From: Columbia Valley, Washington, USA
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Taste: A bouquet of honeydew melon, pear, and a whisper of straw. As you inhale deeply, there’s an underpinning of soft floral notes and a hint of wet stone. Fresh and crisp, this Chenin Blanc entwines the lush ripe fruits with vibrant citrus. There's a certain grace in the way the flavors open up, revealing layers with every sip.
Pairing: The 2022 Orr Old Vine Chenin Blanc, with its crisp and refreshing profile, is exceptionally versatile when it comes to food pairing. However, it shines brightest when paired with seafood and shellfish, as intended by the winemaker, Erica Orr.
One of the classic pairings for this Chenin Blanc would be with oysters on the half shell. The wine’s minerality and high acidity balance the salinity of the oysters, while its fruit-forward notes add an extra dimension to the palate.
For a summer lunch or a light dinner, pair this wine with a Grilled Shrimp Salad with a citrus vinaigrette. The citrus notes in both the wine and the vinaigrette create harmony, while the wine’s crisp acidity cuts through the richness of the grilled shrimp.
Another brilliant pairing would be with a Thai-inspired Green Papaya Salad. The vibrant flavors of the salad, including chili, lime, and fresh herbs, will be elevated by the wine’s freshness and fruit notes.
Finally, heed Erica Orr’s own advice and pair this delectable Chenin Blanc with Emily Nunn's "A Summer Roll in a Salad Costume." The fresh, herbaceous, and light characteristics of this dish will mirror the wine’s attributes, creating a harmonious balance that is sure to delight the senses.
A Summer Roll Salad
Serves 4 to 6
This would be a great salad to trot out at a small dinner party, because it makes a quite large salad. But it would be just as good with about half the lettuce, in which case you could serve it as lunch or a lighter supper.
4 handfuls assorted crunchy and soft greens (I use some sweet little gems, red leaf Boston, and baby red romaine)
1 cup basil leaves, larger leaves torn into two or three pieces
½ cup mint leaves, larger leaves torn in half
1 cup cilantro leaves
¾ pound cold cooked shrimp, sliced crosswise into thirds (2 cups total; I used precooked, medium-size shrimp)
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 large, slightly firm avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed (a heaping cup)
1 cup seeded, cubed cucumber (I used half a large English one; I don’t remove the peel unless it tastes bitter)
½ cup roughly chopped roasted cashews
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
Spicy Nuoc Cham Dressing (ingredients below)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 3 limes)
Zest of ½ lime
1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4½ tablespoons fish sauce (I use Red Boat, because I am fancy)
3 tablespoons sugar (I often substitute maple syrup but was out; substitute 3 to 4 tablespoons, or to taste; it’s your dressing!)
1 large clove garlic, grated (use your microplane)
1 bird’s eye/Thai chili, stem removed, finely chopped
1. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all ingredients for the Spicy Nuoc Cham Dressing and shake vigorously to combine well. Taste and adjust—you might want it sweeter, or with more lime; some people like more fish sauce.
2. Place the lettuces and herbs in a large bowl, drizzle lightly with some of the dressing, and toss very gently.
3. Immediately arrange the greens on a large platter. Now, arrange rows of shrimp, avocado, mango, and cucumber upon the greens in a whimsical and/or decorative manner. Using a spoon, drizzle this arrangement heavily with more of dressing. Adorn it all with the cashews and red onion and bring to the table right away, with the extra dressing on the side, allowing diners to serve themselves.
About. In the serene landscapes of Columbia Valley, Washington, a gem of American winemaking emerges, shining as brilliantly as the sun's rays that nourish its vines. The 2022 Orr Old Vine Chenin Blanc is more than just a wine; it's an exquisite expression of passion, dedication, and tradition. This wine personifies the talent of Erica Orr, a phenomenal female winemaker whose impressive journey has culminated in the creation of this divine Chenin Blanc.
A Winemaker's Odyssey
Erica Orr's love affair with wine began rather unexpectedly. Back in 1998, in a cozy San Francisco bar, Erica crossed paths with winemaker Aaron Pott, who convinced her that winemaking was, without a shadow of a doubt, the coolest job in the world. Inspired, she ventured into her first harvest with the renowned Cathy Corison and subsequently enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology master's program at UC Davis. With a background in biochemistry and research experience under 2009 Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Erica combined her scientific acumen with an unbridled passion for winemaking.
From the vineyards of Napa Valley to the illustrious estates in Burgundy and the lush landscapes of the Yarra Valley, Erica honed her skills with meticulous precision. Her journey led her to the breathtaking Columbia Valley, where she unfurled the banner of Orr Wines in 2014.
A Heritage Restored
The 2022 Orr Old Vine Chenin Blanc is a tribute to the region's viticultural history. Once a cornerstone of Washington's wine industry, Chenin Blanc vineyards have become increasingly scarce. Orr's Chenin Blanc brings together fruit from Upland, Roza Hills, and Gresswell vineyards, some of the last bastions of own-rooted Chenin Blanc vines dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
From Vine to Bottle
The 2022 vintage presented unique challenges, with a cold, wet winter and a cool spring delayed bud break and bloom. But nature smiled graciously as summer and fall brought warmth and dryness, resulting in an outstanding harvest.
The grapes underwent whole cluster pressing, and the juices were allowed to settle before being racked to a mix of old oak barrels and stainless steel drums for fermentation with native yeasts. Bottled in American-made glass under TCA-free corks, the final product was an elegant expression of the terroir, producing only 374 cases.
Tasting Notes and Pairing
Green-gold in color, the 2022 Orr Old Vine Chenin Blanc wafts honeydew melon, pear, and straw aromas into the senses. It is fresh, crisp, and dry with a clean mineral finish, crafted to pair sublimely with seafood and shellfish.
In the past, Orr's Chenin Blanc has garnered accolades from critics. Owen Bargreen lauded the 2015 vintage for its balanced expression, and Stephen Tanzer praised the 2013 vintage's intensity and freshness.
In her recent blog post, Erica Orr recounted her enchanting experience pairing this Chenin Blanc with Emily Nunn's "A Summer Roll in a Salad Costume." The wine's crispness and freshness resonate perfectly with summer dishes.
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