Posted on

Chardonnay 2005-06

Chardonnay 2005 and 2006 vintages

These wines have had an incredible rise in stature and following in their homeland, so ordering this wine has been impossible over the last 3 years since they have sold out of recent vintages. This means that the price has risen for the stock of older wines but I have managed to secure some stock of  the 2011 vintage which will be priced a little more “conservatively”, shall we put it that way, and I expect the wine to be here in the April-May 2014


Mr Whirly Says

“Soft oak with a vanilla mouth feel, flat peaches and a little yeast and honey. Cool climate USA Chardonnay at its best. Only 28 cases secured so be warned, it won’t be around for too long.”

Alcohol: 13.5%

2006 Chardonnay

Mr Whirly says

“ It’s rather like the 1998 Cabernet from Willespie situation a few years ago. How does the 2006 follow the 2005? It’s really opening up now ( July 2012) and developing some lovely mineral and dried stoned fruit layers. ”

Alcohol: 14.0%

Posted on

Pinot Gris 2008

Sadly sold out now and trying to get hold of more but the winemakers have told me they are making less of this varietal, which means I can’t get hold of anymore for the time being…….

Mr  Whirly Says

” It’s wonderful to see a really exciting Pinot Gris from somewhere outside of Alsace and New Zealand.  The 2006 was a runaway success so I am pleased to be following up with another great vintage. This wine has a waxy feel to it, with a floral nose and hints of honey and citrus. So far in tasting’s, everyone has been completely overawed by this wine. Only 20 cases secured for the UK Market so don’t hesitate and give this a whirl. “

Alcohol: 12.5%

Posted on

Bethel Heights, Salem

Bethel Heights are a vineyard perched on the side of a hill about 6 miles south of Amity vineyards in the stand still country of the Willamette. Like most things I was drawn to the name and visited the vineyard in November 2004 and I fell in love with the place and the people working here straight away. Then of course there are the wines!

These guys make premier uno wines. Cool climate Chardonnay at its best, the 2005 vintage is probably one of the most sublime wines I have ever had the joy of tasting. Top end Pinot Noir and Gris too. Run by the wonderful Marilyn Webb, and her son Ben is the winemaker, having taken over from Terry Casteel ( Marilyn’s husband) a few years ago once he had retired.  If you ever get the chance visit this vineyard. Its quite amazing.

Please click on the links below to see the vineyard website as well as individual tasting notes and bottle shots for each wine.

Posted on

“Late Harvest” Riesling 2007

Mr Whirly says:

This “ Oh so delicate wine” arrived in  November 2009 to take over from the very successful 2002 LH Riesling.  Its an incredibly delicate wine with a smokey feel and again hints of Lychee and Elderflower. Very much a wine for the Spring and Summer with Acidic puddings. Not at all sticky which is a plus in so many ways.”

Winemakers tasting notes:

“The 2007 Late Harvest Riesling shows both aromas and flavours consisting of lime and lemon zest, ripe stone fruits such as apricots and nectarines, mineral notes of wet rock and flint, with hints of honey, petrol, and savoury spices like tarragon and lemon thyme.”

Alcohol: 9.0%

Posted on

Amity “ Willamette Valley” Pinot Noir 2008

2008 “ Willamette Valley” Pinot noir 2008

Mr Whirly says:

“ I tasted this wine in March 2012, having felt it needed a little time in the bottle and its full of Kirsch and marinated cherries, which I first found in the 2002 Schouten single vineyard wine. Yet its also very subtle and refined. I think this wine is just at the beginning of it’s life and ascendancy.”

Alcohol: 13.0%

Posted on

Amity Gewurtztraminer, “Willamette Valley”, 2008

2008″ Willamette Valley” Gewurtztraminer, Single Vineyard, “ Sunnyside”

Mr Whirly says:

“This grape is only found in certain regions of the world other than Alsace and the Willamette valley.   Amity send this grape to the press with a little added extra spice. As always with Myron Redford’s and Darcy Pendergrass’s winemaking skills, this wine has finesse and class. It is a far more complex wine than the 2006. Quite honestly I think it ranks up there with a Rolly Gassmann, this wine exudes class.  A little Elderflower and hint of cinnamon and five spice round it off.  This wine is dry on the finish but with some lovely Conference pear added too.”

Alcohol: 13.0%

Posted on

Amity Pinot Blanc 2007

Mr Whirly says,

“This wine was tasted at the end of August 2009 on my last trip to Oregon. It was the first wine I have had the joy of tasting with the winemakers from Amity and Bethel Heights. We were on the deck of Myron’s house in Amity, a lovely wooden structure surrounded by woods and rolling hills, on a beautiful late summer’s evening with the wonderful echo of the tree frog, underneath the decking, waltzing around the amphitheatre of our little party. It really was a special night and this wine kicked off the show so admirably! I was taken with it immediately, loving the fact that this “ workhorse of Alsace ” was so clean, fresh and vibrant with hints of Lemon sherbet on the nose and pear drops too. It really is a very uplifting wine, very much a special Pinot Blanc to be drunk as an aperitif or with food throughout the year and for many years to come ( it will get better with a little age.)

Review: Wine Enthusiast, December 15th 2009, Paul Gregutt

“ This Pinot Blanc threads honeycomb highlights into juicy, ripe fruit flavours of yellow apples and Asian Pear. Dry with  a good grip, it’s another wine that is showing that Oregon winemakers have an opportunity to claim this under-appreciated grape as their own.”

Alcohol 13.0%

Posted on

Amity Vineyards, Amity

I shall always remember my first visit to Amity and my meeting with the infamous character of character’s, Myron Redford, owner of Amity Vineyards. It was a cold and wet November day just before “Thanksgiving” in 2004 and I had driven north from Los Angeles for the best part of two days. I arrived bedraggled and worn out but received the most lovely reception from Myron and tasted the most beautifully integrated and clean wines. I left in awe. I had been drawn to the vineyard simply by the name, Amity, which I liked and it had yet again proven to be the most  delectable of lucky guesses. I love it when that happens. I always remember seeing Myron for the first time with his big Huckleberry Fin character with his long beard and dungaree’s. It was such a refreshing sight after the slightly  more business orientated attitude of some winemakers in Napa that I had experienced a few days earlier. This was real country and these were real people. Myron sent me on my way with a wave and then called Willakenzie to say I was running a little late. Share and care world of the Willamette Valley.

To show how varied the soils are in this region compare the wonderful 2008 Pinot with the one from Bethel heights. They are both quite superb and yet so different.

Please click on the links below to see the vineyard website as well as individual tasting notes and bottle shots for each wine.

Posted on

The Tranquil haven of the Willamette Valley, God damn it!

(pronounced Will-r-met!)

The road to Pinot country

My first venture north of California to discover Oregon was in November 2004 and I was on Highway 5, the main freeway from San Diego all the way up to Seattle ( by the way did you know that odd numbers head north-south and even numbers east-west, hence route 66, probably the most famous takes you from Chicago in the north to Los Angeles in the south west) in the trusty ( well actually since this time I have discovered its not quite so trusty, breaking down 25 miles short of The Black Rock Desert as the sun was coming down one evening in August 2006) 900 Saab Convertible, silver-grey. I have been working on Whirly wine for a year or so and I am heading all the way to Seattle to see an old friend “Scouser John” and his family for Thanksgiving.

There’s an alternative route to Oregon, the much slower and more attractive 101 and 1 up the coast, which I have since taken in the Summer of 2005. It’s very windy and curvy but the wonderful route 1 is sublime and although my favourite part of this road is around Carmel and Big Sur and south towards Santa Barbara, which I first drove in 1986 after leaving Los Angeles, and arrived 4 days late in San Francisco delivering a hire car, naughty boy, but it was worth it at the age of 19. It is very peaceful and quiet on this northerly section; open and empty sandy beaches abound, reminiscent of a recent trip to the Western Isles of Scotland in May 2009 which was barren and gorgeous. There are little hidden caves and the Redwood National Park just north of Eureka is truly amazing.

But back to route 5. This takes you up and over the Cascade mountains at Siskiyou Summit just north of the  California border which at a height of 4310 feet is the highest point on this very long freeway that is an integral part of the Pan-American highway that stretches 48,000 kilometres. I remember stopping just south of here and wandering off the freeway to snow covered tracks and railway lines, a picture of which is below. It was pretty cold up there in the Saab Convertible, I was wrapped up, hatted, scarfed and gloved.

TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 132

I followed my nose as I headed north and eager to get off route 5 and explore I turned left just north of Eugene, tree loving capital of the world, into an altogether greener and wetter countryside than where I had some from. I crossed the Willamette River on the old “ Wheat Sheaf Ferry ”, that was jerked across the wide Willamette by chains: this was the first pointer to me that this was country that had not changed in decades. I now call it “Back to the Future” country, it’s literally like being transported back to the 1950’s, and this is nothing but a massive compliment. They pride themselves on being a little bit more laid back and real up here. They wear dungaree’s and long beards, they drive old Massey Ferguson tractors, that have been ploughing the land for 60 years and are still moving; the land here is anything but wine country, indeed if you did not know there were wines here you would quite easily miss them.

TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 182

I work with two wonderful vineyards in the Willamette, again please click on the links below o to see their wines


The Pacific North West coast of America: that’s what Mr Whirly means by the USA, at this present time….

…and this means California….oh California ( Great Joni Mitchell song, can you name it?) and of course further north to the more laid back Oregon and then onto Washington state.

I first came to California on a Trailway’s bus from New Orlean’s in 1986, aged 19 and away on my first adventure, spending 11 months in North America and Canada. I will always remember heading over the San Bernardino mountains with the Joshua Tree National park and beyond that the Mojave desert, the brown, parched land covered with wind propellers generating electricity and arriving in downtown Los Angeles amazed and in wonder that I was in this enthralling city. It had taken me three days on a bus. It took me via some wonderful places like El Paso, where there entire congregation of the bus departed, Mexican’s, heading south to the border.

TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 022

I was lucky enough to have some friends of the family, the wonderful Liebman family, that lived in Encino, just down the road from Michael Jackson’s home as it happens and I stayed with them for a whole month, having the most wonderful time getting dressed up for Halloween and eating Sushi which was totally in fashion in Los Angeles at the time. My love for wine was there already, but John Liebman  introduced me to the intense and powerful wines of California and I immediately took a liking to them.

I have been returning to the wine area’s of California since 1999 thanks to the friendship born whilst at the Liebman’s with John’s god daughter, Karen Frankel, who I met for one fun night in 1986 and then thirteen years later we met again in the beautiful Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona. She invited me to San Francisco and to the Burning man festival in the Black rock desert,  so I have been returning to California every August to take in this crazy event followed by 2 weeks traveling and tasting from the Santa Barbara mountains all the way up to Mendocino, Oregon and Washington state.

TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 122

There’s a massive thrill when you get behind the wheel of your hire car at LAX ( Los Angeles International Airport) or SFO ( San Francisco International Airport) and head north: it’s those wide open roads, that do-dum, do-dum as the wheels traverse the gaps in the large concrete slabs of the freeway that signal, YOUR BACK!! YIHAAAHHHHH!!

Whether its driving over the San Ynez mountains to Los Olivos, great wine country with top wineries here like Stolpman and Zaca Mesa or off route 5 on 152 over the Pacheco pass to Gilroy, garlic capital of the United States of America or along 128 off 101 in Mendocino along the cool Anderson valley, the countryside is simply thrilling. The Santa Cruz Mountains, the San Louis Obispo wine country and wonderfully vibrant student town also which has the most amazing tasting room called simply “ Taste” or simply picking up a good friend, John Stockdale, at San Francisco International airport in a red Mustang convertible and watching his face purr with excitement and adrenalin as we boot it north on 101 to the crimson red of the Golden Gate Bridge over the hills south of the city, driving in California is the real deal.

California wine country is diverse and the main influence is how close your vineyard is to the coast and whether there is a cool wind that flows through and down the valley from the Pacific: if this is the case, like for example in the Anderson valley in Mendocino or around the bay area of Southern Napa near Los Carneros where the fog and cool Pacific air moves in from the San Pablo Bay to cool the vineyards, then the varietal choice is very defined. This is a definite contrast to Calistoga for example, at the Northern end of the Napa where it’s as warm as you would want it to be to grow vines.

I have been lucky to visit most of the vineyard regions of California: Mendocino is the most laid back, in the north and probably therefore, my favourite. There’s a drive from Ukiah, in the Ukiah valley on route 101,( this valley is hot vine country where they grow grapes like Shiraz, Cabernet and Viognier) over the hills to Mendocino town on the coast. It goes through the Montgomery woods and over the rolling green hills to Comptche. It’s spectacularly beautiful so if you ever get the chance, take a convertible over the top. Further south the Santa Cruz mountains, Central coast areas of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Olivos and Monterey are also delightful and full of wondrous discoveries. But you do need time. These wine regions are spread out over 900 kms of rugged country of hills and gorges so don’t be in a rush to get anywhere fast. It’s worth taking your time.

I am lucky enough to work with Greg Graziano in Mendocino and Amity and Bethel Heights further north in Oregon the new world home of Pinot Noir. I hope at some point to represent some vineyards from Washington state eastern wine region, which is a fabulous new wine region and after my second visit there in June 2013 I hope this might become reality soon.