Sure, we have read and heard it all too often; “Wine is made in the vineyard.” and while that is true, I look at it from a different angle: When the fruit comes in, you are at 100 percent. You can ONLY take away from what you have and not add to it. Or, to stay with the EIEIO perspective: You cannot make a silk purse out of sow ears but you can put lipstick on a pig… and that is what you might end up with…
Gaining access to great sites with fastidious farming is where quality wine starts. Doing your best to not only stay out of the way but also to pull just enough from the grapes to end up with a compelling wine is the tough part as you always want to do more, but more might not be the right thing to do.
With all of these wines, I did as little as possible to let the vintage and the site shine through. All the wines have been stored perfectly and are drinking quite well presently. These four are a range of wines in both vintage and styles. The wines below are those that worked out beautifully from the start and remain so through this day. – Jay
Library Wines – very limited
Email me to order
2006 EIEIO Pinot noir
Canary Hill Vineyard Old Block
What I think now as I just had
a bottle last week:
Perfectly poised in its prime with intense cherry and plum aromatics with the dustiness in the background. Lush entry with a warmth across the palate showing depth more akin to Grand Cru Burgundy than any New World Pinot noir. Finish is long and linear covering the spectrum from earth to fruit and from red to blue to black fruit flavors. This is just damned good wine.
What I said upon release in 2008:
Burnt umber, rusty red color with aromatics that are more mineral than fruit driven. Dominated by dusty caliche dust, clean graphite, and freshly poured concrete as this wine opens it displays spiced red cherry, and just out-of-the-oven French apple, raspberry and cherry tart. The texture is almost talc-like due to the profound mineral quality which is permeated by chiming acid.
A little tight, but balanced with searing potential. Mineral elements carry through in the mouth and the wine opens up with a dark, brambly fruit element and hints of sandalwood, spiced and macerated currents and plums and a touch of mulberry. “WOW this is good.“ The wine rounds out beautifully with layers of fruit, slate and earth on the finish. Nice acidity contributes to a sense of structure in the mouth as well as a lengthy finish. Typical to this site, the wine drinks beautifully in its youth and will gain complexity with age.
2010 EIEIO Pinot noir
What I think now as I consumed
So subtly soft and seamless, this is drinking within the perfection zone: aromatics of earth, meat and fruit at the same time. Fresh entry with loads of lush stone fruit at the peak of ripeness. Reminiscent of a Montilles at peak age. Weighty mouthfeel with ample body showing black cherries transitioning into black plums. How this SE facing Wadenswil attained these characteristics is beyond my comprehension. Even the finish now shows great length with fresh tobacco notes and figs. Great wine.
What I said upon release in 2008:
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 Wadenswil 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.
Parker’s Wine Advocate 91 points
“The EIEIO 2010 Pinot Noir Thistle issues from a cool Amity site (Actually, the vineyard is in Dundee) and entirely from the, for Oregon (as in its homeland Switzerland), quite traditional Wadenswil clone. Evenly-ripe, tart-edged, clear and pure cherry and purple plum wreathed in buddleia and iris perfume inform a tender-textured, strikingly buoyant palate, tinged with nutmeg and cardamom. Infectiously juicy and invigoratingly tangy, this finishes with positively delicate and utterly delightful persistence. It ought to remain delightful for at least the next 6-8 years.“
2012 EIEIO Pinot noir
What I said upon release in 2014:
This is the sum of all parts: perfect balance and correspondence between nose and palate – a beautifully layered, complex and seductive Pinot noir. It has all the spice and fruit structure of Cuvee I Pinot but wait, there’s more: a whole added range of components, leading with mineral and exotic spice, beckoning you back for another ponder.Beautifully ripe flavors of luscious, full spectrum red and dark fruits, raspberry, dates and a slight essence of orange peel with hints of blackberry leaf in the backdrop. Big and bold flavor profile highlighted by sarsaparilla, white pepper, baking and Asian spices. Mineral aromas and eloquent earth tones remind us of its true origins; fresh from the forest Chanterelle mushroom next to warm cedar aromas from a Finnish sauna in the backdrop ring true to its healthy quotient of elegant French oak. Incredible enveloping mouth feel, recalls molasses with quartz and slate mineral returning on a long lasting silky finish. Drink while relaxing in a comfortable leather armchair by a warm winter fireplace. 92 casesParker’s Wine Advocate 92 points
“The 2012 Pinot Noir “O” is much more reserved than the “E” and the “I” Cuvees, demanding much more coaxing from the glass with blackberry, red cherries, minerals and a faint tang of seaweed in the distance. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit that offers plenty of substance. The oak here is nicely interwoven with a harmonious, mineral-rich finish. Excellent.
2008 EIEIO Cuvee I
Last night with Cuban Pork Shoulder:
This baby has intense aromatics! Currently showing fresh plums, barely ripe blackberries and wild cherries. Texture presents itself with initial lushness followed by acidity which causes salivation, then… wait for it… tannin: tiny fine grained tannin in an amount to balance the three-legged stool of the texture continuum letting you know that this wine will easily last for another ten years. Mid-palate flavors range from red to black stone fruit with some sugar-glazed fruit showing up with enough aeration. The finish is textbook with cast iron sauteed plums fruit with pork cracklings, what an odd combination but it shows itself with this wine. I like this wine.
What I said upon release in 2010:
The most austere of the Pinot Cuvees, this wine is more of an accompaniment to an evening and not the main attraction. Poured into the glass it shows its intensity with electric color. French Oak initially dominates the aromatics followed by cherry tart cooked on a cast iron skillet, if one was to bake a tart that way.
A bright entry awakens the palate with its fresh acidity surrounding red, black and blue fruits that are present without being overwhelming. With ample time the oak dissipates and the expansive fruit profile becomes more apparent with a bit of meatiness added in the background. Soy, apple-wood smoked bacon, plum, blackberry and lemon sorbet emerge and the wine becomes expansive across the palate. The finish is tight, giving the indication that this wine can handle long term cellaring, but even in its current state it is seamless from the start to the finish.