2017 Clay Pigeon Winery, Rogue Valley Syrah, $43
Winery Info: This Portland-based winery was founded in 2011 by Michael Claypool and Sasha Davies, combining their backgrounds in food (Sasha spent over a decade working in the world of cheese as a wholesaler, retailer, author, and educator) and wine (Michael has worked in the wine industry since the 2000s, both on the restaurant side and in cellars).
Their focus is on non-intervention, Old World-inspired versions of classic varieties, and they are dedicated to the “lost art” of cellar-aged wines — “Wines that not only taste of place and varietals, but evolve and transform with time.”
Winemaker: Michael Claypool
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged 24 months in second- and third-use French oak, plus 36 months in bottle before release.
Vineyard: Sam’s Valley Vineyard, just northeast of Gold Hill, in Oregon’s southern Rogue Valley. The soil is Medford loam, with a strain of volcanic ash.
Flavor Profile: The winery notes that the unique soil in Sam’s Valley Vineyard, combined with the high heat index and minimal rainfall, produces complex fruit with intense flavors and exceptional balance. This Syrah is dark and rich, with a velvety texture, notes of dark fruit and white pepper, and an inviting hint of meatiness.
Availability: 125 cases made. This vintage should be around for a while.
Drinking Window: With a bit of bottle age already, this wine is ready to drink now or over the next three to four years.
Food Pairing: They say they love to pair this wine with steak, cassoulet, or chocolate desserts.
2018 The Eyrie Vineyards, Pinot Meunier, $47
Winery Info: Founded by David Lett who planted the first Pinot Noir grapes in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1965. Ten years later his 1975 Pinot Noir placed tenth among Pinots in the Wine Olympics in Paris. Eyrie wines have always been known for their elegance and light-handed style, earning Lett the nickname “Papa Pinot.” He was also the first Oregon winemaker to plant Pinot Meunier, one of the three main grapes used in Champagne (the other two being Chard and Pinot Noir). It is relatively rare to find a still wine made from the grape and we are always excited when we find one.
Winemaker: In 2005 Jason Lett took over winemaking from his father, who passed away in 2008.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Meunier, aged in mostly neutral barrels.
Vineyard: Eyrie’s estate Sisters and Daphne vineyards in the Dundee Hills. Certified organic.
Flavor Profile: This medium-bodied Pinot Meunier has bright, juicy flavors of raspberries and strawberries with savory undertones of brambly herbs and forest floor. It has soft, supple texture, fresh balancing acidity, and a lingering finish.
Availability: 356 cases made. It is in good supply at the moment.
Drinking Window: Delicious now, or you could let it develop for a few more years.
Food Pairing: Try it with savory pork or mushroom dishes, duck, or lamb with a peppercorn crust.