Oregon Wine Club – October 2014

2012 St. Innocent, Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir
While Oregon has been producing serious Pinot Noirs since around 1970, St. Innocent, founded by Mark Vlossak in 1988, remains one of the state’s most established and highly regarded wineries. Mark sources his fruit from independently-owned vineyards, from select blocks grown specifically for St. Innocent, always working closely with each grower. We have featured his Pinots from Freedom Hill and Justice vineyards in the past, but this is the first appearance of a Pinot from Zenith, their estate vineyard in the Eola Amity Hills. It is planted to four clones (Pommard, Wadenswil, 115, and 177) all grown on old sedimentary soil. Several other wineries lucky enough to use fruit from Zenith include Adelsheim, Ponzi, and Broadley. Although the 2012 growing season began slowly, with prolonged cool, wet weather, the summer was warm, sunny, and dry, turning into one of Oregon’s best vintages for ripening grapes. Mark has sourced fruit from certain parts of Zenith Vineyard in the past, but this is his first vintage using fruit from all nine blocks of the vineyard and he feels that the additional sites and clones have added a complexity and breadth and depth of flavor that that rivals all of his previous wines from the site. The wine is medium-bodied, with layered fruit, ground spice and floral notes and, like all of his wines, all about texture. Mark crafts his wines to be food-friendly, believing that wines should complement and enhance the flavors of food and for this one, he suggests lamb, pork, or grilled salmon. He also suggests decanting it one to two hours before serving and notes that, while approachable young, it could age up to 15 years. It is $42.

2012 Owen Roe, Pinot Noir The Kilmore
Most of you are familiar with the wines of David O’Reilly, who was in the shop this past August to pour a great line-up of his current vintages for us. A busy man, he makes wines under the Owen Roe, Sharecropper’s, and Corvidae labels, in both Oregon and Washington, all of which have their own loving fan bases, but the Owen Roe wines are the stars. They are named for Owen Roe O’Neill, a 17th century Irish patriot who dedicated his life to upholding the principles of political equality and freedom. Like O’Neill, David is originally from County Cavan, Ireland, though he now divides his time and winemaking efforts between Oregon and Washington. And it is in Oregon that he produces a stellar line-up of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, one of which is the Kilmore (we featured the 2008 vintage of this wine back in 2010). It is a blend of 80% Dijon and 20% Pommard clones, sourced from two exceptional vineyards, Lennè and Merriman, both in the Yamhill-Carlton District where the old ocean bottom soils produce wines with distinct flavors of dark fruit and coffee. Also from the excellent 2012 vintage, this Kilmore is opulent, with dark chocolate flavors, and smooth, luscious tannins—perfect for duck or pot roast. David made only 800 cases of it and it is $45. Approachable now, it has the structure to age another five to ten years. (The label depicts the Kilmore Doorway, entrance to the Trinity Island Abbey in County Cavan near where Owen Roe O’Neill sought refuge during his quest for Irish independence.)