Lucky for us there are those with a sense of imagination and adventure who often times will do what was, until they thought of it at least, the unthinkable. Pioneers are visionaries, whom at the time seem a little bit crazy but whose vision and hard work make it possible for those who follow them to build upon their success. Right around the time when Oregon's most well known wine pioneer, David Lett was planting Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, Dick Troon was helping to break similar ground in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley. (To cut you off at the pass I am fully aware that Richard Sommer was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Umpqua Valley circa 1960.)
While Southern Oregon has yet to develop the reputation for those varietals the way that California has, Dick Troon helped to found what is fast becoming an accomplished and recognized wine region. The potential of the region is undeniable. Wines from Cowhorn, Folin Cellars, God King Slave and Quady North, along with those from Troon Vineyard demonstrate what the Rogue and Applegate Valleys have to offer in terms of variety and diversity, but it may be an American sweet spot for Zinfandel, Syrah and Tempranillo. Particularly in terms of the preservation of acidity within the wine given their cooler climate.
Troon Vineyard was sold by it's founder to other owners, the Martin Family in 2003. Dick Troon passed away in 2011, but the winery has taken seriously it's namesake and the responsibility it has to the region. The vineyard holdings have expanded and a new and visually stunning facility was built in 2005. True to Troon's pioneering spirit experimental varietals new to Southern Oregon like Tannat and Vermentino have been planted. Herb Quady is the obviously talented winemaker for Troon and he has at his disposal a seemingly endless number of varietals and blends, I counted some 23 wines on their website.
The label however has built and grown it's reputation largely on two wines. Dick Troon's beloved Zinfandel (they make various iterations) and Troon's happiest mistake. The Druid's Fluid red wine is a blend that has long included Syrah, and one particular year Dick had harvested some Syrah with insufficient nitrogen. This lead to a stuck fermentation, the wine as a result was fruity, and just a touch sweet. Reminiscent of a German Dornfelder. This easy drinking red wine has become hugely popular. The wine was a previously published Friday Find.
Zinfandel seems to have found a home in Southern Oregon and Troon Vineyard makes a few of them. Their 2010 Kubli Bench Zinfandel $25 doesn't clobber you with ripeness, raisins and booze. Instead you get blue fruits, savory spice and a fleshy quality that is classically Zinfandel. The acidity that this wine was able to retain takes it to another level in terms of vibrancy. The cooler climate of the Applegate Valley delivers a Zinfandel worthy of anyone's consideration, particularly those who don't think of themselves as fans of the wine. Outstanding.
Reserve Syrah 2008-This is a serious big britches Syrah. The word on the street is that this was a bit of a private project wine for the Martins but it was too good not to share with Troon fans. The wine is comprised of the best Syrah to come off the estate vineyard, selected from only three rows of vines. A tiny 45 cases was made. Overt dark fruit and spices hum in this Syrah. Flavors of black plum draped in a purple velvet mouth-feel courtesy of the the substantial time spent in new French oak. The aromatics are dusty black cherry and hints of earth. $50
The Old Vine Meritage 2009 is a wine that I felt really bad opening. I say that only because it was clear that this wine is built for longevity, and will only get better. Super structured with flavors of raisin, dusty cherries, chocolate, and baking spices balanced with a stony minerality and lots of tannin. There were moments when flavor elements reminded me of an Amarone. The aromatics are a little closed up right now, but like everything else about this wine it screams try me again in 4 or 5 years. $32 sold out
2011 Foundation '72 Vermentino, I know, right? ANOTHER Northwest Vermentino? Yawn. And by another, I mean the only one, period. At least that I'm aware of, and perception equals reality. This wine was a blast to drink. This wine is mostly Vermentino with a small percentage of Viognier blended. It’s a crisp white wine with aromatics of crushed stone, lemon zest and wild flower. The stainless steel fermentation preserves the wine’s great acidity and bite. Flavors of green apple, citrus fruit and mineral finish complete a perfect food
These wines were provided as samples by the winery.