2019 Hundred Suns, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
One of my favorite Oregon wines, the Hundred Suns Shea Pinot, is a knockout in this worrisome vintage and is way over performing for such a young and fresh wine with pretty aromatics, depth of flavor and complexity, all which highlights the special nature of this vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley. This dark ruby hued Pinot Noir bursts from the glass with bright red fruit intensity, spices and floral tones which leads to a firmly detailed medium bodied palate of black cherry, bramble berry, tart plum, lingonberry and pomegranate fruits as well as a touch of whole cluster pop with mineral, fennel, blood orange, a touch of stony saline and black tea notes. Winemaker, Grant Coulter, the ex Beaux Freres star, who along with Renée Saint-Amour started their own label Hundred Suns in 2015, with a focus on small lot Pinots, of which the Shea Vineyard is one of the signature wines. While this 2019 might not be as good as the 2018, it is still rockstar stuff and a fabulous wine in its own right, it has its own charm, its own personality and the incredible attention to detail that goes into each vintage and wine here at Hundred Suns, these are wines that remind me of the wines of Philippe Pacalet and Jean Foillard, expressive, authentic and with energetic class. Oregon is producing a lot of new labels of merit and there’s tons to be exited by, with Hundred Suns being one not to miss.
As Hundred Suns notes, the Shea Vineyard was planted In the late 1980s, by Dick and it is now one of Willamette Valley’s most esteemed and iconic vineyards having provided grapes some legendary wines, including some made by Ken Wright, Mike Etzel of Beaux Freres, where as mentioned Grant worked, and even Manfred Krankl of Sine Quo Non, to name a few. Hundred Suns gets fruit from a one acre block at Shea which is 100% Dijon Clone 777 on a parcel that sits at about 450 feet above sea level on a south/southwest hillside slope. This warm site in Yamhill-Carlton AVA, as Coulter explain is planted on marine sedimentary soils and is well drained allowing for a deep concentration of flavors and a beautifully dark color, but still full of energy and structured, making for a Pinot that can really age. In this vintage, the Shea saw close to 40% Whole Cluster, will a lot done with all de-stemmed that was blended after fermentation with the partial full bunches lot. The ferments are done with all native yeasts and the wine was raised in 100% used French oak, with an elevage of 10 months in the neutral wood and bottled with low sulphur and unfined. Coulter says 2019 vintage was a return to familiar Oregon years, noting they dodged rainstorms to pick in late September and adds that by keeping yields low the grapes reached full ripeness, I am seriously impressed with what was achieved, this is a beautiful and elegant version to drink over the next 5 to 10 years. The Hundred Suns lineup continues to impress, the Pinots are all standout offerings, and I love the Gamay and Grenache bottlings as well, plus the Chardonnay is well worth grabbing too, get on this list.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive