Methven Family Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley Estate 2006
So I’m a really, really big believer that wine, especially white wine, can age much, much longer than most people give it credit for.
Part of that belief comes from experience. Two of the probably 5 most memorable bottles of wine I’ve had since opening Uncorked Ventures were aged, well beyond what would have been considered their upper limits.
First, it was a 1960’s Burgundy. Not a first growth, in fact the wine blogger that initially opened it said it was priced for about $4 back then….in today’s money, how many $15 bottles have you left laying around for a lifetime? Sure, there was some fruit starting to move the wrong direction, but the nose on the thing was simply incredible. It was a complete bottle of wine and made me wonder, outside of the obvious financial implications, if I should ever drink something young ever again.
Secondly and perhaps more germane to what we’re talking about here, during theRhone Rangers seminar last year, Bob Lindquist from Qupe opened a bottle of Marsanne from the early 1980’s. Again, incredible nose and a set of flavors that literally wowed everyone in the room. That bottle made me decide to try my hand at a white Rhone blend when I bottled my first, after all, how good might those wines end up being when I’m in my 60’s or 70’s?
I bring that all up because, then you see this Oregon Pinot Gris. This checks all the boxes of a high end white wine. First, it is 100% estate fruit and they use some pretty incredible farming practices: mainly that they cap output on the vineyard at 2.2 tons per acre. To put that number in perspective, Napa’s highest end Cult Cabernet’s sit around 2 tons per acre. The average in Napa and Sonoma is about 4 tons per acre and in the central valley where cheaper wine is made in California, it’s close to 10.
The winery initially thought this thing would be drinkable through 2010. I think we can all appreciate that is an inexact science, but having opened two bottles of this now. Dang, it’s good.
Ok, so a word about Oregon wine back in 2006. This was “the” vintage in Oregon. Literally any idiot could make great wine according to most. Pinot Noir in Oregon, much like this Pinot Gris could have gone to 4,6 or 8 tons per acre and still been good. I should mention that keeping the vineyard output low, gives the fruit more intense flavors and in my experience, a slightly darker color than you might be accustomed to. When you open this Pinot Gris, it isn’t transparent like many others from Oregon, instead it’s more of a golden honey color. It’s also almost syrupy, which is something that you do see happen when aging white wine.
Methven Vineyards is owned by Allen & Jim Methven, whom run what seems like a very “Oregon” operation. They grow blueberries as well as tending bees for honey. If you have kids of your own, the story about how they ended up with their first hive, will make you laugh. While I have two young kids in my house, the thought of one of them announcing that he was moving, as well as, asking us to take care of his bee hive….sounds about right.
Almost too right.
There’s also a high end Villa on the property with a handful of surprisingly affordable rooms, priced around $200 per night.
Located about 10 miles from my preferred spot in the Willamette Valley (McMinnville) Methven is well worth a visit. The wine’s quite good and they offer a range of interesting Pinot Noir’s in addition to the white in your glass, as well as the standard Oregon Rose offerings.
If this is your first aged white wine….let me know what you think. Is it worth the wait?