2013 Cristom "Marjorie Vineyard" Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
Brilliant ruby-red. Exotic, highly expressive aromas of raspberry liqueur, Asian spices, cola and smoky minerals, with a suave floral overtone building in the glass. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering intense red and dark berry and spicecake flavors given spine by juicy acidity. A distinctly elegant, seamless Pinot Noir with superb finishing energy; the gentle tannins are quickly absorbed by the wine's vibrant fruit. A standout of its vintage. As more and more Pinot Noir producers, including those in California, adjust their winemaking style to a market that's asking for low-octane, graceful wines, Cristom's Steve Doerner, who was a pioneer of the style, has become a sort of wizened visionary for a new generation of winemakers. Doerner, who worked at Burgundy's Domaine Dujac in the late 1970s, began to hone his style, which emphasizes whole-cluster fermentations, at Josh Jensen's Calera Winery in the early 1980s and has further refined it since moving to Oregon to help establish this winery in 1992. While Doerner's style of spicy, highly floral Pinot is now commonplace, that was not the case when he first began to make his mark, a fact that he acknowledges with a shrug and slight embarrassment. While he has made small tweaks here and there to his winemaking style over the decades, he told me he still has the same philosophy, "which is to get elegant, complex wines that show their place--so pretty simple." (JR)
This complex wine shows a whiff of stem, from 37% whole-cluster fermentation, and quickly moves into a soft center, loaded with strawberry preserves. It coats the mouth, smooth and textural, with graphite highlights. The tannins are substantial and suggest it's worth tucking into the cellar for a few more years. Drink through 2020. (PG)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Pinot Noir Marjorie Vineyard comes from a low-density planted vineyard affected by phylloxera (in 2012 one barrel of younger vines was added, and in 2013 it is around 10% of the production.) It has an elegant and floral bouquet, chalky in style, reserved but with plenty of finesse. I like this reserved style of Pinot Noir. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly leafy opening, the sappy red berry fruit borrowed from the Jessie Vineyard, with a dash of spice towards the finish that lingers nicely in the mouth. This is very fine, again, very Burgundian and persistent, a 2013 that has the foundations to give a decade or more drinking pleasure. (NM)
Wine & Spirits
Soft spicy accents—cardamom, anise, hints of five-spice—give this pinot noir some complexity and savor. The flavors, lent textural heft from whole-cluster fermentation, are at once burly and tense, with a firm acid structure framing the wine’s plushness. It feels like sinking into a suede armchair, with much of the pleasure coming from how the plushness is structured, suede in a sturdy frame. Cellar.
Light in color and light-footed, framing the red berry and cinnamon flavors with delicacy and letting the flavors persist on the open-weave finish. Drink now through 2021. 311 cases made. (HS)