Hello friends. We’ve dabbled heavily in the main Owen Roe label, lightly in their Corvidae label, but never (until today) in their Sharecropper’s line. A recent tasting of a pair of Sharecropper’s wines underscored for me what a fabulous job David O’Reilly and his team are doing, producing outstanding wines across a broad spectrum of tariffs and labels. Here’s the story of this particular label, direct from the winery:
The Sharecropper label, as far as I know, has only ever been put on two wines: a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon and an Oregon Pinot Noir. I have seen the label turn up much, much more frequently on restaurant glass-pour lists than on retail shelves. In fact, I want to say that at one point in its history they were “on-premise only” (restaurant only) wines. As usual, we don’t like to let the somms and restaurant buyers have all the fun.
Instead, this drinks like clean, honest, Columbia Valley Cabernet fruit. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and indeed drinks like a mid-weight, with plenty of bright acidity forming one half of the structure tandem. Soft-and-easy tannin makes up the other half, and that structure frames a core of mint- and flower-tinged redcurrant fruit. Because this isn’t too ripe nor too oaky, some Cabernet subtleties are allowed to shine through: earth and herb, savory beet and rhubarb. Just a lovely, comfortable-in-its-own-skin Cab, perfect for mid-week pleasure.
Anna’s Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains gets a $42 single-vineyard bottling from Owen Roe; likewise Durant in the Dundee Hills ($42); likewise Lenne Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton ($55); likewise Sojourner in Eola-Amity ($42). Merriman Vineyard, also in the Y-C, is a major component in the Kilmore Pinot ($42).
Do you remember the “grand cascade” effect in Oregon’s 2014 vintage, coined by Erica Landon, which we first mentioned in our offer for Walter Scott Wine last August? It goes something like this: let’s say a winery normally gets enough fruit to make 100 cases of their expensive single vineyard Pinot. But in a (rare) high-quality/high-yield year like 2014, they get enough fruit to make 150 cases. One option, of course, is to just produce 150 cases of expensive wine and hope the market can bear it. Another option: “cascade” those extra 50-cases worth of single-vineyard juice into your Willamette Valley Pinot program, and make your entry-level wine, your gateway drug, that much better.
I think it’s obvious which option is better for we the consumers, and it helps explain why this particular ’14 is a complete knockout. It lists its alc at 14.1% and offers a dark, compelling nose: blackberry, loamy soil, star anise. The palate is ripe, rich, on the Cali side of the Oregon stylistic spectrum. Luscious notes of Chambord and brewed coffee are complemented by smoky/earthy soil tones. There’s even a little sneaky back-end tannic chew here, and I think you could pair this with some seriously robust meals (braised short ribs come to mind). It is a real powerhouse Oregon Pinot, and it offers loads of class and stuffing for the price point.
First come first served up to 60 bottles total, and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.