Vineyard & Winery
Other Current Releases
2010 Belle Oiseau
As many of you know, we are enamored with the wines of Alsace. So we were thrilled when our friend Andy Fortgang (of Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro in Portland) approached us a few years ago to create a traditional Edelzwicker blend for one of the restaurants. Edelzwicker literally means "noble blend", so is made from some combination of the "noble" varieties of Alsace: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat.
Although many wines labeled as Edelzwicker today tend to be sweet and innocuous, Andy was after a classic dry style to match with the house-made charcuterie at Little Bird. So we sat down with the individual varietals, and concocted the Belle Ouiseau "formula": roughly equal parts Riesling and Pinot Gris with a splash of Muscat. Initially served exclusively at the restaurant from kegs, in 2010 we decided to do a small inaugural bottling!
The 2010 Belle Oiseau (bell woz-oh, which means "Pretty Bird") includes 45% Pinot Gris from Walker Vineyard, 40% Riesling from Yamhill Vineyard, and 15% Muscat from Stag Hollow Vineyard. The Pinot Gris contributes weight and body, the Riesling freshness and vibrancy, and the Muscat brings aromatic lift. It is a terrific Oregon original with a noble Alsatian pedigree. Perfect as an aperitif, with raw oysters, moderately spicy Asian-influenced dishes, and of course charcuterie!
48 cases produced $18/bottle
2007 Willamette Valley Riesling
The grapes for this wine are exclusively from Yamhill Vineyard, less than one mile from the winery on the "back side" of our hill. Searingly acidic in it's youth, this wine has evolved into a classic rendition of Oregon dry Riesling. Citrus notes dominate, balanced by a creamy texture and mineral notes. Enjoy today with Northwest oysters, Dungeness crab, or shellfish in rich cream sauces.
164 cases produced $18/bottle
2006 Willamette Valley Gewurztraminer
This is our third (and final) vintage from Hyland vineyard in McMinnville (we are actively seeking a new source). The wine features a somewhat restrained floral, spicy, nose and a broad, rich palate. It strikes a wonderful balance between the hedonistic side of Gewürztraminer and it's more restrained, food friendly personality. This wine will make a wonderful accompaniment to traditional holiday meals.
145 cases produced $18/bottle
2010 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir
Two thousand ten will always be remembered as the summer that never happened. Although the growing season started 2 weeks earlier than normal, it finished 3 weeks later than normal! Flowering at the high elevation Murto vineyard occurred under cool conditions around July 4th, and the resulting fruit set was quite meager. In normal vintages, we expect about 14 tons of grapes from our 6 acres at Murto. In 2010, we only got a little over 7, all of which were harvested on the 20th of October.
As is often the case, low quantity begets high quality! The extremely long growing season culminated in a dry, temperate October, which allowed the grapes to achieve terrific physiological maturity at relatively low sugar levels. Finished alcohol checked in at 13%, with 5.9 grams/liter of acidity: almost perfect stats for cool climate Pinot Noir!
Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard has been a source of terrific single vineyard Pinot Noir wines since our inaugural vintage in 1996. Although the textural aspects of the wine will vary from vintage to vintage, the core characteristics are remarkably consistent from year to year: red fruit, fresh earth, and spice. This 2010 version reveals bright, ripe red cherry flavor and aromas, with alluring notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, Asian 5-spice, sandalwood, white and black pepper. It is medium bodied with moderate tannins balanced by crisp acidity.
This classy young Pinot can certainly be enjoyed now, but will clearly reward 2-4 years (or more) of cellaring.
407 cases produced $38/bottle
2010 Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir
This "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard gets better and better every year as the vines reach maturity. In this vintage, the grapes came from 7 of our 8 blocks of Pinot, all of which were over 12 years old. About half the blend was a melange of the newer Dijon selections (113, 114, 115, and 777), with one third Pommard, and the balance Wadensvil. This mix of the "old" and "new" clones has proven to be a harmonious combination producing complex, complete wines in warm and cool vintages alike. The total is always more than the sum of the parts.
Harvest proceeded under clear, cool conditions between October 8th and 22nd, and fermentations were conducted using indigenous yeast isolated from 2 parts of the vineyard. The combination of these two techniques (staggering harvest over 2 weeks, and using true "native" yeast) accentuates the harmony and complexity provided by our clonal diversity. It also helps capture the typicity of the Yamhill-Carlton appellation and the unique characteristics of the growing season.
With this wine, we always strive to strike a balance between accessibility and ageability. Since much of it is consumed in restaurants at a tender young age, it is important that the wine show well upon release. But we also want to have sufficient structure for at least several years of cellaring. This 2010 version is a perfect embodiment of our "best of both worlds" goal. The wine is fresh, focused, and persistent with ripe plum and blueberry flavors and aromas. Accents of fresh herbs and flowers frame the fruit. The wine is medium bodied with smooth, silky, seductive tannins and a crisp, clean finish.
As with the Murto bottling, this is a classy young Pinot that can perform on the table tonight, but will be even more interesting with several years of cellaring.
785 cases produced $35/bottle
2010 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Since it's first release in 1997, our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir always represents the "best of the best" from our home vineyard. Visitors to the winery often ask "what makes it the best", or "how do you know it's the best"?. It's a great question, and to answer it requires a short digression into our vineyard design and winemaking practices.
Our Pinot Noir vineyard is divided into 8 blocks, all planted between 1994 and 1999, with 6 different selections (aka clones) of Pinot Noir planted on 8 different rootstocks. We harvest each of these combinations separately,and keep them isolated during the entire winemaking process, so each barrel of wine in the cellar relates back to a specific sub-section of the vineyard. By tasting through the barrels in the cellar over the course of several vintages, we are able to identify the "sweet spots" of the vineyard that consistently produce the best wines. Our favorite barrels from these special parcels are the ones that become the Estate Reserve bottling.
The Estate Reserve invariably includes most of the grapes from our original 1994 planting. By virtue of being the oldest vines on the property, they always display the broadest range of flavors and aromas. This block (known as the M1) always produces the most complex wine in the cellar.
The other vines that form the core of the Estate Reserve come from a steep southwest facing block (called the M2) planted to the Wadensvil selection of Pinot Noir. This part of the vineyard has the shallowest soil, and is also the warmest part of the vineyard. The individual grapes here are always smaller than in other blocks, providing a higher skin-to-juice ratio which produces very concentrated wines.
However, in 2010, only 60% of the blend came from these two blocks. As our vineyard matures, other sections are really starting to show their stuff, making the barrel selection process harder every year!
This 2010 version is classic Estate Reserve. The long growing season produced a wine of great complexity and concentration at a very modest alcohol level. Although there is no great sin in opening a bottle to enjoy tonight, this wine's best days are 8 to 10 years out in the future!
Josh Raynolds of Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar summed it up very nicely in his recent review:
Bright ruby-red. A highly complex bouquet displays sexy red berry preserve, incense and candied rose scents, along with suggestions of cola, mocha and allspice. Sappy, deeply concentrated cherry and raspberry flavors are lifted and braced by juicy acidity and show excellent clarity and thrust. Closes with palate-staining intensity and sweetness, leaving suave floral and Asian spice notes behind. Impressively balanced and fine-grained, with serious cellaring potential. 93 points
275 cases + 120 magnums produced
2009 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Since it's first release in 1997, our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir has represented the "best of the best" from our vineyard, the epitome of our winegrowing efforts each year. It is typically released three years or so after harvest, earning it's "reserve" designation by gaining at least one year of bottle age prior to being offered for sale. And it is a wine intended for additional cellaring, with the goal of reaching peak maturity 10 years from the vintage date.
The core of the Estate Reserve is always a barrel selection from our "best" blocks. These include the original 1994 planting (always the most complex wine in the cellar), and the Wadensvil block planted in 1998 on a steep south-west hillside (generally producing the most concentrated wines). In this 2009 edition, over 80% of the grapes hailed from these two blocks, supplemented by a small dose of Pommard clone Pinot from one of our East blocks.
As one might expect from the warm 2009 vintage, this is a big wine! The following review by Josh Raynolds of Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar sums it up nicely:
"Vivid ruby-red. An intensely perfumed bouquet evokes candied dark berries, Asian spices and potpourri, with a bright note of blood orange gaining strength with air. Juicy, expansive and seamless, offering open-knit black raspberry and cherry flavors and a suggestion of candied rose. Shows excellent clarity and power on the finish, leaving notes of singed orange and cherry-cola behind. This exotic pinot is complex enough to drink now with little guilt, but I suspect that it will be even better with another three to five years of bottle age. 93pts"
This is a terrific example of a big, bold, "take no prisoners" Pinot that is also light on it's feet! A big man who can dance... A Sumo wrestler "en pointe"... Enjoy!
275 cases + 120 magnums produced
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