July 18, 2008

Limited - Rex Hill "Dundee Hills" Pinot Noir 2003

First, the July wine tasting is today, Friday, July 18th....from 3:30-7:30...the wines are listed here....on my blog.

Second, on Wednesday, I was able to taste a Pinot Noir from Rex Hill that is a 2003......look around....you won't find many Pinot Noirs that are any older than 2005....and many are 2006 and even 2007 (blame the Sideways effect!).

Rex Hill practices organic, SUSTAINABLE agriculture and is working towards being certified biodynamic within the next 2-3 years (biodynamic is organic on steroids!).

This wonderful Pinot Noir is the Rex Hill "Dundee Hills" Cuvee Pinot Noir (Oregon) 2003. It's $33.99.

It's delicious.

We will never see the "Dundee Hills" Pinot Noir in Maine again in all likelihood. We are too small of a state.....Florida is getting 14 cases....that's it.....the 2006 vintage is up to $40 a bottle.

Here's why it is still around. The distributor lost track of the 7 cases (yes, 7 whole cases - I know I'm getting 2 1/2 cases - that's 30 bottles - I may be able to get more) in its warehouse.....so, it aged in a climate-controlled warehouse.....all because it was misplaced! That's to your benefit!

If you want some, let me know ASAP!

Dundee Hills comes from 3 vineyards, including the Maresh Vineyard - the 5th oldest in Oregon. At this point, yields are so low that it produces only 3/4 ton from an acre - that's really low!

One of the things I like about Rex Hill is that they are NOT trying to produce a masculine, "Syrah-like" Pinot Noir. Their wines are more elegant, nuanced, restrained if you will. This may be because their longtime winemaker was a woman and her style was elegant. That style still holds forth today!

Aromas and flavors of baking spices (that's the Dundee Hills talking from the dirt!), earth, dusty berry fruits, cooked cherries, roses, more baking spices.....subtle, subtle oak. Excellent acidity which is helping this wine develop. The tannins are there, but they aren't harsh. It has a wonderfully smooth texture.

Food pairing - salmon, roasted chicken.....looking ahead.....a few bottles of this on your Thanksgiving table will rock!

I also tasted two wonderful whites from Rex Hill....

Rex Hill Pinot Gris 2006 (Oregon) $19.99 - This is much more of an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris than a big, tropical fruit bomb.....it has a crisp feel throughout....with this softness in the middle......that's because it was fermented "sur lees" (that means on the residue that precipitates out of the wine and falls to the bottom during fermentation). This really shows the crisp, refreshing mineral notes and delicacy that a good Pinot Gris should! Fermented in stainless steel vats. Zero malolactic fermentation. Food pairing - lobster, smoked fish, sausages, mussels, shellfish, etc.

Rex Hill Chardonnay "Unwooded" 2005 (Oregon) $19.99 - this rocked! Given the amount of "world-class" Pinot Noir coming out of Oregon, it's a bit odd that we haven't seen a lot of outstanding Chardonnay.....until RECENTLY. Well.....here's why.....20-30 years ago, the winemaking pioneers in Oregon followed the California model regarding Chardonnay and planted the "California" clones and went for the entire "big" oak and big malolactic fermentation....well......the soil and weather were all wrong and the acidic Oregon soil just made for pretty bad Chardonnay from the "California" clones, which are ideally suited for Napa and Russian River. So, the wineries just ripped the Chardonnay vines out of the ground and expanded Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris production.....and Oregon Chardonnay just about disappeared. Today, 2008, we hear a lot of American wineries describe their Chardonnays as "Burgundian." This is winegeek speak for wine marketing executives to say, "our wine is not too oaky even if it is oaky." No Chardonnay in the USA from the "California" clones will ever be Burgundian. Today, we are also seeing Oregon wineries replant Chardonnay - in this evolution, though, they are planting true clones from Burgundy....and really focusing on Chablis. It shows! This wine was crisp, vibrant, steely....with ripe green apple flavors and bracing acidity. It has a soft texture because it is aged "sur lees" for a few months. It sees NO oak and does not go through malolactic fermentation (that's what makes Chardonnay creamy and buttery). We are seeing "Burgundian" Chardonnay from Oregon with this new generation! It makes sense - Burgundy sets the standards for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir......so, if Oregon has been growing world-class Pinot Noir for years, it should have world-class Chardonnay.....it does, now! Food pairing - smoked fish, poultry, Dover sole, etc.

I want to reiterate - I have a LIMITED amount of the Pinot Noir available and some of it is coming next week. I may or may not be able to get more of this. You MUST let me know ASAP if you want any of the Pinot Noir....and how much you want. I have a tiny amount of the Pinot Gris and Chardonnay RIGHT NOW, but, I can get more by Tuesday or Friday or next week....so, again, I need to know how much you want....

An e-mail reply with quantities and your phone number.....I'll reserve the wines and call you to confirm.

Regards,

Eric Fullagar

Freeport Cheese & Wine

5 comments:

Mick Beard said...

I'm a wine retailer in Portland, Oregon and just came across Eric's notes. The secret is out - Oregon has some wonderful Chardonnays! When I came to Oregon in 1989 good Chardonnays were very rare - wrong clone (108 which needs more sun than we usually get) and way too much oak. There were a few exceptions such as Bill Fuller at Tualatin (unfortunately Bill is no longer at the helm), David Lett at Eyrie (his son has just taken over), Russ Raney at Evesham Wood and John Paul at Cameron. Now some long established wineries such as Rex Hill and Adelsheim are producing wonderful Chardonnays as is Chehalem with its Ian's Reserve. There are many more, so seek them out - there are small wineries' Chardonnays which we retail for $12! However if I can drink a 2005 Rully for $18 retail, Oregon still has a challenge!
Mick Beard
Cornell Wine Company
mick@cornellwine.com

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