Touring the Willamette Valley – Rex Hill
Features resulting from a week spent exploring Walla Walla and Willamette.
This is one winery that is a must on your itinerary around the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Located just outside of Newberg on the 99W towards Chehalem, it is a winery which access to older established vineyards with the originals being those surrounding the cellar door.
As cellar door’s go, it is manned by some great characters with great knowledge of the region and, most importantly, the wines. This was one of my gripes with the cellar doors in the region – the wine knowledge was a bit hit and miss and even at times bored. Not at this cellar door.
As with many of the cellar doors in Willamette, there is plenty to entertain the wine lover and those not so interested in wine. The gift shop is well worth a browse.
However, I am all about the wine as you might have guessed and I doubt that fine wine lovers would walk out with nothing. Even I brought one back to Australia – a hard won position to be sure. Of course, they also deserve extra kudos for their biodynamic and sustainable approach.
While you are there, you might be able to taste one of the Francis Tannahill wines which are of a very different character than the Rex Hills. The Pinot being a more herbal minerally counterpoint to the lush ripeness and oak stature of the Rex Hill wines.
You might also time your visit right to book in for one of their classes or tours.
My pick of the wines are:
Rex Hill Old Vine Chardonnay 2009 ($78) 13.5% – A rich and complex wine where age is settling in gracefully. The stonefruit has a citrus lift that makes the chorus of the smoky cinnamon and cream sing. The stonefruit flavour builds from the first sip and the soft spicy texture continues through to the finish. A well balanced and elegant wine that is a keeper but also good drinking now if you cannot wait.
Rex Hill Jacob Hart Pinot Gris 2011 Willamette Valley ($30) 13% – The texture of this Pinot Gris is very enticing with nearly a quarter of the blend having spent over 5 months in an egg. Here the wine was in perpetual gentle motion ensuring that the lees in kept in contact with the wine as it matured giving it an extra degree of fineness to the mouth. You could not say that the rest languished in that time with the remainder spending time in either seasoned oak barrels or stainless steel.
The result is creamy, juicy pear and citrus characters with nuances of spicy white flowers. The palate has plenty of spice and a solid middle and finish while remaining crisp and smooth. There is so much going on you really need to have another glass at least to get to know it as it opens up.
Rex Hill Willamette Pinot Noir 2011 ($35) 13.5% – Another Rex Hill wine that is big on texture which in this case is very smooth and silky. The wine is made in a cellaring style that is big on rich oak which a chariness to it while being sweetly balanced with the fruit. Plumply ripe cherries and spice with some underlying forest floor flesh out the palate right through to the finish. With that succulent tannin structure, it is hard to resist.