Veteran winemaker Steve Doerner is a master at optimizing what nature and the vineyard provide. Working at Calera Wine Co. with iconic vintner Josh Jensen, and studying under Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Burgundy inspired his passion for pinot noir.
Cristom’s 65 acres are planted in eight distinct vineyards, with Marjorie being the only original vineyard on the property when Cristom’s founder and owner, Paul Gerrie, bought it in 1991. Marjorie, named for Gerrie’s mother, was originally planted in 1982, is one of the oldest vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, and is the only vineyard on the estate planted on its own roots. Phylloxera struck the vineyard in 2000, and gradual replanting was initiated in 2007.
Cristom pinot noir is somewhat unique for Oregon by virtue of the use of whole cluster fermentation (inclusion of the entire cluster and stem in the fermenting tank). The result is that the wines age extremely well. Doerner is a minimalist, working with native yeasts, avoiding filtration, and employing minimal racking and fining.
This wine was aged 17 months in 53 percent new Burgundian cooperage. “Bombastic and exotic aromas of red and black cherries, whole cluster spices and floral notes, smoky oak, incense, and licorice. The delicious core of cherry fruit is broad in the mouth and annotated by integrated notes of spice, fennel, anise, and mocha-laden oak. This is a special wine built for the long haul, with young, firm tannins, refreshing acid verve, and a lengthy finish of great energy.” The wine will benefit from more bottle aging, but if you pop the cork now and decant for two hours, you can enjoy it with hearty foods such as a prime rib roast, beef bourguignon, braised short ribs, or bison tri-tip.
The wine is available for $55 to $65 from wineexchange.com, totalwine.com and directly from the winery’s online store at cristomvineyards.com.