2014 Colene Clemens Vineyards, Victoria Pinot Noir, $65
Winery info: Founded in Newberg, Oregon 2005 by Joe and Victoria Stark and named in honor of Victoria’s mother, Colene Clemens. From the beginning Stephen Goff has been making the wines. He worked for six vintages at Beaux Frères before becoming winemaker and vineyard manager at Colene Clemens.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir. They blend their “Victoria” Pinot from a small number of the best barrels and most distinguished blocks to create the “purest expression of their estate vineyard in each vintage.”
Vineyard: Their estate vineyard, located where the Chehalem Mountains converge with Ribbon Ridge. It consists of both sedimentary and volcanic soils and ranges from 350 to 650 feet in elevation.
Flavor Profile: The warm 2014 vintage tended to produce relatively intense and fruit-driven wines, but this one also shows a balancing amount of restraint. It has great structure, with aromas and flavors of dark red fruit, a bit of spice, and a long, lovely finish.
Availability: 548 cases produced. It is still in decent supply.
Drinkability: Give it a year or two in your cellar, after which it should drink beautifully for up to a decade.
Food Pairing: Poultry dishes, lamb, or grilled salmon.
Sean Thackray, La Pleïade II, $29.75
Winery info: Bolinas, California-based winemaker Sean Thackrey has been one of the most influential people in the Bay Area for nearly three decades. As he notes on his website, he is “self-taught, and fully reliant on his intuition and senses…the antithesis of corporate wine-making.” While he has been described as iconoclastic, enigmatic, idiosyncratic, and even medieval, his wines have always been highly respected and much sought after. They are also made in very small quantities and are thus typically very hard to get ahold of.
Grapes: Sean rarely discloses the details of his wines, preferring to have them appreciated on their own merits. Some have noted that this wine has the characteristics of a white Rhône blend, perhaps with some Albariño.
Vineyard: This information, too, is known only to Sean…
Flavor Profile: It has beguiling aromas of dried fruit, nuts, and a bit of spice, with lovely texture and richness and flavors of orchard fruit and subtle herbs. A very intriguing and inviting wine, with loads of character.
Availability: There is a tiny bit left in Seattle
Drinkability: Now, or over the next five to seven years
Food Pairing: Smoked trout salad, cod brandade, or wild mushroom gratin.