2007 Soléna, Pinot Noir, Domaine Danielle Laurent
Although winemaker Laurent Montalieu grew up on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, his summer vacations and high school years were spent in Bordeaux among his grandfather’s vineyards. From there, he went on to study winemaking and vineyard management at the Institute of Oenology in Bordeaux. In the meantime, his future wife, Danielle Andrus, was spending her early years in her family’s small Napa winery. She later moved to Oregon to start the family’s second winery, Archery Summit. Somewhere along the way the two met and in 2000 they bought an 80-acre estate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA as a wedding gift to each other. They named their estate vineyard Domaine Danielle Laurent and their winery, Soléna. Laurent and Danielle planted the vineyard to Burgundian Pinot Noir clones, from which they create this, their estate blend. This is the seventh vintage from the vineyard and it shows the increasing complexity and elegance that comes with vine age. Their approach to the difficult 2007 vintage, with its late-season rains, was to carefully manage crop yields and allow the remaining grapes to ripen fully, rather than panic and pick unripe fruit too early. As a result, they were able to produce an extremely elegant, vibrant, and age-worthy estate Pinot from the vintage. It has a wonderfully earthy nose and, though soft and light in body, a velvety richness that lingers forever on the palate. It is $47 and is sold out at the winery and, now that we bought the last eight bottles, at the distributor, too. Enjoy!
2008 J. Albin, Laurel Vineyard, Pinot Noir
Winemaker John Albin is director of viticulture and winemaking at one of Oregon’s largest wineries, King Estate, whose highly-regarded wines can be found throughout the country. But after his “day job” managing King’s 450-acre estate, he returns home and makes his own wines, under his J. Albin label, producing around 500 cases a year. Early in his career, he spent a decade as brewmeister at craft breweries in Seattle, but his dream was always to have his own winery. In 1981, when the Oregon wine industry was still in its infancy, his family purchased a beautiful site in what is now the Chehalem Mountains AVA and planted it with Pinot Noir. Their Laurel Vineyard was later joined by vineyards for such wineries as Willakenzie and Beaux Freres in a site which has come to be considered one of the best for grape growing in the Northwest. Now, after three decades, these are some of the oldest vines in Oregon, and the wines produced from the fruit displays the complexity and depth that only older vines can impart. The high altitude and ashy, volcanic Laurelwood and Loess soils in the vineyard produce Pinot Noirs with earthy, cedar aromas and spicy, complex flavors. John’s 2008 Laurel Pinot is elegant and bright, with a lovely, supple texture. Perfect for fish, poultry, or pasta. It is $28 and is in decent supply.