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Elin’s Wine Pick: Riesling For An Obama State Dinner

Elin McCoy's Wine Pick is the 2010 Brooks Ara Riesling. Credit: Courtesy of

Elin McCoy's Wine Pick is the 2010 Brooks Ara Riesling. Pascal Brooks is heir to the winery. Credit: Courtesy of

Over dinner a few nights ago, I was reminded of how delicious Oregon Rieslings can be. My husband and I were sipping this fresh, incredibly bright 2010 Brooks Ara Riesling, which has wonderful orange blossom and honeysuckle aromas, a sophisticated taste mix of juicy pear and herbs, powerful mineral spine and plenty of zingy acidity.

Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week

2010 Brooks Ara Riesling 

Price: $25

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Grapes: 100% Riesling

Alcohol: 11.5%

Serve with: Dungeness crab, sushi, scallops with lemon, Thai cuisine

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More of Elin's wine picks:

» 2011 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

» 2011 Broc Cellars Cabernet Franc

» 2009 Château Fourcas-Borie

I found myself craving a platter of Oregon Dungeness crab, the wine’s ideal partner. Still, it was a fine match with scallops sautéed with paper-thin slices of lemon and baby bok choy. Given this white has only 11.5% alcohol, there was no reason not to finish the bottle.

Brooks winery was founded in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1998 by the charismatic, visionary Jimi Brooks, who passed away suddenly in 2004 at the untimely age of 38. He’d made wine at WillaKenzie Estate and Maysara Winery, and practiced organic and biodynamic farming well before many others in Oregon. His own wines have always had a remarkable purity of fruit and are among the most interesting in the state.

Brooks’ son Pascal, now a teenager, inherited the winery, and Jimi’s sister, Jamie Brooks Heuck, took on the role of managing the business until Pascal can take over. That involved acquiring a winery on a hilltop on Eola Hills Road in 2008 that had passed through the hands of several Oregon wine pioneers. The winery’s Eola Hills estate vineyard is 20 acres, but about two-thirds of the grapes come from diverse vineyards in the Willamette Valley.

The name “Ara” is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere; its name is Latin for “altar,” and the wine is only produced, says the Brooks website, “when the stars are in the right alignment.” They sure were in 2010.  The 2006 vintage of Brooks Ara Riesling was served at President Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House, honoring Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.

If you find yourself in Oregon wine country on Memorial Day weekend, Brooks is holding an open house on Saturday, Sunday and Monday where you can taste all their stellar 2012 whites and current releases of their Pinot Noirs. Just don’t miss this 2010 Ara Riesling.

Top photo composite:

Pascal Brooks, heir to the Brooks winery.

Label for 2010 Brooks Ara Riesling.

Credits: Courtesy of