Feb 17, 2013

Posted by in Best Case Scenario | 0 Comments

Best Case Scenario: Carabella Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir 2010

photo (54)Welcome to the first edition of Best Case Scenario where we’ll be focusing on one featured wine for two whole weeks. The theme with this wine, and the next eleven wines to be featured, is From Blockbuster to Beauty: the Evolving Style of Oregon Pinot Noir. The first wine, from a case of mixed Oregon Pinot Noirs, that I’ve popped the cork on is the 2010 Carabella Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir.

The 2010 Carabella Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir has bright red fruit aromas of cherries and raspberries with hints of earth and cedar. Smooth and juicy on the palate, the red fruits blend well with a solid acidic backbone and fine grained tannins. I often describe the 2010 vintage of Pinot Noir as luscious, and this one definitely fits that description.

About Carabella Vineyards and winemaker, Mike Hallock

Mike Hollack and fam

Winemaker Mike Hollack and family | photo credit: carabellawine.com

Located in the Chehalem Moutains AVA, a sub AVA of the Willamette Valley, Carabella Vineyards sits on a southeast facing slope at an elevation of 500 to 600 feet. Volcanic soils on the vineyard site include Nekia, Saum and Jory – perfect for dry farming low-yielding vines. Geologist and winemaker of the Carabella wines, Mike Hallock, was trained as a winemaker in Colorado and later brought his equipment on a flatbed truck to Oregon – his first vintage was in 1998.

What is your winemaking philosophy? “As a geologist, I love the complex, elegant style inherent in our volcanic site. By honoring the diverse elements coming from each clone, I can take advantage of the potential of each when assembling the cuvee for a particular vintage.”

photo (55)How has your style evolved over the last 5-10 years? “As the vineyard has matured since establishment in 1996, I’ve learned how best to guide each of the individual clones we farm through a marriage with the best yeast, fermentation regime and cooper. But it’s a different starting line each vintage.”

What do you love about Oregon Pinot Noir? What makes it unique? “Oregon Pinot is a wonderful middle ground between Burgundy and California.  More lush fruit than Burgundy in most vintages, but more elegance and complexity than California.”

Tell us about the 2010 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir. “Cooler vintages like 2010 seem to gain weight and viscosity after a year or two in bottle. Extended barrel age (18 months) has allowed many non-fruit elements (earth, almost floral aroma, brown spice) to assert themselves. There is a real vibrant acidity to this vintage as well, but subtle tannins. Very red fruit driven.”

What is one non-flavor descriptor to describe this wine? “Exotic perfume and vibrant, almost electric color, like a date with an artistic woman.”

For the wine geek in us all:

  • Cases produced: 550
  • Alcohol 13.5%
  • aged 18 months 100% French oak, 1/3 new cooperage

US Markets/Distributors: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Las Vegas, Chicago, Texas, New Orleans, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Colorado


If you’ve joined in on this tasting by purchasing a bottle of your own, please leave any comments below and/or tweet about it on Twitter using hashtag #bestcasescenario. I will add your comments and photos into the article and share your thoughts on this wine!