Chas has been excited to do this show for a while. He picked out three aged bottles from his collection that Dan had definitely tasted before. He said that they were all from Oregon, but aside from that, all three were poured blind on the show. I hope you enjoy this look at some aged wines from some great local producers. Inside the bags are the 2008 Brick House Les Dijonnais Pinot Noir, the 2007 Johan Vineyards Three Barrel Pinot Noir, and the 2010 Cameron Clos Electrique Chardonnay.

While visiting Southern Oregon, Chas stopped by the Brandborg tasting room in Elkton. He enjoyed the stop, and noticed a table full of library wines. At only $20 a piece, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick up a five year vertical centered on 2007. That’s an average of 10 years old across the five wines! We’re thrilled to bring content like this, and hope you enjoy these wines from one of Oregon’s newest AVA’s.

Andrew and Aaron recently started Klima Weinhändler, a wine import business based in Portland. We made a connection over Riesling, but for this show, they wanted to share some fantastic bottles from the Tokaji region in Hungary. These are all new to us, and we were really impressed with the depth and quality of these wines. We hope you enjoy the discussion, and find a way to try these for yourself when they arrive. We taste the 2013 Zsadanyi Dongo Tokaji Furmint, the 2014 Szucs Bohomaly Furmint, the 2010 Zsadanyi Szamorodni, and the 2008 Vineum Tokaji Aszu.

DAVID HILL 50TH ANNIVERSARY TASTING – David Hill Vineyards (8/1/2015)


Don’t call it a comeback. It’s strange to discuss the third wave of discovery with regard to a vineyard. Wine is an industry full of research, documentation, and history, but time can obscure as well as enrich, and the David Hill vineyard has experienced both over the last few decades. Planted in 1965, the old vines here have continued to mature, developing the relationship between their site and their fruit. But many stories have lay quiet, becoming more mysterious as general knowledge and familiarity with this historic site have faded. Recently though, interest has been growing again, and some of Oregon’s most unique vines are getting attention from people who are ready to embrace the story of this site. The Stoyanov family has continued their journey of restoration and growth, adding to their team to expand the reach of David Hill wines, and growing the family by selling less famous varieties from tiny old parcels to other local producers such as the Teutonic Wine Company and Golden Cluster.

Charles (Chuck) Coury came to Oregon in 1965 convinced, after extensive climate research, that Oregon was a place to grow great Pinot Noir. Today, stories related to Pinot Noir nearly always circle back to Burgundy, for reasons both noble and cynical. However, Chuck’s inspiration came from the red wines of Alsace and he thought that Oregon’s climate was similar the growing conditions found in that mountainous region of France. Chuck followed the Alsatians both with variety selection, and vineyard management techniques, which occupied his mind and practice. Mentions of this are rare today, but the amount of Riesling planted in many of the early vineyards suggests that he was not alone in his Alsatian inspiration. Of course, Oregon is neither Burgundy nor Alsace, and these ideas would be starting positions, from which an industry with its own unique identity would emerge.


On the First of August, 2015, a group of family, friends, and local press gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the vineyard, tell stories of the past, and set the stage for future growth. Charly Coury, Chuck’s son, was there, and he gave a lot of credit to his mother, as well as his father. He said that Chuck had the green thumb, and was a visionary, always looking for a new breakthrough. His mother though, had the adventurous spirit, and was willing to start a family and business in a run-down old farm house where grapes hadn’t been grown for decades. Her enthusiasm for adventure made this bold venture possible.


David Adelsheim remarked that Chuck was probably the smartest person in the wine business in the early days, and that he really pushed the quality of viticulture in the region. There were stories of him seeing the condition of another producer’s vineyard, and then later showing up with a crew to help the owner clean it up. Chuck’s heart and mind were focused on how the grapes should be grown. According to David, he was always researching, and thinking of what needed to be discovered or learned to grow grapes better. Someone joked that he only made wine because that’s what one did once you had grown grapes!


Ownership transitions, and financial challenges have made historic vintages of the Coury wines very rare, but the Stoyanov family has begun saving some of each vintage, and the samples shared at the event give a look toward the future as much as they look through the recent past. In many ways, the wines were also an introduction for me. I’ve tasted a number of their wines in the past, but never in a focused line up like this. This gave me the chance to contemplate their character across vintages, and to look for consistent flavors or experiences. Winemaker Jason Bull, joined the team when they decided to hire a professional in 2008, and it seemed like you could taste his growing familiarity with the fruit and the winery. In some cases, the more recent wines were my favorites.

Gewürztraminer Flight


The first flight was four vintages of Gewürztraminer. I wasn’t able to find much of a common thread here, only that I definitely preferred the lighter expressions to the sweeter, richer ones where the fruit seemed to lose some focus. The lime style acidity is definitely something I hope to see more of in future vintages.

  • 2008 David Hill Gewürztraminer Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose is dominated by lemon zest and gooseberries with stems. Scents of dark pie crust, a touch of heat, and something that reminds me of a candle show too. Lemon curd flavor shows quickly and fully on the palate. Flavors of pineapple show quickly as well, with sweet flavors that feel like candy and are a bit distracting. This sweetness lingers along with some lime zest texture toward the finish.
  • 2010 David Hill Gewürztraminer Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Great floral scents show in the glass here, along with some lime zest and under-ripe melon aromas. Pure mirabelle flavors mix with light cantaloupes on the palate. The texture is pleasant. On the finish, lime flavors rise, and lime zest texture contributes to a drying sensation on the finish while a faint hint of sweet fruit lingers underneath the drying sensation.
  • 2011 David Hill Gewürztraminer Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose has a savory touch with it showing a saline mineral character blended with lemons and mirabelle plums. When tasted, apple and pear flavors present themselves evenly at the start. Some elderflower flavors show on the finish. Gentle lime like acidity persists through the entire experience, and some lime zest rises late to dry things out a little bit. I like the texture here.
  • 2012 David Hill Gewürztraminer Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose shows plenty of fruit, primarily strawberries and rhubarb. This was the last of the Gewurztraminer flight on a hot day, so this one was a little warmer than the others. So, it probably helps the fruit aromas, but, it brings a little heat to the nose too. Even apple flavors make up the majority of the taste experience. The acidity here feels more full, and it works well to balance some sweetness on the fruit. Some richness reminding me of plums shows toward the finish along with some limes.

Riesling Flight

Next up was the Riesling, which always has my attention. The coolers years were definitely more enjoyable for me, and as the years progressed, it seemed like different ideas were coming together and building upon each other to good effect.

  • 2008 David Hill Riesling Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Candied grapefruit peel scents show in the glass backed by apples and a touch of rhubarb. The palate reminds me most of limes, tending toward sweet. Full acidity is accompanied by green apple flavors. Sweet apples come in later, leaning a little toward candy. The acid strengthens on the finish, giving it a sense of balance late.
  • 2009 David Hill Riesling Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Good scents of flowers, stones, and yellow apples appear. The apple flavors show first when tasted, and its presence is pretty modest on contact. A touch of floral flavors show themselves early, and lime acidity rises to dry well on the finish.
  • 2010 David Hill Riesling Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose is pretty engaging here, showing apples, and notes of concrete, and something that reminds me of trees in a deep forest. It’s meaty on the palate, with full yellow apples mixing quickly with strong lime acidity. Lime juice pairs with green apple flavors later to rise up and wash away some of the heaviness from the beginning.
  • 2011 David Hill Riesling Estate – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose has a lot going on. White flowers and apple scents are in the foreground, with mirabelle plums providing depth. A touch of saline minerality shows on the nose after the wine has been open for a bit. Acid hits the palate right away with great flavors of limes and green apples. The flavors meld, and sit very nicely together on the palate for a long time. The acidity makes my mouth water, and some floral flavors add an interesting note on the long finish. This is definitely my favorite of the 4 Rieslings tasted today.

Coury Clone Pinot Noir Flight

In general, the Pinot Noir wines were darker than I expected, but most were showing plenty of acidity and complexity. Everyone assumes that the Pinot Noir vines he first planted are Alsatian clones, but soon we’ll know for sure. The Dick Erath Foundation is funding an effort to have the genes sequenced, so we can find out their source.

  • 2007 David Hill Pinot Noir Black Jack – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The noise is spicy, showing scents of cloves, dry grass, and molasses over the top of plums and cherries. Cherry flavors show right away when tasted, supported by chocolate underneath them. The acidity is full, and it lingers with a touch of lemon character. Raspberry flavors show on the finish as the acidity persists, and it leaves with a crisp impression despite the dark start.
  • 2008 David Hill Pinot Noir Black Jack – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    The nose is engaging, with lots of dark character. Scents of dark cherries blend with black licorice and black soil. Full cherries appear on the palate, mixed with a touch of cinnamon and a touch of leather. The tannins get quite full towards the finish, as tart cherry flavors linger.
  • 2009 David Hill Pinot Noir Black Jack – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Scents of molasses, earth, and a touch of prune fruit show in the glass. When tasted, ripe full cherries are apparent along with some molasses and a touch of heat. Some pomegranate flavors show on the mid palate, and apple acidity drives the structure on the finish. The beginning is heavier than I like, but the acidity really cleans things up later, making for an enjoyable finish.
  • 2011 David Hill Pinot Noir Black Jack – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Cherry scents are blended with a saline minerality and a touch of asphalt. Aromas of plums and roses contribute as well, making for a very enjoyable bouquet. It’s juicy on contact with the palate, showing a burst of bright crisp cherries. Some tart rhubarb flavors appear later as the cherries linger with full acidity. The tannins are light here, and the cherry fruit shows good depth, providing an enjoyable core to the whole experience.


It’s impressive to know that pre-prohibition records of vines that were eventually torn out still led to a cornerstone of Oregon’s modern wine history. It’s wonderful that during changes in ownership, financial challenges, and substantial swings in popular opinion of what good wine should be that everyone honored these original plantings, Pinot Noir and otherwise. I’m sure there was temptation to replace some, if not all of them, and their preservation keeps doors open for historic and interesting wines to keep flowing from these rows. Block 21, the original Coury Pinot Noir, continues to be vinified on its own, and Jason continues to make wines out of the estate’s Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. The David Hill Winery’s connection with their community and their history makes me excited for their future, and I know I’m not the only one.

Posted from CellarTracker

A while back, our friends David and Heidi invited us to do a vertical of Domaine Drouhin Laurene with them, to capture a snapshot of how these wines evolve, and see how the vintages taste alongside each other. We were thrilled to have the opportunity, and enjoyed the entire line-up. Domaine Drouhin Oregon has a history of producing great wines here, and this barrel selection is always worth checking out. This will be the first with the “A View From The Cellar” title, which we want to use for shows looking at older vintages, or interesting personal collections. Does Veronique agree with our tasting notes?


Part 1:


Part 2:

Marcus Goodfellow of Matello Wines has been a friend of WISB for many years, and recently asked if we’d be interested in doing a vertical of his Syrah/Viognier blend. The Fool’s Journey made a huge impression on Chas, a few years back, and he still talks about Syrah as one of the Willamette Valley’s most underrated grapes. Marcus shares some great insight about the different vintages, and the experience of working with Syrah in this cool climate region. He always has great insights and ideas, and we hope you get a chance to taste some of these wines yourselves. Marcus said that even he hadn’t tasted the 2008-2012 back to back before today, so we hope you enjoy a unique look at these wines.

Send Marcus an email if you’d like to order some of these:

What’s the prettiest thing you’ve ever experienced in your life, and what would you do to have that be part of your vocation?

As mentioned last week, we have two bottles of Chianti Classico Riserva that we pulled out for this week’s show. These are both from 2008, and the Riserva designate requires that they’ve spent this extra time in bottle before release. This week we taste the 2008 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva Coltassala, and the 2008 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva.


What’s the oldest Italian wine you’ve had?

Chas has been planning a blind Chardonnay show for a while. We got lots of good feedback about Episode 162, a blind sparkling wine show, and we were inspired to repeat the format. He picked up three bottles of Chardonnay and invited our friend David over to join us. All bottles were double blind for Dan and David, and single blind for Chas. We had some great moments while recording the show, and we hope you have fun watching it. We taste the 2008 Elio Grasso Educato Langhe Chardonnay, the 2010 Domaine LeFlaive Macon Verze, and the 2011 Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Chardonnay.


What was the biggest miss you’ve ever had in a blind tasting?

We continue to talk New York Riesling with two more wine makers from the Finger Lakes. Peter sent the email that got these interviews started, and I got to taste wine from Anthony Road at Riesling Rendezvous. I also got to taste some wine from Fox Run as well, and met Sarah there too. We weren’t able to get any Fox Run samples for the show, but she joined us to help discuss the Tierce Riesling. This is a fascinating project that brings together three wineries to make a Riesling blend. Unfortunately, our hardware cut off the last 10 minutes or so, but we still got in some great discussion. We taste the 2009 and 2010 Anthony Road Art Series Riesling, the 2009 Anthony Road Martini Reinhardt Selection Riesling, and the 2011 and 2008 Tierce Riesling.


We lost our question of the day, so please comment with remarks about any flavors or characteristics that are unique to or typical of Rieslings from the Finger Lakes.

We found out about Youngberg Hill last year, and were happy to have a chance to taste with Wayne Bailey this past week. Wayne is the wine grower and maker at Youngberg Hill. With vineyards near the top of the hill, Youngberg Hill has vines growing in a few different soil types allowing them to show off the versatility of Pinot Noir. For this show, we taste the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Youngberg Hill Jordan Block Pinot Noir. This is the highest section of their vineyard, and the differences in these three vintages are quite evident.


When you’re shopping, and don’t know the labels, why do you choose the wine that you choose?