Friday, January 26, 2007

2004 Shea Pinot Noir Wadenswil Clone

If you're interested in Oregon wine you probably know by now that Shea's crop of 2004 wines received high praise and high scores from Wine Spadvocator. Normally those kind of reviews don't particularly interest me (I normally am not aware of them, more to the point), but this time I am quite curious to taste for myself.

Shea was a common name when I first became interested in Oregon wine, but more as a vineyard on other producer's labels. Many prominent Willamette Valley producers source grapes from Shea vineyards: Mark Vlossak of St Innocent and Panther Creek (where he is consulting winemaker), Ken Wright, and Josh Bergstrom, Beaux Freres (the winery partially owned by Robert Parker), and Patricia Green, to name a few. And until recently, Sine Qua Non, the California cult winery, put out a Pinot Noir sourcing Shea grapes. The final vintage of that wine was 2003 - Shea reclaimed the grapes for its own wine.

About a year ago I ordered a half case of 2004 Shea wines, selecting a bottle of this and a bottle of that, but buying three bottles of 2004 Shea Pinot Noir Wadenswil Clone, because this is the wine made from the grapes that used to go to Sine Qua Non.

I haven't had the occasion to try one of these wines, and they probably should be cellared for a while anyway. When my good friends NorthCarolinaGuy and Gal moved out of New York (can you guess where they moved?) I gave them a bottle of the 2004 Shea Pinot Block 23 as a gift, and apparently they enjoyed it very much. So far so good - they have great taste and if they say it's great, I trust them. The 2004 Shea Estate Pinot is the one that received the highest rating, if I am not mistaken, then the Block 23 and the Homer, then the Wadenswil clone.

The other night I lost my senses, threw caution to the wind, made a tuna sandwich with red onions, and opened a bottle. I am excited to report that the wine is truly fantastic. Spadvocator hit the nail on the head this time. Here are some tasting notes:

2004 Shea Pinot Noir Wadenswil Clone, $48.
Deep bloody transparent ruby, clear at the rims. Big smells of chocolate, black fruit, coffee grinds, some mushrooms. Lots of sap, flavors of black cherry and blueberry, chocolate and spices, with a pleasant bitterness at the finish. Well structured, good acidity. This wine is HUGE, really powerful in aroma and flavor, but seems like it is honest power, from the grapes. Feels a bit disjointed, like it hasn't come together quite yet, but the individual parts are excellent. Not elegant, muscular, none of the animal or barnyard I like in Burgundy wines - this one has its own Willamette blue fruit terroir thing going on.

Day 2:
Much more balance in the nose, and some gamier aromas - really nice. Much better delineation of flavors too - clean blue and black fruit, juicy, harmonious and balanced by great acidity. Developed an elegant side overnight. Smooth tannins too - very well structured.

It seems to me that this wine will benefit from 10+ years of cellaring - it has great stuffing. I'm not touching my two remaining bottles for a long time - I bet they will mellow and develop beautiful secondary aromas and flavors. And I solemnly swear to you, people who care about wine and food, that next time I will have roast venison or lamb, or a big porterhouse with the wine. Not a tuna sandwich. Actually it was fine. I ate the tune while the wine rooted around in the glass and got comfortable.

So count me in for the 2005 wines when they are released, I guess. Anyone want to split a case?


Anonymous said...

You use red onions too?! :)

Anonymous said...

I remember that 2004 Shea. It was really a great experience. As far as remember, it started with a very delicate fresh pine smell, something surprisingly pleasant, and then developed into layers of beautiful fruit and chocolate aromas. So good that none was left to try the next day.

Brooklynguy said...

I'm so glad you guys liked th shea wine. Now I just have to figure out a way to get you to move back to NYC...and yes, I love red onions with tuna. most important rule for tuna, though, is to buy tuna in oil, not in water. so much more flavorful. thanks for stopping ny.

David said...

Sounds great. I've definitely become enamored of Oregon pinots, have tasted several good ones from 2003 the past year. La Bete Pinot Stoller Vineyard was especially good I thought.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey David - thanks for stopping by. I have never tried La Bete, but I have tasted something from Stoller vineyard and I remember liking it. 03's are tough though, kind of thick and jammy. good to hear there are gems out there.