Stoppage Time for Scott Paul Wines in Oregon!

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Concerned you ran out of time to score the BEST of Oregon’s 2008 Pinot Noir? You may have additional time with Scott Paul Wines in Carlton. He produces too many cases to qualify for the Portland Independent Wine Festival – PIWF – even though his sensibilities are definitely artisanal [ed. you know, a small producer dedicated to the craft], his focus is Pinot Noir, and his winemaking touch is deft. This means he may have some of his 2008s left when you go calling.

The ride from Portland to the Scott Paul Wines Carlton showroom is an easy and very lovely one. The owner of Scott Paul is Scott Wright who not only makes the Scott Paul wines but is also a notable importer of Burgundy wines, Scott Paul Selections. Therefore, a visit to Scott’s wine bar in the converted creamery next to the former granary is something we have learned to look forward to as an important part of the PIWF weekend.

In his tasting room he will generously pour his own labels along with the various samples of the Scott Paul Selections. As an importer and source of fine and rare Burgundy tBoW places Scott Paul Selections right up there with Becky Wasserman in terms of quality and consistency. Here is what we tasted and took home with us this year.

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2007 Scott Paul La Paulée $30: A real bargain at this price. We prefer this vintage to the 2006. It has all the restraint and seductiveness of 2007. The 2006 was too forward for our taste. This blend Рwhich changes every year according to the harvest Рis the flagship wine. 13.1%

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2008 D122 Pinot Noir $35: First time he has labeled a single source Pinot Noir. The fruit is from Ribbon Ridge Vineyard, grown by Dewey and Robin Kelly. Since tBoW is already a big fan of the DK and RRV brand we thought we were excited about tasting the Scott Paul version. Strong fruit, composed, rich. Stands out as especially tasty. Worth the extra five bucks. If you buy a mixed case at the winery Mr. Wright will apply a generous discount including the Burgs. We scooped it up. 13.1%

tBoW had a few questions about the wine. Here is what we asked and what Scott Wright had to say.

tBoW: What are your current impressions of the 2008 vintage?

SW: I have noticed that many of the 2008 Oregon Pinots (ours and many of our neighbors) are starting to shut down a bit – they seem to have been much more expressive a few months ago, and are closing in on themselves recently to varying degrees. 2008 may be one of the rare Oregon Pinot vintages that goes through a “dumb” phase for a while. There was such beautiful concentration and a high level of dry extract in the ’08s that the full beauty of the vintage may not be revealed until further down the road. Unfortunately, due to the strong reputation of the vintage, most of them will have been consumed before they are at their best (which always happens with the best vintages in Burgundy as well.)

tBoW: Why did you choose to name the Dewey Kelly wine D122?

SW: I chose the name because “D122” is the two-lane road known as the “Route des Grands Crus” that runs through 14 of the top Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St. Denis & Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s a road I drive up and down often when I’m over there, and I just always thought it would make a great name for one of our future bottlings. I registered the label several years ago, but just used it for the first time with the 2008.

tBoW: Aside from you being a notable Burg importer and a huge Burg-o-phile, is there any other reason, such as the promise you see in Dewey’s crop/techniques/site?

SW: The Ribbon Ridge Vyd. is a very promising site, and we’ve always loved the fruit qualities in the wines we produce from there. In 2008 we thought it was particularly outstanding, and so decided to bottle some on its own. I have no idea if we’ll do it again or not – I try to let the wines tell me where they need to go rather than try to force the wines in any pre-conceived direction…

tBoW: In what bottles has the RRV juice been blended in other vintages and in what proportions?

SW: RRV juice has mostly been part of the La Paul√©e blend most years, in varying percentages from year to year, and some of it also went into the Cuv√©e Martha Pirrie bottlings. In 2003 some of it went into the Audrey as well…

About those other wines, the Scott Paul Selections…

2008 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Bourgogne Passetoutgrain $16: The hands-down winner of the ultra cognoscenti wine medal; a rare Burgundy producer of a very rare wine. Passetoutgrain is the only wine that blends Pinot Noir with Gamay; in this case 70% to 30%. We have had this blend from other producers of Passetoutgrain but have to admit this wine is special. The blend does not always favor Pinot Noir. It works well here. Steel fermented. Lean, light color, minerals. Rustic. Definitely NOT New World. For the short term. More Beaujolais in style than Burgundy. Cool. We bought. 400 cases. 12.5%

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2007 Chateau des Rontets Saint-Amour $24: Violets on the nose. Teeny production. Red pepper flavors. Another rustic wine that says au naturel. Took this to the Playboy Jazz Festival and loved it. Think Brigitte Bardot in her 50s. Sexy. A bit zaftig. Serious. Uncomplicated. 12.5%

A few more words about the PIWF…the further we get from that May 8 weekend the more certain we are we shall return in 2011. It is just that good. The reasons it is so much fun include (1) do it all in one afternoon; (2) Portland is a cool town anyway with outstanding dining and 45 minutes from the Willamette Valley; (3) the winemaking community is sufficiently established in Oregon to actually support a “festival” limited to its tiniest (no more than 2500 cases per winery) artisan winemakers; and (4) while Pinot Noir is not the theme of PIWF examples of fine Pinot Noir are plenty. It is also a good place to get a handle on the current vintage.

Look for more coverage of other wines we liked from the PIWF 2010 weekend in forthcoming posts.

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