Friday, October 17, 2008

Cellar report: 2002 Thomas Pinot Noir "Willamette Valley"

One of the best things about combining a healthy food obsession with a well chosen career in the wine business is that there are no shortage of interesting drinking options when it comes to doing the food and wine pairing thing. Especially with a well-stocked basement of delicious bottles waiting for the corkscrew. On the night I made the fabulous mushroom pasta, I wasn't sure what to pull out of the archives. I was thinking either an Oregon pinot noir or a barbera from Italy's Piedmont would be perfect. Then I got a call from w, bemoaning the fact that she was still at work, she was tired, some projects weren't going very smoothly. All in all kind a shitty day.

That's all I had to hear. Knowing her love of good pinot, I went right to the top of heap and grabbed one of my precious bottles of Thomas Pinot Noir, in this case the amazing 2002. A quick word about this: It is one of the two or three best pinot noirs made in America. Period! Winemaker John Thomas farms a tiny, meticulously maintained and organically farmed four acre vineyard south of Portland. His hallmark is perfectly ripe fruit, very low yields, very little new oak, and a fucking incredible talent for putting out perhaps the most Burgundian pinot in America. He only makes about 400 cases a year of this elixir, and demand always exceeds supply. Luckily I've known John since his first vintage, so I always manage to get my greedy mitts on a few bottles here at the wine shack.

This 2002, from a fabulous vintage for Oregon noir, was stunning. I decanted it, and we were able to taste it over about two hours time. The development was phenomenal. At first it gave off this faint strawberry and earth aroma. Then as it opened up, it just got better...and better...and better. Head spinning stuff was coming out of the glass....cherries, smoke, intense earthiness, strawberries. Then suddenly plums, a hint of mint, a whiff of white pepper. It just kept coming and coming. As with a lot of still young wines the last drink was the best....which is a cruel irony. This freakishly good juice could easily take another 5-8 years of aging. Needless to say with the mushroom pasta it was nails! Oh, and I think the mushroom pasta/Thomas pinot combo made my wife happy too, after her hard day, so that was the best part of all!


peter said...

I'd be interested to see how this compares to Thackrey's Andromeda or Sine Qua Non's Omega/M/#6 pinot. New wold pinots usually taste good, but Burgundian is almost never an adjective that comes to mind.

bb said...

Most people who have it say it is the most Burgundian American pinot they've ever had. It is kind of the antithesis of Cali pinots. Not near as big. Stunning stuff!