2009 Crowley Pinot Noir Entre Nous
Last edited on 7/5/2012 by ob2s
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While the production on this Pinot (575 cases) is larger than the Chardonnay (150 cases), the Washington state allocation is the same size. The vast majority of this wine gets snapped up by the home team, as Oregonians have been hip to Tyson’s wines for a few vintages now. What this means for us is that again, this wine will be gone in a blink and will not be available for reorder.
Picture this: it’s Thanksgiving day, and the hour is growing late. Uncle Ricky, from the less-than-desirable wing of the family, snatches your bottle of Chambolle-Musigny from the table as your stomach drops. “Thish schtuff ish good,” he exclaims, brimming his glass, giving a few extra drops to the tablecloth, and belching for emphasis.
Now breathe, friends. This doesn’t need to be you. You’re a Full Pull list member. You don’t need to open expensive Burgundy for Uncle Ricky. You can have a 6-pack of Crowley Pinot Noir on hand for precisely this scenario. Uncle Ricky can have his own bottle (because thish schtuff is good, too; the warm, open 2009 vintage is fast becoming a notorious crowd-pleaser). You can have your own bottle, to savor for its complexity, to pair with your Thanksgiving feast, to dull the pain of genetic linkages.
I’m not going to rehash Tyson’s entire story (for that you can re-read the Chardonnay offering). But some salient details: Tyson arrived in the Willamette Valley in the mid-90s, and aside from a brief stint in New Zealand, has been making wine there ever since, including time at Erath, Brick House, Archery Summit, and Cameron. He launched his eponymous winery with the 2007 vintage and has achieved something approaching cult-wine status in Oregon due to a combination of low production, low price, and screaming quality.
The word began to get out on Crowley’s wines in a national way about a year ago, when Jay Miller published the following in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “During my winery visits in Willamette Valley I always ask whether there are new and interesting people that I ought to meet. This year the name Tyson Crowley came up so frequently that I felt compelled to see him and was able to work out a visit on short notice. He began working in Willamette Valley in 1995 and served apprenticeships with several of the more iconoclastic figures including John Paul of Cameron, Doug Tunnel of Brick House, and Jim Prosser of J.K. Carriere. He started operations in a custom crush facility just off 99W in 2007. Crowley ferments all his wines with native yeasts, never adds acid, and bottles without fining or filtration.”
That last sentence explains some of the allure these wines hold. Native yeasts, no acid additions, mostly neutral barrels: clearly this is a man hewing to a natural-wine philosophy. Natural wine is a loaded term, I know (I have seen the endless debates on Wineberserkers and elsewhere), but there is no denying the thrilling transparency of this portfolio. This particular bottle contains mostly Dundee Hills fruit, from La Colina (50%), Tuckwilla (15%), and Gehrts (5%) Vineyards, along with a 30% chunk of Yamhill-Carlton fruit from Johnson Vineyard. Delightfully crepuscular, this is autumn in a glass: all fallen leaf and damp earth and caramel apple. Conveying open red-cherry flavors on the attack, this settles into an earthy, underbrushy middle, and finishes with mineral and tea leaves.