2009 Beaux Frères, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Ever since we put Beaux Frères’ 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot in the club, back in August 2009, we’ve referred to the winery, the location, or the winemaker from time to time in subsequent write-ups, sometimes as a point of reference, but mostly as a benchmark of utmost quality in both terroir, and in winemaking. Reason? Beaux Frères winemaker Mike Etzel is one of the most respected Pinot producers in the state, if not the country, and his estate is located in the coveted Ribbon Ridge appellation, with its protected aspect and sedimentary Willakenzie soils. Mike is totally devoted to bio-dynamic farming, from the nurturing of the microbes in the soil, to the careful, hands-on management of each and every vine. As we mentioned before, Mike quickly makes a convert of anyone who spends any time with him in his vineyards, as he expounds with passion about his farming practices. He usually makes just three wines a year; two very limited estate Pinots, and this, his Willamette Valley blend, sourced from his own fruit, plus fruit from several other carefully selected, sustainably-farmed sites in Yamhill County. Unlike his estate wines, this one is not 100% bio-dynamic, but it is made with the same exacting care and integrity, and is about half the price. It is beautifully layered, with mouth-watering flavors of spice, forest floor, and dark cherries. Expressive and silky, it evolves seamlessly with each sip. Enjoy it now, or over the next five to eight years. It is $52.
2008 Lumos, Temperance Hill, Pinot Noir
With wine, as with real estate, it’s all about location. Another thing you’ll have noticed in our write-ups over the years is our emphasis on specific vineyards and their characteristics. By now we expect you’re familiar with the names of some of the most sought-after ones, such as Shea, or Temperance Hill. But it is not just their excellent location that makes these vineyards so coveted—they also must be managed properly, by someone who knows how to help the fruit reach its maximum potential. Enter Dai Crisp, who has managed Temperance Hill Vineyard since 1999, working with the same core team (the “Grand Crew”) since the beginning. Dai farms organically, using only natural fertilizers and no chemical herbicides, and over the years he has supplied fruit to such distinguished wineries as St. Innocent, Panther Creek, Evesham Wood, and J.K. Carriere. And since 2000, he has produced his own wine from that fruit, under his Lumos label. Temperance Hill is a beautiful site in the Eola Hills, where the vines grow on fairly thin soil, on top of ancient volcanic rock. At 700 to 800 feet, it is higher in elevation than most Willamette Valley vineyards, and the cooler temperatures there allow a longer hang time and later harvest, leading to more depth and complexity in the wines. The Lumos Temperance Hill Pinot has wonderful aromatics; slightly rustic, with a hint of smoke. It is smooth and silky with an enticing underlying elegance and, while it is lovely to drink now, it will cellar nicely for several more years. Dai made a mere 688 cases and it is $35.