2009 Soter Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Mineral Springs Ranch
Before Tony Soter returned to his native Oregon to create his eponymous winery, he had racked up over 25 years consulting for numerous top California wineries including Shafer, Spottswoode, Viader, and Niebaum-Coppola. In the meantime he found time to start Etude Winery, where he continues to consult. But, armed with a dream of owning his own vineyard and making his own wine, he relocated north to Oregon, where he discovered Mineral Springs Ranch, located east of Carlton. This vineyard boasts a uniform, south-facing slope of well-drained, sedimentary soil consisting of fractured marine sandstone. The exposure, elevation, and drainage, combined with the cool northwesterern Oregon climate, make this a superb site for growing Pinot. The fruit ripens evenly, and the old marine soil imparts an enticing spiciness to the wine. Tony’s Pinots from Mineral Springs tend towards dark fruit notes, with white pepper, and perfectly balanced acidity. The 2009 growing season provided perfectly-timed periods of warmth—during mid-summer and again later in the season—allowing these characteristics to develop fully and beautifully. As a result, the 2009 Mineral Springs Pinot is rich and expressive, with those signature spice notes and a pleasant earthiness, all wonderfully in balance, with soft tannins and firm texture. Lovely now, it will only gain in complexity with one to two years of bottle age, and could continue to develop for another five to ten years. It is $49.75.
2008 Siltstone, Pinot Noir, Guadalupe Vineyard
When Joel Myers was growing up in Silverton, Oregon, one of his first jobs, back in 1968 at the age of ten, was helping the now-legendary David Lett (“Papa Pinot”), plant and trellis his vineyards. Years later, after graduating from college, Joel took a “temporary” job working harvest for Lett, was subsequently offered a full time vineyard/cellar manager position and the rest is history. Having discovered his calling, Joel founded Vinetenders, a vineyard management company that now manages over 400 acres of prime vineyards in the north Willamette Valley, working with Domaine Serene, Brickhouse, Willakenzie, and even Tony Sotor—see above (it’s a small world!). One of the most respected vineyard managers in Oregon, Joel helped design and plant Guadalupe Vineyard, source of a number of wines that have been featured in this club, and he has been managing it ever since. As we noted when we included his 2007 Guadalupe Pinot in the January, 2010 club, this vineyard lies in the transition zone of Oregon’s Dundee Hills, exhibiting characteristics of both Dundee’s volcanic soils, and the sedimentary soils of the Yamhill-Carlton District. Joel produced his first wine under his own label, Siltstone, using fruit from Guadalupe, in 2000. His 2008 Guadalupe Pinot is medium-bodied and very elegant, with a warmth and gentle complexity that seems to float across the palate. It is also a great value, coming in at only $29.75. It will continue to develop over the next three to four years, and could be cellared for up to ten years, if you wanted to wait that long. When you do decide to enjoy it, try it with roast lamb or fowl.