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The 2008 Oregon Pinot Show: 6 Artisan Producers from a Historical Vintage

Beth Ribblett

Pinot Noir grapes in Oregon.  Photo by James Moises

"In the 2008's, you've got the best vintage Oregon has ever produced, the kind of vintage Oregon winemakers always hoped they could produce." Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator.

Praise for the 2008 vintage in Oregon has been unanimous, from the New York Times, to Wine Spectator and all of the ratings rags, to the Oregon Wine Awards and more, it is simply superb.  With an uncharacteristically dry September and October, the warm days and cool nights allowed grapes to achieve ripeness without sacrificing the freshness provided by good acidity.  The wines are sought after by collectors and wine enthusiasts around the world making the 2008's harder and harder to find.

2010 harvest in Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Photo by James Moises
But on Wednesday, August 22, we are giving 20 lucky people an opportunity to taste 6 beautiful wines made by small artisan producers from this historic vintage.  The wines will be presented by James Moises, Oregon producer and distributor of limited production wines from Oregon and Washington, and promises to be an unforgettable evening of fine wine and great company!

James in the vineyards, Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Photo courtesy of James Moises
This is a seated event and reservations and prepayment are required.  We have only 8 spots remaining so please contact us at 504.304.0635 to secure your spot. $30

Here's a look at the line up:
2008 J. Daan Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, $24, 450 cases produced
Justin and Megan Van Zanten own this small winery in the Yamhill County town of Carlton. J Daan Wine Cellars, currently housed at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, is the effort of Justin and Megan Van Zanten. Justin's "day job" is as assistant winemaker to Andrew Rich, and he worked previously at major Oregon wineries, including Adelsheim and Chehalem.

The wine is produced from the Croft-Williamson Vineyard and Apolloni Vineyard grapes. This vintage shows off the best of Willamette Valley Pinot-- lush flavors of raspberry and cherry with an elegant finish and silky mouthfeel.

2008 Lumos Wine Company Pinot Noir Temperance Hill, $36, 688 cases produced
The Lumos Wine Company is the product of the efforts of its owner/winemaker, Dai Crisp, who was first introduced to viticulture in 1986 when he helped his parents plant a small, 10-acre vineyard on their farm in Wren, Oregon. In 1990 he became manager of Croft Vineyards where he began to develop his own unique style of grape growing. Then in 1999, Dai took on the 100-acre site at Temperance Hill Vineyard, where he is currently manager. While always interested in the process of wine-making, it wasn’t until Dai had proven to himself and others that he could grow an outstanding wine that he finally made the leap with his own label.

The wine won Double Gold at the Oregon Wine Awards! Lovely, brush-tinged juicy red fruits highlight this classy, fresh, delicious wine. Cristom is one of those producers who can do virtually no wrong. Great wine. Renowned vineyard manager meets famous vineyard. Result: Terrific wine. This stuff is dense, purple-dark, and laden with deep flavors and minerally structure.

2008 Capitello Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, $37.50,
Ray Walsh made King Estate's white wines from its start, developing the US's best known Pinot Gris. He rose quickly at King Estate, highly regarded for his ability to bring out the very best in Oregon grapes. Ray left King Estate last year to make his own Capitello wines.  Ray is a native New Zealander, and worked his way up from "Cellar Rat" to "Cellar Master" at Limeburner Bay, Villa Maria, Waitakere, and Coopers Creek Wineries before moving to the US in 1995. He started as Cellar Master at King Estate in June of 1995, then became winemaker in June of 1999. He was instrumental in the development of the King Estate wine style, and in the high ratings and national respect the winery has today.

The wine is sourced from two vineyard sites in the Willamette Valley; Mary’s Peak Vineyard (located just south of Philomath) and Rainbow’s End Vineyard (located in Monroe). Both vineyards are warm sites that are planted on Bellpine soil, offering richness to the fruit as well as elegance to the finished blend
This Pinot Noir gives off rich aromas of ripe raspberry & pomegranate fruits, while offering elegant oak spice, floral and earth tones. In the mouth, a full display of rich berry fruit and silky tannins shows  up front. The intensely bright raspberry -blueberry fruit along with oak tones fill out the mid-palate, leaves you with a viscous raspberry linger.

2008 De Lancellotti Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain, $63
The De Lancellotti Family Vineyard's owners Paul and Kendall de Lancellotti bring to Oregon Pinot Noir a dedication to organic and sustainable grape growing practices that is rare to find and hard to achieve.
A hallmark of Paul and Kendall's winemaking philosophy is their commitment to stewardship of the land. In 2004, they received Biodynamic certification for their 27 acre vineyard. Certification is a complex process involving a commitment to the land and to the cycles of nature, as well as to strictly regulated winemaking practices. The Bergstrom and the deLancellotti Family Vineyards operations were the first two vineyards in the Willamette Valley to be certified Biodynamic. In 2008 they received the highest level of Biodynamic farming, Demeter certification. Using France's great Burgundies as his benchmark, Paul deLancellotti aims to bring subtlety and elegance to his signature Pinot Noirs.

IWC & WS 92 points: Full, bright red. Sexy bouquet of raspberry, cherry-cola and potpourri, with subtle woodsmoke and anise qualities in the background. A juicy, spicy midweight that offers sweet red and dark berry flavors and a zesty mineral spine. Darker fruits come up on the finish, which lingers with impressive juicy persistence. Very attractive right now but has the balance to reward another four to six years of bottle aging, at a minimum.

2008 Dominio IV Pinot Noir Poetry and Roses, $33, 205 cases produced
The husband and wife team Leigh and Patrick are the driving forces behind the winery, supported by Leigh’s parents Liz and Glenn. Leigh is in charge of the Dominio IV vineyards, but her main job is to be vineyard manager and co - general manager for Archery Summit, a producer of ultra-premium Pinot Noirs in Oregon. Leigh studied viticulture at the University of California at Davis and joined the team at Archery Summit in 2000. Patrick also studied at the University of California at Davis and is the winemaker of Dominio IV.

WA 91 points: The medium ruby red 2008 Pinot Noir of Poetry and Roses displays an enticing bouquet of exotic spices, incense, floral notes, and assorted red fruits. This sets the stage for a sweetly fruited, elegant wine that also contains plenty of density, impeccable balance, and a lengthy, seamless finish. Drink this stylish effort through 2019.

2008 Moises Holmes Hill Vineyard, $38, 100 cases produced
Born and raised in New Orleans, Jesuit and LSU graduate, ER doctor and professor, Dr. James Moises is a busy man. Somehow between working in the ER and teaching, he is finding time to follow his other passion, making wine. And not just any wine, we’re talking very small production, serious Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley made with sustainable vineyard practices and minimalist intervention in winemaking.  James’ first vintage release was in 2006, producing an old vine Pinot with fruit from friend Mark Wahle’s original family plot that was planted in 1974, and a Holmes Hill Pinot from the recently planted 40 acre site. Total production was only 150 cases in 2006 and in 2007. With the release of the Vieux Carre, a blend of the old vine Yamhill Carlton and the Holmes Hill fruit, production increased to 300 cases. While Mark Wahle is the winemaker, James is there every step of the way, involved from planting to bottling and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves the creative process involved in “taking this cluster of fruit and producing something really special that will bring enjoyment to others.”

The Holmes Hill is my current favorite of James' 2008s and it has been since the night we did the 2008 release tasting of all of his wines.  Immediately drinkable, yet it has all the right stuff for aging.  Great plush, silky mouthfeel, delicious dark cherry fruits with balanced acidity and minerality it is a knock out!