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swirl and savor

The Oregon Pinot Show, A Tasting of Artisan Wines from 2008, 2009 and 2010

Beth Ribblett

Holmes Hill Vineyard in Eola Amity with James Moises, 2012 Harvest

Vintage variation is a term you hear a lot when you talk with winemakers.  And depending on where they make wine you'll here the term more or less often. But in Oregon, where the premier growing region of the Willamette Valley sits between two mountain ranges and is less than 70 miles from the Pacific ocean, you hear it loud and often. The weather can literally change from minute to minute and from one mile to another; sunny on this vineyard, misty rain on the next.

Vintages tell a story about what happened to the vines from winter to harvest. How much rainfall or how much sun; how hot were the days and how cool were the nights?  Did mother nature throw in a hail storm or monsoon like winds that decreased the yields?  Did the winery pick their grapes early in fear of bad weather or bite their nails and wait it out?  All of these climatic influence and decisions leave an unmistakable footprint on the wine that makes it virtually impossible for a bottle from the same vineyard to taste the same year after year.  And as frustrating as that can be at times, it is also part of the magic that happens when you grow, harvest and bottle a living, continually evolving entity and close it up!  It goes through many stages, some good and some less so, which is what makes wine so intriguing!

In this seated tasting, led by producer and distributor of artisan wines from Oregon James Moises, we'll taste and compare wines from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintage and talk about how these factors influenced what is in your glass. We've selected a beautiful lineup of small production wines that range in price fro $37 to $65 per bottle and we'll pair them with cheeses selected and presented by Casey Foote of St. James/Swirl. The event is Thursday, December 5th, tickets are $33 per person and seating is extremely limited.  .  You can click here to reserve online:  The Oregon Pinot Show

2009 Lumos Wine Company Pinot Noir Temperance Hill,  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.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 pts:  The 2009 Pinot Noir Temperance Hill Vineyard also displays some herbaceousness but less so than the 2009 Fine Block. Savory on the palate with relatively elevated acidity, this nicely proportioned wine is on track for some longevity. Give it 2-3 years of cellaring and drink it through 2023+. If it evolves as I think it will, it should merit an outstanding rating in the relatively near future. 
291 cases produced

2010 Eminent Domaine Willakia Pinot Noir, 600 cases produced
Eminent Domain, the legal term, hit Eminent Domaine owner Jeff Meader hard.  When the laws of eminent domain were used to take his property in downtown Portland, it "inspired" the birth of Eminent Domaine Winery. Located in McMinnville Oregon, Eminent Domaine makes single vineyard wines of limited production and interestingly use only a single clone of Pinot Noir.

The Willakia vineyard is located towards the northern end of the Eola-Amity Hills. During the growing season, ocean breezes push through the Van Duzer Corridor in the Coastal Range maintaining a consistently cool climate that is the hallmark of great Pinot Noir winegrowing regions.

Made from 100% Pommard clones, the 2010 Willakia has dark cherry and black raspberry fruit with dusty tannin showing through this richly styled balanced wine. Savory components showing of spice and tea like qualities tied with a solid core of bright fruit go on through the long finish.

2010 Alloro Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 1200 cases produced

Alloro, Italian for laurel, is a small winery that crafts entirely Estate grown Pinot Noir.  From the southwest facing slope of Laurel Ridge in the Chehalem Mountains, the vineyard plantings start at 475 feet and rise to about 650 feet and have either a southwest or southeast aspect.  The soil is classified as Laurelwood Series, a silty soil made of ancient decomposed volcanic material with a top layer of ancient sediment.

Wine Spectator did an article on Oregon's 2010 vintage and the Alloro Riservata Pinot Noir is chosen as one of the top 20 wines out of 550 tasted for the article and the Chehalem Mountain Pinot scored 92 points.  The wines are made by their
Burgundy trained, UC Davis educated Winemaker, Tom Fitzpatrick who loves the challenge of capturing the expression of place at a unique moment in time - no matter what a particular vintage may throw at him.

2010 Wine Spectator, 92 points - Sleek and refined, with a nice point to the black cherry and mineral flavors, lingering with haunting delicacy on the finish. Drink now through 2018. - H.S.

2008 De Lancellotti Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain, 500 cases produced
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 Wahle Cellars Yamhill Carlton, 300 cases produced
This is a single vineyard owned by the Wahle family from one of the oldest and most highly regarded vineyards in the Willamette Valley.  Mark's family were some of the first growers in Oregon and in 1974 they chose to plant their vineyard on a 100 acre hilltop in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Mark, second generation, earned a degree from UC Davis in Enology & Viticulture in 1988 and is the reason our friend James Moises is now in the wine business!

From the historical 2008 vintage, this wine is made using the old vines in the his family's Yamhill Carlton Vineyard.  Showing its ageworthyness, even at 5 years old it still takes time to open up, but with patience reveals dark cherry and raspberry notes on the palate combined with impressive intensity, structure and a beautiful finish.  As with all of Mark's wines, the oak is well integrated and the tannins are nicely balanced.  I'm sure this one will be scooped up at the event!

2009 Moises Vieux Carre, 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 Vieux Carre is a blend of grapes from old vine Wahle Family Yamhill Carlton Vineyard and the younger vines of the Holmes Hill Vineyard in Eola Amity.  Great plush, silky mouthfeel, delicious dark cherry fruits with balanced acidity and minerality it is a knock out! We will have magnums available in this wine during the tasting.