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)
sold out at the winery
“Cascadia” is a unique, unoaked red blend that shows our region – which is sometimes called Cascadia, after the Cascade Mountains – in a new light. I was inspired in particular by authentically produced Loire red blends, and I set out to create an approachable but nicely structured wine for early consumption.
I began with destemmed Pinot noir, and after that lot was mostly fermented to dryness, I added whole cluster Pinot noir, whole cluster Gamay, and destemmed Pinot gris, Syrah, and Grüner veltliner. This newly-added fruit mostly sunk to the bottom of the fermentor – punchdowns were essentially not required – and there a gentle infusion proceeded for 3 weeks at just 20°C. The wine was then aged 7 months in stainless tank.
A light and juicy (yet structured) red that's great for summer drinking, its characteristics of strawberry jam, iron, and ash helps it pair well with spicy charcuterie, Mediterranean mezze, and all manner of barbecue.
12.2% alc • 5.1 g/L TA • 3.77 pH • ~0 g/L RS (totally dry)
Grüner veltliner loves the silt loam soils of the Havlin Vineyard, and the 2015 is the most complete, complex, and downright tasty vintage yet. Here you'll find aromas of orange oil, yellow plums, pastry dough, and baking spices; while on the palate, crisp acids frame a beautifully textured midpalate, fresh orchard fruit, zingy white pepper, and a touch of honey – although the wine is completely dry. Along with elegant density of fruit, the long and salty-leesy finish augurs well for additional complexity over the next several years.
Primary fermentation took 12 months (!) in neutral tank (70%) and acacia barrel (30%). The wine was fined with bentonite, filtered, and bottled in December 2016 with a moderate sulfite addition. As befits the variety, this Grüner is super-flexible at the table: think fresh green vegetables, root vegetables, white fish, most grains, most grilled meats, most cheeses, charcuterie… the list goes on.
12.7% alc • 5.8 g/L TA • 3.33 pH • 2.5 g/L RS (dry)
The 2014 Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir combines fruit from Zenith and Zena Springs – neighboring vineyards that share marine sedimentary soils. Fresh boysenberry and plum characteristics are allied with hints of meat and flowers, and toothsome tannins emerge on the soil-driven finish. Think steak in the near term, but the wine is properly balanced for aging over the next 5 to 10 years. A really nice expression of 2014 Eola-Amity Hills fruit at a modest tariff. Aged 10 months in used oak, bottled August 2015.
13.4% alc • 6.1 g/L TA • 3.54 pH • 150 cases
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
#49, "Oregon's 50 Best Wines of 2016," Portland Monthly magazine
Syrah excels in cool-ish climates – its homeland of the northern Rhône is much cooler than, say, Paso Robles or the Barossa – and I believe that syrah has an important future in the Willamette Valley. Sinewy and energetic, very pure (there's no overt oak characteristics whatsoever), fermented solely with native yeasts, aged 15 months in used oak barrels, bottled January 2016.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar: "The wine tips the scales at a very civilized 12.9 percent octane and offers up an excellent youthful bouquet of cassis, black raspberries, black pepper, a touch of meatiness, woodsmoke, dark soil and a nice topnote of spiciness. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and rock solid at the core, with ripe, chewy tannins, fine grip and a long, nascently complex and promising finish. This is a proper young bottle of syrah and will need four to six years in the cellar to blossom, but it will be an excellent example with a bit of bottle age."
12.9% alc • 6.7 g/L TA • 3.44 pH • 82 cases
#28, "Oregon's 50 Best Wines of 2016," Portland Monthly magazine
This is a lot of fun to drink. It's a fascinating expression of grüner veltliner that displays varietal typicity with its apple fruit and nutmeg spice characteristics, but the chamomile aromatics – a hallmark of grüner from this site – are unique. Texturally speaking this is broad on the palate, with some phenolic influence, but the weight and proportions are classically grüner, and the finish is snappy and clean. It's extremely versatile at the dinner table, complementing innumerable grains, vegetables, sea creatures, and white meats. Fermented solely with native yeasts, aged 10 months in neutral tank and acacia barrel, bottled August 2015.
12.6% alc • 6.4 g/L TA • 3.17 pH • 2.6 g/L RS (dry)
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.