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Wines Recently Submitted for Review

I review a limited number of wines that were either submitted without notice, unaware of my very relaxed tasting schedule, or wines that were submitted by invitation.

Fulcrum Winery, Sonoma, CA

2018 was a superb vintage with both high yields and excellent quality. The 2018 growing season was marked by a cool spring, warm summer, and a long, cool harvest with only spots of rain. Pinot Noir grapes were allowed to hang on the vines well into October.

2018 Cloisonné Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 707 cases, $24. A Napa-based negotiant producing small lots of wines from growing areas in California. Available for tasting in the Fulcrum Tasting Room and distributed retail nationally. 100% de-stemmed grapes, Aged in French oak barrels. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, dark red berry, peppery herbs and vanilla. Better on the palate in a mid weight style, offering a charge of black cherry, cola and anise flavors backed by gentle tannins. A reliable quaff that shows some length on the spirited, spicy finish. Score: 88

2018 On Point Winemaker’s Selection North Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 183 cases, $39. A blend of grapes from Gap’s Crown, Hogan’s Run and Conzelman vineyards. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 24% new. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry, cherry, vanilla and mushroom earthiness. rise up from the glass. Well-endowed with juicy flavors of spicy dark red cherry and blackberry with a modicum of oak in the background. Nicely balanced tannins and forthright acidity with a lip-smacking finish. Score: 90

2018 Fulcrum Gap’s Crown Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 214 cases, $70. Clones “faux 828” and 667. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. A relatively ripe, boisterous and full-bodied wine that makes a big impression. The aromas and flavors of darker berry fruits grab attention, but the sappy fruit is not summatré. The fruit cloaks the supportive tannins so the mouthfeel is sleek and velvety. A typical Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir. Score: 93

MonksGate Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton, OR

A small family-owned and operated winery located in Carlton, Oregon, producing Pinot Noir and Riesling from a 20-acre estate vineyard planted from 2000 to 2007. There is an interesting back story to this winery.

The name, MonksGate, was derived organically when Ron and Linda Moore, unpacking to move to their new property, saw Monks from the nearby Trappist Abbey walking out of the woods behind what is now the winery’s tasting room. The property at the time was covered in 20 acres of overgrown fir trees that were planted to keep the property in Ag tax deferral, along with scrub oak and blackberry bushes. When the Monks became concerned that the property would be fenced, Ron offered to put in a gate for them. He did, they have made good use of it, and a name was born!

From 2000-2014 the winemaker was distinguished veteran winemaker Laurent Montalieu. Early on, the wines were produced as a hobby and poured for festivals and big weekends. When their daughter, Rebecca, took over the label in 2015, she also took control of the vineyard and hired Drew Voit as winemaker. Rebecca has taken a significant role in the cellar alongside Drew, grown production, improved the property and developed a wine club.

The estate vineyard is planted to Wädensvil 2A, Pommard, 777, 667 and 115. Soils are marine sedimentary (Willikenzie series) with fingers of volcanic (Jory series) as the property is located on the backside of the Dundee Hills.


2019 MonksGate Vineyard North Block Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir

12.3% alc.,pH 3.09, 198 cases, $22. Released February 2020. 100% Pommard. Whole cluster gently pressed. Aged 4 months in stainless steel. · Light salmon color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of fresh strawberry and red raspberry. The flavors of blood orange, red berry and watermelon are bright and satisfying. Bone dry, with sprightly acidity, very modest tannins and a quenching finish. Score: 90

2017 MonksGate Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.61, 425 cases, $38. Released September 2019. 30% Pommard, 23% 667, 27% Wädenswil, 20% 115. Aged 10 months. · Light garnet color in the glass. The nose shows some volatile acidity upon opening that resolves when tasted several hours after opening. Light in weight, with aromas of red cherry and dried herbs, and flavors of cherry and herbal oak. A bit shallow on the mid palate with moderately firm tannins. Score: 88

2017 MonksGate Vineyard Trinity Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.58, 194 cases, $50. Released September 2019. A limited production barrel selection. 50% 777, 38% Pommard and 12% 667. Aged 10 months. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of dark red cherries and berries, and enticing riffs of rose petal and spice. A middleweight style that is juicy and bright, offering a chewy core of dark Bing cherry fruit. Adroit winemaking with a light touch of oak, gracious tannins and a satisfying, moderately long finish. Score: 92

Phelps Creek Vineyards, Columbia Gorge, OR

The winemaker at Phelps Creek is Alexandrine Roy, a fourth generation winemaker at Domaine Marc Roy in Gevrey-Chambertin. The Cuvée Alexandrine bottling is a winemaker’s barrel selection from the estate vineyard. Pommard and Dijon clones. Native yeast fermented, aged in French oak barrels, about 25% new. Visit

2015 Phelps Creek Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 245 cases, $54. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. The nose opens slowly to reveal appealing aromas of earthen blackberries. Both black cherry and blackberry fruits and botanical elements for the mid-weight core of this wine that exhibits noticeable tannins creating a modicum of astringency on the finish. Considerably more appealing when sampled the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with more fruit to the forefront and tannins to the rear. Score: 91

2016 Phelps Creek Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 264 cases. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. A complex nose offers scents of cherry, earthy flora, and oak-driven spice and toast. Charming black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors in a middleweight style backed by noticeable oak. Supportive and integrated tannins with a sleek and silky mouthfeel and a grand finish that leaves an impression. Score: 92

2017 (not produced due to fires)

2018 Phelps Creek Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Oregon Pinot Noir

Unreleased, unlabeled bottle. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Alluring aromas of black cherry and mushroomy earth. Light to mid-weight in sap and quite fruit forward, displaying flavors of purple grape, cherry and spice. Excellent harmony with notable elegance, and a substantial grip of black cherry fruit that persists on the lengthy finish. More desirable when sampled the following day from a previously opened bottle with more prancing fruit engaged with very fine-grain tannins and bashful oak. Score: 94

More Wines

2017 VIE North Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.62, 150 cases, $35. Released October 2019. Winemaker Bryan Kane seeks out small vineyards using organic and sustainable farming practices in the North Coast including Los Carneros, Sonoma Coast the Anderson Valley. Indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged 14 months in French oak barrels, 17% new. · Light orange-red color in the glass. The nose leads with an oak-kissed red cherry aroma. Easygoing, with gossamer tannins, featuring red and blue berry flavors in a light-to-mid-weight style. The wine develops more charm and interest over time in the glass although it was less appealing when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, so probably not a cellar candidate. Score: 89

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