In case you missed our praise for Twill cellars, we’ll say it again: they are our new discovery of the past year! We’re huge fans of their understated style and based on the feedback we’ve received, we’re not alone.
We’ve been excited for the 2014 Stormy Morning release; after all, it was the 2013 Stormy Morning that began the affair, pulling me from a spring lull. The ’14 is exactly what I’d expect — and want — given the vast gulf between the two vintages.
The first thing I scribbled in my tasting notes can’t be printed politely so to abbreviate, “OFY I want to EAT this nose!” It is intensely, fascinatingly complex. I read winemaker Chris Dickson’s notes before I tasted and thought, honestly, that some of the descriptions were a stretch. After spending three days with a bottle, I think he’s pretty damn close. Cinnamon, blood orange, fresh cherry, dried herbs — it’s all there. The longer it breathes, a salted caramel note appears and alongside a sexy, truffle-like nuance that weaves around pure and pretty raspberry and cherry. I love the way this wine moves, from aroma to finish, exhibiting a natural harmony akin to a flowing mountain stream. I can’t quite put it into words, but it’s beautiful.
Let’s see what Chris has to say: “This is a blend of our barrels exclusively from Stormy Morning Vineyard in 2014. We chose these barrels not for richness, new oak or flash, but rather on the premise that we see the character of Stormy Morning being upheld in the resulting wine.
“Powerful and concentrated notes of blood orange flesh and skin, rio star grapefruit, roses, and cranberries. With air, salted blood orange, bing cherry, cinnamon, and raspberries. As the wine warms up from cellar temp (55f), light background notes of cocoa, truffle, and menthol are noted. On the palate, the 2014 Stormy Morning is concentrated, with lots of silk and liveliness noted through the mid palate. The wine tightens back up in a beautiful display of youthful tension while the finish is deep and concentrated. This wine will benefit from a light decant or enjoyed over a few days, and will develop a lot more if laid down in a cool cellar.
“Our wines spend 18-22 months in mostly neutral barrels with no added yeasts and minimal SO2 during aging. We believe this aids in a more complete polymerization of phenolic compounds and allows some of the forward fruit character in the young wines to decrease, allowing more land and season specific characteristics to emerge. We do not force cold soaks, extend maceration times, or add enzymes to increase extraction. In short, we hope to keep the wines taut, long living, and original to their provenance.
“Planted in 2001, the 10-acre Stormy Mountain Vineyard sits on ancient marine sedimentary soil with an iron-rich band approximately 6-7 feet below the surface. It is farmed organically.” Located in the Coastal Foothills northwest of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA where it experiences cooler conditions than the less exposed vineyards of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, it shares the rich profiles of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA wines but tends towards redder accents to the fruit, rather than the blue, almost purple flavors of the warmer sites of Yamhill-Carlton.
“We often contemplate whether it would be worth picking the vineyard in blocks to get more uniformity in ripeness. Forgoing the chance to be too meticulous, and in the crunch of the season, we harvest the fruit in the fogline at the same time that we pick the fruit perched above it, resulting in a harvest of fruit at differing levels of ripeness. Or as I like to think of it, this is not a gathering where we have an adults only and separate kids table, rather everybody, or in this case every cluster, is brought together in a transect highlighting differing times along their life’s journey.”
So, why Twill? Chris continues, “it’s a word that encompasses many of the things we are after in crafting wine here in Oregon. To name a few: fabric, process of assembly, tension and strength of material. It's not about us, the particular vineyard, bottle, barrel, or clone, it is rather the composition of everything coming together as something thoughtfully crafted and true to the character of each unique vintage. We are merely a part of this tapestry of many components, and twill cellars seems like a great title for our small project.”
We’ve known Chris for many years; he cut his teeth in Oregon working for several respected wineries. His first harvest was 2007 with Penner-Ash, then Evesham Wood for their 2010 harvest (August-December). He with Marcus at Goodfellow Family Cellars/Matello between 2011-2012, and full time between January-August of 2012 as his assistant.
In 2013, Chris signed on with Molly and Darrel Roby, proprietors of a small label called Ribera. “I was given the chance to put together a program and the best lineup of vineyards for the following vintage under a then unknown title. We knew an update to the labels/brand was essential and given the changes to the program (a focus solely on Oregon, a close look at three varietals) we decided this would be a new and separate project all together. With this in mind, Ribera Vineyards will still exist, although it will only be for a portion of the fruit grown on Molly's Vineyard, on Ribera Lane (hence the name). So, we’ll offer a small run of estate Rosé and Chardonnay from the site under Ribera Vineyards.
Molly and Darrel remain the proprietors of both Twill Cellars and Ribera. Molly runs accounting and tasting room hospitality, while Darrel oversees to the day-to-day at Molly's vineyard and he's brilliant when it comes to winery equipment. I handle all the winemaking (the decisions are entirely mine — style, pick dates, barrels, etc. - for better or worse!), branding, sales, and most other daily operations for the company.”
2013 vintage notes
Loaded with energy and aliveness, it is absolutely my kind of Oregon Pinot noir. Deeply aromatic and forward on the nose, dishing a fantastically red-fruited wonder complemented by chai accents on a finish that, at first, struck me as having the best qualities of freshly-squeezed blood orange juice -- sweet, bursting with flavor, the tiniest bit of pith. With more time open, the strands unfurled, the whole wine developed weight, the red fruits became creamy textured, the finish lengthened with sweet spices. Tasted over four days, I recommend giving it a little space and air to breathe, though I was thoroughly captivated by it from first swirl of the glass. Only 48 cases made. A Oregon Reserve Pinot Noir Club selection for May. - Marcus
From winemaker Chris Dickson: "Stormy Morning is a compelling site for me as part of it resides in the fogline and part of it rests above it. This inherently changes the ripening curve and characteristics in the fruit. Above the fogline, as we sample the fruit in the Fall, we get deeper red fruit qualities, and in the section that sits lower, we experience more citrus and tea qualities due in part to slower ripening.
As picking decisions loom, we often contemplate whether it would be worth picking the vineyard in blocks to get more uniformity in ripeness. Forgoing the chance to be too meticulous, and in the crunch of the season, we harvest the fruit in the fogline at the same time that we pick the fruit perched above it, resulting in a harvest of fruit at differing levels of ripeness. Or as I like to think of it, this is not a gathering where we have an adults only and separate kids table, rather everybody, or in this case every cluster, is brought together in a transect highlighting differing times along their life’s journey.
Upon opening, I find currently, that our 2013 shows a lot of exuberant blood orange, cherry and rose petal. On the palate, there is orange, spice and some underlying tea aspects. As the wine ages, and as noted in past vintages of Stormy Morning, I suspect the tea (Hibiscus, Earl grey), and citrus aspects will be more expressive alongside the red fruits currently being showcased.