It was a beautiful and warm day on Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem AVA of Willamette Valley, Oregon. I, along with about ten others, was walking the Le Cadeau Vineyards property before we sat down to sample four of the Pinot Noir wines made from the fruit from the various blocks on the property. In total the property is twenty-eight acres of which sixteen are planted.
From where we started the walk at the top of the slope you could see the entire property. It is amazing how large and how small sixteen acres are. One the one hand, we could walk the perimeter in relatively short order. On the other hand, it is large enough to grow enough fruit to make close to a combined 1300 cases of wine from the five blocks of Pinot Noir. Each Pinot Noir block is a diverse blend of heritage clones along with one block of Chardonnay from six heritage clones.
After the tour of the vineyard, we sat by the house that looks out over the vineyards. It was then that we tasted four of the current releases from the property. These included the 2017 Côte Est Pinot Noir, the 2017 Diversité Pinot Noir, the 2017 Rocheux Pinot Noir, and the 2016 Merci Pinot Noir. With each new bottle, we could just look out and say, “this wine came from right over there.” If we wanted we could have walked back to the location to grab a handful of dirt or rock. Perhaps even taste a few berries of the newly ripening fruit. I was here. It came from right there. It was one of the most intimate and authentic experiences I have had in a very long time.
Le Cadeau Vineyards – The Beginning
Founders Deb and Tom Mortimer began the process of looking for land in Willamette Valley in 1996. The 28-acre property on the south slope of Parrett Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA met all of their needs. This was in spite of locals telling them that the land was not fit for growing grapes. But they were undeterred and purchased the property and began clearing the land in 1997. The first six acres of Pinot Noir were planted in 1999. And as they say, the rest is history.
Tom’s Precise and Exact Planting Process
Their chosen site has considerable variation in topography and soils. Tom spent years doing extensive research on the various Pinot Noir clones and rootstocks. Different clone variations will do better or worse depending on the soil type as well as the rootstock. That meant, when planting the vineyard, he was careful to match rootstocks and Pinot noir clones to the various soils, slope aspects, and microclimate within each block. Clearly, an exacting science that has paid off with delicious wines.
At this time, fourteen clones of Pinot noir are represented among their plantings, along with five rootstocks. Suffice it to say that studying clonal variation and rootstocks is way too much information for the average wine drinker. The important thing is that Tom made excellent choices. The wines are delicious and yet very different from one another. And let’s not forget, they are all from this sixteen-acre plot.
The Le Cadeau Vineyard Wines
The image above shows the four Pinot Noir wines we tasted on this amazing afternoon.
2017 Côte Est Pinot Noir, Le Cadeau Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon
You may find notes of roasted coffee, cola, and red fruits especially cherry. It has a light-medium body and it nicely balanced with the perfect amount of tart.
Côte Est is produced from fruit grown on the cooler eastern side of the vineyard. These vines are typically picked last each year. Only 145 cases produced. Available in the tasting room or online for $50.00 a bottle.
2017 Rocheux Pinot Noir, Le Cadeau Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon
While a bit lighter than Diversité, this wine also spoke to me. I like substance in wine and this one also delivers just what I love in Pinot Noir. I found complex layers of aromas ranging from earthy notes to dark red cherry fruit. The palate is equally intriguing. As the wine evolved in my glass the mineral and spicy notes shown through along with cherry, and black raspberry. The finish is elegant and lingering. Well done!
This wine comes from the rocky western side of the vineyard. These vines are stressed and typically picked first. Only 174 cases produced. Available in the tasting room or online for $50.00 a bottle.
2017 Diversité Pinot Noir, Le Cadeau Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Of the four bottlings, this one is my favorite. I found it plush with a superior mouthfeel. The nose showed big spicy aromas. On the palate followed a mix of black and red fruit flavors including cherry, and plum. Spice also comes through on the palate. Wow! this bottle spoke to me.
This wine comes from an assortment of mixed-clone blocks at the northern end of the vineyard and two small parcels at the southern end. Only 245 cases produced. Available in the tasting room or online for $50.00 a bottle.
2016 Merci Reserve Pinot Noir, Le Cadeau Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon
One understands the reason to make reserve wines when you sip on the last wine in our lineup. The 2016 Merci Reserve is lovely. Cinnamon and other baking spices grace the nose of this wine as does the dark red fruit flavors. Expect black cherry and spice blended beautifully together. Balance is key and shows from start to finish.
Crafted from an assortment of new plantings of heirloom clones, including Mt. Eden, Calera, Swan, and Jackson. Call for availability. Only 124 cases produced. If it is available, it should sell for $80.00 a bottle.
This was the last experience in a jam-packed four days of learning and tasting in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Fred Swan, the illustrious leader of WWET puts on outstanding programs that go far and above any other wine excursions. Thankfully his tours are exclusively for wine writers. I have told him in Napa 2018 and again in Willamette in 2019, I will follow him anywhere.
I plan to write several more posts about many of the extraordinary experiences I had on this trip. So watch out for those. If you missed my first post from the trip that is an overview of the four days, please go here.
That is all for now.