Oregon wine country revisited, part 10
visit of the day – a bright, sunny one – was with winemaker David
Paige (below) at Adelsheim. By
Oregon standards Adelsheim is quite a bit producer with annual
production of 45 000 cases, but this is a state of small wineries.
'There seems to be a natural limit of 45-50 000 cases,' says Paige,
'which seems to be as much as you can make in this state and still
focus on quality. This isn't a convenient state to do viticulture in
at all. We have rolling hills, and a 40 acre parcel is considered
was one of the pioneering Oregon wineries, with the Adelsheims
planting their first vineyard in 1972. First commercial vintage was
in 1978, which is ancient history by Oregon standards. They’ve now
got 223 acres across 10 sites.
says that Oregon is on the edge of being able to pull viticulture
off, but it's often at the margins where more interesting wines are
made. 'Our wines have to be interesting enough for you to give a
damn that it came from here. Our wines have to be special. In
production this is something we talk about all the time.'
thinks Chardonnay is showing real potential in Oregon, which for so
long has been a practical monocepage region. 'The real emerging
story is probably Chardonnay, but it has been emerging here for a
long time,' he says. 'Chardonnay from here has been the
semi-ignored, underutilized step child. In the beginning not
everyone made great Chardonnay.' Paige reckons the wrong clones and
sites were too often used. 'We are also talking about a variety that
is grown in every wine region on the planet. 15 years ago the new
world definition of Chardonnay was Californian Chardonnay, and you
couldn't sell anything else. Now we have Dijon clones, and this
really helps. The other synchronicity here is that the whole wine
world is much more receptive to new styles of Chardonnay. We have
what people are looking for and we have got better.' Paige adds that
20 years ago wine nerds didn't really drink white wine. 'Now the
wine nerds are drinking white wine and really good Chardonnay is
part of serious wine geeks' interest in white wine in general.' But
he notes that Chardonnay is still just 5%
of plantings in Oregon.
Gris is more widely planted, but its success has been limited. 'I
don't think the world has a definition of fabulous Pinot Gris,' he
adds. 'I think we do it, but we have made as much traction as we can
for it.' At Adelsheim, Pinot Gris is a quarter of production. And
Riesling? 'Riesling is a noisy up and comer,' says Paige.
'Balance is a word that is thrown around carelessly,' says Paige.
'Everyone thinks they make balanced wines.' His definition? 'A wine
in which aromas, flavours and textures are all in sync with each
other. Wines that trail off in a true way: in a way that makes
sense. You lose this is you blow a wine out of whack with too much
oak or ripeness.'
I pour myself a second glass, if I think that's yummy that's OK, but
it's better if I think “wow, that's fascinating.”'
adds, 'sometimes we dial down the impressive aspect for the reserve,
choosing to turn down the volume to get something more elegant and
Pinot Gris 2013 Oregon
This has 10% barrel
fermentation in neutral barrels, enough to gain richness but not
enough to lose fruit. Fruity, lively, aromatic and grapey. Fresh,
bright and crisp on the palate. Very pretty and grapey with delicate
citrus notes but it has plenty of flavour. 88/100
Adelsheim Chardonnay 2013 Willamette Valley, Oregon
30% barrel fermentation. Very fresh and quite delicate. Fruit
driven with supple fruit, some tangerines notes and hints of herbs.
Delicate but rounded with some lemony notes. 92/100
Adelsheim Caitlin's Reserve Chardonnay
100% barrel fermentation. Toasty and nutty with a spicy nose and
a hint of mealiness. Fresh and a bit nutty with some lemony notes
and a bit of toast. Real finesse with keen acidity. This needs time
to integrate. 92/100
Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2012 Willamette Valley, Oregon
Lively fresh, juicy cherry and berry fruit nose. Very pretty and
quite floral with lovely cherries and real purity. Juicy, bright and
pure with fresh cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice acidity. 92/100
Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
Spicy, cedary nose leads to a lovely focused, fresh, detailed
palate. Nice tight structure. This shows restraint, a hint of pepper
and raspberry an cherry fruit. Nice savoury streak. Fresh and
Adelsheim Bryan Creek Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
From an 800 ft site, own rooted vines planted in the 1980s.
Pommard clone. Taut cherries. Pure with real finesse and a silky
texture. Lean yet generous. 95/100
Adelsheim Ribbon Springs Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
100% Pommard clone. Floral nose. Fresh, supple, peppery palate
with nice acidity and some generoisity. Elegant style with red
cherries and subtle herbs. 94/100
Adelsheim Calkins Lane Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
From an early site near to the winery. Juicy, bright, fresh and
berryish with lean, focused, elegant red cherry fruit and some nice
Adelsheim Boulder Bluff Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
Structured and quite dense, but still made in a bright, light
style, showing cherry and plum fruit. Fresh, youthful, focused and
Adelsheim Zenith Pinot Noir 2011 Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon
Fresh and quite restrained with black cherry fruit and some
plums. Rounded with a bit of juiciness. Fresh and focused. 93/100
Adelsheim Syrah 2010 Oregon
A small block with two early ripening clones. Fresh, juicy and
bright with raspberry and cherry fruit, as well as a bit of pepper.
Very red fruit focused with good acidity, and a grippy finish.
UK agent is Boutinot
Oregon, July 2008 (series)
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