44 cases produced

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Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 92 Points


The Wadenswil clone of Pinot noir is one of my top two favorites, the other being Pommard. Wadenswil grapes are known more for floral aromatics and lovely texture than overt fruit flavor, but if you thin the crop enough you can develop an amazing array of diverse flavors and an unbelievable array of aromas. I did this in 2012, leaving approximately nine clusters per plant to ripen in the vineyard, a very intense fruit drop and quite costly to say the least.

The Stermer Vineyard has tremendous potential and one day will prove to be among the top ten in the state. Beautiful and southeast facing, it has predominately Willakenzie soil, ranging in elevation from 500 to 250 feet.  It was planted between 1996 and 1997.  This specific block of Stermer Vineyard is located at the southern-most tip, which if viewed from the air, looks like the continent of Africa.  My block would be where Port Elizabeth, South Africa is located.

below, Stermer Vineyard from the air


Tasting the Wine

The aroma starts out with freshly cracked black pepper from an antique cast iron French spice grinder. You might sense a little residual of other spices and “grindables” in there like cardamom and coffee, interestingly bizarre. After the spices and coffee comes fresh tobacco like you might find in a wine from the Dundee Hills. Both red and darker fruits, starting with strawberries and heading toward blackberries, follow closely. Wait a while and the natural fermentation aromas revolve around what is reminiscent of low tide at the beach or umami or earthy wet soil and river stones: all show themselves prominently. A peaceful aroma – if you can call aromas peaceful – the scent induces tranquility. Time to relax… Now back from that interlude we find more pretty floral and then a French pastille candy aroma from a just-opened tin. Very complex aromas.

The entry shows an open texture billowing from an initial lightness, transitioning into a spicy, mouth-watering wave of excitement, and then ending up with some serious structure. Commingled flavors of sugar coated walnuts in a bowl with black cherries. Wait a few seconds and fleshy red plums dusted with cinnamon shows up for the party. On a later, second tasting not only have the flavors opened up to show perfectly ripe plums but have added toasted deep raspberry tart.

Flavors grow with some big upfront black licorice, sweet and fresh leather pouch tobacco, perhaps more reminiscent of cherry pipe tobacco. Wait another twenty minutes as air really opens up this tightly wound monster. Massive amounts of fresh fruit roasted on a cast iron skillet, this wine is whipping me around. I like it but I do not know why.  Easily the most complex of the lineup so far.

The finish shows more pithy, Barolo-like tannins than Cabernet, let alone Pinot noir tannins. It will be one interesting wine in another five years. Probably the most structured of all of my 2012 wines. This is one for the cellar.

Additional Information


Fruit Source: Stermer Vineyard
American Viticultural Area: Willamette Valley
Sub AVA: Yamhill Carlton
Soil Type: Willakenzie + variants
Planted: 1996
Exposure: South
Elevation: 250-300 feet
Clonal Selection: Wadenswil
Harvest Date: October 11th
Yield – TPA/YPV: 1.4 TPA
Fermentation: Native primary and secondary
Barrels: 15% New French oak
Production: 44 cases of 750ml bottles

Laboratory Results

titratable acidity 6.9 g/L
pH 3.41
volatile acidity (acetic) 0.41 g/L
ethanol at 60F 14.56% vol