Source : http://www.princeofpinot.com/article/2043/
Source : http://www.princeofpinot.com/article/2043/
that makes Pinot Noir, hopefully, it’s the Willamette Valley.”
When you scan the scores of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs to follow, you may think they are inflated. It is important to realize that these reviewed wines are a highly selective group, taken from some of the most respected producers in Oregon. I warn you that once you have tried some of these Pinot Noir wines, you will be hopelessly hooked and you will eagerly seek them out.
Most of the wines are from the 2015 vintage. Overall, this was a relatively hot and dry year with an early harvest in mid-September. Spring was early and warm, summer was also quite warm with some later July and early August heat spikes. It is not unusual to see ABVs in the 14.0% to 14.5% range in this vintage, a range quite common in California, but unconventional in Oregon.
Anam Cara Cellars, Chehalem Mountains
Nick and Sheila Nicholas started their winery modestly in 2001 when they established their 36-acre vineyard in Sherwood in the Chehalem Mountains on the site of an old walnut and plum orchard. The vineyard rises from 350 to 650 feet elevation and is set in a windy corridor between the towns of Sherwood and Newberg. There are three distinct soil types: Jory, Loess and Laurelwood. Their site has proven its excellence and the wines have been highly lauded over the years. In 2015, the couple downsized their operation and sold all but 6 acres of their vineyard to Ken and Celia Austin of Rain Dance Vineyards. Grapes have also been sold to other Willamette Valley wineries including Adelsheim and Et Fille.
A tasting room is located in downtown Newberg on Main Street and open Thursday-Sunday. For more information, visit www.anamcaracellars.com. Photo shows Nick and Sheila and their daughter Heather at the occasion of the tasting of a vertical of Heather’s Pinot Noir a couple of years back.
13.9% alc., 400 cases, $35. Released fall 2017. A reflection of the entire vineyard in this vintage. Clones include 114, 115, Wädenswil, Pommard and “field blend.” Aged in 19% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Fresh aromas of iced cherry, blueberry and spice cabinet. Light to mid weight in style with eager flavors of cherry, blueberry and spice, and just a kiss of oak. Forward drinking and easy going, displaying upbeat juiciness and an elegant demeanor. A “little” wine that has a lot to give. Score: 90
14.0% alc., 125 cases, $50. Released fall 2017. Clones are 20% Wädenswil, 20% Dijon 115 snd 60% “field blend.” Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose offers a highly compatible marriage of ripened dark fruits and oak with that Pinot earthiness that can be so appealing. Intensely endowed with well-spiced purple berry and black cherry fruit flavors that sing all the high notes and offer superb length in the mouth. Impeccably balanced, with a long finish infused with cherry goodness. This wine is clearly a step up and worthy of the “Reserve” designation. Score: 94
14.3% alc., 100 cases, $55. Release in spring 2018. 100% Wädenswil clone planted in a 2-acre block in 2008. Aged in 25% new, 25% once-filled and 50% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Very engaging aromas of crushed cherry, plum, marionberry, rose petal and bread dough. Delightful middleweight flavors of black cherry, boysenberry, spice and Hoison sauce. The energetic sap is backed by gentle tannins and offers a sexy texture. Quite approachable, with good finishing pleasure. I am more of a Pommard guy, but I must admit that this is one of the best Wädenswil single clone Pinot Noirs I have ever experienced. Score: 93
13.8% alc., 48 cases, $75. Release in spring 2018. Normally the Heather’s bottling reflects the most elegant expression of the vintage. Sourced from the coolest part of the vineyard, a 5-acre block of Dijon clone 114. Originally this bottling came exclusively from this block, but over time other qualifying once-filled barrels have been added to the blend. 50% Dijon 114 (reserve rows), 25% Wädenswil and 25% Dijon 115. Aged in 100% once-filled French oak barrels. The 2015 vintage produced a rather gender-bending expression of Heather’s in that the wine is much bolder than in year’s past. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of darker cherry, Nutella and white chocolate. The opulent black cherry and plum fruit is heady yet light on its feet and well supported by mature tannins. Not as elegant as in past vintages, and maybe not as giving at this stage as other wines in the lineup, but doesn’t disappoint. Score: 92
14.1% alc., 50 cases, $75. Release spring 2018. This wine is named for Nick and Sheila’s son, Mark, and intended to be the boldest cuvée of the vintage. This is both a vineyard and barrel blend, sourced from reserve rows cropped to 1.5 tons per acre. 75% Pommard reserve rows, 25% “field blend.” Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. No Mark bottling was offered in 2013, and the Roman numerals denote the wine’s place in the series. Like Heather’s, the Mark bottling is atypical in this vintage, more metrosexual than macho. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose reveals its charms slowly over time in the glass, offering aromas of wild berries and pleasant oak. Very engaging on the palate with a real mouthful of cherry and strawberry fruit goodness. There is plenty of spice accent to satisfy and the barrel management is first class. Slightly more elegant than the Heather’s bottling, even metrosexual, this wine is quite forward in this vintage and grabs your attention. Score: 94
De Ponte Cellars, Dayton, OR
Like Anam Cara, this family owned winery was started in 2001. Owners Scott and Rae Baldwin are California transplants who were nut farmers in California. They hired Parisian-born Isabelle Dutarte as the initial winemaker. She moved permanently to the Yamhill Valley five years later, and has remained at De Ponte (“Duh Pawnt”) ever since.
In 2007, the Baldwins bought 80 acres with an existing 6-acre Pinot Noir vineyard located just over the western edge of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Here they farm Pinot Noir for their Lonesome Rock Ranch bottling (another 2 acres were added in 2010) and produce grass-fed beef (Lonesome Rock Cattle Company) from a herd of steers that roam on the property.
The winery has a tasting room at the winery in the Dundee Hills and a second tasting room in Carlton inside the historic fire station building that dates to 1943. Visit www.depontecellars.com.
I have never seen their outstanding wines reviewed in the mainstream wine literature and apparently it is their want not to send wines out for review. For several vintages now I have purchased the wines to review as I feel my readers should be educated about these special wines.
The De Ponte Pinot Noirs reviewed below are in the typical style for this winery: elegant, balanced and silky in the mouth. In the warm 2015 vintage, there is riper fruit and more fruit concentration.
14.1% alc., $47. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry cola, black grape and tobacco oak lead to a mid weight styled wine featuring the essence of cherry cola touched by a bit of toasty oak. Elegantly composed and harmonious with reserved tannins and some finish. Score: 90
14.2% alc., $65. · A barrel selection from the most prized blocks in the estate vineyard. Moderate garnet color in the glass. Largely cherry-driven on the nose and palate with a compliment of oak vanillin and toast in the background. Refined and polished, with gossamer tannins and a silken texture, finishing with enviable power. This wine displays typical Dundee Hills fruit and tannin profile. Score: 92
14.1% alc., $80. Very limited production. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Shy but amiable aromas of blackberry jam, blackest cherry, fertile earth and charcoal. Very classy and refined, offering power with elegance in a middleweight style. The flavors of black cherry, blackberry and spice are very pleasing and persist through a very long and gratifying finish. The balance is spot-on so although this wine is engaging now, it will hold its place over time in the cellar. Score: 93
14.2% alc., $44. This 30-acre site in the foothills of the Coastal Range has 6 acres planted to Pinot Noir. in very rocky soil. The label says, “Proud to be lonesome.” · Moderate garnet color in the glass. garnet color in the glass. The most aromatic in the 2015 lineup, with scents of cooked cherry, exotic spices, Herbs de Provence, and vanilla cream. Both fruity (purple berries) and savory (herbs, fertile earth) in flavor with balanced tannins and a seductive silky texture. The most earthy of the De Ponte lineup in this vintage, but finishes with a good charge of boysenberry fruit. The wine closes with the slightest hint of alcoholic heat. Score: 91
DION Vineyard, Cornelius, OR
The DION Vineyard is unique in that it has been farmed by three generations dating back to 1973. 60 acres of primarily Pinot Noir Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are planted in Cornelius, Oregon, in the North end of the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Some of the vines, rooted in Laurelwood soil, are nearly 40 years old. The vineyard is dry-farmed.
The winery provides premium wine grapes to wineries throughout Oregon as well as producing small quantities of wine under their own label, crafted by husband and wife winemakers Kevin Dion Johnson (photo below) and Beth Klingner. Production is very limited at 800 to 1000 cases annually and is sold through a tasting room in Cornelius open seasonally. The wines are reasonably priced considering the quality. Visit www.dionvineyards.com.
14.3% alc., 143 cases, $40. Released November 2017. Harvest Brix 24.0º-24.7º. Clones 115, 114, 667, 777 and Pommard (14 to 38 years of age). Short cold soak with fermentation beginning naturally. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Light garnet color in the glass. Leading off are enchanting aromas of black cherry, fertile earth and wood shop. An explosion of black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors arm the attack. Accents of spice and Oolong tea add interest. A healthy tannic backbone provides substance and the length of finish is of “Reserve” quality. Score: 93
14.6% alc., 96 cases, $50. Release April 2018. Harvest Brix 23.5º-24.5º. Sourced entirely from a block of self-rooted, dry-farmed Pommard clone 39 years of age. Short cold soak, with fermentations starting naturally. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Light ruby red color in the glass. This wine has a searching quality all its own. It benefits from air exposure and was noticeably better when tasted a day after opening. Aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, strawberry and allspice. Very elegantly styled, with subtle flavors of red cherry, spice, orange tea and savory herbs. More flavors are discoverable to those who search. Good length in the mouth and an inspired finish that builds in perfume over time. This wine is the epitome of “femininity,” a term often attributed to Pinot Noir. Score: 93
The very limited Dijon clone 115 wines are only produced in years that have a larger amount of high quality 115 that is the anchor of the Winemaker’s Reserve, and believe that it will stand on it’s own. Rather than create a Reserve wine heavy on clone 115, two barrels are selected to create the West 115 bottling. The wines are aged 12 months in French oak barrels 50% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Beth was kind enough to send me three vintages of these wines to taste. I only had a tech sheet on the 2014 vintage wine. Tasting these wines offers a unique opportunity to experience vintage differences.
13.1% alc.. · Light garnet color with slight bricking of the rim. Both savory and fruity on the nose, with aromas of cranberry, red cherry, herbs, underbrush and white pepper. Very delicately flavored, featuring cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruits that veer to the under ripe side. Nicely balanced, with tame tannins and a modest finish. A gentle soul from a cool vintage. Score: 89
14.5% alc., 50 cases, $35. Harvest Brix 24.4º. 100% clone 115. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Deep aroma of purple berries leads to a mid weight styled wine with sappy flavors of boysenberry and blackberry framed by invigorating tannins. A fruit-driven wine with uncommon length and finish, reflecting the warmth of the vintage. Score: 91
14.5% alc.. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Enticing scents of dark red cherry and cardamom spice. The strawberry and cherry fruit core is similarly spiced and highly enjoyable. Quite open and giving, with silky tannins, bright acidity and good finishing generosity. The most exotically flavored of the three 115 wines tasted. This wine lands somewhere in between the 2011 and 2014 vintages in character. Score: 93
Evesham Wood Vineyard & Winery, Haden Fig, Salem, OR
This is one of Oregon’s most iconic and cherished wineries. The wines are consistently excellent year in and year out and sensibly priced too boot.
The winery was started by Russell Raney in 1986 after frustrating efforts to find special domestic Pinot Noir during the early 1980s.. He named the winery Evesham Wood after the Vale of Evesham in the Cotswold Hills of England because the site bore a resemblance to that part of the English countryside. He planted the 13-acre estate vineyard, named Le Puits Sec (“The Dry Well”) in 1989 and championed dry farming and organic viticulture from the beginning. Ramey was heavily influenced by Burgundian winemaking techniques and two of his distant mentors were Henri Jayer and Michelle Niellon. Raney’s admiration for the French was shown by the French-influenced names he used for his wine.
The first Evesham Wood Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were released from the 1986 vintage, using grapes primarily from Temperance Hill and Seven springs vineyards, both of which would turn out to be stars among Oregon vineyards.
In 2010, Russell and Mary Raney sold the Evesham Wood label and estate vineyard to Erin (photo below) and Jordan Nuccio who were producing wine under the Haden Fig label. After 24 years, the Raneys wanted to retire and spend more time in their home in France. Erin had started at Evesham Wood in 2007 and his familiarity with Raney’s vision has led to no change in the character and quality of the Evesham Wood wines.
Le Puits Sec is planted to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner.
The fact that Nuccio crafts wines under two labels at the same winery may lead to confusion so here is the explanation. The Evesham Wood wines are made in the same way that Russell Raney used to and the Haden Fig wines allow Nuccio to experiment with his own methods of making wine. Christopher Lindemann, Sommelier and Director of Sales at Evesham Wood provided this metaphor: “Haden Fig drinks like a ballet dancer in that you barely see the feet touch the stage, while Evesham Wood drinks like modern dance in that gestures are fully grounded and sprout from the earth.”
Evesham Wood Pinot Noir includes fully de-stemmed grapes while Haden Fig may have some stem inclusion ( Both Evesham Wood and Haden Fig wines include free run juice with some press wine obtained by slow and gentle pressing. Elevage is currently the same for both with neutral wood predominating. Willamette Valley bottlings are aged for 11 months, Eola-Amity Hills, La Grive Bleue and Haden Fig single-vineyard bottlings for 18 months, Evesham Wood single-vineyard bottlings are aged for about 20 months and Cuvée J for about 22 months. Both labels are bottled without fining or filtering using the winery’s own bottling line.
The Evesham Wood labels feature the Pacific Dogwood flower, an emblem of spring in the Willamette Valley. The Haden Fig labels feature a painting of a Northern Saw-whet owl, a natural predator for small rodents in the vineyard and a symbol for sustainable agriculture. The name, Haden Fig, is curious to say the least. “Haden” came to them when Nuccio and his spouse were trying to name their first baby boy. Nuccio says, “I am not sure if we had stumbled upon the name of our winery or the name of our son, but it stuck in both cases. As for the “Fig” component, Nuccio says this might have been a subconscious homage to Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn. “It just sounded right, and it has become the name of a dream realized.”
The Evesham Wood and Haden Fig wines have always been very reasonably priced. Visitors to the winery in Salem are welcome Friday through Sunday or by appointment. The wines are sold on the website at www.eveshamwood.com.
I find both the Evesham Wood and Haden Fig wines to have a noticeable savory component with non-fruited forested, earth, and savory herb characters, typically associated with “Burgundian” Pinot Noir. These characters are combined with great fruit purity, juiciness and balance. I found the Evesham Wood wines in this vintage to be outrageously good and can be enjoyed both now and in time after cellaring.
13% alc., $26. Grapes sourced from multiple vineyards including Jubilee, Sojourner, Nuestro Sueno, Eola Springs and Crowly Station. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Engaging aromas of ripe berries, warm spices and a hint of fertile earth. Soft, smooth in the mouth in an elegant style with mellow flavors of black cherry, raspberry and spice. Lacks a little bit of the length and concentration of the other Evesham Wood wines in this vintage, but this wine is very satisfying and eager to please. Score: 90
13% alc., $28. This estate vineyard is separated from Le Puits Sec by the dirt road leading to the winery. Planted in 1996 to clones 114 and 115 on its own rootstock. Made with organic grapes. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. An array of aromatic goodness including darker fruits, spice, herb garden and a touch of nutty oak lead to a mid weight plus wine replete with blueberry, black raspberry and pomegranate fruit flavors with an earthy underpinning. The wine delights with eserved, but adequate tannins, energetic acidity, a velvety texture, and a pleasing finish packed with fruit. Score: 92
$30. One of the few vineyards that Evesham Wood works with that is planted on marine sedimentary soil (Willakenzie). Typically more feral and forested than fruited. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red grape, black cherry, fresh mulch and potpourri lead off. Incredibly fresh and perfectly ripened darker cherry and raspberry fruits are offered in a mid weight style with impeccable balance. Noticeably earthy in character with slightly grippy tannins. Quite extroverted at this early stage. Score: 93
$36. Vineyard is located in the South Salem Hills and planted in volcanic soils. Non-irrigated vines. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. “Oh, my God!” aromas of fresh cherry, exotic spices including clove and allspice, fertile earth and a hint of gingerbread. The flat-out delicious red cherry core is in sync with a lovely Wassail spice accent. Seamlessly composed in a mid weight style, with welcome vibrancy and a lasting echo of scent and fruit on the finish. I especially liked this wine for its uniqueness. A wine-gasm that is a must for Pinot lovers. Score: 96
$36. The newest vineyard to join the winery’s lineup. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Earth bound aromas lead to a bold wine with serious intentions. The sappy, mid-weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, plum and spice attack the palate with a vengeance causing the taste buds to beg for mercy. The luscious fruit is tempered by a firm tannic backbone and the wine is well-mannered despite its fruit load. An Energizer bunny finish that goes on and on. This wine will do a tap dance on your palate and is highly unique among the wines in the Evesham Wood lineup. Score: 94
$36. Highest altitude site in the winery’s lineup. Made from organic grapes, non-irrigated vines. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant aromas of red cherry and red berry, spice and mulch. Light to mid weight in style featuring juicy red cherry and berry flavors with a hint of spice and tobacco. Dreamy balance, with gentle tannins and a quenching finish. Rather elegant and balletic, but highly flavorful, with understated Pinot extravagance. Score: 94
13% alc., $40. Made with organic grapes. · ately light garnet color in the glass. Spirited aromas of red fruits, baking spices, forest and wood shop. Excellent harmony in a middleweight style, featuring saucy dark red fruits, a soft mouth feel, sustaining tannins, and a gloriously juicy cherry finish. Sleek and seductive, with excellent balance. Score: 93
13% alc., $50 (sold out). Made with organic grapes. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Gifted aromas of cherry, raspberry, spice, dried herbs and forest. High-collared with impeccable balance, featuring plenty of spiced cherry goodness with a subtle thread of savory herbs, earth and citrus. Full of grace and gallantry, with substantial but compatible tannins, and a most agreeable, long finish. Simply beguiling. Still terrific when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating desirable age worthiness. Score: 94
13.5% alc., $26. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Scents of cherry, smoke and cigar box arise from the glass. Lighter weighted, with cherry and raspberry fruit flavors framed by silky tannins, finishing with a slightly tart cherry note. An easy drinking back porch wine. Score: 87
13.5% alc., $30. Made from certified organic grapes. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Plenty of earthy goodness and toasty oak on the nose. The mid-weight core of juicy cherry and raspberry fruits moderately overlain with oak. The tannins gently ply the background, the texture is quite polished, and there is a modest finish featuring dark raspberry coulis. Score: 89
13.5% alc., $30. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal lovely aromas of black cherry and spice with a hint of toasty oak. On the palate, the wine’s slightly earthy undertone compliments the vivid and caressing black cherry and purple berry flavors offering considerable length and pleasure. The tannins are ingratiating, and the finish is joyous. Score: 92
13.5% alc., $36. A single fermenter allowed to ferment using native yeasts. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Demure cherry aromas are framed by woody, earthy flora ingress. Mid weight flavors of black cherry and purple berry reveal discrete extraction. A savory thread permeates the background. The texture is pleasingly creamy, the tannins are reserved and there is good finishing fruit pulp aromas. Score: 90
13.5% alc., $55. Erin’s favorite barrel of Pinot Noir production in 2014, named after his 6-year-old daughter. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose offers a savory wonderland of aromas including underbrush, animal fur, forest and dried herbs combined with wild berry. Rather untamed and exotic with a savory herbal tone underlying the mid weight dark cherry and raspberry fruit essence. The tannins are firm at this stage and the finish is fine but not extraordinarily long. Definitely age worthy, this unusual wine tends to grow on you over time in the glass. Score: 91
13% alc. $22. Barrel fermented using native yeasts, aged on unstirred lees for 9 months in neutral French oak barrels and goes through complete malolactic conversion. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Heady aromas of lemon curd creme brulee, pear and spice charge from the glass over an extended time. Bright and embraceable in the mouth, with flavors that echo the aromas along with added lemon-lime tension. More fruit driven on the nose and citrus acid-driven on the palate, a winning combination. Score: 93
13.5% alc., $40. Others say “best” or “reserve,” but Erin says “Juliette.” A selection of the best barrels of Chardonnay destined for the normal bottling that came from Mahonia Vineyard. Extended lees aging without stirring. This is the Puligny to complement Le Puit Sec’s Chassagne. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose is stony, flinty and buttery all at once. Seductive flavors of citrus, pear and kiwi with a mineralladen character. Crisp and refreshing, with defining acidity the slightest tannins and an inspired finish of uncommon length. A special wine that demonstrates why people are saying that worldclass Chardonnay is Oregon’s next big thing. Score: 94
Flâneur Wines, Yamhill-Carlton
Flâneur is class operation and newer producer, launched in 2013 by owner Marty Doerschlag, and offering about 3,000 cases annually of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and sparkling wine. The 40-acre estate vineyard is dry-farmed and organically cultivated. Doerschlag bought a 7-acre vineyard planted in 2003 in the Ribbon Ridge AVA and named it Flânerie Vineyard, and acquired 40 acres of an abandoned cherry and prune orchard in the Chehalem Mountains that became a 33-acre estate vineyard (planted in 2014), christening it La Belle Promenade. This dry-farmed vineyard is at a high elevation (700-800 feet elevation) with volcanic Jory and Nekia soils.
The name, Flâneur, is best described as one who observes their surroundings and takes time to appreciate the amazing details of life.
The inaugural winemaker was Kelly Kidneigh who was replaced in February 2016 by Grant Coulter who was formerly at Beaux Frères. Coulter cared for and blended the 2014 and 2015 vintage wines, with 2016 being the first vintage vine to bottle. A tasting room is located at the winery in the town of Carlton. Doerschlag bought a grain elevator in Carlton from Ken Wright and converted it into a tasting venue and event space. A second tasting option is by appointment at the Blue Barn at La Belle Promenade Vineyard.
Flâneur wines are available online and through a mailing list at www.flaneurwines.com.
14.5% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.56, 416 cases, $50. Released. Marine sedimentary soils (Willakenzie). Clones are Wädenswil (60%), 667 (27%) and 777 (13%). Fermented with ambient yeast. 20% whole cluster. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Rising from the glass are scents of dark red cherry, potpourri, oats and herbs. The mid weight charge of black cherry, pomegranate and spice flavors attack with intent, then following thru with mid palate intensity and finishing with generosity. Sleek and juicy, with some tenacious tannins showing up on the finish. Score: 91
14.5% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.53, 602 cases, $40. Release summer 2018. Wax closure. Constantin Guys was a stroller, observer and painter of crowds in the streets of Paris in the mid-19th century, 40% La Belle Promenade, 45% Flânerie and 9% X-Novo vineyards. Native yeast fermentation, 28% whole cluster. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 23% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Shy, but emerging aromas of dark cherry, earthy flora, nutty oak and a hint of vanilla. Prodigious mid weight plus core of black fruits complimented by a toasty oak thread. Good integration of tannins, with a smooth texture and a very powerful boysenberry-driven finish. Still young and evolving and considerably more aromatic and giving when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 94
14.2% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.55, 122 cases, $50. Release summer 2018. Wax closure. 75% Belle Promenade and 25% Flânerie vineyards. Native yeast fermentation, 100% whole cluster inclusion. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The seductive nose offers penetrating aromas of muddled cherry, dried rose petal and exotic spice (a nose you could drink). A complex and layered wine with mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, spice, tobacco and edible flower. The whole cluster driven tannic backbone is supportive yet rather imperceptible creating a caressing mouth feel. More sumptuous when tasted later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. A regal wine in which the whole cluster inclusion fits perfectly. Score: 95
LUMOS Wine Company, Philomath, OR
The backbone of LUMOS Wine Company, founded in 2000 by Dai Crisp and spouse PK McCoy-Crisp, is the Temperance Hill Vineyard located on the crown of the Eola-Amity Hills. First planted mostly to Pinot Noir in 1981 by original owner Edward Koo, the Temperance Hill Vineyard is one of Willamette Valley’s most iconic vineyards. Today, the average vine age is 37 years.
The 97-acre Temperance Hill Vineyard, at 6020 Bethel Heights Road NW in Salem, sits at 660-860 feet elevation on the remnants of an ancient volcano, making it a cool, late ripening site. It is exposed to the maritime winds through the Van Duzer Corridor creating large daily temperature swings that result in good flavor development and bright acidity. Plantings are divided into 22 blocks include primarily Pinot Noir and small amounts of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. There are a variety of soil types, but primarily Jory, Nekia, and Ritner. The vineyard is adjacent Bethel Heights Vineyard.
Crisp was educated in my neighborhood at University of California at Irvine, majoring in theater arts and continued his studies at Oregon State University where his interest in viticulture arose. He began growing grapes professionally at Wren Vineyard (1985 to present) and at Croft Vineyard (1989-1998) and since 1999 has been managing the Temperance Hill Vineyard. Farming at Temperance Hill Vineyard is fully certified by Sustainability in Practice, Salmon Safe and USDA Organic. Wren Vineyard, originally planted by Crisp in 1985 to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, is Certified Organic and Salmon Safe. Crisp also farms Logsden Ridge (Rudolfo) Vineyard, located just north of Corvallis and planted to Pinot Gris.
Temperance Hill Vineyard currently supplies fruit to 22 wineries including Antica Terra, Bergstrom, Brooks, Chapter 24, Elk Cove Vineyards, Evesham Wood, Lange Estate, Lavinea, Nicolas-Jay, St. Innocent Winery, Vincent Wine Co. and Walter Scott.
Crisp not only farms over 120 acres of vineyards, he also makes the wine along with Julia Cattrall for LUMOS Wine Company. The philosophy that drives his viticulture also influences his winemaking. Only natural processing techniques are utilized in the winemaking and no animal by-products are used so the wines qualify as vegan. LUMOS was the first Food Alliance Certified Winery making wine only from Food Alliance Certified vineyards in Oregon.
LUMOS Pinot Noir wines reviewed here are very special in the 2015 vintage and represent unusually high quality at relatively reasonably prices. In fact, I would claim that these wines represent some of the greatest values in the Oregon Pinot Noir marketplace today. With consistent accolades, the wines should be increasingly difficult to obtain. All 2015 Pinot Noirs were released in October 2017. The Wren Vineyard Chardonnay, released in April 2017, is a perfect example of the current resurgence of Oregon Chardonnay.
For more information on Temperance Hill Vineyard, visit www.temperancehillvineyard.com. LUMOS wines are available on the website at www.lumoswine.com. A tasting room is located on the Crisp family farm in Wren, Oregon, 16 miles west of Corvallis. A cabin left standing on the property from a dude ranch that occupied the site in the 1940s was converted into a small tasting room. One of the dude ranch’s original guest cabins adjacent the vineyard is available for overnight rental. The wines are processed in McMinnville.
The back label of the following wines states, “Bottled During Oregon Eclipse 8/21/17.”
14.0% alc., 449 cases, $25. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Love this nose! Aromas of dark cherry, warm spices, toast and rose petal. Forward drinking and welcoming, with mid weight flavors of black cherry, ollaliberry, spice and the right touch of oak. Silky and seamless, with fine-grain tannins and an agreeable finish. Consistently one of Oregon’s best values in Pinot Noir. Score: 91
14.0% alc., 42 cases, $48. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Exuberant aromas arrive slowly over time in the glass, including black cherry, blueberry, and turned earth. Sleek in the mouth in a mid weight fruit-driven style featuring flavors of black cherry, blackberry and blueberry. More sap and tannin than Five Blocks with commendable balance and a dry, lengthy finish. Score: 92
14.0% alc., 196 cases, $45. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry, herbs and seasoned oak echo on the nose. Very charming, with a nicely spiced mid weight blackberry fruit core. The tannic backbone is substantial but not at the forefront. The subtle oak treatment delights. What sets this wine apart is the remarkably persistent finish. Like Tom Brady, it’s all about the finish. Score: 95
14.0% alc., 72 cases, $48. The North block is 7.4 acres of Pinot Noir situated at 815 feet elevation. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The extroverted nose offers scents of muddled black cherry, spice and violets. Inviting delicacy in this light to mid weighted wine offering layers of flavors including black cherry, black raspberry, spice and tobacco. Ingratiating harmony with lacy tannins and a generous finish, while not quite the length of the Temperance Hill Estate bottling, still very giving. Score: 94
14.0% alc., 71 cases, $48. The Guam block is 1.16 acres of Pinot Noir planted at 703 feet elevation. · Dark garnet color in the glass. The nose is quite primary, offering only subtle aromas of blackest fruits and oak seasoning. Mid weight plus in concentration, divulging a hedonistic array of purple and black fruits. A muscular wine by Oregon standards with matching tannins, yet light on its feet. The fruit is on full display on the slightly astringent finish. Gives this wine another year or two in the cellar. Score: 93
12.0% alc., 118 cases, $35. Produced from organically-grown Dijon clone grapes. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Spirited aromas of citrus nectar, poached pear, green apple and white flower blossoms. More pear and white peach flavors than citrus in this edgy wine that is both fruit and acid propelled. Both bright and comforting, with the slightest dry tannins, and a quenching, admirable finish. At 12% ABV, you can easily enjoy two glasses of this wine without becoming sideways. Oregon Chardonnay: you’ve come a long way, baby. Score: 93
Saffron Fields Vineyard, Gaston, OR
Dr. Angela Summers and Sanjeev Lahoti acquired a former grass seed farm on Laughlin Road in Yamhill near WillaKenzie Estate, Lénne Estate and Deux Verts Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. They developed the property, planting the first 12 acres of Pommard clone Pinot Noir in 2007, and added 12 more acres in 2009. Today, there are 32 acres of Pinot Noir including Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 115, 667, 777 and “828” clones, and 3 acres of Chardonnay. The vineyard is dry farmed using sustainable practices and is LIVE certified.
The winemaker is noted Oregon veteran Tony Rynders. Stylistically, the 2015 Pinot Noirs reviewed here are bold and extracted with noticeable oak overlay, standing out among the 2015 wines in this issue for their fruit concentration.
A stylish tasting room housing a contemporary art collection, a Japanese-styled garden, orchard, vegetable garden and sculpture garden have been added to the property. The tasting room is open daily. Visit www.saffronfields.com.
14.1% alc., pH 3.68, 500 cases, $40. Multiple clones from multiple Willamette Valley AVAs and including some estate fruit. Meant to showcase the entire Willamette Valley. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Leading off are aromas of the blackest cherry, cola, underbrush and vanilla. A hearty and full-bodied wine offering waves of sweet black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors along with a note of cola and oakdriven tastes of dark chocolate and toast. The bold and ripe fruit generously engages the palate and finish, yet the wine is nimble. The suede tannins are hardly perceptible. A satisfying wine that reflects the warm vintage in the Willamette Valley. Score: 90
13.9% alc., pH 3.60, 700 cases, $55. Pommard, Wädenswil, 115 and 777. 100% Estate. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Seductive perfume of blackberry, cassis, spice, mocha and vanilla. Mid weight plus in style, offering well-ripened purple and black fruits with accents of warm spices, cola and vanilla. The silkiness in the mouth is particularly notable as is the extremely long and fruity finish. More refined and polished than the in the mouth is particularly notable as is the extremely long and fruity finish. More refined and polished than the Willamette Valley bottling, but will need more time to fully integrate the oak. Score: 93
14.1% alc., pH 3.62, 450 cases, $50. Clones 115 and 777. 100% Estate. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 38% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is reserved but gracious, offering aromas of dark cherry coulis, spice and warm bread. Mid weight in style, with a core of dark red fruits framed by nutty oak. The tannins are quite agreeable making for easy approachability. The finish is friendly but a bit shallow compared to the entire estate bottling. Score: 91
14.1% alc., pH 3.65, 550 cases, $50. Pommard and Wädenswil clones. 100% Estate. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 64% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Likable aromas of Bing cherry, warm spices, vanilla and pencil lead. Luscious in the mouth in a middleweight style, with a well-spiced cherry charge that shows intent on the attack and mid palate, finishing with modesty. The tannins are quite gentle and the oak treatment is only mildly noticeable in the background. Pommard seems to thrive at this site. Score: 92
Additional Wines Received for Review Shortly Before Publication
Broadley Vineyards, Monroe, OR
The Broadley family has been crafting wines since 1986. The first phase of the estate vineyard was planted in 1981. Craig and Claudia are the founders of the winery, and their son, Morgan, and his spouse Jessica, are the second generation continuing with the family’s passion for wine.
The 33-acre estate vineyard is managed using sustainable farming practices including using sheep to mow the vineyard’s ground cover and weeds when appropriate. Organic material is used to promote healthy growth of the vines.
The winery also sources Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from a number of prestigious vineyards in other Willamette Valley appellations that also practice meticulous farming methods.
Uniquely, Broadley Pinot Noir is vinified in wooden fermenters giving the wines a rich and deep complexity. Whole clusters are also used in appropriate vintages that add structure, nuance and character to the finished wines.
The 2016 Pinot Noirs reviewed here reveal the character of the vintage. There is less extraction than in the 2014 and 2015 vintages, lower alcohol, pleasing brightness and more approach ability.
For more information, visit www.broadleyvineyards.com.
13.8% alc., 48 cases, $35. Pommard and Wädenswil clones.Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 30% new and 70% neutral. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Highly aromatic from the get-go, featuring scents of cherry reduction sauce, and oak driven spice, graham and cask. Silky in the mouth with gracious tannins framing the mid weight core of cherry fruit that brings notice to the taste buds. This wine is approachable and even very enjoyable now, but quite young, and will show better oak integration over time in the bottle. Score: 93
13.8% alc., 300 cases, $55. Clones 777 and Wädenswil. Wild yeast fermentation in open-top French oak wood fermenters. 100% whole cluster. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Soaring aromas of red cherry, red berry, spice and burnt tobacco. Remarkably delightful even at this early stage, offering a layered mid weight core of darker cherry and berry fruits that are tenacious through the mid palate and the long, chewy aftertaste. The oak treatment is deftly integrated, but some more time will be needed to ameliorate the fruit tannins. Still, this is a stellar wine of uncommon breeding and class from a vineyard that shone bright in this vintage. Score: 94
More Wines in Wide Retail Distribution
12.5% alc., $13.99, screw cap. One of the first 2017 rosés to be released. · Delicate orange color. Nicely perfumed with aromas of strawberry, blood orange, peach, pear and fresh herbs. Bright and suave in the mouth with flavors that echo the aromas, finishing crisp and dry. Will work as an aperitif or versatile food wine. Stock up for the upcoming spring and summer. Score: 89
13.5% alc., $14.99. Bottled by Cloudline Cellars, Dundee, Oregon. A Drouhin family label. Currently a featured wine at Trader Joe’s stores and widely available in supermarkets. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of cherry, spice, malt and earth. Good richness and juiciness in a mid weight style featuring a core of black cherry fruit accent with an oak compliment. Forward drinking, rather elegant, with minimal tannins and a modest finish. Very good Pinot character at this price point. The wine held up in the glass over several hours. Score: 89
13.5% alc., $13.99, screw cap. Vinted and bottled by Union Wine Co., McMinnville, Oregon. · Moderately light ruby red color in the glass. Expressive aromas of black cherry, spice and piquant herbs. Light to mid weight in style, with flavors of blueberry and black cherry fruit and a thread of savory herbs. An easy sipper with balanced tannins and oak, and a very modest finish. Score: 87