2018 Le Cadeau Vineyard, “Côte Est,” Pinot Noir, $60
Winery Info: In 1997 Tom and Deb Mortimer bought a previously uncultivated vineyard site near Newberg, Oregon, in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.
They developed and planted it with one goal: to produce distinctive, complex, estate-grown Pinot Noir. To this end, they farm meticulously and sustainably, incorporating many biodynamic practices, knowing that great wine always traces its roots back to the vineyard. Their small-batch cuvées are produced by several different winemakers, giving each wine its unique personality and showcasing the different clones, soils, and terroirs.
Winemaker: Steve Ryan
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, Dijon clones 667, 115, and 114, and Pommard. Aged 11 months in French oak.
Vineyard: From three east-facing blocks of their estate Le Cadeau Vineyard on the southern slope of Parrett Mountain. The naturally cooler temperature here and the Nekia (Jory) soils combine to give this Pinot its layered complexity, dark fruit character, and natural bright acidity.
Flavor Profile: Since its inception in 2004, Côte Est has been crafted to showcase the “delicate balance between dark fruit, earthiness, and structure.” This vintage is smooth and savory, with notes of dark cherry and plum, baking spice, and a nice backbone of earth. The dusty tannins are pleasant and well integrated.
Availability: 288 cases made. This vintage is still in good supply at the moment.
Drinking Window: Give it a year or two to develop, then enjoy anytime, up to around 2027.
Food Pairing: Great with leaner beef (such as filet mignon), duck or other game birds, or with roast pork, perhaps with a cranberry glaze. Or with seasonal mushroom dishes or dishes with richly spiced sauces.
2020 Ovum Wines, Gorge Sound, $29.75
Winery Info: Ovum was established in 2011 by John House and Ksenija Kostic House with the goal of “producing Oregon white wines that are honest reflections of time and place.” In a state where Pinot Noir is the star, they prefer to work with lesser-known vineyards and varietals and they focus predominantly on Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat grapes. They practice low intervention winemaking in order to let the fruit, the site, and the vintage character shine through, keeping their hands as winemakers as invisible as possible. Skurnik, their national distributor, writes, “Ovum’s work is among the most compelling white winemaking we have encountered in our search throughout the Pacific Northwest.” John and Ksenija were featured in the Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers for 2019.
Winemaker: John House and Ksenija Kostic House
Grapes: They say this is a predominantly Riesling blend (we detect a bit of Gewürztraminer spice on the nose). They use native fermentation and age the wine in 1,000-liter Austrian oval casks.
Vineyard: Sourced from the Columbia Gorge, with dusty volcanic Chemawa loam soil.
Flavor Profile: Very aromatic and textured, with notes of pear and ginger spice. The rich aromas give an initial sense of sweetness, but it finishes quite dry, with wonderful balancing acidity. They note that the Chemawa soil adds “verve and tension” while the warm sun reflecting off the river adds a lovely richness.
Availability: Only 110 cases produced. The distributor has just a few cases left of this wine.
Drinking Window: This wine is ready to enjoy now, while it is still wonderfully fresh.
Food Pairing: Great for Asian fare, especially dishes with a bit of spice.