winter skies over Seven Springs Vineyard
At the last of November I began nine days in Willamette Valley meeting with a range of producers of all sorts – in various subzones, with different stylistic interests, varying winery sizes, and working with a range of varieties – to spend time talking about age-ability of wines in the region, the 2017 harvest, and what people are excited about. While there I shared some of my travels on Instagram. Here’s a look at that collection as shared at the time.
Beautiful. Discussing age-ability and vintage variation with Adam Campbell of Elk Cove while tasting vintages from each of the last four decades. Really special to taste older wines like this and especially to find (almost) 30 year old Pinot Noir that is lovely and light on its feet, showing some of the expected mushroom and forest floor elements of age but also still fresh picked red raspberry and sweet Italian herbs with the spry structure and mouthwatering acidity to last several more years. Remarkable really. Thank you to Adam for spending so much time and sharing your wine! #willamettevalley @elkcove
Impressive combination of power and grace with so very much spry presence and energetic freshness still in bottle. Lovely age worthiness here with a nice balance of development and freshness now or plenty of time to develop in bottle if wished. Adelsheim 1994 Pinot Noir. #willamettevalley @adelsheim
What a great night. Thank you! #Repost @wvwinelady ・・・ The professor with her studies. There are few people in the world of wine who are as disciplined and thoughtful as @hawk_wakawaka. Equally remarkable are those who construct the foundation and continue building day in and day out. #davidadelsheim
Taking a soil walk with Jason Lett of Eyrie through the Dundee Hills to gather samples from different sites and distill petrichor samples. The parent material through the area is basalt (as shown in the 2nd photo) but the architecture of the soil itself changes depending on the aspects, and erosion of the site thanks to how the microclimate interacts with the topography. The biological health of the soil too changes the soil architecture over time and so also how the vine health persists through a growing season. Petrichor aromatics reveal details of soil health that are difficult to quantify but at the same time insightful of the relationship between wine, vine, and environment. #willamettevalley @eyrievineyards
Talking through vintage variation, age-ability, and winemaking choices on Brooks Janus Pinot Noir 2007-2015 with winemaker Chris Williams and Managing Director Janie Brooks Hueck. Brooks makes biodynamically certified wines in the state of Oregon, which means no additives in the cellar. Their estate vineyard is also biodynamically certified. Janus is my ongoing favorite of their Pinots. It also ages like a champ maintaining freshness for years. While I have always liked the energy and lift of Brooks wines upon release their real magic is found after time in bottle when the weave of the wine opens and reveals a complex constellation of subtlety and flavor. My favorite in this like up is the 2007 – beautiful and earthy with lithe and supple depth. #willamettevalley @brookswinery @janiebrooksheuck
Ultra tiny vines planted in 1999 thanks to the shallow top soil at Silvershot (previously Crowley Station) Vineyard in the southwestern stretch of Eola-Amity Hills. The site is farmed without tilling, which also supports a complex natural cover crop including grasses, wild onions, clover, and various other low height plants. The site faces the Van Duzer Corridor receiving a regular cooling breeze from the Pacific Ocean. #willamettevalley
Best way to spend a day walking the vineyard with both grower and winemaker, then tasting with all three – grower, winemaker, site – too. Day Wines owner-winemaker Brianne Day and grower Jim Fischer on the edge of Silvershot Vineyard tasting Day 2014 and 2015 Silvershot Pinot Noir. #willamettevalley @brianneday @fischerjim
Very little (essentially no) granite exists in Willamette Valley. However rare pockets of granite boulders appear on the western side of Central Willamette, torn up from parent material hundreds of miles northeast of here and carried down by massive floods thousands of years ago then deposited in a few spots, predominately in a band from the western side of Eola-Amity Hills and just west of them. Though Johan Vineyard, to the west of Eola-Amity, is predominantly marine uplift soils, it is also laden with both granite (here on the bottom) and basalt (on top) boulders, a super unusual cacophony of rock and soil type for the region. #willamettevalley @johanvineyards
Awesome exploratory tasting with Adelsheim winemakers David Paige and Gina Hennen discussing stylistic evolution, soils, vintage variation, and age-ability of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The opportunity to taste a range of stylistic expressions built by the evolution of the winemakers’ perspective as well as vintage character with a focus on openness, honesty, and most especially listening is one of the most thrilling parts of how I spend my time. This trip to Willamette has been very much about having those open, trusting conversations with people across a real range of approaches and sub-zones. The way these conversations build deeper connections and understanding of wine, community, and even each other means everything to me. It ‘s what has kept me at this these several years turning a rather unusual way of life into my career. Deeply grateful to the members of the wine community that entrust me in these ways with their triumphs, foibles, uncertainties, curiosities, and explorations regardless of style or technique. Thank you. Spinoza said that the more different sorts of people, things, experiences we are able to connect with the stronger we will be. This idea has been one of my guiding principles in life. I am grateful for the ways it has been shown to me again and again in wine. The more broadly I taste, the more openly I listen, the deeper my understanding and the more I can be of service. I am most grateful to be of service. #willamettevalley @adelsheim
Portrait of the writer in a bottle of wine she loves. This is what it feels like to love a bottle of wine, to find yourself inside of it, surrounded by the life and rush and energy of it, to discover the world inside your senses far larger and more consuming than the size and space your psyche has until that moment projected and maintained as the outline of your physical body, to discover in the experience of the wine you both disappear and are energized. To experience pleasure as more than hedonistic, as emboldening, as well as enlightening. I am in love with the energy, subtlety, and complexity of this wine. Hope Well 2016 (as yet unreleased, and so also as shown here, unlabeled) Pinot Noir from Mimi Casteel’s Hope Well Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. The fruit comes from blocks she farms herself by hand with a focus on continuously improving the innate soil biology and thus also vine health. With this in mind she also foregoes tilling. Her efforts have been so successful a previously believed extinct North American beetle has recently been rediscovered on her property. #willamettevalley @mimicasteel
One of my favorite things to do is taste wines from different producers working with the same site. Johan Vineyards farms biodynamically and sells fruit to several other producers with a commitment to similar practices. Brianne Day of Day Wines makes Pinot from Johan co-fermenting a melange of clones. Both the 2014 and 2015 vintages deliver a wash of innate complexity with crystalline freshness and structural integrity. Really impressive length on both. I especially appreciate the savory depth, lightness, and clarity of the 2014. Delicious wines. #willamettevalley @brianneday
Copyright 2017 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.