(2020) From a hot vintage and the Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley, this is a wine from the historic vineyard planted in 1965 by David Lett, the first Pinot vineyard to be planted in the Willamette. Farmed organically since inception, the vines are ungrafted, so not on rootstocks. It is fermented with wild yeasts and sees only around 10% oak. A little earthier, spicier than the Te Whare Ra, some game and truffle joins the red fruit. A blast of beautifully sweet, supple cherry and red plum on the palate, underpinned by some leather, game and earthy character, but the tannins and acid structure is truly lovely and gives perfect balance. Price and stockist at time of review is for the previous vintage. Pommard and Wädenswil clones. Imported by: Savage Selection.
(2020) From the Ribbon Ridge 'nested' sub-zone of the Chehalem Mountain AVA in the northern Willamette, this vineyard planted in 2012 abutts the famous Beaux Freres vineyard, in which winemaker Mike Etzel was, and remains, a founding partner. There are 15 differenet Pinot clones planted. The wine is fragrant and bold, with some plum and sous bois notes, an earthy hummus quality and red fruit. On the palate the most savoury of the wines so far, a salty, sour lick of plum and orange, the wine seems powerful and structured without being dense, and though lacking some of the charm of others, its clearly a serious high quality wine that should come into its own much more with food.
(2020) This Pinot comes from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, now towards the south of Willamette Valley, harvesting around two to three weeks later than Dundee Hills for example. Biodynamically farmed since 2007, this vineyard is planted on its own roots and the wine sees around 25% whole bunches in the ferment. An interesting nose here, not nearly so buoyant and expressive as some, with a savoury, iodine, almost seaweed-herby character. The black fruit quality comes through on the palate - still savoury and dark, a little roasted chestnut note, firm and taut tannins and a cherry skin bite to the really quite salty, sour orange acidity, though a sweeter cherry flesh fruitiness does begin to assert, the whole picture structured, savoury and multi-faceted.
(2017) A Chardonnay from the hillsides of Amity and Eola in Oregon, made using biodynamically-grown grapes. It is barrel-fermented with indigenous and commercial yeasts, and spends 18 months in medium-toast and neutral French oak barrels, of which 40% are new. The toast, spice and cappuccino of the oak marks the nose in a fairly ostentatiously 'serious' wine (big, heavy bottle, wax-sealed cork), but the palate freshens up very nicely, the toast and touch of marmalade still there, but there's a good acid structure and medium-bodied appeal, dry and pithy lemon and grapefruit cutting through any hint of richer fruit flavour. Long, intense and powerful, it matched well with roast chicken.
(2016) At 10 years old this Oregon Pinot still has plenty of substance on the nose, with deep black fruit as well as spice, smokiness and a hint of truffle. There is sweet vanilla too. In the mouth that fruit sweetness doesn't quite have the flesh to marry, feeling just a touch coarse or astringent, perhaps the acid and tannins just too dominant.
(2010) The price is eye-watering, but then this is an extremely finely-tuned Chardonnay, and rumour has it Dominque Lafon de-classified the vast majority of the fruit to end up with just a couple of hundred cases of this 'Grand Vin'. It has a very pale green colour, and an extremely fine, Burgundian nose with a Puligny-like marriage of relatively gentle, crushed oatmeal notes and taut citrus and apple fruit cut by minerality. On the palate the concentration and ripeness of the fruit is immediately obvious, with a fairly searing effect as it streaks across the tongue. This is uncompromising, taut, mineral and citrus stuff, with all sorts of pithy and chalky notes scything through any traces of sweetness and oak, both of which are submerged by this wine's sheer precision. A style that is absolutely resolute and really quite unlike any other Chardonnay I can think of from North America.
(2010) Sourced from Eola and the Amity Hills in Oregon, this Gamay has a pale-ish cherry colour and a sweetly-fruited, strawberry pulp and gently sous bois and spice nose. Fine, lively palate with lots of crisp, sprightly red fruit that maintains a lean, sinewy, food-friendly edge. Refreshing, nimble and delicious.
(2010) A lovely pale crimson colour immediately suggests a different style of wine from the Evening Coast 2006, and indeed this Pinot from the Seven Springs vineyard's 25-year-old vines (planted on their own roots) is distinctly more Burgundian. The nose has delicate, lifted notes of rose-hip and orange, with some beetroot and sous bois, briar notes in the mix - though really the fruit does shine through with its red berry character. Like the Chardonnay, the first think to strike you about this wine is the decisive acidity and taut sense of precision. The overall effect is both wonderfully fresh and slightly lean, the edgy cherry and raspberry fruit starting to reassert on the mid-palate, and then more support arrives from the supple, rich tannins and softening, spicy, but moderate oak underpinnings. Another very singular, clearly conceived wine this that some might find too angular compared to the Evening Coast bottling, but which is remarkably precise and elegant.
(2009) Fantastic nose, full of creamy cappuccino, and a rich berry and bright cherry fruit, with nice touches of tobacco and herbs. The palate has lovely energy, with finesse and silkiness, but the crisp, energy of the fruit comes through. Rounded out with coffee, but delicious.
(2009) Very nice spice and tobacco nose, with a touch of Bay leaf and caraway. The palate has deliciously ripe fruit, with a nice stripe of acidity like cherry skins that keeps this fresh. Sweet fruit and finesse here.