Monday, July 11, 2011

Cellar report: 2002 Evesham Wood "Cuvée J" Pinot Noir

Timing is everything. Sometime you're a little late. Other times you are dead on perfect. Then there are times you wish you hadn't been in such a rush, because the realization smacks you between the eyes...or in this case the palate.. that if you had waited just a little longer, say four years or so, the rewards would have been so much sweeter. Such was the case of the bottle of 2002 Evesham Wood "Cuvée J" Pinot Noir I opened a few weeks ago. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad by any stretch, in fact it was incredible, but I knew, as soon as I took that first sip, that true sublime satisfaction lay somewhere in the future.

Here's some quick facts: #1)- 2002 was a great vintage for Oregon pinot noir. Classic. Stellar. The best wines will easily last ten+ years; #2- Evesham Wood is one of the premier producers of Oregon pinot, and former Owner Russ Raney's pinots always need time to show their best, especially in a vintage like 2002; #3)- what the fuck was I thinking taking this to dinner when I knew it was still on the upswing?? I think it was ego that got the better of me this time (again).

What occasioned this was w and I were invited by my sister and bro-in-law to have dinner at Beaker & Flask with her and her friend and super forager-locavore Hank Shaw, who was in town on his book tour, and Hank's huntress girlfriend Holly Heyser (Hank is this dude who is really a great guy, and also someone who will never, ever, go hungry. He just did a tweet about wandering around his hotel block in whatever town he was staying in talking about all the edible plants he saw. Plus Holly was pretty bad ass, too, as she whipped out her freaking hunting knife at the restaurant table we were sharing to show how she could trim a piece of meat off the bone. Two...well, three...things immediately popped into my mind: I wish I was sitting across the table from her instead of six inches away, and please god don't let me say the wrong thing and piss this woman off, because I was pretty sure she could kill me in any number of ways with any number of implements that she probably had on here right now). Anyway, back at home before leaving for dinner I thought "I'll show him some locavoracious drinking" and went foraging in my basement for some Oregon grape based pleasure. I'd been holding this bottle of EW "J" for years, and even as I was carrying it up the stairs and out to the car I was thinking to myself, "are you sure you want to do this?" I had plenty of other choices, but as usual ignored my better judgement. The bottom line on this wonderful wine was that it was super pretty, with Raney's tell-tale cherries, plums and spice. There are "Cuvée J"'s earthy notes, and delicate floral scents in abundance on the nose and the palate. Russ was so, so freakishly good at his craft. Instead of oak and over-ripeness, he just let his pinot do what it lives to do, which is express it's pretty, feminine side. Really fabulous pinot noir here, as good as it gets in Oregon. But the tannins were still a little tight, and the acidity vibrantly fresh meaning it had years to go. Still, it was an awesome bottle. Fruit, texture, and especially this lingering finish that was! Still (and here I insert a pathetic "poor me" moment after having this actually quite wonderful wine experience), I can't help but think what might have been........

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