May 16, 2013

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Seven Wines from Seven Vineyards: An Unforgettable Flight of Seufert Winery 2009 Pinot Noirs

IMG_5984As you pull on to Ferry Street in Dayton, Oregon, looking for Seufert Winery in the 3 block core that covers most of Dayton’s downtown, don’t underestimate the wine that’s waiting behind the brick-colored door that leads you into the tasting room, winery and barrel hall – there’s a myriad of Pinot Noirs that will undoubtedly swoon your palate.

Admittedly, I was confused as our GPS was directing us out of wine country and into the streets of small town Dayton.  A moment earlier, we were driving through the rolling hill countryside and passing by the signs for Domaine Serene, Domaine Drouhin, Sokol-Blosser and Archery Summit. Obviously my first time to the charming, quaint town of Dayton, I had no idea Seufert Winery was an urban winery.

IMG_5987But, that wasn’t all that took me by surprise.  When we walked through the door into the tasting room (which shares space with the barrel room), I was surprised to see the line-up of wines we were about to sample:  seven 2009 single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley, all produced by owner and winemaker, Jim Seufert.  Jim is a 4th generation Oregonian, coming from a family who has always believed Oregon is a rich land.  He focuses on seeking out and sourcing single vineyard Pinot Noir from sub AVAs located in the north Willamette Valley – vineyards that are dedicated to growing quality grapes.  Aside from sourcing and making all the Seufert wines, Jim (in his spare time) enjoys cooking, and he was the chef behind the delectable small-plates of food that were lined up in front of each of the seven Pinot Noirs.

IMG_5994“By appointment, we do food and wine pairings, so it’s what I’ve set up here,” said Michelle Wasner, our hostess and Director of Marketing at Seufert. ” It’s a really fun chance for people to understand how dynamic Pinot can be when complemented with various foods. We also like to make it accessible for people. Food pairings sometimes intimidate people, and we think it shouldn’t intimidate, but it should be fun to experiment.  That’s one thing that we do here, we like to share those various flavors with people.”

Michelle, who is one of only two people who share responsibility with Jim in running the Seufert boutique winery operation (1,500-1,700 cases a year), is also a mom of an absolutely darling baby girl who just so happened to be there (in her mother’s arms) for our wine tasting.  Michelle, who is most certainly a multi-tasker, is not just extremely knowledgeable about the Seufert wines, but she’s passionate, as well.

IMG_59891. Vista Hills 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($35) paired with Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon: Ripe cherries and raspberries combined with earthy components on the nose of the Pinot transferred onto the palate in waves of fruit with nice acidity and solid tannins.  The long and lightly spice filled finish was a perfect combination with the delicately smoked flavors of the salmon – truly divine together. Vista Hills is in the Dundee Hills AVA, and the clone 777 vines were planted in 2005 at an elevation of 500-800 feet in Volcanic-Jory soil.

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IMG_59902. Bishop Creek 2009 Single Vineyard Designate Pinot Noir ($30) paired with Truffle Truffle (truffle oil truffle):  With the famed Joel Palmer House also being located in the small town of Dayton, Seufert’s access to the distinctively incredible Joel Palmer House Oregon White Truffle Oil is just a two block walk away.  The use of the truffle oil in the Truffle Truffle gives it a uniquely earthy, mushroomy taste, which perfectly complemented the rich, earthy tones of the Pinot Noir.  Aside from the earthy notes in the wine, aromas and flavors included baked cherry pie, fall spices and notes of coffee bean.  Words can not describe how incredible the flavors of the Truffle Truffle were with the Pinot Noir, it was a flawless pairing.  Bishop Creeks Pommard and Wadenswil clones were planted in 1988, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, at an elevation of 450-650 feet on Marine Sedimentary – Willakenzie soils.

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IMG_59913. Coleman 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($35) paired with Lemon Cake Tart (made with Meyer lemon curd): With robust, pepper and spice notes highlighted by bright cherries, cranberries and earth, this Pinot was full, round and totally luscious with a super solid acidic backbone.  The creamy, sweet flavors of the Lemon Cake Tart sliced right through the peppery, spicy, acidic notes of the Pinot, creating an ambrosial match.  The Coleman Pommard clone was planted in 1996 in the Willamette Valley AVA at 300-500 feet of elevation on Volcanic-Basalt soil, fractured with Silty Clay Loam.

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IMG_59924. Vine Idyl Vineyard 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($30) paired with Manchego and Berry Compote:  Winning a GOLD medal at the Miami International Best In Glass Competition in 2012, the judges were shocked when they found out the Pinot they chose was from Oregon and not Burgundy.  With beautifully lush aromas and flavors of red berries like raspberries and strawberries, the tannins were ultra smooth and fine, creating a palate pleasing, polished mouthfeel.  Manchego has a bit of a peppery taste to it, which was perfect with the berry compote and the red berry flavors in the wine.  Vine Idyl’s 84 year old owner along with his Border Collie tend and care for the vines year round, only needing help during harvest. The Pommard clones at Vine Idyl were planted in 2000 at 750 feet on Clay Loan-Sulver Silty soil in the Willamette Valley AVA.

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IMG_59935. Johan 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($30) paired with Hazelnuts Roasted and Coated in Bacon Fat:  I am a huge fan of hazelnuts, but roasted and coated in bacon fat? Delicious is an understatement, these were down-right heavenly and the saltiness perfectly complemented the layered textures of berries in the Pinot. Cranberries, cherries, rhubarb and earth are enhanced by layers of silky tannins, ending in a long, lush finish.  Clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 were planted in the Willamette Valley AVA in 2000 at 180-380 feet of elevation on Marine Sedimentary soil – Helvetica, Steiwer and Chehulpum.

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IMG_59956. Horseleap 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($30) paired with Chevre Truffle (goat cheese with a little lemon zest):  Similar to the Truffle Truffle but more intense with added zestiness from the lemon and full flavored goat cheese,  this zinger in the mouth paired really well with the rich, intense flavors of the Pinot.  Blackberries and dark cherries were rounded out by solid acidity and a hint of minerality.  The finish was spicy and intense with some earthy notes as well.  Planted in 2001 in the Willamette Valley, Pommard and 777 clones sit at 350-375 feet on Marine Sedimentary-Willakenzie soil.

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IMG_59967. Zenith 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir ($35) paired with Hard Cheese and Fig Compote: This is a big, bold Pinot that was sweetly mellowed by the subtle flavors of the cheese and fig compote. Along with a darker than average appearance, the bold aromas and flavors included black currants, blueberries, cassis and pie spice. Full bodied and rich on the palate, seamless waves from front to back ended only after a long, zesty finish that was filled with bright acidity.  I absolutely loved this one and took a bottle home with me, only to discover its blossoming fruity characteristics and mellowing tannins – an incredible wine, for sure.  The vines for these Pommard and 777 clones were planted in 1999 at an elevation of 200-300 feet above sea level on Hazelair, Helmick, Waldo and Bellpine soils.

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Amazingly, the Pinot Noir varietal soaks up everything in its environment – the micro-climate, the soil, the vintage and the clone all contribute to the individual distinctive and unique characteristics.  For each of the seven 2009 vintage Pinot Noirs that we sampled, all of them were produced using the same method from start to finish; therefore, we literally tasted the terroir in each of the seven wines.  I’ve participated in horizontal wine tastings before, but never one where all the wines came from the same winery and winemaker; in addition to, being sampled with unmatched food pairings – this was certainly an unforgettable tasting.

A very special thanks to Michelle Wasner for sharing her knowledge and providing us with such an incredible wine tasting; as well as, sending us over to meet Chef Chris Czarnecki of The Joel Palmer House. Cheers.

Visit Seufert Winery at 415 Ferry Street, Dayton, OR 97114

Special Note: Although we tasted seven wines, Seufert Winery is very close to being sold out of two of the Pinots that we tasted; therefore, similar tastings will most-likelyconsist of five single vineyard Pinot Noirs.