A breakfast meeting with Nicolas Quillé had me excited and a bit nervous. He is the head winemaker for Pacific Rim (among other Banfi properties in the Northwest). Born in Lyon, France, to a multi-generational wine family, Nicolas worked in France as a winemaker before making the move to the United States in 1997. He initially worked as a winemaker in California and then in Washington State, before earning his MBA and then moving to Bonny Doon Vineyard as General Manager. where he supervised the restructuring of the family business involving two significant merger and acquisition transactions. He led the Pacific Rim brand spin-off from Bonny Doon and became the General Manager and Winemaker for Pacific Rim Wineryand is also the Vice President of the International Riesling Foundation, among other wine industry positions. A nicer person you couldn't meet, and a true ambassador for Riesling, one of my favorite white varietals and probably the grape most responsible for me getting the wine bug.
We spoke at length and happily, since I had to get back to work, chose to forego tasting wines, though a few bottles came home with me that day (cheers!). I'm a fan of their green practices, which include a winery built to optimize efficiency for electrical and water usage, composting 100% of their pomace, along with a host of other sustainability efforts. They even produce an organic Riesling, hooray!
2014 Columbia Valley Riesling: white floral, starfruit, and pineapple aromas; muskmelon, honeyed nut, and lychee flavors; semi-dry; nice acidic finish, twist off closure.
2013 Solstice Vineyard Riesling: old vines planted in 1972; grapefruit, white floral, and spice aromas; tart citrus, almond, and white strawberry flavors into a tart and acidic finish; quite dry in the Alsatian style; twist off closure.
Selenium Vineyard Ice Wine Riesling: Yakima Valley grapes harvested on St Nicolas Day 2013; the Selenium Vineyard sits at 1200’ above sea level; floral, honey and stone fruit aromas; sweet apricot with a touch of citrus and into a honey and nut finish; not acid forward but underlying and cuts through sweetness; 117 cases produced; twist off closure.
Pacific Rim makes a range of Rieslings, from entry level to their single vineyard bottling, and it's clear that quality is paramount in their winemaking. The wines I tasted had that quality in common, yet stood apart as individuals, allowing the different aspects of Riesling shine through. It was fantastic to meet with Nicolas, hear his story, and finally, taste his wines.
*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.
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