Remarkably Profound Oregon Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Antica Terra

Antica Terra was established in 2005 by Scott Adelson, John Mavredakis, and Michael Kramer, three friends and partners who had collaborated before and dreamed of owning a vineyard together. This being said, vines were first planted in 1989 on the property, an 11 acre vineyard on pre-historic seabed in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Having taken ownership of their new vineyard, Scott, John, and Michael started seeking a winemaker and their crosshairs quickly fell upon Maggie Harrison. Maggie began her winemaking career at Sine Qua Non (known for $200-$1,000+ bottles of cult Rhone varietal wines) working for Manfred Krankl and her expertise was quickly realized. In 2004, Manfred encouraged her to begin her own Syrah project on the side, and Lillian was born (I reviewed two of these Syrahs previously). Maggie worked tirelessly on her passion project wines while still tending to barrels at Sine Qua Non, demonstrating her pure passion for the craft. When Scott, John, and Michael asked Maggie to become their winemaker, she refused profusely though the three friends ultimately convinced her to simply visit the property to offer her opinions of the vineyard. 26 seconds after Maggie stepped foot into the vineyards and observed the fossils, oaks, and vines, “she found herself hunched beneath one of the trees, phone in hand, explaining to her husband that they would be moving to Oregon.” Source

The vineyard of Antica Terra is rather intense, both in appearance above the earth and underground for the vines. The vines find home amongst fossilized oyster shells and sandstone with no topsoil, leaving them to struggle for nutrients and in turn producing incredibly unique fruit. Aboveground, the vineyard is strewn with boulders, steep grades, and vines that (due to the soil) appear spindly and frail. Fruit for Antica Terra wines forms in tiny clusters with thick-skinned grapes that are half the size that is typical for their varieties and the canopy of these plants is incredibly sensitive. Maggie provides immense care and attention to these delicate vines, which culminates into unique and immeasurably profound wines. Antica Terra produces four Pinot Noir bottlings, two Chardonnays, and one Rosé.

To explore the wines of Antica Terra, join the mailing list, or plan a visit, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Botanica Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14% ABV

The 2017 Botanica is pale ruby in color with slight variation toward deep garnet. This was surprisingly approachable right out of the bottle, though changed over time revealing aromas of cherry, cranberry, smoked game, earth, wet gravel, sweet tobacco, ground green cooking herbs, black licorice, rocky minerality, and a touch of oak. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of crunchy raspberry, strawberry, cranberry sauce, smoke, rose, white pepper, loamy earth, a hint of nutmeg, and graphite. This Pinot is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. There was some slight heat on the nose, but all around this is approachable and that heat should integrate with a couple more years of cellaring.

Price: $110 direct from winery. I am a huge fan of Antica Terra when it comes to American Pinot Noir, and Maggie Harrison’s winemaking skill for both this wine and her Lillian Syrahs make them worthy of trying. Pair this with duck, pork tenderloin, or grilled salmon.

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