2018 Evesham Wood Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Way back in the misty yonders of time when I first started drinking Pinot Noir, several postulates quickly made themselves clear:
1. Burgundy was the Queen – and was also inaccessible and super expensive.
2. California Pinot could be amazing, but didn’t taste anything like Burgundy.
3. Willamette Valley Pinot tasted like Burgundy, and it was cheap!
That was nearly 20 years ago. Times change and keep on changing. And one of the unfortunate things I’ve experienced is that number #3 hasn’t been so true in recent years – Willamette Valley Pinot has climbed up in price averaging in at California levels and well, most Oregon producers now say, “we don’t want to say we’re Burgundian” and by some of the flavors they are getting, they are definitely not (apologies here to all Oregon Pinot producers – four hot vintages in a row doesn’t help).
So when I got a shot to bring this winery – Evesham Wood—back to Wisconsin, I absolutely jumped at the chance. Why? Because the Pinots are absolutely fantastic. They taste like Burgundy with a dash of Willamette sun and long, cool hang-time autumn throw in. Further, the prices are downright reasonable, dare I say cheap?
This is exactly why Oregon’s wine industry took off in the early 1990s – great, fresh, elegant Pinot Noir at prices that could be had at every restaurant table in the land, or backyard party. I think Evesham Wood is an absolute triumph.
Based in the Eola-Amity Hills, Evesham (and its owner, Erin Nuccio) is a hidden gem. Or maybe a diamond in the rough – when I first requested a visit at the winery the response I got was, “We don’t have a tasting room, why does he want to come here?” After five more tries, I got a late afternoon, garage-door tasting on top of a barrel. To me, it felt like I was in Burgundy. And that’s because this wine takes me back:
On the nose the 2018 displays the wonderful terroir or Eola-Amity in the 2018 vintage. To explain: 2018 was a return to “classic” more cool weather, allowing for long hang times. In Eola, where freshness is preserved due to the Van Duzer Corridor, this means the wine has got great Pinot spice / strawberry fruit character but also has had a chance to fully develop all of Pinot’s glorious complexity. On the palate you get tension and energy, a feeling that you can just keep on drinking because it’s so refreshing … yet it doesn’t lack for depth of character. It’ll drink exceptionally well now – or seven years from now.
Here is a return to how great Willamette Valley Pinot can be – on every level.