Located 35 miles southwest of Portland and 40 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, the Yamhill-Carlton District is a sub-appellation of Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley AVA. It is a horseshoe shaped appellation that surrounds the two communities from which it is named, Yamhill and Carlton, and is home to some of the finest Pinot Noir vineyards in the world.
Once primarily known for tree-fruit orchards, nurseries and livestock, wheat and logging, the area now known as the Yamhill-Carlton District has a relatively recent wine history. In 1974, pioneers like the Campbells and the Wahles were planting vines long before other areas of the North Willamette Valley. Other quickly followed suit and today it is known as one of the country's finest producers of cool-climate varietals and was officially established as an AVA in 2004.
The vineyards of the Yamhill-Carlton District were planted mostly in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The primary soil of this area is called Willakenzie, named after the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. It is comprised of coarse-grained, ancient marine sedimentary soils, over sandstone and siltstone, that drain quickly, making them ideal for viticulture. Grapes grown in this soil type often result in wines lower in acid than those made from grapes grown in other areas.
Yamhill-Carlton vineyards grow on sites with elevations between 200 and 1,000 feet, avoiding low valley frost and high elevation temperatures unsuitable for effective ripening. Geographically, this area is protected by the Coast Range to the west, the Chehalem Mountains to the north and the Dundee Hills to the east.
With the orientation of vineyards and unique soil conditions found in the AVA, the Yamhill Carlton District is a leading producer of concentrated, more lush styles of Oregon Pinot Noir. As with other Willamette Valley AVAs, only those vineyards falling within defined elevations (in this case between 200 and 1,000 feet) are permitted to use the AVA designation. This trend amongst the new Willamette Valley sub-appellations, such as the Yamhill Carlton District, only reaffirms Oregon as the leader of ‘terroir’ consciousness in North America.
The 2006 Moises Wahle Vineyards Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir is produced with wine sourced from the Wahle Family’s initial vineyard planting located in the heart of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District. Established in 1974, it is one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards planted in Willakenzie soil. The vineyard sits at 450' elevation and enjoys a beautiful southern exposure.
The wine was aged 11 months in French oak and another year and 9 months in the bottle. It has aromas of red and black fruits, with added elements of herbs, cloves and fresh-turned earth. On the palate, cherry and cassis dominate with herbal notes and continued spiced undertones. The lower acidity level brings a lush mouth feel and makes the Yamhill Carlton approachable young. Less than 100 cases produced.
Retail Price: $39.99
This wine is one of the gems we'll be tasting with Dr. James Moises at his launch party on August 15 from 6 to 9pm at Swirl. This is a "don't miss" event for anyone interested in tasting high quality, small production Oregon Pinot from a native New Orleanian. For more information on James and his wines, check out my blog post, Moises Wines, Driven by Passion, Heart and Healing.