The wines of Youngberg Hill Vineyards reflect the “essence of place.” Wayne Bailey, owner/winemaker, uses holistic farming practices as well as the Burgundian wine-making techniques that he picked up from his two-year tutelage in Burgundy’s vineyards. The result is beautiful Oregon Pinot Noirs that are alive in the bottle and have good aging potential.
I recently sat down with Wayne over lunch and Youngberg Hill wine. Wayne grew up on an Iowa farm. Though his career took quite a circuitous route to becoming a winemaker, he truly has a passion for making terroir-driven wines, using sustainable farming practices. Three of Youngberg Hill’s vineyard blocks are named after Wayne’s three daughters: Natasha, Jordan and Aspen. As a family, they enjoy hosting guests at the vineyard inn and producing award-winning wines.
I had almost as much fun drinking Youngberg Hill wine as the Bailey’s have had making it. Over lunch, I enjoyed the 2008 and 2009 vintages of the Natasha Block Pinot Noir in addition to the 2008 and 2009 vintages of the Jordan Block Pinot Noir. Later, I enjoyed a bottle of the 2007 Jordan. The wines from each block are as different from one another as each vintage –proof that there is little manipulation in the winemaking process.
Youngberg Hill Jordan Block Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2009, 2008, 2007
Youngberg Hill Jordan Block Pinot Noirs are delicous. Jordan Pinot Noir effortlessly balances lush red fruit notes with lively acidity and mushrooms with minerality. These wines are elegant, complex and so enjoyable to drink. Jordan Block Pinot Noir is the flagship wine of Youngberg Hill. The Jordan Block vines are from Pommard and Wadenswil clones and grow at higher elevation than the Natasha Block. The soil type is volcanic, characteristically producing wines with notes of mushroom and forest floor.
Youngberg Hill Natasha Block Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2009, 2008
The 2009 and 2008 Natasha Block Pinot Noirs are restrained with considerable acidity. The 2009 vintage tastes a bit young, though it expresses notes of black cherry, raspberry, forest floor and pepper spices. The 2008 vintage comes from a perfect growing season. It’s structure is similar to the 2009 vintage but has more depth. The Natasha Block Pinot Noir is grown in marine sedimentary soil from Pommard and Wadenswil clones. These vines produce wines with brighter fruit and pepper spice. The 2009 Natasha made a lovely pairing with Naha‘s Risotto with braised pork shank, cremini mushrooms, spinach and glazed onions (pictured above).