Three West Coast Pinots

Hello friends. Three terrific west coast Pinot Noirs today (one from California, one from Oregon, one from Washington), combined to serve three different purposes: first, to issue a correction; second, to reoffer a very popular Pinot; and third, to offer two already-sold-out-in-western-Washington wines where we took the rare step of bringing in parcels ahead of an offer (neither parcel is very big). Let’s dive in:

2008 Owen Roe Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard

Owen Roe Correction: I didn’t get the story exactly right in our October 25 offer for the 2012 Lady Hill Ad Lucem, and I’d like to issue a correction/clarification. What was in the original offer: “My understanding (admittedly secondhand) is that O’Reilly keeps the Owen Roe name, while Owen keeps the winery and the production winemaker (Erik Brasher).” Per David O’Reilly, all winemaking assets, including equipment and three vineyards, will be kept in house at Owen Roe. Owen Roe completed the 2013 harvest in their Oregon facility and will then relocate to an enhanced facility in the Yakima Valley. Finally, Brasher’s last harvest with Owen Roe was 2009.

Long time list members know the high regard we have for Owen Roe wines. To that end, I want to reoffer an extremely popular Owen Roe wine from earlier this year. The 2008 Owen Roe Pinot Noir Solomon Hills was originally offered on September 19. Excerpts from that original offer:

This is an Oregon producer who is best known for wines from Washington fruit, with a Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley. In California. Confusing enough?

Perhaps this will help cut through the clutter: our tariff is nearly half off the release price of $42.

If Full Pull were located in Portland or San Francisco, that pricing never would have happened. In the twin hearts of domestic Pinot country, blowout tariffs on five-years-past-vintage high-end Pinot Noirs just don’t tend to happen. The wines sell fine. But Pinot is a slower mover in Washington, allowing for the occasional screamer, and we are in the right place at the right time.

Solomon Hills Vineyard is a sister site to Bien Nacido, and it’s about as far west as you can get in the Santa Maria Valley, sitting on a bed of ocean floor sandy loam. Check out the location. You can see that this site gets as much maritime influence as possible, making it one of the coolest vineyards in the AVA as well (as evidenced by the 13% alc on this one, a far cry from the boozier Pinots from California’s warmer climes).

The aromatics on the 2008 are immediately reminiscent of the 2007, with a core of raspberry fruit complemented beautifully by meaty, marine, and leafy. The palate sees rich cherry fruit and earth notes, combined with that continuing savory/umami/seaweed note that ratchets up the complexity. Like the 2007, this displays tightrope balance, supple texture, fine intensity, and a lingering finish. The extra bottle age is the final layer of polish on a lovely wine.

Allen Meadows, the Burghound, is known as a particularly exacting reviewer when it comes to scores. Domestic producers are generally thrilled to see anything from 88pts on up, and a 90 from the Hound is a fine achievement indeed:

Burghound (Allen Meadows): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Gotta love seeing “Drink 2013+” when we’re sitting here in 2013. This is a rare opportunity to taste well-aged Central Coast Pinot at a fine tariff, and this 2008 is the last vintage ever made of this wine, so we shan’t be seeing it again.

2011 Analemma Pinot Noir Oak Ridge Vineyard

This is a newish Columbia Gorge winery worthy of attention. Steven Thompson completed the Viticulture and Enology program in Walla Walla before working for a number of valley producers. His last stop in Walla Walla was – ahem – Cayuse Vineyards, after which he worked several southern hemisphere harvests in New Zealand (Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay, Seresin in Marlborough). With a desire to make cool-climate wines in Washington, it’s no surprise that he wound up in the Gorge.

Analemma has planted out one estate vineyard (Saddle Ridge) that is a few years from coming online, and they help farm two other high-elevation sites in the foothills of Mt. Adams: Atavus and Oak Ridge. This Pinot Noir comes from the 1984-planted Oak Ridge Vineyard, and it was a stunner in a recent tasting, immediately staking a claim as one of the most compelling Pinots produced from Washington fruit (not a crowded field, admittedly). The nose has bracing purity, all black cherry fruit and cherry blossom. What you notice immediately on the palate is how unapologetically earthy this is. Drinking very much like a villages-level Burg, it’s full of silty mineral to go with the high toned cherry notes. What a glorious mix of rocks and fruit. Totally singular Washington Pinot, and the only drawback is that you can count our number of cases in stock on one hand.

2010 Scott Paul Pinot Noir “Audrey”

Very little of this came up to Washington at all, and I grabbed the last little bit remaining. We have an amount that barely warrants inclusion in an offer, so I’m hiding it here at the bottom in hopes that you all will (mostly) ignore it. Named after Audrey Hepburn, it’s a selection of Scott’s finest barrels in a given vintage. In 2010, that was just six barrels from the 1970-planted block at Maresh Vineyard plus one additional barrel from Nysa Vineyard. Two of those seven barrels were new, so we’re looking at about 30% new French. It’s a thrilling wine of crystalline purity, another total killer from the painfully precise 2010 vintage. We can talk about flavors (red cherry, blood orange, leafy tea notes, mineral), but I suspect Scott and Kelley Fox are really barrel selecting based on mouthfeel. This is all elegance, grace, refinement, and I only wish we had more.

International Wine Cellar (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles of Owen Roe, along with 3 each of the Analemma and Audrey, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Analemma and Audrey are already in the warehouse, and the additional Owen Roe should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will all be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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