• Oregon's Grand Cru Trifecta: Evening Land Seven Spring Vineyard

    Oregon's Grand Cru Trifecta: Evening Land Seven Spring Vineyard

    Our recent offer on Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Gamay Noir was a huge success. Today we move up the hill and toward the pinnacle of the estate, their La Source and Summum Chardonnay, and the rare whole cluster fermented Anden Pinot Noir. The former have become benchmarks for Oregon Chardonnay, and the latter epitomizes the freedom that old vines in the Eola-Amity Hills can afford. These are Oregon Grand Cru sites, and 2014 marks an important time for this historic winery where its bold and contemporary philosophy has become fully realized.

    Seven Springs Vineyard for decades has produced top-flight wines in what certainly can be described as a magical setting in Willamette Valley's Eola-Amity Hills. The appellation stands out for its distinct volcanic and basalt soils, remnants from the Missoula floods from the last ice age. However, two factors greatly impact why this site annually produces wines of supreme balance and agility: The eastern-facing site basks in warmth from sunrise, and the Van Duzer corridor brings cold winds from the Pacific to moderate temperatures. The growing season in the Willamette Valley is very dry and warm, those vineyards afforded the luxury of cooling influences are the ones that prosper.

    While the style of Evening Land has always been about purity of fruit and elegance, the 2014 vintage symbolizes a move toward a greater emphasis on vibrancy, energy, and definition of place. The wines have reached new heights, with brand new labels marking the occasion.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard La Source Chardonnay
    $79 per bottle.
    The La Source shows Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnay at its most precise. Concentration and richness from these very old vines meld beautifully with 75% new oak, but it's the salinity and freshness on the finish that impress for the overall balance here.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Summum Chardonnay
    $103 per bottle.

    Summum is the most iconic white of the estate. It's sourced from just 14 rows of old vines in the heart of the vineyard. For years glowing reviews have placed Summum on the top of the list among Oregon Chardonnays. In 2014, the move to age in 100% new Stockinger puncheons works brilliantly, as the larger format finishes this inherently opulent wine with tightly-knit structural definition.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Anden Pinot Noir
    $103 per bottle.

    Many have tried whole cluster fermentations with Oregon Pinot Noir, but the tannin profile from the rich volcanic-based soils has shown to be a difficult fit. However, a small block of the oldest Pinot Noir on Seven Springs Vineyard proved to be the one parcel that excelled due to its tiny berries with their ideal skin-to-juice-ratio.Spice, silken texture, and length of finish is what really separates this from all others in the pantheon of great Oregon Pinot Noir.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Old Vine Gamay from Oregon's Iconic Seven Springs Vineyard

    Old Vine Gamay from Oregon's Iconic Seven Springs Vineyard

    The Seven Springs Vineyard in Willamette Valley's Eola-Amity Hills is one of the undeniable top sites within Oregon. An October visit (pictured above) really confirmed the historical significance of the wines produced here. Ones that have stood as testaments to the heights achieved in Oregon winemaking today. And much of that success is derived from vines originally planted in 1983. Though Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the focus at Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard, it's their 1983-planted Gamay that's the real game-changer here.

    We aren't shy about our adoration of Beaujolais benchmark wines, like those ofFoillard, Métras, Dutraive, and Lapierre. That's why when I first tasted this rare bottling from Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr my head was left spinning a bit. Their regular visits and familiarity with these producers in the home of Gamay have clearly left a significant impression. However, impressions are one thing. Execution is something entirely different.

    1983 marks some of the oldest plantings of Gamay anywhere in North America. The age is no doubt a huge factor in the wine's pedigree. There's a marvelous texture, with a dizzying array of red fruits, and a finish that's simply unrelenting. Sashi and Rajat employ the same method of fermentation used by the great traditionalists of Morgon and Fleurie. Compounded with organic and biodynamic farming the breathtaking results in bottle shouldn't come as a surprise.

    Aromatics are a huge focus of the best wines of Beaujolais, and here too the floral notes are wide-ranging and burst out of the glass. 2015 served as a great vintage for this wine, as the hot and dry temperatures were no threat for these old vines that have grown deep into the jory, volcanic soils below. There's a forward juicy quality here that retains a striking freshness from start to finish.

    This special cuvée from an isolated old-vine parcel is a new release from the estate. This small-production gem is exactly the kind of wine we get so excited about opening people's awareness to. I highly recommend you take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with one of Oregon's most treasured estates, and its most rare wine.

    2015 Evening Land Seven Springs Gamay Noir
    $35 per bottle.

    Also available:

    2013 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir
    $54 per bottle.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard La Source Chardonnay
    $69 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Oregon Intersection: The Value & Soul of McKinlay Pinot Noir

    Oregon Intersection: The Value & Soul of McKinlay Pinot Noir

    The hunt for sub-$20 wines that deliver complexity and transparency on par with our more fine and rare selections is always a challenge. Very few in this range bring out the enthusiasm we're continually chasing. The McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is not only part of this select group, it's our reference point.

    Matt Kinne works with vineyards in the Chehalem Mountain range in the Willamette Valley. He's meticulous in farming, allowing only one grape cluster per shoot, and relying on dry-farming to push roots deep into the rocky volcanic soil below. These minuscule yields are the most significant aspect as to why his entry-level punches well above its humble price point.

    Pinot Noir is famous as a finicky variety, one that needs ultimate attention in the vineyard and a winemaker who knows when to take a step back in the cellar. Kinne defines this approach as well as anyone in the Valley. The process is simple: native yeast ferments, 25% maximum new oak, no fining or filtering, gentle extraction.

    Ultimately, the proof is in the bottle, and each time I taste his wines I'm left shaking my head a bit. The term Burgundian gets tossed around a lot, but this is simply the first place I turn when Francophile's want introduction to American Pinot Noir. The versatility of McKinlay on the dining table in unmatched. There's only one sub-$20 red wine I keep at home year round, and I highly suggest you follow my lead.

    2015 McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
    $19 per bottle.

    Also available:

    2014 McKinlay Ladd Hill Pinot Noir
    $39 per botttle.
    1976-planted vines in a tiny vineyard farmed by Kinne. Only made is particular vintages. A wine for now or for the cellar.

    2013 McKinlay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
    $19 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod