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Illahe Reserve Pinot noir 2011
"I love Illahe," a serious wine geek (Andy) said to me recently. Me too.
The 2010 Reserve is similar to the memorable 2008. Denser than most of the 2010's I've tried, it has a thread of dark fruit and forest floor found in all of Brad's Pinot noirs. An aroma of berries, sweet oak, and fresh turned earth entices me to take an immediate sip - delicious. Blackberries, black raspberries, a little black cherry and plum are precisely focused in a framework of appealing, slightly grippy tannins.
This is a wine to cellar or decant for a few hours if you drink it now. - Jean
Below, a double rainbow over the Illahe vineyard
2008 Vintage (A 2009 Vintage was not produced)
A standout at the Deep Roots Coalition tasting, this is gorgeous Pinot. It's one of those OMG (oh my god!) wines.
Instantly likeable when you first open the bottle, the balance and flavors are delicious and just get better as the wine opens.
A nose of blackberry, cedar, forest floor, and sweet spice only hints at the intense, round, tremendously impressive dark fruit and spice box flavors. Even though it's clearly young, there's so much to enjoy - the juicy blackberry and dark cherry fruit floats above a deep, dark sweet spice base with five spice, cedar, and forest floor in the mix. Unusually appealing in a young wine from the 2008 vintage, the silky tannins balance well with the fruit and acid.
The interplay of silky tannins, fresh fruit acids and a rich sweet cherry and berry core say "if you can resist drinking me now, cellar me - I'm special!" Well, maybe. Probably not. Oops, there goes the corkscrew. - Jean
I wanted to get some confirmation of my impressions from outside the insulated little wine world we inhabit. So I tried it yesterday with some customers and friends. These are not professional wine people - some of them drink Pinot noir regularly, some don't. I'd decanted the wine a few hours before we got together, and a lot of the tightness that the best of the young 2008's always show had dissipated. It had opened up beautifully.
General consensus among friends and neighbors? "Delicious" dominated the discussion, with "can I take the rest of the bottle home" a popular question. Blackberries and " dark berry" were the consensus main flavors, with "spice" "walking in the forest after it rains," "cherries," and "cedar" also mentioned.
"This wine just got better and better and better, the longer I tried it" Dorothy said. "The more I tasted it, the more flavors, the more richness."
A definite hit of the vintage and a wine to start collecting. A vertical of this wine will be a highlight of any Oregon wine collection.
below, horse drawn cultivator at Illahe Vineyards
Illahe's second vintage shows that their 06 was the start of what we hope is a series of delicious, affordable wines. Longtime grape grower Lowell Ford is showing that he can grow excellent Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Riesling, and Viognier in the Willamette Valley.
"Folks at Illahe Vineyards in Dallas have been growing grapes for 25 years but have begun to make and bottle their own. Illahe 2006 Pinot Noir is a soft, lush mouthful of dark cherry fruit and silky texture, suitable for sipping or supping." –Lance Sparks, Eugene Weekly
"Winemakers Brad Ford and Michael Lundeen have crafted an elegant wine with aromas of violets and strawberries, as well as bright, smooth flavors." –Wine Press Northwest
Below, Brad Ford