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PinotFile's Princely Pinot Selection - June 2010

Shea Wine Cellars

""Shea-ness" Scintillates With 2008 Vintage Pinot noirs"

by Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile, Expert on Pinot noir and Avalon Wine Guest Columnist

There has been plenty of hype about the 2008 Pinot Noirs in Oregon, and at Shea Wine Cellars, the sparkling publicity is well deserved. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or Dick Shea sold his soul to the devil, but his magical plot of land produced stunning Pinot Noirs in 2008.

 The 2008 Shea Wine Cellar Pinot Noirs are bigger than their 2007 counterparts, with more color, tannin, and lush fruit.  The alcohols are in the 14s, less than in 2006, but more than in 2007.  2008 was a slow ripening vintage featuring a little rain in early October followed by dry weather through harvest in later October.

Since 1996, Dick and Dierdre Shea have had their own label, and it has taken them many years to arrive at a consistent style that they now comfortably embrace.  Their current winemaker, Drew Voit, who was formerly at Domaine Serene, is the right match. The 2008 vintage is the first that Drew vinified from start to finish.

There were several features of the 2008 Shea Wine Cellars Pinot Noirs that were impressive.  The wines are polished and harmonious, incorporating moderately high alcohols beautifully, displaying sublimely silky textures, and showing perfect integration of oak.  In addition, the wines bring out the “Sheaness” that many tasters find expressed in this vineyard: a beautiful floral aroma, a spicy, dark red and black fruit character, and a complimentary earthiness that seems unusually clear and unique to this vineyard.  Voit has managed to corral the fruit intensity, lift the elegance of the wines, and allow the terroir of Shea Vineyard to show its best side.

2008 also heralds the introduction of block designations for all of the wines except Estate and reserve bottling labeled Homer.  For those of you frustrated with the various designations of past vintages (the vineyard is divided into two portions known as West Hill and East Hill, and contains 33 blocks with both numbered and named labels), this new labeling will be welcomed.

The 2008 Pinot Noirs from Shea Wine Cellars, as well as many other Oregon producers, require patience, lacking the easy up-front accessibility of the 2007 vintage.  I chose to review two of the Shea Wine Cellars wine that offer the best early drinking.  The other wines should be put to rest in your cellar for a couple years.

The different 2008 bottlings offer an opportunity to taste the different clones from Shea Vineyard: the Block 5 bottling contains Dijon clone 777 from East Hill, the Block 7 wine is all Wadenswil clone from East Hill, the Block 22 designation is Pommard clone, and the Block 31 bottling is a blend of 70% Pommard and 30% Wadenswil clones from West Hill.

2008 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 14.2% alc..  A blend that expresses the overall vineyard containing every clone include Pommard, Wadenswil, and several Dijon clones.  Moderately dark robe in the glass. The nose is flush with nuanced aromas including black cherries, ripe strawberries, red licorice, violets, subtle oak, and a few scents I can’t describe.  The wine kept pumping out these lovely aromas for over an over in the glass.  Pretty flavors of dark red and nicely spiced stone fruits and berries and the best grape soda you ever had.  Moderately rich, with fine grain tannins, a satiny mouth feel and a pleasing acid lift on the finish. This is a nicely composed elegant wine that is the best Estate bottling from Shea ever.

2008 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Block 22 “Last Hurrah” Pinot Noir 13.7% alc..  This is the last wine from own-rooted Pommard fruit.  These vines were replanted after the 2008 harvest.  Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass.  Demure but pleasing aromas of fresh red berries, graham and violets.  Delicious core of red and blue berries and cherries.  Beautifully composed, with vivid and well-focused flavors, finely-ground gossamer tannins, a velvety texture, and an amazingly long aromatic finish that is flat-out stunning.  A wine treasure that is the last of its kind from Shea Vineyard.  Go for it, drink some history.

 

PinotFile's Princely Pinot Selection for February 2010:
Shea Wine Cellars Shea Estate Vineyard Pinot noir 08

by Rusty Gaffney

2008 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.  A blend that expresses the overall vineyard containing every clone include Pommard, Wadenswil, and several Dijon clones.  Moderately dark robe in the glass. The nose is flush with nuanced aromas including black cherries, ripe strawberries, red licorice, violets, subtle oak, and a few scents I can’t describe.  The wine kept pumping out these lovely aromas for over an over in the glass.  Pretty flavors of dark red and nicely spiced stone fruits and berries and the best grape soda you ever had.  Moderately rich, with fine grain tannins, a satiny mouth feel and a pleasing acid lift on the finish. This is a nicely composed elegant wine that is the best Estate bottling from Shea ever.

 

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