2021 Mijita Wine Company, Gamay Noir, Abbey Road Farm Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Winemaker Lizzy Esqueda’s first two wines are tiny micro releases under her brand spanking new the Mijita Wine Co. label, featuring a skin contact Pinot Gris “orange wine” and this vibrant and charming Gamay Noir, both are from the 2021 vintage, a year which is starting to create a buzz with the Oregon natives. This dark garnet/ruby 100% Gamay is already drinking well with a medium bodied palate, that is very silken and Pinot Noir like, with an array of dark fruits, crunchy herbs, a light spiciness and some subtle earthy elements that gives this well made Gamay a fine tension between ripe fruit and savory tones. The flavor band here rotates smooth in the mouth with a layering of black cherry, brambly raspberry, tart plum and Misson fig fruits, along with a touch of walnut, saddle leather, anise and cinnamon. This wine, with its low alcohol (12.3%), is excitingly old world themed and has hints of pretty florals to go with its rustic personality, it opened up well and stayed impressively entertaining all evening and was joyous with a simple, but hearty meal. I look forward to following Lizzy Esqueda’s Mijita Wines and I can’t wait to try her skin fermented Pinot Gris.

New on the Oregon wine scene, Esqueda, who has been putting in the time in at Grochau Cellars, says her wines are “bright, textural wines made with grapes that are organically and sustainably farmed.” Her single vineyard Gamay comes from from young vines at Abbey Road Farm Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton, set on marine sediment soils and made in a transparent and raw style that would seem right any home in Côte de Brouilly. Just four barrels were made of this 2021 vintage which was aged for 10 months in neutral French oak to allow the Abbey Road Farm Vineyard Gamay to show off all its fresh purity. Lizzy adds that she likes to chill this wine down for about 15 minutes in the fridge before popping the cork to really show the juicy, spicy notes, and I found that a slight chill did indeed make everything pop, but air in the glass also brought out an extra dimension and made it even better with food, this is a lovely first time effort from a young winemaker to watch. True Gamay Noir is a big hit in Oregon and the grape thrives here with many outstanding examples from which to choose. There’s a lot new stuff going on in Oregon, especially in the Willamette Valley, and a whole new generation of winemakers, like Lizzy Esqueda, who are creating a new future of wines and who are exploring lesser known varietals, it is a great time to explore them.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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