June 03, 2010

New releases from Arterberry Maresh

I had the chance to taste through a bunch of new releases from Arterberry Maresh last night. Young Jim is making some excellent wines, all pinot noir and chardonnay from the Dundee Hills. Jim's brash and talks some shit, but his wines speak for themselves. I can't help but admire his confidence that what he's doing is absolutely great. I suppose if you don't believe it, who will? You don't make this hat if you're not confident, right? Yeah, my new favorite hat.

We started with the 2008 Arterberry Maresh Chardonnay Maresh Vineyard. Old vine 108 clone, harvest late, this bottling from a single Dargaud & Jagele light toast barrel that took more than a year to finish fermenting. Maybe there's a little sugar leftover, maybe not, there's fat flavor but the acid balance and freshness is terrific. With lots of lemon, sweet cream and hazelnuts, it's white Burg on the nose but broad tasting Oregon chard on the palate. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, it's a little hazy too. Really, really good.

Then the 2007 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noit Gherts Vineyard, actually a single barrel of purchased wine from another producer who didn't think it fit the profile they were looking for. Apparently from grapes picked before the rain, the wine has deep color uncommon in 2007. There's a little musky, hard to pin down something in the aroma, but I love this. Lots of ripe fruit, subtle wood, full flavors in the mouth but really nicely refined and long. While I think many '07s are beautiful, they can also be delicate and I wonder about how long they really need to be cellared. This one, though, could last a while and maybe should sleep for a few before it shows its best.

Then onto 2008 reds. First, the 2008 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Jim's $25 cuvee that's tremendous value. Most wineries would like this at their high end level. Fragrant, silky but also wound up and needing time to reveal itself, I really liked this. Then the 2008 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir Julliard Vineyard, down Worden Hill Road from Maresh vineyard and indeed a world away from the higher vineyard's pure red fruit tone. This has bass notes with a darker fruit profile and really tight structure. Right now, it's a little challenging to drink. But in time this will stun.

Jim and I hung out with some others talking wine and winemaking. Ji'm vocal about barreling wine more than a year, not for the oak profile but the curing aspect of barrel aging. Wines gain an intensity and vinosity from extended aging, perhaps even a savory quality. Some people like bottling early to preserve fruitiness. Some do it to get wine to market more quickly. Some early bottled wines are superb, so it's not like you have to wait. But Jim's wines, like those of the producers who mentored him, show what longer aging can give you. Assuming the source material is really good, of course. We weren't all born on Worden Hill Road, but Jim was and the place is in his wines.


Dudley said...

Interesting, but not surprising to read your comments about Jim. His talent and brash enthusiasm shines through. I will enjoy watching him blossom over the coming years. Did you meet him at a general tasting or a specific appt? Do you have prices on the single vineyard bottlings? I imagine he is producing much more wine with 2008 and certainly more with the abundant 2009. Good for him. Thanks for the notes Vincent!

Vincent Fritzsche said...

We were just hanging out and he had some bottles open. 2008 was a short crop and, in my experience, low yield of wine per ton of grapes. By contrast, 2009 was a big crop. Jim made a fair amount in 2008 but took quite a jump in '09. Don't know the exact amounts off hand. The Dundee Hills pinot is $25 retail. The single vineyard stuff is aroun $50, maybe $55. Not cheap, but this is really, really good stuff.