Cowhorn Vineyard Releases Spiral 36

June 30, 2009

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden today announced the release of its groundbreaking white wine blend, “Spiral 36.” The wine takes its name from the shape of the winery’s logo and the estate vineyard blocks (3 and 6) that produced the winegrapes. Spiral 36 is Cowhorn’s first release from the 2008 vintage, and the first of a series of new releases in 2009.

Spiral 36 represents Southern Oregon’s first wine to rival great “Cal-Rhône” white blends from California – and from the Rhône River wine region itself. While most such blends are based on the popular Viognier grape, Spiral 36 is almost equally balanced between Viognier (35%), Roussanne (35%) and Marsanne (30%).

“We vinified the three grapes separately, and each wine had great character on its own,” recalls Cowhorn co-founder Barbara Steele. “Then one day it hit us — if we could get all that flavor and personality into one wine it would be amazing. Once we started blending trials, we knew we had to do it.”

Spiral 36 stands out for more than its blend. The vineyard that produced it is certified for both organic and Biodynamic® viticulture, ensuring that the flavors on the vine were true to nature. The grapes were also fermented in native yeast directly from the vineyard, rather than with cultured commercial yeasts (many of which are designed to add or amplify particular flavors). This natural approach further maintained the authenticity of the fruit flavors and textures that went into a mix of neutral (75%) and new (25%) French oak barrels for the winter.

This result is a succulent blend that gives off soft scents of Golden Delicious apple, guava and mango. These fruits burst with freshness on the palate, lifted up by a vibrant foundation of baked pear and caramelized golden sugar flavors. This complex combination creates a more serious drinking experience than most whites – even though the wine did not go through malolactic fermentation and has refreshingly moderate alcohol.

When Rhône grapes became popular in California in the 1990s, the wineries leading the trend found that the grapes of the region have a natural affinity for blending. Even though American wine-drinkers have been taught for two generations to select single-variety wines, the best of the new Cal-Rhône blends caught on. Leading proponents including Bonny Doon, Domaine de la Terre Rouge, Eberle, Joseph Phelps, and Tablas Creek established successful white blends along with their red Rhône blends. Now Spiral 36 takes its place beside them – even as it stands out with its Biodynamic origins in Oregon.

Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden produced 416 cases of Spiral 36, which is offered at a suggested retail price of $18.00.

– John Darling