2010 St. Innocent, Freedom Hill Pinot Noir
St. Innocent winery, founded in 1988 by Mark Vlossak, is one of Oregon’s most established and highly-regarded Pinot Noir producers. Vlossak continues to make the wine there today and is one of the state’s most respected winemakers, always crafting his wines to be food friendly, with the firm belief that wine should complement and enhance the flavors of food and add to the pleasure of a meal. We’ve featured his Justice Vineyard Pinot in the past, and this month we present his Pinot from Freedom Hill Vineyard, located in the foothills of the coast range, in a fairly protected site just southwest of Salem. The site, with its well-drained, silty clay soil, produces Pinots with excellent richness, depth, and structure and very balanced acidity. The 2010 vintage was the coldest in 30 years in Oregon. The long, cool fall allowed the grape skins and flavors to ripen, without raising sugar levels, resulting in a wine with lovely acidity, moderate alcohol levels, and very precise aromas and flavors. This Pinot shows that intensity and richness, with flavors of dark fruit and spicy forest floor notes. As for the food? Mark says this Pinot would pair well with a wide variety of full-flavored foods, especially richly flavored red meat, such a roast beef or leg of lamb, or complex dishes like ratatouille, lasagne, or a Porterhouse steak with fried potatoes. He suggests up to ten years of bottle age for this wine or, if you wish to enjoy it sooner, decant it, or give it several hours to breathe. It’s a truly lovely wine at $42, and is in very limited supply.
2011 Alexana Winery, Revana Vineyard Pinot Noir
Now we move from a long-established Oregon winery to a relatively young one that, we must admit, was completely new to us when we first tried their wines recently. Alexana Winery was founded by Dr. Madaiah Revana. Dr. Revana grew up in rural India to a family that had been farmers for generations. His love of wine, especially the great wines of Burgundy, led to his interest in grape-growing and he traveled throughout the wine regions of Europe and the United States to learn as much as he could. He began his search for the perfect region for his winery and for the ideal winemaker in the spring of 2005. As luck would have it, he found his winemaker in none other than Lynn Penner-Ash, of Penner-Ash fame (for more on her, see our May 2013 club write-up on her Viognier). Lynn then helped him find a site for his vineyard estate in the Dundee Hills, about 30 miles southwest of Portland. The appellation is in an area sheltered from more severe weather variations on the valley floor. The Revana property boasts 18 different soil types on a variety of terrains. To the preexisting vineyards, Dr. Revana has continued to develop the site, establishing 31 microblocks in which he is matching different clonal and rootstock selections to individual soil types. Clearly he is very serious about getting it right! His 2011 estate Pinot Noir is remarkably rich and complex, with inviting earthiness on the nose, and complex, smoky notes of black tea and dark fruit. It clearly shows the experienced winemaking of Lynn Penner-Ash, and the excellent fruit sources cultivated by Dr. Revana. It is $43 and has the structure to age for a further seven to ten years, though it could be enjoyed sooner with some decanting and a chance to breathe a bit.