameron cellar a few years ago on a visit, so I knew wine existed. I'd even heard of small amounts of bottled wine making it to a few local restaurants, but in this string of hearsay this is perhaps the most spurious.

But it was only in December that I saw bottles, several in fact, of 2006 Cameron Nebbiolo Dundee Hills, a beautifully simple label that features a tricycle. The broader significance of that is a mystery to me, but suffice it to say I'm not going to sincerely flatter Tricycle Magazine (the Buhddist review!) with my own Tricycle label. Actually, Jennifer put the kibosh on that, but I saw this label and that's what I thought. I like the label.

So how is the wine? Really, really good. This is like no domestic nebbiolo I've tried. We always want to compare things, but this isn't Barolo or Barbaresco. It's Oregon nebbiolo that's high toned and perfumed, rich in the mouth with signature nebbiolo tannin, nice length and savor that would be delicious to try over the course of an evening. Unfortunately, I only had a taste. There isn't much of this wine. It's precious, for sure. But even at the $50+ price tag it's very interesting and something worth trying at least. I sure would love to hear about other people growing nebbiolo locally. It's such a terrific grape and so unknown as a varietal here in the US. That should change.


carlturcotte said...

Hi Vincent,

Do you have a contact (web merchant) for buying this wine. As a Piedmont wines fan, I'm very curious about this wine.

Thanks for your blog,

Vincent Fritzsche said...


Thanks for the kind words. Note that I tasted this wine last month after years of hearing about it and never seeing it. So it's not likely available any more. You might try Storyteller Wine Company at storytellerwine.com. Michael is a great resource and that's where I tried this.


Anonymous said...

I don't know about others growing the Nebbiolo "varietal" in OR, but there have been a number of CA producers who have tried it. I've never had one that's been excellent, but I've had some past efforts from Justin (a club shipment back in the early '90s might have been the best domestic version I've had, but many years and wines cloud my memory) and Palmina that were at least respectable.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Anon, yes, familiar with several nebbioli out of CA. There's also Cana's Feast here in OR that makes neb from Washington grapes. I'll have to track down definitive information about who if anyone has some planted locally. One possible place could be Illahe vineyard outside of Dallas, near Freedom Hill. They have lagrein, maybe dolcetto, among other esoteric (in Oregon) things. Maybe nebbiolo too?

Anne said...

After a site field trip to Cameron, Alfredo Apolloni planted a small test block of Nebbiolo and Sangiovese at his N. Willamette Valley vineyard