This week we are pleased to welcome friend of Spirits and Tuscaloosa native Robert Moshier who will present an extensive line-up of wines from the Willamette Valley. Robert works for the Northwest Wine Company in McMinnville, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Northwest Wine Co. is owned by Laurent Montalieau of Solena Wines; it is a custom crush facility that specializes in all aspects of winemaking from vine growth and vineyard management to bottling and labeling. Robert is the General Manager of the facility and has worked there for six years.
For the tasting this week we will sample an array of Willamette Valley wines including three whites (a Pinot Gris, Piont Blanc and Chardonnay) and seven reds, all Pinot Noir! We will explore several different wineries, some well-known, some lesser-known, that represent all six different Willamette Valley AVAs (Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, McMinnville, and Eola-Amity Hills); some of the wines for the tasting are made by Robert and the team at Northwest Wine Co.
The wineries that will be represented this week include: The Eyrie Vineyards, Brooks, Ken Wright, Four Graces, Elk Cove, Adelsheim, Brick House, and Fiddle Creek. Robert will also have with him some “bonus wines” including a Pinot Noir from their newest winery, Hyland Vineyard Estates.
We hope you will join us this week to meet Robert, learn about the intricacies of the Willamette Valley and their distinct AVAs, and sample and outstanding selection of hand-crafted wines!
The specific producers and wines for the tasting are:
The Hyland Vineyard “planted in the 1970s, was purchased by the Montalieus and their business partners, the Niemeyers, in May 2007. Located in the Coast Range foothills southwest of McMinnville [in the Dundee Hills AVA], the vineyard has been the source of fruit for many acclaimed wines [and is one of Oregon’s oldest and best known vineyards]. The estate is 200 acres, with just over 120 acres planted to vines. The vineyard rises from an elevation of 600’ to just over 800’ on primarily south sloping bench-land. Soils are volcanic Jory and some Nekia, a shallower version of Jory. The vineyard is comprised of 47.21 acres of own-rooted, old-growth Pinot Noir [Pommard, Wadensvil and Coury Pinot Noir vines], 41.84 acres of newer, grafted Pinot Noir clones [planted in 1989 to Dijon clone 115], 6.43 acres of own-rooted, older Chardonnay, 11.04 acres of Riesling, 6.1 acres of Gewurztraminer, and 6.75 acres of Muller-Thurgau.
Hyland Vineyard Estates is the newest project of Laurent Montalieau and the team at Northwest Wine Co. “The Hyland Vineyard, which dates nearly to the beginning of Oregon’s young winemaking history, is getting ready to unveil a new chapter in the increasingly captivating story of Oregon’s premier wine properties. Hyland Vineyard Estates is a master planned development which will be the first in Oregon to make available legacy vineyard parcels packaged with established vineyard management, custom-crush wine making options, and an income stream from long term vineyard leases that will continue to supply fruit to the very wine makers that have helped establish the reputation of this renowned vineyard.”
Fiddle Creek Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009– Dundee Hills. “International Wines and the Wine Liberation Society are proud to introduce Fiddle Creek Cellars from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Produced by winemaker Laurent Montalieu in his custom-crush facility in McMinnville, Fiddle Creek’s wines exemplify the integrity, style and quality of the best Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the region. Each wine is selected from specific vineyard sites and vinified to the same exacting standards as other Willamette Valley artisan producers. Dark and brooding, this classic pinot noir displays aromas of rose petals, earth and spice. It is sophisticated and elegant, yet solid and substantial; an iron fist in a velvet glove. The estate grown Hyland Vineyard showcases wild raspberry and black cherry fruit; its firm acid backbone and long lingering finish make it an excellent representation of the vintage in Oregon. A once in a lifetime alignment of perfectly grown Pinot Noir and poignant winemaking.” $24.99
The Four Graces is owned by Steve and Paula Black and was established in 2005. It is named in honor of their four daughters, the “four graces.” The winery practices sustainable farming, minimal intervention, and low yields. It is overseen by General Manager Anthony Van Nice, who has worked in the wine business for more than 15 years, while the wines are made by Laurent Montalieau of Solena Winery and Northwest Wine Company. Today, the Four Graces Pinot Noir (that we will sample at the tasting) is one of the “top 15 most popular Pinot Noirs served in restaurants nationwide” (as well as one of the best selling Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs sold at Spirits!).
The Four Graces Pinot Noir 2009– Sourced from Black Family Estate, Dundee Hills AVA and Doe Ridge Estate, Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Aged more than 9 months in French oak. “Earthy and elegant, fruit forward with smooth, expressive tannins, this wine bears all the hallmarks of a great New World Burgundy. Reminiscent of raspberries, strawberries, plums, and Rainier cherries, the 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is vibrant and delicious in its youth yet has the soft, focused tannins to suggest ageing with grace.” $26.99
The Eyrie Vineyards– “In 1965, after earning a degree in viticulture and enology from UC/Davis, and research in Europe, 25-year old David Lett moved to Oregon “with 3,000 grape cuttings and a theory”. He planted the cuttings in a rented nursery plot, and went looking for the perfect vineyard site. It was the first planting of Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and related varieties in the Willamette Valley, and the first Pinot gris in America.” The Eyrie Vineyards was established in 1966 by David and Diana Lett. They produced their first wines in 1970 and in 1975 produced the first Pinot Noir to compete against top Burgundy producers in the acclaimed Spurrier Tasting (a.k.a. Judgement of Paris), and again the following year in Beaune. These two tastings brought international attention to Oregon and The Willamette Valley and caused the Valley to be recognized as the New World home of Pinot Noir. David passed away in 2008 and today the estate is overseen by his son Jason, who is winemaker and vineyard manager.
“The grapes for Eyrie’s Estate wines come mostly from our three “younger” vineyards: Stonehedge, Sisters, and Rolling Green Farm, planted in the 1980’s. Each of these vineyards has its own individuality, but we believe the ultimate blends represent a whole better than its parts.”
Eyrie Estate Pinot Gris 2009– Dundee Hills AVA. “The Eyrie Vineyards introduced the New World’s first Pinot gris in 1970. the 2009 vintage is an impressively complex dry wine aged for a full twelve months sur-lies (on the lees) before bottling. We love the yellow plum, melon, and light mineral notes. “It is a creamy-textured, flavorful effort that remains a benchmark for Oregon producers of this varietal…” This blend of grapes from all four vineyards shows rich varietal character and complexity rarely found in Pinot gris (grigio). Fermented in stainless steel tanks, the wine gains added dimensions from remaining on the lees until bottling. It is given only one loose filtration prior to bottling. Our first Pinot gris was produced in 1970, a full ten years before other winegrowers recognized its New World potential. The Eyrie Vineyards continues to be credited with setting the standard for flavor and value.”
90 Points Wine Advocate- “The 2009 Pinot Gris was fermented and raised in stainless steel and went through malolactic fermentation. It is a creamy-textured, flavorful effort that remains a benchmark for Oregon producers of this varietal. Both the Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are outstanding values.” $14.99
Eyrie Estate Pinot Blanc 2010– Dundee Hills AVA. “A new release for the holidays. This sister variety of Pinot noir and Pinot gris is becoming a popular favorite among Eyrie’s white wines. The distinctly mineral fore-palate unfolds with a lush texture, clean acidity, and ripe fruit. A little natural spritz from fermentation keeps things lively… Eyrie’s Pinot blanc is made from a collection of authentic Alsatian clones planted at our Three Sisters Vineyard in the Dundee Hills (named for the three lovely Pinot sisters, Pinot noir, Pinot gris, and Pinot blanc). LIMITED BOTTLING” $16.99
Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009– Dundee Hills AVA. “Our Dundee Hills Pinot noir vines were planted between 1965 and 1989, and average 30 years in age. 100% own-rooted + 100% Estate + 100% unirrigated = unequaled in Oregon. Elegance, lively acidity and length couple with spice and savor. Excellent cellar ability… Less “reserved” than Reserve wines, Eyrie’s estate Pinot noirs typically display forward, fruity and fresh varietal characteristics. Aged 11 months in mostly neutral oak casks, the wine is not fined, and is filtered only if necessary.”
92 Points Wine Advocate- “The 2009 Pinot Noir Estate is an elegant, spicy, savory wine that is complete on the palate from start to finish. Seamless and lengthy, it can be approached now but should provide enjoyment for another 6-7 years… It was the 1975, a wine I have tasted recently and rated 97 points, that put Willamette Valley Pinot Noir on the map.” $32.99
Adelsheim Vineyard– “Established in 1971, our family-owned and operated winery and estate vineyards are located in Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley. Company co-founder, David Adelsheim leads a current generation of passionate staff devoted to producing and selling wines of ever-higher quality with each growing season. We use sustainable farming practices and take great care to bring out the best in each of our unique vineyard sites. In the winery, we combine traditional and modern techniques, crafting wines in a style that centers on elegance, complexity, and richness in flavor and texture.” David and Ginny Adelsheim purchased the land that became Adelsheim Vineyard in 1971. They started planting their original 15-acre vineyard with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. In 1978, David Adelsheim made Adelsheim Vineyard’s first 1,300 cases of wine for commercial release. I visited Adelsheim Vineyard in 2009 (when I was at OPC) and toured their state-of-the-art 35,000 sqaure foot gravity-flow winery; this 40,000 case capacity facility provides for a “hands-off” winemaking approach.
Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2010– 100% Pinot Noir “59% from our seven vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains AVA and 3% from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The remaining 38% is derived from fourteen other non-estate vineyards located in various sub-regions within the Willamette Valley.” The wine aged for approximately 10 months in small French oak barrels (20% new). “With its broad array of origins and clones, this wine displays red aromas (candied cherry, pomegranate and raspberry), on the nose and the palate. In addition, one finds a light touch of brown spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice). True to our house style, it is elegantly textured with seamlessly integrated, silky, polished tannins. Pair it with salmon or ahi, veal or pork, poultry (think duck) or beef, or hearty vegetarian entrees.” $26.99
Elk Cove Vineyards “is one of Oregon’s oldest and most respected wine producers. Founded in 1974, by Pat and Joe Campbell, our focus has always been to produce hand crafted, Estate grown wines that can rival the best in the world. Elk Cove Vineyards proudly remains a family owned and operated winery. Winemaker Adam Godlee Campbell joined forces with his parents in 1995 to produce outstanding Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Growing up among the vines on the Elk Cove Estate has instilled a tremendous respect for the soil in which the grapes were grown, therefore his role as winemaker is one of stewardship over intervention. Elk Cove hand crafts wines from outstanding vineyards in the Northern Willamette Valley of Oregon. Through site selection and meticulous vine management we achieve concentration and depth of flavor in the vineyard. In the winery we use gravity flow and gentle handling to protect the inherent qualities of the Estate grown fruit.”
Elk Cove Pinot Noir 2009– Willamette Valley. “This Pinot Noir is blended from several select vineyard sites comprised of Pommard and Dijon plant material and shows the softest, most approachable drinking style Elk Cove makes. 2009 was a vintage of abundance. Ideal springtime weather led to a hot summer, which gave us a beautiful, uniform and potentially prolific crop. Warm temperatures at harvest time lulled some growers into picking late, at potentially high alcohols. The right decision, top winemakers agree, was to get the grapes in while they still had fresh flavors.”
91 Points, Smart Buys Wine Spectator- “This fresh red is inviting and invigorating for its juicy black currant, plum and white pepper flavors, playing with zest against polished tannins and lively acidity. Drink now through 2019. 14,000 cases made.” $25.99
Brick House Vineyards located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, has been certified organic since 1990. “From our first planting in May of 1990 until today, we have relied on basics. All our fruit is estate grown. All of it is certified organic. Elemental sprays like sulfur combat disease. Fundamental farming controls weeds and shapes the hillsides beneath our vines. All our wines are produced and bottled by hand on our 40 acre farm. We count on indigenous yeast fermentations. Rarely do we fine and never do we filter Brick House wines. Pinot noir commands the lion’s share of the farm: 19 acres of Pinot in all. Then there is the Chardonnay; clones from the Dijon viticultural station were gathered from cuttings taken near Meursault in Burgundy. A mere three acres of Dijon Chardonnay are currently in production at Brick House. One more is on the way.” Click here to read in detail about Brick House’s organic practices.
Brick House Chardonnay 2009– Ribbon Ridge. “At Brick House we have adapted the traditional practices of winegrowers in the villages of Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault to produce Chardonnay expressive of our own distinctly Oregon “terroir.” The wine is barrel fermented in a blend of French and Oregon oak. Like all Brick House wines, we rely solely on indigenous yeasts. The wine remains on its lees for 16 months, moving only after malo-lactic fermentation is complete from new barrels to older, neutral wood. Like the Pinot Noir, the Chardonnay is bottled unfined and unfiltered.”
90 Points Wine Advocate- “The light gold-colored 2009 Chardonnay was barrel-fermented in used oak and went through full ML. Aromas of pear, apple, melon, and a hint of tropical fruits inform the nose of a spicy, medium to full-bodied, richly fruity yet elegant Chardonnay that will drink nicely for another 4-5 years. It is an outstanding value.” $22.99
Brooks– “Founded in 1998, Brooks is a reflection of the visionary Portland native, Jemi Brooks. His reverence for the land and vines made him a practitioner of organic and biodynamic farming. The great respect for vineyard individuality and mastery of blending, allowed his wines to achieve the greatest depth, flavors and balance. While Jimi is no longer with us, his dynamic spirit lives on through his wines, family and friends. With the outpouring of generosity and friendship by the Oregon wine community, we are delighted to share that Brooks Wines continues and is stronger than ever. Jimi’s son Pascal who was the ultimate source of his passion for life, is the sole owner of the winery and sister Janie Brooks Heuck has remarkably volunteered her time to lead it. We are steadily guided with the legacies that Jimi left: his strong commitment to organic and biodynamic farming in the vineyards, gentle approach to winemaking, excitement for future harvests and endlessly promoting how beautiful Pinot Noir and Riesling can be grown and produced in Oregon.”
Brooks Pinot Noir 2010– Willamette Valley. 100% Pinot Noir from the following vineyards: Muska 32%, Momtazi 30%, Willakia 24%, Dukes 10%, and Sunny Mountain 4%. “The wines aged for 10 months in 20% new French oak with some Hungarian oak. For this blend, we look for lots that are very fruit forward with softer, less aggressive tannins that provide a pleasant finish. This wine is unfined and filtered. Intoxicating aromas of black cherry, black berry, raspberry, and a hint of blueberry pour from the glass. As you allow the wine to sit and open up more complex aromas spice, minerality, and a hint of toasty oak emerge. On the palate bursts of fresh fruit explode. A soft velvety mouth feel combine with blackberry, raspberry, and black current to give a truly memorable first impression. In the mid-palate you get more mineral, earthy and wet stone characteristics. As the flavors from the mid-palate move into the finish there is some nice dry tannins combined with a nice balance of acidity. This all leads to a nice long finish with a slight tartness.” 1250 cases produced. $21.99
Ken Wright Cellars– “Located in rural Carlton, Oregon, Ken Wright Cellars is devoted to showcasing the inherent quality of selected vineyard sites. With a clarity and breadth that is unequaled by other varieties, we believe Pinot noir best expresses the character of these sites. Rather than stamping wine with a varietal trademark, Pinot noir is the ultimate vehicle for conveying the aroma, flavor and texture of the location in which it is grown… Well over thirty years of winemaking have taught a simple truth. Source is everything. When you work with sites that have a “ton” of character, great things can happen. These great things cannot happen without a commitment by the vineyard owner to the health of the vineyard and extremely low crop levels.” Click here to read more about Ken Wright and the history of Ken Wright Cellars.
Abbot Claim Vineyard– “This site is a portion of the original John F. Abbott Donation Land Claim and lies in the middle of Savannah Ridge, a small east-west ridgeline of sedimentary rock just east of Carlton. This is a consistent broad face of land with soil depths of 30 inches to mother rock. Elevation ranges from 400′ to 475′ and the inclination is S-SE. Soils are mostly Wellsdale with some areas of Willakenzie, Melbourne and Peavine. All of them lie atop mother rock of fractured sandstone and siltstone. The planted acreage totals 17 acres. Vines are roughly an equal mix of Pommard clone on Riparia Gloire rootstock, 777 on 101-14 and 115 on both 101-14 and 3309. As would be expected from a vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District the wine is very darkly colored, dense and lush. Fruits tend to be darker such as plum, cassis and black cherry. Ken and Karen Wright own the vineyard. Mark Gould is the vineyard manager.”
Ken Wright Abbott Claim Pinot Noir 2010– Yamhill-Carlton AVA. “Soil: Ancient Marine Sediments. 400-475′ elevation; S-SE inclination. Floral and spice focused. Darker fruit profile than our other sedimentary sites. Lush in the mouth (cassis, clove, anise, plum). Artwork depicting harvest.” $46.99