Oregon wine country revisited, part 7

Trisaetum is, like Brooks, a Riesling specialist. ‘I think Riesling has the ability to pick the site in Oregon,’ says owner James Frey (above). ‘We celebrate site differences with Pinot Noir; we should be celebrating with Riesling too. It is exciting for people to experience: the same winemaking producing very different wines.’

James doesn’t use large tanks to ferment his Riesling. Each year he’ll do a minimum of 150 different ferments, using small stainless steel barrels, older oak barrels from Louis Jadot, 600 litre puncheons and three different 180 gallon concrete eggs. ‘I don’t preordain any sites to be dry or off-dry,’ says James. ‘All sites have an equal shot at being what they want to be.’

Trisaetum Rieslings are either wild ferment or inoculated. It depends. James starts tasting at 4 Brix (50 g/litre residual sugar) and then every day retastes until he decides it’s time to stop the fermentation.

He rarely picks Riesling until November, and has picked as late as the 20th November. Riesling is always after Pinot Noir. Of his 150 ferments, he says ‘I want them all to be good but I want them to be different.’ 60% of Trisaetum Riesling is dry (these ones are labelled specifically as Dry Riesling) and 40% off-dry (not indicated on the bottle) in a typical vintage.

‘Oregon is in a golden period,’ says James. ‘It is big enough to have international attention, but small enough to be family owned. There’s enough success, but the pioneers were very collegial. They instilled this culture and it is still here today. There’s a belief here that a rising tide floats all boats.’

He continues, ‘the culture is incredible. In all businesses I have been in I have never seen competitors not be competitive. It’s Oregon wine family first. I feel privileged to participate at this particular stage of the Oregon wine industry.’

James’ background is healthcare. He studied as a photojournalist, did an MBA, and then his healthcare career provided the economic basis for him to leave the corporate world and plant a vineyard when he was still in his 30s. Trisaetum began in 2003, and he left the corporate world altogether in 2007.

The 2013 vintage was quite a challenge here. ‘We never normally get botrytis but a monsoon hit at the end of September,’ says James. ‘By mid-October we had serious botrytis in the vineyard, and had to pick because of this. The ferments were a challenge: we seemed to have more nutritional issues.’ He says that he made some good wines, but it was challenging.



Trisaetum Coast Range Estate Riesling 2013 Oregon
From the coolest of three sites. Lovely pretty lively tangerine and lemon with keen acidity and nice delicacy. Supple and bright with finesse, showing lemon, grapefruit and tangerine flavours. High acidity. 91/100

Trisaetum Ribbon Ridge Estate Dry Riesling 2013 Oregon
From sandy soils, and a warmer site. Lovely expressive bright tangerine and lemon. Pretty with real finesse to the fruit. An elegant style. 92/100

Trisaetum Wichmann Dundee Estate Dry Riesling 2013 Oregon
This is the first wine made from a 17 year old Pinot Gris vineyard grafted over to Riesling, and it is from high-elevation volcanic soils. pH 2.84, over 10 g/l acidity. Lively citrus fruit here. Very bright with some pretty pear notes. Pure with keen acidity. 91/100  

Trisaetum Estates Reserve Dry Riesling 2013 Oregon
This is the first vintage of this wine. Steve takes the most interesting, complex barrels, and the wine stays in barrel longer. Very complex with notes of herb and fennel alongside the taut citrus fruit. Clean but with a bit of complexity. 93/100

Trisaetum Coast Range Estate Riesling 2013 Oregon
Bright and lemony with a hint of tangerine and some sweetness. The sweetness feels more like fruit ripeness, and there’s keen acidity. 91/100

Trisaetum Ribbon Ridge Estate Riesling 2013 Oregon
Has a lovely open sweet tangerine nose. Very lively with supple, fresh fruitiness. Crisp with good balance and a nice rounded character. 92/100

Trisaetum Wichmann Dundee Estates Riesling 2013 Oregon
Pretty, balanced and rounded with some sweetness to the citrus fruit. Nice complexity, depth and texture with a hint of tangerine. Pretty and linear. 93/100

Trisaetum Estates Reserve Riesling 2013 Oregon
Supple, balanced, elegant and pure with nice lemon, grapefruit and tangerine notes. Detailed with real elegance and lovely acidity. 93/100

Trisaetum Wichmann Dundee Estate Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, lively cherry fruit nose is very pure. Supple, lively red fruits palate with cherries and raspberries. Lovely purity here: fresh and expressive with good acidity. Nice bright style. 94/100

Trisaetum Wichmann Dundee Estate Pinot Noir 2012 Oregon
14% alcohol. Fresh red fruits nose. Generous, ripe palate with some warmth to the texture. Rounded berry fruits and some red cherry, with hints of chocolate and spice. 93/100

Trisaetum Coastal Range Pinot Noir 2012 Oregon
14.2% alcohol. Sweet cherry fruit with spicy detail. Lively but has richness too, and some tannic structure and chocolatey hints. Warm yet focused. 92/100

Trisaetum Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir 2012 Oregon
14.4% alcohol. Ripe, supple and rounded with rich berry fruits, sweet herbal notes, a bit of chocolate and some spice. Good concentration with nice purity and richness. 93/100

Trisaetum Estates Reserve Pinot Noir 2011 Oregon
13% alcohol. Fresh, pure, focused cherry and raspberry aromatics, leading to a bright, structured, pure palate with nice purity and richness. Still very primary. 94/100

Trisaetum Estates Reserve 2012 Pinot Noir Oregon
14.2% alcohol. Supple sweet, ripe berry fruits nose. Some liqueur-like richness. The palate is sweet, rich and rounded with lovely berry fruits and a hint of chocolate. Ripe, rich, concentrated style that’s still ripe and primary. 93/100

Johan Vineyards
J Christopher
Big Table Farm
Walter Scott
Antica Terra

See also:

Visiting Oregon, July 2008 (series)

Wines tasted 07/14  
Find these wines with


Back to top