PinotFile: 9.42 May 25, 2014
- Pinot Noirvana in the Willamette Valley
- International Pinot Noir Celebration: Oregon’s Venerated Pinot Bacchanal
- White Rose Estate: Pursuing a Neo-Classical Objective
- The Potter’s Vineyard
- Ghost Hill Cellars
- Lenné Estate
- Anne Amie Vineyards
- Carabella Vineyard
- J. Wrigley Vineyard
- Guillen Family Wines
- Beckham Estate
- De Ponte Cellars
- Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn
- Van Duzer Vineyards
- Seven of Hearts/Luminous Hills
- Raptor Ridge Winery
- Anam Cara Cellars
- J.K. Carriere Wines
- Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir & More
- Pinot Briefs
- Willamette Valley Epilogue
Pinot Noirvana in the Willamette Valley
I just returned from a week in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, visiting many wineries and tasting the Pinot Noirs
from the 2011 and 2012 vintage. I timed my visit perfectly as it was sunny and warm all week, a freakish
weather event in this region that is usually under a dismal rain cloud almost every day this time of year.
The Willamette Valley wine country is truly a retro experience with wineries eager to receive you, offering wines
of uncommon excellence by people who are truly friendly, dedicated and unpretentious. I like to say that
Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs are genuine wines by genuine people. Beards, plaid flannel shirts and worn
denims are de rigueur in the Willamette Valley, the roads to the wineries are often paved with dirt or gravel and
surrounded by fields of grain and grass, and sparsely populated with muddy pickup trucks and old tractors. It is
quite a contrast in lifestyle to the one in Orange County, California, where I live.
Vintners in Oregon are not into Pinot Noir for the money because the production of high-end Pinot Noir is not a
particularly financially rewarding proposition. Yields are purposely kept low, grape growing is labor intensive,
and with well over 350 wineries, competition is fierce. Yet the Oregon vintners have persevered for fifty years,
driven by a passion that only a pinotphile can appreciate.
In the Willamette Valley there is really no equal to the glorious Napa Valley chateau winery experience (think
Darioush, Castello di Amorosa). Even the most modern and largest wineries such as Domaine Serene, Sokol
Blosser and Willamette Valley Vineyards do not seem out of place in the Willamette Valley farmland. Most
other wineries are in secluded mountainous sites reachable only by winding, rutted roads that challenge your
GPS, and the tasting may be conducted in the owner’s kitchen or back patio. Yet, the owner’s reception is
warm and welcoming, and the wines are authentic, offering those who spend the effort to seek them out an
exceptional wine drinking experience.
Over the past few years, looking to make their wines more accessible, a number of wineries have opened
tasting rooms clustered in the towns of Carlton and Newberg. In Carlton, DePonte has opened a contemporary
tasting room in the town’s old fire station next door to the excellent Carlton Bakery. Among the other twenty
tasting rooms in Carlton, all within walking distance, are Carlton Cellars, Scott Paul, Ken Wright Cellars,
Kramer Vineyards, Lachini Vineyards, Noble Pig Vineyard & Winery, Omero Cellars, Scott Paul Wines, Seven
of Hearts/Luminous Hills, Siltstone Wines Twelve Wine and WildAire Cellars. Carlton Winemakers Studio is
close by. For more tourism information on Carlton, consult www.visitcarlton.com.
There are eleven tasting rooms within walking distance in downtown Newberg including Anam Cara, Artisanal
Wine Cellars, Chehalem, Dark Horse Wine Bar (Medici Vineyards, Sineann Winery), Fire + Flood, Fox Farm
Vineyards, and Longplay Wine. For more information on Newberg, visit www.newbergdowntown.org.
Why visit the Willamette Valley and seek out the local Pinot Noir? The wines are often considered the closest
thing to Burgundy in North America, offering low to modest alcohol, juicy fruit flavors, elegance and vivid acidity.
This is not surprising because the Willamette Valley is situated at the same longitude as Burgundy and the
growing season has many similarities. There is a dedicated commitment in the Willamette Valley to farming for
quality and this is shown by the figures below compiled by the Willamette Valley Wineries Assocation.
Most of the Pinot Noir now being offered from Willamette Valley producers are from the 2011 and 2012
vintages. In 2011, spring and early to mid summer weather was cool and wet. More than 250 minimum
temperature records were broke during that period and over 400 precipitation records were exceeded. Bloom
in the Willamette Valley was in July! The season turned around in September, which was one of the three
warmest Septembers on record in Oregon. The fruit ripened and it was termed a “miracle harvest.” Most
grapes were brought in under warm, sunny skies and there were only modest issues with birds and botrytis.
Some vineyards were picked as late as the first week of November.
Many have said that the cool 2011 vintage brought Oregon back to its roots, showing a classic Pinot Noir
profile of lower alcohol, bright acidity and consuming elegance that made Oregon Pinot Noir famous. The wines
have tended to be more austere and lean upon release, and many vintners have likened the vintage to 2007,
when the wines were not charming upon release, but developed weight, intensity and nuance after a year or
two in bottle. For these reason, some Willamette Valley vintners told me they held back the 2011 vintage wines
before release only recently offering them for sale. Some vintners were seriously considering releasing the
more forward, flashy 2012 Pinot Noirs and pulling the 2011 Pinot Noirs back for another year of aging. Many
winemakers I spoke with preferred the 2011 vintage Pinot Noirs over the 2012 wines because of their more
classic Pinot Noir style. Steve Lutz of Lenné Estate told me, “They are not very developed on the nose or
palate yet, but every time I sit with them, I see promise and they really capture me after I have had them open
for a day or two. The 2007 vintage turned out to be one of my favorites even though the wines started out quite
lean, very similar to the 2011 wines.”
There has been considerable hype about the 2012 vintage Pinot Noirs which are fruit-forward, plush and
reminiscent of the 2006 vintage in Oregon. Many have declared the 2012 vintage as one of the greats in
Oregon history. Bud break was a week later than normal, but weather was normal during bloom with minimal
rainfall towards the end of flowering. Reduced berry set led to lower yields than the 2011 vintage. The growing
season was warm and dry resulting in very low disease pressure and ripening was ideal until harvest. The only
hitch was a week of warm easterly winds in September that pushed grape sugars up.” Many wines are over
14% alcohol and full-bodied with lush fruit flavors reminiscent of California Pinot Noir. That said, it is a
consumer’s vintage and most will embrace the early drinking and hedonistic wines. Many of the 2012 Pinot
Noirs are being released during the annual Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country sponsored by the
Willamette Valley Wineries Association (www.willamettewines.com).
In the following pages of this issue, I will review my week in the Willamette Valley and the many wines I tasted.
The consistent high quality of the wines really stood out. No matter whether one prefers the 2011 or 2012
wines, the Pinot Noirs are world class. One thing I have observed about Oregon vintners is that they are a bit
shy about tooting their own horn. They have had a long and beneficial association with Burgundy vignerons,
and are reticent to claim any superiority of their wines over their French counterparts. The truth is, their best
wines rival anything currently produced in Burgundy and the general consistency is something that must make
Burgundy green with envy. I believe investing in a premium bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (say $50-
$100) is a safer bet than spending an equivalent amount of money on a red Burgundy.
According to Wines & Vines (April 2014), experts at this year’s Oregon Wine Symposium noted that Oregon
DtC shipments of Pinot Noir have prospered of late and the latest figures show that Oregon wines account for
3.6% of the domestic wine shipped DtC (54% of which is Pinot Noir) The average bottle price of about $15.40
was higher than California, Washington or imported wines. Interestingly, a survey by Wine Opinions conducted
of regular wine drinkers in January 2014, showed that although 44% of Oregon respondents reported buying
more Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, the statistics lagged way behind California where 86% of Pinot Noir fans
reported drinking California Pinot Noir.
If you get the urge to visit Oregon’s Willamette Valley, you will find it is easy to access. A 45-minute drive from
Portland’s International Airport will put you right smack in the center of the Willamette Valley and close to
hundreds of desirable Pinot Noir producers. The best time to visit to avoid the incessant rain is July, August
and September, which are dry months in the Willamette Valley, but other times in the fall and spring are
appealing because of the lack of tourists. The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg is centrally located and offers all
the comforts of a world-class hotel in Oregon’s wine country. There are many B&B’s and vacation homes as
well, all scattered throughout the Willamette Valley and offering warm hospitality, particularly Le Puy, A Wine
Valley Inn, also in Newberg.
To plan your trip, visit the Willamette Valley Wineries Association and secure their brochure, “Guide to
Willamette Valley Wineries: Drink Pinot Think Oregon.” Other useful websites include Oregon Wine Board at
www.oregonwine.org, Travel Oregon at www.traveloregon.com, and the individual AVA websites such as
www.chehalemmountains.org, www.dundeehills.org, www.eolaamityhills.com, www.mcminnvilleava.org, and
www.yamhillcarlton.org. On Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, all wineries in the Willamette Valley
are open to visitors. May is Oregon Wine Month and wineries are hosting special events during the entire
month: visit www.willamettewines.com/oregon-wine-month/. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will assist you in arranging private and attentive visits to many wineries in the Willamette Valley. I can
also recommend the best lodging and dining options. If you go, remember that the locals pronounce it
Willamette, as in dammit!
Don't be alarmed, this is not the last article in this issue! I have decided to release each issue of The PinotFile in stages much like a blog rather than publish the issue in its glorious entirety once every 3 weeks. Every 2 to 3 days another article will be posted until the entire issue is completed at which time subscribers will receive notice that the entire issue is posted. Those that subscribe to the Twitter or RSS feed will be notified when each article of an issue is published online, usually every 2 to 3 days. This way, the information can be relayed in a more timely manner and requires only a few minutes to peruse. You may download in pdf format each article or the entire issue when it is completed. Please let me know if you like this new staged format at email@example.com.
International Pinot Noir Celebration: Oregon’s Venerated Pinot Bacchanal
The granddaddy of Pinot Noir festivals continues to attract pinotphiles from around the world to the tiny, bucolic
campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, for continuing education in Pinot Noir. There is no
homework or written tests, and no dreadful lectures at 8:00 A.M. in the morning. Just an abundance of great
Pinot Noir paired with the delicious bounty of Oregon, accompanied by plenty of joie de vivre among the
luminaries of food and wine who join the celebration.
The first International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) was held in 1987 when a group of Oregon vintners
gathered to figure out a way to promote Oregon wine. Since then, the IPNC has brought together 14,000 Pinot
Noir lovers, fueled by an unabated love for their go-go juice.
The IPNC has hosted over 200 winemakers from France, and many from New Zealand, Australia, Italy,
Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada and South Africa, along with hundreds of Oregon and California
winemakers. The emphasis is always on quality (wineries are accepted to participate based on merit) and
stylistic diversity, with many new winery faces appearing each year.
This year there are 74 international Pinot Noir winemakers. Wineries from Oregon include Archery Summit,
Bergström Wines, Chehalem, Domaine Serene, The Eyrie Vineyards, Scott Paul Wines, Stoller Family Estate,
and Westrey Wine Co. Participating California wineries include The Donum Estates, Drew Family Cellars, J
Vineyards & Winery, Navarro Vineyards, Patz & Hall, Rhys Vineyards, and Siduri Wines. Among the most well
known featured international wineries are Mission Hill Family Estate (British Columbia, Canada), Domaine
Ambroise (Prémeaux-Prissey, France), Maison Joseph Drouhin (Beaune, France), Bodega Chacra (Rio Negro,
Argentina), Villa Maria Estate (Marlborough, New Zealand), and Wooing Tree Vineyard (Central Otago, New
There is no judging of wines at the IPNC for the festival is a pure celebration of Pinot Noir, offering the Pinot
Noir enthusiast the opportunity to discover new producers and rub shoulders with established winemakers of
repute that they may have only read about.
David Lynch, a James Beard Award winner in journalism and contributing wine editor and author of The Wine
Insider’s Guide for Bon Appétit, will keynote the 28th IPNC held this year on July 25-27. He is a hilarious writer
and speaker and also a noted San Francisco restauranteur who launched Quince and now owns St. Vincent.
Noted British wine book author and blogger Jamie Goode will moderate the Grand Seminar titled “Doors of
Perception.” Not only at the IPNC, but also all over the world, a revolution is underway. Wine drinkers are
becoming savvy about their own tastes, and individual preferences now rule our selection of wines. Professor
Hildegarde Heymann of University of California at Davis recently reported a study from the Department of
Viticulture & Enology involving wine sensory character, quality perception and preferences by consumers,
wine-judging panels and wine experts. The results suggested that consumers are better off trusting their own
preferences to choose wines they like rather than depending on the advice of so-called experts. The seminar
panel is composed of those who think about wine but are not critics and offer a different perspective on the
perception of wine. Each panelist will chose a Pinot Noir that speaks to them and include it in the discussion.
Seminar guests will arrive at a deeper understanding of how they view wines, how that perception is a
reflection of them, and why that matters.
Seminar panelists include Harvard historian of science Steven Shapen will provide a cultural perspective of
wine. Wilderness perfumer Hall Newbegin will offer a fresh take on aromas of place. Elaine Brown’s wine
cartoons will show how a wine can be brought to life through her imaginative drawings. Stephen Tanzer’s
International Wine Cellar critic Josh Raynolds will help guest become fluent in the language of wine. Chef
Frank Stitt, who writes the wine lists for his trio of Birmingham, Alabama restaurants will introduce food into the
picture. Professor Jordi Ballester from the Université de Bourgogne will bring his unique views on sensory
evaluation and Loire-born New York sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate will discuss wine and food
pairings. Of course, winemakers will be on hand to add their voices to the conversation.
The afternoon educational classes, termed “University of Pinot,” will feature a wide range of options this year.
The courses include Sensory Science 200: The Physiology of Taste with Josh Raynolds; Chemistry 201:
Dropping Acid with Elaine Brown ( how adding acid to wine affects balance); Climatology 312: The Future of
Cool Climate Viticulture with Vajra Stratigos and Greg Brown; Field Study 301: Distilling Terroir with Hall
Newbegin; Geography 300: Loire Valley Pinot with Pascaline Lepeltier; Regional Studies 225: The New
California Wine with Jon Bonné; Pairing Tea and Cheese with Steven Smith; and Matchmaking 220: Smoke
and Mirrors, a food and wine pairing seminar with Ben Dyer and Jordan McKay.
Praised as a showcase for the Northwest’s famed farm-to-table cuisine, the IPNC will host 50 chefs from the
northwest’s most revered restaurants. On Friday evening, the IPNC will celebrate the wealth of female talent in
the culinary world at the Grand Dames Dinner. Featured chefs are Stephanie Pearl Kimmel of Marche, Kristen
D. Murray of Maurice, Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, and Cathy Whims of Nostrana.
The Saturday night Northwest Salmon Bake is a long-standing tradition at IPNC and has been called “the most
entertaining meal at any wine event in the world.” Held in a lantern-lit oak grove on the Linfield College
campus, wild Chinook salmon is cooked native northwest style on wood stakes over a wood-fired pit.
Featured chefs are Ben Dyer, David Kreifels and Jason Owens of Reverend’s BBQ, Tommy Habetz and Nick
Wood of Bunk, and Jason Stoller Smith from Timberline Lodge. Four incredible dessert chefs will top off the
evening: Elizabeth Beekley of Two Tarts, David Briggs of Xocolati de David, Jami Curl of Quin, and Jamie
Lewis of Blue Raeven Bakery. This dinner is also a no-holds-barred opportunity for pinotphiles to bring their
best stuff to share, and as you wonder among the tables, you can taste an incredible array of wines simply by
Noted sommeliers travel from all over the country to pour wine at the elaborate meals. They are formally
attired until the last morning of the event when they typically dress up in conjunction with a theme and frolic.
I am getting excited just thinking about this year’s IPNC. I have been attending the celebration almost every
year for 20 years, and I can honestly tell you this is the most memorable wine festival I attend. Along with the
noted speakers and marvelous chefs, the celebration has a relaxing and festive atmosphere that sets it apart
from all over wine events. Whether tasting Grand Cru Burgundy or strolling through Willamette Valley
vineyards with the grower who planted them, I find myself happily unwinding in picturesque Oregon wine
When Lewis and Clark arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River that divides Oregon and Washington states,
the foul weather led their group to call this region Point Dismal. I am sure they would be startled today to see
the expansive vineyards that now dot the Oregon landscape and to taste the magnificent Pinot Noirs that are
now an Oregon trademark. During July, Oregonians put aside the memories of dismal winter rain to revel in
the sun that shines on McMinnville, the IPNC, and the wonderful gift of Pinot Noir.
Tickets for the full weekend event include exclusive access to all seminars, tastings (the 2011 vintage will be
poured at the afternoon outdoor walk-around tasting on Friday and the 2012 vintage will be poured by
participating wineries on Saturday), tours and activities, as well as all meals over two days and the Sunday
Sparkling Brunch Finale. Weekend tickets are $975 per person. Two additional “Post Grad” seminar options
will be offered to weekend guests for a separate fee: Raiding the IPNC Cellar with Jamie Goode and Master
Class on the Aroma of Color (perceiving color through aroma). Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served
basis and a limited number of tickets remain.
For full details, contact the IPNC at 800-775-IPNC (4762) or visit www.ipnc.org. The IPNC is easily accessible
from Portland’s International Airport by a leisurely 45-minute drive. Accommodations in the Willamette Valley
are somewhat limited so it is important to make plans to attend now. I would be happy to assist you in any way
by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An additional event, Passport to Pinot, is held on Sunday afternoon July 27, and is a condensed version of the
IPNC. All 74 wineries will pour, 15 local northwest chefs will prepare culinary treats and IPNC will be pouring a
selection of aged Pinot Noir from their library. This is also a popular event, held in the beautiful Oak Grove of
Linfield College. The Passport to Pinot is a separate event and not included in the full weekend festivities. A
separate crowd, mainly Oregonian Pinot Noir fans, attend, but it is open to anyone.
White Rose Estate: Pursuing a Neo-Classical Objective
The owner and producer at White Rose Estate, Greg Sanders, acquired the 10-acre White Rose Vineyard in
the Dundee Hills in the summer of 2000. A few years prior, having found satisfaction as the owner of a
moderately large manufacturing company in Los Angeles, Greg began to look for something that offered an
emotional connection and found it in wine. Since he was not one to do things a little bit as he put it, he began
an exhaustive exploration of Pinot Noir wines, beginning with ones from California, then Burgundy and Oregon.
He tasted all the well-known labels and studied the wines in depth to learn what made them special and what
allowed them to age. Eventually he arrived at an “aha!” moment and decided the key was an old vine vineyard.
White Rose Vineyard was planted to Pommard clone on its own roots between 1978 and 1982. (There are
some new interplantings evident in the photo above) The east-southeast facing vineyard planted in volcanic
Jory soils is well-placed with several prominent producers nearby including Archery Summit, Domaine Serene,
and Domaine Drouhin Oregon. The vineyard sits at 870 feet elevation. The location is ideal, allowing an
extended growing season that lends itself to harvest in late October. This allows for slow phenolic
development, balanced sugars and acids, and mature stems. Greg has called his vineyard, “One of the ten
best vineyards in the New World.”
An adjacent 4 acres were acquired in 2009, planted to Dijon clone 115 grafted to American rootstock, and
named the Guillen Vineyard after Jesus Guillen who has managed the White Rose Vineyard since 2002 and
his son, also named Jesus Guillen, who is Greg’s winemaker. Greg also sources fruit from a number
of Willamette Valley’s top growers in the Yamhill-Carlton District, Dundee Hills, and Chehalem Mountains
Greg is largely a self-taught winemaker (he prefers the term “producer”) who made his first wine in 1999 and
his first commercial White Rose Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2001. His winemaking production has evolved slowly
over the past 13 years tied to the emotional connection he has with wine. Since 2011, he has embarked on a
program that he terms “The Neo-Classical Objective.” It is a highly innovative approach for the Willamette
Valley and somewhat polarizing in its theory. Greg does not consider it revolutionary since it is soundly based
in Old World winemaking techniques. My following words paraphrase Greg’s philosophy.
There are two parts to The Neo-Classical Objective: the “why” and the “how.” The “how” is the more simple
part, the “why” more difficult to elucidate but is the impetus, so let me start with that first. Simply put, neoclassical
refers to an alternate presentation of wine that elevates “pinotnoirness” above everything else. The
word classic refers to the many presentations of pinotnoirness over multiple generations. The first requirement
to achieve the neo-classical objective is to have an old vine vineyard. Vines must be old enough to make an
age worthy wine. There must have enough phenolic and tannin components to outlast the process of oxidation
over time. Tannins cannot be overriding initially as the wine will be austere initially, requiring years to oxidize,
often reaching an acceptable level at the time the phenolics (fruit flavors) have dissipated.
The vineyard must be in the correct location, produce quality fruit and be subject to the proper temperature
such that the resultant wine can achieve a sense of pinotnoirness. In the classic sense, the grapes should
reach a state of crispness and freshness, preferably with raspberry and blackberry flavors. Greg gives the
following analogy. If you randomly pick nine cherries and put them in the palm of your hand, three will be dark
and concentrated (very ripe), three will be crisp and fresh, and three will be lean and tart. The most desirable
cherries for a classic driven Pinot Noir are the crisp and fresh ones. Thus, the timing of the picking decision is
The “neo” term in “neo-classical” incorporates the “how” in The Neo-Classical Objective. Greg’s current
approach to handling fruit, skin and seed tannins both in the vineyard and in the winery. Too little tannin and the
wine will not last, and too much tannin leads to an edgy wine initially that takes years to resolve the tannins. In
past generations, the tannins in wines could be overwhelming initially, something Greg avoids completely. The
ultimate objective is to have a wine that is good from day one and that will undergo metamorphosis over time,
not becoming necessarily better, but different.
Ideally, Greg wants much of the skin tannins to oxidize away on the vine at the same time as the grape
phenolics reach ideal ripeness (tannins are antioxidants, so as they diminish, the available oxygen that results
can ripen the phenolics). Invariably, some tannin remains at harvest, but he picks at a time he can manage the
astringency. In the cellar, punch downs are avoided to prevent rupture of berries and the release of harsh, bitter
seed tannins into solution (gentle punch overs are employed instead). Post-fermentation, the must is pressed
off using a laborious old world basket press. In addition, post-fermentation maceration is minimized, again to
avoid extracting too much additional tannin. Seed tannins take forever to oxidize and by then the fruit in the
wine is gone. The must is gently pressed off using a manual old world basket press that avoids breakage of
seeds and stems. The wines are barreled down in French oak for about 15 months, racked once after
malolactic fermentation, and then again just before blending. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Greg’s Pinot Noirs produced from old vines in the neo-classical objective mode, are fermented 100% whole
cluster. He is not the least bit worried about the stems, only the flavor, phenolic intensity and tannins. In some
years, tannin management is not ideal, and some mild herbaceous character may creep in, which may not
appeal to all Pinot Noir drinkers. Still, Greg is undaunted, for the nuances, texture and haunting aromas and
flavors, and age ability associated with whole cluster fermentation are too advantageous to him.
In summary, to achieve the neo-classical objective of pinotnoirness and present the varietal in a manner such
that it has the greatest potential to generate an emotional connection to the wine:
1) Farm an old vine Pinot Noir vineyard planted to quality clones or selections appropriate for the site.
2) The vineyard must be located in the proper microclimate as growing temperatures dictate success.
3) Pick the grapes for crispness and freshness and modest tannic astringency.
4) Gently handle the fruit in the winery with efforts devoted to avoid excessive extraction of tannin, particularly
5) Use 100% whole cluster fermentation.
6) Press the must manually with a basket press.
7) Minimize new oak.
Greg has expended considerable effort in improving the grounds of his property, the tasting room, and the
winery so it will connect with people’s emotions and the “White Rose experience.” The tasting room is unique
in that it has no windows do distract the visitor from the wines. In the cellar, elaborate mood lighting creates a
striking atmosphere, and all the barrels are uniformly sanded for an engaging appearance.
When I recently visited, Greg was at home in Orange County, California (he spends considerable time in
Oregon at his winery as well). I was hosted by assistant winemaker Jesus Guillen (right) and manager Gavin
Joll shown in front of the winery’s tasting room entrance. The winery and cellar is located underneath the
tasting room. We tasted through some of the 2011 and 2012 vintage White Rose Estate Pinot Noirs and I came
away with profound respect for Greg’s accomplishments.
I found the wines displayed haunting floral and exotic spice aromas and flavors associated with 100% whole
cluster ferments, with no herbaceous character evident in any of the wines. For me, and many other wine
enthusiasts, whole cluster aromatics are like “catnip for humans.” The wines also had structure yet elegance,
and modest, well-integrated tannins. All the wines could be enjoyed now. I would encourage readers to
experience these wines for their unique qualities. A number of Oregon wineries are experimenting with some
whole cluster inclusion in the manner of 10% to 30%, with an occasional 100% whole cluster bottling. Other
than Cristom Vineyards and Thomas Geerie Wines, there is no other Oregon winery that I know of other than
White Rose Estate that is fully committed to whole cluster vinification.
Greg’s comments on the 2012 vintage indicated excitement. Greg does not recall a vintage that has shown as
much potential. “The 2012 vintage was reminiscent of 2002 and 2008. It was warmer than average and
certainly warmer than the cooler vintages of 2007, 2010 and 2011, but cooler than the really warm vintages of
2003, 2006 and 2009. While the wines are dense and rich on the palate, they are extremely well balanced with
sufficient acidity. Unlike the warmest vintages where the fruit takes on an over ripe, stewed character, the
wines from 2012 consistently retain a fresh, vibrant sense of fruit. Retaining this freshness is critically
important to our winemaking goals at White Rose. It certainly appears that 2012 will live up to the hype.”
Located at 6250 NE Hilltop Lane in Dayton, the tasting room is open daily from 11 to 5 P.M.. Tours are
available by appointment. The wines are sold through a mailing list and on the website:
www.whiteroseestate.com. The Explorer’s Club offers unique bottlings. In 2012, wines were offered from
different elevations. In 2013, different clonal bottlings from the same vineyard will be offered. The Neo-
Classical Club includes wines that are collectable and age worthy.
2011 White Rose Estate “The Neo-Classical Objective” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 416
cases, $80. Sourced from White Rose Vineyard (35%), Vista Hills Vineyard (31%), (Dundee Hills AVA, planted in
1999-2001 with clones 115 and 777), and Murto Vineyard (34%, Dundee Hills AVA, planted 1988-2005,
Pommard, 2A and 115). 100% whole cluster fermentation. Skin contact 23-25 days. Basked pressed with
wooden ratchet press. Aged 16 months in 9% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Highly perfumed with enticing aromas of cherry, wilted rose, exotic spices and the faintest oak. Bright
and juicy with light to mid weight flavors of well-spiced black cherry backed by modestly astringent tannins and
lively acidity. Very likable with a slight earthy bent to the flavors.
2011 White Rose Estate White Rose Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 442 cases,
$95. Latest harvest ever, November 4-5. Made from selected mature vines. 5-day average cold soak.
Fermented 100% whole cluster. Total skin contact 25 days. Aged 16 months in 13% new French oak
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Distinctive whole cluster aroma featuring an
array of exotic spices, a floral display, and a compliment of sweet oak. Light to mid weight flavors of
black cherry and raspberry with plenty of spice and a kiss of oak. The finish is noticeably juicy and
persistent. Overall, the impression is one of harmony and enthralling brightness.
2012 White Rose Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.63, 1,094 cases, $40. Released
May 2014. Harvest October 11-27. A blend of 9 vineyards. Pommard and Dijon 777, 115, 114 and 667. 73%
whole cluster on average. Aged 11 months in 11% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Subdued, but pleasant, with dark fruit, baking spice and oak aromas. Middleweight, juicy flavors of
plum, black cherry and blackberry wrapped in modest tannins, finishing dry and with a succulent charge of fruit.
2012 White Rose Estate Guillén Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.70, 188 cases,
$70. Fall release. Harvest Oct 17 and 24 with 1.5 tons per acre yield. 9-day cold soak, 21-22 day skin contact,
100% whole cluster fermentation, aged 16 months in 19% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in
the glass. Haunting aromas of black raspberry jam, dark rose petals, tea, incense and baking spices.
Admirable balance with a discreetly concentrated core of black raspberry and black cherry fruits accented with
spice. A bit reserved at this stage, but showing considerable potential. The strong finish has commendable
2012 White Rose Estate Anderson Family Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.71, 118 cases, $90. Released.
Harvest October 11, yield 1.7 tons per acre. Self-rooted Dijon 115.
100% whole cluster fermentation. 9-day cold soak, 26 days total skin
contact, aged 16 months in 10% new French oak.
purple color in the glass. Voluptuous, persistent aromatic pleasures
including black cherry, spice and wilted rose. Boldly concentrated plum
and black raspberry flavors are vibrant on the attack, showing numbing intensity
as well on the huge finish. The tannins are supportive but not intrusive. Despite
its sappy load, the wine has an elegant, polished mouth feel.
2012 White Rose Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.62, 257
cases, $90. Released. A special cuvée from winemaker Jesus Guillen who choses his favorite barrels
in the cellar. A blend of White Rose, Guillen, Vista Hills, Luciole and Red Hills vineyards. Vineyards
planted 1978-2006 primarily in Jory soils. Harvest Oct 11-26. 93% whole cluster fermentation on
average. 6-9-days cold soak. 20-26 days skin contact. Aged 16 months in 9% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Fabulous nose perfumed with aromas of black cherry, black
raspberry, dark rose, exotic spices and peppery herbs. A terrific, well-structured wine in a masculine
style (jesus prefers this) with layers of flavors including Bing cherry, black raspberry pie filling, sassafras and
cola. The fine-grain tannins are nicely integrated and the finish is generous and satisfying.
2012 White Rose Estate “The Neo-Classical Objective” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 428 cases, $80. Fall release. After
meticulously tasting barrel samples blind before bottling, only vineyards
that meet the neo-classical objective for a given vintage are selected for
this blend. White Rose Vineyard (11%), Vista Hills Vineyard (11%),
Anderson Family Vineyard (17%), Guillen Vineyard (28%), Lia’s
Vineyard (22%), and Luciole Vineyard (11%). Pommard, Wädenswil,
777 and 115. Harvest Oct 11-26. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Total skin
contact 16-26 days. Aged 16 months in 14% new French oak.
purple hue in the glass. The nose is shy initially, opening slowly to reveal scents
of fresh dark berries, spice and cut flowers. Much more elegantly styled with a satisfying core of black
raspberry, plum and black cherry flavors expansive on the palate and generating a lengthy, spice-laden finish
highlighted by sweet oak and suave tannins.
2012 White Rose Estate White Rose Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., pH 3.77, 235 cases, $125. Fall release. Harvest
Oct 26-27. Yields only 0.5 tons per acre due to poor set. Self-rooted
Pommard. 100% whole cluster fermentation. 6-day cold soak, total skin
contact 20-21 days, aged 16 months in 10% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Well-perfumed with hitone
aromas of cherry, raspberry, baking spices and sandalwood.
Gorgeous fruit core replete with striking flavors of fresh red and black
raspberries and exotic spices. Structured for the long haul with an amazingly
long, peacock tail finish. This wine typifies the neo-classical objective of
juiciness and freshness with enough tannic backbone to age and a minimum of oak intrusion to allow the fruit
to clearly speak.
The Potter’s Vineyard
Laura Volkman originally planted this 3.2-acre vineyard in 2001 in Newberg, Oregon, and released her first
wines in 2004. Laura quickly developed a loyal following over the years for her wines, but an unfortunate
illness forced her to sell her property just before harvest in 2012. The new owners, Sandy and Bill Sanchez,
are proud to carry on her legacy of producing premium Estate Pinot Noir.
The new owners initially learned about the vineyard and wines Laura created by working with Laura during the
2012 vintage harvest and winemaking process. They changed the label to “The Potter’s Vineyard” because the
vineyard property is also home to a pottery studio where Sandy and Bill craft hand made clay art. The new
label invokes the memory of the Laura Volkman label. The tasting room also features a Clay Art Gallery,
featuring the work of local artists including Patrick Noe, who created the ‘Vineyard Worker’ image on the new
Sandy is a learning specialist assistant at a local elementary school and Bill is a Ph.D. scientist with Diamond
V, a yeast culture manufacturing company. The couple are new to wine growing and winemaking but very
humble about their opportunity.
The Potter’s Vineyard is located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, and is planted to Dijon 777, 114, 115 and
667, and Pommard clones of Pinot Noir in Jory and Laurelwood soils.
The first Potter’s Vineyard Pinot Noirs were released in May 2014, and are reviewed here. Tasting is available
by appointment and the traditional Willamette Valley weekend open houses Thanksgiving and Memorial Day
weekends. The website is www.pottersvineyard.com.
2012 The Potter’s Vineyard Dario Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 220
cases, $28. Replaces Laura Volkman’s St. James Estate. Named after Portland icon Dario
Casciato. A blend of both Jacob and Rachel blocks of the vineyard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10
months in 25% new French oak and 8 months in bottle. Unfined and unfiltered.
purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black cherry with an echo of oak. Juicy mid weight black
cherry core with a modest oak sheen. The tannins are balanced and there is some finishing
intensity. A fairly simple but enjoyable wine that is much more aromatic and flavorful the following
day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Decant if you must drink now.
2012 The Potter’s Vineyard Estate Reserve Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 25 cases, $55. Replaces the Jacob and Rachel bottlings of Laura
Volkman. Primarily Pommard clone. 100% de-stemmed. Aged on lees 10
months in 100% new French oak, bottle aged for 8 months. Unfined and
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Nicely perfumed with
deep, penetrating aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, rose petal, anise and
spice. Full-bodied, yet charming, with a rich core of darker stone and berry
fruits, cola and spice. Very Pommard in character. The fruit is wrapped in fine-grain,
supportive tannins, the texture is soft and seamless, and the finish has
some pleasing sap. Pleasurable now, but will benefit from another 6-12 months
Ghost Hill Cellars
The legend of Ghost Hill dates to the early 1860s when Oregon was consumed by a gold rush. An old military
trail that stretched from southern Oregon to Portland ran through what is now the Bayliss family farm. A miner
was traveling the trail to Portland with a stash of gold and camped one night at what is now known as Ghost
Hill. During the night, thieves killed the miner and stole his gold. The legend says that the miner’s ghost still
wanders the hill looking for his stolen gold.
The Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Vineyard is part of the family’s 234-acre property on Savannah Ridge in
the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The Bayliss family have been stewards of the land for more than a century. Initially,
the farm was a dairy operation. When Samuel D. and Barbara Bayliss bought the farm in the 1930s from Samuel's father who came to the land in 1906 with his brother, they
raised wheat, hay, clover, peas, sheep, and later beef cattle. Today, the vineyard is the only farm crop. Mike and Drenda Bayliss own the farm. Their children, Mike Bayliss, Jr., and daughter Bernadette Bower along with her husband Cameron Bower own the Ghost Hill Cellars brand and vineyard together.
The initial planting was in 1999, and today 15 acres of Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 777, 114, and 115 are
farmed. The vineyard has been managed by Buddy Beck of Advanced Vineyard Systems, Inc., since the
beginning and is LIVE and Salmon-Safe certified. Some fruit is sold to other wineries including Lange and Elk
Cove. The Ghost Hill Cellars wines, first released from the 2006 vintage, are 100% estate grown.
The winemaker is Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis who had her first exposure to wine as an exchange student with a
family living near Bordeaux, France. The host father was a wine collector and Rebecca was able to drink many
older vintages of French wine, quickly falling in love with “tasting history.” She did not pursue a career in wine
initially, instead she became a maintenance technician on F-15 fighter aircraft for the Oregon Air National
Guard. In 2005, she left that job (although she remained a member of the Air National Guard) to enter the wine
business. She did not have a formal winemaking education, but had a knack for crafting wine, and learned
quickly. In 2008, she made her first wine for Ghost Hill Cellars, and the wines have become quite popular. The
winery was chosen to participate in the 2012 International Pinot Noir Celebration, and Rebecca was panelist at
the “Burgundy & Oregon: Parallels in Latitudes” Seminar at this year’s World of Pinot Noir.
I met Rebecca, Drenda Bayliss and Mike Bayliss at the intimate tasting room adjacent the original farmhouse
on the property. Mike Bayliss and son Mike, Jr., built the tasting room which has a sliding barn door and
reclaimed windows from the Trappist Abbey Church in Carlton. The structure is reminiscent of a prospector’s
shack. From the weekend after Memorial Day through Labor Day, the tasting room is open Saturday and
Sunday, and year-round by appointment. Visit www.ghosthillcellars.com for information and to purchase wine.
Shown below are (right to left) Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis, Drenda Bayliss, and Mike Bayliss.
2012 Ghost Hill Cellars Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir Blanc
alc., pH 3.40, 416 cases, $25, screwcap. Produced since 2010 from
young clone 115 vines. Whole cluster pressed into 100% stainless
steel. Cool fermentation over 5 months on lees until it was filtered 3
days before bottling.
Pale rose with a gold cast in the glass. Aromas
of apple and peach are echoed in the flavors with an added touch of
red berry. Boisterous and complex with a lively cut of acidity. Pinot
Noir Blanc always challenges the senses.
2013 Ghost Hill Cellars “Spirit of Pinot Noir” Yamhill-Carlton Rosé
13.0% alc., pH 3.43, 156 cases,
screwcap, $20. 50% saignée and 50% a byproduct of Pinot Noir Blanc pressing. Aged 6 months on lees with
stirring in stainless steel.
Modest pink color in the glass. A crisp, lively wine with aromas and flavors of
strawberry, blood orange, orange zest and cranberry. Satisfying, with some fruit dancing on the finish.
2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., pH 3.69, 300 cases, $42.
Clones 114, Wädenswil, 777, and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 10% new French oak. 2012
International Pinot Noir Celebration Featured Wine.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely
and spirited nose offering hi-tone aromas of cherry, dried herbs and spice. Middleweight flavors of dark cherry,
sassafras, and savory herbs. Juicy and fresh, with a long, dry finish.
2011 Ghost Hill Cellars Prospector’s Reserve Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.64, 100 cases, $55. A 5 barrel
selection of clones 114, 777, Pommard and Wädenswill in about
equal proportions. One new barrel.
Moderately light reddish purple
hue in the glass. Very deep and enticing cherry aroma with a rose
petal note. Discreetly concentrated core of cherry and raspberry fruit
supported by fine-grain tannins and balanced acidity. Barrel
management is spot on and the finish is particularly noteworthy for its
2008 Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
13.5%, re-release of 14 cases, $62.
100% free-run juice. Rebecca’s first wine at Ghost Hill Cellars. Some held back because the 2009 vintage
was so fruit-forward and released again in May 2014 to Wine Club.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass.
Deep black cherry aromas with a swirl of raspberry and a hint of watermelon. Full-bodied and structured with a
core of intensely flavored black cherries and dark raspberries with a touch of spice, herbs and oak. The finish
is generous and lasts over 30 seconds. A special wine with many years ahead.
During my recent visit with Steve Lutz, the owner, manager and vineyardist behind Lenné Estate in the Yamhill-
Carlton AVA, we tasted through the lineup of 2012 vintage Pinot Noirs side-by-side. Established in 2002, the
Lenné Estate’s 20.9-acre vineyard is ideally situated among many famous neighboring estates such as
WillaKenzie Estate, Shea Wine Cellars & Vineyard, Solena (recently acquired by Kendall-Jackson), and
The vineyard is entirely Pinot Noir, planted to clones 115, Pommard, 114 and 777 in 2001, additional Pommard
in 2003 and additional 114 and 777 in 2004. Soils are primarily Peavine with some Willakenzie. Elevation is
375-575 feet with primarily a south facing aspect.
Steve said the 2012 vintage was very moderate and similar to 2008, except for a warm easterly wind that
developed over five days in September which pushed the vintage closer to 2006. He noted, “The resulting
pH’s were nudged higher, yet retained enough acidity to hold the wines together, and the wines retained
enough structure to retain interest and to age nicely over the mid-term.” The wines are forward and highly
approachable, so much so that Steve plans to release them and pull the 2011 vintage Pinot Noirs back into
storage for another 6 months. He believes cool vintages like 2011 make the best wines in Oregon, but they
take longer to come around. He said, “I love the 2011s and by November they will be delicious. Six months
ago my 2011 wines were barely drinkable.”
The 2012 vintage was characterized by small clusters and berries and little disease pressure allowing the fruit
to be harvested very clean. Rounding up enough pickers at harvest was the biggest challenge.
The 2012 wines required no special manipulation. After a 5-day cold soak, the must was inoculated, punched
down a couple times a day, and pressed without any extended maceration. Steve is not a believer in extended
barrel aging so the wines were kept in barrel for 11 months and then bottled unfiltered.
The wines are vinified by winemaker David O’Reilly of Owen Roe fame. David recently broke up with his
partner and no longer makes wine at the St. Paul winemaking facility the partners used for years. Steve is
planning to build a custom crush facility on the Lenné Estate property where the wines of Lenné Estate can be
produced side-by-side with O’Reilly’s Owen Roe wines along with wines of other producers. Last year an initial
offering to raise money for the new facility brought in 50% of the needed funds. Investors received 4% to 5.5%
on their loan and a Lenné wine component allocation. Inquire with Steve if you have interest in becoming a
lender/investor. Steve is also currently expanding his tasting room to include a kitchen, making the hospitality
facility more amendable to hosting events.
All the 2012 wines tasted were elegant and eager to please with modest tannins and generous fruit-forward
2012 Le Nez Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $30. All five clones from the estate vineyard.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, herbs and balsam. Bright cherry and strawberry
flavors with a hint of spice and mocha. Elegant, fresh and easy to drink, with some finishing fruit vibe.
2012 Lenné Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $45. A barrel
selection of the finest barrels from the best parts of the vineyard.
light reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of dark cherry and black
raspberry with a hint of hard red candy and spice. Mid weight flavors of black
cherries with an accent of clove, dark chocolate and savory herbs. Nicely
composed, with balanced tannin and acidity. Highly approachable now.
2012 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 150 cases, $55. The best barrels
from the 115 block. Named after Steve Lutz’s mother-in-law Jill.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the
glass. The nose picks up intensity over time in the glass, revealing deep aromas of strawberries, cherries and
spice with an earthy undertone. Similarly earthy on the palate with fresh, middleweight flavors of red fruits,
herbs and subtle oak. The tannins are reigned in and the wine is easy to like.
2012 Lenné Estate Kill Hill 667 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 100 cases $55. Best barrels from
steepest and most stressed part of the vineyard.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy initially,
opening up slowly over time in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of dark red cherries and plum.
Impressively sappy on the mid palate with remarkable intensity on the finish. Nicely balanced with fine-grain
tannins and juicy acidity.
2012 Lenné Estate Karen’s Pommard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 150 cases, $55.The best barrels from the Pommard block.
Named after Steve Lutz’s spouse, Karen.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. Very complex nose offering an array of pleasurable
aromas including black cherry, cola, mocha, spice, rose petal, and sweet
oak. The discreetly concentrated core of perfectly ripened black cherries
is complimented by a riff of cola and spice. The peacock finish is the
most intense and lengthy of the 2012 Lenné wines.
The 2012 Pinot Noirs were released May 31. The tasting room is open weekends from 12-5 and other times by
appointment. You are also welcome to come in anytime the gate is open. Visit the website at
Interestingly, Steve held back 110 cases of the 2008 vintage and will release them in September 2014. These
are highly complex wines that seem to be capable of aging forever. A special 2008 Pinot Noir consisting of a
selection of some of the best barrels from the 2008 vintage is offered currently for $55. Labeled the Lenné
Wetlands Conservancy Pinot Noir, nearly half of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle are donated to
Wetlands Conservancy. Contact Steve directly to order: email@example.com.
2008 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Oregon Pinot Noir
Moderately dark reddish purple
color with a slight orange tone. Aromas of dried cherry, shoe leather and spice. The palate is alive with
secondary characters of orange peel, herbs, and cigar box complimenting the luscious dark cherry core. The
wine still has plenty of tannin for the long haul, but the tannin is not imposing at this stage. A delightful Pinot
Noir with plenty of life ahead.
Anne Amie Vineyards
I met recently with Director of Winemaking Thomas Houseman at Annie Amie Vineyards located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA on Mineral Springs Road. Thomas graduated from the enology and viticulture program at
University of California at Fresno, and learned his winemaking working at Husch Vineyards in the Anderson
Valley, Bleinheim Winery and Bell Hill Winery in New Zealand, and Ponzi Vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
Along with Director of Viticulture, Jason Tosch, who also came from Ponzi Vineyards, the pair have
transformed Annie Amie Vineyards into a world-class winery.
90% to 95% of the Anne Amie wines are now produced from estate fruit. All estate vineyards are certified LIVE
(Low Input Viticulture & Enology) and Salmon Safe. The estate vineyards are located in the rolling hills
adjacent the winery (Anne Amie Estate) and on the steep hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains (Twelve Oaks
Estate). Most of the Pinot Noir is now sourced from the Twelve Oaks Vineyard situated at 660 to 820 feet
elevation in the Chehalem Mountains which is planted to multiple clones on about 36 acres.
All Pinot Noirs are fermented with native yeasts. In the 2011 Pinot Noirs reviewed here, about 15% to 20%
whole cluster was used because harvest was late and the stems were mature. All wines are unfined and
unfiltered and bottled under screwcap.
2010 Anne Amie Prismé Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Blanc
14.1% alc., pH 3.41, TA 0.66, 268 cases, $50. Released May 2013. Sourced
from Anne Amie Estate and Rainbow Ridge vineyards. Clones are Pommard
and 115. Free-run juice was racked into French oak puncheons and barrel
fermented with lees stirring, full malolactic fermentation, and aged for 18 months
in 38% new and 62% neutral oak before bottling.
This is a serious wine that
displays intriguing complexity. Mild golden yellow color and clear in the glass.
The aromatic profile is quite pleasing with scents of pear, baked apple, kiwi and
vanilla. Slightly creamy on the palate and juicy acidity on the finish with an array
of flavors including pear, apple and peach with a nutty undertone. Much more
expressive and alive the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Peaches and cream is
the main theme but hints of coconut and pineapple add interest.
2010 Anne Amie L’Iris Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., pH
3.59, TA 0.61, 230 cases, $60. Released May 2014. 74.2% Twelve
Oaks Estate, 15.8% Rainbow Ridge and 10% Anne Amie Estate.
Clones are Pommard 4, 667, 777, 114, 113, 115, and Wädenswil. 100%
de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, free-run juice was racked into French oak
barrels where the wine completed malolactic fermentation. Aged 18
months in 20.5% new, 35% 1-year, and 44.5% neutral French oak and 2-3 years
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Vibrant aromas of
cherry, red berry, sandalwood and spice lead to an elegantly styled wine that
charms you with flavors of red cherries and berries, blueberries, savory herbs,
spice and a compliment of oak-driven notes. The tannins are evident but not intrusive and indicate age ability,
and the finish is a veritable spice bomb. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, the wine was flat-out great.
2011 Anne Amie Winemaker’s Selection Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.64, 4,286
cases, $30. Released January 2014. 44.1% Anne Amie Estate, 42% Twelve Oaks Estate, 9.8% Rainbow
Ridge, and 4.1% Alloro vineyards. Harvest extended to November 6. Largely de-stemmed, 7-21-day cold
soak, extended maceration, and on the skins for a total of 28-40 days. Free-run and light pressings were
combined and aged 11 months in 29.9% new, 10.3% 1-year, and 59.8% neutral French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. Intriguing aromas of cherry, rose petal and exotic spices. The core of red
cherry and cranberry fruit is satisfying, but the nose is the best feature of this easy to drink wine. Suave
tannins and a refreshing lift of acidity on the finish complete the experience.
2011 Anne Amie Twelve Oaks Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH
3.64, TA 0.62, 194 cases, $40. Released November 2013. Laurelwood soil. Clones 115, Pommard 4, 777 and
Wädenswil. Largely de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged 12 months in 25% new, 18% 1-year, and 57% neutral
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of cherry, balsam, rose petal
and spice draw you in. Mid weight flavors of black cherry and spice and caressed by supple tannins. Very
silky on the palate with a bright finish. Still charming the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
2011 Anne Amie Anne Amie Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.55, TA
0.65, 198 cases, $40. Released November 2013. Clones are Pommard 4 and 115 grown in Willakenzie soil.
Largely de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged 16 months in 3% new, 25% 1-year and 72% neutral French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and a hint of
spice. The fruit has a riper profile than the Twelve Oaks with darker stone and berry fruit and a touch of herbs
and floral goodness in the background. The best feature is the big, bright, juicy cherry finish which is very
prominent the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
Thomas is one of the three winemakers participating in “The Cube Project” that began with the 2010 vintage.
Thomas, Andrew Brooks of Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa Carneros, and Leslie Mead Renaud of Lincourt
Vineyards in Santa Barbara County devised an experiment that compared winemaker technique with terroir.
The three wineries picked 6 tons of Pommard clone Pinot Noir from their own vineyard in the 2010, 2011 and
2012 vintages. They divided the grapes into thirds, with each of the three winemakers processing 2 tons
(about 120 cases) of Pinot Noir grapes. Each winemaker was responsible for picking decisions at their own
winery and the grapes were picked on the same day so each of the three wines started on equal footing. Each
winemaker crafted their wines from the two other vineyards in the same fashion as the wine from their own
vineyard. The Cube Project was first presented at the World of Pinot Noir in 2012: www.princeofpinot.com/
article/1195/. For more information also visit www.anneamie.com/cube-project. Once the project is completed,
you will be able to buy all 9 wines and decide for yourself whether terroir or winemaking technique are most
obvious. The 2010 vintage wines are now available on the Anne Amie website.
I tasted the three 2011 wines made by Thomas as part of The Cube Project. They were tasted blind the day
the bottles were opened and re-tasted the following day. All wines were 100% de-stemmed and unfiltered, with
varying oak treatment.
2011 Cube Anne Amie Estate Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with fresh cherries
and spice. Intensely flavorful on the mid palate and finish, yet light on its feet,
with a flourish of Bing cherry and plum fruit, herbs, spice and sandalwood. The
following day, the wine was noticeably more aromatic and equally flavorful with a
good firm structure and bright acidity for aging.
2011 Cube Bouchaine Estate Vineyard Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
Moderately light garnet hue
in the glass. An array of scents stand out including cherry, black raspberry and exotic spices. Soft and smooth
on the palate with plenty of body, lively acidity, and flavorful notes of purple grapes, plum, and black cherry.
The following day, the wine was more earthy and savory in character.
2011 Cube Lincourt Lindsay’s Vineyard Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of black raspberry, grape, spice and herbs. This wine has the
most sap, shows the most oak sheen, and is the most luscious featuring full flavors of purple grape, dark
raspberry and black currant. The following day, the fruit tasted too ripe and raisiny, and nose was heavy with
smoky oak. The fruit core was massive and the finish was big, but it was a tad too much for me.
The wines clearly showed their terroir and it was easiest to pick out the Oregon wine. Without tasting the other
winemaker’s wines, I can’t comment on the effect of winemaking on the finished wines. Stay tuned as the
While living in Denver, Colorado, Mike Hallock was smitten with Oregon Pinot Noir on a steelhead salmon
fishing trip. As a geologist, he spent twelve years mapping vineyard soils until he found his ideal site for Pinot
Noir in 1995 at the McDonald farm on Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. He pursued
winemaking and viticulture classes at University of California at Davis, worked along side winemaker Kathy
Joseph of Fiddlehead Winery who made wine in Oregon for several years, planted 49 acres in 1996 and
celebrated his first harvest and wines in 1998. It was probably the largest vineyard planting at one time in the
Chehalem Mountains. The first four years, he commuted from Denver to the Willamette Valley to manage the
vineyard and craft the Carabella wines, finally moving out to Oregon for good in 2002.
On my recent visit, I walked the entire Carabella Vineyard with Mike. The site is ideal for Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay, located at an altitude of 500 to 600 feet and consisting of gravelly volcanic soils. The original
1996 planting was Pinot Noir clones 115, 114, 113 and Pommard and Wädenswil. After ten years of learning
about the site, he planted 667, 777 and a little bit more of 115 in 2007. Chardonnay plantings are Dijon clone
76, and there are two different clonal blocks of Pinot Gris. Total planted acreage is now 59 acres.
About half the fruit from the vineyard has been sold to premium Willamette Valley producers including
Bergström (Chardonnay), Winderlea, Union Wine Co. and Beaux Freres. The vineyard is Certified Sustainable
and Mike uses no herbicides or chemical pesticides. The vines are dry farmed.
Along with his spouse, Cara, the couple have been gradually converting the cover crop in the vineyard to
native fescue and other native flora, hoping to attract beneficial insects that live in the nearby oak Savannah.
Mike’s plantings of clone 113 are unusual because this Dijon clone has been rarely established in California
and Oregon in volcanic soils. ENTAV-INRA Clone 113 is from Morey St. Denis. It produces average to high
sugar levels, good quality and a sufficient but sometimes irregular yield. Possibly the most elegant of the Pinot
Noir clones, it is early ripening with charming aromatics and displays a classic blend of plum, cherry and
raspberry fruits. This clone has prospered at Carabella Vineyard and a Dijon 113 bottling is offered, a true
rarity in the Pinot Noir world.
There is an interesting story behind one particular planting in the Carabella Vineyard known as the Mistake
Block. In 1998, while planted Dijon 113 vines, it was discovered after the vines were planted that some vines
were mislabeled. As a result, there are 13 rows of Pommard clone (3/4 acre) and these vines have turned out
to produce extraordinary wine. The grapes were blended into other Carabella wines until 2008 when a
“Mistake Block” wine was released. Since then the wine has been produced in only select years.
Carabella wines are produced exclusively from estate fruit. The wines are sold on the website at
www.carabellawine.com and through a Bedrock Wine Club. There is some distribution to other states including
New York, Illinois and Florida. A second, value-priced label ($20), Plowbuster, is sourced from several AVAs
and has an Oregon AVA designation. It offers excellent drinking and is more widely distributed. Total production
is 4,000-6,000 cases annually. The winery does not have a tasting room. I have favorably reviewed a number
of Carabella and Plowbuster wines in the past.
I tasted some Carabella wines in the vineyard and in the Hallock’s home. My impressions follow.
2010 Carabella Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Chardonnay
13.5% alc., $27. Barrel fermented,
100% malolactic fermentation, aged in about 15% new French oak.
Aromas and flavors of citrus, banana,
vanilla and nuts. Slightly creamy and soft in the mouth with a good cut of acidity on the bright finish.
2011 Carabella Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $39.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic with bright scents of cherry and plum, spice, rose petal and herbs.
Beautifully balanced and highly elegant, with flavors that echo the hose embraced by modest tannins. The
texture is silky and the finish is satisfyingly appointed with red fruits and herbs.
2010 Carabella Estate Dijon 113 Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $54.
Light garnet color in the glass. Delicate aromas of cherry, floral
display and brown spice. Very elegant and silky on the palate, with light weight
but pleasing flavors of cherry and raspberry supported by fine-grain tannins. A
very charming wine.
2008 Carabella Eva’s Garden Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $75. A selection of the best blocks on the Carabella site. Primarily
113 with some of the oldest 115 plantings and Pommard from the Mistake Block.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Spectacular nose with effusive
aromas of fresh black cherries, black raspberries and spice. Everything you
could ask for in a Pinot Noir. Vivid and spiced dark stone and berry fruits are
beautifully blended into a layered fruit wonderland, the tannins are submerged,
the mouth feel is silky smooth and the finish is generous and persistent.
J. Wrigley Vineyard
John Wrigley developed an interest in winemaking in 1984 when he graduated from college. Home beer
brewing was popular at the time and stores that stocked beer brewing kits also had wine making kits. A friend
had made a plum wine at home, and although John did not like the wine, he was intrigued by the process. He
bought a gallon of concentrated grape juice and made a wine by a recipe. The first day he tried it, it was good,
but it quickly oxidized over the ensuing two days. He realized he needed to learn more and began reading
books on winemaking to feed his curiosity. Before long he read everything he could get his hands on including
material from UC Davis.
As his home winemaking evolved, he wanted to start making wine commercially but did not want the
uncertainty of sourcing grapes. He knew he needed the vineyard component. On a fishing trip in Oregon, he
met winemaker Andrew Rich and had an Oregon Pinot Noir epiphany. Until that time, he had been a “California
Cabernet guy.” He began exploring every AVA in the Willamette Valley and tasted wines from each region.
John found that he preferred the bolder style of Pinot Noir wines from the McMinnville AVA, and bought 200
acres of prime vineyard land in Sheridan in the McMinnville AVA in 2006. The property has about 80 acres
suitable for planting wine grapes. The rest of the property is planted to Douglas fir timber and too steep to farm
without the use of specialized equipment. The site is located 12 miles southwest of the town of McMinnville at
210 to 740 feet elevation. The majority of the property is desirable east and south facing slopes and contains a
complex mixture of volcanic and sedimentary soils.
Because of the western and elevated location of the site, the vineyard benefits from the winds arriving through
the Van Duzer Corridor, so there is little mildew pressure. The property is definitely in a very cool location, so
cool that some told John he couldn’t successfully grow wine grapes there. He knew, however, that Coleman
Vineyard and Hyland Vineyard were on nearby ridges, and the healthy growth of poison oak and mint on the
property was a sign that wine grapes could be successfully farmed.
John has an incredible knowledge of Oregon soils which he shared with me as we drove around the property.
He loves to show off the old quarry on the property where 35 million years of Yamhill County in the making can
be viewed through the cut away of the mountain. It is a rare opportunity and a breathtaking experience. I won’t
go into detail here, but if you visit, and you should, he would be happy to give you a tour. (The picture doesn’t
do it justice!)
In 2008, the first Pinot Noir (Pommard, 115 and 777), Riesling and Pinot Gris vines were planted. Since that
year the vineyard has been dry farmed, with the aim of seeking vintage variation in the wines. A small amount
of clone “828” was planted subsequently bringing the total vineyard size to 10 acres. The first estate Pinot Noir
was released from the 2011 vintage.
I tasted the J. Wrigley Vineyard wines in the charming tasting room situated on the summit of the property with
panoramic views of the Willamette Valley and Mt. Hood in the distance. John says he makes wine to please
himself and hopes that others find it enjoyable as well. He avoids commercial additives and extended
maceration. The wines are aged sur lie in barrel with periodic stirring at the time of topping. Over time, his
palate have evolved and he prefers more elegant and polished wines with proper balance. This style was
evident in the wines I tasted.
J. Wrigley Vineyard is a small family operation. John manages the vineyard and crafts the wines, while still
working as a catastrophic claims insurance adjustor. Currently, total production is about 500 cases. His
spouse, Jody, sells the wines. The wines are sold on the website at www.wrigleywines.com and through a
wine club. Visitors are welcome by appointment. An informative blog is presented on the website.
2013 J. Wrigley McMinnville Oregon Rosé of Pinot Noir
150 cases, $20, screwcap. Whole
cluster pressed with some finished wine blended back in for color. Cold fermented to taste. Slight
Light pink color and clear in the glass. Typical aromas of Pinot Noir Rosé of
strawberry, rose petal and orange flower water. A charming and refreshing wine with flavors of
strawberry, blood orange and a hint of cotton candy. The bright, acid-driven finish is driven by
orange zest flavor.
2010 J. Wrigley “MAC” Cuvée McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $38. From sourced grapes
(Yamhill Valley and Coleman vineyards). Extended barrel aging for over 2 years in 25% new French oak.
Pommard, 777 and 667 clones.
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Complex nose offering aromas of
cranberry, cherry, strawberry, dusty earth and a hint of spice. Elegant and charming with reigned in tannins,
and featuring a smoky cherry core.
2011 J. Wrigley Proposal Block Estate McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 150 cases, $38.
Primarily volcanic soil. Pommard, 777 and 115 clones. Aged in 18%-20% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, dried herbs, forest floor and rose petal lead to bright
flavors of cherry, raspberry and spice. Demure and suave, with managed tannins and lively acidity. Tasted
again later in the day from an opened bottle, the wine had picked up significantly more richness and intensity
and took a velvety texture. A seductive wine that could benefit from another year in bottle.
2012 J. Wrigley Proposal Block Estate McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 250 cases, $45. Primarily volcanic soils. Pommard, 777 and 115
clones with a little more Pommard than in 2011.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of ripe black cherries, black
raspberries and spice. Rich and full on the palate with a healthy tannic structure
and a long, dry finish. The flavor profile leans to black cherry and plum with a
hint of earth and herbs. Tasted later in the day from an opened bottle, the wine
was still big-boned and fruity, and the finish was magnificent.
2012 J. Wrigley “MAC” Cuvée McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 225 cases, $38, screwcap.
Yamhill Valley Vineyard and J. Wrigley Vineyard grapes. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Primarily marine
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is a touch floral with added scents of
cherry and sandalwood. Plenty of sappy black cherry, black raspberry and plum fruits with a sweet edge.
Modest tannins, supportive oak, and some finishing intensity. A fruit-driven wine that can be enjoyed now.
Guillen Family Wines
Through the years I have run across many Mexican immigrants that have achieved success as winegrowers,
winemakers and winery owners in California. The story of Jesus Guillen is the first such story I have met with
in the Willamette Valley.
Jesus Guillen, Sr., came to Oregon in 2000 from Chihuahua, Mexico, encouraged by a Mexican immigrant
working as a winegrower. He ended up at White Rose Estate as the vineyard manager. His son, also named
Jesus, graduated from the University of Chihuahua in 2001 with a degree in computer systems engineering. He
came to Oregon on a visitor’s visa, immediately fell in love with Oregon, and decided to stay. In 2002, his
mother, brother and sister immigrated to Oregon. Jesus studied English at the local community college, read
extensively about viticulture and winemaking, and developed a palate for the local wines. His epiphany came
from two wines: the 1999 Archery Summit Arcus Summit Pinot Noir and the 1999 Adelsheim Elizabeth’s
Reserve Pinot Noir.
Jesus became a vineyard worker for Patricia Green in 2002. He also worked with his father, Jesus, Sr., at
Laurel Ridge Winery where Jesus, Sr., was helping Greg Sanders of White Rose Estate make his wines.
When the winery was completed at White Rose Estate, Jesus started working in the new winery’s cellar. At the
time, Mark Vlossak of St. Innocent was the consulting winemaker, and Jesus acquired much of his winemaking
skills from him. He also received some mentoring from Gary Andrus. Because of his considerable talent,
Jesus was promoted to winemaker by 2008 and now crafts the White Rose Estate wines with producer and
owner Greg Sanders.
Jesus launched his own small label in 2009 with the 2007 vintage, sourcing fruit from Vista Hills Vineyard which
is near White Rose Estate in the Dundee Hills. The wines are vinified in a similar fashion to those of White
Rose Estate with 100% whole cluster (since 2010) and native yeast fermentations, basket pressed, and aging
in neutral French oak (Dreamcatcher and Damian), or 100% new French oak (Adrian). Damian and Adrian are
aged sur lie. Adrian is built for ultimate complexity and is aged in 100% new French oak. It is bottled when
Jesus feels the oak is well integrated. The Guillen Family Pinot Noirs tend to be slightly more full-bodied and
extracted than the White Rose Estate Pinot Noirs so they have their own character. Total production of 3
Guillen Family wines is only about 80 cases.
Guillen Family Wines are produced in such small quantities they quickly sell out so I hesitate to rave about
them. I was honored that he was willing to open the following eight wines for me. The wines are sold through a
mailing list at www.guillenfamily.com. Jesus has also made some wine for Vista Hills Vineyard including the
2011 Vista Hills Vineyard Rollins which is crafted from the oldest block in the vineyard and vinified 100% whole
cluster. Jesus is pictured below (left) at White Rose Estate with White Rose Estate manager Gavin Joll.
2009 Guillen Family Dreamcatcher Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $25. High percentage of
whole cluster. Aged in neutral French oak barrel.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A solid, mid weight wine
with enticing aromas of cherry, raspberry, rose, and spice echoed in the flavors that fan out on the palate,
displaying a balanced backbone of soft tannins.
2010 Guillen Family Dreamcatcher Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 61 cases, $25.
Sourced from Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. 100% whole
cluster, native fermentation, 7-day cold soak, 20-day skin contact, basket pressed, aged 11 months
in neutral French oak, racked twice, after malolactic fermentation and before bottling. Filtered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Light in weight, but packs plenty of flavor, with
vibrant and juicy flavors of cherry and spice. Aromatically inviting with scents of spiced cherries
and a hint of smoke.
2010 Guillen Family Damian Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 23 cases, $40. Sourced from
Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. 100% whole cluster, native
fermentation, 7-day cold soak, 20-days skin contact, basket pressed, aged sur lie 11 months in a neutral
French oak barrel. Racked twice and filtered.
Light garnet hue in the glass. Very pure nose typical of whole
cluster with hi-tone cherry, spice and floral aromas. A well-sustained mid palate features ripe cherry and
raspberry flavors that carry over to a generous finish. More viscosity and an appealing velvety mouth feel.
2011 Guillen Family Dreamcatcher Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 31 cases, $25.
Sourced from Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. More strict
sorting in this vintage. 100% whole cluster and native fermentation, 11-day cold soak, 22 days on
skins, basket pressed, aged in neutral French oak barrels for 11 months. Racked twice and filtered.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely whole cluster nose featuring bright
aromas of warm cherries and spice. The core of black cherry fruit is complimented by a lively
underbelly of acid and a firm, but noble, non-astringent tannins. The long and mighty finish is
2011 Guillen Family Damian Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 23 cases, $40. Sourced from
Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. 100% whole cluster and native
fermentation, 11-day cold soak, 22 days skin contact, basket pressed, aged sur lie in a neutral French oak
barrel for 11 months. Racked twice and filtered.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Very exotic
whole cluster nose with an array of spice and floral notes accenting the cherry essence. Very similar to the
2011 Dreamcatcher on the palate with an added note of herbs and Asian 5-spice. Inviting viscosity and sap
supported by a muscular, but suave backbone of tannins.
2011 Guillen Family Adrian Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
12.8% alc., 23 cases, $60. One barrel
of reserve wine. Sourced from Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils.
11-day cold soak, 22 days skin contact, basket pressed, aged 24 months sur lie in one new French
oak barrel. Racked twice and filtered.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring,
bright aromas of darker stone and berry fruits accented with spice and dark red rose petals. Powerful,
yet very polished, with a layered array of dark red and purple fruits, well-spiced, with nonintrusive oak.
Suave tannins show up on the glorious finish.
2012 Guillen Family Damian Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 61 cases, $40. Sourced
from Vista Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. 4-day cold soak, 22 days
skin contact, basket pressed, aged 11 months sur lie in neutral French oak. Racked twice and
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Invigorating aromas of black cherry pie
glaze, vanilla, wilted rose and spice. Eye-opening attack of well-ripened black cherry and black
raspberry fruits which are vivid and juicy. The tannins are beautifully managed and balanced acidity
adds verve. The aging potential is obvious from the full and persistent finish.
2012 Guillen Family Adrian Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 23 cases, $60. Sourced
from Vistal Hills Vineyard Block F planted in 2005 with Dijon 667. Jory soils. 4-day cold soak, 22
days skin contact, basket pressed, aged 17 months sur lie in one new French oak barrel. Racked
twice and filtered. Bottled very recently.
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is
reticent, giving up reluctantly some hints of darker fruits, spice and a subtle oak. Rich and sappy, with
a plethora of fruit flavors including black raspberry, plum, cassis and spice, supported by broadshouldered,
yet refined tannins. The wine has a caressing mouthfeel, and a finish of startling length. I
think Grand Cru entered my mind while tasting this beauty. Still very young, but the potential is
Andrew and Annedria Beckham have a charming vineyard property in Sherwood, Oregon, in the Chehalem
Mountains, where they grow grapes for their wines that reflect the site and individuality of the vintage. Their
tasting room, constructed by Andrew, is inviting and the hosts are very warm people. Both Andrew and
Annedria are energetic people with him managing the vineyard and crafting the wine, and she, with three
children in tow, managing sales and marketing. This is a family winery in the truest sense of the word.
Andrew never set out to grow wine grapes or become a winemaker. The property, surrounded by heavily
forested Chehalem Mountain woods on the flank of Parrett Mountain, was originally acquired by the Beckhams
to allow Andrew, a ceramist and ceramics teacher, to have a large clay workshop for his craft. A neighbor
across the street had a small vineyard and drew Andrew into the romance of winegrowing. The Beckhams
soon had a 6.5-acre vineyard of their own adjacent their home. The south, southwest and southeast facing
vineyard was planted to Pommard, Wädenswil, 115 and 777 Pinot Noir clones at an elevation of 412-568 feet
in volcanic and Loess soils. Andrew learned about viticulture from neighbors and volunteering to work in other
local vineyards. The harvests from the first two vintages in 2007 and 2008 were sold.
Andrew’s winemaking mentors were Mike Halleck of Carabella Vineyard and Jim Sanders of Aubichon who
made their wines at Union Wine Co. in Tualatin. The first Beckham Estate Pinot Noir was produced in 2009.
Andrew is one of several winemakers in California and Oregon who are experimenting with fermenting and
aging wine in clay vessels or terracotta amphoras. Annedria had seen an article in a magazine several years
ago about vinification in amphoras and this not only piqued Andrew’s interest, but seemed a perfect fit given his
accomplished background as a ceramist. A recent article in Wines & Vines, “Winemakers Give Clay a Close
Look,” May 2014, featured Andrew as well as other proponents of amphora vinification. Fermenting and aging
wine in amphoras is exposing the wine to earth (clay), and not unexpectedly, gives wines a distinct mouthfeel.
Andrew’s amphoras are still in the experimental stage, but he is quite enthusiastic about the future prospects.
Andrew plans a second label, A.D. Beckham for wines vinified in amphoras and the first release will be a Pinot
Gris in July 2014.
In 2013, Beckham Estate Olivia’s Rosé of Pinot Noir was released (<70 cases, $18) and is nearly sold out. A
Beckham Estate Pinot Noir Blanc, a saignée of Pinot Noir, was also released (<70 cases, $22).
In 2011 and 2012, three Pinot Noirs were produced from estate fruit: Sophia’s, Estate and Dow’s. The wines
are reasonably priced considering the high quality. Visit the website to buy wines at
www.beckhamestatevineyard.com., or better yet, visit on Saturdays 11:00-5:00 and by appointment for an
intimate tasting experience.
2011 Beckham Estate Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 350 cases,
$30. Released September 2013. Nearly sold out. Aged 18 months in French oak, the last 6 months
in neutral French oak. All clones in vineyard including Pommard, Wädenswil, 115 and 777. 100%
de-stemmed and berry fermented. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak.
Light in color and
weight, with tannins slightly dominant over fruit concentration. Still quite appealing, with wellperfumed
red cherry and cranberry fruits with a hint of raspberry and sassafras. Driven by crisp
acidity, the wine has a sweet cherry, soprano finish.
2011 Beckham Estate Dow’s Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
50 cases, $40. Since 1857, more
than 20 sons in the Beckham family have carried the name Dow and this wine honors Andrew’s father,
grandfather and now Andrew’s son. A barrel selection of clone 777 and Pommard aged in 40% new French
Light reddish purple color in the glass. Elegant, but packs plenty of flavor including Bing cherry, spice and
mocha. Highly aromatic with a hearty backbone of tannin and a pleasing finish.
2012 Beckham Estate Sophia’s Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 70 cases,
$35. May 2014 release. Dijon 115. 100% de-stemmed and whole berry fermented. Aged 15 months
in 40% new French oak.
Deeper reddish purple color reflective of the vintage. Expressive aromas of
fresh cherry pie glaze and rose petals. Mid weight core of tasty red fruits with a complimentary touch
of oak and spice. Balanced tannins and quite forward.
2012 Beckham Estate Chehalem Mountains Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 225 cases, $30. Contains all four clones from
the estate vineyard. 100% de-stemmed and whole berry
fermented. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The vibrant
nose picks up intensity and nuance over time in the glass,
offering a rainbow of aromas including black cherry, ripe strawberry, black
raspberry, spice and rose. Delicious well-sustained attack of black cherry fruit
accented with clove and cola, carrying over to a magnificent finish of impressive
fruit concentration. Very smooth in the mouth with the structure to age many
years. This wine has a racy personality.
2013 Beckham Estate Olivia’s Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 60 cases, $18. Released January
22, 2014. Nearly sold out. Named for the family’s youngest daughter. Dijon 115 and Pommard grown
especially for this wine. Fermented in neutral French oak. No malolactic fermentation.
color and clear in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh strawberry, watermelon and blood orange are
echoed in the flavor profile. Bright and crisp with gossamer tannins.
De Ponte Cellars
I did not visit De Ponte (“Duh Pawnt”) Cellars on my recent trip to the Willamette Valley, but I tasted several
recent releases at home and was so impressed I wanted to highlight the winery. Being close to more famous
neighbors like Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Archery Summit and Domaine Serene, this winery flies a little bit
under the radar. I have visited the vineyard and winery in the past as part of the International Pinot Noir
Scott and Rae Baldwin acquired their Dundee Hills property in 1999 and started this small family winery in
2001, naming the winery after Baldwin’s grandfather, Manuel de Ponte, who grew grapes and made wine in
California’s San Joaquin Valley. The Baldwins are immigrants from California where they owned a walnut
orchard in the Central Valley and lived in Carmel Valley.
The De Ponte estate vineyard is planted to 20 acres of Dijon clone Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Melon de
Bourgogne. The Melon grape has sparse plantings in the United States and was a mistake. The original
growers thought they were planting Pinot Blanc grapes but it turned out to be Melon de Bourgogne, identical to
the grape used in the Muscadet from the Loire Valley of France. The wine has turned out to be very popular.
In 2007, the Baldwins bought 80 acres with an existing 6-acre Pinot Noir (667 and 777) vineyard on the
western edge of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Named Lonesome Rock Ranch, another 2 acres of Pinot Noir were
planted in 2010. This site is exposed to more weather extremes than the De Ponte Vineyard. The soils are
rich, red volcanic Jory in type. The vineyard does not lie within the Yamhill-Carlton AVA boundaries, situated
two miles to the west of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA border line and one of only three other vineyards within the
Willamette Valley that are closer to the Pacific Ocean. A herd of steers roam on the property, graze on grass,
and are fed pomace left over from De Ponte’s winemaking process. The beef is sold under the Lonesome Rock
Cattle Company brand (wine club members only).
The talented winemaker is Parisian-born Isabelle Dutarte who studied at the University of Bourgogne and has
made wine professionally for well over 30 years. Her impressive resume includes winemaking stints like
Maison Joseph Drouhin before she moved to Oregon in 1993 to assist the Drouhin family with Domaine
Drouhin Oregon. Her mentor at Maison Joseph Drouhin was Laurence Jobard, the head winemaker with
whom she worked for ten years. She became the head winemaker at De Ponte Cellars in 2001, moving
permanently to the Yamhill Valley five years later. Shortly after, she also founded her own label, 1789 wines.
The winery has two tasting rooms. The original winery tasting room is located in the heart of the Dundee Hills
at 17545 Archery Summit Road and is open daily. The newest tasting room is located in historic Carlton just off
Main Street and is housed in an old firehouse. Known as the Lonesome Rock Firehouse, it is open for tasting
Friday through Sunday 12:00-5:00. The website is www.depontecellars.com.
The 3-bedroom De Ponte Cellars Vineyard Retreat, located on the property with views of the Willamette Valley
and Mount Hood is available for rent. A concierge can be arranged and a chef provided to prepare meals. The
2,000 bottle De Ponte library wine and international wine list is available to guests.
2012 De Ponte Cellars D.F.B. Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Melon de Bourgogne
13.0% alc., $25. Old
vines planted almost 40 years ago. D.F.B. = D. Fred Baldwin.
Very light pale yellow and clear. The nose is
pleasing with aromas of citrus including pineapple, and hints of marzipan and banana cream. Crisp, bright and
juicy, with flavors of citrus, apple and peach backed by lively acidity, carrying over to the tight finish.
2010 De Ponte Cellars Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $55. Sourced from
the best blocks in the vineyard.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. An elegant wine with soft tannins,
offering aromas and flavors of red cherry, cranberry, baking spice, sarsasparilla and oak. There is a generous
oak sheen expressed as notes of toast and espresso. Juicy with a good grip of backing acidity.
2011 De Ponte Cellars Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $55.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of strawberry, cherry
and raspberry coulis. Lighter in color than the 2010 vintage Estate bottling, but brighter and more
tantalizing with a crisp expression of red fruit. The tannins are nicely integrated, the oak is
complimentary, and the finish is refreshingly crisp. A wine of great finesse, charm and harmony.
2011 De Ponte Cellars Baldwin Family Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $70. A winemaker selection
of full-bodied and complex barrels in the cellar. Limited production.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose envelopes your
senses with aromas of red cherry, raspberry and exotic spices that
reveal themselves gradually in the glass over time. Superlatives can
hardly due justice to this wine which is extraordinary in every way. It is
polished, balanced, elegant and hi-collared, with a delicious core of vivid cherry,
raspberry and spice flavors, a caressing texture, and remarkable persistence on
the finish. This wine seduces with charm, not power. A connoisseur's wine that
will age beautifully.
2011 De Ponte Cellars Lonesome Rock Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $44. “Proud to be Lonesome” is a tagline on the label.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Still a little shy at this stage, but that
is my only nit. Soaring scents of dark raspberry, blackberry, plum, cardamom
spice and oak. Very intriguing. Delicious array of darker, spiced berry and
stone fruits with an earthy undertone. The tannins are evident but supple, and
the finish invites another sip. Can be enjoyed now, but there is no hurry.
Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn
Youngberg Hill Vineyards & Inn consists of 21 acres of vineyards on a 50-acre hilltop property with panoramic
views of the Willamette Valley. Located in the McMinnville AVA, the first 12 acres of Pinot Noir were planted in
1989 on two distinct blocks of southeast facing slopes. The vines are own rooted Pommard and Wädenswil
clones. 4 additional acres of clone 777 was planted on 101-14 rootstock in 2008. There are also 5 acres of
Pinot Gris planted in 2006.
The 6.6-acre Natasha Block is located at about 600-675 feet elevation on Willakenzie soil (sedimentary). The
4.5-acre Jordan Block is higher at 750-800 feet and steeper, and is planted on Steiwer (volcanic) soil. This
block is benefits more from coastal breezes, is cooler, and harvested later. The Natasha and Jordan Blocks
were planted in 1989 and already in production when the Bailey family bought the property. The Camelot Block,
planted in 2008 by the Bailey family, is dedicated to Dijon clone 777. It is located between the Natasha and
Jordan Blocks and is a blend of the two soils.
The Youngberg Hill Vineyard is located in the western reaches of the McMinnville AVA, only 25 miles inland
from the Pacific Coast as the crow flies. The weather is most heavily influenced by the maritime influence from
the Van Duzer Corridor. The vineyard receives more precipitation than most of the Willamette Valley, more
sunny days, and cooler temperatures both day and night. Cool, coastal winds gently blow in the late afternoon
and early evening reducing disease pressure.
The vineyard is farmed organically and is LIVE and Salmon Safe certified, with some biodynamic practices in
place. The vines are not irrigated.
The Bailey family acquired Youngberg Hill in 2003 and renovated and upgraded the entire estate, with
improved vineyard management and winemaking, expansion of the Inn, a new tasting room in the inn, and
markedly improved hospitality. The house features 8 modernized guest rooms.
Proprietor Wayne Bailey was a mechanical engineer who initially pursued a career in the food and beverage
industry as a consultant. He became enamored with wine and turned his career eventually to the wine industry.
He went to France on a short term consulting job for a domaine in Burgundy that wanted to export wine to the
United States. He fell in love with Pinot Noir, became friends with many of the local vignerons, decided to stay
in Burgundy, and worked two vintages.
After his stint in Burgundy, he knew he wanted to grow Pinot Noir in a cool climate and Oregon was a natural
choice. He bought Youngberg Hill and beginning in 2003 worked with the late winemaker Jimi Brooks who was
the winemaker and vineyard manager at nearby Maysara Vineyards at the time. Brooks helped Bailey institute
organic and later biodynamic farming at Youngberg Hill Vineyard.
The wines are crafted in a shared facility by Youngberg Hill owner and winemaker Wayne Bailey, along with
noted winemaker Robert Brittan acting as the consulting winemaker. Grapes are 100% de-stemmed, undergo
a 3 to 5-day cold soak, are fermented with natural and proprietary yeasts, and aged typically 14-16 months in
28-30% new French oak barrels.
The informative website at www.youngberghill.com offers the wines for sale. The tasting room in the inn is open 10:00-4:00 daily. The
best idea is to check into the Inn for a few days and taste the authentic wines while you enjoy the ambiance.
The Bailey family is posed below.
2010 Youngberg Hill Barrel Select McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
12.9% alc., 92 cases, $60. Released
May 2014. 4 barrels from Jordan Block.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic
with attention getting aromas of cherry, spice, nutmeg and other exotic spices. Very smooth and polished on
the palate with refined tannins, offering a delicious core of cherry and plum fruit accented with brown spice and
a hint of tobacco. An aged wine at the peak of its charms.
2011 Youngberg Hill Cuvée Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
12.2% alc., pH 3.6, 218 cases,
$30, screwcap. Sedimentary and volcanic soils. Estate Pommard, Wädenswil and 777 clones.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, cranberry, spice and balsam
lead to a lighter weight wine with bright flavors of red cherry and cranberry accented with a hint of
herbs. The tannins are supple and the finish is cherry-driven.
2011 Youngberg Hill Natasha McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
11.5% alc., pH 3.70, 327 cases, $40,
screwcap. 40% Wädenswil and 60% Pommard, 23-year-old vines. Harvest Brix 21.8º.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. The aromas and flavors are driven by red cherry and raspberry fruits with savory
herbs in the background. Light in concentration, with the balance tilted toward firm tannins which stick out a bit
on the dry finish.
2011 Youngberg Hill Jordan McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
12.0% alc., pH 3.60,
297 cases, $40, screwcap. 60% Pommard and 40% Wädenswil, 23-year-old vines.
Harvest Brix 21.9º.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely
perfumed with bright aromas of cherries, spice box, incense and peat. Light to mid
weight flavors of fresh cherry with a streak of herbs in the background. Juicy and
vivid with a riff of flinty minerality running through and impressive intensity in this
2012 Youngberg Hill Cuvée McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 298 cases, $35,
screwcap. Some 777 clone fruit sourced from Bjornson (Eola-Amity Hills) and Hyland (McMinnville)
vineyards as well as Youngberg Estate Camelot Block. 100% 777 clone.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Appealing aromas of black cherry and raspberry with a hint of chocolate.
Discreetly concentrated core of tasty black cherry and black raspberry fruits with a touch of spice.
Nicely balanced tannins and bright acidity with a lengthy, sappy finish.
2012 Youngberg Hill Natasha McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 137 cases, $45, screwcap.
Pommard and Wädenswil clones.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very charming with an
earth-kissed black cherry core. Plenty of spice livens the palate. Mid to full-bodied with a firm backbone of
tannin and a long finish of impressive intensity.
2012 Youngberg Hill Jordan McMinnville Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 300 cases, $45, screwcap.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This is an inviting wine that has plenty of structure to last.
Aromas of black cherry, rose petal and nutty oak lead to a full-bodied palate of spicy black cherry and dark
raspberry fruits. A little earthy undertone adds interest. Very intensely flavored, yet vibrant due to a lively cut
of underlying acidity. The black cherry goodness seems to last forever on the finish.
Van Duzer Vineyards
Van Duzer Vineyards is named after the Van Duzer Corridor, the only break in the north-south Oregon Coast
Mountain Range that allows gentle west winds to enter the Willamette Valley. The official name is “Henry B.
Van Duzer Forest State Scenic Corridor.” This geographic feature is responsible for the summer cooling that
makes the Willamette Valley a perfect haven for Pinot Noir.
Cool Pacific Ocean air follows this route late each day and temperatures dependably drop late each afternoon.
This air exchange brings a significant decrease in temperature as it moves over the Van Duzer Vineyards and
then splits north towards Portland and south towards Eugene, cooling off the 60-mile wide and 100-mile long
Willamette Valley for the night. The influence of the Van Duzer Corridor is most felt in the McMinnville and Eola-
Amity Hills appellations as well as the vineyards in the Dallas area of the Willamette Valley where Van Duzer is
Van Duzer Vineyards is 60 miles south of Portland and west of the Eola Hills and Salem in the eastern mouth
of the Van Duzer Corridor three miles off Highway 99W. Because of this location, summer temperatures in the
vineyard drop sooner in the afternoon than in the vineyards to the north or south by 13 degrees, resulting in
extended hang time. The winery appropriately chose Zephyra, the gentle west wind goddess of Greek
mythology, to grace its label.
Carl Thoma and his wife Marilynn bought the run-down Van Duzer Vineyards property in 1998, and like so
many Oregon wineries before, Van Duzer benefited from an enthusiastic outside investor. Vineyard plantings
and management were upgraded and new plantings added. Today, the estate vineyards total 82 acres and
include Pommard, Wädenswil, 113, 115, 667 and 777 Pinot Noir clones. Two clones of Pinot Gris are also
planted. The estate vineyards are certified LIVE and Salmon Safe. Refer to the vineyard map below for a
Van Duzer produces an estate Pinot Noir and a number of limited production Clone and Block Designates as
well as an outstanding Rosé of Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris. For years all Van Duzer wines were estate grown
but recently grapes have been sourced from other appellations for singular bottlings.
The winemaker is Florent-Pierre “Flo” Merlier a native of Burgundy who obtained a degree in physics and
chemistry, but was captivated by winemaking while assisting a good friend run a 40-acre family domaine in
Burgundy. He decided to pursue winemaking and met his wife, Krista, an Oregonian, while interning at the
same winery in Burgundy. Florent then obtained his Diploma of Viticulture from the University of Dijon before
relocating to Oregon in 2009.
Winemaking can be complicated at Van Duzer because the fruit from each vineyard is handled separately and
even grapes harvested within the same block are processed individually if picked on different days. Florent
may have to deal with upwards of 50 lots of wine. Various yeast cultures are used to enhance aroma, flavor,
texture, acid and tannin levels. A mix of barrels is used, typically tight-grained French oak barrels from the
Allier and Vosges forests. Aging of Pinot Noir is carried out typically for 10 months in about 35% new barrels.
The 2012 Pinot Noirs have not been released because Florent prefers to age them for a year in bottle before
A unique, insulated concrete tilt-up structured 20,000-case winery and hospitality center was completed in time
for the 2006 harvest.
The Van Duzer Hospitality Center at 11975 Smithfield Rd in Dallas is open for wine tasting daily from 11:00 to
5:00. Visit the website at www.vanduzer.com for the 20 mile drive south of McMinnville.
The 2013 Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rosé was one of the best Rosés I have tasted recently. Join Van Duzer
Vineyards and 25 other Willamette Valley wineries for a festival in honor of Rosé at Patton Valley Vineyard in
Gaston, Oregon. Food prepared by Portland’s Crown Paella and Scoop, music of two live bands, and a
sampling of the finest pinks the Willamette Valley has to offer. Saturday, July 12, 12:00-4:00. For tickets, visit
2011 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.62, TA 0.58, 5,686 cases, $32. 22% Pommard, 20% 777, 19%
Wädenswil, 12% 115, 9% 667, 8% 113, and 1% 114. Released
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Aromas of red cherry, ripe strawberry, rose petal, spice and toasty
oak. Light in weight and delicate on the palate, but with a pleasing
core of red cherry, blueberry and raspberry fruits backed by
complimentary oak notes. Not a blockbuster by any means, but
demure and pleasing with juicy acidity, balanced tannins, and some finishing
goodness. Admirable effort in this vintage.
2011 Van Duzer Flagpole Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.60, 123 cases, $55.
100% own-rooted Wädenswil planted in the early 1980s. A Wine Club selection.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. The aromas of black cherry, strawberry, spice and cedary oak are fulfilling. Mid
weight flavors of darker berries and sweet plum are underlain with a bright cut of acidity. Some grainy tannins
show up on the dry, citrus-driven, sweet and sour finish.
2011 Van Duzer Homestead Block Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.62, 120 cases,
$55. 100% Pommard clone planted own-rooted in the early 1980s.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass.
Invigorating aromas of black cherries, strawberries, spice, mocha and cedary oak lead to a satisfying mid
palate attack of black cherry and black raspberry fruits complimented by spice and oak. The tannins are firm
but integrated, and the juicy acidity brings the fruit to a vivid finish.
2011 Van Duzer Dijon Blocks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.61, 145 cases, $55.
50% 777, 30% 115, 20% 113, and 10% 667. Released March 2014.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. The aromas of cherry, strawberry, underbrush and herbs hold up nicely over time in the glass. Deep
flavors of ripest strawberry and black cherry with a touch of spice. Fruit-laden but lively and bright with a
charming kiss of cherry on the generous finish.
2011 Van Duzer Saffron Fields Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.78, TA 0.56, 123 cases, $60. 50% Wädenswil, 35% Pommard and 15% 115. 3rd leaf (68-acre vineyard
planted in 2008). Aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 10 months.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. The nose is very appealing, with bright aromas of cherry pie glaze, spice and sandalwood. Delicious
array of darker berry and stone fruits, nicely spiced and caressed by slightly grippy tannins. The seductive fruit
appears to have reached good phenolic maturity in the cool vintage. Luscious and charming.
2011 Van Duzer Alchemy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.58, TA 0.60, 70 cases, $65. A barrel selection of wines with the
most complex and intense fruit characteristics. 66% Van Duzer
Vineyards (Flagpole and Homestead Blocks) and 33% Saffron Fields
Vineyards. 50% Pommard, 30% 114, 20% 115. Aged in 33% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Uplifting aromas of Bing cherry, alpine strawberry, baking spice and
sandalwood. Mid to full-bodied sweet and sappy core of black cherry, black
raspberry and black plum fruits accented with the right touch of oak. An
impressive offering with impeccable balance that will reward cellaring.
2013 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé
13.1% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.64, 1,960
cases, $18, screwcap. Released June 2014 (sold out except Wine Club members). 63% Wädenswil
and 37% 115. 100% estate grown. A rigorous block selection was used to create this wine. Selected
vines were encouraged to produced a higher yield to retain acidity. An early pick of clone 115 and a
later pick of Wädenswil clone were blended. This Rosé, like few others, is intentionally created through
directives in the vineyard and winery to produce a distinctive wine. After gentle pressing, the juice was
inoculated with four yeasts to highlight the aromas and mouthfeel. After a slow and cold fermentation in
stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged on lees.
The color is an enticing modest orange coral in the glass. I
loved the aromas of strawberry, blood orange and cut flower bouquet. This wine offers everything you could
want in a Rosé with fresh flavors of strawberries, raspberries, orange zest, a hint of herbs in the background, a
creamy mouthfeel and bright citrus-infused acidity. This dry wine is extremely agreeable to drink and unusually
provocative for a Rosé.
2013 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.2% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.74, 2,100 cases,
$18, screwcap. Released April 2014. Clones 146 and 152. Whole cluster pressed, slow and cold
fermentation in stainless steel tanks and aged on lees.
Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. The
nose is really captivating with effusive aromas of peach, melon and mango. Crisp, light and
refreshing, with a mix of tropical fruit, pear, and peach flavors that are vivid. Slightly creamy on the
palate with a stony minerality in the background, and a thirst-quenching finish. A superb food wine.
Seven of Hearts/Luminous Hills
Byron and Dana Dooley own Luminous Hills Vineyard, a unique 12-acre, high elevation site in the
southwestern corner of the Yamhill-Carlton District. The vineyard contains both sedimentary (65%) and Jory
volcanic soils (35%), with clones planted to match the different soil types. There are six different blocks
containing Dijon clones 115, 667, 777 and Pommard clone. The vineyard is sustainably farm, certified LIVE
and Salmon Safe, and non-irrigated.
When I recently visited the vineyard on a sunny afternoon, Byron told me that his property was part of 30 acres
owned from 1978 to 1985 by Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. Coincidently, both Dooleys attended the
same high school as Jobs, Homestead High School in Sunnyvale, California.
The Luminous Hills Vineyard is beautifully manicured and breathtakingly beautiful. I would even go so far to
say it is the most stunning Pinot Noir vineyard I have ever seen. As I walked the vineyard with Byron, I was
taken by the many vistas on the undulating property and the serenity of the site. The red thistle grown in
alternate rows as a cover crop was in bloom, creating a palate of color between the vines. Even Byron was
touched by the scene that day and both of us shot many photographs.
In 2000, the Dooleys sold their house when the internet bubble burst in 2000, left their Silicon Valley jobs, and
moved to Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain. Byron earned a viticulture and winemaking degree at Napa Valley
College, interned at Williams Selyem, and made his own Bordeaux-style wine from Napa Valley fruit. In 2004,
after Dooley graduated, the couple bought a property in the Yamhill-Carlton District and developed Luminous
Hills Vineyard. Dana opened Honest Chocolates in McMinnville, selling traditional style chocolates, and later
opened another branch in Carlton which shares space with the Seven of Hearts tasting room.
Luminous Hills wines are poured at the Seven of Hearts Wine Center in Carlton. Seven of Hearts Wine is the
Luminous Hills companion label featuring multiple varietals made from sourced grapes grown in several
Willamette Valley and neighboring regions. Two additional sub-labels of Seven of Hearts, are Chatte
d’Avignon, a lineup of Rhone varietals, and Chateaux Figareux, a number of Bordeux varietals. The inaugural
vintage for Luminous Hills wines was 2008.
The label on the Seven of Hearts wines has neo-classical elements, symbolizing the Dooleys’ passion for the
traditional Burgundian style of Pinot Noir.
Seven of Hearts wines and Luminous Hills wines are sold on the respective websites: www.sevenofheartswine,
www.luminoushills.com. The Seven of Hearts wines are well-crafted and easy to like, while the Luminous Hills
Pinot Noirs are very special expressions of one site. The following wines were tasted with Byron at the Seven
of Hearts Wine Center in Carlton.
Byron noted that 2013 was “crazy,” in that the summer was hot, ripening was progressing normally, and then a
big rain event occurred at the end of September. The 2013 wines here were made from grapes that were
mostly picked after the rain. Luminous Hills is a late ripening site and benefited in this vintage because the
grapes were able to hang past the heavy late September rains without damage to or dilution of the fruit.
2013 Seven of Hearts Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.72, RS 0.157%, 126
cases, $15. Grapes sourced from Luminous Hills Vineyard (Pommard) and Armstrong Vineyard in the Ribbon
Ridge AVA (Wädenswil and 777). Blocks were farmed specifically for Rosé, macerated for 8 days at a cold
temperature, then pressed off and fermented in neutral French oak barrels where the wine was aged for 6
months before bottling.
Moderate reddish pink color in the glass. A pleasing wine with aromas and flavors of
strawberry, cherry and blood orange. Bright and refreshing with enough body to stand up to more substantial
2013 Luminous Hills Aura, Estate Grown, Yamhill-Carlton District Rosé of Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.43, TA 0.73, RS 0.134%. 49 cases, $28. 70% Pommard and 30% 667 clones. Produced from blocks that are
farmed for Rosé. Aged 6 months in neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish pink color in the glass. A
more substantial wine with additional complexity and lift on the finish. The aromas and flavors of wild cherry
and strawberry are sprinkled with savory herbs and a hint of spice.
2012 Seven of Hearts Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.59, 756 cases, $20. A blend
from all five Willamette Valley vineyards the winery works with and includes five different Willamette Valley
appellations. Native yeast fermentation, 25% whole cluster, no additions.
Moderately light garnet color in the
glass. Shy aromas of fresh cherry lead to a mid weight essence of spiced red cherry accented with a whisper
of oak. The tannins are supportive without being intrusive and the finish is bright and fruity.
2012 Seven of Hearts Lia’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 126
cases, $35. Pommard, Wädenswil, Mariafeld, 115 and “828.” Jory
volcanic soil. No whole cluster.
Moderately light reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose is rich with hi-tone aromas of dark red cherries
and berries. Sleek and seductive on the palate, with a charge of
cherry, raspberry and red plum flavors carrying over to a persistent
aromatic finish. This wine has good presence without weight and impressive
2012 Seven of Hearts Bjornson Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.43, TA 0.64, 73 cases, $25. Vineyard is adjacent Seven Springs Vineyard. Two-thirds
Pommard and one-third 777.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Tenacious aromas
of cranberry and black cherry. More body and intensity, with layers of flavor including cranberry,
cherry, spice and chocolate. Very forward, with a long, assertive finish.
2012 Seven of Hearts Durant Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
pH 3.66, TA 0.65, 112 cases, $35. One of the oldest vineyards this winery works with including the
41-year-old Pommard Bishop Block. Dijon 114 and 115 also. 50% of blend co-fermented. 56%
whole cluster fermented.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Beguiling scents of
cherry, spice and rose petal. Very suave and seductive with a juicy and bright wild cherry core
brought into focus with lively citric acidity. Well-structured for aging, but the tannins are not
astringent. Rolls off the palate like a satin sheet at the finish with layers of flavor returning for an encore.
2012 Seven of Hearts Armstrong Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.62, 147 cases, $35. Willakenzie soils. Pommard, 777, 667, and Wädenswil. A
barrel selection. 33% whole cluster fermented.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Not as giving at this stage as some of the other wines with the earth-kissed, red cherry and
strawberry fruit slightly compressed in the tannins. A hint of floral perfume, spice and vanilla add
interest. A young wine with potential.
2012 Seven of Hearts Curmudgeon Cuvée Armstrong Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.59, 49 cases, $35. This wine honors the memory of
wine curmudgeon, Bob Wood. This wine is designed to be a wine Bob would like and one that would
age to allow him to be toasted year after year. Clones 114, 777 and Pommard. 100% whole cluster
fermented. Aged in 100% neutral French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass.
Aromas of red cherry, spice, rose petal and cedar elevate from the glass. More structured with mid
weight flavors of cherry, ripe strawberry, exotic spice, cedar and edible flower. Impressive intensity and length
on the bright finish.
2012 Luminous Hills Estate Grown Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH
3.67, TA 0.65, 427 cases, $35. The “silver label” Luminous Hills blend includes clones 115, 667, 777
and Pommard. 33% whole cluster fermented. This blend is the big picture view of Luminous Hills
Vineyard. 33% whole cluster fermented.
Intensely aromatic with effusive aromas of darker cherries
and blueberries with a hint of spice. Juicy attack of anise-laced raspberry and blueberry fruit
caressed by suave tannins. The intensity of fruit flavor is striking.
2012 Luminous Hill LUX Estate Grown Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.63, 147 cases, $42. Select lots of
Pommard (two-thirds) and 777 (one-third). 33% whole cluster fermented.
Medium reddish purple hue in the glass.
Aromas of fresh Bing cherry, dried rose
and peppery spice. Mid weight flavors of black raspberry, black cherry and
baking spice with a hint of dark chocolate. Slightly earthy, with a healthy tannic
backbone and bright citric acidity. More structured than the regular Luminous
Hills bottling, with a somewhat longer and more generous finish.
2012 Seven of Hearts Special Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.59,
147 cases, $45. This wine includes fruit from four vineyards in different appellations. A barrel
selection. Clones are Pommard, 115, 777 and “828.” At least 40% whole cluster fermented. Aged in
33% new French oak.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of fresh red
berries lead to a panoply of strawberry, raspberry and spice flavors that fill the mouth with goodness.
Impressive fullness and length. The tannins are evident but are broad, ripe and supportive. The berry
fruit returns in waves on the wonderful finish. A special wine with potential.
2012 Seven of Hearts Very Special Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.59, 126 cases, $75. This wine is only
made in very special vintages. From Luminous Hills, Armstrong, Lia’s
and Durant vineyards. 33% whole cluster fermented. Aged in 23% new
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Extroverted nose
offering aromas of wild berries and exotic spices. Forceful and assertive on the
palate, yet elegant, with a perfectly ripened core of berry fruit still mildly
compressed by tannins. Similar to the Special Reserve, but more aloof at this
stage. An ethereal wine that oozes pinotosity.
2009 Luminous Hills ASTRA Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
15.0% alc., 98 cases.
Released February, 2011. 60% 667, 40% 115. 60% whole cluster fermented. 6 week pre-maceration.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. This wine has aged nicely with plenty of primary fruit
character on board. Aromas of cherry and rose lead to a full-bodied wine with layers of flavor including black
cherry, anise and tobacco. Nicely balanced with endless fruit on the finish.
2012 Seven of Hearts Willamette Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., 329 cases, pH 3.31, TA 0.72, $24. Gran
Moraine and Willakia vineyards, clones 76, 95, 96. Aged in 50% neutral French oak and 50% stainless steel.
Moderately light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, crabapple, and buttered
brioche are echoed on the palate with added flavors of green apple and grapefruit. Crisp with bright acidity and
a lip-smacking finish.
2012 Seven of Hearts Gran Moraine Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.3% alc., pH 3.28, TA 0.76, 73 cases, $32. Clone 76. Aged in 33% new French oak.
yellow color and clear in the glass. Very appealing aromas of lemon zest, pear and subtle oak. An
acid-driven, bright wine with satisfying flavors of lemon pie filling, pear, green apple and vanilla.
Slightly creamy and easy to like. An excellent food wine.
2012 Seven of Hearts Willakia Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.1% alc., pH
3.30, TA 0.73, 73 cases, $32. Clones 95 and 96. Aged in 33% new French oak.
Very light golden yellow color
and clear in the glass. The aromas and flavors of lemon pie filling, yellow apple and buttery brioche are
pleasant and there is good backing acidity. Slightly creamy on the palate with a refreshing finish.
Raptor Ridge Winery
Annie and Scott Shull founded Raptor Ridge Winery in 1995 on the northeastern side of the Chehalem
Mountains, 10 miles north of Newberg. The name of the winery is derived from the many families of raptors
that share the winery’s 27-acre estate. The 18-acre estate vineyard is named Tuscowallame, the indigenous
words for “place where the owls dwell.” The vineyard is planted in Loess-based Laurelwood soil to Pinot Noir
clones 114, 115, 667, 777, Wädenswil and Pommard.
Scott is a self-taught winemaker who specializes in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The winery is also one of the few
to produce a Grüner Veltliner. He is very active in the Oregon wine industry, participating as a founding
member of the Oregon Wine Board and currently as President of the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers
Assocation. Annie travels extensively throughout the United States to personally represent Raptor Ridge. She
is President Emeritus of the Oregon Pinot Camp Board.
Besides production from its estate vineyard, Raptor Ridge sources wine grapes from other Willamette Valley
growers including Arbre Vert, Bellevue Cross, Carabella, Gran Moraine, Harbinger, Meredith Mitchell, Olenik
and Shea. Total production at Raptor Ridge is about 7,500 cases of wine each vintage.
The winery’s tasting room is open seasonally and by appointment. The tasting room overlooks the vineyard
and adjoining forested mountains and is quite a peaceful site to enjoy. VIP tours and tasting are available. Visit
the website at www.raptorridgewinery.com. Raptor Ridge has an “Aroma Apothecary” in the tasting room,
something I have never seen at a winery in all my years of travel. The Aroma Apothecary contains a set of 50
basic aromas commonly found in wine. Visitors are encouraged to take an aroma quiz and boost their tasting
acumen (list of aromas below). Highly personable sommelier, Tom Champine, manages sales and marketing
for the winery and you are likely to see him if you visit.
When I visited recently on a glorious sunny morning, I toured the winery with Scott and sampled a few of the
winery’s new releases. I did not do a formal sit-down tasting so I can only report some general, yet favorable,
2013 Raptor Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
12.5% alc., pH 3.24, TA 0.59, <1,900 cases, $20. Sourced
from several vineyards. Whole cluster pressed, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks, gently cross-flow
filtered and sterile-filtered at bottling.
Bright and clean, with crisp acidity and flavors of apple, melon, pear and
2013 Raptor Ridge Estate Chehalem Mountains Gruüner Veltliner
12.5% alc., pH 3.29, TA 0.56, <101 cases,
$20. Whole cluster pressed, fermented with native yeasts, cold-stabilized, cross-flow and sterile filtered at
Very inspired white wine with crisp citrus flavors and a bright cut of refreshing acidity. Very unique
and highly enjoyable.
2012 Raptor Ridge Estate Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.56, TA 0.50, <500
cases, $45. Includes all clones grown in the vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, 8-day cold soak, proprietary yeast
inoculation, aged in 29% new French oak for 9 months.
Aromas of plum, cherry and clove spice echoed on the
palate with added complimentary notes of oak. Solid.
2012 Raptor Ridge Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.50, <315 cases,
$55 (sold out). 100% de-stemmed, inoculated with William Selyem yeast strain, fermented 12 days before
pressing off skins, aged 9 months in 50% new French oak.
A special wine in this vintage with enticing aromas
of black cherry, cola and sassafras. Mid weight flavors of Bing cherry, raspberry and rose hips tea. Nicely
crafted and harmonious with a generous finish.
Also reviewed in the PinotFile (www.princeofpinot.com/winery/641/): 2012 Raptor Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot
Noir, 2012 Raptor Ridge Gran Moraine Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir and several Raptor Ridge Pinot
Noirs from the 2011 vintage.
Anam Cara Cellars
I recently visited Sheila Nicholas at the Anam Cara Cellars tasting room in Newberg. I have written extensively
in the PinotFile about this winery: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/268/. The winery has had several
winemakers through the years, but owners Sheila and Nick have had considerable input and the style,
although changed in subtle ways through the years, has never wavered. The current winemaker is Michael
Collins who crafts the wines at 12th & Maple Winery in Dundee. All wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay,
Riesling and Gewürztraminer, are estate grown. The website is www.anamcaracellars.com.
The 2012 Pinot Noirs tasted here will be released in the late fall of 2014 except for the Mark VII which will be
held back until next year. These wines are among the very best I have tasted from this winery. Scary to think
they were bottled in February 2014 and will only get better over the ensuing months in bottle.
2012 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 1,700 cases, $33. 20%
114, 20% 115, 20% 777, 10% 114 and 10% 667. Aged in 21%
new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Lovely aromas of fresh cherry coulis and sandalwood.
Delicious array of mid weight fruit flavors including black cherry
and black raspberry with plenty of spice and a graceful oak sheen. Impressive
harmony with remarkable persistence on the royal finish.
2012 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Reserve Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
420 cases, $46. 30% Pommard, 30% 777, 20% 115, 10% 114 and 10% 667. Aged in 37% new and
29% once-filled French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose invigorates
with effusive aromas of fresh cherries, spice and dark red rose petals. Bright and elegant on the palate,
with a pleasing core of cherry fruit accented with hints of brown spice and white chocolate. The suave
tannins are nicely integrated, the texture is silky, and the finish is clean and refreshing.
2012 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Wädenswil Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 95
cases, $55. 100% Wädenswil clone. Aged in 25% new and 25% once-filled French oak.
purple hue in the glass. The wine offers a darker fruit profile, including black cherry, blackberry along side
flavors of cola, sassafras, spice and graham. All silk and satin in the mouth with firm, but integrated tannins.
Definitely unique in character.
2012 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Heather’s Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
alc., 90 cases, $66. 50% 114, 20% 777, 15% 667, and 15% 115. Aged in all once-filled French oak barrels.
The most elegant expression of the vineyard which contains the most clone 114.
Moderately light reddish
purple color in the glass. Seductive aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, spice and sandalwood lead to a
feminine, graceful wine with light flavors of cherry and red berries, brown spice and subtle oak. The fine-grain
tannins are embracing and the cherry-laden finish is charming.
2012 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Mark VII Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 90
cases, $66. 50% Pommard and 50% 777. Aged in 50% new French oak. The only unfiltered wine in
lineup. A masculine, age worthy expression of the vineyard.
Moderate reddish purple color in the
glass. My notes say,“fantastic nose,” with aromas of an array of dark red fruits and exotic spices.
Discreetly bold flavors of dark red cherries and berries and red plums with a hint of dark chocolate in
the background. A grand wine with excellent balance and length, ending on a high note with a rush of
aromatic sweet cherries.
J.K. Carriere Wines
Jim Prosser, a native Oregonian, is the proprietor and winemaker of J. K. Carriere Wines, established in 1999
in the Chehalem Mountains. The winery’s name is a combination of his grandfather’s names and represents a
covenant he holds with their integrity. A wasp is prominently displayed on the label and on the side of the
winery, because Jim is highly allergic to wasps, and stings nearly killed him on two occasions. He carries an
Epi-Pen in a holster on his belt just in case.
Jim has an appealing sense of humor that is best understood by viewing the videos he has posted on his
website at www.jkcarriere.com. His winemaking experiences in Oregon, New Zealand, Australia and France
have energized him with the desire to produce “classic” Pinot Noir that has high acid, smooth tannins, food
friendliness and age ability. He uses an analogy to summarize his goal: Pinot Noir is a river of acidity with
California on one bank, Oregon in the middle of the river, and Burgundy on the opposite bank. He tries to swim
in the river. His wines do not shout at you, but require patience to uncover their subtlety. Jim recommends that
his most serious wines be decanted the first three years. He claims the wines will easily age over ten years
and I believe him. When I visited, I tasted a 2006 Vespidae that was as alive as the day it was bottled.
The first ten years, Jim made wine nearby in a 100-year-old hazelnut drying barn. By 2007, he had combed
every available site in the Willamette Valley looking for an appropriate property of his own. Jim finally acquired
40 acres of grape-growing land on the southeastern flank of Parrett Mountain. In 2008 and 2009 a very
functional winery was built on the vineyard property as pictured above.
Winemaking is very traditional with wild yeast ferments, wild malolactic fermentation, no additions, no fining
and no filtering. The estate vineyard was planted initially in 2008 to non-irrigated Pommard clone Pinot Noir at
an elevation of 500 to 700 feet in largely volcanic soils.
Grapes have been sourced from Temperance Hill Vineyard (Eola-Amity Hills), Anderson Family Vineyards
(Dundee Hills), Gemini Vineyards (Chehalem Mountains), Shea Vineyards (Yamhill-Carlton), Momtazi
Vineyards (McMinnville), Black Walnut Vineyard (Dundee Hills), and Eola Hills Vineyard (Eola-Amity Hills).
Some sources are bottled specially in 2 to 3-barrel lots including Shea, Anderson Family and Gemini vineyards.
A majority of production is dedicated to wallet-friendly wines in the $26 to $42 bottle range (Willamette Valley
blend, Vespidae, and Provocateur). A Lucidité Chardonnay and Glass White Pinot Noir are also offered. Total
production is about 4,000 cases annually.
The tasting room is located at the winery and is open Friday and Saturday March through November and by
appointment at other times. The wines are sold through the winery’s online store and the Twelve Wine Club.
Library wines and magnums are available. J.K. Carriere participates in Oregon’s Thanksgiving and Memorial
weekend wine country open houses. On Thursday July 24, a pre-IPNC winemaker dinner will be held at J. K.
Carriere with Jim and Allison Prosser as hosts. Visit the website for information.
2013 J.K. Carriere Glass Willamette Valley White Pinot Noir
12.0% alc., pH 3.28, 628 cases, $24.
Primarily from 33-year-old original plantings at Temperance Hill Vineyard. Whole cluster pressed and barrel
fermented with wild yeast in older French oak. No residual sugar. Racked once and bottled January 2014.
Light pinkish orange color and clear in the glass. Shy, rather nondescript aroma of citrus and pencil lead.
Crisp and light on the palate with subtle flavors of red cherry, orange water, peach and melon. The wine has
refreshingly crisp acidity, but nothing really stands out. It is a pleasant wine, and has received good press, but I
don’t get it.
2011 J.K. Carriere Lucidité Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.5% alc., pH 3.32, 190 cases, $32. A late
growing year led to high acid and freshness. Whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented with wild yeast.
100% malolactic fermentation. Aged on lees for 18 months in older French oak barrels. Racked and filtered
Very clean aromas and flavors of lemon, lime, green apple, and pear fueled by zippy
underlying acidity. Slightly creamy on the palate with a mineral and citrus driven soprano finish.
2012 J.K. Carriere Provocateur Williamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, 1,957 cases, $26. A
blend of six vineyards. Small-lot wild yeast fermentations, aged 17 months in 12% new, 8% one-year, 7% twoyear,
and 73% older French oak barrels. Racked and bottled unfined in February 2014.
A wine that strives to
please with lovely aromas of cherries, rose petal and spice that are echoed on the palate that is mid weight and
silky. A touch of oak adds a compliment and the finish is bright and filled with cherry goodness.
2011 J.K. Carrier Vespidae Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.62, 891 cases, $42. Flagship
wine. Vespidae is the Latin name of the family of wasps that tried to kill Jim Prosser. Sourced from Shea,
Temperance Hill, Black Walnut and Gemini vineyards. Wild yeast fermentations in stainless steel, aged for 19
months in 29% new, 19% one-year, 19% two-year and 32% three-year or older French oak barrels. Bottled
unfined and unfiltered in March 2013.
Plenty of concentration and noticeable finishing intensity in this wine that
features a spiced cherry core accented with herbs. Easy going and food friendly.
2011 J.K. Carrier Gemini Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.66, 48 cases, $65. 20-
year-old Scott Henry trained Pommard clone. Small lot wild yeast fermentations, aged 19 months in one-year
and two-year French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered in April 2013.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. The nose is shy initially, picking up interest and intensity over time in the glass. Aromas of
cherries, pomegranate, spice, underbrush and oak make for an invigorating experience. Mid weight flavors of
cherries and berries in a crisp, juicy style with muscular, imposing fine-grain tannins. Texturally alive with a
savory herbal streak in the background and a long finish. Tasted the next day from a previously opened and
decanted bottle, the wine had slowly evolved, but will still need a few years to integrate the tannins.
2011 J.K. Carrier Anderson Family Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH 3.78, 98 cases, $65.
Sourced from dry-farmed, 21-year-old Dijon 115 clone, some of the oldest Dijon clone Pinot Noir in Oregon.
Small lot wild yeast fermentation, aged 19 months in one new, one one-year, one two-year and one older
French oak barrel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered in April 2013.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose
lacks in fruit but makes up for it in appealing aromas of tea leaves, dried herbs and smoky oak. Tasty light to
mid weight array of dark red cherry and berry flavors with a subtle herbaceous riff in the background. Polished
with good integration of tannins and a lean, but refreshing finish. Tasted the next day from a previously opened
and decanted bottle, the wine was unchanged.
2011 J.K. Carrier Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., pH
3.65, 146 cases, $65. Dijon 777 clone planted in Willakenzie soil. Small lot wild
yeast fermentations, aged 19 months in one new, one one-year, one two-year
and one older French oak barrel. Bottled unfined and unfiltered in April 2013.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose picks up steam
over time in the glass offering aromas of black cherry and black raspberry fruits.
The pedigreed fruit is impressive, featuring layers of discovery including black
raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and spice. The fruit is still compressed in
firm tannins and will need a few years in the cellar to be more giving. Tasted the
next day from a previously opened and decanted bottle, the wine was slightly
more integrated and pleasing.
Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Pinot Noir & More
2012 Arterberry Maresh Maresh Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $55.
From third generation Dundee Hills winemaker Jim Maresh. Vinified in a small winery at the top of Maresh
Vineyard. Non-irrigated vines. Unfined and unfiltered.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. The nose
never really arrives even after extensive swirling over 2 hours. Shy scents of underbrush and seasoned oak.
Moderately rich black cherry and black raspberry flavors with plenty of oak underpinning. Still sporting young
fine-grain tannins and the fruit tastes a tad under ripe. There is vibrant acidity and some finishing intensity.
When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was about the same. I
would give this wine at least another year in bottle to emerge.
2012 Bergström Le Pré do Col Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $52.
Vineyard is one mile west of the winery, a 16-acre estate-farmed site owned by the Hill family. Planted in 2006
to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in marine sedimentary soils in a relatively warm microclimate.
purple color in the glass. Shy fruit on the nose with plenty of spicy and tobacco-laced oak. Well-structured but
not muscular, with a very tasty core of darker fruits including black cherry, plum and blackberry. The finish is
most notable because of its boldness and length. The wine still displays a significant oak overlay that should
integrate over time. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the oak was less
2012 Bergström Silice Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $56. Sourced from a 21-acre estate-farmed vineyard contiguous to
the winery owned by Joan Camp. Sedimentary hillside site that is rich in silica,
situated at 400 feet elevation.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. I found
the nose very appealing with a complex array of scents including cherry,
raspberry, cola, bark and cola. On entry, there is an explosion of dark red cherry
and raspberry fruit that expands in the mouth and holds on tenaciously on the
finish. Very polished with supportive oak treatment, a velvety mouth feel and
2012 Big Table Farm Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 785 cases, $40. A combination of new, once
used and neutral barrels from all Pinot Noir sites. Whole cluster fermentation is the backbone of this wine.
Unfined and unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Great nose with elevating aromas of ripe
cherry mash, black grape preserves, and plum sauce. Good fullness with intoxicating exotic spices and a full
complement of tasty black raspberry and plum fruits with a hint of Dr. Pepper, mocha java and cola. This
pleasure juice is ready for current drinking. An impressive appellation wine that benefited from whole cluster
fermentation in this vintage.
2012 Big Table Farm Pelos Sandberg Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 224 cases, $48. 30% whole
cluster. Unfined and unfiltered.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. A
glorious nose offers upbeat aromas of black
raspberry, cherry, blueberry, spice, and espresso.
This wine has more oak presence than I like
initially, but the fruit intensity can take it, and the
wine sheds its oak the longer it sits in the glass.
Vibrant fruit flavors of well-ripened black raspberry and black cherry, nicely spiced. Similar to the Willamette
Valley wine in flavor profile but more intensity, a longer finish, and a more seductively plush mouth feel. This
wine grows on you, the longer you spend with it. Easily a ten year wine.5
2011 Cardwell Hill Cellars Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $40. Estate grown, produced
and bottled. The estate vineyard is located in Philomath in the western Willamette Valley. Clones are
Wädenswil, Pommard, 115 and 777. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. A well-mannered wine with aromas of black cherry, spice and raisin leading to a juicy core of black
cherry and red raspberry fruits complimented by a deft touch of oak. Nicely balanced tannins and easily
accessible. The most notable feature is the intensely fruity finish that lasts and lasts.
2011 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $36.
reddish purple color in the glass. Perfumed with scents of raspberry, blackberry and toasted oak. Mid weight
core of juicy, oak-infused black cherry and darker berry fruits. Currently showing a generous oak sheen and
plenty of tannin, both of which should integrate with more time in bottle.
2011 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Abby’s Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $65. Planted in 1999 to 9 clones and is the mother block
for the rest of the vineyard plantings.
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the
glass. Rich, sumptuous nose offering an array of darker red and black stone
and berry fruits with a touch of oak-driven aromas of dark chocolate and
molasses. A full mouthful of well-ripened black cherry and dark berry fruit
backed by prominent fine-grain tannins that keep the fruit in line. The most sap
in the lineup with a generous fruit-driven finish. A little one-dimensional now, but
has special potential, and will benefit from a year or two in the cellar.
2011 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Tallulah’s Run Reserve McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., $65. From two adjacent blocks mid-slope in the vineyard with fractured siltstone and sandy loam soils.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very shy and lacking in fruit, offering instead aromas of
mocha, brioche and malt. Mid weight flavors of red cherry and cranberry with a touch of oak spice. Silky in
texture with an uplifting and pleasing finish. The aromas haven’t arrived and the fruit seems buried like many
Pinots from the 2011 vintage, so I recommend another year or two in bottle.
2011 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Renelle’s Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$65. Mid-slope with unidentified soils unique to the vineyard.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Modest in weight but flavorful, with a charge of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate fruit accented with
sweet oak. Shows more polish and finesse and an appealingly tart cherry finish charged with acidity. Will
benefit from another year in bottle.
2011 Coeure de Terre Vineyard Sarah Jane’s Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$65. The second block planted on the estate (from Renelle’s Block) and the largest block. Willakenzie soils.
Medium reddish purple color in the glass. This wine is awkward and not particularly appealing yet. The nose
lacks fruit, offering primarily oak-driven scents. The juicy black cherry core is swallowed up in oak and tannin.
The sappy fruit and length of finish indicate potential, but I would not touch this wine for another 2 years.
2012 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $19, screwcap.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Initial aromas of blackberry, plum and sweet oak tend to fade
over time in the glass. Mid to full-bodied spice black plum and black raspberry fruit. Very forward and
generous with a muscular tannin load. A fruit bomb with complimentary oak and an intensely fruity finish.
2013 Coeur de Terre Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Rustique Rosé
12.9% alc., $20.
A saignée of estate Syrah with a touch of Riesling.
Moderate pinkish red color and clear in the glass.
Aromas of strawberry, cherry and herbs echoed on the flavorful palate that is crisp and rewarding.
Medium-bodied, with flavors of strawberry, cranberry, and peppery spice. Finishes with a panoply of
flavors including tart cherry, raspberry, strawberry and herbs. A great summer fling.
2011 Brittan Vineyards Gestalt Block McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $55 (sold out).
From the most exposed blocks in the vineyard so always transparent to its vintage. Primarily 115, 667 and
777. Aged 9 months in mostly new French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Deeply perfumed with intriguing aromas of dark plum and berries, underbrush and wine cave. Vibrant, racy
and vivid dark stone and berry fruits with an underlying tangy citric acidity. The wine finishes with a tart sweet
and sour finish and a profusion of tannin.
2012 Elk Cove La Bohémé Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $60. This is a high elevation and steep
south-facing vineyard with well-drained Willakenzie soils located high above the Elk Cove property. The
vineyard was planted in 1984 using cuttings from the Elk Cove Estate Vineyard.
Moderate and bright reddish
purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of black cherry, black raspberry, plum, violet, red licorice, cardamom
and wood spice. Mid weight flavors of dark stone fruits and berries with complimentary oak and spice in the
background. The attack is mouth filling, the fruit is bright and juicy, and the finish is rewarding. A pretty wine
that was still solid the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Evesham Wood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $19.
Sourced from non-irrigated, organically and sustainably-farmed
vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. Aged 10 months in less than
10% new French oak. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in
the glass. Appealing scents of red rose, cherry and spice. Nicely
perfumed attack of cherry, red raspberry and spice goodness
caressed by well-honed tannins. Soft and smooth on the palate with some
finishing length. An impressive Willamette Valley appellation bottling that is
priced for everyday drinking.
Note: Christine Andrus has revived the Gypsy Dancer label. After Gary passed away, Christine moved to
South Dakota and went into the Bison business. Over time, she felt a yearning to make wine again. She
recruited winemaker Rebecca Pittock-Shouldis (Ghost Hill Cellars) to make the Gypsy Dancer Tribute wine. A
second wine, Gypsy Dancer Legacy, will be made by Gary’s fellow winemakers who were touched and
influenced by Gary. See www.gypsydancerwine.com for the full Gypsy Dancer story.
2012 Gypsy Dancer Legacy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $45. Grapes sourced from Dukes
Family Vineyards (Gary and Christine Andrus helped them start in the wine business). Unfined, unfiltered and
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry, briar and oak. Mid
weight flavors of cherry and pomegranate with herbs and oak in the background. A bit tight, finishing with a
hint of citrus-flavored cherry.
2010 Gypsy Dancer Tribute Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 42 cases, $65. The first Tribute Pinot
Noir made by Todd Hamina of Biggio-Hamina, a long time friend of Gary’s. On the back label, Todd shares his
feelings of reverence for his friend and mentor.
Moderate light reddish purple color with a slight orange rim.
Aromas of cherry, potpourri and smoke. Light but flavorful, with tastes of cherry, cranberry, orange zest,
sandalwood and smoky oak. Filled with juicy acidity and offering mature tannins.
2012 Haden Fig Cancilla Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 148 cases, $30.
Produced and bottled at Evesham Wood by the same winemaker. Unfined and unfiltered.
reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of black cherry, black
raspberry, dried rose petals and spice. Delicious mid to full-bodied flavors of black cherry and black
raspberry that fills the mouth with goodness and carries over to the captivating finish. This beauty
has the structure for the long haul and deft oak harmony. Did I say the finish was amazing? A steal
at this wallet-friendly price.
2012 Haden Fig Bjornson Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 123 cases, $30. 5
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Interesting aromatics featuring scents of ripe cherry, fig
(seems appropriate) and bourbon. Extra-delicious core of
black cherry and black raspberry fruit, nicely spiced with an
additional peppery note. Admirable harmony, and a long, memorable finish that
makes the knees weak. This is a wine that tugs at your emotions and defies
adequate description. One of the best values in Oregon Pinot Noir.
2012 Harper Voit Strandline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 405 cases, $35. Sourced
from Antiquum, Bieze and Huntington Hill vineyards.
Moderately dark reddish purple hue in the
glass. Alive with aromas even after an hour in the glass offering scents of black raspberry, plum,
spice and vanilla. Intense and delicious on the palate, with a mouth filling attack of purple fruits with
a hint of spice and cola. Finishes with length and bombastic fruit. Very forward and giving. Still
aromatic the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Harper Voit Huntington Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 46 cases, $55.
Dijon clones 667 and 777.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. The nose opens nicely over time in the glass, offering an array of charming aromas including
boysenberry, plum, chocolate, spice and vanilla. Refined and polished on the palate, blessed with a long and
balanced palate of purple berries and spice. Rather seductive with good length on the satisfying finish. Still
terrific the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Harper Voit Bieze Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 46 cases, $55. Pommard clone and Calera selection on Nekia and Ritner soils
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Love this nose which is alive the scent of
boysenberry, black raspberry, violets, spice, and oak vanillin. Incredible sweet
fruit presence in the mouth which carries over to an amazingly intense finish that
offers a rainbow of purple fruits. The remarkable finish was still pumping the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. My only nit is a
slight sense of alcohol on the finish which keeps it from receiving a Pinot Geek
2012 Harper Voit Antiquum Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 46 cases, $55. Pommard,
Dijon 777 and Wädenswil clones planted in Bellpine soil at a high elevation. Formerly Old School Vineyard.
Dark reddish purple color in the glass. A savory nose of interest with aromas of briar, Herbs de Provence,
purple and black berries and a touch of herbal oak. This wine really stands out from the 2012 lineup due to its
dried herb thread in the background. Mid weight purple fruits are clothed in modest tannins and the finish and
long and generous.
2013 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
13.6% alc., 300 cases, $20. Barrel fermented and
aged sur lie.
Very light yellow color and clear in the glass. Fruity nose offering fresh aromas of pear, white
peach and mango. A gregarious wine that is easy to like with intense Bartlett pear flavor and a touch of
nectarine. Especially good chilled as an aperitif and a worthwhile followup to the excellent 2012 vintage of this
2012 Antiquum Farm Juel Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 225 cases, $37. A meticulously farmed
vineyard with native cover crops at a high elevation with thin soils. Clones are Pommard, Wädenswil, 777, 667 and 115. Aged in 40% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is shy and brooding, offering demure aromas of purple and black
berry jam. The deep berry and plum flavor tends to be more generous over time in the glass. A
noticeable thread of acidity runs through the background. The tannins are mildly aggressive but the mouth feel
is still plush. There is amazing length on the finish which displays a touch of alcoholic heat. The most reserved wine among the 2012 Pinot Noirs crafted by Drew Voit.
2012 Antiquum Farm Passiflora Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 45
cases, $55. Aged in 60% new French oak.
Very dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of spiced marionberries, rose petal and
vanillin oak. Deeply flavored with a full monty of blackberry and marionberry
fruits that are beautifully offset by the generous oak treatment and fine-grain
tannins. An engaging wine of uncommon presence that has a juicy cut of acidity
in the background. This wine has all the components for a long life ahead. My
only nit is the sense of alcoholic heat on the finish.
2011 Lange Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $32, screwcap. 25th vintage (1987-2011).
Winemakers Don and Jesse Lange choose the best barrels from premier vineyards.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. This wine is heavily shouldered with oak aromas and flavors. The mid weight core of dark
cherry and berry fruits is compressed by rugged tannins. Not particularly appealing now, this wine may
surprise in another year or two as many 2011 Willamette Valley Pinots have improved with time in bottle.
2012 Maison L’Envoyé Two Messengers Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $36. Name translates
as “House of the Envoy.” 100% de-stemmed, fermented whole berry, aged in 20% new French oak.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The juicy core of fresh black cherry, plum and cola flavors is
overshadowed by a prominent oak sheen most evident on the nose. The tannins are balanced, the acidity is
uplifting, and the wine tries to please.
2012 Maison L’Envoyé The Attaché Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
$48. A barrel selection of grapes grown in volcanic and sedimentary soils. Aged
in 40% new French oak barrels.
Shy aromas of black cherry, forest floor and
seasoned oak. Welcoming fullness on the palate, with a bright, sappy cherry
core complimented by a hint of cola and sweet oak. Juicy, with managed tannins
and a big finish filled with black cherry goodness.
2011 Olenik Vineyards Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 75 cases,
$45. From a 14.7-acre vineyard split off from the Jacob-Hart Vineyard in 2005. Winemaker Christopher
Mazepink (Archery Summit). The vineyard is situated at 333 to 450 feet elevation and is a unique rocky site
composed of fractured basalt covering Jory soils on the eastern side and purely sedimentary soils on the
western side. Harvest Brix 24.2º-25.3º. A blend of Pommard, 777 and 115. 100% de-stemmed.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of darker fruits, brown spice, iodine and green herbs. Mid
weight flavors of plum, purple grapes and cassis with a green herbal vein in the background. Good fruit
intensity with balanced dry tannins and respectable length on the finish. Unchanged the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. Tasted twice.
2012 Olenik Vineyards Estate Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 125 cases, $45. Harvest Brix 26.6º-27.4º. A blend of
Pommard, 777 and 115 planted in 1999.
Dark reddish purple hue in the glass.
Much riper fruit profile than the 2011 bottling with scents of black cherry, black
raspberry and spice. Mid to full-bodied with a luscious core of sappy black
raspberry and black cherry fruits that floods the palate. Appealing oak
compliment in the background and a generous sweet fruit finish. A big boy wine
that will appeal to fruit hedonists. A touch of heat surfaces in the background.
2012 Owen Roe Lenné Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $44. Label depicts Muckross Abbey in County Kern, Ireland
that was swept up in Owen Roe O’Neill’s battle for Irish freedom in the 1640s.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Extroverted nose with a
flourish of black raspberry, plum and spice aromas. Delicious essence of fresh
black raspberry and blackberry with a touch of tea and cola. The velvety texture
is captivating and fruit-filled finish pulls you back for more. Firm, but wellbalanced
tannins suggest long term age ability. Well-crafted juice from one of
Willamette Valley’s premier vineyards.
2012 Owen Roe Merrimen Vineyard Wädenswil Block Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $44. Sourced from a 30-acre vineyard farmed by owner Mike Merriman. The label depicts the
Abbey of Clonmacnois in Ireland.
Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. Perfumed with hi-tone aromas of
black cherry and baking spices. Modest in weight but flavorful, offering a rainbow of redder fruits with accents
of spice, mocha and vanilla. Soft, silky and very giving with welcome brightness and harmony.
2011 Phelps Creek Vineyards “Regina” Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 220 cases, $34.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, beef and soy. Light to mid-weight flavors of
red cherry and cranberry backed by lively acidity and suave tannins. Soft in the mouth and easy to drink, with
good oak integration. Nothing to complain about, but nothing special.
2011 Phelps Creek Vineyards Crest Block Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 80 cases, $N/A. This block is west of the winery on a windward
slope absorbing the blunt of strong breezes leading to slight dehydration and
thicker skin thickness bringing more concentration to the wine.
reddish purple color in the glass. Perfumed with fresh crushed red berries, oak
and rose petals. Delicious mid weight essence of dark red berries with hints of
cherry and pomegranate. Nicely integrated tannins, lively acidity and
complimentary oak in the background. A thoroughly enjoyable wine that can be
drunk now but has the goods to improve in the cellar.
2012 Purple Hands Stoller Vineyard Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 700 cases,
$24. Clones are 777 and Wädenswil.
Moderately dark reddish purple color. Very shy upon opening, slowly
revealing aromas of black raspberry, black plum and subtle oak. Middleweight flavors of dark stone and berry
fruits backed by muscular fine-grain tannins and a modest oak sheen. Rather linear at this time with the fruit
still compressed in tannins.
2012 Roots Fairsing Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $40.
dark reddish purple color in the glass. Elevating aromas of dark red and black berry mash with a hint of oak
charm. Needs time in the glass to flesh out, becoming livelier, and revealing a good mid palate attack of black
cherry, dark berry and cassis flavors that are complimented by spice and anise-laced oak. Soft and seductive
in the mouth with balanced tannins and a bright finish.
2012 Roots Cancilla Vineyard Willamette Valley PInot Noir
14.0% alc., $40.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Beguiling shy scents of black cherry, blackberry, black currant and plum. The dark cherry and
berry fruits fill the mouth with overreaching intensity and finish with flashy aplomb. The substantial tannins are
balanced by the concentrated fruit load. A vein of spice runs through for accent.
2012 Roots Saffron Fields Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $40.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A raft of
blackberry, black raspberry and black cherry fruit fuels a very pleasurable nose
and palate. Mid to full-bodied, with an attention-getting grainy mouth feel, and
plenty of finishing goodness. Plenty of harmony and pleasure at work here.
2012 Roots Roots Estate Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $40.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A cherry bombast with an explosion of fresh, fully ripened cherry
goodness highlighting the nose and palate. Some elegance and modest tannins that keep the fruit in line.
Assertive and showy, yet caressing in the mouth, with an intensely cherry-driven finish. You begged for more
cherry and here it is.
2013 Roots Deux Vert Vineyard Willamette Valley Melon de Bourgogne
12.8% alc., $22. Chris Berg crafts this wine from a wellknown
vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton district.
Very light yellow color
and clear in the glass. Pleasingly aromatic with scents of baked peach
and banana peel. Soft in the mouth and lightly flavored, featuring
notes of lemon curd, golden apple and peach. Picks up power on the
refreshing finish that is brightened by good acidity. A delicate wine that
is uniquely Oregon in the USA.
2012 Scott Paul Le Paulée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $39, screwcap. Sourced from Maresh
and Nysa vineyards in the Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge and Azana vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Flamboyant aromas of ripe black cherries, black raspberries, red
grapes and spice lead to a rich and satisfying mid weight palate of dark cherry, dark berry and black plum
flavors. The mouth feel is pure velvet and plush, and the finish is persistent. Plenty of sap in this vintage.
2012 Scott Paul Audrey Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $83. Magnums too ($175). Sourced from special old vine
blocks of Maresh Vineyard.
Moderately dark reddish purple color that
glows in the glass. Spectacular aromas of raspberry, dark cherry and
spice that pick up intensity over time in the glass. Mid to full-bodied core
of juicy black cherry and black raspberry flavors that are vivid and
uplifting. The finish is intense with flavors fanning out in unabashed generosity.
This wine has that old vine nuance that emotes. Big and curvy in this vintage,
this normally elegant bottling still retains some of that seductiveness. More
restrained at this stage than the Le Paulée, but offers more upside long term. A
wine to contemplate.
2012 Sharecropper’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $20. By Owen
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The pleasing aromas keep
coming over time in the glass including black cherry, black raspberry and
cardamom spice. Mid weight but full-flavored with a bevy of darker stone and
berry fruits supported by ripe tannins. Very soft in the mouth and easily
accessible with some finishing drive and opulence. One of Oregon’s greatest
value-priced Pinot Noirs.
2012 St. Innocent Villages Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 1,621 cases, $23. The core of
this wine comes from Vitae Springs Vineyard (56%), with contributions from Freedom Hill (6%), Zenith (28%)
and Momtazi (10%). 2-day cold soak, fermented in stainless steel, aged 12 months in 14% new French oak,
and bottled without fining.
The nose is pleasing with aromas of purple grapes, blackberries, cassis and oak.
Mid to full-bodied frame of purple and black fruits. Forward and fruit-driven, with a well-matched backbone of
suave tannins. A solid, everyday wine.
2012 St. Innocent Temperance Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 1,045 cases, $35. This high altitude site is located ten miles northwest of Salem.
Sourced from three blocks planted in 1984 (East Block), 1995 (Pump Home Block) and 2004 (“R”
Block). Yield 1.4 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, fermented in stainless steel bins, aged in 23%
new French oak for 16 months and bottled without fining.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass.
Significantly more aromatic and expressive the next day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle. Aromas of black cherries, dried herbs, and subtle oak. Crisp, bright and easy going with light to mid
weight flavors of cherries and raspberries with some finishing power and length. The tannins are modest and
the backing acidity is bright. Needs time to integrate the oak and become fully engaged. Decant if you must
2012 St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 630 cases,
$50. Sourced from Block 6 (Pommard and 115) and Terrace Block (Pommard). Yield 1.6 tons per acre. 100%
de-stemmed, fermented in oak fermenters. Aged 16 months in 20% new French oak and bottled without fining.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Tight upon opening and much better the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle. Aromas of dark berries, spice, flint and oak. Delicious Bing cherry
and black raspberry core with complimentary oak in the background. Bright and full on the palate, with an
impressive, cherry-licking finish. A keeper. Decant if you must drink now.
2013 Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.5% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.69, 2,100 cases, $20,
Pale golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely appointed with
aromas of lemon zest and peach and delicious flavors of yellow peach,
citrus and vanilla wafer. Slightly creamy on the palate with bright acidity
and a refreshing, persistent lemon drop finish. One of the better
Oregon Chardonnays I have tasted lately.
2012 The Eyrie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $30. Aged 12 months in
French oak barrels. Unfiltered.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. This relatively lean wine
is true to the Eyrie style. Aromas of cherry, raspberry and herbs are echoed on the fresh and
delicate palate. Modest tannins, complimentary oak, and an impressively long finish with aromatic
goodness lasting over half a minute.
2010 Thomas Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.1% alc., $95 (secondary market).
color in the glass. Unusual nose offering scents of cherry skin, stem and humus. Light red cherry fruit at the
core with a hint of raspberry. Decent attack and persistence with soft tannins and very bright acidity. A stemmy
note pervades the background. Light, even a bit austere, but with a pleasing acid-driven cherry-fueled finish.
Better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, with more spice and sandalwood on
the nose, but still austere fruit with dominant tannins and acidity.
2011 Thomas Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., $80
(secondary market). A cult wine with no winery website, very small estate
production allocated to a mailing list. Very difficult to track down access to
mailing list. Often sold at 2 to 3 times release price on secondary market.
light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but appealing aromas of cherry,
raspberry, spice and oak all in harmony. More intensity and sparkle than the
2010 bottling, with vivid cherry, raspberry, and spice and a flowery note in the
background. Notable dry tannins should resolve over time. Plenty of cherry and
spice on the soprano finish. Tasted the following day from a previously opened
and re-corked bottle, the wine had become more expressive and interesting with
more spice, fruit brightness, and softer tannins. Very age worthy.
2012 Walter Scott Clos Des Oiseaux Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., 300 cases,
$40. Released March 2014. Vineyard owned by Marek and Maureen Waligora. 2.8-acres farmed by Sterling
Fox. Clones co-fermented with native yeasts and aged 15 months in 40% new French oak.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose never comes alive in the glass over considerable time. Shy
aromas of cassis, black plum and blackberry with an echo of oak. Mid weight, straight forward array of black
cherry, black raspberry and blackberry fruits with a modest oak sheen. Smoothly textured, with plenty of dry
tannins on the finish. Could benefit from more time in the cellar.
2011 Winter’s Hill Estate Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $34. Grapes exclusively
from the winery’s Dundee Hills Estate Vineyard. Jory soils at 525-730 feet elevation. Certified Sustainable
and Salmon Safe since 1999. 100% de-stemmed, 1-day cold soak before yeast inoculation. Aged 24 months
in 20% new French oak barrels. Estate bottled.
Light garnet color in the glass. Initially the bright aromas of
cherry, strawberry, spice and sandalwood are appealing, but they fade over time in the glass. The flavors echo
the aroma profile in a light, elegantly styled wine. More flavorful than one would expect from the color with
some green herbs (a sign of unripe fruit) showing up in the background. Some slightly astringent tannins show
up on the tart cherry finish.
2012 Winter’s Hill Estate Watershed Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $25. Stemmed grapes cold soaked for
3 days before yeast inoculation. Aged 14 months in French oak
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely
earth-bound aromas of fresh cherries. Very tasty and uplifting, with
broad mid weight flavors of fresh cherries and a touch of spice and
savory herbs. The cherry fruit really sparkles. Forward and easy to drink, with a
silky mouth feel, modest tannins, and a complimentary riff of oak and citrus on
the refreshing, cherry-driven finish. A delightful cherry bombast.
2012 Winter's Hill Estate Single Block Series Block 4 Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 95 cases, $44. Part of the original 1990 planting in a cooler area of the vineyard that is the last block of
Pinot Noir to be harvested. Own-rooted Pommard clone.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass.
Highly aromatic, with scents of boysenberry, plum, cherry, spice and woodshed. Mid weight parade of luscious
dark red and purple fruits backed by silky tannins. Impressive attack and finish with flattering oak in the
2012 Winter's Hill Estate Single Block Series Block 9-114 Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 97 cases, $44. Dijon clone 114. Inaugural vintage of 100% clone 114 Pinot Noir.
reddish purple hue in the glass. Black cherry and oak spice aromas lead to a mid to full-bodied array of black
cherry and black raspberry fruits. Intense attack, luscious mid palate, and a generous finish that lasts and
lasts. A full mouthful of Pinot from a rarely met with monoclonal 114 bottling.
2012 Winter's Hill Estate Single Block Series Block 10 Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 72 cases, $44. Highest elevation
block on the estate between 625 and 700 feet. Pommard clone.
reddish purple color in the glass. Very exotic nose with dancing aromas of
spiced berries and plum and hints of incense. Perfect balance of well-ripened
black cherry, black berry and plum fruits, spirited acidity and refined tannins.
Very polished and broad in the mouth with an aristocratic feel.
New Winemaker at Marcassin Winery Ryan O’Donnell joined Marcassin Winery as the new
winemaker this spring. O’Donnell comes from Kosta Browne Winery where he was the associate winemaker,
and before that, the associate winemaker at Paul Hobbs Winery.
Staff Changes at Archery Summit M. Eleni Papadakis is the new assistant winemaker and Tim
Scott is the new vineyard manager. Last year the winery, which is owned by Crimson Wine Group, hired Chris
Mazepink as the new general manager and winemaker following the departure of long time winemaker Anna
Matzinger. Papadakis was the winemaker at Domaine Serene from 2008 to 2011. Scott was formerly the
vineyard manager for Domaine Drouhin Oregon and switched places with the former vineyard manager, Leigh
Bartholomew, who is now the vineyard manager at Domaine Drouhin Oregon.
Carlton Crush The Carlton Business Association (CBA) has announced that the registration process is
open for all competitions at the upcoming 2014 Carlton Crush Harvest Festival. Registration forms for the
Grape Stomp, Barrel Rolling Race, and Wine Thief Relay competitions are all available on the event’s website
at www.CarltonCrush.com. The Carlton Crush Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014,
celebrating the unique culture of Carlton and Yamhill County. Live music and entertainment, a vintage
Thunderbird Car Display, festival food and drink, midway games for kids, an Artist’s Market, helicopter rides,
and exciting competitions.
Top Ten Pinot Noirs The drinks business.com Global Pinot Noir Masters had 300 entries from 16
countries judged blind by an expert panel featuring eight Masters of Wine and one Master Sommelier. The
results: (10) NV Champagne Soutiran Cuvée Perle Noire Grand Cru, (9) 2013 Viña Maycas del Limarí Pinot
Noir Reserve (Chile who dominated the medals at the lower end of the Pinot price spectrum), (8) 2012 Hope
Family Wines Liberty School Central Coast Pinot Noir, (7) 2011 Schug Carneros Estate Winery Pinot Noir, (6)
2010 Stoller Family Estate Reserve Dundee Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, (5) 2010 Bomb Wines
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (unreleased), (4) 2012 Circe Vineyards Hillcrest Road Mornington Peninsula
Victoria Australia, (3) 2011 Craggy Range Vineyards “Aroha” Te Muna Road Vineyard New Zealand Pinot Noir,
(2) 2011 Jackson Family Wines Wild Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and (1) 2010 Viña Cono Sur Ocio Chile
Leading German Pinot Noir Producer Dies Bernhard Huber was one of the first in Germany to
stop selling wine to local cooperatives and produce wine instead under his own name. He also led the charge
to plant Pinot Noir in Germany between 1980 and 2012. His estate was located in Malterdingen in Baden.
Huber was often referred to as the godfather of German Pinot Noir and some of his single-vineyard Pinot Noirs
equaled or surpassed famous grand crus from Burgundy.
Corks Still the Preferred Closure Wine Business Monthly (June 2014) reported that natural corks
remain the most common type of wine closure by a large margin. The number of wineries using natural corks
have been about the same as 10 years ago, with 8 out of 10 wineries (78 percent) reporting that they use
natural cork. Among Pinot Noir producers in California and Oregon, the overwhelming preference is for natural
corks although there are a number of prominent producers committed to screwcaps.
Santa Barbara County Viticulture Maps Santa Barbara Vintners announced the release of six
new Santa Barbara County viticulture maps. The detailed maps outline the AVA borders and indicate where
each vineyard is located. The Santa Barbara County map shows the county as a whole, while the more
specialized AVA maps show the vineyards in more detail. Each map retails for $20 plus tax and shipping and
handling. Discounts for trade and multiple map purchases. Visit www.sbccountywines.com to buy.
Russian River Valley Winegrowers Look at Diversity in AVA Winemakers at the recent
Russian River Valley Pinot Classic discussed splitting the appellation into “neighborhoods.” They chose to split
the Russian River Valley into three neighborhoods for the discussion: the Middle Reach, Laguna Ridge and
Green Valley. The Santa Rosa Plain and Sebastopol Hills are also being discussed. Today, the Russian River
Valley AVA is huge at 169,029 total acres with about 16,000 acres planted to wine grapes. There is said to be
more soil types than in Burgundy and there are marked climatic differences between the northern and southern
neighborhoods, so it has hard to characterize the AVA as a whole. A special committee has been organized
and led by Clay Gantz, a winegrower and member of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers Board, to attempt
to define each neighborhood.
Underwood Oregon Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris in a Can Oregon wine producer Union Wine
Company, owned by Ryan Harms, has launched Underwood Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in 375-milliliter cans
(two glasses or about a half bottle of wine) with a canned Rosé planed for early 2015. The wines are the first
non carbonated wines to be bottled in a can. The exact wines are also available in bottles. The allure is that
wine in cans is unpretentious (“pinkies down”) and practical as a can is very portable and readily disposable.
They are lighter than bottles, easy to transport, unbreakable and reduce the environmental footprint because
they are 100% recyclable. Apparently when the wine is poured into a glass, it tastes identical to the same wine
poured from a bottle. Since the can is lined, there is no metallic flavor. A four-pack of Pinot Noir is $24.00.
The 2013 Underwood Pinot Noir is sourced from the Umpqua Valley (60%) and the Willamette Valley (40%).
Aged 6 months in 15% new French oak barrels with a finished alcohol of 13.0% and residual sugar of less than
0.2%. The 2013 wine was released in April 2013. There is distribution in many states and it can be bought
online at www.unionwinecompany.com. Union Wine Company, operating out of Sherwood, Oregon, has a
Tasting Truck which is used for events and will serve as a mobile tasting room in Portland. Union Wine Co.
recently purchased historic Amity Vineyards.
Scratchpad Sports Interactive Wine Label Terravant Wine Company in Buellton has released
three wines from California’s Central Coast (2011 Pinot Noir - $15,, 2011 Chardonnay - $13, and 2012
Sauvignon Blanc - $11)) that have nearly blank labels that encourage drinkers to draw and write on the front
label, take a photo, and share via social media including the Scratchpad Facebook page and Instagram. The
Scratchpad wines come with a charcoal pencil hung on the neck that says, “Doodle, Post, Sip.” The wines are
in wide distribution.
Winemaker Chris Whitcraft Dies Years ago when I had a burgeoning interest in Pinot Noir, I
became interested in Whitcraft’s quirky newsletters and his Pinot Noirs. He began the Whitcraft label in Santa
Barbara in 1976 and was one of the first wineries within the city limits. Whitcraft started with sparkling wine
and Chardonnay, unhappy with his early attempts at Pinot Noir because of the way grapes were grown at the
time. He started making Pinot Noir in earnest in 1985. His wines were sometimes a bit off the beaten track but
were always interesting. Legend has it that he lived in a camper during harvest behind the Hitching Post II
restaurant and spent a number of evenings in the bar drinking wine with Frank Ostini. He talked to Rex Pickett,
the author of ‘Sideways,’ on a number of occasions. He also was friends with Burt Williams of Williams Selyem
fame and made wine from Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch in Anderson Valley. Whitcraft had his own daily radio
show called “The Wine show” from 1978 to 1989. Most recently, his son Drake had assisted in the winemaking
at the winery’s industrial building in downtown Santa Barbara.
New Location for Soléna Estate The winery’s tasting room is now located 500 feet from the old one
(it was sold to Kendall-Jackson) at 17096 NE Woodland Loop Road in Yamhill.
¡Salud! Has New Vision for Oregon Pinot Noir Auction. This year’s November 14-15
weekend auction will now be held entirely in the Willamette Valley due to a partnership with The Allison Inn &
Spa in Newberg. The Allison is hosting the Saturday events and closing its doors to the general public so that
only ¡Salud! guests can stay at the Inn November 14-15. There are a limited number of weekend packages for
sale, which include two nights deluxe lodging, transportation and two tickets to the ¡Salud! Cuvée Tasting &
Auction at Domaine Drouhin Oregon, and two tickets to the Dinner and Auction Gala, plus breakfast Saturday
morning. The price of the weekend package starts at $1,500 a couple. Call The Allison Inn & Spa at
877-294-2525. Tickets to the ¡Salud! Friday and Saturday events are available online at
www.tualityhealth.ejoinme.org/salud2014. ¡Salud! is a cause that I have supported for many years. It is a
unique collaboration between Oregon winemakers and healthcare professionals to provide access to
healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.
Linfield College Survey Trumpets Oregon Wine A 2014 Linfield College consumer survey
looked at attitudes toward Oregon versus California wines and wineries among 1,020 consumers. In seven
categories, Oregon trumped California: Hand crafted artisan wines, Organic or sustainably made, Small family
farms, Community/collaboration, Value for Price, Uniqueness and Quirkiness/independence. California scored
higher than Oregon in four categories: Mass produced wine, Tradition, Expensive wines, and Easy to find when
I buy wine. Jean Yates, former owner of Avalon Wine in Corvallis, said about this survey: “Oregon winery
owners spend time and money to promote their wines, marketing their visions, their goals, and the fruits of their
labors. Some wineries emphasize history, others a philosophy of life. The focus might be environmental, local
food production, or social. Each winery wants to stand out and be identified for their own unique brand and
style. Oregon wine, as a statewide industry, needs a definition. The Linfield study is important to all Oregon
wineries, and to the industry overall.”
Hanzell Winemaker Icon Bob Sessions Dies at Age 82 There have been a number of
tributes written about Bob Sessions who was revered winemaker at Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma Valley for
more than 41 years. He had succumbed to a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Warren Winiarski, the
father of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, said, “I was a long time admirer of Bob’s wines and asked him many years
ago during a job transition for him to join us at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. His presence and contributions at the
winery were a model to judge whether we were accomplishing our goals for excellence.” He first assumed the
role of Winemaker and General Manager of Hanzell Vineyards in 1973, and always took to heart the dreams
and visions of its founder, Ambassador James D. Zellerbach, in producing wines that equalled the best in the
world. He produced Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that were equal to the greatest wines in the world. His
wines could be cellared for decades on a path parallel with Grand Cru Burgundy. Very few winemakers in the
world have left such an amazing legacy of quality and longevity. In 2002, Sessions retired and assumed the
role of Winemaker Emeritus, passing on his knowledge and experience to the winemakers that followed,
including current Winemaker Michael McNeill, only the fifth winemaker in the history of the estate.
Artesa Abandons Vineyard Plans Near Annapolis As reported in The Press Democrat (June
3, 2014), Artesa Vineyards and Winery plans to sell their 324-acre property for $1.5 million after last year
environmentalists persuaded a Sonoma County judge to rule that the vineyard’s environmental studies were
flawed. Artesa claims it has refocused their growth strategy on the Napa Valley rather than the Sonoma Coast.
West of West Festival in Sebastopol The annual West of West Festival, sponsored by the West
Sonoma Coast Vintners (WSCV) will be held at The Barlow in Sebastopol, California on August 1-3. The event
kicks off with nine intimate winemaker dinners on August 1. On August 2, the morning Seminar will feature
“The Evolution of California Cuisine and Wine,” and the afternoon Seminar will focus on “Charles Heintz
Vineyard Chardonnay.” The Grand Tasting will follow on Saturday and then a dinner featuring the talent behind
San Francisco’s three hottest restaurants (Statebird Provisions, Rich Table and Bar Tartine). The Grand
Tasting will be repeated in the afternoon on August 3. Tickets and information are at
Erin Miller New Winemaker at Twomey Cellars The Duncan family announced the
appointment of Erin Miller as Pinot Noir Winemaker for Twomey. She will report to longtime Silver Oak and
Twomey Director of Winemaking Daniel Baron, but will be responsible for managing wine production from
grape to bottle. Erin earned an MS from University of California at Davis. Most recently she was with
Provingage Wine Associates, working for Evening Land Vineyards as California Winemaker and Oregon
Assistant Winemaker and managing four boutique wineries. Previously she worked for Hartford Family Winey
and Kendall-Jackson’s Vinwood Cellars.
Gran Moraine Pinot Noir Released Jackson Family Wines is now California’s largest landowner in
Oregon following the 2013 purchase of the 220-acre vineyard and site of the former Soléna Estate Winery in
the Yamhill-Carlton District. The Gran Moraine Vineyard, part of the purchase, is the source of the newly
launched Gran Moraine Pinot Noir. Grapes from this vineyard also go into the La Crema Willamette Valley
Pinot Noir first released this year.
12th Annual Mendocino Ridge & Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival This event will be
held on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at Meyer Family Cellars on Highway 128 between Cloverdale and Boonville.
Over 60 local wines will be offered along with a grape stomp, highlands games, barbecue, and rare bottle silent
auction. For information and tickets, visit www.yorkvillehighlands.org.
In Pursuit of Balance 2015 Four new wineries, Big Basin Vineyards, Lutum Wines, Mindego Ridge
and Wenzlau Vineyard have joined the 29 returning IPOB wineries. The 2015 events are in New York February
23, San Francisco March 16, Houston March 30 and Japan the week of April 13. IPOB tasting committee,
members are Ian Becker, Jon Bonner, Christie Dufault, Ehren Jordan, Rajat Parr and Wolfgang Weber. Visit
the website at www.inpursuitofbalance.com.
Wally’s Central Coast Wine & Food Celebration Taste nearly 150 of the Central Coast’s finest
wines and savor signature dishes provided by renowned restaurants like The Hitching Post’s legendary Santa
Maria BBQ, Full of Life Flatbread, and favorite Los Angeles restaurants Republique and WP24. Sunday, July
27, 2014, 1:00-4:00. The event benefits the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund at Allan Hancock College
Department of Viticulture and Enology, whose alumni are the backbone of the Central Coast wine industry.
Participating wineries include Alma Rosa, Brewer-Clifton, Fiddlehead Cellars, Foxen, Hilliard Bruce, Melville,
Mount Eden Vineyards, Paul Lato, Talbott, and Talley. Tickets are $99 at www.wallywine.com.
Santa Rita Hills Wine & Fire 2014 The Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance presents their annual
Wine and Fire event, a three day adventure exploring the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Kick Off Barn Party at Sanford
Winery’s Sanford and Benedict Barn on August 15 featuring fire-grilled pizzas, music and plenty of Pinot Noir.
The Wine and Fire Seminar, The Dirty Truth, will be the following day at Fiddlestix Vineyard where winemakers
and sommeliers team up to challenge the senses in a blind tasting of Sta. Rita Hills wines. The morning
seminar will be led by Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, and features Jeff Newton
of Central Coast Vineyard Care who manages hundreds of acres of vineyards in Santa Barbara County. A
Hitching Post II catered lunch will follow. Saturday night, August 16, will be the Grand Tasting at La Purisma
Mission with local food purveyors and wines from all producers in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. On Sunday, August
17, members of the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance will hold special open houses. For further information
and tickets, visit www.staritahills.com.
Urban Winery in Los Angeles Urban wineries are commonplace in Portland, Oregon, New York,
New York, and San Francisco, California, but now Abe Schoener, of Scholium Project, plans to seek funding to
build a $2 million winery in the Central Avenue district of Los Angeles. Schoener told Decanter.com that he
plans to source grapes from the hills east and north of San Diego, the Santa Monica Mountains, and Rancho
Cucamonga. He also plans to plant vineyards adjacent the Los Angeles River in central Los Angeles.
Currently, Scholium Project releases about 3,000 cases of wine annually from grapes sourced in the Lodi,
Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast.
Petaluma Gap Applies for AVA Status The Petaluma Gap region, which extends from the San
Francisco Bay to the Pacific coast and is currently part of the huge Sonoma Coast AVA, has applied for its own
AVA status. The name, Petaluma Gap, is derived from the 15-mile opening in the coastal California hills that
allows cool maritime air to enter Sonoma County. It is a distinct winegrowing region, quite different from the
western Sonoma Coast and deserving of its own AVA designation.
The Wine Dudes Blog Along with fellow wine writer, Eric Anderson (Grape Nutz), I write the Wine
Dudes Blog at www.orangecoastmagazine.com. There are two posts a week and a Must-Try Wine of the
week. I frequently post on Pinot Noir, but also include recommendations for other varietals. I also post reviews
of Orange County restaurant wine programs. Check it out for a quick, interesting read.
Willamette Valley Epilogue
Oregonians appear quirky to most Californians, but therein lies their charm. Everyone respects the speed limit,
even on freeways, they drive American cars, polite attendants pump your gas, and there is no disdain for old,
used and weathered items including cars, Coming from Orange County, California, where everyone is into
image and possessing “things,” I find the change when I hit the roads in the Willamette Valley very refreshing.
It makes little sense to drive an expensive car in the Valley as many roads are either unpaved or paved with
tire-ripping gravel. This rural, serene, agricultural region with miles and miles of rolling hills and valleys planted
with wine grapes, grain, grasses and hazelnut trees, causes your heart rate to slow. Laid back towns dot the
landscape, and some seem frozen in time since the 1950s. People are cordial, greet you nicely at stores,
restaurants and wineries, and seem genuinely interested in what you have to say. Small, independent
business are still plentiful in the Valley, although chains and franchises are creeping in.
Street signs are challenging with practically every street preceded by a direction such as “SE,” or “NW.” It is
easy to get lost because streets have no sensible pattern in many areas such as the Chehalem Mountains
where I become easily disoriented. A GPS may or may not be your best friend. When visiting a winery in
Dallas, I met with an actual ferry that transported cars, a few at a time, across the Willamette River. It seems
that it would be reasonable to build a short bridge instead, but then, this is Oregon farm country.
Except for the summertime when it can be quite warm, it rains almost daily in the Willamette Valley. This
deters visitors and challenges businesses and wineries to remain open and turn a profit in the winter months.
Primarily because of this incessant wetness, residents rarely dress up.
The artisan Oregon wines are far from quirky. They are genuine, often sustainably produced, hand crafted in
small lots, and frequently offer good value for the price. The camaraderie among winemakers and winery
owners is real and pervasive. There are many exciting developments in Pinot Noir winemaking going on
including more whole cluster vinification, amphora vinification, and consistent quality despite the vagaries of
vintages. Prices for premium Oregon Pinot Noir are slowly escalating, but the quality justifies the rising tide.
Premium Oregon vineyard land is still affordable compared to California, and many outsiders, both from our
country and Burgundy, are jumping in.
Oregon wine people love to talk about soils and the AVAs of the Willamette Valley are largely characterized by
their soils. There are two main types mentioned frequently: (1) red volcanic basalt soils known as Jory from 13
million-year-old lava flows, and (2) brown marine sedimentary soils known as Willakenzie laid down under the
ocean flow 20 million years ago. Generalizations can be made regarding flavor and style of Pinot Noir for the AVAs based on the differences in soil type. The AVAs with predominantly Jory soils, like the
Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, and parts of the Chehalem Mountains and McMinnville, tend to produce Pinot
Noirs with bright red fruits including cherry and raspberry, and are softly textured with modest tannins. The
Pinot Noirs from AVAs with Willakenzie soils like Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, and parts of the Chehalem
Mountains and McMinnville, typically offer darker fruit, spice (cola, anise), and wet leaf flavors, and tend to be
more tannic and structured. The best way to get a feel for the different AVAs of the Willamette Valley is to visit
and taste. All the AVAs are contiguous, and easily explored by car over the course of a few days.
The last frontier to conquer for the Willamette Valley wineries is the presentation of food pairings on site. The
Pacific Northwest has a tremendous bounty of gastronomic riches that pair well with Pinot Noir, including wild
mushrooms, salmon, shellfish, cheeses, charcuterie, bacon and hams, and hazelnuts. It is only a matter of time
until more Willamette Valley wineries will follow the lead of California and offer food pairings at tasting rooms to
enhance the enjoyment of the tasting experience.
To read more about the Willamette Valley vintners, I recommend the book, Winemakers of the Willamette
Valley: Pioneering Vintners from Oregon’s Wine Country (Vivian Perry and John Vincent, paperback, 2013).
The book begins with a short history of the Willamette Valley wine region and then profiles 19 prominent
winemakers, most of whom did not set out on a life path to be an Oregon vintner. Familiar names are included
such as Isabelle Dutarte (De Ponte Cellars), Harry and Wyne Peterson-Nedry (Chehalem), Lynn Penner-Ash
(Penner-Ash), Luisa Ponzi (Ponzi Vineyards), Kelley Fox (Scott Paul), and a memoriam to respected
winemaker Forrest Glenn Klaffke. The three-page foreword written by Harry Peterson-Nedry is worth the price
of the book alone. He emphasizes the changing landscape of the Willamette Valley wine experience with the
only constant being the passion of the people involved.