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Brooks Winery: The Passion of Wine…

… Especially Riesling

About one month ago in the post In These Times of Covid, I highlighted several of the wines we had been drinking so far during the lockdown. I also asked if there were any that you’d be interested in learning more.  A reader commented and asked about the Brooks Winery 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir.  Brooks Winery has such a compelling history. So, in addition to sharing my notes of their rosé, I thought there might also be interest in the winery. So without further adieu, this is Brooks Winery…

Brooks winery
Jimi Brooks, Founder of Brooks Winery

“I’m not afraid to die, but I’m really afraid not to live,”…

…said Pascal Brooks, which is the final line in the documentary film, American Wine Story. This film weaves the stories of several winemakers and their passion for and journey into wine. I think that line hit me quite profoundly, as we all continue to hunker down while others work tirelessly to stop this virus.

I was given a copy of this film by Janie Brooks Heuck while attending the Wine Writers conference (WWET-WV) in Willamette Valley in August 2019. The central story that pulls this film together is that of Jimi Brooks, whose passion for winemaking was cut short when at 38 years old, he had a heart attack and died—thus leaving his winery to his sole heir, Pascal, his then eight-year-old son. The aforementioned, Janie, Jimi’s sister, became the volunteer Managing Director of Brooks Winery when Jimi’s winemaker friends asked her to take over the business side of the winery, while they volunteered to honor Jimi’s passion and make Jimi’s 2004 wines in his signature style.

Fast-forward to today, and Janie is still Managing Director, and Jimi’s close friend Chis Williams is the winemaker. Pascal, at 24 years old, takes some time after university living in Paris, discovering what his passions are and perhaps one day take over the operation of the winery.

Brooks winery
From left Pascal Brooks, Janie Brooks Heuck, and Chris Williams * Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Courtesy of Andrea Johnson

Brooks Winery is Riesling

Riesling is not widely consumed in the US wine market. But in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, you will find it is the fourth most widely planted varietal. Currently, at Brooks, the current offering includes eighteen different Rieslings. This includes several single-vineyard bottlings in a range of styles, including four dry, nine medium-dry, three medium-sweet, and two sweet.

Rieslings, I will be sampling soon.

Paraphrased from the website: While many of our fellow wineries in Oregon bottle Riesling, we produce more than any other winery in America. From day one, our goal is to reinvigorate the variety. As well as show Oregon Riesling to be among the best in the world. Riesling allows for such an honest expression of terrior that we couldn’t just have one of two. Every one of our Single Estate Rieslings shows a different aspect of this noble grape, and we want to share that with you.

Additionally, Brooks offers nineteen different Pinot Noir bottlings, eight other white varietals, and two other red varietals and, of course, one Pinot Noir Rosé. So once again, without further adieu…

Brooks Winery Pinot Noir Rosé

Vintages 2018 and 2019

As I said, above a reader reached out wanting to know more about this wine. I picked up a couple of bottles of the 2018 vintage last March at Bottles Beverage Superstore in Mount Pleasant. The price was $18.00 a bottle. Indeed, a clearance price since it usually retails for $22. And with the 2019 vintage being released later in the spring, it was time to move it.Brooks Winery

I reached out to Brooks to ask when the 2019 vintage might come to South Carolina. Sadly, it is not yet on the local distributor’s calendar. But, they sent me a bottle (sample) so that I could talk about the current vintage with you.

Side Note: Drinking Year-old Rosé

Conventional wisdom says rosé should be consumed young (within the year of bottling). That may hold true for some rosés, but it is not a hard and fast rule especially for well-made wines. Like any wine as it ages, there is a slow transition of the fruited aromas and flavors transitioning to muted fruit or even savory notes. This does not mean that the wine has gone “bad”. It has just aged and for some, that is a good thing.

Tasting Notes Explained

Tasting notes, in general, are arbitrary. Why? Because taste is personal. I like cilantro; another thinks it tastes like dish soap. We all have taste likes and dislikes. We are unique, as are our tastebuds. Also, as we age, our taste buds lose strength. What I could decipher two years ago was much more detailed than it is today.  That is ok. I still enjoy the nuances that I can smell, and taste and my love of wine keep them honed as best as I can.  There is another reason, as well.  As wine ages, it also changes. The temperature of the wine as you drink it also affects what one tastes. The reason I tell you this now is that this comparison is a perfect example. You may understand better as I offer our notes from these two bottles.

Brooks Winery Pinot Noir Rosé

Experiencing 2018 and 2019 Side by Side

The first thing that we noticed was the difference in color. I have not idea if the color difference is because of age or if the colors were so different from the beginning. This is merely the first thing that is obvious and noted.

We then moved to the nose (aka aromas), wafting from the wine in our glasses.

2018 – Aroma of freshly tilled earth and mild strawberry/red fruit
2018  – nose is dialed down at least by 50% but still pleasing and noteworthy.
2019 – Robust aroma of ripe red fruit also leaning toward strawberry, as well as notes of citrus. A freshness also comes thru, but I am unable to describe.

And now the palate (aka flavors) as the wine reaches our lips and coats our tongues.

2018/2019 – Both wines shared a bit of pleasant zestiness as it hit our mouths
2018 -The strawberry/red fruit notes are muted but present. Earthiness is predominant, and this pleases Gary in a big way. This is a preferred style for Gary, and he is relishing every sip. The wine is easy to drink with pleasing acidity.
2019 – Freshness exudes in this wine. Red fruit flavors dominate. Mouthwatering, cleansing acidity makes you crave another sip. This wine is what I want in a rosé. It is juicy with predominate fruit but not overly so. It is well balanced, and if I may say so myself, delicious.

Once we both were comfortable with what we discerned from these two delicious wines, we were both looking at two open bottles, each about two thirds full.  We looked at each other and then again at the bottles. Without saying a word and almost simultaneously, Gary grabbed the bottle from 2018, and I grabbed the bottle of 2019. We then went on with our evening.

That said, both of us could have continued to share both of these wines and been very, very happy. Our wine preferences are similar enough to do this, but why should we when our preferences are also different enough to each have a different favorite.

Bottom line: If you see Brooks Winery Pinot Noir Rosé in your local retail wine store, buy it.  Or order it directly from the winery. You will not be sorry.

My view of Brooks Winery at the Riesling Tasting last August during WWET-WV.

That is all for now.


Rick & Gary

Brooks Winery
Brooks Estate Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Featured Image Courtesy of Andrea Johnson

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