Ephemeral 2017 — Zinfandel
A Wine That
doesn't taste anything like Zinfandel as you know it. This is more akin to Blaufränkisch or Nebbiolo, blended with Syrah and given an extra pepper injection. Smoky and enticing, the flavours and aromas of this wine will remain imprinted on your tongue for what feels like an eternity. It grabs you, pulling you under; one of those wines you're left gaping at, mouth wide open, for how can grapes produce something that doesn't taste anything like grapes at all?
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- Delivery: Delivery and gift wrapping options available at checkout.
- Winemaker: HIYU Wines
Where and How?
There are 1.5 acres of Zinfandel planted here, on the banks of the Columbia River where the Gorge transitions to desert. A Basalt cliff rises from the river, there are dunes on the other side of the cliff and the vineyard is planted in black sand and basalt cobbles beyond the dunes. The site is complex and influenced by torrid heat from the desert, unimpeded flow of alpine air from the slopes of Mt. Adams and powerful, ocean inflected winds that are accelerated by the steep walls of the Gorge.
This vineyard is on a steep cobbled hillside on the north side of the site. The soil is very shallow and the shoots barely reach the first wire, begin to yellow by midsummer and are struggling for survival. The wine that emerges from this struggle never fails to surprise. It's always one of the last parcels to be picked, often after all the leaves have fallen. The wine that results from this is atypically, perfumed, floral and delicate for Zinfandel. In Nate's words, "It tastes more like some long lost aromatic grape variety, that only grows on the cliffs of a single village, in a forgotten mediterranean isle."
The Hood River Valley is a place that reverberates with energy. As we walk through the forest’s thick foliage, there is no man-made sound to be heard, other than the odd snap of twigs from beneath our feet. It’s almost as if we can feel the heartbeat of nature herself. It wouldn’t surprise us if there really were fairies living underneath the dense shrubbery.
This energy is what Nate and China are committed to preserving on their farm; their goal is to grow vines, vegetables and tend animals with as little interference with nature’s own rhythms as possible. This means working in tandem with nature, never against it. Instead of seeing the negatives (weeds as competition, mildew as bad), they flip their thinking - for example, which plants might be beneficial to the vines? How can the present microbial population be increased so that there’s less room for mildew to take hold?
Nate and China are two people on a tandem bike, of which the framework is nature. They sit on top of a complex functioning world that gives them life, and their aim is simply to respect it and to help create an environment for it to flourish—for nature to thrive, and for the bike to run more smoothly.
As for the vineyards? Imagine a place where 107 grape varieties live together with oak trees, goats and rare species of duck. And the wines? Well, they're the polar opposite to Oregon's "norm"; if “classic Oregon” is Bronte’s Edgar Linton, then @hiyuwinefarm is Heathcliff. And we couldn't love them more if we tried. This is fine wine, as fine wine has never seen it before.