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Area (AVA) running from the Columbia River to the city of Eugene, the wet winters and dry summers provide the perfect growing conditions for this grape known for its difficulty to cultivate. When young, Oregon Pinot Noir bears a flavor profile of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries; yet, with age, this wine develops further fruit complexity and earthiness. The 2017 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir ($21.99 per bottle; offers the fruit-forward characteristics of many New World wines blended with Old World expression of terroir. Ruby red in color, this divine wine pairs wonderfully with a dish of tender short ribs marinated in a teriyaki sauce (Japanese cooking sauce blending soy sauce, sugar, and sweet cooking wine). The melt-in-your-mouth beef would be overpowered by a wine rich in tannins making this Pinot Noir the perfect match in body without being slack brought out by the vein of acidity innate in the grape. The sweetness of the teriyaki marinade plays with the sweet flavors of strawberry purée and the refreshing acidity in this wine, while the saltiness of the marinade is balanced by the bright youth in the flavors of this bottling. Traveling further north, Washington has proven to be another stronghold in the world of American wine whose long hours of sunlight and consistent temperatures allow the grapes to truly settle into their surroundings. The defining geographical feature of Washington State is the Cascade Mountain Range, which provides protection for the vineyards in the east from weather fronts and precipitation from the west. While almost 70 varietals are grown in Washington, a standout over the past years has been wine created from the delicate, yet commanding, Riesling grape. Famous throughout the world, Riesling’s crisp profile of white fruits and flowers yields a wine truly expressive of the place it is grown in. The 2017 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling ($10 per bottle; is a tremendous steal created by the oldest winery in the state, Chateau Ste. Michelle. Lime rind, white peaches, and crisp green apple radiate from this wine, which begs to be paired with a dish like scallops sautéed in herbed brown butter. The minerality of the wine parallels the sea-like minerality of the scallops while the bright acidity and fresh fruit flavors cuts the brown butter to keep the palate from fatiguing. From robust bottles of Cabernets from California to the tantalizing glasses of Riesling from Washington State, the wines of the West Coast have proven year after year to be as nuanced and as powerful as their European counterparts and definite forces to be reckoned with. 78


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