Beauty in a bottle. Evesham Wood founder, Russ Raney, has said from initial barrel tasting to bottle tasting, "Burgundy!" There's no higher endorsement, but we'll try anyway. Like Pinot noir is most capable of doing, this wine tells the story of 2013. Aromatics of a cooler vintage (thanks to the rains) deliver an ethereal red fruit/lavender/floral/licorice perfume that begins more savory and resinous, then turns sweeter and prettier with air. The palate and texture (aided by the warmer 2013 growing season) show silky notes of fresh cherry that leads to a heavenly burst of cherry candy, with red licorice and cinnamon accents. The delicate finish is deceptively long.
2012 vintage notes: I've long used Evesham's estate Le Puits Sec Pinot noir as a benchmark for both quality and price. From vines planted in 1986, certified organically farmed, it's a wine that by global standards is underpriced. But forget about that, because it is simply extraordinary Pinot. A shade darker and more lush than typical, with the same brilliant elegance that Le Puits Sec exemplifies. The fruit is primarily dark cherry with blackberry underpinnings, complemented by floral, lavender, and rosemary accents, maybe even a hint of raspberry cream on the finish. Stunningly good upon release, with at least a decade of age-worthiness ahead of it. Highly recommend. - Marcus
2011 vintage notes: Le Puits Sec, Evesham Wood's organically-certified estate vineyard, is an unsung hero in world-class Pinot noir. The 2011 vintage is quintessential Le Puits Sec: distinct, expressive aromas with a floral and resinous lift, interwoven layers of succulent red cherry and fresh raspberry, with darker underpinnings. There's a great balance of sweet fruit and bright acidity. I suggest holding this for 1-2 years to start with (it'll go much longer) or decanting. LPS is a warmer site, perfectly suited for a cool vintage like 2011. We highly recommend it.
The 2011 is an Evesham's Evesham or as winemaker Erin Nuccio says, "a very Evesham vintage, meaning it's elegant, restrained, layered." He wasn't running to the store for enzymes, tannin powder, or other wine additives (not that he ever does) but instead, embraced what the vintage delivered: moderate alcohol, bright acidity and delicacy.
There's a long standing joke in the Willamette Valley that when Evesham Wood picks their grapes, you can start your clock and plan to pick 10-14 days from then. Le Puits Sec Vineyard is a warm site and the house style, started by founder Russ Raney and continued by owner/winemaker Erin Nuccio, is one of elegance and finesse without excessive ripeness (and alcohol).
And then there was 2011. "That was one year Evesham wasn't picking earlier or as I call it, on time," says Erin. "While we embrace cool vintages, 2011 was pretty extreme." He had a heavy fruit set in a year when grapes worked harder to ripen, which pushed them to make four separate passes through the vineyard to thin the crop. (Side note - I'm often asked why Pinot noir is typically more expensive than other wines. This is a perfect illustration of one key reason: the cost of farming can be extraordinarily high.)
Erin continues: "No doubt it was a nail bitter. If the rains had arrived in late September I probably would still not have recovered yet, however they held off until well into November and we picked Le Puits Sec in the second to last and last weeks of October. We're dealing with pretty much one clone (Pommard), the same age of vines (planted in 1986) and only a slight elevation change (less than 100 feet), yet the blocks and sometimes even the rows reach maturity at different times. We picked Le Puits Sec Pinot in six separate picks. We picked for taste."
And we're certainly glad he did, because it tastes great. Speaking of tasting, here are a couple ideas for food pairings and flavors to complement 2011 Le Puits Sec. At a recent wine in Portland, chef Jason Barwikowski paired it with rabbit saddle, mushroom and ham filled cabbage roll, and sauce soubise (a Polish-themed menu). Erin and I talked about we'd cook to go with it and agreed that herbed roasted chicken would be awesome. - Marcus
2010 vintage notes: Like the best 2010s, this smells incredible. Effusive red fruit, red licorice, cinnamon, hints of Douglas fir. The entry is beautiful and silky, with creamy cherry and dark berry gliding from the tip of your tongue to the back of your throat. Le Puits Sec is an elegant wine with penetrating persistence. While it's irresistible today, cellaring for 2-6 years (or longer, if you like) will make magic. - Marcus
Made from the winery's 13 acre estate Le Puits Sec Vineyard, planted in 1986 by former owner Russ Raney. Russ is an advocate of dry farming, and the vines grew without irrigation, producing the kind of complex, enticing flavors that only come from "deep roots" Pinot noir grapes. Current owner Erin Nuccio keeps up and expands the tradition with his preference whenever possible for non-irrigated organic grapes.
A 2012 September Reserve Pinot noir Club Selection
#2 in SF Chronicle recommended 2010 Pinots: For me, few wineries capture the transparency of Oregon flavors like this longtime producer, founded in 1986 and now owned by Erin Nuccio. The 2010 Puits Sec marks a transition year to Nuccio's hand. Gorgeous and deft - with a Volnay-like light touch. Bing cherry, dried sachet, watermelon rind and a distinct minerality. The 2010 Illahe Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($30, 13%), from a warmer site, is still subtle but with darker earth aspects. - the Chronicle
94 Points, Portland Monthly 50 Top Oregon Wines.
Wine Advocate 91+ Points (9/2012)
Classic Le Puits Sec flavors of ripe plum, violet and white pepper are complimented by earthy mushroom and a silky texture. - The winemaker