2017 Averæn Wines, Meredith Mitchell, Pinot Noir, $51
Winery Info: Avaræn is a relatively new winery, founded in 2015 by several winemakers from Banshee Wines in Sonoma.
While attending the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon, they were struck by the similarities in growing conditions between the cold, foggy Sonoma Coast and parts of the Willamette Valley. (But happily, the cost of production in Oregon was much lower, reminiscent of Sonoma of 10 to 15 years ago.) They spent several years developing relationships with growers and finding a custom crush partner, and released their first wine, a Pinot Noir, in 2016.
Winemaker: Mordechai Kotler, former associate winemaker at Sotor Vineyards, with Rob Fisher, director of winemaking.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, planted in 1990 to own-rooted Pommard clone vines. Aged 12 months in 50% new, 25% second use, and 25% neutral French oak.
Vineyard: Meredith Mitchell, in the McMinnville AVA, a 22-acre, certified biodynamic vineyard with a mix of volcanic Jory and silty, clay loam Yamhill soil. The maritime winds coming through the Van Duzer Corridor provide a cooling effect, allowing the fruit to ripen slowly and develop good structure.
Flavor Profile: Soft, smooth, and aromatic, with cinnamon and cherry on the nose, and flavors of red and blue fruits. It has lovely texture and depth and a long finish with good minerality and fine tannins.
Availability: Six barrels produced. There are just a few bottles left of this vintage.
Drinking Window: Give it a year or two, then enjoy up to 2025 or so.
Food Pairing: This Pinot would pair well with salmon, of course, or you could try it with duck.
2014 Maysara, Jamsheed Pinot Noir, $29.75
Winery Info: Originally from Iran, Mahmood (Moe) and Flora Momtazi bought about 500 acres of abandoned wheat farm just south of McMinnville in 1997. Before starting their vineyard they meticulously researched which Pinot clones were best suited to the different soil types throughout their site and planted accordingly. Knowing that healthy soil and healthy vines produce superior fruit, they have never used any chemicals in the vineyard. They believe that low-impact, holistic viticulture conveys the best expression of their land in their wine. They are certified Biodynamic. (This wine is named for King Jamsheed who, according to ancient Persian legend, was able to observe his entire realm by peering into his wine goblet.)
Winemaker: Tahmiene Momtazi, Moe and Flora’s eldest daughter.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, from Dijon, Pommard, and Wädenswil clones. Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak.
Vineyard: Their estate Momtazi Vineyard in the McMinnville AVA at the mouth of the Van Duzer Corridor.
Flavor Profile: With their low-impact approach in the vineyard and in their cellar, Maysara wines have both intensity and elegance. The warm 2014 vintage tended to produce wines with clean fruit and perfect ripeness. Jamsheed is rich, yet fresh and balanced, with flavors of red and black fruit and a touch of cracked pepper. The finish is long and the wine continues to open up for hours, if not days.
Availability: 4,200 cases made. This vintage is still in good supply.
Drinking Window: Delicious now, you could enjoy it up to around 2025.
Food Pairing: The winery suggests pairing it with darker fowl, grilled meats, or salmon.