One of Oregon’s most consistent and spectacular vineyards is Seven Springs, located in the Eola-Amity Hills of the Williamette Valley. According to the Wine Advocate, “There is no vineyard in the Willamette more highly valued by winemakers than Seven Springs.” Evening Land’s gem, it is regarded as one of the top ten vineyards of the United States because of a unique combination of rich red volcanic dirt and favorable weather patterns. Add to the “barrel” the genius winemaking team of Isabelle Meunier and Dominique Lafon and you will immediately understand why wine lovers daydream about Evening Land. In true Burgundian style, Meunier and Lafon allow the varietals of Seven Springs a few extra days of hang time, resulting in wines which have great acidic balance, beautifully focused fruit and a lower percentage of alcohol. “The Evening Land” has long been a symbol of the dream quest for the perfect garden. It is no wonder their bottled poetry appears on the menus of today’s most iconic restaurants. Just like a quintessential food and wine pairing tasted for the first time, the most brilliant sommeliers and chefs agree; Evening Land promises pure bliss.
Evening Land produces four labels from four different regions: the Sonoma Coast and Santa Rita Hills in California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Burgundy, France. Their portfolio balances Old and New World profiles with village and single vineyard offerings. The wines are priced based on a color coded system ranging from blue, silver, gold and white, with white labels being the most expensive at about $120 a bottle and blue the most inexpensive at about $35 a bottle. The soil and climate diversity of varying Evening Land terroir directly results in the unique differences between their wines. Blue labels represent “climate” wines which provide an opportunity to compare the growing conditions of pinot noir and chardonnay from Oregon, California and Burgundy. Silver labels represent “village” wines. These wines retain the impact of their climate coupled with the unique topography and soil characteristics of their specific villages. Gold labels represent terroir in their most complex expressions while white label wines are cuvee worthy as they produce the creme de la creme of vineyard fruit.
The Faces of Seven Springs Vineyard~
Born in Quebec, Isabelle Meunier remains one of today’s most talented and well-traveled female winemakers of our time. After stints of training in New Zealand and France, she finally found her heart in Oregonian soil as she has always gravitated toward the freedom of working in a vineyard with no regulations. “In France everything is decided for you. How many plants per acre, whether you’re allowed to irrigate. Here, we get to feel our way. We’re definitely not trying to copy Burgundy in Oregon, we’re just trying to bring out what already naturally exists at Seven Springs.” Meunier goes on to say, “My personal taste was always gravitated toward things that were complex, yet subtle. I have always been intrigued by the pinot noir grape, by the many facets that pinot could provide. I’ve always been drawn toward the lighter-style wines such as pinot and chardonnay that are not only food-friendly, but also force you to dream. They trigger your imagination. At Evening Land we produce wines that have a story to tell.”
Dominique Lafon is the legendary vigneron to come out of France and is the chief winemaking consultant to Meunier. Lafon is able to share his knowledge and success of Domaine des Comtes Lafon (the premier winery in the Meursault district) at Seven Springs Vineyard. His continued commitment to a biodynamic approach of winemaking has made all the difference at Evening Land, resulting in traditional, Burgundian spirited pinot noir’s of exceptional purity and elegance. According to Dominique, applying biodynamics to winemaking involves 100 extra hours of labor per year. “You develop a better understanding of what is happening in your environment around the vines. The sun, the moon, the stars and all of the planetary influences; every element of our universe plays a part in creating beautiful wine.”
This wine exudes elegance, purity, and exceptional subtleties in it’s fruit expressions. Ripe cherries, slate, crushed boysenberries, rose petals and pepper flow through this minerally driven Pinot Noir. At a modest 13.25% ABV, the wine allows the expression of the Seven Springs Vineyard to blossom in the glass. The finish is mouth watering. Ring in the summer with barbecues and Evening Land. –RWL
EVENING LAND Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Seven Springs Vineyard 2010 (click to purchase)
Market Price: $45
Related scores: WS-93 (#79 on Top 100 of 2012)
Recommended glassware: Riedel Vinum Extreme Pinot Noir Glass
Drinking window: now through 2020
Case Production: 1,158
Recommended food pairing: Honey-Glazed Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Marinade (click for recipe from Portland’s celebrated chef Andy Ricker). The vibrant acidity in this Pinot Noir will slice right through a meaty BBQ chop or rack of ribs and refresh your palate with each sip.