2009 Colene Clemens, Reserve Pinot Noir
The owners of Colene Clemens Vineyards and Winery, Joe and Vicki Stark, found the perfect site for their winery on an abandoned farmstead and orchard that had lain fallow for many years. Its steep, rocky, south-facing slopes, on the western edge of the Chehalem Mountains where it converges with Ribbon Ridge, provided a perfect site for them to pursue their dream: making the finest estate-grown Pinot Noir possible. To reach that goal, they cut no corners, whether in their vineyard preparations, farming practices, or in their wine-making. And for that, they made the very good choice of Steve Goff as their winemaker and vineyard manager. Steve spent six years at Beaux Freres, as assistant winemaker to one of the most esteemed winemakers in Oregon, Mike Etzel, a long-time practitioner of biodynamic viticulture. At Colene Clemens, Steve carries on a meticulous, non-invasive approach, including hand hoeing his vineyards and extreme crop reduction. His first Pinots released were from the 2008 vintage, so this is only his second vintage, but it sure doesn’t taste like any mere sophomore effort. His 2009 Reserve Pinot is very elegant and complex, with classy aromatics and flavors of dark fruit, tea, and spice. Although the tannins are already supple and refined, the winery suggests another year or two of bottle age for this wine to show its best, if you can wait. They made 440 cases of this Pinot, and it is $45. Next time you’re in Oregon, this is a winery to visit: the tasting room, a finalist for Sunset Magazine’s 2011 “Most Beautiful Winery Tasting Room of the Year,” has a stunning 360-degree panoramic view, including Bald Peak to the north, and the Coast Range to the west. A great setting in which to enjoy their equally stunning wines!
2010 Patricia Green Cellars, Estate Old Vines Pinot Noir
While Colene Clemens is off to a great start with the release of their second vintage of estate wine, this Pinot, from Patricia Green, represents the 11th vintage from their estate vineyard. Here, it is the vineyard, not the tasting room, that boasts a 360-degree vantage point. Located in the Ribbon Ridge district, a mile or so south of Colene Clemons, and next door to Mike Etzel’s Beaux Freres, this unusually diverse site was planted with a variety of Pinot clones between 1984 and 1990, which, in this part of the world, qualifies as “old vine.” Patty Green produces Pinot Noirs from a variety of growing regions, including Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains, and Yamhill Carlton, but this one is sourced from five different blocks in their estate vineyard, each vinified separately to preserve the unique characteristics of each block and clone. The different sites in the vineyard produce wines ranging from lightly colored and richly textured, to dark and intensely structured. Carefully blended, they produce a Pinot that beautifully expresses the elegant characteristics of Ribbon Ridge terroir. Patty Green’s wines are not known for being powerhouses, but rather for showing depth and complexity that more concentrated wines can’t always achieve. This one is beautifully knit together, with a long, refined finish. It is $39.75 and will continue to develop over the next five to seven years, though it is lovely now.