Bow & Arrow - The United States of Loiregon

Scott Frank of Bow & Arrow obeys the rule of the Loire. For him it involves sourcing the right vineyards and farmers who understand his requirements for grapes that pack fruit and acid in equal measure.

Despite Oregon’s constant comparisons to Burgundy, it’s the Loire Valley that inspires Scott Frank’s wines. He only started bottling in 2010 but has quickly earned a reputation for bringing a bit of the Loire to the Pacific Northwest. They source fruit from vineyards planted by some of Oregon’s earliest ‘wine pioneers’ that were planted with grapes like old vine Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Melon de Bourgogne – all typical Loire Valley grapes. These carefully sourced grapes are treated with the greatest care and minimal-intervention winemaking techniques. Their resulting wines are a breath of fresh (French) air from Oregon, lighter in style, lower in alcohol, and extremely food-friendly.

His Gamay Noir is a dead ringer for a light style Gamay from Touraine. In fact, iconic Loire producer Clos Roche Blanche’s winemaker Didier Barrouillet served as a casual ‘over-the-phone consultant’ for Scott’s Gamay. Fermented naturally (semi-carbonic) in cement. Initially soft red fruit flavours give way to earthy and granite-based minerality. Beautifully-integrated and sapid.

A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir from the Johan Vineyard, Rhinestones is inspired by Cheverny, a typical Loire valley red of the same blend. Ripe, juicy black cherry aromas lead to a mid-weight palate full of flavours of tart blackberries, earthy moss, and snappy acidity. It’s great on its own but is a perfect food-friendly red for any occasion. Scott is incredibly proud of this wine, rightly so.

From the famed biodynamic Johan Vineyard (just outside Salem). Commencing with minerally scents and undertones of flint, the Melon then draws more complexity from lemongrass, melon and lime tones for enhancement. Brisk and mouth-watering on the palate with fine intensity and length, this is a wonderful match for a plate of freshly shucked oysters.

La Chenaie is Sauvignon that originates on the mixed Jory, Gelderman, Ritner soils of the Eola-Amity Hills. One of Bill Holloran’s lovingly farmed vineyards, La Chênaie is also certified biodynamic. Chenaie takes Sauvignon to a very different place with numerous nods to Alexandre Bain, Sebastien Riffault and Thierry Puzelat. The grapes are destemmed, but undergo a two-day maceration before being pressed into puncheons. The ferment is totally natural and there is no batonnage or racking of the must (the wine eventually spends around 10 months on the lees) and is bottled without filtration and minimal added sulphur. The palate is extraordinary and develops intriguingly in the glass. Texturally, it carries weight and depth without being ponderous, and is aromatically reminiscent of stone fruit (apricot), guava, mint, dried spice, with a whiff of Rum Agricole. Sure this sounds like a cocktail, but is, in fact, a terrifically vinous, fleshy and mineral expression of Sauvignon.

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