Elevée Estate Pinot noir Dundee Hills 2017
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We recently sat down with Élevée winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick to taste his not-yet-released 2019s. He brought his 2017 estate Pinot noir for us to revisit and let’s just say we want to revisit and revisit again (and again!).
This 2017 is soaring right now, showing the best of 2017 and typifying what we love about Dundee Hills Pinot noir. A pretty wine, we fell for the lovely perfume of cherry and raspberry mingling with soft touches of violet and baking spices. Ultra silky and seamless, delicate raspberries and cream linger, framing Dundee Hills minerality.
Tom and his wife, France, purchased what was Archery Summit founder Gary Andrus’ A&G Vineyard, which provided wine for Andrus’ Gypsy Dancer label. If you’ve visited Ayoub, you’ve seen the source of this wine; Élevée is next door to Mo Ayoub’s estate vineyard/winery/house, nestled in a perfect pocket of the Dundee Hills.
2015 vintage notes
As much as we loved Élevée’s 2014 Pinot noir, the ‘15 hits even more notes. Like the ‘14, its essence explores the pretty side of Pinot noir, a side we find ourselves gravitating towards more and more as the years pass. Prettiness should not and will not (in our book, at least) be equated to “light,” an historically pejorative descriptor for Willamette Valley Pinot and arguably, for most red wines the world over. Pretty is found in the exquisite perfume of this wine -- red fruits mingling with soft touches of violet and black tea -- in its ultra silky and seamless texture, and in the way it communicated persistence and staying power so effortlessly through the finish that lingers with Dundee Hills minerality and sweet orange essence. In the best ways, it hearkens me to one of my favorite seasonal pastries: raspberry galette, topped with a spoonful of fresh cream.
2014 vintage notes
92 points Wine Spectator: “Light and expressive, layering cinnamon accents among the raspberry, rose petal and white pepper flavors on a sleek and polished frame. Lingers with ease and finesse. Drink now through 2022.”
92 points PinotFile: “Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is highly inviting, with soaring aromas of cherry, rose petal and spice. Lighter in style and elegant, but plenty of weighty red cherry and red raspberry flavors framed by juicy acidity and silky tannins. The wine is seamless, with an engaging mouthfeel and an intriguing bit of iron minerality.”
Élevée is French for elevated. In ballet, an élevée is a movement in which a dancer rises up high onto the balls of the feet, or all the way up to full-pointe. In our youth, a passion for mountaineering’s elevated places inspired us to move to the West Coast, where we ultimately found our calling. In Oregon, the very best vineyard sites are located on elevated slopes, with the improved angle of incidence of the sun’s rays, where cold dense air drains downhill, displacing the warmer air which is shifted up to the higher elevations where these vineyards are located.
With a degree from UC Davis, Tom Fitzpatrick and wife France began their journey in 2002 with Hunter’s Wines in New Zealand, Pine Ridge Winery in Napa Valley, and Domaine Hubert Lignier in Morey-St-Denis. They arrived in Oregon in 2007, when Tom became the Associate Winemaker for Hamacher and then Winemaker/General Manager for Alloro Vineyard.
Their vision became a reality in 2008 when they purchased an extremely high-density four-acre vineyard in the Dundee Hills, planted in 1998 by Archery Summit founder Gary Andrus. They re-named it Élevée Vineyard.
Tom and France are winegrowers—they believe wine is equally shaped by decisions in the vineyard and in the cellar. They seek to capture purity of fruit, allowing each wine to express the unique personality of each site and distinct influence of each vintage.
While they began with one site (their estate vineyard), they’ve added two very different sites: Bjornson in the Eola-Amity Hills and Madrona Hill in the Chehalem Mountains. We’re quite familiar with the former (Haden Fig and several other respected producers source from Bjornson) and not as much with the latter; it is located close to Tom’s primary winemaking job at Alloro Vineyard. We’re excited to see how these disparate vineyards are expressed through Tom’s winemaking.