Small World Wine Company

Bringing Oregon Small, Family Owned Wineries from the Willamette Valley and Beyond

Wine Spectator 2010 Oregon Vintage Report

2010 Oregon Vintage insight from Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator.

Don’t make any bird jokes around Oregon vintners this year. You are more likely to get a scowl than a laugh. Hungry birds reduced a crop that was already small thanks to cool summer weather. Many winemakers had already thinned further to bring the grapevines into balance so they could ripen the remaining fruit.

“There were times that it looked like a scene straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with the birds flocking from one block to the next as the [noise] cannons blew,” says Naseem Momtazi, whose family makes Maysara wines from its Montazi Vineyard in the McMinnville AVA. “They were vicious and it seemed as if nothing scared them.” Summer temperatures were extremely cool, delaying the harvest by two weeks. Then came the threat of rain, not an unusual occurrence in eastern Oregon, where the prime Willamette Valley Pinot Noir vineyards are. The birds just added insult to injury. “Birds were a problem,” sighs Lynn Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, “and no matter how hard we applied all tactics available to growers, many of our two-ton-per-acre sites became one-ton-per-acre sites.”

Lower yields and the extra-long hang time did produce better flavors. “As we walked and sampled the vineyards this year we noticed that the flavors were developing at a much quicker pace then the sugars,” says Penner-Ash. As a result, the fermented wines from well-farmed vineyards are showing no green or underripe fruit characteristics, despite low alcohol levels.

“We were 30 percent down from the ’09 vintage,” says Ken Wright of Ken Wright Cellars, who buys grapes from all the sub-AVAs in Willamette Valley. “As we pressed off the lots we were frankly blown away at the dense color, deep black cherry-driven aromatic profiles and beautifully clean flavors and textures—110 to 115 days of hang time certainly helped with aroma and flavor development.”

Wright and other Oregon veterans see similarities with 1991, a cool vintage that aged well thanks to sleek, elegant structure. “I do not recall the ’91s being this aromatic or having color this healthy, though,” he says.

“Compared to ’08, the only year with almost as much hang time as 2010, we will have lower alcohol but very flavorful wines,” says Dick Shea of Shea Vineyard. “Frankly the combination is almost unique in my 22 years of experience here. I think there is a great deal of excitement among the winemakers.”

Other than bird damage, the vintage will be remembered for looming rainstorms. Several expected storms in late September and early October passed with little rain. But a big storm arrived Oct. 23 and hammered the area for several days. No one has much good to say about vineyards that were not ready to pick before Oct. 23. Those who picked before that storm are happy with what they have in barrels today. “We got everything in before the rain,” Shea says. “Our last pick was on the morning of the 23rd.”

A spring frost reduced the crop in southern Oregon, a source of Rhône varieties to several of the state’s big-name wineries. “Our Viognier and Syrah came in at 50 percent of prior years,” says Penner-Ash. “We had to supplement with some nice fruit from the Columbia River Gorge area, on the Oregon side.”

—Harvey Steiman


Seattle Times Recommends Spindrift Cellars

The Seattle Times recently recommended the Spindrift Willamette Valley Pinot Noir as a must have from the outstanding 2008 Oregon vintage.


Spindrift Cellars 2008 Pinot Noir; $20

Scents of dark chocolate weave around delicate, feminine pinot noir fruit flavors. The overall impression is light and elegant, a mix of berries and wafer-thin chocolate.

Congratulations to Winemaker Matt Compton on yet another accolade for his fine efforts.

-Tim Brislin

Small World Wine Company Now Offers Wine by the Keg

Small World Wine Company is proud to now offer wine in the innovative keg package.  The wines are produced and kegged by Spindrift Cellars. All kegs are 5 gallons (18.9 litters) and each 5 gallon keg is equivalent of 25 bottles. The wines are selections of Spindrift Cellars’ regular production that focus on approachability for restaurant By-the-Glass programs. Our keg package will perfectly preserve the wine so each glass of wine is enjoyed at peak freshness. Current varietals being offered include Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Rose, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Please contact your local Small World rep for pricing and information.

SF Chronicle recommends Aubin Cellars

The San Francisco Chronicle recently recommended the 2008 Aubin Cellars – Verve Stoller Vineyards Pinot Noir. Much thanks to the Chronicle for recognizing the fine efforts of Jerome Aubin and renouned Winemaker Ray Walsh of Capitello Wines.

2008 Aubin Cellars Verve Stoller Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($30): Jerome Aubin brings fruit from one of Oregon’s most successful vineyards to Oakland for this appealing bottle, due in October. Beautiful woodsy scents of birch bark and dried mushroom, with ripe strawberry and a bright, tangy finish. A raft of dense tannins adds to its appeal with food. 

Read more:

-Tim Brislin

iPhone Tasting Room Finder App

We all love our iPhones and various PDA’s and the apps that make life much easier. The app called Tasting Room Finder allows you to locate the nearest tasting room, and gives valuable info such as the winery’s phone number and location. You can also build up a “favorite winery” list to remind you of a producer you want to revisit as well as add personal tasting notes. The mapping feature is extremely helpful as you can gauge your proximity to a particular tasting room.  Very handy and worth the $4.99 cost. If you want to visit any of the Small World partners, Tasting Room Finder will make that trip much smoother.

-Tim Brislin

Oregon Pinot Noir Club

Small World Wine Company is thrilled The Oregon Pinot Noir Club is featuring Spindrift Cellars 2008 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley. Bob Wolfe is owner of The Oregon Pinot Noir Club, the nation’s most significant national retailer of Oregon Pinot Noir and other high-end Northwest wines. Here’s what Bob Wolfe has to say –

There’s a strategy to finding success as a new producer in Oregon in the middle of the Great Wine Recession. It’s not a hard strategy, but many new producers fail to execute it well.

Here it is: Make good wine, sell it for a reasonable price, repeat for several years in a row. Sounds easy, right? Why doesn’t everyone do it that way?

Luckily for us, Spindrift has it all figured out. They make pinot noir that is elegant, fruit-centric and nicely balanced, and they sell it for a very reasonable price. Result: They have continued to thrive in a down economy, and to sell all their wine. Mission accomplished.

The winery is also committed to screw caps. This is a topical concern. Cork producers have been on an aggressive campaign the last few years to convince folks that corks are still the wine closure of choice. They claim to have developed never-corky corks, instituted a certified cork expert certificate program, and have recently launched a PR campaign for the traditional closure.

Spindrift has headed in the other direction. From the winery literature: “We continue to explore options for greening our buildings and minimizing our packaging. We are introducing screw top wine bottles to promote these ideas, in addition to selling bulk wine in reusable containers.

“The cork tree grows in a select area, grows very slowly and will produce quality corks only after many years’ growth, and therefore, due to high demand from the wine industry, is not a sustainable crop.

“Although screw tops have had a negative connotation, they are the way of the future. The times of “corked” wine will be a thing of the past. The screw top closure ensures a fresh bottle every time, is fully recyclable, attractive and best of all, easy to open. No more broken corks, no more “corked” bottles. Wine in screw caps can be safely stored upright for any length of time.”

As a hedonist, I care more about the wine in the bottle, than I do about the closure. Thus, I applaud Spindrift because their wine tastes good!

Tim Brislin

Wine Spectator Reviews Spindrift Cellars

Spindrift Cellars 2008 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley was awarded 90 points by the Wine Spectator.

Dark and spicy, this is silky in texture and fragrant with smoke, toast and mineral overtones as the cherry fruit character rolls nicely through the long finish. Drink now through 2016.— H.S.

Please contact your local Small World Wine Co. sales rep for more information and availability.

-Tim Brislin

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