The largest biodynamic and organic-certified winery in Oregon, Montinore Estate is one of the top 25 wine producers by volume in the state, and it's wines are distinctly different from those of other wineries.
During a private tour with winemaker Ben Thomas, we walked the 650-acre estate of rolling hills, untended swatches of native plants, beautiful vineyards, and winery facilities and heard his take on biodynamic wines. Ben said that the winery uses native yeasts whenever possible; this means that the winery ferments its grapes using yeasts already present in the environment. The winery actually collects these yeasts from the air, and then cultivates them on large, petri-like dishes. Then, they test each yeast with the grapes to choose the best.
|Montinore Winemaker Ben Thomas|
As we walked a driveway with hundred-year-old maple trees along either side, Ben explained why he likes native yeasts. He said that, in general, they have broader flavors; more aromatics; and more earthy flavors. I found this interesting since I'd just tasted through several of the winery's white wines and found most of them lacked clear identities. The aromas were not sharp; seemingly flabby. Was this what he meant by "broad?" Since so many people love Montinore wines, I'm going to have to guess that this is the case—at least regarding the whites.
Warm and dry inside, we tasted Montinore's red wines. The reds did have huge noses on them, and they were nice and balanced on the palate. In short, I vastly preferred the reds to the whites.
See what you think: Montinore is open for tastings daily, and you can taste five wines for $5 (fee refunded with purchase). Look out for these standout wines:
- 2012 Borealis (semi-sweet white blend)
- 2009 Parson's Ridge Pinot Noir
- 2009 Graham's Block 7 Pinot Noir