2013 Ayoub, Thistle Vineyard, Pinot Noir
Mohamed “Mo” Ayoub has been quietly (and passionately) building up his estate winery ever since he planted his first vines in 2001. After searching Oregon for the perfect site, he finally found it in a steep, four-acre, southeast-facing slope in the red hills of Dundee. He released his first vintage in 2005 and his production remains small, but the accolades have been coming fast and furious: some claim he is one of the hottest winemakers in the country, though he remains a very humble winemaker. David Schildknecht, in the Wine Advocate, gushed that “his fanaticism is paying off in some of the most exciting wines produced in anywhere North America not to mention the Willamette Valley.” And Rex Pickett, author of “Sideways,” wrote: “Ayoub’s wines are bold, rustic and some of the finest expressions of the Pinot Noir grape I’ve ever tasted.…emblematic of what’s happening with Oregon Pinot: small production, hands-on approach, and intimate and rigorous control over the final product.” In addition to his estate Pinot, Mo also produces wines from several other sites, including this one sourced from Thistle Vineyard, also in the Dundee Hills. And while his estate Pinot comes in at around $60, this is a chance to experience Ayoub for yourself, for only $48. Despite rainy weather during harvest, Mo feels that his 2013 vintage wines turned out beautifully—aromatic, with excellent balance and complex flavors that really showcase the vineyard terroir. As with all Ayoub Pinots, this one really rewards patience: Mo suggests drinking it anytime between 2016 and 2021. Then enjoy the wonderfully balanced red fruit, toasted hazelnut, and spice flavors of this gorgeous Pinot from a winery we expect to hear a lot more about in the future.
2012 J.K. Carriere, Lucidite Chardonnay
While Ayoub is a brand new face in the Oregon club, J.K. Carriere is not. We’ve featured a number of Jim Prosser’s classically-styled Pinot Noirs over the years, and are huge fans of his style, emphasizing grace and nuance over power. Jim, as you may recall, is the winemaker who is deathly allergic to bees, hence the wasp featured prominently on his label. He was in the shop last month to pour his current releases for us and we were impressed, as always, with his whole line-up. And for this month’s club, we decided to include his Chardonnay. While many people think of Pinot Gris as the white grape of Oregon, it only makes sense that, where great Pinot grows well, so would great Chardonnay, as evidenced in Burgundy. This one is sourced from two vineyards: a high, late-harvested shoulder of Temperance Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and St. Paul Vineyard, outside of Newberg. Jim produced this wine in an “Old World oxidative style,” with a long, slow, low-temperature fermentation in barrel, using wild yeasts. This approach helps preserve the aromatics of the fruit and express the character of the vineyard. With 2012 being a basically perfect growing year in Oregon, this wine has everything going for it. It is round and complex, with flavors of orchard fruit and soft spice, and plenty of fresh, balancing acidity. Jim made only 220 cases and it is $33. It is ready to enjoy now, or over the next few years and, while beguiling on its own, it would also be excellent with roast chicken or some rustic bread with your favorite cheese.