Wine Down Eugene May 14-20
Wine writing most likely won’t make me a millionaire, but this occupation that seems to have fit into my life with perfection and ease has, without a doubt, provided me with excellent perks. Being implemented with rare and exciting opportunities has empowered me with interesting, educational and downright fun content.
I’ve attended some incredible events like the world-famous IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration), Oregon Chardonnay Symposium and the annual Wine Bloggers Conference, to name a few. I’ve had multiple fine dining experiences with many great folks of the wine industry; for example, I’ve joined Willamette Valley Vineyards on several occasions for some very special events; including, a Valentine’s Day Dinner in Timberline Lodge’s Historic Silcox Hut, a truffle-centric lunch in their winery, a Chardonnay technical tasting with some of Oregon’s pioneering Chardonnay growers and guru winemakers, and I the Governor’s Oregon Leadership Dinner which took place in their beautifully renovated tasting room.
I was also invited to travel abroad with a group of very talented wine writers for a media trip to the Murcia, Spain, where we discovered the land of Monastrell, and I’ve joined my pals from Snooth.com for a great weekend in New York City for the Snooth People’s Voice Awards – just two of many awesome adventures. One of the greatest highlights of 2014 so far was being invited to join a panel of very accomplished wine judges for the annual Savor Northwest Wine Awards that takes place in beautiful Cannon Beach, Oregon.
One of the best benefits of wine writing is receiving review samples of wine from around the world – a perk that’s certainly refined my palate and afforded me experiences with wine I would have otherwise never had. There is nothing, however, that excites me more than receiving review samples from Oregon wineries – where my heart and passion for my favorite beverage clearly shines through my writing on Eugene Daily News and my award-winning website, WineJulia.com.
A recent excellent tasting experience came from sampling Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Does the name Elizabeth Chambers ring a bell my fellow Eugeneans? The Chambers name is a well-known one for us native, and even transplanted, locals. Successful Eugene business woman, Carolyn Chambers, was well-known as a pioneer of Eugene’s television and wine industries, having been a founder of both KEZI in the late 1950s and purchasing Hinman Vineyards in the early 1990s. With her maiden name of Silva, she changed the name from Hinman Vineyards to Silvan Ridge but kept the Hinman wines for a second label.
Carolyn’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth (Liz) Chambers, managed Silvan Ridge for 20 years and purchased it from her mother’s estate in 2012 after she had passed away. The Chamber’s also owned a winery located in McMinnville, Oregon, named Panther Creek Winery. Although the Panther Creek name was sold, the actual winery was owned by Liz, which she literally used as her cellar.
Michael Stevenson, winemaker for Panther Creek since 1999 up to the date the label was sold, decided to stay with Liz to create a new brand: Elizabeth Chambers Cellar. Michael’s winemaking style uses minimal interventions so natural flavors can be pulled from the selected vineyard’s terroir, creating distinct characteristics with each vintage. With a goal of not adding any flavors beyond what comes from the fruit and using very limited oak, Mchael says, “Ninety percent of what is in the bottle is determined by what we pick in the vineyard.”
Personally, I have always preferred less manipulated wines – I truly believe minimal intervention allows the wine to express its terroir, creating a wine that is unique down to its roots – full of complex characteristics with deep expression and distinctive aroma and flavor profiles.
The 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée is a gorgeous Pinot Noir that absolutely represents its terroir in a feminine, elegant nature with soft, well-integrated tannins and vibrant acidity. A juicy entrance creates a silky presence on that palate that is down right pleasing. Aromas and flavors of cherries, earth and brown spices are highlighted by hints of violets and licorice. Liz and Michael will be focusing on single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are priced around $45 dollars a bottle.
I recently heard that one of the vineyards they chose fruit from for a certain bottling comes from a very special block of Temperance Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. To date, every single Temperance Hill vineyard wine I’ve had, regardless of the producer, has been totally impressive – so I’m really looking forward to trying it. Also, a 2013 vintage Pinot Gris is scheduled to be released this month.
Visit the Elizabeth Chamber Cellar winery and tasting room daily from 12-5 pm, located across the street from the historic Granary District at 455 NE Irvine, McMinnville.