Oregon Uncorked: Patricia Green Cellars Revisited
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” -Ernest Hemingway, Death in the AfternoonThe quote above from Hemingway is the same quote Mr. Anderson used to launch into his description [via the PGC Newsletter] of the vintage that was 2006. I had my first taste of Patricia Green Pinot Noir way back at the beginning of my early fascination with wine. Mrs. Cuvee and I decided to take advantage of the proximity of our time-share which is ideally located on the amazingly gorgeous Oregon coast.
We spent an unforgettable week taking day trips to different wineries. We made a few appointments ahead of time, and PG was definitely one of those places we had read about and knew we had to visit. This is a place for folks who just can't enough of sniffing, swirling, sipping and getting to know this fantastic varietal better.
"Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, right. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet." ~ Miles [Sideways]No matter what you thought of the movie [good, bad or indifferent] or some of its more odd inconsistencies, I believe this line [seen above] from the movie was spot on. There are, really, only a few, small tucked away, corners of the world where Pinot Noir can deliver its fullest, breathtaking expressions and one of those places is called the Willamette Valley. When we arrived for our appointment, we were not even sure where to go, there were no real signs, as we drove up to the property we also wondered if we were at the right place, again no signs.
As we drove ever so slowly onto the property, on a frigid Oregon day, early in the year, February 2006 to what looked like a quaint farmhouse, with outlying buildings, nothing that really said, "you've arrived at a winery." Mrs. Cuvee asked me to check it out, I bounced out of the rental, carefully sliding one of the large creeky doors open, I peer in, and say hello. Waiting, finally, a reply came back, and we were met by Mr. Anderson, a couple winery dogs and welcomed into their barrel room [aka. Impromptu tasting room].
Mr. Anderson is a big fan of the Red Sox, but without a doubt, not a fan of Wine Spectator or too many other wine publications for that matter. Although I've noticed of late, they've [PG Cellars] have taken quite a shine to Stephen Tanzer. And if you'd like to hear the story behind a bottle of wine they call "Notorious" please ask Mr. Anderson about it, he tells the tale in a breathless, must-read fashion.
That day in the barrel [tasting] room, it seemed so much colder than it needed to be, even with the thick coats and sweaters we had on, we were freezing, but not quite as cold as the other couple who shared our tasting appointment window with us. If you've ever seen newlyweds you know what I'm about to tell you, it should not be too surprising, that the other couple who we didn't know, but shared our tastes in wine was not quite prepared for how cold it would be in the barrel room.
The gentlemen only wearing a short sleeve shirt, just managing to stay warm, by enjoying the large pours of Pinot Noir and the old fashion body heat method, sticking his cold hands down the backside of his new wife, who says chivalry isn't dead. But the way these two were carrying on, it left my wife and me with one thought, we expressed to each other once we were back in our vehicle. We looked at each other, and we both said, "sheese, buddy get a room, " and of Mr. Anderson we thought, okay so how bad were you 'really' tortured at Tori Mor?
In the picture above are the wines we tasted that day, we did take a few bottles home with us and were glad we did. As you can see from the image, each bottle was from the 2004 vintage, which represented the majority of wines we tasted all over the valley at the time. Both Mrs. Cuvée and I were very impressed that vintage year and we still are, sadly we don't have even a drop of 2004 left in the cellar [tears]. Our visit occurred early in the year of 2006, far before this blog was a glimmer in my eye, when the price of gas was still an inexpensive $2 bucks a gallon.
Those were the days when I thought spitting was silly and when I thought tasting meant drinking and taking notes about the wines I encountered was a waste of time. The couple we met at the PGC tasting that day, we saw them again later that day, after we departed for an appointment at Bergstrom, back when they had just put the new tasting room together. But that is not the end of that story, if you'd ever like to hear the ending, just let me know the next time I see you in person, trust me it's a tale worth re-telling a thousand times. It's safe to say, it didn't end well, but it reads like a scene from Thelma and Louise.
But of the wines you see above, the one which really caught our attention that day, one of the real highlights was the 2004 Eason in a word, my only note from at the time, was wow. Later, when we got home, and most likely a year later we opened that bottle we had purchased for a mere $30, and again the only place I left a note about previous wines consumed was in a journal,
Now to the reason why I chose that fantastic bottle from the cellar in the first place, my son Jake was visiting from out of state, and I wanted to share with him, one of my early experiences I had with wine. A bottle from one of Oregon's best known and loved producers of Oregon Pinot Noir. After his first sip, I could see the lights go on, he looked at me and said, "I can't wait to take my own trip Oregon, someday" and I thought mission accomplished. Another thirsty vino-sapiens is born, and who knows, perhaps the next author of the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog in the future, only time will tell.
The story of how this wine came to be, is told wonderfully on the PGC back-label, a must read. The wine I shared with my son, and of course, the lovely and talented Mrs. Cuvée is produced from some of Oregon's oldest vines, the few who survived the onslaught, of the still present danger, phylloxera. The Goldschmidt vineyard was planted in 1974 and 1975 the following years after Nixon had resigned from office. The vineyard itself can be found on Worden Hill Rd, perched perfectly at a 500-foot elevation, atop a deep bowl, with southern exposure overlooking the now famous Dundee Hills of Oregon, in the Willamette Valley.
The day I opened this wine, was the very last evening of my Son's visit and I wanted him to depart with dreams of Oregon Wine Country bouncing about in his memories, as a sweet goodbye for now and an invitation to say, I hope to see you again soon Son.
"Let’s just stipulate that in the hierarchy of pleasures, people come first. Now that we agree on that, good food and drink can help make any party better." -- Eric AsimovAnd of course, we've already made plans to do some wine exploration in one of my other favorite wine destinations Washington State, where we will check out the still unknown to me, the Lake Chelan AVA. The anticipation is already ratcheting higher and higher. I do love exploration, so glad I get to share this adventure with my son.
Now regarding the stunning wine in today's review, a wine which was reviewed by more nineteen folks at Cellar Tracker, averaging a score of 91.5 points, I too concur with their thoughts and scoring overall. But I scored this wine 95 points, and it's my opinion that this bottle of wine is an ideal representation of what Oregon Pinot Noir is and should be. In the glass, a brilliant cranberry color, and a bit cloudy. On the nose, that signature 'funk' wet, damp earth, freshly picked mushrooms, with soil still clinging to the stem, bright cherries and spice.
Sipping and slurping my way through the first pour, more cranberries, baked cherries, sandalwood, generously silky, well-integrated tannins and layers upon layers depth and complexity. The finish went on and on, a true masterpiece. Nicely done PGC, nicely done.
If you somehow know a place I could score a few more bottles, please let me know. Until next time folks, remember life is short, please for god sake don't settle for pedestrian commodity wines and never stop exploring, sip long and prosper cheers!
Editors Note: This post was originally written years ago, back in 2009, then updated again in 2015 and updated once more today. It is with great sadness that after our last visit to PGC to hear of Patricia Green's passing. Her passion and inspiration will be missed, but what I can definitely say, is that PGC is carrying on in the tradition, of moving forward through the pain of this loss, as Patricia Green would have wanted them to do. I'll have more to report from my recent tastings of the newly released vintage 2015.