2016 vintage notes
94 point Vinous: "An incisive, mineral- and spice-accented bouquet displays an array of fresh red fruit and floral qualities, along with suggestions of fresh bay, blood orange and musky earth. Sappy and sharply delineated in the mouth, offering bitter cherry, raspberry, rose pastille and spicecake flavors that deepen and spread out as the wine opens up. Shows excellent depth while coming off graceful, with no rough edges. Fine-grained tannins lend support to an impressively long, floral-driven finish that leaves sappy red berry and smoky mineral notes behind."
Marcus Goodfellow is one of the Pacific Northwest winemakers we most trust. We’ve long joked that he could make white Zin, even Pinotage, taste good! Fortunately his hurdles are nowhere near that high, since he begins with some of the best grapes in the state from Whistling Ridge, planted in 1990 and sharing a fence line with Beaux Freres.
Goodfellow’s 2016 Whistling Ridge is spectacular. Beginning with trademark ethereal aromas that can only come from a significant percentage of whole cluster fermentation, there’s a salty/sweet red fruit burst on your palate. Then, pinches of brown spices and candied orange zest lift the finish before the whole wine flexes its muscles, showing a taut, coiled energy. We’ve tasted it half a dozen times and have been enthralled on each fortunate occasion.
From (the other) Marcus: “The 2016 vintage produced wines that are, across the board, strikingly delicious. Marked by extraordinary finesse and elegance, these are friendly enough for near term drinking and also have the structure to carry them. The single vineyard bottling shows red currant, black cherry and brown spice, with roses, perfume, deep savory herb, dried ginger, peppercorn, and a sweet citrus pith. The elegance and nuance of the vintage, paired with the natural acidity and fine structure of the vineyard.
Whistling Ridge Vineyard sits ridge-top on the western edge of the Ribbon Ridge. The vines catch the daily winds that blow in, slowing ripening, evaporating moisture, and thickening grape skins. Soils are eroded from uplifted marine sedimentary rock, 40 to 50 million years old, and dry out quickly in the growing season, forcing non-irrigated vines to grow roots deep in search of water. Richard and Patricia Alvord planted and have farmed the 14 acre plot for the past two and a half decades. Patricia does all of her own grafting, and Pinot noir plantings are a selection massale of over half a dozen clones. The wines are structured, elegant and complex.
2015 vintage notes
93 points Wine Advocate: "From a vineyard planted in 1990, the pale to medium ruby colored 2015 Pinot Noir Whistling Ridge Vineyard has a spicy nose of coriander, warm cinnamon, potpourri and dried leaves over a core of baked cranberry and red cherry fruit with meaty/savory touches. Light to medium-bodied, it has spice-laced red fruits in the mouth, with a great frame of fine-grained tannins and wonderful freshness, finishing very long and very spicy. 270 cases produced."
2014 vintage notes
We’ve now tasted Goodfellow’s Whistling Ridge 2014 a half-dozen times and are convinced its entering the “showy” window. Decidedly on the elegant and ethereal side of Ribbon Ridge, there’s still no taming the exuberant fruit of the vintage. Deeply yet subtly spiced, with complexities gained from whole cluster fermentation and nearly 25 year-old dry-farmed vines, this red and black fruited beauty also features lovely mineral elements in the aromas and finish.
Whistling Ridge Vineyard’s 15 acres date back to 1990, when Richard Alvord and Patricia Gustafson planted Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris in the very shallow marine sedimentary soils on Ribbon Ridge. Named after the persistent evening breeze that arrives every afternoon through the late summer and fall, these influences provide Goodfellow Family Cellars with their most complex, structured, and savory fruit.
The 2014 Whistling Ridge Pinot Noir exemplifies the terroir of the site. The nose is aromatically complex, red and black fruits, are layered over savory notes of underbrush, kitchen herb, and mineral density. Acid and tannins are old world in profile. This wine has great range with food, wild mushrooms, pork, chicken, or game would all work very well. Drink between 2016-2036.
Above, we wrote that Marcus Goodfellow’s winery is neither a newcomer nor a pioneer, and we don’t at all mean for that to be damning with faint praise, or anything like it. Marcus wears both hats with aplomb: he’s not a part of the “old guard” of Oregon winemakers but his wisdom and thoughtfulness are second to none. We love tasting with him and sending customers to the winery — he’s as gifted at explaining intricacies of wine as he is making it.
I once asked him about the vineyards he works with and without hesitation, he came up with this football-based analogy: “It's my Cam Chancellor, the quiet guy who puts the Boom in the Legion of Boom. Whistling Ridge Vineyard is directly above and beside two of Oregon's heavy hitter vineyards, sharing property lines with the Beaux Freres vineyard and Patricia Green Cellars Estate vineyard. It's one of Oregon's greatest white wine sites, and the Pinot Noir is both elegant and structurally powerful.”
Goodfellow Family Cellars produces wine only from sustainably farmed, non-irrigated, old vines; they seek to produce intense, site specific wines with an old world intensity and character. The winemaking is traditional: no cold soaks, no yeast inoculation, whole cluster ferments, long aging.