New Highly Rated Releases
Daedalus Cellars, Van Duzer
Reserve and Single Block Pinot noirs
Two up-and-coming small Oregon wineries whose Pinots are receiving national recognition have released their best wines this month. Daedalus Cellars, a tiny winery making Pinots from fruit sourced from some of Oregon's best vineyards, is Aron Hess and wife Pam Walden. Van Duzer, a somewhat larger winery, has emerged from a lengthy revamp of its vineyards (managed by Jim Kalacek, Van Duzer's winemaker) to release its highly sought after single block estate 2003's.
We recommend the wines of both wineries for Pinot lovers who want to collect from the emerging stars of Oregon's Pinot makers. Now is a great time to cellar reasonably priced, limited wines with real age ability, creating the start of vertical collections that will give you and yours great pleasure in the years to come.
Daedelus Cellars is Aron Hess and wife Pam Walken, with assistance from 2 year old son Samson. Daedalus (DAY-duh-lus) is a small family winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Aron and Pam source fruit from some of Oregon's best vineyards and use artisan methods to handcraft their wines. The wines show an elegant, age able structure and complexity, refined and sophisticated, natural partners for a wide range of foods.
Daedalus Cellars Pinot noir 03 $21.55/$23.95
Here's the place to start with Daedalus, if you're wanting t see what they're about at a modest price. A blend from Hawks View, Carabella, Momtazi, Maresh, and Seven Springs Vineyards' fruit, Pommard, Dijon, and Wadenswil clones of Pinot noir are combined into an unusually complex "intro-level" Pinot noir.
The wine shows a big spicy nose and lush fruit flavors, but has the transparency to allow the consumer to sense complex flavors. The wine has a long finish, with lovely hints of sandalwood, dried herbs, and black berry fruits. Very nice. Excellent acidity and lovely silky tannins make it quite age able and a good wine to pair with food.
Daedalus Cellars Pinot noir Seven Springs Vineyard 03 $31.46/$34.95
Only 45 cases made of this complex, age able Pinot noir from one of Oregon's oldest and most distinguished vineyards. Winemaker Aron Hess, formerly winemaker at Rex Hill, puts all his skills into creating a Pinot with lots of varietal character and flavors. Made entirely from Seven Springs fruit, all Pommard clone, the wine is dense and concentrated, with scent of blackberry and roasted cocoa bean, flavors of violets, oolong tea, black raspberries, cherries, and plum. The finish is quite long, with hints of black fruit and silky tannins. We're impressed enough to send this wine to our Reserve Pinot noir Club in October.
Daedalus Cellars Pinot noir "Labyrinth" 03 $35.05/$38.95
Collectable, with a lush mouth feel and rich mid-palate. Classic Burgundian style at its best, with nose of minerals, lavender, roses, and violets. Opening gently on the palate, the flavors are of cinnamon, anise, red cherry, black berries, black cherries, licorice, minerals, and desert herbs, they just keep coming. Very sophisticated and cellar worthy.
From the winery: "The Labyrinth is the pinnacle of our Pinot noir production, our winemaker's dream. We strove to provide a wine that is both elegant and luscious."
Van Duzer Winery
It took ten years to turn around the Estate Vineyard from which Van Duzer gets all its grapes. After years of hard work and patience, the wines are showing delightfully delicious results. Leading Avalon to award a very hearty " Most Improved Winery" award to Van Duzer, and especially to its dedicated winemaker, Jim Kalacek. His 2002 wines really broke through to national consciousness, with 91 and 92 point ratings from Wine Spectator and numerous national awards. These 2003 vintage block designate wines are even better, in our opinion.
Van Duzer Pinot noir Flagpole Block 03 $31.46/$34.95
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Complex aromas hint at hibiscus flower, spice, cedar and wild mushroom as well as ripe fruit on the nose. A sip offers lush, ripe flavors of blackberry, currant and pungent earth, to name a few. The finish is long and sweet with velvety fine tannins. Just over 300 cases were produced.
Review for 02 vintage: Wine Spectator 91 points: "Ripe and spicy, a generous mouthful of plum, blueberry and currant flavors shaded with hints of bay leaf and earth, while ultra fine tannins frame the finish. Drink now through 2010. 300 cases made." (HS)
Introduced in 1999 as Van Duzer's first vineyard-designate wine, the Flagpole Block Pinot Noir is produced from an approximate one-third acre of old Wadenswil clone vines located near the entrance to the property. The steep vineyard takes its name from the flagpole located at the top of the slope. The east-west row orientation combined with the slope allows for full sun exposure the entire day and the grapes from these vines produce exceptionally ripe and rich fruit.
Van Duzer Pinot noir Homestead Block 03 $31.49/$34.99
DELICIOUS -- AVALON RECOMMENDS. The 2003 vintage is a rich, generous wine that presents and initial impression of blackberry, bing cherry and black cherry with touches of fresh cedar, violet and spice. In the mouth the flavors are black cherry and marionberry with fine grained tannins, producing an impressively persistent finish. Production is limited to just over 300 cases.
Wine Spectator rating 92 points for 2002 vintage: "Plump and generous, brimming with currant, white pepper and spice flavors that linger beautifully on the fine-grained finish. Impressive for its persistence without apparent weight. Drink now through 2012. 300 cases made." (HS)
The Homestead Block Pinot Noir is produced from the Pommard grape vines, planted in 1982, that grow on the gentle slope that was the site of the original homestead for the Van Duzer property. The exceptionally pure dark cherry character of the wine produced from this small plot has stood out in tastings of previous vintages. The 2003 vintage marks the third Homestead Block designated bottling.
Van Duzer Pinot noir Dijon Blocks 03 $31.46/$34.95
Wine Spectator rating 89 points for 2002 vintage: "On the tart side, but rich in texture, offering tangy cherry, earth and exotic spice flavors, finishing on a smoky note. Best from 2006 through 2010. 300 cases made."(HS)
CELLAR SELECTION. Ripe plum, black cherry and blueberry arise instantly with a swirl of the glass, followed by hints of chocolate, hibiscus, violet and exotic spices. In the mouth, rich, sweet fruit flavors of blackberry, cherry and cassis mingle with underlying touches of clove, vanilla and nutmeg. A slightly smoky, spicy note carries through a long finish. Improved from last vintage, a big, bulldozer of a wine, very age able.
The Dijon clones, sourced from Burgundy, are known to produce grapes that ripen earlier, allowing for more 'hang time' and more concentration of flavor. The Dijon Blocks Pinot Noir consists of the 777 clone that is full bodies with silky tannins, the 115 clone with red raspberry flavors, and the 113 clone with good acid balance and some floral aromas.
New from Avalon
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