Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Alison Sokol Blosser, of the eponymous Sokol Blosser Winery in Oregon to talk about and taste her family's wines. While their signature Pinot Noir wines are very fine and noteworthy, I felt compelled to first write about Evolution White and Meditrina Red, their two delicious and innovative great value wines.
Sokol Blosser Winery
Sokol Blosser, one of Oregon's pioneering wineries, was established in 1971 by Alison's parents Bill and Susan, who with no winemaking background decided to follow their dream to make great Pinot Noir. Determination, energy and a tremendous respect for the land has enabled them to both enjoy great success as well as creatively overcome the various challenges that grape growing and winemaking automatically throws in your path.
One such challenge meant having to replant their vineyards after an attack of Phylloxera in 1990. With most of their vines uprooted, the family had to think creatively in terms of how to get through the years while waiting for the newly planted vines to come of age to make great Pinot Noir again. This creative thinking gave birth first to Evolution, which was launched in 1998 and is now in its 14th year of production, and then to Meditrina, which was subsequently launched in 2004.
Evolution White NV
Evolution is quite a unique American wine, in that it is crafted from a fascinating blend of nine grape varieties. These are Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. While Evolution may be an easy wine to drink, it is one of their hardest wines to make. Imagine trying to weave together all those very different varieties. As their talented winemaker puts it, "It is like mixing nine colors of paint and ending up with a rainbow instead of a muddy brown."
I first tasted Evolution 9 (the 9th edition) a number of years ago and fell in love it with. I remember recommending it for Thanksgiving, when there are so many different flavors to accommodate. Evolution is juicy and easy drinking. It is slightly off-dry, with just enough sweetness to balance the lovely acidity and compliment an array of Asian and Southern spicy flavors. The wonderful flavors exhibit a patchwork of tropical fruit, exotic citrus, jasmine, apple and orange blossom with hints of ginger, nutmeg and other complex spices.
Meditrina Red, NV
Following in the successful footsteps of Evolution came Meditrina – a whimsical, delicious red blend made from Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Named after the Roman Goddess of wine, Meditrina is soft and juicy, packed with bright fruit – think raspberries, cranberries, blueberries sprinkled with spice. I first tasted it last week and immediately longed for a juicy hamburger, spare ribs or even a pizza. Alison strongly recommends it with a pulled pork sandwich or char-grilled chicken.
While both wines are definitely fruit driven and easy drinking they have a focus, structure and balance.
Both Evolution and Meditrina carry the designation 'American Wine' because grapes for both are sourced from more than one state - Oregon and California. As such under US wine law they also cannot carry a vintage designation on the label.
Both retail for $15 and are widely distributed throughout the United States.
Until next week enjoy!
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.
(Images: Mary Gorman)