Wine Review: Raptor Ridge

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-17-2021

Raptor Ridge Winery has been building up a reputation for classic Oregon wines for more than a quarter century now. Founder and winegrower Scott Shull has been vinifying Oregon grapes since 1989, and in 1995, he founded Raptor Ridge as a garage winery. His wife Annie Shull is the winery’s chief operations officer, and together, this power couple went on to prepare their own vineyard in 2000, and open their own tasting room in 2010.

I’ve tasted a few of their wines over the years, and remember being impressed with their liveliness, depth and value. And, as a bird nerd and big-time raptor dork, I’ll confess, I was always attracted to how they incorporate local raptors (like Cooper’s Hawks and Peregrine Falcons) into their whole aesthetic. And I also respect their up-front stance on some of the States’ social woes, and their commitment to do what they can to diversify the wine industry.

But it’s all about the juice, and Raptor Ridge delivers. They source grapes from their estate Tuscowallame Vineyard, located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. The Shulls also obtain grapes from a range of different Willamette Valley vineyards, up to about a dozen, depending on the vintage. If you’re looking to try a few different wines without spending a ton of money, Raptor Ridge offers some pretty cool “$99 AVA Series” three-packs on their website.

I recently received a few Raptor Ridge wines to review, which represent a good cross-section of their portfolio. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Brut Rosé USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
SRP: $50
McIntosh apple-colored. Bright and clean on the nose with strawberry, red apple peel, sour cherries, with rose petals and lilies. On the palate, this has a crisp, focused, zippy appeal, with a leaner, chalkier vibe. 3 g/l dosage, aged four years before disgorgement. All Pinot Noir from Harbinger and Tuscowallame Estate. (89 points IJB)

2019 Raptor Ridge Grüner Veltliner Tuscowallame Estate USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
SRP: $30
Light yellow. Bright, salty, floral and perfumed on the nose, over top of green apples and limes, with some celery seed and mint. On the palate, this is brisk, bright, steely and perfumed, with a flinty, chalky, salty appeal. Lemons and green apple fruit blend well with fresh, spicy tones of honeysuckle and lemon verbena. Beautifully zippy, salad- and summer-friendly. All stainless steel, from vines planted in 2006. (89 points IJB)

2018 Raptor Ridge Auxerrois Zenith Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola – Amity Hills
SRP: $30
Light yellow color. The nose pops with lemon, lime and quince, along with notes of hay, sea salt and cucumber slices, chalk dust – really inviting and fresh. Medium/light bodied but nice depth of texture here, too, vibrant, lip-smacking acidity. Lemons, limes and kiwi fruit, woven together with notes of sea salt, floral perfume, oyster shell tones. Zesty but complex, lovely texture, nuanced. Definitely a fun wine to check out. Fermented in neutral oak, with some stainless steel-fermented wine, too. (90 points IJB)

2018 Raptor Ridge Chardonnay Gran Moraine Vineyard USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton
SRP: $50
Medium yellow color. Lovely mix of yellow apples and lemon curd, with sea salt, chalk dust, honey and ginger complexities, too. The palate is nervy and vibrant but the texture is creamy and generous, too. Yellow apples, lemon zest and orange peel fruit. Complex elements of chalk, flint, honey, ginger, crushed shells, all sorts of flower petals. Pure, expressive, focused, beautiful Chardonnay. This Gran Moraine Vineyard is a really special site for Chardonnay. Aged 10 months in French oak. (92 points IJB)

2016 Raptor Ridge Tempranillo Folin Vineyard USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
SRP: $40
Beautiful deep ruby color. Delightful nose of strawberry, black cherry, along with smoky beef jerky, pepper and violets. Medium-bodied with a velvety, chewy, but fresh feel. Balanced, structured, approachable, with deep cherries and plum fruit. Complex notes of black pepper, beef jerky and black tea. Spicy but juicy and fresh, a delightful and expressive interpretation of this grape. Aged 23 months in French oak. (91 points IJB)

2018 Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Estate 777 Clone Tuscowallame USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Chehalem Mountains
SRP: $50
Dark ruby color. The nose shows an inviting mix of wild cherry and raspberry, with rose petals, rhubarb and some earthy, clay tones. Vibrant acidity on the palate, this is bright and crisp, with velvety tannins. Tangy cherries and wild raspberry mix nicely with mulling spices, bay leaf, herbal tea and roasted chestnut. There’s a pleasantly dusty, earthy, mushroomy and bacon mix that lingers long on the finish. Refined already, but this should really open up over the next two to five years. Aged nine months in about ¼ new French oak. (91 points IJB)

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