2011 Evening Land Vineyards, Chardonnay
Evening Land was founded by former movie producer, Mark Tarlov, who turned his successful Hollywood career into a small trio of wineries, first in Sonoma, then Oregon, and most recently, in Burgundy. The goal of Evening Land is to “explore great terroir and reflect that greatness in every bottle.” In 2007, he was able to purchase Seven Springs Vineyard, which has long been the source of fruit for many of Oregon’s most elite wineries, including Domaine Drouhin, St. Innocent, Cristom, and Evesham Wood. To craft his Oregon wines, Tarlov selected Quebec native Isabelle Meunier, a protégé of none other than Dominique Lafon, of Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy. Lafon is known for his stunning wines from Meursault and Montrachet and with his continued collaboration with Isbelle in Oregon, you know the wines are going to be special. Seven Springs, in the Eola-Amity Hills, has been called one of Oregon’s finest, most consistent vineyards. The high elevation, 70-acre site is dry farmed, using biodynamic practices, and the iron-rich, volcanic soil, combined with the influence of the Pacific Ocean, imparts elegant flavors to the wines grown here. This is the first vintage of this wine, which comes from a younger, three-acre block planted in 2008 with a selection of Chardonnay clones that adds to its complexity. It is produced in traditional Burgundian style, using whole-cluster fruit and a long, gentle pressing. The wine is aged in oak for 11 months, with a further five months on its lees in tank. We loved the ever-evolving layers of aromas and flavors in this Chardonnay. With its finely textured palate and rich, earthy flavors, it seems to have one foot in the New World and one in the Old. It is $44 and has the complexity and depth to win over even red wine fans.
2010 Lemelson, Pinot Noir Meyer Vineyard
Eric Lemelson began visualizing his winery in 1997. With the help of veteran Eric Hamacher, he realized his dream in time for the 1999 harvest, with a winery in Carlton, Oregon that is both state-of-the-art and human-scaled, allowing for natural, gentle processing, with minimal impact on the environment. His seven estate vineyards are all certified organic. One of those is Meyer, a site in the Dundee Hills with excellent southern exposure, originally planted to prunes and hazelnuts. Lemelson began planting this vineyard to a selection of Pinot Noir clones in 2000. The long, steep site has a variety of elevations and exposures that produce distinct wines; with ripe, dark fruit flavors in those grown on the steepest, most exposed blocks, to those with more subtle, minerally red-fruit flavors coming from the gentler, more sheltered slopes. Lemelson varies the blend from this vineyard each year according to the vintage and in 2010 he selected more or less equal portions from the two extreme sites, resulting in a wine representative of the entire vineyard. 2010 was one of the coolest growing seasons on record in Oregon, with everything occurring later than usual, and ending with flocks of birds pillaging the fruit that was still ripening on the vines late in the season. All of this resulted in lower yields, but what fruit there was, after the long, extending growing season, was fully ripe and flavorful, with balanced acidity and low sugars. The 2010 Meyer Vineyard Pinot begins with a subtle, but inviting nose, gathering deeper and riper flavors on the palate. Then just when you think it might be done, it evolves into its long, layered finish. At $45 it is ready to enjoy now, or over the next four or five years.