Thursday, April 16, 2009

A bite into Idaho – Sawtooth Winery

As I said before, I have tasted more wines from Idaho than anyone else I know. I really wanted to go out of my comfort zone of regions I am familiar with and try something so new and out of the box. I have to say Idaho certainly quenched that desire.

The first wines to arrive from Idaho were from Sawtooth Winery. The winery, formerly known as Pintler Cellars, was founded in 1987 by Charles Pintler and started as a fifteen-acre vineyard in the heart of the Canyon County region of the Idaho's Snake River Valley. Pintler Cellars joined Corus Estates & Vineyards in 1998. The winery then changed its name to Sawtooth Winery.

Sawtooth Winery is actually owned by a larger parent organization, Corus Estates and Vineyards, formerly Corus Brands. Corus owns several wineries in the northwest corner of the country, including Alder Ridge, Battle Creek, Six Prong and Zefina. Each of these brands are very small producing boutique wineries.

Moving back to Sawtooth, the winery makes a rather wide variety of wines. They have your classic Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah mix that you can find at almost every wineries in the US. However they also experiment with other wines such as Tempranillo, Muscat Blanc, and Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. You can find the full list here and all at reasonable prices for someone looking to explore.

I also tasted the 2005 Tempranillo, 2005 Syrah, 2007 Chardonnay, 2006 Viognier, and 2007 Riesling. Something I need to mention is that the wines, especially the red wines had a very strange metallic bitterness to them. It was really the first time I had tasted something like this in a wine.

The best of the lot that I tasted, and really the only one I can fully recommend is the 2008 Pinot Gris. It was just released on April 1st and is worth picking up if you can find it. From the moment I opened the bottle I knew I was going to enjoy the wine. There was a pleasant floral quality to the wine, with the smell of peaches mixed in. I liked the taste of nectarine with a little bit of white pepper at the end. When I went back to research the wine I found that it is really only mostly Pinot Gris, with a small amount of Chardonnay and Muscat mixed in, probably to give the wine more aromatics and weight. The blend is 86% Pinot Gris, 10% Chardonnay, and 4% Muscat but the fact that it is a blend should not be a deterrent from trying this or any wine.
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