Happy spring! From wet western Oregon – we are thrilled the days are getting longer and warmer with a bit more sunshine. We are also thrilled to have some terrific wines from 2015 to offer – our 2015 Willamette valley Pinot noir and Chardonnay with of course the Pelos Sandberg Pinot that always shows well as a youngster.
Ten years into this crazy Oregon adventure Clare and I still shake our heads in disbelief at who and what surround us – We have great team here at the farm, our winemaking/winegrowing community, the vendors we work with and of course our customers, YOU! Who keep coming back for more is most humbling and encouraging at the same time – motivating us to continue to strive to do our best.
We began labeling the 2015 wines Feb 6 and just finished – 3.5 weeks to apply art to the front of each bottle and wrap to protect it. The first couple years Clare and I did this together, maybe with a friend or two, and then even just 150 cases took forever, but we felt then and still do today that dressing each bottle shows how important they all are to us. Now that we are making a bit more wine we hire a small crew, train them and then work with them every day to ensure all goes well.
So you may say “the wine looks good – how does it taste?” my easy response is the wines are stunning, I am stunned by them. I put the blends together end of August, bottled them and sent them to the warehouse and promptly put them out of my mind to focus on the 2016 vintage. We just recently began to try them and I am truly amazed at what they have blossomed into, both Chardonnay and Pinot alike. Certainly a knitting together and development is to be expected. I knew the blends were well crafted and would be very approachable, pleasing wines, but as one mentor told me – winemaking is part art, part science and part magic, and certainly there is a lot of magic at play as part of the 2015 vintage. I have embraced this way of making wine – I think it gives me the license and ability and boldness to capture the moment of each vintage, at each vineyard and at BTF.
As shepherd of each vineyard, each block within and then each small fermentor I use all of the art and science I know to push the magic in the right direction – shoving doesn’t work nor does being timid. The results of all the coercion in 2015 are magical, you have already had a few – the LPR, Pinot Gris and Edelzwicker. If you like these then the Pinot noir and Chardonnay are sure to please (hopefully) as well – lithe, taut, plenty of fruit and tannins that will make you remember it is wine for a couple years. Not surprisingly the benefits of magic can also have unintended consequences – the unforeseen drawbacks, and while the 2015’s are delicious they have decided to deposit more of a sediment than I would like or we normally see in a young wine. I do not know why this has happened, the racking (moving the wine out of barrel, off the lees) went really well. I rack every barrel myself while Jeff is close at hand and does all the many other important tasks. We plan and prepare for the prebottling racking and yet with true magic there is always mystery. This sediment is really only a small inconvenience and most wines eventually throw some as they age, but for some reason our 2015’s have chosen to do so a little bit sooner than we expected – yet please believe me they are DELICIOUS!
In addition to the magic, I have always believed that wine has vitality to it, that like all life, is finite and therefore I take a less is more approach once we have guided the fruit from vineyard to barrel. Once in barrel the wine continues to ferment until all the sugar and malic acid are consumed, hopefully by late December or early January, but sometimes not. We add a little sulpher and top the barrels regularly, but mostly we just let the wines rest and settle in barrel. As the bottling date nears we gently move the wine out of barrel into a blending tank, mix and we are ready to bottle, no filtering or other processing that might take some of the nourished “vitality” away.
2015 was a large (volume of fruit) and warm vintage, with a nice cool September. Early bud break and flowering with good set, set the stage. We knew we would have a long growing season ahead so the prudent gamble was to leave a little more fruit on the vines to slow maturation down so we could finish ripening in the shorter cooler days of late September and early October. This gamble paid off and as I believe you will taste, exceptionally balanced Pinot noir and Chardonnay with amazing aromatics, mouth filling flavors and yet the ethereal feeling of weightlessness.
2015 Willamette valley Chardonnay –
we just poured this wine at the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration with 40 other Oregon wineries – what a fun Saturday afternoon! Our ’15’s showed beautifully and were well received. Selling Oregon Chardonnay today reminds me of our early days with the Laughing Pig Rose – I often had to cajole people into trying it, because I know it is great and it is different than what they expect it to be. Now, dry rose has many fans and I hope that we continue to build the same understanding and enthusiasm for Oregon Chardonnay. I enjoy making it and Clare and I both enjoy drinking it. As I have said many times, if we can make decent Pinot noir we should also be able make Chardonnay.
Sourced from the same 6 Willamette valley vineyards as 2014, barrel fermented in French oak (about 10% new) with yeast that blew in the door. We bottled after 11 months of aging without filtration or fining. I think this wine will steal your heart, it has a special place in mine. The label is one of Clare’s honey bees humping a thistle, 950 cases produced, $45
2015 Willamette valley Pinot noir –
This wine leaps out of the glass with fruit and spice and doesn’t let up until long after you have set your glass down – unless of course you take a perfect bite of anything – it will ALL taste better! This wine is a true representation of the northern Willamette valley as all 8 pinot sites I work with end up in this bottling, from south of Salem to north of Forest Grove. It would be arrogant of me to think I could predict which fruit will turn into the best wine (that magic, remember?) so I treat all with equal diligence. I think this approach makes this bottling different but on par with our vineyard designates – it is more affordable because we make a lot more of it, but it gets the same care and handling as the rest of the wines. Kirby and Pickle saunter on the label, they were super cute American guinea hogs and now they are super delicious. We hope this wine is regular on your table. Please don’t be afraid to open it and drink it over several days (if possible). I regularly drink our wines leftover from tastings 2, 3 and even 4 days later. This is a benefit of youthfulness and the maintenance of vitality. Regardless, Enjoy! 2393 cases produced $42.
2015 Pelos Sandberg vineyard Pinot noir
Year in and year out the wine that comes from Don Sandberg’s hard work in the vineyard is always delicious and 2015 is no exception. As the vineyard matures its’ wines continue to develop even more complexity and depth, with 2015 at the forefront. My memory says past vintages are fruit forward and plush (it’s been awhile since I’ve had an older vintage, even the 14, it has been sold out for quite awhile), while this wine still has the fruit but maybe more tension, tannin and acidity to balance the fruit, potentially a more age worthy PSV than past vintages by my hand. Don is a tremendous farmer and a great friend. He also makes wine under his own label, from his own fruit, called IOTA. Clare chose his 3 n’ 1, a cultivation implement, to adorn the bottle. 402 cases bottled, $48
On the farm!
We are still eating brussel sprouts! We have had multiple days of single digit weather this year and a few frozen pipes (none broken though, that we know of yet) and the brussel sprouts survived. Most everything else in my garden perished, even the kale. The barn is full of Clare’s menagerie, dry and warm, 1 cat (Winston), 1 Goatio, 2 horses, 10 cows, 6 of whom we hope Curley (the bull) was able to romance and we will have baby calves romping in the spring grass soon. We attempted to use artificial insemination for the first time this year but it was an utter failure without proper infrastructure, it was a fucking rodeo. We have learned our lesson and we will invest in some panels and a crowding pen and give it a try again in 2017, and hopefully Curly can stay home. He is a nice guy and all but he is still a bull, big, strong and unpredictable. Clementine and Levi still let us know when you have arrived most of the time, although Clementine is almost 11 and has let us know she is definitely only interested in working part time. Instead of running out to greet you she compromises by barking at you from the porch… we are still in negotiations regarding this new protocol.
We have already seen a few of you with a great trip to Texas and Clare to the Carolinas for dinners and the Triangle Wine Experience in the beginning of Feb this year. We are participating in IPNC July 28-30, a fabulous event, definitely a great weekend of Pinot noir in McMinnville. We will also be doing a spring release dinner in Portland late March, 25th see below for detatils!
Also coming mid April – 2016 Laughing Pig Rose, 2015 Earth and Elusive Queen!
2016 Laughing Pig Rose – bottling is scheduled for April 4. 2016 was a ‘normal’ sized vintage, so there will be significantly less rose than the last two years, also it will be a little more intense, rich but still all the same tastiness as past vintages, just a little less of it to go around, so please act quickly once released if you want some. We will also release 2015 Earth and Elusive Queen mid April – we are also extremely happy with where/how these wines are and look forward to sharing them with you.
Thank you again for all your support and enjoying our wines. We look forward to continuing the adventure! CHEERS! Brian and Clare.
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Note on ordering wine: we respect YOUR time.
If your super busy - please let us help you order wine in whatever way is EASIEST for YOU! We are happy to assist. Call, email - Clare and Elaine are always available to make sure you get the wines you love! If you want to reach out please just send an email to admin(at)bigtablefarm.com or call 503.662.3129 - and we'll follow up with YOU and get your order!
Wine orders will be shipped towards the end of March early April, when temperatures across the country are a little more consistent.
'winemaker dinner and spring release celebration in portland'
We have changed dinner up this year! I'm really excited to tell you we are essentially bringing you our big table farm harvest dinner. Chef Tim Wastell and David Padberg, two of our closest chef friends who happen to be two of portland finest chefs will both be cooking for us!! Tim and David have cooked at the farm countless times for big summer meals as well as our harvest dinners over the years. This year we changed things up and found a venue that will help us feature these two amazing chefs and our wines in the best possible way! I think this will be a spring release dinner to remember!
This will be a multi-course dinner (menu coming soon! working with chefs on what's coming from us as well as our other friends' farms!) We will be featuring our spring release wines as well as some extra special bottles including the 2011 Resonance Pinot Noir that we are pulling out of library!!! — Brian and I will be bringing out pre release wines too - The Elusive Queen and (fingers crossed) a sneak peek at the 2016 Rose - this is gonna be off the hook!!
As always, it will be a fun evening with good friends and wines...
$125 including all wine pairings
When Saturday March 25th 7pm
Elder Hall - 3929 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212 - https://www.elderhall.com/
call big table farm to reserve your seat with payment - 503-662-3129
(don't delay, these seats will go very quickly!)