Oregon Wine Club – March 2011

2008 Elk Cove, Five Mountain, Pinot Noir
Someone versed in numerology might find some deeper meaning in this month’s wines: with names like “Five Mountain,” and “49 Rows.” Plus, they’re both 2008. An interesting coincidence, yes. Other significance? Not so much.

Getting down to business. We present first, a Pinot from Elk Cove Vineyards, one of Oregon’s oldest wineries, founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell. It is still a family affair, with son Adam Godlee Campbell now in charge of the winemaking. Adam is part of a growing group of second-generation Oregon winemakers, who have grown up on their family estates, with winemaking around them all their lives. It bodes well for the future! The Elk Cove estate now covers over 220 acres, on four different sites in the northern Willamette Valley. One of these sites is the Five Mountain Vineyard, originally planted by the Ponzi family in 1978 on volcanic soil, overlooking five mountains in the Cascade Range. Before buying the vineyard outright, Elk Cove used fruit from this vineyard in their Willamette Valley blend, but after gaining full control, they found certain lots to be worthy of single vineyard status. Enter, their Five Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir. The 2008 vintage was classic in the Willamette Valley: with cooler weather, followed by a beautiful autumn, of long sunny days and cold nights—perfect for producing excellent fruit. The Five Mountain Pinot has lovely floral aromas, followed by dark berry and spice. It is great now, but should really shine in another year or two. They made only about 500 cases, and it is $45. The winery is on to the next vintage, so the 2008 probably won’t be around much longer.

2008 Roots, 49 Rows, Pinot Noir
We introduced you to Chris Berg’s Roots wines in July 2009, when we featured his 2007 Estate Pinot Noir in the club. Born in the Wisconsin town of Racine (cleverly, the French word for “roots”), Chris has been making wine in the north Willamette Valley since 2002, under both the Racine and the Roots labels. Of Chris and his wines, NorthwestWine.com wrote: “He’s not just a rising star, he’s a dang exploding nebula.” This month we present his 49 Rows Vineyard Pinot Noir, also from the excellent 2008 vintage described above. 49 Rows is a young, three-acre vineyard near Wilsonville, on the southeastern edge of the Chehalem Mountain AVA. It is planted, one acre each, to Pommard, Wadenswil, and 777 clones, on Laurelwood soil. This soil type, comprised of decomposed volcanic material, below ancient sedimentary soil, is unique to Oregon and was formed by the cataclysmic Missoula floods, at the end of the last ice age. Now there’s some terroir to sink your roots into! Chris Berg’s Pinot Noir grown on this soil exudes a deep minerality, with dark black cherries, and a hint of spice on both the nose and the palate. He made only around 60 cases, and it is $27.