72 cases produced


Vinous Review by Josh Raynolds, October 2015
93 points
Ruby-red with a bright rim. Heady, seductively perfumed dark berry and floral aromas are complemented by star anise, vanilla and cola. Sappy, seamless and intensely fruity on the palate, with intense black raspberry and cherry-cola flavors underscored by a vein of smoky minerality. Distinctly suave in character, finishing with powerful thrust and supple tannins that harmonize with the wine’s sappy fruit.

Textbook expression of the 777 Dijon darling, this wine has that big burst of dark fruit aromas of squished black cherries, ripe black plums and even macerated red cherries laced with sweet star anise. With a little time Asian Five spice shows up. The entry is plush and lush initially with fine tannins and quietly prominent acidity on the secondary palate. On the finish there is a savory component reminiscent of prosciutto but in symbiosis with red raspberry jam. A bodacious and big, yet beautiful expression of Pinot noir. The Bettie Page of Pinot noir from this site.

Saffron Fields Vineyard is located on what will prove to be one of the top sites in Oregon for growing the highest quality wine grapes.  Get back to me in twenty years on this statement of future fact.

The History

The O’Donnell’s of Belle Pente Vineyard + Winery in Carlton introduced me to this site almost two decades ago, back before I had any money to buy any land.  I met Brian and Jill O’Donnell in the early nineties while volunteering on the Carlton Lake Restoration Project.  They knew I was in the market for a nice vineyard site after we all made wine together as “home winemakers” in both 1993 and 1994 with grapes procured from Maresh and Murto Vineyards.  Brian knew some of the neighbors of this beautiful bench of a site and they informed Brian of the pending sale.  Obviously and unfortunately, I did not end up buying the piece but a great couple did:  Angela Summers and Sanjeev Lahoti.

The People

Angela and Sanjeev were in the right place at the right time and serendipitously enough, bought the property around ten years ago and set out looking into what to do, when to do it and with whom.  They ended up hiring Results Partners to develop and manage the site, Tony Rynders to make their wine, Richard Shugar to build their amazing art-filled tasting room and Hoichi Kurisu to transform the landscaping.  Saffron Fields is a must see, must taste, must feel, must relax and must buy place when you are next in Yamhill County.  Tony Rynders, a great friend since 1998 introduced me to the owners who gave me access to a few of the acres within Saffron Fields.  The rest is positive Pinot history.

The Vintage

The 2012 Vintage was and continues to be amazing.  This vintage is very similar to the 2002 vintage in Oregon in that it tasted great upon release and continues to taste great even at close to 14 years of age!  This was a Goldilocks’ vintage and as a result, so long as you did not overly manipulate the wine, the result should be a perfectly balanced beverage.

The Fermentations

I split up my five fermentations from Saffron Fields based upon the five blocks I lease.  Each block has different clones.  Each clone ferments its own way and has varying personalities.  The Saffron Fields – Saffron Fields is a blend of all the clones of Pinot noir I had access to during the 2012 vintage and the other two small lots are at the ends of the continuum of clones; Wadenswil, which is elegant and lithe while the 777 is the cheerleader of clones with big, fun, upfront “fruit” to get your attention.

All the fermentations started spontaneously within the first week of processing.  Pump-overs were the name of the game initially with two physical punch downs per day once fermentation was more active.  No off odors were detected and I did an extended post-maceration fermentation on all lots using only our hands to push down and physically squeeze the mass during the last weeks.  These fermentations lasted between three and five weeks before opening the valves on the fermentation vessel and allowing the wine to run free via gravity into settling tanks.  All of these wines are pure free-run with no press juice blended back.  The free-run rested in new French oak barrels of around twenty-five percent for ten months before bottling.

Additional Information

Fruit Source: Saffron Fields Vineyard
American Viticultural Area: Willamette Valley
Sub AVA: Yamhill Carlton
Soil Type: Willakenzie + variants
Planted: 2007
Exposure: Flat, slightly east
Elevation: 400 feet
Clonal Selection: Dijon 777
Harvest Date: October 8th
Yield – TPA/YPV: 1.1 TPA
Fermentation: Native primary and secondary
Barrels: 33% New French oak
Production: 88 cases of 750ml bottles

Laboratory Results

titratable acidity 5.8 g/L
pH 3.45
volatile acidity (acetic) 0.54 g/L
ethanol at 60F 14.24% vol