Oregon Wine Club – April 2012

2009 Brick House Vineyards, Cuvée du Tonnelier
We have included several wines from Brick House in the Oregon Club. This Ribbon Ridge winery produces all estate-grown, hand crafted, and certified organic wines. A year ago we featured their 2009 Evelyn’s Pinot Noir, which winemaker Doug Tunnel makes only in exceptional vintages and dedicates to his mother. This month we are excited to include his Cuvée du Tonnelier, or the “barrelmaker’s blend,” a wine which he named in honor of his father, whose French ancestors, as coopers, took the name Tonnelier, which later became Tunnell. As with Evelyn’s Pinot, this wine is made only when the vintage merits special designation, and is crafted to be the finest expression of the estate’s unique climate and terrain. It is produced from some of their oldest vines, all planted on their own rootstock, as opposed to vines grafted onto disease-resistant rootstock, as is most common. They feel that these self-rooted vines produce wines that better convey the unique qualities of the soil. The Pommard clones used in Doug’s Cuvée du Tonnelier give the wine its earthy, fruit forward character, backed by savory notes of black cherry, earth, and forest floor. At $45, this wine is typically ready to be enjoyed relatively early, after a year of bottle age, though it could cellar for several years to develop further. As Doug puts it, “Dad’s wine is a tribute to a man as soft-spoken and generous as the Pinot Noir that honors him.”

2010 Ayres, Lewis Rogers Lane
We put the 2008 Ayres Lewis Rogers Lane Pinot in the club back in September, 2010. This month we present the 2010 vintage of this wine. As we pointed out then, the aptly-named Lewis Rogers Lane Vineyard surrounds winemaker Brad McLeroy’s house—on Lewis Rogers Lane. It lies in Ribbon Ridge, a tiny sub-appellation of the Chehalem Mountains AVA, literally just around the corner from Brick House, and just east of Beaux Freres and Patricia Green. Excellent company, indeed, in a very coveted wine-growing location. Brad worked with Veronique Drouhin at Domaine Drouhin before becoming full time winemaker at Ayres in 2005 so he knows a thing or two about working with Pinot Noir. Like Brick House, Ayres’ wines are all estate grown, on the local sedimentary, Willakenzie soil, which is known for producing dark, texturally-driven wines. The 2010 Lewis Rogers Lane is a blend of all of the clones in their vineyard, some Pommard, plus a handful of others. As with the 2008 vintage, this one has a bit of cinnamon on the nose, along with hints of forest floor. On the palate, it has soft berries, with earthy, caramel overtones. It is $42 and could use a year or so to evolve.