Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oregon’s Atticus Wine, Where the Grapes Are the Guide

I’m a sucker for the 'people behind the product,' especially when it comes to food, wine and spirits. The back-story tells so much about what the exp
erience will hold. And, I have to say that this romantic tale of love, family, friendship and the pursuit of a dream did not disappoint.

Atticus Wine is an endeavor shared between two clans: the Insley-Orrego family and the Porter family. While on vacation in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, in 2004, Miami residents Guy Insley and Ximena Orrego fell in love with Oregon Pinto Noir. Guy, who is part French and had lived in Bordeaux, had always dreamed of owning a vineyard. So, he and his wife took the plunge and bought 25 acres of land in the Pacific Northwest. Their friends, Niall and Lefteria Porter, came on board to share in their oenological pursuit shortly thereafter. The next two years were spent putting up deer fences, building a house, having another baby and planting the first four acres of Pinot Noir grapes. The Insley-Orrego finally settled in their new home, in Yamhill, in February of this year.

Winemaker Scott Shull of Raptor Ridge joined the Atticus team, who were drawn to his naturalistic approach. They explain Shulls philosophy as: “having a close had in vineyard management, yielding to the will of the grapes and using some intuitive chemistry, a true expression of Oregon Pinot Noir can be created.”

The goal of Attiucs Wine was to achieve an elegant, approachable vintage, which would “reflect the beauty and complexity of the Oregon Pinot Noir grape.” By selecting grapes from surrounding vineyards, Yamhill Springs and Hawks View, Scott matched their style, and then let nature take its course.

In 2005, Atticus produced 295 cases of wine. And, in 2006, that number grew to just under 330. They expect 500 cases from the 2007 harvest. Ultimately, the goal is to produce approximately 6000 cases of wine per year.

Ximena Orrego says that they’d like to eventually plant all 25 acres of their own land with Pinot Noir, add a few white varietals, and eventually build a winery and tasting room on the property. However, she explains that remaining small and family owned is important to them, so as to maintain quality control.

I had the honor and pleasure of sampling one of the bottles from Atticus wine’s 2005 harvest. Soft, elegant, with light cherry and ever-so-soft waves vanilla, the Pinot Noir developed slightly deeper earthy tones as it sat in the glass. And, knowing how few bottles of this delicate nectar exist, and the loving dedication that went into creating it, I savored every drop.

Atticus Wine sells for a reasonable $24 per bottle. I suggest that you wine-devotees scour your sources to get your hands on some, or order directly from their website. Ximena expects that the 2006 will be slightly different, reflecting a warmer summer and lack of rain. Orrego explains, “Vintage after vintage, we want to reflect the truth as much as possible – we want the grapes to be our guide.”

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