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January 29, 2009

06 J. Christopher, Pinot Noir Dundee Hills "Sandra Adele"

I think this is what Stafford Hill meant to do with the great 2002 vintage. I'll never forget that wine because it floored me, completely floored me, with what it did with that glorious vintage. I remember thinking this must be a joke. This isn't 2002 Oregon pinot noir. It's a secret Moldovan pinot from the future. It would take such a pogrom-inflected palate to take something as sweet and balanced as 2002 Oregon pinot noir and turn it into a militia. Either that, or it's an errant Jay Somers bottle with "Pavillon" written in White-Out on the neck. I tried this wine blind today and those seven sentences were the first thing I thought. So maybe it's no surprise that Stafford Hill is the second label for Jay Somers' Holloran label, and that the Le Pavillon vineyard is right smack in the jory (red, sponge-looking and sponge-tasting, sea-inflected loam) soil of Dundee Hills. Either terroir exists or Jay sweats star anise and cumin from his fingertips on the triage. I've caught this wine early, but there's no doubt it's a classic Oregon pinot noir. Unlike his more floral and contained 05, 04, and 02 (for God's sake, will someone please sell me a 2003?), this 06 has all but given up on any idea of elegance. Sure, to a Cahors drinker, this would seem mild, but its Funkberry(TM) and marrow aroma yield to a thin, but strong and medicinal palate completely consumed by licorice. The fruit is there, but it's wild: some raspberries sweet, others touched with a tinge of fox piss. Truth is, I've opened it just a few months early (which is why I have two other bottles). Because with some aeration (take a sip, press your lips together, and suck the air in through your cheeks) this wine reminds me of a high-end Oregon pinot tasting run by some mad, fascist, and entirely inspirational Oregon pinot hound (not that I've ever worked with anyone who fits that description). This glass in a year is the tasting that sold 10 cases in an hour. It has the nuance of Eyrie, the arrow-straight fruit of J. Christopher, the whimsy of Runaway Red, the lust of Sineann and Owen Roe, the candy of Bergstrom, and the unadulterated pleasure of Charmes on a Thursday in November. It's not a great wine, yet. Without some serious thinking and aeration, it completely falls apart. On release, it's the most dull of all the Sandra Adeles I've had, and I'm not sure if the shift is a result of vintages or personality. To be honest, I'd pay to see something like the 2002 happen again. But in these times, the 06 Sandra has a dominant place. There's no doubt Jay has style, one he's stuck with over at least the past five vintages, that--outside of the Ken Wright wines--may most clearly express what it means to be Oregon pinot noir.


Blogger Joel said...

Very well described. I was also a bit dismayed by the '06 (too hot a year?) I promptly visited an '05 I had later to remind myself of how nice the Adele can be...

3:11 PM  
Blogger rjh (http://rjswineblog.blogspot.com) said...

i just posted a book review on "the grail" and if you're interested in dundee hills wines, definitely worth a read. very entertaining.


10:30 PM  
Anonymous Michael Alberty said...

I have to disagree on The Grail. I thought it was one of the most poorly written books I have ever read in any genre. Forget about the grammar and the awkward style, there were so many "it was a dark and stormy night" moments that I stopped thinking about the Lange family and their wines and began turning each page to see what ridiculous notion was coming up next. I love the Lange family and their wines, which is the only reason I bothered to finish this book. When I found out the author actually edits an alumni magazine for a living I was stunned. Reading this book was painful.

11:44 PM  
Blogger rjh (http://rjswineblog.blogspot.com) said...

i thought that too about the grail when i first starting reading it. everything i learned in college from my english literature major felt like it was going up in flames, particularly with his extremely long, rambling sentences...but, about halfway through, i started just reading it as it was written and let myself enjoy the simple and sometimes cheesey stories he included. certainly not a masterpiece, but still found it entertaining. then again, i was on vacation for two weeks when i read it and now that i'm back to work, it's possible i may not have the patience for it...

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burgundy wine
(French: Bourgogne or Vin de Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France.[1] The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines".

Burgundy has a higher number of Appellation d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry. The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis).

Overview in the middle, the southern part to the left, and the northern part to the right. The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include Irancy, which produces red wines and Saint-Bris, which produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d'Or, where Burgundy's most famous and most expensive wines originate, and where all Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy (except for Chablis Grand Cru) are situated. The Côte d'Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. T

he best wines - from "Grand Cru" vineyards - of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the "Premier Cru" come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary "Village" wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region's white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune. This is explained by the presence of different soils, which favour Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively. Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d'Or. Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay. Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy.
You can find more info at: http://www.burgundywinevarieties.com/

9:02 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Well, thank goodness you explained that for us! Especially on a post about Oregon wine. Spambot: Work harder.

9:06 AM  

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