Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Somm Select and Roots Wine Company, Willamette Valley Oregon

Over the past few years I have become a Pinot Noir fanatic. In pursuit of great Pinot I have traveled up and down the California Coast and have visited numerous wineries and tasted countless wines from Malibu, Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Los Carneros, the Russian River, Sonoma County and Mendocino. Of all the California Pinots, I have to say that I tend to prefer those from the Russian River.

Although I have yet to travel to Burgundy I’ve also enjoyed numerous wines from there as well. I have found that the best of them have a distinctive earthiness that is unmatchable and a complexity of fruit, spice and mushrooms that is absolutely enchanting.

Two years ago I traveled through Oregon and sampled wines along the way. I have come to fall in love with their Pinots, the best of which have one foot in the Old World and the other in the New World with the earthiness of France and the fresh fruit of California. But, these traits aren’t always in Oregonian Pinot Noirs. The problem is if you live in California and you are looking for Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley that have the fruit-earthiness that I love they are not typically found in grocery stores or even in the larger chain beverage stores. You have to hunt for them at the better wine shops and they can be very pricey.

Yet I know there are many wineries in the Willamette Valley that make more affordable Pinot Noirs but they tend to be small production and they do not distribute very widely, if at all. So the only way to buy the wines is to know about them and order them online directly from the winery. Or, as I prefer to do, actually visit the winery, taste the wines where they are grown and then bring them home. But that takes a lot of time and money and not everyone can take such wine adventures.

This is where Somm Select comes in….

Somm Select

Somm Select was founded by Ian Cauble and Brandon Carneiro who met in 1999 while studying at Sonoma State University. I first heard of Ian when I saw the movie SOMM, a documentary which follows the lives of a group of Advanced Sommeliers in their pursuit to become Master Sommeliers. Shortly thereafter I met Ian while going through the Intensive Sommelier Training at the International Culinary Center when he became an instructor.

In 2014 Ian Cauble (MS) and Brandon created Somm Select which provides members of their mailing list access to selected wines. These are not wines that you will find at your local wine shop and many of them are in very limited supply and sold for below retail cost. While Pinot Noir and Burgundies frequently make the list, there are numerous other wines and varietals that are make the daily e-mail list that are hard-to-find and not available in any wine shops in the S.F. Bay Area. But not only does Somm Select provide access to great wines, they also provide great information about the wine, the region and the producer so every e-mail is an education in wine.

One of the mailings I received was for a Pinot Noir from Oregon. When I received the e-mail I hesitated in buying the wine and the following day when I went to place the order the wine was completely sold out. So, I told myself, “The next time SommSelect offers an Oregon Pinot I’m going to jump on it!” Shortly thereafter they offered the 2012 Roots Wine Company Klee Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon and I immediately ordered ½ case.

Roots Wine Company

The Roots Wine Company was founded in 1999 by winemaker and winegrower Chris Berg when he planted seven acres of mostly Pinot Noir on the 20-acre property near Yamhill in the Yamhill-Carlton District of the Willamette Valley. 

In 2002, the Bergs picked their first harvest of a three tons of grapes, which were made into 72 cases of Pinot Noir. Today they now crushes approximately 3,800 cases annually cases a year. The seven-acre vineyard contains mostly Pinot Noir with a couple rows of Pinot Gris. Pinot Noir clones include 114, 115, 777 and are planted in Willakenzie soil and with a southwest slope. Wines include our flagship estate Pinot Noir, as well as several single vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs, sourced mostly from neighboring vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Other wines include an estate Pinot Gris, Melon de Bourgogne, Viognier, Riesling, dessert Riesling, Syrah and a M├ęthode Champenoise sparkling wine named after their son Theo.

The Wine

The 2012 Roots Wine Company Klee Pinot Noir is named after one of Chris Berg’s favorite artists Paul Klee and it is one of Roots Wine Company’s largest productions with 2,000 cases made annually. The artwork for the label is their own adaptation of a Klee painting.

This is an opaque red wine, dark ruby at the core to clear magenta at the rim with moderate variation and just a slight tint of garnet around the edge with moderate viscosity and slow running tears. When first poured the nose is clean with moderately intense aromas of fresh black cherries, strawberry preserves, plum, and spice with underlying notes of dried dusty earth, mushrooms, and just a hint of clove and black pepper. After about 30 minutes the wine had additional aromas of dried cinnamon and forest floor. On the palate it has medium- tannins, medium+ acidity, medium body, moderate alcohol and a medium length finish. This is a complex wine that needs some time to breath to fully develop and it finishes with absolutely delicious spicy notes and a lingering hint of cherry vanilla. This wine retailed at the winery for $30 (before it sold out) and SommSelect offered it at $20 per bottle with a limit of 12 bottle maximum purchase and free shipping if you purchased more than 3 bottles. I bought 6 bottles and I regret not buying an entire case as I have never had a Pinot this good for only $20!

I HIGHLY recommend getting on the e-mailing list and if there is a wine you would like to buy, don’t wait too long because they tend to be in short supply.

For more information about SommSelect and Roots Wine Company check the following links: