wowzers Thank you Darryl at Cork wine shop in Portland for the super fab wine write ups!! I really trust Darryl's palette and and deeply flattered by his reviews... It's also affirming to know I'm not the only one that is hoarding the Riesling!... : ) I'm in good company...
Brian and Clare, the dynamic duo behind Big Table Farm out in Gaston, are really revving up their tractors these days with production. They are just about to roll out their 2009 releases, and after a sneak peak at the wines a few weeks ago, I jumped on as much as they would sell me to stock the shelves (and my own cellar). I don't want to over-hype this, but I gave the white wine featured below the highest score I've ever noted on an Oregon white wine. And the Cattral Vineyard Pinot Noir - well, let's just jump down to the writeups, because calling the Eola Hills the next Volnay is probably going to get me into trouble!
They had me with the gorgeous Chanterelle label, but I really wasn't prepared for what was inside the bottle. Brian really likes to push the envelope with his winemaking and avoid what the common expectation might be. Forget whether or not you like Riesling, because it won't matter at all with this wine. It tastes nothing like Riesling and everything like love. As in the sheer positive energy that went into long maceration on the skins, extracting amber colors and textures that those enamored by the off-beat whites from Friuli's Gravner or Radikon might appreciate. But the wine isn't oxidized, even if it tends toward an orange hue. It offers hazelnut and pine, apricot and honey. If I had to place this in my mental mind of world wines, it falls somewhere dead in the heart of the Loire Valley, probably Vouvray. Which is quite odd, since those wines are made from Chenin Blanc and this is made from Riesling. There must be some magic in those Eola-Amity hills adjacent to the Brooks winery, where Brian procured the old-vine fruit for this bottling. I really don't care if you buy any of this, because they only gave me 2 of the 40 cases they produced and I will be pretty happy if I get to drink them all. But my wife keeps reminding me that the whole idea of having a wine shop is that I have to share what I find! Okay then, have at it.
2009 Pinot Noir - Cattrall Brothers Vineyard
This is one of the first single-vineyard bottlings I've seen out of the 2009 vintage, and it isn't really because BTF wants to rush their bottlings to the market. It's because they feel it is ready to go and, having only made 100 cases or so of a few different Pinots, it's what they have to offer. That's the problem with these super-delicious, well crafted wines from these tiny producers - we can't get enough of them!
First, let's give Clare Carver credit for creating another gorgeous label (not to mention all the great photos I pulled from her blog for this post). She told me when she saw the Cattral Brothers drive up in this old truck with the grapes to deliver during harvest, she knew exactly what the label would look like. Thanks for the beautiful rendering, Clare!
The Cattral Brothers Vineyard is the oldest certified organic vineyard in Oregon, located in the Eola-Amity AVA and planted in the late 1970's. It is such a delight to taste a wine made from older vines and see how the potential of Oregon Pinot Noir is coming to fruition. Having taken my first visit to Burgundy this summer and immersed myself in the wines of Volnay and Pommard particularly, my palate was struck by how at home this earthy, layered and savory-spiced red would be in the company of those village wines. I was just starting to get excited about all of the 2008 single-vineyard releases and now I'm not sure where I'm going to put them after we stack a pile of this Cattral 2009 at the shop. Please help us find a home for the 3% of production we are allowed to purchase!
2009 Pinot Noir - Resonance Vineyard
Kevin Chambers' Resonance Vineyard is one of those sites where the biodynamic farming methods he champions has brought a vivid increase in the flavors coming out of the grapes harvested here. Brian and Clare have worked with the Resonance fruit since they started Big Table Farm, and this is definitely the best bottling thus far from the vineyard. Lighter cherry notes and cedar predominate the palate right now, but I suspect that cedar will take a backseat to the underlying clove and cinnamon fighting for attention in the background. The wine is a little tannic at this stage, and I'd recommend laying this one down until the Spring. Which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the Cattral during the winter. A whopping 190 cases were produced, so if you want to be looking at that pretty cow label come April, buying it now and stashing it away is your best chance to guarantee you get some.