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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 (see below).

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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. · Moderately light 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. Score: 92

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. Score: 87

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 Cadus. · 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. Score: 88

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. Score: 93

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?” Score: 92-93

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. Score: 95

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 their life.


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