Sips of Recently Tasted Oregon Wines
Big Table Farm was a featured winery at the 2013 International Pinot Noir Celebration. The name of the
winery is apropos since Brian and Claire continue to raise animals on their farm including calves and steers,
pigs, laying hens, and horses, as well as set a big table for guests who visit. Big Table Farm is now leasing all
12 acres of the Wirtz Vineyard. 2012 will be the last vintage for Resonance Vineyard as that vineyard was
purchased by Maison Louis Jadot who plan to use all the fruit for their own production. Kevin and Carla
Chambers, who owned and farmed Resonance Vineyard, have acquired another property and are in the
planning stages of planting a vineyard, so Big Table Farm should be able to work with them again in the future.
Plans for a winery on the farm are complete. All vineyards in 2011 were picked at the very end of October and
the sounds of trick or treaters filled the air as grapes were being sorted and processed. The wines are quite
young and Brian recommends decanting if you open them now. I found that all the Pinot Noirs were at least as
good or better two days after opening. All wines are unfined and unfiltered. A big plus with these wines is that
because the alcohol percentages are low, you can easily enjoy a couple glasses without getting sideways.
Each label is a work of art by Claire. Visit www.bigtablefarm for more information or sign up for the mailing list.
2011 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.6% alc., 119 cases, $45. This vineyard is old by Oregon standards
as it was planted in the early 1970s. Brian likes to say he was still
wearing diapers when the vines went into the ground in this vineyard.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. This wine reminds of cherry
pie baking day at cooking school. Deliciously flavored with ripe cherries
and baking spices with a hint of sandalwood and wintergreen. Crisp and
juicy with a long, spirited finish. Hard to put your finger on the reasons for it, but
this wine grabs your interest and holds on. An old vine treasure.
2011 Big Table Farm Sunnyside Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 143 cases, $45.
Inaugural vintage from this vineyard.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas and
flavors featuring raspberry, dark cherry, white pepper, iron and a hint of smoky oak. Soft and dry in the mouth
with a tangy cherry finish featuring zippy acidity. A wine with compelling modesty.
2011 Big Table Farm Cattrall Brothers Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
143 cases, $45. The highest elevation and coolest vineyard of the four wines in the 2011 Big Table Farm Pinot
Noir portfolio. Fermented with native yeasts and whole cluster.
Moderately light reddish color in the glass.
Shy, but pleasant aromas of cherries, red rose petals and oak plank. Elegant and delicate, with flavors of red
cherries and berries, a hint of oak and herbs, and an acid-driven, refreshing finish. A bit dilute on the mid
palate and finish, but overall a satisfying expression of the cool vintage.
2011 Big Table Farm Resonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
alc., 287 cases, $48. This vineyard is the warmest site in the Big Table Farm lineup. Typically this
wine needs a few years to mature and this is evident in this vintage as well despite spending a year in
barrel and a year in bottle.
Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. A well-mannered wine
with aromas of dark cherry, marionberry and spice that fill the glass. While the core of black cherry fruit
is delicious now, the wine is relatively primary at this stage. Still, it is obviously a classy and
sophisticated offering. The tannins are firm but balanced and the finish is juicy and well-endowed with
grandiose fruit flavor. Hold for 2-3 years or decant if you must drink now.
2011 Big Table Farm Brooks Estate Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Riesling
11.4% alc., 91 cases, $28. Barrel fermented to dryness with
native yeasts and complete malolactic fermentation.
Moderate golden yellow
color and slight haze (unfiltered) in the glass. Lovely aromas of lemon zest, wet
stone, buttered brioche and paraffin. Very flavorful with pleasing notes of lemon
and grapefruit with a touch of spice and a subtle petrol note. Slightly creamy in
the mouth with a firm grip of lemony acidity on the bright finish. I don’t drink
much Riesling, but I know a great one when I taste it.
2011 Big Table Farm Wirtz Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
13.8% alc., 115 cases, $32. An “orange
wine” fermented on the skins briefly and then finished in barrel to dryness with complete malolactic
fermentation, bottled without fining or filtration.
Medium red-orange color and clear in the glass. An unusual
wine which is a challenge to describe. Aromas of peach skin, jasmine and eucalyptus. Soft and smooth on the
palate with flavors of dried cherry, yellow peach and baking spice. Similar to Pinot Noir Blanc in its flavor
profile. Mild dry tannins and hi-tone acidity, with a trace of heat on the finish. A conundrum.
2009 Panther Creek Cellars Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 925 cases, $45. Current release. Willakenzie
soils over fractured sandstone. Clones 114, 667, 777, Pommard and
Wädenswil. Aged 16 months in 30% new and 70% neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, briar, cigar
box and hickory are inviting. A generous wine with flavors of black cherry and
black raspberry that fan out nicely on the palate, complimented by oak flavors
that fold in nicely. The fruit is plush yet vibrant with an obvious esteemed
pedigree. The wine aims to please with a generous burst of fruit on the finish.
White Rose Estate Winery and Vineyard is producing some of the most interesting Pinot Noirs in Oregon.
The wines are “neo-classical” as it states on the label, in that they are produced in the time-honored tradition of
many great Burgundy wines using a significant amount of whole cluster that adds more secondary character to
the wines and provides a fuller structure for a clear expression of flavor. Winemaker/owner Greg Sanders and
winemaker Jesus Guillen or both self-taught, but they have a clear style in mind which has been fully
implemented since the 2008 vintage. A number of tasters have likened the wines to those of Domaine Dujac,
and I can’t argue with that. Some of the White Rose wines have been an epiphany for me. The White Rose
Vineyard is 12 acres located in the southern part of the Dundee Hills at an elevation of 700 to 800 feet. The
vines are self-rooted Pommard clone planted from 1978 to 1981 and Dijon 115 clone planted in 2001. The soil
type is volcanic Jory series. In the 2011 vintage, all the wines reviewed below were fermented with whole
cluster ranging from 75% to 100%. Total skin contact ranged from 22 to 26 days. All wines were basket
pressed in a traditional wooden ratchet press and racked once after completion of malolactic fermentation.
New oak ranged from 8% to 25%. All the wines display the enchanting whole cluster perfume, complex flavors,
and a bold, yet silky smooth, tannin structure. Visit www.whiteroseestate.com.
2011 White Rose Estate Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.66, 583 cases, $40. A blend
of 4 vineyards (White Rose Estate 32%, Vista Hills 32%, Marsh 24% and Luciole 12%) in three different
Willamette Valley sub-appellations, both old and young vines, sedimentary and volcanic soils. Clones are
Pommard and Dijon 777, 115, 114 and 667. 80% whole cluster on average. Aged 11 months in 10% new
French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of cherry pie and
exotic whole cluster spice. Elegant, yet flavorful, featuring cherry fruit, whole cluster spice and a tangy, citrusdriven
brisk finish. The dry tannins are slightly foreboding, and the wine lacks finishing length, but it remains
quite inviting and I would be happy to drink this every day. An excellent introduction to the White Rose Estate
2011 White Rose Estate Durant Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 167 cases, $60.
Vineyard was planted in 1994 to Dijon clone 114 in Jory soil. Harvested November 2, 2011. 90% whole
cluster, aged 16 months in 14% new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass.
Reserved aromas of dark red cherries and berries, wooded forest and spice. This wine has the most
concentration and the darkest fruit of the 2011 wines tasted. The whole cluster influence is subtle and alluring.
The dry tannins are evident, but are pure silk in texture producing a very round and smooth palate. A generous,
long finish completes the picture.
2011 White Rose Estate Guillen Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 265 cases, $60. Vineyard planted in 2001 to Dijon clone 115 in Jory
soil. Harvested November 6, 2011. 95% whole cluster. 6-day pre-fermentation
maceration. Total skin contact 25 days. Aged 16 months in 18% new French
Moderately light ruby color in the glass. This wine shows the most
whole cluster influence of any of the 2011 Pinot Noirs tasted on the nose and
palate. The perfume is haunting with uplifting aromas of fresh cherry pie glaze,
rose petals, leaf and exotic spices. Elegantly composed with a gentle core of
cherry and cranberry fruits, a hint of oak, and plenty of whole cluster spice and
forest floor. Broad-shouldered, dry tannins add structure and the juicy acidity
lifts the tangy, cherry-themed finish. If you like whole cluster fermented Pinot Noir, you will flip over this wine.
2011 White Rose Estate Anderson Family Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 141
cases, $80. Self-rooted Dijon clone 115 planted in 1991 in Jory soil. Harvested October 28, 2011. Fermented
100% whole cluster. 3 days pre-fermentation maceration, total skin contact 23 days. Aged 16 months in 8%
new French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal
brilliant aromas of black cherry, whole cluster spice, rose petal and wine cave. Clean and pure on the palate
with generous flavors of earthy cherry and strawberry with complimentary whole cluster spice. This wine has
the most bold and muscular tannins of the 2011 wines tasted. Flavor intensity picks up over time in the glass
which is always a good sign of longevity.
2011 White Rose Estate Winemaker’s Cuvee
13.0% alc., 99 cases,
$85. Sourced from White Rose Vineyard and Luciole Vineyard.
Pommard, 115 and 777 clones in Jory soil. Harvested November 4
(White Rose Vineyard) and November 1 (Luciole Vineyard). Fermented
75% whole cluster on average. 8 day pre-fermentation maceration,
total skin contact 23.5 days. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak
Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose
draws you into the glass with aromas of dark cherries, dried rose petal, exotic
spice and a hint of smoke. Delicious from the get-go with a rush of spiced
cherry and strawberry fruits on entry, penetrating every nook and cranny in the
mouth, and finishing with uncommon grace and generosity. The spice is particularly evident on the finish.
Despite the flavor onslaught, this wine remains elegant and refined. The healthy tannic structure predicts a
long life ahead. A very special wine.