For this show, we wanted to check in on some Oregon Pinot Noir that we’ve been holding on to for a few years. Some of these wines have been on the show before, but they, like us, have aged. We try the 2010 DePonte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, the 2012 J Christopher Sarah Adele Pinot Noir, and the 2011 Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.

Taylor is another Oregon wine lover who we’ve met recently at a number of different events. We’re surprised it took so long to meet, since we’re a degree of separation apart through many different channels. We had lots to talk about, and he was very excited to share some stories and wines he acquired during his many visits to the Maresh Red Barn tasting room. We taste the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Chardonnay, the 1999 Pinot Noir, and the 2011 Pinot Noir.

While visiting Elk Cove recently, Chas was really impressed with their 2011 La Boheme Brut Rose. He picked up a bottle for a show, and selected two more of his favorite Oregon sparkling Rose wines to join it. These are the 2014 Johan Vineyards Petillant Naturel Pinot Noir, and the Kramer Vineyards 2014 Celebrate Rose of Pinot Noir.  What is the best sparkling rose you’ve had from an unexpected region?

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

Chas was travelling in Colorado, and when he went to pick up some wine, purchased the 2011 Settembre Cellars Dry Riesling on recommendation. To fill out the show, he brought the 2013 Melrose Riesling from the Umpqua Valley, and pulled the 2009 Trisaetum Pashey from his cellar to see how that’s evolved over the years. What is your favorite episode of Melrose Place?

While travelling the world again, our friend Matt picked up three bottles from Israel that he tasted at a Hatraklin. These are all new to us, but provide an interesting look at some good things going on over there. We taste the 2011 Mia Luce Rosso, the 2006 Ben Zimra Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, and the 2013 Tal Roussanne. Can you name a signature grape from a lesser known region?

Our friend Jess joined the team at Brooks a while ago, and we’re happy to have finally had a chance to get her on the show. In Episode 207, we talked about the history of the vineyards with Don Byard. In this show we discuss some of the current releases, and Jess’s thoughts on local vineyards, and what she thinks about Oregon Riesling in a global context. We taste the 2011 Brooks Rastaban Pinot Noir, the 2014 Brooks Rose, the 2013 Brooks Oak Ridge Gewurztraminer, the 2012 Brooks Ara Riesling, and the 2007 Brooks Willamette Valley Riesling. What is your gateway Riesling?

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?

While in Germany, we were invited for a visit with Reinhold and Gisela Pazen of Weingut Herbert Pazen. Our friend Ewald Moseler has been bringing these wines into Portland alone for quite a few years, and they have always been enjoyable. Reinhold was more comfortable answering questions in German, so we just went with it. Together, we taste the 2012 Grauschiefer Riesling Trocken, the 2013 Riesling Hochgewachs Zeltingen-Rachtiger Deutschherrenberg Feinherb, and the 2011 Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese. Instead of a question, they wanted to invite you to visit them someday. If you’re ever on the Mosel, we hope you do!





McKinley Springs is one of Washington’s biggest estates, located in the Southern part of the Horse Heaven Hills. They’re new to us, but the folks from Trellis sent us three sample bottles to check out, and we were interested in exploring a bit of Washington wine this week. We taste the 2011 Viognier, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2010 Malbec. One of Chas’s cats also joins us for a good portion of this episode.

What is your favorite kind of cat?