Northwest winemakers increasingly set on concrete

Trendy (and pricey) egg-shaped vessels produce wines of greater depth and complexity.

A RECENT TREND in winemaking is the concrete egg, a vessel winemakers are using with increasing frequency to produce wines of greater depth and complexity.

These vessels are usually shaped like large eggs, and look something like what Mork used to travel to Earth in the old sitcom.

Despite their considerable cost (around $27,000 to buy and ship just one from France), they are making their way into more cellars in the Pacific Northwest.

Three to try

These three wines were made entirely or partially in concrete eggs:

Côte Nicault 2014, Red Mountain, $75: This GSM-style blend is part of the Long Shadows family of wines, and winemaker Gilles Nicault made the Mourvèdre entirely in cement. The resulting blend is loaded with aromas and flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and layers of complexity, including hints of Herbs de Provence. Available primarily through the wine club.

Columbia Crest Reserve 2014 Coyote Canyon Vineyard syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $35: Made entirely in concrete, this smooth and delicious syrah opens with aromas of nutmeg, ripe plum and blackberry pie, followed by flavors of boysenberry, sage and dark chocolate, backed by smooth suppleness leading to a long finish.

Dance Cellars 2015 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $37: A third of this was made in concrete, with the rest in oak. As a result, it’s a nuanced wine with layers of minerality and brightness, alongside flavors of tropical fruit, hints of butter and a full mouth feel.

Juan Muñoz Oco, head winemaker for Columbia Crest in Paterson, is a big believer in the eggs, having deployed 16 of the vessels in his operation. He uses them primarily for his reserve wine program — 20 percent of that tier now is made in concrete.

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