2018 Brick House Vineyards, “Cuvée du Tonnelier” Pinot Noir, $49.75
Winery Info: Doug Tunnell owner, winemaker, and vineyard manager of Newberg-based Brick House Vineyards, planted his first vines in 1990. Since then his estate on Ribbon Ridge has grown to 40-acres, and he still oversees it today. His wines are all estate-grown, in his certified organically and bio-dynamically farmed vineyards. This wine, 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 their oldest vines and crafted to be the finest expression of the estate’s climate and terroir.
Winemaker: Doug Tunnell
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir.
Vineyard: From a ten-acre block of Pommard clones planted in 1990 just south of the brick house.
Flavor profile: The Cuvée du Tonnelier is typically well structured and refined, with notes of baking spice, bramble, and forest floor. This vintage is very savory and complex, with dark, juicy flavors and smooth, sleek texture.
Production: Less than 500 cases made. There is still some left with the distributor as well as at the winery.
Drinkability: Doug suggests cellaring this cuvée for four to eight years from vintage, noting at the same time, that it is typically the first of their reserve Pinot Noirs to be generously approachable.
Food Pairing: Try it with roast duck breast, boeuf Bourguignon, or mushroom risotto.
2018 Leah Jørgensen Cellars, “Tour Rain,” $29
Winery Info: Portland-based winemaker Leah Jørgensen seeks to make “pretty wines in the Pacific Northwest, one barrel at a time, 100% inspired by the wines of the Loire.” She began her career on the east coast working in wine distribution, which is where she fell in love with Loire Valley wines. After moving to Oregon she worked with various wineries, including Anne Amie Vineyards, Erath, and Shea Wine Cellars before founding her own winery. Her focus is on Cabernet Franc.
Winemaker: Leah Jørgensen
Grapes: 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Gamay, a blend inspired by the red wines of the Loire Valley. The wine’s name is a play on ‘Touraine,’ a wine region in the heart of the Loire.
Vineyard: Not a lot of information is available on this vintage but in the past, the Cab Franc has been sourced from Mae’s Vineyard in southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, a site that consistently produces very balanced fruit, while the Gamay has come from Havlin Vineyard in the Van Duzer corridor where the maritime breezes provide a cooling effect on the fruit as it ripens.
Flavor profile: This medium-bodied wine is clean and fresh, with bright, brambly red fruit flavors, inviting floral aromas, and a touch of herbs and spice. The Gamay adds a note of white pepper to the flavors of cherries, raspberries, cassis, and black tea. Leah says it is “light, lithe, flirty, and bright.”
Production: This wine is still in decent supply at the moment.
Drinkability: It is ready to drink anytime over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Leah suggests enjoying it (slightly chilled) with pasta, rich Asian dishes (noodles), charcuterie, beet salad, brick oven pizza, or kabobs.