2018 Day Wines, Johan Vineyard, Pinot Noir, $45
Winery Info: Northwest native Brianne Day spent several years visiting wine regions throughout the world and worked at wineries in Burgundy, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.
Upon returning to Oregon, she did further work at a number of wineries before founding her own in 2012. Today she produces minimal intervention wines using fruit sourced exclusively from farmer-owned, biodynamic and organic vineyards. And her work has gotten plenty of acclaim. She was named one of the Top 40 Tastemakers Under 40 by Wine Enthusiast, she was a semi-finalist for the 2020 James Beard Award of Excellence, and hers is one of only seven American wineries noted in Isabelle Legeron’s book, Natural Wine.
Winemaker: Brianne Day
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, aged 22 months in neutral and once-filled French oak barrels. Produced with minimal added sulfur.
Vineyard: Johan Vineyard in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA. This 85-acre, Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyard is a relatively low-elevation site on primarily marine sediment soils. Fruit from Johan Vineyard tends to ripen later, due to the cooling effect of the winds coming through the Van Duzer Corridor.
Flavor Profile: Her Johan Pinot has deep, red berry fruit with notes of black tea, briar, and good minerality. It is soft, elegant, and aromatic, with balanced acidity and supple tannins.
Availability: The distributor still has some of this vintage left.
Drinking Window: Give it a couple of years, then enjoy up to around 2028.
Food Pairing: Salmon, of course, or you could pair it with herb-roasted duck or mushroom dishes.
2016 Suzor Wines, “The Tower,” Pinot Noir, $36
Winery Info: Greg McClellan began his winemaking career as a cellar hand at Ponzi, then worked as assistant winemaker for Hamacher Wines. He traveled to New Zealand and France to learn different interpretations of Pinot Noir and pursued a postgraduate program in viticulture and enology in Burgundy. After returning to Oregon he worked as co-winemaker at Trisaetum until he decided to start his own winery. Together with his wife Mélissa, he works with growers who are committed to sustainability and natural farming practices. They believe that low intervention winemaking and use of native yeasts produces the best expression of each vintage and results in the most distinctive Pinot Noirs.
Winemaker: Greg McClellan
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, aged 12 months in 20% new French oak.
Vineyard: Menefee and Vennwood vineyards, both in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA
Flavor Profile: This is a very pretty and accessible Pinot, with aromas of cherries, spice, and a hint of forest floor. There is a nice touch of earthiness on the palate as well, layered with fresh, delicate red fruit flavors, smooth tannins, and a fresh finish.
Availability: 552 cases made. This vintage should still be available for a while.
Drinking Window: Enjoy it over the next three to four years.
Food Pairing: This one would pair well with a rosemary pork loin, perhaps with cranberry sauce.