Cristom Pinot Noir Butte MT
Great Falls, MT
Cristom Vineyards: 2007 Pinot Noir, Other New Releases, and Library Wines
The International Wine Review recently tasted Cristom Vineyard’s 2007 Pinot Noirs and a selection of library wines from 1994 to 2002. Our goal was to evaluate how the 2007 Pinots were evolving in the bottle and to gain some insight into the aging potential of Cristom’s Pinot Noirs. We also tasted Cristom’s new Pinot Gris and Syrah. Our tasting notes and ratings of these wines are presented below. Readers interested in learning more about Oregon Pinot Noir should consult the International Wine Review’s Report #16 Oregon Pinot Noir .
Cristom is one of Oregon’s finest producers of Pinot Noir. Over the past two decades, it has earned a well-deserved reputation for producing world-class vineyard-designated wines that rival the best wines of Burgundy and New Zealand. Established in 1992 by Paul Geary, a Pennsylvania businessman, Cristom wines have from the very beginning been crafted by the talented winemaker Steve Doerner (pictured right) who Paul Gerrie recruited shortly after purchasing the winery. A biochemist trained at the University of California, Davis, Steve Doerner was hired away from Josh Jensen’s Calera Wine Company and has been Cristom’s only winemaker.
Cristom today comprises 65 acres of eight distinct vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The original estate of 8 acres was known as Mirassou Cellars and was planted in the 1980s by a cousin of the San Jose-based Mirassou family. This estate, which was later renamed the Marjorie Vineyard, is planted with widely spaced low yielding Pinot Noir vines (less than 2 tons per acre) of the Pommard, Wadensvil and Dijon clones. The other newer Pinot Noir vineyards named Louise (9.5 acres), Jessie (11.5 acres) and Eileen (15.25 acres) were planted beginning in 1993, 1994 and 1997, respectively, and are between 250 and 700 ft elevation. They are vertically trellised, dry farmed, densely planted and include both UCD and Dijon clones. Cristom’s other vineyards are Germaine (.5 acres) planted with Chardonnay, Emilia (5 acres) planted with Pinot Gris, and two smaller ones planted with Viognier and Syrah. Cristom’s vineyards have been managed by Mark Feltz, who like Steve Doerner, has been at Cristom from the beginning.
Pinot Noir winemaking at Cristom follows Burgundian methods with minimal handling. Steve Doerner uses small open top fermenters (1-7 tons) and 40-50% whole clusters. Fermentation usually starts naturally with resident yeast. The wines are aged for 17 to18 months in Burgundian barrels, up to 60% new, and then lightly fined and bottled unfiltered. The 2007 vintage was a challenging one due to the rains which fell during harvest. Many of the wines appeared less ripe than normal with lots of acidity and lacking flavor concentration—especially compared to the ripe and lush 2006 vintage. Nonetheless, some winemakers like Steve Doerner made the most of the 2007 vintage, which our notes show was a successful one for Cri...