2015 Shea Wine Cellars, Estate Pinot Noir, $48
Winery Info: Shea has long been one of the most coveted vineyards in Oregon and a source of fruit for some of the top wineries in the state such as Beaux Frères, Ken Wright, St. Innocent, and Antica Terra. It was first planted by Dick Shea in the late 1980s and the estate now comprises 140 acres of vines, of which 135 are planted to Pinot Noir. After years of selling fruit to other wineries, Dick and his wife Deirdre began their own winery in 1996 “to create their own expression of Shea Vineyard terroir.” They now use 25% of their fruit for their own label and continue to sell the remaining grapes to other fortunate producers.
Grapes: Wädenswil, Pommard, Dijon 777, and Dijon 115 clone Pinot Noir, aged 49% in new French oak.
Vineyard: Select blocks of Shea Vineyard, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, with sedimentary soil at an elevation ranging from 400 to 600 feet.
Flavor profile: Shea Vineyard Pinots tend to be supple and elegant, with beautiful texture. They craft the Estate Pinot to be the best representation of the vineyard as a whole in any given year. The warm 2015 vintage produced an elegant, complex wine layered with rich, dark flavors and subtle notes of spice. It has ample structure, while still feeling soft and light.
Production: 4,447 cases produced.
Drinkability: It is lovely now, but will continue to develop for up to five years.
Food Pairing: Salmon, of course, or it would pair beautifully with roasted vegetables.
2014 Belle Pente Vineyard and Winery, Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir, $42
Winery Info: Belle Pente is a 70-acre hillside vineyard and winery just east of Carlton, Oregon, founded by Brian and Jill O’Donnell in 1994. The name (“beautiful slope” in French) describes the site and also reflects the inspiration they draw from the wines of Burgundy and Alsace. Brian has a deep understanding of the geology, geography, and soils of the Willamette Valley and has farmed biodynamically since 2005.
Winemaker: Brian O’Donnell
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, aged 18 months in barrel (30% new French oak)
Vineyard: Murto Vineyard in the Dundee Hills, with mature vines planted in 1978 on volcanic Jory soil. It is a fairly cool, high elevation site. From six acres, managed to Brian’s specifications.
Flavor profile: Brian notes that the warm 2014 vintage created something very special from this cool vineyard site that will appeal to fans of riper style Pinots. It has expressive aromas of red fruit and baking spice that continue to evolve as the wine opens up. While somewhat concentrated on the palate, it has a nice, balancing freshness and lovely complexity.
Production: 573 cases produced. It is still in decent supply but will not be around much longer.
Drinkability: While ready to drink now, it will continue to develop for up to five years.
Food Pairing: Grilled salmon, mid-east accented dishes such as lamb tagine, fowl, or lentil dishes.