Oregon Wine Club – January 2012

2007 Hamacher, Pinot Noir
In June, 2009, we had a bit of a Hamacher extravaganza: we featured two wines from this highly-regarded Oregon producer—a Chardonnay and their 2006 Estate Pinot Noir. In that write-up, we talked about the great lengths winemaker Eric Hamacher went to in 2007 protect his vines from the now legendary late season rains. Most memorable: hiring a helicopter to make low passes over his vineyards in order to “blow” the rainwater off of the foliage. At that time we wrote that his “2007 Pinot is, of course, still aging, but our bet is that his will be a stunner, despite the difficulty of the vintage.” Well, that vintage has now been bottled and released and this month we present you, “the helicopter wine.” The fact that Eric is just now releasing his 2007 vintage is a testament to his patient and meticulous approach to winemaking. He ages all of his wines at least one and a half years before releasing them, to ensure they have plenty of time to develop before they hit the market. Eric’s emphasis has always been on elegance over power, and the silky texture and lovely aromatics of this Pinot are a beautiful example of his style and enormous talent. It is creamy and rich and definitely elegant, with seemingly endless layers of complexity. At $39.50, it is lovely now, but will continue to drink well for another five years or so. As we have pointed out before, Eric is married to Luisa Ponzi, winemaker for Ponzi Winery, whose wines we have also featured in this club. Together they are planting their own vineyard in the Chehalem Mountain AVA. That is something to look forward to!

2006 Belle Pente, Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Belle Pente is another familiar face in this club and you may recall, last year winemaker Brian O’Donnell led a fascinating class at the shop on Oregon terroir, focusing on the geology, geography, and the soil types found in the northern Willamette Valley. He founded his Yamhill-Carlton winery, along with his wife, Jill, in 1994 and named it Belle Pente for the beautiful slopes on their property. Their estate reserve Pinot represents the very best from their winery, with fruit sourced from the best individual lots of their estate vineyard, capturing the unique, site-specific nuances of each location. The overall characteristics come from the ancient sedimentary soils there, which produce complex, texturally-driven wines, with dark fruit flavors, and beautiful structure. OK, disclaimer time. We featured this wine in our May 2010 Club. But when we discovered that there were still a few bottles available with the distributor, we decided to grab them and present it again. It should be developing beautifully and, if you still have the first one, you could enjoy it soon, and then give this one a few years to see how it evolves. In any case, it is a fabulous Pinot, perfect, as we said before, with pork, veal, game, or of course, salmon. It is $43.