the maturing of the NW wine industry, the improved education
"newbie" winemakers and winery owners, the growing to
adulthood of the second generation of winemakers'
families, but there are some wonderfully talented new winemakers
and wineries in the Northwest.
Cap Pinot noir 02 $36
Second Generation Lett Family
Winemaker Jason Lett's
father is David Lett (Eyrie Vineyards), one of Oregon's pioneering
winemakers and one of the first winemakers to grow Pinot gris
in the US.
Jason says: "my
father's holistic approach to wine growing has been my greatest
influence. He has always emphasized that great wine is made in
the vineyard. "
The first impression of
this wine is that the bottle's label and packaging are handcrafted.
The bottle has a beautiful appearance, with a wax signet seal
and beautifully textured label. The Pinot noir is made from grapes
from La Cantera and Bishop Creek vineyards.
Inside the bottle is a
rich, full bodied Pinot noir, very true to the grape at its best.
It is a big, dark wine, massive with creamy blackberry, marionberry,
and black raspberry in the nose and flavors.
Special hints of vanilla, spice, and just a touch of "red hot"
this wine special. A most impressive and cellarworthy wine. Cellar
More about Jason Lett and
Black Cap here.
Bergstrom Pinot noir 03 $22
Josh Bergstrom achieving family goals
There's not a winemaker
in the NW with more positive publicity than Josh Bergstrom. Maybe
photo in Wine Spectator of Josh lying on his belly on a pile
of wine barrels was a little
aside from the hype, this guy is making some excellent wines.
Some winemakers just seem
to have a special knack for making delicious wines. Although
Josh has an impressive education, his immediate hit wines right
out of the gate show his special gift for the craft.
The Bergstrom Pinot noir
03 Willamette Valley is delicious, and different from the 02.
The 2002 vintage was a perfect as it gets, and the 2002 Bergstrom
was immediately, indelibly distinctive, with a purity of balance
that made its $20 price a bargain. The 2003 version of the wine
shows the same balance, but has a darker, meatier flavor profile,
complemented by a sweet black berry and stone fruit quality.
In a way, it's a more interesting wine than the 2002, with hints
of spice, fresh earth, white pepper and toast wound around its
sweet core. Although not as simply perfect as the 2002, the character
of this wine shows the winemaker's skills and the evolution of
Bergstrom's basic "Willamette Valley" Pinot noir into something
special, uniquely "Josh".
More about Josh and Bergstrom
Pinot noir 01
Joel Myers' New Role- Winemaker
The Ken Wright Guadalupe
Vineyard Pinot noir has been one of my favorites for years, and
have a chance to try a wine from a different winemaker, using
Guadalupe Vineyard fruit. As with the Ken Wright version, this
wine has masive black fruit and hints of spice, with a restrained
thread ov vanilla toast and oak in the flavor and finish. Very
cellarworthy, drink after 2006.
Avalon sent this wine to
the Reserve Pinot noir Club in May, 2004. We chose it as a fascinating
example of a new interpretation of the Guadalupe fruit, and as
a delicious, big, darkly fruit and spice textured example of
a 2001 Oregon Pinot noir.
Mark Ryan "Long Haul" Red 01
Mark McNeill takes on Cadence with Finessed Big Reds
Named for the "Long Haul" that
the fruit takes over the Snoqualmie Pass to get to his Seattle
area winery, Mark McNeill has crafted a Boredeaux-Styled red
with unusually mature levels
of complexity and age-ability. His few releases are reminiscent
of the first vintages of Cadence, and Mark expresses similar
goals, hoping to craft wolrd class Washington reds that express
the unique terroir of each of the four vineyards he works with.
The "LongHaul" is huge, very
comparable to a high quality young Bordeaux, with no concessions
made to immediate, soft, accessibility. This wine needs cellaring,
or decanting and aeration if drunk in the next year. Emphasis
is on depth of flavor, with an unmistakable nod to the French
in its dark, brooding hints of licorice, black pepper, fine grained
tannins, and gradually rising black fruit flavors, as the wine
warms and breathes. Lay this wine down and bring it out when
the winery's offerings become cult collectables.
The aroma is intense, with
dark berries, cassis, fresh saddle leather, and smoke in the
nose. Flavors open gradually to hint at bing cherry, vanilla,
black berry, cassis, cinnamon, all woven into a deeply textured
mouth feel. Long finish, promising more to come with time.