Oregon Has A Cocky “Latitude”
I know to many of my customers and friends this may be repetitive. I can’t help myself. I am a true Pinotphile!!! Only the people who grow this finicky, thin skinned grape and consumers who are seduced by the original home of the grape in Burgundy, France like myself, will understand my obsession! I hear over 200 times per week, I don’t like Pinot Noir because it is too light! It could be the opposite “I love the popular Brand Names of labeled Pinot Noir that are rich and thick and yes sugary.” Both sentiments, drive a Pinotphile crazy. When you drink a Burgundy from a good vintage and good Cru (Vineyard) it is one of the most complex, expressive grapes in the world. I get the price issue with Burgundy. That is why when you look at the Map above and the geographical latitude of Oregon , it is smack dab equal with that of Burgundy, France. The good news is with that in common and the expression of the grape very, very close, the quality to price ratio is so much better with Pinot Noirs out of Oregon! Now if you are for the most part drinking those large produced, popular brand names from California than that is fine if that is your palate of mixing Pinot Noir with other grapes to make it sweeter. To me there is nothing wrong with liking that style of wine but that is not Pinot Noir. You would be better off drinking wines with that flavor profile that are not blended and don’t have as much Residual Sugar and save you a lot of money. Oregon is always 100% Pinot Noir and to us Pinotphiles it is a sacred grape.
Another Crazy Oregon Story
This is Jon And Kathy Lauer and their son David of Bryn Mawr Vineyards in Salem Oregon. Just like almost every great Oregon Producer I know personally, they have a wacky story as to how they wound up in Oregon and more importantly, how they wound up in the wine business. Jon and Kathy Lauer grew up in small towns in the midwest with rather religious families. Early contact with wine was limited to communion, wine coolers, and maybe a white zinfandel thrown in the mix. If I had to write how their lives went from Yuma Arizona to San Diego and wound up in Oregon and buying a small lot of land to where they are now, it would take 5 blogs. Jon tried to grow some grapes but soon realized they were in a little over their heads and needed a winemaker. That’s a story that’s wacky too… I love Oregon!!
Superhero Rachel Rose To The Rescue
Rachel Rose graduated with her B.S in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Fresh out of college and working in a Biotech research lab, she never imagined herself elbow deep in roiling ferments within just a few years; however, wine finds a way. Don’t even ask but an opportunity arose in Australia and Rachel wound up with an M.S. in Oenology and a postgraduate diploma in viticulture from the University of Adelaide. She fell in love with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and she had 2 choices if she were to pursue a career as a winemaker and or vineyard manager. Since she doesn’t speak any French she chose the “NEW BURGUNDY” A.K.A Oregon. She also fell in love with a musician/artist named Liam before leaving Australia. The Lauers fell in love with her Resume. They hired her, she nurtured those grapes in the vineyards at Bryn Mawr and the first 5 years was living with Liam on site in a trailer. The rest is history but just another story of how Oregon Wine is usually produced by people with passion who fell in love with Pinot Noir.
2014 Bryn Mawer
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Bryn Mawr is a Welsh name that roughly translates to “High Hill.” Ranging from 650-820 feet on the Western crest of the Eola-Amity Hills, elevation is the distinctive characteristic of their site. As one of the steepest, rockiest, windiest sites in the Willamette Valley, just a hundred yards can have a massive impact on sun and wind exposure, soil type and depth. They have four different soil types spread throughout the property and quite the range of aspects, from true East to true West. Even though their vineyard is small, their block-to-block variation can be as great as entire regions!
Already a thriving boutique winery, they feel they have only scratched the surface of their site’s potential. The coming years will bring even more growth and change as their vines mature and Rachel learns her vineyard. 8 years and two kids later, she no longer lives onsite, but her connection to this vineyard and the Lauer family are unbreakable by this point; this is just as much her baby as it is theirs.
Ok, a real Oregon Pinotphile has to pull out my Oregon Pinot Noir Glass for this one. How gosh of me lol! Only 750 cases made of this 2014. About 60% of the fruit comes from Estate vineyards. Aged 30% in New French Oak. The color is dark ruby red, with much lighter pink colors on the edge from being 4 years old. It’s translucent which a “REAL 100% Pinot” should be. Very focused aromatically. Clearly it could be identified as Pinot Noir with bouquet of blackberry coulis, candied cherry, “TWIZZLERS” and hints of damp leaves. Very lean and slender and Burgundian (YAY) with 13.3% ABV not 15.7%. It might be a lightweight, but yet never loses sight of who or what it is from entry to the finish. Displays juicy ripe blackberry mixed with tart cherry, a touch of earthiness finishing a little short with notes of cranberry meets pom juice meets earl grey tea and hints of cinnamon and black pepper spice. It was very inviting from start to finish and really easy to want to take a second sip. I agree with Wine Spectator on this 89 point rating out of 100.
This is a very unique story as you read and the passion behind Rachel’s Vineyard Nurturing and Winemaking shines through on the finished product. This is a small fish in a big pond but that seems to be the ones I like from Oregon. I don’t think it is a wine for every guest due to it’s lean style and some tart cranberry fruit on the finish. If you are a Burgundy fan and don’t want to spend $60 on Pommard that is two young to drink anyway, at $23.99 this shows value. I only ask two things from you as your go to person on Wine. 1- If you like the Brand Names from California Russian River included, and full bodied almost sweet styles of what you thought were Pinot Noirs but were blends, please let me show you how I can find you that style of wine at the price you can afford but it won’t say Pinot Noir on the label. 2- If you are a Pinotphile like me and want to ask me for some Oregon budget minded suggestions please practice saying :
It’s Will–Amette– Damn-It!!!
Grape-fully yours, Larry