Adelsheim Vineyard Review
Address: 16800 NE Calkins Lane Newberg,Oregon 97132.
Phone Number: 503-538-3652
Tasting Hours: 11:00-4:00
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Chehalem Mountains AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Rob Boss
Review Date: 5/15/2012
Reviewer: Rob Boss
One of the oldest wineries in the Willamette Valley and certainly one of the most respected, Adelsheim Vineyard is now celebrating its fortieth year. Founder David Adelsheim is something of a legend and was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Oregon Historical Society. At Adelsheim, a light touch prevails, minimal handling is the motto but neither of these describes to a wine drinker the superb balance of their wines. Theyre so understated on their own that their quality almost goes unappreciated until theyre compared to others in a blind tasting. Its also easy to forget that what are now standards in the Oregon wine industry were cutting edge at Adelsheim, decades ago.
Our tasting flight began with the 2010 Caitlins Reserve, a barrel fermented Chardonnay. The nose of buttered toast and vanilla opened up to a scrumptious palette of tart green apples. The bright, fresh fruit flavors were something one might expect from steel aged wine. It was a delicious start.
A barrel select blending of 11 different vineyards the 2009 Elizabeths Reserve showed tobacco, cedar, briars and crushed fruit. There were slightly dusty cherry and strawberry flavors. Despite its placement in the flight, Elizabeths is always the star of the show, year after year. This the shining example of elegance and delicate refinement in Pinot Noir. That it comes across in a challenging, sometimes overbearing vintage like 2009 is yet another reason the wine commands such respect.
Boulder Bluff is a newer vineyard site for Adelsheim and the 12 year old vines produced the bold red fruit flavors typical of 2009, but also typical of the Chehalem Mountain soil. These were younger cherry and strawberry flavors, as opposed to the more ripe flavors in the other wines.
Eola-Amity is the AVA next door, and the darker soil often produces darker fruit flavors in its wines. Such was the case of the 2009 Temperance Hill. The fresh blackberry and briar nose seemed to reach up out of the glass, and the silky, ripe cherry flavors were to die for.
Still, theres no substitute for older vines to impart complexity. Bryan Creek has the 2nd oldest vines farmed by Adelsheim, many of them over 20 years old. Its an earthy wine, with briars and forest floor in the nose. The wine was softer than the other Pinot Noirs we tasted, despite being the same 2009 vintage and having more tart, younger fruit flavors. While there was no denying the Elizabeths Reserves broad appeal, accessibility and even authority, this wine was a quiet force.
Theres an air of permanence about Adelsheim that thats not so pervasive at other vineyards. The elegant buildings and the gracious staff seem to have their own roots, exuding a confidence that comes from forty years of winemaking. At first glance, the place seems opulent, like an Italian villa with engraved terracotta, yet also seems smaller than its sprawling, 40,000 case capacitysince like many gravity flow operations, its built on the side of a hill and visitors enter at the top. A large window just outside the tasting room reveals the enormous fermentation tanks and the fermentation hall stretches out of sight.
Upon tasting the wine, this all seems to be the proper birthplace, and showplace. The tasting room is gorgeous and new, opened in 2009. Its large, with plenty of room for the scores of visitors the winery receives every season. Some of Adelsheims numerous awards and medals of achievement are displayed on the walls, as well as the latest releases in various format sizes. Like the wine, its understated, elegant and refinedand well worth the trip.