Three Pinot Noirs from Evening Land Vineyards

Hello friends. One of the more fascinating projects to come out of Oregon in the past decade is Evening Land Vineyards. A project dedicated to exploring Pinot Noir through diverse terroirs in Burgundy, Oregon, and California, it has as its consulting winemaker Dominique Lafon of the highly-regarded Domaine des Comtes Lafon. Dominique, who took over the family estate in Meursault in 1987, at the age of 26, chooses custom barrels of his Burgundy wines for the Evening Land label and then oversees winemaking in the United States, with the help of Isabelle Meunier in the Willamette Valley and Sashi Moorman in California.

Many of you have been clamoring for the 2010 “La Source” Pinot Noir from Oregon after its strong writeup in Wine Spectator Insider a few weeks ago (and yes, I agree that it seems poised to repeat the success of the 2008 vintage, which landed the #32 spot in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2010).

We were able to wrangle a small parcel of that wine, and it gives us a perfect opportunity to dip fully into the Evening Land Vineyards lineup, with three single-vineyard Pinots from each of the terroirs farmed by Evening Land:

2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir “La Source” Seven Springs

Evening Land now sources Seven Springs Vineyard, a terrific site once prized by a number of serious Willamette wineries (St. Innocent, Evesham Wood, Bethel Heights). It’s an 80-acre site in the Eola-Amity Hills, and Evening Land makes several Pinots from Seven Springs. La Source sees 25% new oak and possesses the purity of fruit that makes 2010 such a charming vintage. There are gorgeous floral topnotes here (rose petal, lavender, violet), soaring above a focused core of red berry and red cherry fruit, with a cooling mineral streak running through all of it. A bridge wine between Burgundy and Oregon, no surprise given the winemakers involved.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($60); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

[Note: this is Spectator’s highest-rated Oregon Pinot to date from the 2010 vintage, and only four Oregon Pinots have ever received stronger reviews from this publication.]

2009 Evening Land Vineyards Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes

Only a tiny parcel of this made its way into Washington, so I won’t say much here, but getting to taste Lafon-made 1er Cru Burg, at a reasonable (non-grey-market-inflated) tariff is a rare treat indeed. This sees 20% new oak for a year and a half and comes in at 13% finished alc. At just 340 cases produced, this is among Evening Land’s more limited bottlings.

I snagged a sample of this recently and was easily seduced by its minerally-earthy austerity. Aromatics of red cherry, portobello, damp earth, and smoky toast lead into a classy-textured palate, with sour-cherry fruit and citrusy acids framing a cut-rock core. This drinks extremely young right now, so decanting is a necessity if you’re going to open it in the near-term. Better yet to give this several years in bottle to allow its classy, disparate elements time to integrate.

2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills

A lot of California Pinot Noir can be big and rich enough to be confused with Syrah, but that’s not the case with the Santa Rita Hills, a small, well-regarded appellation near Santa Barbara (see map here). The hills run east-west, allowing a clear corridor for marine air and fog to funnel in, keeping the micro-climate cool.

This is Evening Land’s villages-level wine, blending several of their vineyards in this AVA (Siren’s Call, One Tree Hill, Bloomsfield, Memorious), all fourth-leaf fruit. The oak is dialed way back here (10% new), and this too comes in at 13% alcohol. Still, this is the clear new-world entry of the three, with more overt fruit than the others. Aromatics combine grape, smoked meat, and a lovely marine, seaweed component. The vibrancy here is terrific, raspberry fruit awash in mouthwatering acid. The rich fruit elements and meaty savory elements are well-balanced. All told, it’s a fine introduction to this tiny nook of California.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles each of the Oregon and California wines, and 3 bottles of the Burg. We’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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