2019 Hundred Suns, Gamay Noir, Tualatin Estate, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The 2019 vintage version of this Hundred Suns Gamay is high toned and more delicate in form than the last two releases which were a touch more plush and exotic, but equally as compelling with its subtle floral perfume, spice and mineral tones that compliment the vibrant dark fruits on the medium bodied palate that feels crisp and electric with its racy acidity. This is a wine that opens slowly to reveal its full nature and it is strikingly beautiful in the glass with a brilliant ruby gemstone and magenta hue and hints of violets, brandied cherries and a faint earthy element coming out on the nose, which presents a sultry lead up to the juicy Gamay fruits in the mouth, with vibrant tart cherry echos, plum, black currant and strawberry, as well as anise, grilled citrus, some saliva inducing saline and a dusty array of spices. Hundred Suns, as mentioned here, is one of the most exciting newer labels in Oregon these days with a focus on Pinot Noir as you’d expect from the ex Beaux Freres winemaker Grant Coulter, who sources his grapes from some top sites, like the Shea Vineyard and Mike Etzel’s (founder of Beaux Freres) Sequitur Vineyard, but they also do some fascinating other wines, like this Tualatin Estate Gamay, a fine Chardonnay and a Washington State sourced effort made from Grenache and a fresh and quaffable Syrah bottling. This Gamay has become a favorite of mine and I think it has incredible aging potential too, it seems to me they will, like some of the top Cru Beaujolais producers, like Dutraive and Foillard do, and there is more depth and complex to come.
The winemaking here on the Hundred Suns Gamay is intriguing, the whole-cluster carbonic batch was done in sealed tank then aged in neutral French oak with the de-stemmed traditionally native yeast fermented batch getting its elevage in the terra-cotta Amphora for seven months, with both then being gently racked to blending tank for settling and bottled unfixed and unfiltered. As noted in my prior reviews, the name “Tualatin” originates from the native peoples of this part of Oregon and means “gentle and easy flowing,” referring to the Tualatin River that meanders on its way to the confluence with the more famous Willamette River. Tualatin Estate Vineyard, originally established back in 1973 by wine pioneers Bill Fuller and Bill Malkmus, is one of the oldest and most respected vineyard cool climate sites in Oregon’s Willamette Valley near Forest Grove in a rain shadow in the Valley’s far northwest on marine sedimentary soils. This vineyard is mostly planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Blanc, with a tiny selection, especially grown for Grant and Renée, of true Gamay Noir, which all goes into this fascinating wine. Given the though and effort that goes into making this thrilling Gamay, I consider it a outstanding value and look forward to see how it tastes in another 3 to 5 years, as I got a few bottles tucked away. As I have recommended, this is a mailing list to get on, especially for the selection of single vineyard Pinots, each of which is terroir driven and uniquely distinct in character. I also have to mention that, the Hundred Suns Willamette Valley Old Eight Cut Pinot, at under $30 a bottle, is one of the best deals around and should provide top quality entertainment for Oregon Pinot enthusiasts, these is a winery to keep your eyes on!
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive