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Shea Wine Cellars, Estate Pinot NoirWillamette Valley, Oregon 2017 (750mL)

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Shea Wine Cellars, Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon 2017 (750mL)

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When speaking about the raw material of “Shea Vineyard,” one needn’t look far (or at all) before being met with some of the most reverential praise for domestic Pinot Noir. When writing up their piece on “10 Vineyards Behind the World’s Most Famous Wines,” The Wine Enthusiast famously included Shea as one of them, and The Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil followed that praise by calling it “one of the greatest vineyards in the Willamette, and a vineyard that, were this Burgundy centuries ago, would have probably been deemed Grand Cru.” Given that these fabled Grand Crus took form over many centuries, one could easily say the Shea Vineyard deserves just as much admiration—if not more!—for what’s been accomplished since the first vine was planted in 1989.


Now, top labels from Oregon, California, and Washington flock to this venerated Willamette Valley site year-round in an attempt to purchase fruit. Many might say proprietor Dick Shea couldn’t have predicted this level of success 32 years ago but taste today’s 2017 from his on-property estate, Shea Wine Cellars, and it’s immediately evident he’s been masterminding this saga since day one. To be clear, this isn’t a lean and crunchy Oregon Pinot Noir but rather a beautifully lush, polished, dark-fruited showpiece not unlike the prestigious Grand Crus of Domaine Gros Frère. These wines have been called “cult classics” for a reason...



Not many people have the ability to relocate to the Willamette Valley’s Yamhill-Carlton District and purchase a sprawling forested farm, but then again, not many people worked on Wall Street for a quarter-century! That was proprietor Dick Shea’s vocation until the late 1980s when he and his wife Deirdre snapped up a property with a dream to grow Pinot Noir. After their first few harvests, it became abundantly clear there was immense potential in this micro-climate, so Dick decided to amend his original goal in 1996 to include winemaking. 


While Dick would never utter the words himself, it’s hard to argue against Shea Vineyard churning out some of America’s finest, high-in-demand Pinot Noir. Soils here are marine sediment over fractured sandstone that allows for quick drainage and the vines’ abundant sun exposure produces wonderfully ripe, concentrated clusters that result in deeply polished Pinot Noir bottlings. That’s only half of the formula though: The Shea family’s fastidious dedication to sustainable, eco-conscious farming completes these wines. They have a full-time, 14-person vineyard management crew to touch each of their 200,000 vines no less than 15 times each year.  


Roughly 20% of each harvest is reserved for production at Shea Wine Cellars and today’s 2017 Estate Pinot Noir marries all of their vineyard blocks. The grapes were harvested over two weeks and after fermentation, the resulting wine aged in French barrels, 40% new, for just under one year. 


Now nearing three full years of additional maturation in bottle, Shea Wine Cellar’s 2017 Pinot Noir has entered a sensational drinking window. It spills out lively, perfumed, and intoxicating aromas of lush black raspberry, wild strawberry coulis, blue plum, black cherries, clove, vanilla bean, star anise, crushed earth, damp rose, candied violet, pomegranate oil, and black tea. This is a lush, darker-fruited Pinot with impressive heft and concentration. Each luxuriant layer boasts a tremendously ripe core of pure berry fruit, oak spice, and crushed minerals that emphasize Shea’s signature character. Drink in large Burgundy stems after a 30-minute decant and enjoy through 2027. Although fantastic now, I think it’ll be in peak form this time next year so do hold back a few bottles. Cheers!




Shea Wine Cellars, Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon 2017 - SommSelect

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionOregon
  • Sub-RegionWillamette Valley
  • SoilMarine Sediment & Sandstone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPinot Noir
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 40% New

  • CountryUnited States
  • RegionOregon
  • Sub-RegionWillamette Valley
  • SoilMarine Sediment & Sandstone
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPinot Noir
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakFrench Barrels, 40% New
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareLarge Burgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2027
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingPan-Seared Duck w/ Blueberry Sauce