This skin contact wine is my ironically-named tribute to explorers and immigrants. Vitis vinifera is, of course, not native to this hemisphere, and in the long view of things, so few of us are. But as we put down roots we adapt to our new home, and ideally harmonize with it – which is what the Pinot family of grapes have done in Oregon.
My intention was to create a wine that shows more terroir expression than a rosé but be consumable early, unlike a full-blown orange wine. To do this, I created a blend from 3 separately fermented lots:
Don't serve it really cold, like a rosé; rather, serve it lightly chilled, as you would a very light red wine, particularly given its gently grippy tannins. It highlights the pinoté of the entire Pinot family of grapes: citrus, fresh herbs, forest floor.
12.1% alc • 5.5 g/L TA • 3.61 pH • 0.3 g/L RS (totally dry)
A few years ago I began farming a small, abandoned vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. I nursed it back to production without using herbicides or systemic foliar sprays. 50% of the grapes for this cuvée comes from this vineyard, and 50% from the neighboring Zenith vineyard – both sharing the same elevation and marine sedimentary soils.
This wine was fermented without electric temperature control, with 20% whole clusters. Beautifully floral, crisp, complex, long, and structured with fine tannins. Energetic now and will gain additional depth with age. Raised for 10 months in used oak, bottled August 2016.
12.8% alc • 5.6 g/L TA • 3.79 pH
Bright, fresh, and already delicious, but there's a lot more going on than super-fresh red berry fruit. The complex and integrated floral and meat aromas, for example, and the tangy acidity, and the elegant and fine-grained tannins. While exuberant and spicy, it's also quite refined for such a young Pinot noir.
While the summer of 2015 was torrid, the crucial ripening period in September was both moderate and dry. Thus, the grapes developed complexity in last few weeks but retained all-important acidity. And though the vintage was plagued by serious drought, these dry-farmed vines, planted on shallow marine sedimentary soil, performed brilliantly.
The 10% whole cluster fermentation stayed nice and cool, and the wine was aged for 10 months in used French oak barrels. Racked twice, unfined and unfiltered, no additions other than minimally effective sulfites. The structure and balance of this wine suggest a lovely aging curve, and given its texture and poise, it could well remain open and generous throughout its life. So drink now, drink soon thereafter, and stash a few bottles away to drink 10 or more years down the road.
12.6% alc • 5.9 g/L TA • 3.64 pH • ~0 RS
Zenith Vineyard, named by Wine Enthusiast as one of "Five Great Oregon Vineyards Worth Knowing," is located in the heart of the Eola-Amity Hills on marine sedimentary soils. The site, soils, and conscientious farming practices – without irrigation or herbicides – are responsible for bringing this ageable, layered, savory, and complex beauty to life. It's intense, but not “big," and there's no new oak to interfere with the site expression. Picked on September 14th – the coldest morning of the entire month.
Here's John Gilman's review in View From the Cellar: “The wine is ripe and quite black fruity on the nose, offering up a fine, youthful blend of black cherries, espresso, dark soil tones, a touch of balsamic tones, a touch of mustard seed and a smoky topnote. Deep, full-bodied and primary, with a nice touch of sappiness at the core, firm, ripe tannins and very good length and grip on the tangy and chewy finish. This is a good, structured young pinot noir that shows fine balance.”
13.9% alc • 6.2 g/L TA • 3.54 pH • 70 cases
The following wines have recently sold out at the winery but are likely still available for purchase in certain markets.
"The 50 Oregon Wines You Need to Drink Right Now" - Portland Monthly. Fruit from Zenith and Zena Springs – neighboring vineyards that share marine sedimentary soils.
From a cool, windy site with marine sedimentary silt loams. Primary fermentation took 12 months in neutral tank (70%) and acacia barrel (30%). John Gilman, View From the Cellar: "Beautifully aromatic... crisp and focused... a lovely bottle for the table."
Yes, a proper syrah from a cool site in the Willamette Valley. John Gilman, View From the Cellar: "Pure, full-bodied and very transparent, with a lovely core, fine focus and grip, ripe, well-integrated tannins and excellent length and balance on the complex and classy finish." #49, "Oregon's 50 Best Wines of 2016," Portland Monthly magazine.
Regional red blend inspired by the fresh, drinkable reds of the Loire Valley. Unoaked. A blend of 85% Pinot noir, 10% Pinot gris, 3% Gamay, 1% Grüner Veltliner, 1% Syrah.
The below wines are generally no longer available for purchase. Some of the below wines have been set aside for special events or for future release as library selections.