Perhaps the Greatest Bottle of Domestic Pinot Noir I’ve Had

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 variety 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.”

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. In the 2018 vintage, they also produced their first-ever and incredibly limited ice wine.

I wrote about Antica Terra a few times previously, first on the 2017 Botanica Pinot Noir, then on the 2018 Aurata Chardonnay, and most recently on the 2018 Paraselene Ice Wine. I’m excited to review another wine from Antica Terra today, as it’s the oldest vintage I’ve ever had the opportunity to purchase.

Today’s Wine: 2008 Botanica Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.6% ABV

The 2008 Botanica Pinot Noir is deep garnet in color, showing beautifully with its age. I served this as a pop-and-pour, as it was firing on all cylinders right out of the gates. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the insanely complex nose showcasing notes of dried black cherry, stewed black plum, muddled strawberry with stems, black olive, lavender, smoked meat, worn leather, tobacco, forest floor, morel mushroom, wet gravel, basil, eucalyptus, and a touch of cedar. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the equally complex palate displaying notes of black cherry, blueberry, stewed black plum, black raspberry, leather, sweet tobacco, lavender, scorched earth, truffle, crushed rock, charred green herbs, pine, smoke, and a hint of baking spice. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low and incredibly silky tannins, medium (+) alcohol, and a long finish that lingers for at least 45 seconds. This silky, elegant, and captivating Pinot is perhaps the greatest I’ve had from the US.

Price: $125. This bottling is practically impossible to find nowadays, however it is absolutely worth the price if you find it. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a very strong value at $125. The complexity, depth, balance, intensity, and length in this wine are all truly mind-boggling.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it. Unfortunately for this wine, availability is incredibly limited.