We've always been fans of Illahe's Bon Sauvage, but the 2017 represents a wonderful graduation into "reserve" territory. On the redder side compared to previous vintages, with similar threads of sweet fir forest serving as a backdrop to the silky flavors and savory ribbons through the finish. A more elegant expression of Illahe's estate, from the harmonious 2017 vintage, this is equally at home as a wine to enjoy now or a gem to cellar for four to eight years. Try with wild mushroom risotto!
From Illahe: “2017 was another great vintage in Oregon. We had a very cold winter which slowed things down a little in the spring. By summer, we were back to warmer than usual temperatures, similar to 2014, 15 and 16 (continuing the trend). We had a few light showers in the fall, but overall we were very happy with the quality of our fruit. Sugar and acid levels were perfect and we saw great flavor development. We are looking forward to seeing these wines develop in bottle for years to come.
This 100% estate grown Pinot noir is a barrel selection of winemaker/associate winemaker Brad and Nathan's favorite barrels in the cellar. The Bon Sauvage is always a little more earth and spice driven in character. The 2017 explodes with fresh redwood, cedar and leather upon first taste. This wine was made as a barrel selection based on wines that best represented the 2017 vintage at Illahe. Firm savory tannins lead into a soft complex finish. Flavors of marionberry and pomegranate play with ponderosa notes as the wine opens up in your glass. Drinks great now, but has a strong structure and acidity to cellar for years to come.”
Illahe is on an 80-acre, south-facing slope that the Ford family first planted in 2001 with 22 acres of Pinot noir. Planted acreage now totals of almost 60, with seven varieties; Pinot noir dominates, accounting for 50 of those acres but they also grow Pinot gris, Gruner Veltliner, Tempranillo, Lagrein, Schioppettino and Teroldego.
Illahe is one of nine vineyards (and counting) situated in the new Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon AVA (Amercian Viticultural Area). A warm site that experiences slightly earlier budbreak and flowering than many vineyards in the Willamette Valley, Iallhe's southerly aspect and moderate elevation mean that grapes achieve maturity even in cooler vintages. They also catch the Van Duzer winds, which cool evening temperatures dramatically, pacing the ripening of the grapes.
Illahe is committed to environmentally sensitive farming; they use cover crops throughout the vineyard to benefit the soil and increase biodiversity. They are members of Oregon's Deep Roots Coalition, which promotes responsible water management and does not allow irrigation of mature vines. To reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, they've installed solar panels on the winery and use two horses, Doc and Bea, to mow and to transport grapes to the winery. Once there, gravity-flow utilizes the natural slope of the site, starting from the crush pad to the fermenters and the press below, and even further below to the winery caves.