6 Unusual Wine Picks From The Northwest

Trellis Growth Partners may sound like a bunch of financial planners, but the name actually belongs to a marketing group that represents a dozen clients from Oregon and Washington — 10 small wine producers, plus a maker of olive oil, and a ready-to-launch micro-distiller.

Unsurprisingly, receiving a case of samples from these artisan producers was an interesting experience. Quality varied, but here are the wines that proved to be the most striking:

2011 Stoller Dundee Hills pinot noir ($25). While not a complex wine, it's a pleasant one — rounded cherry fruit with cola and rooty flavors.

2009 Mackey "Concordia" Columbia Valley red ($38). Mainly composed of syrah with some grenache and mourvèdre blended in, this wine has ripe, rich fruit with cherry and raspberry flavors and pleasant creaminess. Good texture and well-integrated tannins.

2010 Two Mountain "Copeland" Yakima Valley syrah ($22). A troubled, slightly bitter wine when the cork is pulled, but with some decanting and time it becomes more-interesting — earthy with tart raspberries and a bit of funkiness. I would recommend only for you lovers of murky, brooding wines.

2009 Abacela "South East Block" Umpqua Valley tempranillo reserve ($50). Whenever I taste samples, I try to enjoy them with dinner, but I am often obliged to leave barely touched bottles on my neighbors' doorsteps or dump them. This wine, however, I couldn't imagine pouring down the drain. It was delicious when I first tasted it with food, and it continued to develop over the next few days — uncorked and unrefrigerated. So it's by far my Pick of the Litter — ripe, rounded black raspberry and elderberry fruit with a delightful creaminess and a chocolate mocha finish. Very good food-friendly acidity and tasty tannins.

2012 Ghost Hill Yamhill-Carlton pinot noir blanc ($25). A bit of a novelty, but an interesting one. While this wine fades quickly from the palate, it shows a well-balanced apricot/citrus fruitiness and a nice bit of spritz, either natural or induced.

NV Naked Winery "Outdoor Vino" American white table wine ($15). Another novelty, not so interesting for its quality — sweet and somewhat bland — as for its delivery system. It comes in a small plastic bottle and advertises itself as a wine for adrenaline junkies who must bring wine out on the slopes or along the trail. So if you need a mid-slalom burst of sugary energy or a buzz before you bungee jump, this is your wine (but remember — carry out what you carry in!).