2017 Holocene Wines, “Apocrypha” Pinot Noir, $57
Winery Info: Holocene wines are made by Todd Alexander, former winemaker at Napa’s highly acclaimed Bryant Family Vineyard.
Todd relocated to Washington in 2014 to become winemaker for Force Majeure, an ultra-premium winery located in the Walla Walla Valley, specializing in estate-grown, single-vineyard Bordeaux- and Rhône-inspired wines. Under his Holocene label Todd produces Pinot Noir from small, unique vineyard sites in Oregon.
Winemaker: Todd Alexander
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyard: Sourced from Antiquum Farm on the outskirts of Junction City, in the southern Willamette Valley. It is an unirrigated vineyard planted on a thin layer of bellpine soil, a unique composite of volcanic and sedimentary material. The 800-foot elevation is considered to be the upper limit for growing Pinot in the region, but the extreme diurnal variation allows fruit from this site to develop remarkable acidity.
Flavor Profile: Todd crafts his wines using low impact techniques, native yeasts, and little new oak to let a true sense of place shine through. Fruit from Antiquum Farm’s unique soil produces wines that show more of the blue and black fruits, with plenty of intensity, balanced by vibrant acidity. This wine is medium-bodied, with lovely texture, notes of spice, earth, and brambly herbs, and great minerality.
Availability: This is a very small production wine and there are just a few cases left of this vintage.
Drinking Window: Perfect now, but it should continue to develop further over the next five years.
Food Pairing: They say they enjoy this wine with lamb merguez sausage and saffron rice. Or you could try it with Boeuf Bourguignon, cassoulet, roasted venison with foraged mushrooms, or warming fall braises.
2018 Abacela, Malbec, $29.75
Winery Info: Founded by Earl and Hilda Jones in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, a region warmer than the Willamette Valley to the north, yet cooler than the Rogue Valley region further south. Their original focus was on growing Tempranillo and they planted their first vines in 1995 in a site where the climate conditions were similar to parts of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Being the first to plant Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest, they named their winery for the Spanish word abacelar meaning “to plant a grape vine.”
Winemaker: Andrew Wenzl
Grapes: 100% Malbec, aged two years in French oak, 92% neutral.
Vineyard: Abacela’s estate Fault Line Vineyard, with slopes ranging from flat to 43% grade and elevations from 526 to 816 feet above sea level. There are three main vineyard parcels with distinct soil types that vary from block to block, each requiring its own specific irrigation and management.
Flavor Profile: They produced this complex, full-bodied wine from their best barrels of Malbec. It is smooth, savory, and well structured, with notes of dark berries, chocolate and a touch of earthy spice. The tannins are balanced and well integrated.
Availability: 409 cases produced. There is still some of this vintage available.
Drinking Window: Enjoy now or up to around 2026.
Food Pairing: This wine would be delicious with braised meat dishes, hearty lamb shank, or pot roast.