Shea Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir
Shea Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

Shea Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

Oregon, United States 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$49.00

Shea Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

They may fly under the radar, their bottles may be absent from hip Insta profiles or splashy wine lists, but ask anyone who really knows the Willamette Valley, and they’ll tell you: Shea Vineyards is legendary. This property could well be the mecca of Oregon Pinot, as it’s the fruit source for some of the region’s most iconic wines. Indeed, The Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil calls it “a vineyard that, were this Burgundy centuries ago, would have probably been deemed Grand Cru.” Such pedigree has made Shea a regular SommSelect feature in recent years, and today we bring you the most thrilling bottle we’ve tasted yet from them, their 2019 Estate Pinot Noir. With a few years of age, it’s unfurled into a Gevrey-esque beauty that makes crystal clear the exquisite majesty of Shea. And at less than $50 – the going rate for good Bourgogne Rouge – it’s one of the finest Pinot values we’ll offer this year. Burgundy lovers and Willamette devotées alike, there’s no reason not to go deep on this one!

When Dick Shea first planted vineyards in 1980, he didn’t know he was establishing what would become some of the most coveted Pinot Noir in Oregon. Back then it was just an unexplored corner of the Willamette known as Yamhill with some intriguing ancient marine soils and a uniquely warm microclimate. Quickly, though, Dick and his wife Deirdre garnered a reputation for their impeccable farming. Pioneering Willamette wineries like St. Innocent and Beaux Freres began buying their fruit and producing benchmark bottles from it. It was only in 1996 that Dick decided to enter the winemaking game, and although the Sheas’ estate wines have become benchmarks in their own right, farming remains Dick’s passion. To this day, he sells 80% of his fruit to a who’s who of the Valley’s best producers, including Ken Wright, Boedecker, and Antica Terra. 

Shea Vineyards is sprawling, easier to think of as three incredible sites under one banner, and the 2019 estate bottling is a blend of all three. The East Hill block is home to the estate’s oldest vines, a southeast facing slope where slightly higher elevations and poor topsoil lead to later-ripening, more structured fruit. Ample fruit aromatics and lush texture come from the Pinot at West Hill, a rolling, fully south-facing vineyard that tends to get harvested first and provides the depth and complexity of Shea’s most prized bottles. And then there’s Third Hill, a windy, basalt-laden block where younger vines lend lift, spice, and acid. Together, the three components combine for one of the most totally complete Pinots we’ve had in recent memory. 

Give the 2019 Shea the full Grand Cru treatment: Serve in a big Burgundy bowl and decant for about 30 minutes. It pours a lucid ruby with purple edges, the nose immediately announcing itself with a single swirl. Bright red and purple fruits like Bing cherry, purple plum, pomegranate, blackberry, and redcurrants waft atop a baseline of sandalwood, fresh earth, tobacco, and baking spice. Texturally it’s ample and lush, leaning into those dark fruits and floral tones, but with a fantastically savory edge and sandy tannins leading to a soft, luxuriant finish. A near-perfect balance between savor and fruit, it’s as poised and detailed as anything we’ve come across in the Willamette. And it’s just starting to really unveil itself; with a few more years in your cellar it’ll be truly transcendent. Pinot lovers, this is not to be missed!

Shea Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

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