Brian and Clare hit upon the Oregon wine scene with a big bear hug, or was that Clare that supplied the hug so crushing that you not only felt better but also thinner once she stopped… I do recall Brian supplied the infectious grin that gives the impression he knows something amusingly clever.
The couple moved up from California after Brian earned his keep at a few notable wineries such as Marcassin, Neyers and Turley and has taken on some of their award winning wine making techniques to use with his own wines. Clare is an artist’s artist and has mad skills in both commercial and creative pursuits having been responsible for several California and Oregon wine labels as well as beautifully passionate paintings depicting local landscapes and close up farm scenes.
When I launched their brand at The Tasting Room years ago, Clare hosted a gallery event with over one hundred of these beautiful, six by six inch chicken paintings which covered the walls at my little Carlton Bank Building. The paintings were hung on frames made of chicken wire that Brian had crafted for the event. How clever! It was an amazing evening filled with fun people, good food, great wine and superb art. Gregg Popovich happened to be in town and even bought one of these chicken paintings for for his wife Erin! (more…)
2010: The Birth of a Cool Vintage….
A wonderful year; cool to help maintain that perfect level of fresh acidity, just moist enough keep the stress at the right level so the balance is there, sun in the right intensity to warm the soil and move the plant through its production of berries. Sounding perfect so far as weather is concerned, then all of this followed by an Indian summer that lasted through November allowing the “choosing of when” one wanted to pick the fruit. Only problem: YIELD. Crop was down from the start due to wind and rains during flowering. Since a “poor set” tends to leave the clusters more “open” so that air flow between the berries keeps everything clean and healthy, this is a benefit for quality, but definitely not for quantity. Then, hungry migrating birds further decimated the potential crop. Birds, while beautiful to watch as they fly in mass, were a bit disturbing to see grapes in each birds beak as they flew out of the vineyards.
The fruit was clean as were the fermentations, all of which started spontaneously and finished without any additions of anything except small doses of sulfur dioxide once secondary fermentation was completed towards the end of spring. Aromas emerging from the fermentations were beautiful and fruit focused from start to finish, most completed in around twenty days. All free run was settled for at least five days before going to barrel. All in all, an excellent harvest and subsequent cellaring experience.
We have been drinking these beauties for over the summer months now out here in Carlton and each wine gets better, not only with time in the glass, but also from week to week. They are all quite complex and interesting, aromatically, texturally and with depth of flavor. You’ll never tire of these wines nor the classic albums we’ve likened them to below.
Also, for the first time ever I was seduced into allowing the powers that be in the wine world, taste and report their opinions on my wine. The wines did quite well, within the top ten percent of the entire state of Oregon. If anyone is interested I can forward you a link regarding the reviews.
So fire up the audio system, sit down with these beauties and then taste and listen at the same time, if you can…
Lady in Satin: Billie Holiday
Elegant, Soulful, Embracing
A blend from Each and Every Vineyard
422 cases produced
E for elegance…
Aromatics: Pretty nose of fine fruit. Some freshly ground black pepper over raspberry sorbet. Freshly poured, but still wet concrete. Sweet and sour cherry. Chinese Five spice.
Rose petals over cast iron, cherries, soy glaze, very savory, sweet root notes, birch, smoked orange peel. Freshly turned earthiness. Smells like quintessential Oregon Pinot.
Entry: Supple and sweet with some juiciness. Nice acid, subtle into mid pallet. Bright and powerful fruit filled entry. Acid fades into cleanliness.
Mouthfeel: Juicy lemon and blood orange level of acid. Perhaps even tangerine. Nice tannin structure. Beautiful well balanced with acid. More power of intensity.
Flavors: Definitely blood orange and/or kumquat. Dust from graham crackers. Under ripe plum skins. Brazed rhubarb and sandalwood. Brown sugar glazed ham with clove
Finish: Clean compared to what one might expect by the nose and flavors. Clean and lady like. Quietly leaves the room.
Overall Assessment: Tamari glazed red raspberries. The crust of a campfire roasted marshmallow with plum compote. Toasted anise cookies with wild berry jam. Pitzel. Anise seed cookies. Solid and clean. Nice cool clean mineral entry that moves into a gentle embrace. Mellow. With one hour plus: Fresh peach and pear combo, very odd. Fresh fruit over the other wines. Fresh cut fruit salad. Sour patch kids. Fruit and leather. Some gamy animal. Fat. Nashi. Fruit and marshmallow. Spiced gingerbread cookies. Should be decanted as now it is much more drinkable now with TWO hours of time.
Live at the Village Vanguard
Dark, Mysterious & Ethereal
100% Wadensville Clone
Dundee Hills AVA
72 cases produced
Aromatics: Nose of cedar shavings, dried orange rind spice, licorice, apple peel, sorghum or honey smells. Rose petal then cinnamon.
Entry: Supple and smooth and almost round.
Mouthfeel: Excellent transition from feel to flavors. Nice and linear. Great big gobs of fruit and Cadus oak. Now with time the tannins, all super fine grained, talc-like tannin, are present and well integrated.
Flavors: Peppermint tea then cherries in liquor. Caramel, of the expensive and hand-made quality. Dried figs, dates, black trumpet mushrooms. Plum fruit and cedar. Sea Salt minerality. Burnt caramel coated blueberries.
Finish: Shows a nice finish with textures weaving in and out with the flavors of forest floor littered with leaves in the wet fall. Some fresh mushroom.
Overall Assessment: All Wadensvil from the Dundee Hills. Aromas of roasted herbs over fresh blueberries. Fresh bay leaf with molasses. Fine-grained tannins. More bright almost cleansing acidity. Cellar worthy. Will gain weight with more time in the cellar. Walnut liquor. Earl Gray tea, blackberry, briar leaf. Roasted chestnuts. Tobacco leaf. Second pass: more caramel cream over vanilla bean ice cream. Fresh cut alfalfa hay. Cherries. Two hours: burnt caramel toffee. Still a texture driven wine.
2010 Yates Conwill Vineyard Pinot Noir
Classy, swanky, measured
Field Blend of at least 5 different Pinot Noir Clones
48 cases produced
Color: Bright clean, seems younger in color, more purple than the rest.
Aromatics: MASSIVE NOSE like a well made Burgundy: iron skillet roasted cherries. Lovely lady in an evening gown: exquisite proper ballroom attire.
Entry: Great attack of acid then a quick transition to creaminess.
Mouthfeel: Enveloping the mouth and coating with the tongue with a nice balance of acid and fine-grained tannins.
Flavors: Fresh cherries, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, lemon and lime in a bowl. An intense sorbet-like character. Caramel coated raspberries.
Finish: Nice long and linear with a juicy quality unlike the previous wines. Makes you salivate more upon the finish of Sweet-tart Raspberry candies. Clean fruit filled finish.
Overall Assessment: The field blend of the vineyard: a picking bin of each block. Blackberries still having acid. Perfect Pinot. Cherries, but ripe cherries. Not in a pie. Fresh cherries. All black cherries. With food, pure fruit comes through. Clean acidity. Purple Sweet tart candies. Exuberant and zany. This wines stops you and makes you think. Great acid, tannin, fruit combo, all in balance, if a bit high on the acid. Black and blue. Young blue berries. Blueberry pancakes. Bright, very bright. Rainbow bright. With an hour: Massive fruit on the nose, but hard to discern. Big tannins still and nice dollop of acidity. Fruit is more of a high acid compote. More red and blue fruit than black. Straightforward and effective Pinot. Linear yet wavy once the finish comes into play. Some freshly tanned leather aromas with blackberry jam. Pretty damned good texture up front, then some chalky tannin. Black plums on a hot cast iron skillet with a bit of bacon grease. Finely ground pumice tannins. Peppered Elk jerky.
Cool, Hip, Avant Garde
Single Barrel Bottling
Multiple Vineyard Blend of all Free-Run juice
22 cases produced
Color: Even darker than Yates Conwill but not by much. If you could say the color was austere, that is what would define it.
Aromatics: Sour fruit funk-a-matic: cherry and currant topped venison loin just out of the broiler. Meat and fruit. Back again to the wet concrete thing.
Entry: Nice powerful entry with an explosion of fruit right after the initial juicy acidity dissipates.
Mouthfeel: More acid than tannin compared to the rest. Salivation on the sides of the mouth causing a smile to come to you face. Vivacious and alive.
Flavors: Red and black cherries, raspberries, easily delineated flavors. Very clean. Star fruit, Kiwi, wild Oregon high-elevation mountain strawberry, salmon berry: tart with very subtle flavor.
Finish: Long and linear but with low flavor offering, now coming back in waves, Reminds me of Roumier.
Overall Assessment: Massive attack on the aromatics. Smells jammy sweet on the nose as if the wine is going to be unctuous. However, once imbibed, a big dose of salivation ensues. Massive acid and tannin. Passion fruit followed by something dark and sultry but with an acid bite – a real Betty Page “promise” of leather and sex. Black Danish Salt Bomber Licorice dipped in dark amber maple syrup. So many other things going on in the background with fruit and savory juxtaposed against each other. Now with a half hour of time, aromas are showing more black fruit, more stone fruit, some clove studded orange peel explodes from the glass. The texture now shows in a more rounded way, almost enveloping, a sort of sappiness fills the palate. This reminds me of young Roumier without a doubt. Great, clean acidity. More going on than you can keep up with but with a linear progression from front to back and easy to delineate flavors. Vivacious, alive, funky, powerful, long and linear…
iOTA means small quantity: just a whit, a smidgen, a scintilla of wine to go around. For iOTA winemaker Don Sandberg iOTA also means attention to the smallest iota of detail to attain the finest results.
Don and Johanna Sandberg, winemaker and owners of iOTA Cellars moved to Oregon from Minnesota in 1999 and founded their winery in 2000 with the financial and marketing support of family partner and owner Lynne Pelos. The name iOTA is a nod to Johanna’s Greek heritage and Don’s focus on small quantities. Don considered himself a Garagista in philosophy, making less than 1000 cases of wine a year.
at right, Don Sandberg
Thanks, WineSnob, for the kind words!
Yikes! Its almost halfway through May, and I have a lot more wine to write about this month. Today I bring you a few that are near and dear to my heart. I first wrote about EIEIO a few months ago, and I heard from a few people that were equally as in love with the little “piglets” as I was. So here now I present two more delightful selections from one of the coolest dudes in the Valley, Mr. Jay McDonald.
A few weeks ago, I poured with Jay at the Yamhill-Carlton AVA tasting where his 2014 White Pinot made its debut. The response to the wine was- if I do say so- pretty off the charts.
Gleaming with a bright golden color, the White Pinot (or WP, as the cool kids call it) is sure to stump even the cleverest wine nerd in a blind tasting. Mark my words. Unconventionally fruit-forward and luscious, it has distinct “candied” aromas to me; white gummy bears, white lollipops and pineapple, accompanied by punches of lime zest, honeydew melon, peaches, and fresh flowers. A twinge of something nutty is hiding in there somewhere, and the texture is as silky as silky gets. A pure pleasure-seeking wine; meant to drink and enjoy.
Made with no added yeasts or enzymes, the “yearly” White Pinot production is a bit of a gamble; Jay labels the barrels “WPA”, which stands for “White Pinot Attempt.” If I was a religious person, I’d say he “lets go and lets God” with this wine. Unfortunately the stars did not align in 2013, but both 2011 and 2012 did get some exciting scores from the Wine Advocate. When I was at Jay’s this past Friday, he was down to less than 10 cases. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Next! This is a favorite of mine, the 2013 Yates Conwill Vineyard Pinot Noir:
The nose on this wine is truly ridiculous. Freaking intoxicating. This is the kind of wine that reinforces my earlier claim that 2013 is an exciting vintage, at least for my tastebuds. Elegant, ethereal, gorgeous. Sour cherry, red raspberry, plum, clove, anise, subtle vanilla, and a youthful energy. The palate is a little grippy- this wine is, after all, an infant- with a firm bite that I find pleasant now, but I think will soften and reward with a lil time. The tannin leaves a twinge or two on your teeth on the way out, kind of like black tea does.
I am reminded of Hesh from The Sopranos: “a hit is a hit.” This is a hit, friends. If you’re one of those 2012-obsessed Oregon Pinot fans, it might not be your cup of joe. But really. You should probably evolve anyway.
I’m starting to get a little wordy, so I must wrap up with a quick note about Jay’s new release DINNERS that are rapidly approaching! Cuisine from The Painted Lady, new releases of EIEIO Pinot and Chardonnay, and shoes are optional? Count me in. Seems like you should put July 2nd &/or 3rd on your calendar if you’re local.