Hello friends. What a beautiful vintage 2012 is turning out to be for Oregon Pinot Noir. They’re like 08s but more approachable, or like 09s but more serious. I guess they’re really their own beasts, and glorious beasts at that. Today we have a trio of 2012 Willamette Valley Pinots, one each from three different producers popular among our list members. Each of the three represents outstanding value for its price point.
[Note: because I can’t help myself, I’m also going to include a bonus 2012 Pinot from a completely different part of the world at the bottom of today’s offer. Geek alert!]
This is probably the strongest QPR Oregon Pinot I’ve tasted so far in 2015. Belle Pente, in my opinion, still does not receive a level of attention commensurate with the quality of wines Brian O’Donnell crafts. Perhaps it’s because he’s as nice and unassuming as a winemaker gets, and just quietly goes about his business, making vintage after vintage of haunting, ethereal Willamette Valley Pinot.
This Willamette Valley bottling is Brian’s entry-level cuvee. Tasted in a flight that included several considerably more expensive Oregon Pinots, it was a real standout. The somewhat reductive nose took a few minutes to come around, so a brief decant may be in order here, but my oh my, the nose that emerges: dark berry and black cherry fruit, streaks of tar and pine resin and mineral; it’s complex and inviting. The palate combines the deep fruit character of 2012 with the bright, energetic acidity that characterizes the house style at Belle Pente. The flavor profile hits the holy trinity of Oregon – cherry and mineral and forest floor – in perfect balance. In sum, this is a glorious vintage of an under-rated, underpriced wine.
Our list members have been crazy for Owen Roe’s Pinots, most especially several vintages of the (now discontinued) Solomon Hills Vineyard bottlings from California. The Kilmore – based, as it is, entirely on Yahmill-Carlton fruit – drinks like an Oregon-Cali tweener, with the best of both worlds. It has the depth and richness (14.1% listed alc) of a good Cali Pinot, and the freshness and earthiness of Oregon. Aromatics combine black cherry fruit, clean soil, and nuances of dried herb and espresso. Soft and rich, dark and deep, this is true to both vintage and AVA.
It comes from two vineyards – Lennè and Merriman – in the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. While YCD is just adjacent to the red jory soils of the Dundee Hills, the Yamhill soils are completely different: old marine sedimentary soils, at elevations between 200 and 1000 feet. They tend to produce deeply colored, powerful Pinots with wonderful herbal/tobacco/woodsmoke complexities.
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
As you’ll see, the winery has moved onto the 2013. We’re lucky there is still a parcel of the beautiful ’12 kicking around Seattle. It’s not a very big parcel, so this one will not be available for reorder.
This is a reoffer and last call, as there are only a handful of cases left in Seattle. We originally offered it on December 8, 2014, and here’s what we said:
This is one of the most sought-after wines in Oregon, and the pressure is even greater on the 2012, which is shaping up to be a gorgeous vintage after the two challenging cooler harvests of 2010 and 2011. It comes entirely from Eyrie’s 1965-planted estate vineyard, and it is a selection of the finest barrels from the old site. 18 months in neutral barrel, 13.3% alcohol, and total production of 497 cases.
Since that offer in December, Paul Gregutt released a scorching review in Wine Enthusiast, and that has caused what little wine remained to dwindle even further, down to last-call status: Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”
All of these are in various stages of end-of-vintage, so let’s please limit order requests to 12 bottles of Belle Pente, 6 bottles of Owen Roe, and 4 bottles of Eyrie, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All the wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.
Team Full Pull
And now the bonus wine. Geek alert indeed!
Kevin Pike directed national sales for Michael Skurnik Wines for 13 years, and I was lucky enough to interact with him on a number of occasions. He has led some of the best, most educational wine seminars I’ve experienced and has always conveyed a visceral sense of passion for the wines he loves. So, when he branched out on his own in 2014 to found Schatzi Wines (an importer/distributor), you can bet I paid attention.
One of the most exciting producers he brings in is Dr. Heger, from Baden, the warm-and-sunny part of Germany. Here is Kevin’s writeup of the producer, and here is what he says about this particular wine: [TEXT WITHHELD].
This is indeed a real pleasure-bringer of a wine, seemingly born for summer parties. It’s a full liter bottle (1000ml as opposed a regular 750ml bottle), and it has a lovely nose of dried cherry, citrus peel, and shitake mushroom. “Vin de soif bistro chugger,” says my first note on the palate, and that gives a pretty good idea of how I feel about this one. Put a light chill on it, serve it outside in the sunshine: instant party. For those of you interested in the German Pinot scene, I can’t think of a more charming introduction.