Legacy of Mike Bohan
Mike Bohan was the first modern winegrower to farm grapes in the true Sonoma Coast region of California in 1973. He planted Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling on Bohan-Dillon Road in the remote town of Cazadero. To this day, he sells all of his grapes.
David Hirsch, an expatriate from the Bronx, purchased 1,100 acres on a remote ridge 900 feet above the Pacific Ocean at the end of Bohan-Dillon Road. He had originally planned to reforest the area with redwoods which had been decimated by loggers. Only after a friend advised him to plant grapes, did he begin to develop a 47- acre Pinot Noir vineyard in 1980. The weather here is quite cool, but Hirsch planted his vines above the fog line where they enjoyed plenty of sunshine. The vineyards are actually scattered over several ridge tops with varying exposure, altitude and soil type. With a variety of rootstocks and clones planted, there is considerable heterogeneity to the fruit and Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noirs from different producers are difficult to compare as they come from distinctly different terroirs (see air photo below).
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Over the years, Hirsch has supplied fruit for single-vineyard Pinots Noirs from many of California’s top
producers including Failla Jordan, Harrington, Kistler, Kosuge, Littorai, Siduri, Walter Hansel, William
Selyem, Whitethorn, and even Oregon (Patricia Green). In 2001, the Williams Selyem contract for
some of the finest blocks expired (originally obtained by Burt Williams), and David Hirsch decided to
bottle his own label. He built a winery on the property in part of an old lambing barn and hired
Vanessa Wong (Peay Vineyards), a star among Sonoma Coast winemakers, as his vintner. The initial
release was the 2002 vintage. This same year a small amount of Hirsch Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir was produced as primarily a “family and friends” wine from barrels that did not make the grade for the
vineyard-designate label. It was named in honor of the single access road which leads to Hirsch Vineyard
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No Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir was produced in 2004 and 2005 due to poor crop yields. With the bounty
of the 2006 harvest, 220 barrels of Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir and 12 barrels of Bohan-Dillon Chardonnay
were produced under the direction of current winemaker at Hirsch, Mark Doherty.
2014 Phelps Creek Vineyards Fleur de Roy Columbia Gorge Oregon Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 120 cases,
$26, screwcap. Clone 115. A saignée from estate grapes
picked early made in the fashion that winemaker Alexandrine
Roy employs for her rosé at home in Gevrey-Chambertain.
Fermented in neutral French oak barrels.
salmon color in the glass. This is an exceptional rosé that
leads with scents of fresh strawberries and peaches that
really draw you into the glass. Crisp, with bright flavors of strawberry,
pear and apricot, the wine wraps the palate in fresh fruit flavors, and
leaves on impression on the uplifting finish. Straight and true, this wine
is among the best that Oregon has to offer.
2014 Phelps Creek Vineyards Le Petit Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
12.6% alc., TA 0.65, 238
cases, $28, screwcap. Estate grown Pinot Noir. A Cru Beaujolais style wine incorporating whole cluster,
carbonic fermentation. Dijon clone 115. Harvest Brix 22.8º. Aged in stainless tank.
Light cherry red color in the
glass. Heady scents of strawberry, cherry, cake spice and floral bouquet lead to a light weight, pleasant wine
that is easy to like. Spirited by red berry flavor and a cranberry-laced finish, this wine has refreshingly crisp
acidity. Serve slightly chilled.
2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 1,204 cases, $34. Estate
grown. Clones are Pommard, Dijon 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 23.7º. Aged in French oak barrels, 10% new
Moderate light cherry red color in the glass. Nicely appointed nose with aromas of cherry spice, sousbois
and black tea. Soft and smooth in the mouth, with straightforward flavors of cherry and raspberry framed
by modest tannins. A solid everyday drinker.
2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards “Regina” Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 93 cases, $49. The finest
4 barrels of Pommard clone in the cellar. Oldest plantings of self-rooted vines. Named in honor of owner Robert
Morus’ mother. Harvest Brix 23.7º. Aged in French oak barrels, 25% new.
Moderately light reddish purple hue
in the glass. Engaging aromas of Bing cherry, dark red rose and spice. Plenty of Pinot singing in this wine with
a delicious core of Asian-spiced cherry goodness complimented by subtle oak. Very suave and elegant with a
markedly intense and lengthy finish that sports some ripe fruit tannins that offer textural interest. Extremely
giving and enjoyable now.
2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 244
cases, $54. The winery’s flagship wine consisting of 10 barrels carefully selected from the estate vineyards by
winemaker Alexandrine Roy. Pommard and Dijon 115 and 777. Harvest Brix 23.8º. Native yeast fermentation,
aged in French oak barrels, 25% new Cadus.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. An earthy,
savory nose with hints of black cherry, BBQ spice, tobacco and oak. Quite elegant on the palate with a deep
black cherry flavor accented with dried herbs and anise-laced oak. Very charming now, but not fully
expressive, and more giving the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. I would cellar a
year or two. Do I dare say, “Burgundian?”
2010 Phelps Creek Vineyards “Beehive” Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., TA 0.62, 80 cases, $54. The
Beehive Block is south of the original estate vineyard planting,
the site of abandoned commercial beehives on a field when the
property was acquired. The clone 777 planted here has
extraordinary character in cooler years like 2010. Harvest Brix
23.6º. A 3-barrel selection were aged in once-used French oak
barrels for 24 months.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass.
Unrelenting aromas of black cherry, spice, and potpourri. Wow! Terrific
attack and finish with wondrous harmony and finesse, featuring delicious
mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and spice. A stunning
wine that has an earthy vein in the background and is not simply fruity.
This wine is currently drinking at is apogee.
Hirsch Vineyard and Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noirs are sold primarily through a
mailing list available at www.hirschvineyards.homestead.com. There is some
retail distribution. The current release of Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir is the 2005
vintage. This was a vintage from hell with 30 inches of spring rains destroying
much of the crop during bloom, reducing yields to one half ton per acre. Hirsch
notes, “There were so few berries that the bunches looked like leprous cadavers.
It was so gruesome, that I often became physically ill upon entering the vineyard
and beat a hasty retreat.” Fruit from adjacent Hellenthal Vineyard and nearby McDougal Vineyard
were added to supplement the Hirsch fruit and a total of 960 cases was produced. 26 new acres of Pinot
Noir have been planted which will significantly increase production in 2007. 2005 marks the first
vintage of Hirsch Vineyard Chardonnay (8 cases, but will increase in the future). Hirsch has decided to
make his Chardonnay using glass-lined fermentation tanks rather than oak. 45075 Bohan-Dillon Rd,
Cazadero, CA. 707-847-3600. Tours and tasting by appointment (plan on a full day if driving from
more populated areas of Sonoma and try to time your visit when it isn’t raining - Cazadero receives 80
inches of the wet stuff each year). Every true pinotphile should make the pilgrimage some time in