2010 Adelsheim, Pinot Noir Elizabeth’s Reserve
Adelsheim is one of Oregon’s oldest wineries, dating back to the early 1970s when then young David and Ginny Adelsheim planted their first vineyard, on a volcanic, south-facing slope in what is now the Chehalem Mountains AVA. This was about five years after Eyrie’s David Lett planted the very first Pinot Noir in the state. David and Ginny’s winery has stood the test of time, with new talent coming on board, both in the winery and behind the scenes, along the way, but their original vision and dreams have remained to this day. In 2012 the Oregon Wine Board awarded David Adelsheim their Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of service to the establishment and growth of the Oregon wine industry. The Adelsheims produced their first Elizabeth’s Reserve in 1986. Named for their daughter, it was a blend of their best barrels of Pinot Noir and for over a decade it was always a single-vineyard wine. After 2000 though, it became a “best of winery” designation, using the best barrels of their finest lots of Pinot Noir from throughout their cellars. Most of the fruit for Elizabeth’s Reserve comes from their estate vineyards, located in the Chehalem Mountains and Ribbon Ridge, blended to create a reserve level wine that reflects the particular vintage and the character and nuances of the individual sites. The 2010 vintage is rich and elegant, with red fruit flavors and aromas, layered with spice and forest notes. They are onto the 2011 now, so this one has a bit more bottle time and though it is lovely now, it will continue to develop, if you can wait. This special cuvée is $50.75 and the winery suggests pairing it with lamb, duck, or grilled salmon.
2010 Evesham Wood, Pinot Noir Mahonia Vineyard
Evesham Wood was founded in 1986 (the year the first Elizabeth’s Reserve, above, was released) by Russ Raney who, like many Oregon Pinot producers, was greatly influenced by the wines of Burgundy. He was, in fact, mentored from the beginning by legendary Burgundian producers Henri Jayer and Michel Niellon. Russ and his wife Mary retired in 2010, after 24 years of winemaking, but he left his winery in the very capable hands of Erin Nuccio who had been working alongside Russ for a number of vintages and who shared the Raney’s winemaking and vine-tending philosophy. Evesham Wood is a charter member of the Deep Roots Coalition, a group of local grower/producers that promotes natural methods in all aspects of winemaking, in particular the exclusive use of non-irrigated vines (this is in large part, to conserve precious resources, but it also forces the roots to grow deeper where they can pick up more nuances from the soil). The centerpiece of the winery is their estate vineyard, Le Puits Sec (“the dry well”). But they also source fruit from other select sites, including Mahonia Vineyard, in the south Salem hills. This vineyard, with its volcanic Jory and Nekia soils, was first planted in 1985, and it has some of the earliest plantings of Dijon clone Pinot in Oregon. This is the first single-vineyard Mahonia Pinot in about a decade and Erin’s first ever. As they state on their label, Evesham Wood crafts their wines to be authentic expressions of their vineyard sources, reflecting the subtle nuances of the terroir. With this fruit, Erin has crafted a very lovely Pinot, smooth on the palate, with a balanced ripeness and a long, lean finish. As cliché as it may sound, this is a perfect Pinot for salmon. The $29.75 price tag seems like a bargain when you taste the finesse this wine has to offer.