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Oregon wine country, part 15
Torii Mor

Website: www.toriimorwinery.com

What is now Torii Mor began with an old vineyard, planted in 1972 (this is almost pre-history by Oregon standards), and purchased by Don Olsen in 1985. Torii Mor was originally established as a 1000 case winery in 1993 to use the fruit from this vineyard, which is now run organically. These days, fruit from the Olsen family vineyard is supplemented by grapes purchased from other vineyards. In 2007, 270 tons were crushed, and annual production is in the region of 15 000 cases.

I met with Margie Olsen (above) for a tour of the winery and a tasting.

From 1993 to 2004 Torii Mor leased a big winery building in downtown Dundee, but now they have their own winery. The winery is quite new, and some further construction is planned. The distinctive feature of the new building is its low environmental impact. It currently has a 45 kW solar power array, which provides half of the electricity needed at the heaviest stage of production. An additional 25 kW array is planned for the final stage of construction. Margie assures me that this is very expensive to install.

The winery also has an acquifer that is tapped into by a 600 foot artesian well. There is also rainfall capture, too. Torii Mor is planning to go for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Winemaking is in the hands of Jacques Tardy (above), originally from Burgundy. He’s been in the USA for 26 years (he grew up in Nuits St Georges but met an American girl), and has worked in Oregon for the last 18, four of these as winemaker at Torii Mor. Jacques likes to work with small lots: he buys grapes from 18 different vineyards and keeps the clones and lots separate. So the winery has 110 4 by 4 by 4 metre bins for fermenting in.

Torii Mor Pinot Gris 2007 Willamette Valley
Fresh, rounded fruit with a hint of minerality and a smooth texture. There’s nice depth here: quite a rich style, but still dry. Nice balance and freshness. 87/100

Torii Mor Chardonnay 2006 Oregon
Broad, nutty nose with real depth and some toasty notes. The palate is broad and rich with lovely nuttiness and a hint of butterscotch. Nice depth: a stylish wine. Has 4.5% Pinot Blanc in it. 89/100

Côte d’Mor Viognier 2007 California
From a vineyard in the Sierra Foothills owned by a colleague of Don’s. Whole cluster pressing. Peachy, aromatic nose with lovely honeysuckle sweetness. The palate is intense and rich with lovely bold flavours. Rich, integrated and beautiful. 92/100

Torii Mor Pinot Noir 2006 Oregon
From fruit that doesn’t go into the single vineyard and reserve wines. Sweet, smooth, berryish fruit on the palate. Quite expressive with a lovely cherryish character and a spicy finish. Pure and quite balanced. Attractive stuff. 89/100

Torii Mor Deux Verres Reserve 2006 Willamette Valley
Vibrant, fresh red berry and cherry nose with some herbal/tobaccoey depth. The palate is rounded and smooth with nice depth and fruit, backed up by some earthy notes. Nicely savoury. 91/100

Torii Mor Dundee Hills Select 2006
Lovely expressive nose: sweet and rounded with some herby earthy complexity to the bright cherries. The palate is sweet and rounded with smooth silky texture and good acidity. Ripe with some new oak evident. 91/100

Torii Mor Olsen Estate Pinot Noir 2006
There’s a freshness here to the sweet, pure cherry and raspberry fruit, as well as a spicy edge. The palate is ripe and quite lush with pure red fruits backed up by spice and acidity. Oak is evident but not obtrusive. 92/100

Torii Mor La Colina Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006
Beautifully elegant with open cherry fruit and a nice lifted character, as well as some subtle herbiness. The palate is lighter than the others with some lovely rounded berry and cherry fruit. Smooth textured and ripe but with elegance and supporting acidity, too. 93/100

Torii Mor Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2006
71 g/litre residual sugar, 11% alcohol. Beautifully fruity and rounded with nice grape notes. Thick textured and quite delicious. 89/100

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Wines tasted 07/08  
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