2019 Brick House Vineyards, Gamay Noir, Due East, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Due East Gamay Noir is wildly exotic, crunchy and spicy with a fabulous array of red fruits and savory elements that gives this Brick House wine loads of thrills on the medium bodied palate, showing racy huckleberry, red pepper, plum, kirsch, mineral, a touch of leather and anise. The Due East is a special limited cuvée, named, as the winery notes, for the direction of the vineyard rows that produced it, this wine is 100% Gamay Noir from a single clone, known as #358. This parcel is planted on a steep, east facing, hillside with shallow sedimentary soils, which gives this wine its intensity, in fact as the winery adds it took five years before this block produced enough fruit to allow this unique bottling. The color is a vivid and glowing ruby in the glass and it is lightly floral with a big spicy kick both on the nose and in the mouth, it actually reminds me a little of Envinate’s Listan Negro from the Canary Islands with the heighten dusty pepper flakes and chalky stony quality here before the juicy Gamay fruit takes over. Hand crafted by Doug Tunnell, the Oregon Pinot legend, and his team, the grapes are de-stemmed before a cool native fermentation takes place in an open top tank. The maceration is gentle with manual punch downs which lasted about three weeks, then the Gamay was racked into used wood where it was raised for close to a year.
One of the most influential figures in Willamette Valley wine and part of the great second wave of wine producers in Oregon, Doug Tunnell, the owner and winemaker of Brick House Vineyards, makes some of the greatest Pinot Noirs in America from his Ribbon Ridge estate. Tunnell spent seventeen years as a foreign correspondent for CBS television news before returning to his native Oregon, where he helped change the landscape of Oregon wine and make Brick House into the leader in Burgundy style and biodynamic wines. Back in 1990 Tunnell bought 40 acres on the Chehalem Ridge, which is set on marine sedimentary soils and has a range of slopes and exposures that ensure perfect ripening. Today Brick House has 30 acres under vine, and the winery is a 100% estate producer, as they note, growing all of their own fruit and making all of the wine on site, with vineyards that have been certified organic for over 25 years now and are also certified Biodynamic by Demeter. Brick House was one of the first wineries in North America to grow and produce true Gamay Noir and they offer a series of Gamay based wines, leaning on a more Burgundy style model rather that Cru Beaujolais, with all de-stemmed grapes and elevage in neutral French oak barriques. This Due East is edgy and has an exciting tension with vibrant flavors and good natural acidity, it should age nicely for a decade, though no one I know could be that patient with their Gamay!
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive