Hello friends. Today we have extremely limited parcels of the second release from John and Molly Abbott’s new winery, Devona. Vintage two of their Freedom Hill Pinot and the debut vintage of Devona Chardonnay.
I cringed a little as I wrote the word “Chardonnay,” because I know how much people *loved* John’s Chardonnays at Abeja, and I also know how miniscule our allocation is. It’s so limited, in fact, that I decided these had to wait until January to offer. The feeding frenzy that is the holiday season in the wine trade would have destroyed our allocation. I’m hopeful that maybe by pushing the offer into sleepy January, we can avoid under-allocations that are too painful. And I’m fearful that even the sleepiest wine buyer might wake up when John Abbott’s winemaking is on offer.
John Abbott is one of my favorite winemakers in the northwest, and John and Molly are two of the best people in the trade, period. I would write about jug-wine White Zinfandel if that’s what they decided to make. But it is a real pleasure, a real jolt of excitement, to see what John is doing with Pinot Noir. It still feels very much like the start of something special.
Last April, I made a very speedy trip to Walla Walla (with our two babies at home, the luxury of multi-day road trips is on hold for the moment). Instead it was fly out Tuesday night, fly back Wednesday afternoon. Just before getting onto the plane back to Seattle, I visited John and Molly at their new winery space at the Walla Walla airport to taste the new Devona wines (in bottle and in barrel) and to grovel (successfully, as it turned out!) for allocations.
To some degree, the feeling in the winery was that of ex-pats returning home. Home to Pinot Noir. Over the years I have known John Abbott, he has made a lot of really divine Cabernet Sauvignons for Abeja. But it was never Cabernet Sauvignon that he wanted to talk about. It was almost always Pinot Noir (and sometimes Chardonnay). Much of John’s early winemaking career was spent making Pinot, and I sense he has long desired to hear its siren call again.
Freedom Hill Vineyard is a 1982-planted site in the foothills of the Coast Range, on soils of marine sedimentary uplifted sea bed. The 2013 vintage represents 32nd leaf for this site, getting squarely into old-vine territory. I believe fewer than ten wineries get access to this fruit, and the list is a who’s who in Oregon, including St. Innocent, Patty Green, and Walter Scott. John’s version comes from a mix of Pommard and Wadenswil clones (13.4% listed alc) and begins with a nose deeply evocative of this part of the world, with real earthy undergrowth notes (soil, mushroom, mossy pine bough) adding attractive fecundity to a core replete with black cherry and raspberry fruit. This is very much a palate for grown-ups, with attractive Aperol bitters adding complexity and balance to the mix of fruit and smoky/earthy flavors. Audacious Pinot Noir from a confident, skilled winemaker.
I’m not even going to include my tasting note. Suffice it to say that I thought it was excellent, and the last note in my book reads “practically oozes class and grace.” Max request 2 bottles, but I’m guessing max allocations will end up 1 bottle, and I have a bad feeling some folks are going to get shut out entirely. Apologies in advance.
Please limit order requests to 4 bottles of Pinot and 2 bottles of Chardonnay, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. We’ll do our allocations sometime Tuesday afternoon, so to be safe, get your requests in by Tuesday noon pacific time. 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.