Last July, I went on a quest to find exceptional Pinot Noir in Oregon. Being Burgundy specialists, we love Pinot Noir. Being American, I knew there were some excellent wines being produced in Oregon and that many were not exported to the UK.
After attending Oregon Pinot Camp, a brilliant three-day event that was created to educate the wine trade about Pinot Noir in Oregon, I also spent two days visiting wineries first hand. Needless to say, I tasted many wines. There are quite a few domaines producing noteworthy wines. Yet, part of my criteria was to find an estate that was not already exported, a hidden gem so to speak.
On my return, I came back with two strong candidates. Both were very good but different. The one we chose to work with was Shea Wine Cellars.
Shea Vineyard, the Willamette Valley’s most famous vineyard, was created by Dick Shea in the 1990s. He sells his fruit to the valley’s top domaines including Beaux Frères, Robert Parker’s own estate, as well as Ken Wright, Penner-Ash and Bergstrom. For many years, he also sold fruit to the cult California estate, Sine Qua Non before they bought their own vineyard more recently.
Most of the wines produced from Shea have received at least 90 points from Wine Spectator and as Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate firmly states “More often than not, it is the best wine in their respective portfolios.” In the late 1990s, they began making their own wines from Shea vineyard.
The Wine Advocate has just released its scores for the 2007 Willamette Valley wines. So, we are over the moon to discover that Shea’s top wine, Homer, received their highest score of the vintage – 94 points. The two other wines that we sell also did well with the Estate scoring 91 points and their East Hills 92 points.
The 2007 vintage was a challenging one and 2008 looks to be a far better vintage – perhaps along the lines of 2007 Burgundy vs the upcoming 2009. So, we cannot wait to see the results that lie ahead.
Shea Wine Cellars Estate Pinot Noir 2007
£145.00 IB per 6
Drinking: 2011 – 2019
“The 2007 Pinot Noir Estate, a blend of 17 parcels and all of the clones grown on the property. Dark ruby-colored, it offers up a fragrant perfume of smoke, incense, earth notes, black cherry, and black raspberry. On the palate it is already exhibiting complexity with its amalgam of spice notes, succulence, black fruits, and depth. It will evolve for 2-3 years and provide prime drinking from 2011 to 2019. 91 points.” The Wine Advocate, October 31, 2009
Shea Wine Cellars East Hill Pinot Noir 2007
£185.00 IB per 6
Drinking: 2012 – 2022
“The 2007 Pinot Noir East Hill is more deeply colored, has greater density and more structure than the Estate cuvee. Fragrant aromas of balsam wood, violets, mineral, and assorted black fruits lead to a medium to full-bodied wine with outstanding depth and concentration. It will benefit from 3-4 years of cellaring (unusually long for this vintage) and drink well from 2012 to 2022. 92 points.” The Wine Advocate, October 31, 2009
Shea Wine Cellars Homer Pinot Noir 2007
£245.00 IB per 6
Drinking: 2013 – 2022
“The 2007 Pinot Noir Homer is a selection of the top 13 barrels in the cellar (out of 205). Dark ruby-colored, it sports a slightly brooding bouquet of sandalwood, incense, damp earth, black cherry, and plum. It is the richest, densest wine in the collection as well as the best balanced. This silky-textured, deep, lengthy effort will evolve for 4-6 years and drink well through 2022. It is a candidate for wine of the vintage. 94 points.” The Wine Advocate, October 31, 2009