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New NW Wine Releases
For April 22, 2005

Shea Vineyard, Summer 2003

Quite a few new wines have been released this week, and some wines have reduced sale prices. It's time to think about spring white wines, and there are some lovely Rieslings, Chardonnays, and Pinot gris out at good prices.

Oregon Pinot noir
2003 New Releases
and Sale Wines

2003 was one of Oregon’s most unusual and challenging vintages—but it may also turn out be one of the most highly acclaimed. Pinot noirs from some of Oregon’s leading producers show just how far Oregon’s winemaking skills have advanced: despite unusual conditions, the 2003 wines show surprising balance and power.


about the 2003 Vintage

"What the Grapes Gave us"
by Cole Danehower
"A Tale of Two Wineries- Creating Symmetry out of Inbalance"
by Cole Danehower

Record heat, on numerous occasions exceeding 100° F, combined at first with excessive dryness and then with the ambiguous benefits of spots of rain to make the 2003 harvest one of the most challenging winemakers had ever seen. Despite the challenges, the 2003 Pinot noirs show structure, great full flavors, and a hint more "stuffing" than the 2002s. In some cases, I found the wines more interesting than the 02's. Perhaps it's the vintage, perhaps just an additional year of vineyard age, but the terroir of the vineyards seems to show through the fruit to a greater extent than earlier vintages.

Francis Tannahill -
Exceptional Vintage from Sam and Cheryl

Sam Tannahill and Cheryl Francis have released their 2003 wines, and all are highly recommended and quite limited. Their Pinot noir "The Hermit" 03 $33.75 has aromatics of cassis, blackberry, roses, graphite, smoke, spices and earth jump from the glass. In the mouth, the wine is large scaled and possesses tremendous purity, depth, concentration, and power. The finish goes on and on with the sense of the power of the wine lingering long after the wine has left the mouth.

Sam and Cheryl show their ability to work with Syrah with their "Mason Dixon" Syrah 03 $33.75, a wine that is inspired by Côte Rôtie. Francis Tannahill's Syrah has the gamey, rustic, hedonistic flavors of a Rhone wine. This wine's cool and compelling aromas of black and white pepper, tar, smoke, graphite, violets and game envelope the olfactory senses immediately after the wine is poured. On the palate the wine builds effortlessly to a culmination of swwetness, ripe tannin, fruit, and succulence.

One of my favorite white wines from Oregon is the very limited Francis Tannahill Gewurztraminer "Dragonfly" 03 $22.50. Huge aromatics of lychee, rose, acacia blossoms, perfume, lavender, and spice with a palate that mimics the nose and continues with a balance of viscosity, purity, weightless, and power. You cannot ask for a more pleasant white wine for sipping and enjoying with grilled chicken, Salade Nichoise, or Bruschetta.

All of the Francis Tannahill wines are very limited in quantities.

Brooks Winery Continues with Help from Friends

Jimi Brooks passed away in August of 2004 at the age of 36, from an unexpected heart attack. He was one of Oregon's most promising young winemakers. His wines are now being made for Brooks Winery by a group of Willamette Valley winemakers. The winery is being run by his sister, Janie. A few of his wines are just being released in Spring of 2005 - the Janus 03 Pinot noir and the Rastaban Pinot noir 02. The 2004 wines were made by family and friends. Jimi is survived by his son, Pascal Brooks, and his sister, Janie Brooks Heuck.

The Brooks Winery Pinot Noir "Janus" 03 $28.99/$26.09 has intense aromas of dark black cherry, small red fruits, spice, graham, and minerals, with a long, plump lingering finish. From Highland and Momtazi Vineyards fruit. Winemaker - Jimi Brooks.

Very very limited is Jimi's Brooks Winery Pinot noir "Rastaban" 02 $49.95/$44.95. Jimi held back the very best couple of barrels of Momtazi Pinot noir from the 2002 vintage and created this very limited wine. It's a tribute to his skill and a reminder of how talented he was. The wine has both intensity and balance, with the beautiful balance that marked the best of Oregon's 02 Pinot noirs.

Jimi was also known for his skill with Riesling, and the Brooks Winery Riesling 04 $15.45 $13.90 has classic German style Riesling notes in the nose with a mandarin orange feel in the mouth. Lots of fruit with a lengthy finish and good structure. Fruit came from Eola Hills, Stein, and Ana Vineyards. His Brooks Winery Amycas White 04 $12.50/ $11.25 is a blended white wine with rich pear, rose petals, and tropical and citrus aromas. The mouth feel is rich, layered with pear & stone fruit flavors on a frame of vibrant acidity. If you like Caymus Conundrum, this is the wine for you. Blend is 25% Pinot blanc, 2% Gewurztraminer, 29% Gewurztraminer, 44% Riesling. Eola Hills, Ana, and Stein Vineyards. It's a super-delicious summer sipper at a great price. Very limited.

White Rose Vineyard

White Rose Vineyard changed hands about five years ago, and new owner Greg Saunders is now releasing his second vintage, the 2003 Pinot noirs. White Rose Vineyard is a 25 year old vineyard previously known for the elegant, lovely Pinots produced from it by Patricia Green Cellars, Panther Creek, and St Innocent Wineries. The vineyard has been re-trellissed according to Greg's design and the site is now cropped at 3.2 pounds of fruit per plant, with 45 square feet of canopy per pound of fruit. The vines are 20-25 year old Pommard clones, self rooted in 8x10 foot spacing.

The winery produces three wines: a great value Pinot called Nekia, a miedum range wine called Quiotee's Lair, and their highend "Estate". Available now is the White Rose Pinot noir "Nekia" 03 $18/$16.20. It's a big juicy fruit bomb, ready to drink and just loaded with spice, cinnamon, and big blackberry flavors. Coming this summer is the White Rose Quiotee's Lair $40/$36, an Avalon Reserve Pinot noir Club Selection. The Quiotee's Lair shows a big, structured backbone of silky tannins that support fruit flavors of marionberry and cassis, intermingled with intense spices including cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. The Estate Pinot noir 03 $60/$54 does not yet have a release date. All of the White Rose 03's have a strong sense of place, with hints of fresh turned earth, minerals, and herbs. This is a wine producer to watch.

Ana Vineyard

The grapes come from the Ana Vineyard, part of the Weber Vineyard that was sold to Andy Humphrey, who manages the property. Andy also manages the remarkable Goldschmidt Vineyard. The wine is made for Ana Vineyard by Mike Etzel of Beaux Freres. Here's a chance to purchase a Mike Etzel creation at a price considerably below the $75 of his 95 point rated Beaux Freres "Estate" 03 $75/$67.50.

The Ana Vineyard Pinot noir 03 $38.95/$35.05 shows off Mike Etzel's winemaking skills. The wine has intriguing foresty, herbal notes in the nose, like the scent of a forest floor on a warm day. It is a delicious, medium to full-bodied Pinot noir with loads of fruit. It has a dark ruby color with sweet black cherry aromas and has a lovely soft palate with fine tannins. 200 cases were made. The Ana Vineyard 03 will be an Avalon reserve Pinot noir Club selection in 2005.

Penner-Ash's 2003 Releases

Penner-Ash Pinot noir 03 $40/$36 received 93 points from Wine Spectator! Here's what they said: "Packs an amazing amount of dense flavor into a lithe, elegant package, layering cherry, boysenberry and exotic spice character, which extends into a long, long finish. Has all it needs to develop beautifully. Drink now through 2015. —H.S."

Irreverant, fun, unusual blend of Pinot noir and Syrah

This is the highest score ever from Wine Spectator for the Willamette Valley Pinot noir from Penner Ash! The wine has big lush blackberry and cherry fruit with hints of licorice and spice. It is explosive and dense with well integrated wood and sweet vanilla lingering on the finish. Blended from grapes sourced from Shea, Momtazi,Seven SPrings, Palmers Creek, La Colina, Goldschmidt and Bethel Heights vineyards. Highly recommended.

Penner-Ash has also released a new, non-vintage "Rubeo" Red Wine $18.95/$17.05. Rubeo means "blonde" in Spanish, and that's what the vineyard workers call Lynn, thus the name for this user friendly blend of Pinot noir and Syrah. Don't analyze- just enjoy it! It's big, balanced, and lively -- drink and enjoy. Who thought that Pinot noir blended with Syrah could be so much fun. No illusions to intellectual wine analysis here, just snappy, quaffable ready to drink red wine, impeccably created by a master winemaker.

Eric Hamacher

Hamacher: "No Wine before its Time"

Eric Hamacher has the patience to allow his Pinot noir to age for years longer than most Oregon wines before release. Here it is, April 2005, and Eric is just releasing his Hamacher Pinot noir 01 $35.00/31.50. We had the chance to taste the wine at the store recently, and all of Avalon's staff were so impressed. The wine is so balanced and well integrated, showing a sophistication and multi-facted palate of flavors. Eric has also released his bargain Hamacher "H" Pinot noir 03 $18.00/$16.20 and his Hamacher Chardonnay Cuvee Forets Diverses $25/$22.50.

Sale Pinot noirs

Two great sales this week from Oregon. The Evesham Wood Pinot noir "Anden/Seven Springs" 01 $18.75/$16.88 was $30 but it's been reduced to clear it out for the new vintage. A meaty, rich Pinot, drinking extremely well in 2005 and into 2006. The 2001 version is a little more soft-textured than what we usually see from this site, but the "signature" meaty, earthy and plummy character of the vineyard are all in evidence in the resulting wine. In addition the high glycerine content of the vintage makes for a long rich finish.

Silvan Ridge Pinot noir Reserve 02 $29.50/$26.55 was $39. After Joe Dobbes left the winery, the wines varied in quality and style, and we only sold their always excellent Early Muscat. We recently re-visited the wines are were quite pleasantly surprised, Some of the better deals from the South Willamette are available from this lesser known winery. Along with the Pinot noir Reserve, the Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah are quite good for the price. The Silvan Ridge Syrah Del Rio 01 $20.95/$18.86 in particular, made from Del Rio vineyard fruit, shows a lot more character and body than you'd expect for $21.

Dessert Wine - Update on Ice Wine Availability

Wine Spectator rating
95 points

The Chateau Ste Michelle White Riesling Ice Wine 03 $36/$32.70 received 95 points from Wine Spectator and sold out quickly. We are happy to report that the winery has releaed a bit more and we have the wine (for now) in stock. Pricey for an American ice wine but a bargain compared to German or B.C. ice wines, this wine was made from grapes that were picked, frozen on the vines, and made with a bit of trans-atlantic phone calling between winemaker Bob Berthau and German vintner Ernst Loosen. It holds its own with ice wines three times its price.

After a long hiatus, we have more of the Ste Chappelle Riesling Ice Wine 03 $22/$19.80. It's also made from grapes picked frozen from the vines, and has lovely white peach scents and flavors. While the Covey Run Riesling Ice Wine will not be back for a few years (the vines froze and were killed off), the Covey Run Semillon Ice Wine 02/03 $22/$19.80 is available in good supply. It was made from grapes picked and then frozen in the winery.

Riesling - Small Lot, German-Style, Deliciously Northwest

For More Rieslings
from the Northwest,
Look Here

While Riesling, like Rosé, suffers from the grocery store garbage that calls itself by its noble names. If you can look beyond the cheap, sweet swill, loaded with artifical flavors, there's a quiet revolution going on in the Northwest. Very limited production of delicious, complex, refreshing, intriguing Rieslings are being made from old vinetard blocks of long neglected Riesling.

The Brooks Riesling, mentioned above, sells out immediately every year. Chateau Ste Michelle makes a highend Riesling, Eroica, but our vote is for their Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling 04 $8.99/$8.09. That's the wine that CSM winemakers drink at home. It's their "little secret". It's made with all of the skill and some of the same fruit as their higher end Rieslings, and it's one of the best around, from anywhere, for the price.

At the risk of making someone at CSM upset, I have to say that. for the price of the Eroica, I'd much rather have the Chehalem Dry Riesling 03 $21.99/ $19.79. Harry Petersen-Nedry just has a knack for white wines, and this one is a gem. The wine has the perfect balance of stone fruit and flowering vine aromas and flavors, complemented by a cleansing mineral zing. This is a wine we sell out of fast.

Medici Vineyards Riesling Late Harvest $14/$12.60 is made by Peter Rosback, of Sineann Winery. It's Just delicious, sweet, but with a clean, light finish and with subtle floral notes of citrus blossom and flavors of apricot and peach.

Summer White Wines

It's not too soon to start thinking about stocking up on white wines for the summer. while the Northwest may be better known for its Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon red wines, the area makes a wide array of excellent whites, many at very reasonable prices.

One of my favorite white wines from Oregon is the very limited Francis Tannahill Gewurztraminer "Dragonfly" 03 $22.50. Huge aromatics of lychee, rose, acacia blossoms, perfume, lavender, and spice with a palate that mimics the nose and continues with a balance of viscosity, purity, weightless, and power. You cannot ask for a more pleasant white wine for sipping and enjoying with grilled chicken, Salade Nichoise, or Bruschetta.

Andrew Rich Sauvignon Blanc Les Vigneaux" Croft Vineyard 04 $17.95/ $16.16 will be out in late May, 2005. It's one of our most popular summer whites, and for good reason. The wine possesses the Croft Vineyard’s signature notes of pineapple, guava, passion fruit, citrus, and just a hint of gooseberry. It is rich, round, with complex notes of mineral and fresh spring water in the finish. Perpetual favorite, sells out quickly. It's a lassic summer sipper, with the sophistication to work well with fine cuisine.

Andrew is one of the few winemakers in the US to make a Roussanne. His Andrew Rich Rousanne 03 $17.95/ $16.16 is Avalon's choice for "Big White" of the season. This is an incredibly full-bodied white wine brimming with flavors. Roussanne is rare in the US and Andrew has produced a delicious and different white with this wine. Honeysuckle, cream, white peach, and clean fresh spring water are flavors that come to mind when drinking this wine.

Read about
food and wine pairings
with this wine in the story:

Oregon Wine Dinner
The Asparagus Challenge

on Avalon's Website

Bethel Heights Chardonnay 02/03 $19.00/ $17.10 is a perennial favorite among our local customers. Flavors of pears and apples with some tropical notes shine through with this wine. It has a nice integration of wood, spice, and fruit, and is rich in the mouth, with good balancing acidity.

Jezebel Blanc 04 Price: $12.99/ $11.69 From Peter Rosback (Sineann) and Aron Hess (Daedalus) this is their bargain second label. A blend of five grape varietals: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The wine is aromatic, complex and very drinkable. And too cheap! The wine is rich, very full bodied white - super refreshing and perfect sipping wine. Just delicious. Last year's sold out quickly- this is a perfect summer sipper and you can't beat the price. Another bargain for lovers of Caymus Conundrum.


About Jean Yates

Jean Yates is owner of Avalon Wine, and has worked to promote Oregon and Washington wine for over 19 years through her wine shop, web site, and articles.

Jean previously worked in the computer industry and does most of the work on the Avalon website. She is a passionate photographer and many of the images on this site are hers


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Paley's Place and Dusky Goose Pinot noir- new article
Wine Spectator rates Oregon's 2002 vintage 97 points

New section- under $20 Pinot noirs
New Section- $20-$30 Oregon Pinot noir

November 4
Under $25
Big Red Wines
Local and Small Production Wines

November 2
Under $25 Pinots
New Releases

October 30
Oregon's 2004 Vintage- Shea Wine Cellars

October 29
Owen Sullivan's

October 20

October 18
WA Cult Big Reds
Mark Ryan,
Woodward, Abeja

October 5
New "Insider"
2004 Pinots

October 2005

September 20
Wine Spectator
New OR WA Wine Ratings

September 13
Andrew Will
2003 Red Blends
Champoux, etc

September 12
Owen Roe 2004
Ex Umbris, O'Reilly's

September 9
2004 Wines

September, 2005
Value Pinot noirs
720 Cellars, Ransom, Lumos, McKinlay, O'Reilly

September, 2005
New Releases-
Classic Reds

September, 2005
New Releases
Best Value Big Reds

September, 2005
New Releases-
OR Best Pinot noir

August 21, 2005
New Wine Releases

August 27
Pinot noir
New Wines

June 7, 2005
New Wine Releases
Dusky Goose, Alpine, Ribbon Ridge, Chehalem, Et Fille

May 27, 2005
Archery Arcus,
D'Vine Syrah,
Gypsy, Archery Summit, New Wines

May 12, 2005
New Wine Releases
& Sales
Staff recs, sales,
Wine Spec

May 7, 2005
New Wine Releases

Focus on Bergstrom Winery

May 5, 2005
New Wine Releases
2003 Pinots,
K-Vintners Special Cuvee,
More Summer White Wines

April 26, 2005
New Wine Releases
Focus on Hamacher Wines

April 22, 2005
New Wine Releases
2003 Pinot,
Sale Pinot,
White Wines

BY Jean Yates

April 2005
New Wine Releases Reviewed
by Jean Yates

March 2005
New Wine Releases Reviewed
by Jean Yates

March 2005
Oregon Pinot noir-
What to Expect in 2005

by Jean Yates

February 2005
Washington "Big Reds"
Cellar Selections
and Bargains

by Jean Yates



Avalon Wine


Rock the Cellar!
Music to Make Wine To

Oregon Wine Dinner:
The Asparagus Challenge

“The Washington Wine Industry
has a Friend in the Governor’s Mansion”

Beyond Expectations
On the
Pinot Noir Trail

It's Hip to Spit

Latitude 46° N

Belle Vallée Cellars

Champagne- Not just for Breakfast Anymore

Champagne Cocktails-
A Compendium of Recipes and Lore

Oregon Pinot noir- What to Expect in 2005

Dueling Crabcakes-
Mike Sherwood on
NW Food & Wine

Big Reds-
new Releases

New Winery-
A Photo Tour

Ken Wright's Tyrus Evan

Vacuvin vs Private Preserve

Veronique Drouhin

Dubrul Vyd has Own Winery

Washington's New Superstars

Stoller- 21st Century Vineyard

Sineann- A True NW WInery

Aren't We All

Cole on the
2004 Harvest

Charlie Hoppes
& Fidelitas
"Cream of the Crop"

Ciel du Cheval

New Superstars

Fall Mushrooms
and Northwest Wines

Nota Bene-
First Release of Wines from Another Boeing Guy

2002 Vintage-
and the
Climate Changes
that Brought It

Winemaker Interview
Trey Busch
Basel Cellars

Cool Climate

Is This the End of the Willamette Valley’s Great Vintages?

What's so Scary
about Screwcaps?

by Cole Danehower

Corral Creek Vineyard

Aging Wine

Saviah Cellars
A Sense of Place

Shea Vineyard
In depth

Weather and Winemaking


Canoe Ridge Vineyard

Cataclysm, Light
& Passion:

Washington Terroir,
soils, and Light

Oregon Pinot noir