Recently Tasted Willamette Valley Wines
Bluebird Hill Farm B&B & Cellars, Monroe, OR
Proprietors Neil and Sue Shay are Willamette Valley transplants from Florida who moved to Monroe, Oregon in
2010, purchased a property in 2011 and renovated a six-acre property that was overgrown with Christmas trees and populated with
bluebirds. The couple had made hobby wines when living in Southern Michigan and had success in local wine
competitions. Neil is a food science professor at Oregon State University and former director of the
Oregon Wine Institute from 2010-2012. Sue had a background in sales and marketing and worked in that role for Airlie Winery
and Heart of Willamette Valley wineries. She is the hostess at Bluebird Hill Farm B&B and Cellars.
After spending three years to fully clear the land, the Shays planted 1.5-acres to Pommard clone Pinot Noir.
More plantings have followed each year. Currently, the estate vineyard is 3-acres of high-density plantings
including the addition of Wädenswil and Dijon clones.
BlueBird Hill Cellars began small, with 214 cases from sourced grapes released from the 2015 vintage. The
winemaker is Bobby Moy, a veteran who has crafted wines in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and the
Willamette Valley. Nick Cheatham, who has a degree in fermentation science from Oregon State University, is
the assistant winemaker and vineyard manager. The winery expanded to seven varietals with the 2016 vintage.
Local artist Sky Evans painted the bluebird that graces the attractive wine labels.
A winery tasting room opened in 2016 and tasting is available by appointment and can be scheduled online.
Visit www.bluebirdhillcellars.com to purchase wines. The Bluebird Hill Farm B&B, a private hilltop retreat, is
available to rent at www.bluebirdhill.biz.
2016 Bluebird Hill Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 110 cases, $32. Released
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Pleasing fragrance of black cherry, dark
cranberry and toast. Light to mid weight in concentration, offering forward flavors of black cherry
with a deft touch of toasty oak in the background. Elegant and straightforward, with minimal tannins
and a cherries jubilee finish.
2016 Bluebird Hill Cellars Zenith Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 30
cases, $49. Released August 2018.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. The nose lacks fruit even over
time in the glass, offering only aromas of turned earth, ash and woodpile. Discretely concentrated in a mid
weight style with an assertive core of lush black cherry fruit. A little smoky, with sleek tannins and good
persistence on the finish.
2016 Bluebird Hill Cellars Walnut Ridge Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 30 cases, $49.
Released August 2018.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Cherry, spice and rose petal aromas and
flavors in this middleweight offering have appealing freshness. The wine displays gossamer tannins and a
modest finish. The cherry fruit has a majestic and seductive quality.
2016 Bluebird Hill Cellars Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 30 cases, $49. Released August 2018.
garnet color in the glass. Charming aromas of cherry, red berry, rose
petal and dried herbs. Righteous fruit flavors of cherry and blueberry
with hints of tutti-fruity, spice and cocoa. A classy wine with balanced
tannins, juicy acidity and persistence on the finish. The lovely fruit
floods the mouth with goodness without weight, picking up charm and
intensity over time in the glass.
2017 Bluebird Hill Cellars Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.8% alc., 90 cases, $32. Released
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Plenty of aromas to explore including
lemon oil, pineapple, white peach, pear and buttery biscuit. Slightly creamy in the mouth, with
energetic flavors of lemon, grapefruit and apple. Excellent balance and beguiling appeal.
Franchere Wine Company, Woodburn, OR
Proprietor and winemaker Mike Hinds was born and raised in Oregon. Work in the music business and web
development did not suit him, so after also working for four years in wine retail stores, he began crafting wine
at Illahe Vineyards. His first commercial vintage was 2013.
Grapes are sourced primarily from vineyards in the Willamette Valley, including Hanson, Zenith, Havlin and
Zena Springs vineyards (all dry farmed). The wines are fermented with native yeasts, vinification proceeds
without additives, and the wines are aged in used barrels and neutral tanks.
The wines are made in small lots and sold primarily through a mailing list at www.francherewine.com. Tasting
is available by appointment.
The two wines here are from the Van Duzer Corridor AVA. Late afternoon winds are the most prominent feature
of the AVA, cooling the region. The result is that the berries are small and thick-skinned and the phenolics ripen
at slightly lower sugars compared to most of the Eola-Amity Hills. The unique block that the grapes are sourced
from within the Havlin Vineyard consist of ironstone bedrock beneath marine sedimentary topsoil. The vines
receive the proper amount of stress so the vines are naturally low yielding and do not require the dropping of
fruit or leaf pulling.
2015 Franchere Havlin Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.6% alc.,pH 3.64, TA 0.59, 60
cases, $28. Vineyard is located in the Van Duzer Corridor (the Willamette Valley’s newest AVA).
Soils are marine sedimentary over rare ironstone bedrock. Harvest Brix 21.9º. 60% Pommard,
40% 115. 10% whole cluster. Native yeast fermentation, aged 10 months in used oak barrels.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered with Diam closure.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose
opens slowly to reveal aromas of blackberry, spice, bramble and damp soil. Earthbound fruit
flavors of purple and black fruits are framed by gutsy, but not aggressive tannins. Good liveliness,
with a boysenberry-driven finish.
2016 Franchere Havlin Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.60, 40 cases, $28.
Clone 115, Harvest Brix 23.2º. Native yeast fermentation. 10% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in used French
oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of smoky ash and woodshed
with no fruit arriving over time. Mid weight plus in style, displaying flavors of blackberry and cassis. Husky,
dense and brooding, with daunting tannins. No change when re-tasted several hours after opening. Veers to
Syrah in character.
Lingua Franca, Salem, OR
Master Sommelier Larry Stone was a legend in the restaurant business for many years, with stints at Four
Seasons, Charlie Trotter’s and Rubicon restaurants. He was the first American to win the prestigious Best
International Sommelier in French Wines competition in Paris. It seems everyone knew him, including Julia
Child and Darrell Corti, and many invited him to lend his talents including André Tchelistcheff and the Coppolas.
Despite his impressive resume and notoriety, Larry remains humble despite his remarkable palate and
Larry left the restaurant business in 2006, became president of Evening Land Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills
a few years later, leaving in 2012. In 2013, he sold his vast personal wine collection and with the assistance of
friends, family, and a major investor, David Honig, acquired a property in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA adjacent to
Seven Springs Vineyard.
The inaugural Lingua Franca Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines were produced in 2015 using purchased
grapes, with estate-grown bottlings added in 2016 from the 66-acre LFV Estate Vineyard. A modern winery was
constructed and completed in 2016. The wines are crafted in consultation with noted Burgundian vigneron
Dominque Lafon and by on-site winemakers Thomas Savre and Larry Stone. The vineyard manager is Antoine
Lingua Franca wines have already been placed in prominent Parisian restaurants and have achieved notoriety
in the wine press in the U.S. The website, www.linguafranca.wine, offers the Lingua Franca Journal, a
unique behind the scenes perspective of the winery. The winery appears in the new movie, ‘Somm3.’
The wines are sold exclusively to mailing list and Wine Club members. Starting with the spring 2019 release of
the 2017 vintage, a selection of very limited bottlings will be offered only to Wine Club members. Wine Club
members also have exclusive access to the winery’s new Sommelier For Hire program. The Lingua Franca
experience is made available to you in your preferred location. If you are not a member and would like to join or
need more information about the winery’s Wine Club, inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two of the wines reviewed here are from Mimi Casteel’s Vineyard and the third, Hopewell Vineyard, is farmed
by Mimi. She is a very intuitive and sensitive farmer working with dwarf sheep herded by llamas, and letting
wildflowers grow in the vineyards she farms. Larry says, “The vines yield flavors to her as to no one else.”
2015 Lingua Franca Mimi’s Mind Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $90.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of fertile earth, spice, rose petal and black cherry lead off.
Very similar to the 2016 vintage, except a little more concentration in a mid weight plus style and seemingly
riper dark red and black fruit flavors. More gutsy than the 2016 bottling with muscular tannins that come on with
a rush on the succulent-fruited finish. Needs more time in the cellar to integrate and moderate the tannins.
2016 Lingua Franca Mimi’s Mind Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., $90. Heritage
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of fertile earth, tobacco and cherry. Discreetly
concentrated in a mid weight style featuring red cherry and red berry fruit flavors accented with a savory
tobacco note. Backed by fine-grain tannins, the fruit holds on through a slightly astringent finish. Unchanged
when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2016 Lingua Franca Hopewell Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 340
cases, $60. Crafted from Dijon clones farmed to exacting standards by Mimi Castell in the hills above the
village of Hopewell.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black cherry, woodland spice,
pipe smoke and toasty oak. The middleweight black cherry, boysenberry and black raspberry flavors are very
satisfying. Admirable balance, with a compliment of toasty oak in the background and an extended and
generous finish. Even better when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with
an emerging seductive nose and a memorable finish.
Fullerton Wines, Beaverton, OR
Owner Eric Fullerton was first introduced to viticulture and winemaking as a 14-year-old boy in Boppard am
Rhein, Germany in 1969. In 1997, the Fullerton family moved from Denmark to the Willamette Valley of Oregon
where the wines proved inspirational to the Fullerton family. Eric’s son, Alex, who had swirled, smelled and
tasted wine from a young age, had a serendipitous encounter with Lynn Penner-Ash that enabled Alex to begin
his career in wine as a cellar hand for Penner-Ash Wine Cellars for two vintages. Alex and Eric made their first
wine together in a garage in 2011. Alex worked a vintage for Josh Bergström of Bergström Wines in 2012 and
the same year Fullerton Wines was launched with 350 cases of wine at the new SE Wine Collective.
Today, Fullerton Wines produces 4,500 cases annually of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from select
vineyard partners and the Estate Ivy Slope Vineyard. The winery has three labels: Fullerton single-vineyard
designates of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Five FACES Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Three Otters Pinot
Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Rosé. FACES is an acronym for the five Fullerton family members, Filip, Alex,
Caroline, Eric and Susanne (see photo above), and resides on the Five FACES Willamette Valley bottlings. The
Fullerton Coat of Arms hails from 13th century Scotland with three otters centrally displayed. These otters
serve as the inspiration for the Three Otters label wines.
Vinification is in open-top, closed-top and barrel fermenters, with punch downs for the open-top, pump-overs for
the closed-top, and rotation for the barrels. Lots are usually cold soaked for up to 10 days and ambient yeast
carry out the primary fermentation. Whole cluster inclusion varies with the lot and can change from 15% to
100%. Some vineyard-designated wine lots undergo extended maceration after fermentation. The vineyard designates
are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
For more information and to shop for wines online, visit www.fullertonwines.com. The Fullerton Wine Bar and
Tasting Room is located in Portland and is open Wednesday-Sunday.
2016 Three Otters Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.53, $22. This wine
was favorably reviewed in the previous issue in an article about Willamette Valley Pinot Noir wines
priced at $30 or less. Harvest Brix 22.9º-25.1º. Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 113, 114, 115,
667 and 777. Aged in French oak barrels, 5% new, 95% neutral.
Moderately light ruby red color in
the glass. Intriguing perfume of black cherry, nut oil, grilling spices and burnt tobacco. Very silky in
the mouth with a stylish core of black cherry fruit underlain with a long kiss of oak. A satisfying
wine with some finishing persistence.
2015 Five FACES Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.54, 1,000 cases, $35.
This wine is a blend from the winery’s best vineyard
sources, showcasing the breadth of terroir in the
Willamette Valley. Harvest Brix 22.8º-25.2º. Dijon 113,
114, 667 and 777, and Pommard and Wädenswil clones.
15% whole clusters. Aged in French oak barrels, 20%
new with remainder second or third fill or neutral.
ruby red color in the glass. Leading the way are pleasant aromas of
cherry, strawberry and toasty oak that gain traction over time in the
glass. Light to mid weight flavors of dark red cherry, spice and toasty
oak combine in charming and easy drinking fashion. A solid value
priced wine with a modest, but juicy finish.
2016 Five FACES Willamette Valley Chardonnay
alc., pH 3.32, TA 0.56, 300 cases, $35. A blend of five
vineyards reflecting the entire Willamette Valley. Dijon 76, 95, 96, Davis 108 and Wente. Whole
cluster pressed, barrel fermented with ambient yeast over several months at cold temperatures.
Full malolactic fermentation. Aged 17 months on the lees in French oak barrels, 10% new.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Attractive aromas of pineapple, ripe pear, kiwi
and buttered toast. Rich, ripe, mouth filling flavors of lemon, pineapple and pear with a shading of
nutty oak. Viscous in the mouth, with adequate acidity to maintain vigor.
2015 Fullerton Croft Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.52, 200 cases, $50.
Primarily sedimentary soils. Pommard, Wädenswil and Dijon 115 clones. Harvest Brix 24.5º-25.0º. Aged 11
months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Moderately dark garnet color in the
glass. Forestry aromas of fir tree and underbrush. A rugged and brooding mid weight plus wine showing
aggressive tannins that envelope the black fruit core. The fruit does not come to the fore even when tasted
several hours after opening. The wine finishes with cotton-mouth tannins.
2015 Fullerton Fir Crest Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.53, TA
0.54, 400 cases, $55. Marine sedimentary Willakenzie series soils. 30+year-old Pommard and Dijon 115
clones. Harvest Brix 23.4º-24.4. 30% whole cluster. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 40% new, 45%
second fill and 15% third fill.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of cherry,
sandalwood, baking spice and a hint of smoke. Light to mid weight in extraction, with straightforward dark red
cherry flavor. A little smoky oak plies the background. The modest tannins are well integrated and there is
some length on the finish.
2015 Fullerton Momtazi Vineyard McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.60,
200 cases, $60. Sedimentary soils, biodynamically farmed vineyard close to the Van Duzer corridor. Harvest
Brix 23.9º-24.6º. clones are Dijon 113, 114, 115 and 777. Fully de-stemmed, ambient fermentation, aged 15
months in French oak barrels, 35% new.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. The nose is not particularly
appealing with oak-driven aromas of char and smoke dominating over time. Earthy and rustic, and even weedy,
with a mid weight core of black cherry and black raspberry fruits underlain with mushroom flavor and an
overlay of oak. The tannins are a little aggressive and the finish is mildly astringent.
2016 Fullerton LUX Willamette Valley Chardonnay
12.5% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.54, 100 cases, $55. A four
barrel selection of fruit from Apolloni, Andreas and Nemarski vineyards. Dijon 76, 95, 96, and Davis 108. Whole
cluster pressed, barrel fermented with ambient yeast over several months at cold temperatures. Full malolactic
fermentation and aging 17 months in French oak barrels, 45% new.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass.
A sophisticated offering with aromas of lemon peel, green apple, kiwi, and cold steel. Bright flavors of lemon,
green apple and pear with a hint of vanilla. An edgy wine with submerged oak and a clean cut of acidity on the
lean but quenching finish. This wine lacks the exuberant fruit of the FACES Chardonnay, but is more classy.
Van Duzer Vineyards, Dallas, OR
Nestled in the Van Duzer Corridor, the estate vineyard is impacted by oceanic influences, keeping the vines
warmer during a cold growing season and cooler during a warm vintage (like 2015) compared to the rest of the
The 2015 vintage was characterized by warm and dry weather. A dry, east wind at the end of August created
the potential for dehydration in the vineyard, so a targeted watering program was instituted to combat moisture
loss while allowing gradual maturation of fruit at an ideal measure of water stress. Fruit was harvested
Visit the beautiful hospitality center for tasting open every day. the wines may also be purchased through the
winery's online store at www.vanduzer.com. See previous issues of the PinotFile for the full scoop on this
2016 Van Duzer Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.56, 7,202 cases, $32. 98% Van
Duzer Vineyard. 57% Dijon 113, 114, 115, 667 and 777, 25% Pommard, 18% Wädenswil. Aged 10 months in
French oak barrels.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Demure aromas of dark cherry, licorice and oak.
A cozy, comforting wine that is cherry fruit driven. Forward drinking and easygoing, albeit a bit shallow.
2015 Van Duzer Dijon Blocks Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.52,
319 cases, $60. Dijon 777, 113, 115 and 114. 7-day post fermentation maceration. Aged 15 months in French
oak barrels, 45% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy aromas of cherry, red berry and a
compliment of oak. Silky in the mouth in a cohesive and forward drinking mid weight style, that features darker
cherry fruit infused with ripe tannins. Nicely balanced, deft oak management, with a redeeming cherry-driven
2015 Van Duzer Westside Blocks Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.46% alc., pH 3.60, TA
0.53, 337 cases, $60. Dijon 777 and 113, Wädenswil, Pommard and Flower. These blocks are exposed to
winds funneling through the Van Duzer Corridor and the fruit develops thicker skins, richer color and generous
tannins. A barrel selection. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 46% new.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. Welcoming aromas of dark berries and fertile earth. Highly flavorful with waves of inviting black cherry
and boysenberry fruit flavors. Impeccably balanced with integrated tannins, energetic acidity and a big-time
finish of excellent length.
2015 Van Duzer Homestead Block Estate Grown Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.51,
243 cases, $60. 100% own-rooted Pommard clone. 10%
whole cluster. 8 days of extended maceration. aged 15
months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
garnet color in the glass. The best nose of the three Block
Pinot Noirs in this vintage, offering bright aromas of fresh
cherry, cola and spice. Delicious darker cherry essence that is
expansive in the mouth and lingering on the finish. Silky and
ephemeral, with righteous oak. Pinot royalty.
2015 Van Duzer Norris-McKinley Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH
3.67, TA 0.56, 138 cases, $60. 68% Coury “clone,” 17% Dijon 115 and 15% Dijon 667. This vineyard is an
estate property planted in Willakenzie soil. 8-day extended post-fermentation maceration. Aged 15 months in
French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Deep aromas of black cherry, balsam
and toasty oak. Forceful and assertive black cherry fruit backed by firm tannins. Silky in texture with a long,
opulent finish. This wine will benefit from decanting if opened now.
2016 Van Duzer Bieze Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Chardonnay
13.3% alc., pH 3.24, TA 0.74, 283 cases, $36. This vineyard is adjacent the acclaimed
Seven Springs Vineyard. Well-draining Jory soil and a temperate climate. Gentle whole
cluster pressed, fermented at low temperatures in 40% concrete tank, 35% in oak barrel
with batonnage, and 25% in stainless steel barrels. Aged on the lees for 8 months.
golden yellow color in the glass. Complex nose featuring aromas of yellow apple, flinty
citrus, woodland spice and nut oil. Very gracious and polished on the palate, offering
flavors of fresh Honeycrisp apple, pear, pineapple and a hint of caramel. Creamy in texture,
with a succulent fruit finish of uncommon length. Ostentatious for an Oregon Chardonnay, but so what.