2015 Brick House, “Cuvée du Tonnelier” Pinot Noir, $49.75
Winery Info: Newberg-based Brick House planted their first vines in 1990. They have since grown to a 40-acre estate on Ribbon Ridge still run by owner, winemaker, and vineyard manager Doug Tunnell. His wines are all estate-grown, from his certified organic and biodynamic vineyards. His “barrelmaker’s blend” honors the legacy of his father whose family were coopers (tonneliers) in 17th century France. (They took the name Tonnelier, which later became Tunnell). It is produced from some of the estate’s oldest vines and crafted to be the finest expression of the estate’s climate and terrain.
Winemaker: Doug Tunnell
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, planted on its own rootstock (rather than grafted), which Doug feels produces wines that better convey the unique qualities of the soil.
Vineyard source: A ten-acre block of Pommard clones just south of the brick house, planted in 1990.
Flavor profile: Doug’s Cuvée du Tonnelier typically has notes of baking spice, earthy forest floor, and bramble. This one is true to form, with rich, savory notes of black cherry and dried herbs. Very elegant.
Availability: Less than 500 cases made. It should be available for a few more months.
Drinkability: Doug suggests waiting about five years from vintage to open this one, then enjoy by 2024.
Food Pairing: Try it with roast duck breast with sautéed mushrooms.
2014 Boedecker Cellars, Stewart Pinot Noir, $37
Winery Info: A collaboration of the husband and wife team of Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas who began crafting wine together in 2003. In 2008 they moved into their own urban winery in northwest Portland. Their goal has always been to create wines that reflect the diversity of the Willamette Valley and to that end they have carefully selected vineyards throughout the region to lease and farm.
Winemaker: Although both Stewart and Athena make the wines, this is Stewart’s personal blend.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir. A combination of Pommard, 777, 114, 115, and 667 clones, from 5- to 15-year- old vines. Aged on lees in French oak for ten months, then racked into neutral barrels for further aging.
Vineyard: Shea and Hirschy vineyards, in Yamhill-Carlton; Stoller Vineyard in the Dundee Hills; Finnigan Hill Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains; and Cherry Grove Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. They provide a mix of marine sedimentary and volcanic Jory soils.
Flavor profile: Stewart’s Pinot typically leans towards brighter acid, softer tannins, and nuanced aromatics. This one is silky, elegant, and complex with expressive flavors of red fruit, earth, and underbrush.
Production/Availability: 1,100 cases produced. There is a bit left of this vintage, then they will be moving on to the 2015.
Drinkability: Delicious now or over the next few years, it should continue to develop up to around 2025.
Food Pairing: This one would pair well with hearty roast chicken with mushrooms or a seared Wagyu fillet with roasted root vegetables.