94 points Vinous, Josh Raynolds: "Spice-accented raspberry and cherry aromas are complemented by hints of woodsmoke, incense and baking spices. Supple and sharply focused on the palate, offering sweet red fruit, spicecake and floral pastille flavors that tighten up as the wine gains air. Fine-grained tannins frame the impressively long, spice-laced finish, which shows fine definition and reverberating florality."
Brian and Jill: "Our vineyard-designated Pinot Noir from Mike and Robin Murto's outstanding old vines (planted in 1978) has been one of our most popular wines for the last 20 years. This mature, high elevation Dundee Hills site makes terrific wine every year, but really delivers something extraordinary in warm vintages. 2017 actually got off to a slow start, with a very cold, wet winter that delayed bud break until late April. Cool conditions continued until late May, but a series of progressively more intense heat spikes began during flowering , setting the stage for a larger than normal crop. The heat spikes were thankfully moderated by hazy air caused by wildfires in other areas of the West that drifted into the valley, allowing us to delay harvest until early October.
The net result is that the 2017 wines are remarkably fresh and vibrant for being the products of a very warm growing season. There is a sense of elegance and finesse in these medium-bodied beauties that is a rare commodity in the string of hotter vintages from 2014 through 2018. Fans of our Murto vineyard wines will immediately recognize the old vines, Dundee Hills pedigree on the first sniff. Earthy notes of iron, accented with Christmas spices jump out of the glass, revealing ripe red fruit aromas beneath. The red fruit carries over onto a harmonious palate, where persistent tannins are balanced by lively acidity.
Although this wine is certainly approachable now, it will benefit from several years of cellaring. Enjoy with grilled salmon, mid-eastern accented dishes, and anything with small birds!
2015 vintage notes
94 points Vinous, Josh Raynolds: "Highly expressive aromas of fresh red/blue fruits, potpourri, baking spices and candied rose. Juicy and seamless in texture, offering penetrating raspberry, cherry liqueur and spicecake flavors that are highlighted by a zesty mineral note. Intensely flavored and sharply delineated, with an impressively long, perfumed finish that delivers firm mineral cut and resonating floral character."
2014 vintage notes
94 points Vinous, Josh Raynolds: "A heady, complex bouquet evokes fresh red and blue fruits, cola, potpourri and five-spice powder, backed by a hint of licorice. Juicy, focused and energetic but concentrated as well, offering appealingly sweet boysenberry and raspberry flavors and a hint of cocoa powder. Shows excellent clarity and spicy lift on the extremely long, focused finish, which is given shape by smooth, harmonious tannins."
2012 vintage notes
Brian O’Donnell, winemaker: “Every once in a while in this over-hyped, superlative-laced world of wine (and other things), there appear individual bottles that actually live up to (or even surpass) our inflated expectations. I am happy to report that the 2012 editions of our single vineyard Pinots from Murto and Belle Pente Vineyards are two of them.
Two thousand twelve has been heralded as "the greatest vintage ever for Oregon Pinot Noir,” "the vintage of a lifetime,”, etc, etc... I am generally allergic to these grandiose proclamations, preferring to see how the wines stand the test of time. But these young wines are so drop dead delicious today that on one level I don't even care how they will age (although I'm beginning to suspect that they will do exceedingly well with a dozen years in the cellar!).
The growing season got off to a bit of a late start, and sketchy weather during flowering kept the crop small. The summer was glorious with almost 3 months of warm days and cool coastal nights with little if any measurable precipitation. Two brief heat-spikes during the season caused some sunburn, which reduced the crop by another 5-10%. Our Pinot noir harvest commenced under ideal conditions on October 1st and was finished by the 11th. When everything was in barrel right after Halloween, we had just shy of 100 barrels of Pinot, only 2/3 of a normal years production.
The story here is very simple: extraordinary quality but excruciatingly low yields. We were just slightly over half of our normal target crop level for this vineyard. The grapes were harvested over 2 days on October 5th and 11th; the fruit was perfectly ripe, clean, and very tasty! From the very beginning, the young wines were quite compelling.
Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard is a high elevation site that really shines in warmer vintages. Our oldest blocks there were planted in 1978, and produce interesting wine every year. But the combination of the very low yields and the terrific growing season created something very special in 2012. The wine has ripe red fruit flavors and aromas backed up by fresh acidity and silky tannins. For those of you who are interested in the "numbers", the wine has 13.9% alcohol, a pH of 3.46, and TA of 6.4 grams per liter. Berlitz translation: even though it is fruit forward, it should last forever!
As an aside, this summer we sat down with a small group of people "in the business" and tasted through 18 vintages of our Murto Pinot, from a pre-commercial wine made in 1994 through this 2012 edition. The "sweet spot" for the group was the 1999 through 2003 vintages, 10 to 15 years old. I'm sure that this 2012 will be stellar in 2025, but the good news is that you absolutely do not have to wait that long to enjoy it.
In classic Dundee Hills fashion, this wine displays ripe red fruit flavors and aromas reminiscent of cherry compote and raspberry eau d'vie, overlaid with the signature Murto baking spice, Asian spice, and pepper (white, black, and Sichuan!) aromatics. The palate is dense and concentrated, but also vibrant and fresh. It screams for traditional Pinot parings like roast duck or stuffed quail. Enjoy this delightful young Pinot today and over the next 20-30 years! 441 cases produced.”