Machine Breaker The Innocents Eola-Amity Hills Pinot noir 2012
Tad Seestedt might be the most versatile booze-maker in Oregon. From his Ransom spirits vodka, gin, and whiskey to southern Oregon Grenache and Cabernet Franc, to vermouth, to Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Albarino, Gewürztraminer — you get the point. When we saw him at this summer’s Eola-Amity Hills wine trade event, he poured a label we’d never seen. Sourced from old vines in the Eola-Amity Hills, it stood out within a line-up of top-shelf Pinots. We had to have it for the club.
Tad’s Machine Breaker label is an inherently ephemeral project. The first vintage produced under this label is from the epic 2012, in which a mid/late October harvest, perfect dry weather and low yields. We can’t say for sure which vintage will be its last but as sure as vitis vinfera roots are candy to the invasive and deadly Phylloxera louse, Machine Breaker’s days are numbered. The label was conceived of as an homage to farmers that Tad works with in the Eola-Amity Hills, to their ungrafted Pinot Noir vines and to their ultimately doomed plight.
After years of working with the grapes from three of the old-timers in the region Tad realized that consistently these older vines were producing the best, most complex and interestingly flavored fruit year after year. The common thread? Each of these vineyards were planted with vines on their original Pinot Noir rootstock under the belief that the common practice of grafting vitis vinifera vines onto vitis labrusca rootstock was unnecessary. It was thought that Oregon’s soils were and would be Phylloxera free. It’s now well known that Phylloxera is rampant and unstoppable and that these special vines will produce lower and lower yields until ultimately they will succumb.
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