Jun 1, 2013

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Best Case Scenario: Brandborg Winery Bench Lands Pinot Noir 2009

Terry Brandborg on his deck

Terry Brandborg on the deck of his vineyard home in Elkton, Oregon. What a view!

Back in January, I took the short drive south from my home town of Eugene, Oregon to the small town of Elkton – Oregon’s newest designated American Viticulture Area.  The reason for my drive south was to meet winemaker Terry Brandborg at his winery in downtown Elkton for a tasting and lunch; along with, a tour of Elkton and his estate vineyard property.  In my article, “On Top of the World with Perpetual Balnce: Terry Brandborg and Brandborg Wines,” I was clearly impressed with Terry’s ability to make some of the most balanced wines I’ve ever had.

Imagine my happiness when I opened the case of Oregon Pinot Noirs, sent to me from Watershed Communications for their Best Case Scenario program, to find the Brandborg 2009 Bench Lands Pinot Noir – this is an awesome Pinot.  Red cherries dominate subtle hints of earth, cedar and smoke.  Supple tannins, solid acidity and fruit driven qualities offer a well rounded, well balanced, long lasting finish.  This is an incredible example of the style of world-class Pinot Noirs that come out of Oregon.

Brandborg 09 PNWith years of winemaking under his belt, a California start led Terry Brandborg, and his wife Sue, on a path to Oregon with a destination where cool climate Pinot Noir thrives.  Terry’s winemaking philosopy has not changed much over the years.

What is your winemaking philosophy?  True to the terroir, not over the top in ripeness, extraction or alcohol.  We love texture, finesse, mouthfeel, minerality and good acidity.  We strive to emphasize fruit aromas, clean fermentation bouquet and use a light touch with oak for added spiciness.

How has your style evolved over the last 5-10 years?  Not much, we have been somewhat iconoclasts, and it’s gratifying to see the pendulum swing back in our direction.

What do you love about Oregon Pinot Noir?  What makes it unique?  Ideal climate to get the wine we love without having to wait for flavor at the expense of overipeness and high alcohols.  

Brandborg 09 PN and glassTell us about the 2009 Bench Lands Pinot Noir.  A blended 100% pinot noir wine from several vineyards, blocks and clonal types. The commonality being they all share alluvial sandy soils and the marine climate found along the northern stretches of the Umpqua River drainage. We blend these lots for complexity of flavors. Clones include 114, 115, 777, Mariafeld 23 and Wadensvil. We use small open top fermenters and hand punchdowns, light pressing, short settling, sur lees aging and battonage.

What is one non-flavor descriptor to describe this wine?  From beach to dinner table, invite your friends and at this price, open another bottle. 


For the wine geeks, like me:

  • AVA: Umpqua Valley sub AVA of Elkton
  • Cases produced: 4004
  • Alcohol: 13.3%
  • pH: 3.59
  • Acidity: 5.8g/L
  • Oak treatment: 100% French oak, various coopers medium toast, 25% new
  • Retail price: $22

US Markets/Distributors: SC/Grassroots Wine, NC/Tryon, NY Bayfields, CA, VNO, CO, Oliver Scott Selections, GA, Artisan Vines,IL, Wine Cru, IN, Free Market Wine, MN, Paustis & Sons, WA, Grape Expectations, OR, Grape Expectations, WI L’eft Bank Wine, TN Athens,VA/DC Free Run Wine Merchants,VT Farrell Dist.





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