2015 Angela Estate, Abbott Claim Pinot Noir, $60
Winery Info: Antony Beck is a second-generation wine producer from South Africa, where his family owns Graham Beck and Steenberg Vineyards. His love for Pinot Noir led him to Oregon where he cultivated a friendship with Oregon wine pioneer and renowned Pinot producer Ken Wright. In 2006 Antony, his wife Angela, and Ken planted the first vines of their future winery (named for Antony’s wife). The property now consists of two vineyards, Angela Estate and Abbott Claim.
Winemaker: French native Alban Debeaulieu. After study and work in France for many years, including with Burgundy’s Drouhin family, he moved to the states in 2013 to work at Domaine Drouhin in Oregon.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir from Pommard, and Dijon 777 and 115 clones. Aged 10 to 11 months in 30% new French oak barrels. The winery uses Cadus barrels for the warm tonality they impart to the wines.
Vineyard source: Abbott Claim, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, planted in 2001. With ancient marine sedimentary soils (Wellsdale, Peavine, Willakenzie, and Melbourne) at 425 to 475 feet elevation.
Flavor profile: 2015 was hot and dry, producing warmer, more powerful wines. The Pinots tended to show more dark fruit and spice. Those made by talented and experienced winemakers, such as this one, have excellent structure and aromatics. It is soft and smooth with elegant structure and beautiful balance.
Production/Availability: 2500 cases. It is still in decent supply at the moment.
Drinkability: This one is ready now, but will continue to develop up to 2023 or so.
Food Pairing: This Pinot could stand up to lamb or pork dishes, or roasted seasonal vegetables.
2015 Lemelson Vineyards, Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir, $29.75
Winery Info: Eric Lemelson planted his first vineyard in 1995 and his first release was from the 1999 vintage. His goal has always been to “celebrate innovation in technology, sustainability in agriculture, and tradition in winemaking.” Today he has seven organically farmed estate vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley. His state-of-the-art winery is located in Carlton, Oregon. Thea’s Selection is blended from three different AVAs, showcasing the nuances of each site and the character of each vintage.
Winemaker: Matt Wengel, with assistant winemaker, Ashley Campion
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, aged in 30% new and 70% used French oak.
Vineyard source: Their seven organically-farmed estate vineyards spread across three different Willamette Valley AVAs: Yamhill-Carlton, with Willa Kenzie sedimentary soil; Dundee Hills, with Jory and Nekia volcanic soils; and Chehalem Mountains, with Jory soil.
Flavor profile: Crafted to express the characteristics of the distinct terroirs, this Pinot is nuanced and complex with smooth, savory notes of dark red fruit, and hints of earthy spice and black tea. The tannins are silky and there is a nice touch of forest floor and herbs. It is a very approachable Pinot.
Production/Availability: While they make a fair amount of Thea’s, they are nearing the end of this vintage.
Drinkability: Now or over the next four to five years.
Food Pairing: Try it with grilled fish or a wild mushroom risotto.