Founded a quarter century ago by Paul and Eileen Gerrie, Cristom Vineyards started as a collaboration between an engineer and a biochemist. After they founded the winery Steve Doerner was hired and became the first established California winemaker to leave the Golden State to make wine wines in Oregon. Doerner had been working at the famous Calera winery within California’s central coast under Josh Jenson for the previous 15 years. Today, second generation winegrower and now owner Tom Gerrie leads Doerner and team in producing elegant and dynamic wines that focus on the Pinot Noir grape. The winemaking philosophy at Cristom, begins with respect for the land and estate vines. They’re proud to be Certified Sustainable by Low Input Viticulture & Enology, both in the winery which they run responsibly, and in their fields, that are thoughtfully and meticulously farmed with a focus on quality. With minimal intervention during the winemaking process, Tom, Steve and team strive to craft wines that are an honest recording of both the vineyard and the vintage, producing the ultimate expressions of the stellar fruit we’re fortunate enough to work with.
A defining feature of Cristom Pinots is that the winery specializes in blends as well as single vineyard Pinot Noir. The most well known of which is their basic Pinot Noir offering, the Mt. Jefferson Cuvee which we proudly carry here at Plaza Liquor. The Mt. Jefferson is a cuvee incorporating grapes from up to ten different vineyards expertly blended by winemaker Steve Doerner. The great thing about the Mt. Jefferson is that instead of conveying a specific vineyard terroir the wine demonstrates the rich diversity evident in the Willamette Valley. Cristom also produces four Estate Pinot Noirs – Eileen, Jessie, Louise and Marjorie, named for Gerrie family matriarchs – each possess natural variances in soil, elevation and exposition. We currently carry The Jessie Vineyard Pinot from Eola-Amity Hills here at Plaza Liquor.
Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvee 2013 – $29.99 per bottle
Cristom Pinot Gris Estate 2015 – $18.99 per bottle
The Cristom Pinot Gris is fermented in stainless steel tanks and does not spend any time in oak barrels. It has a certain creaminess that comes from the several months that the wine spends on it lees. Typically, the wine has bright citrus-blossom aromas that range from tangerine zest to lime blossom. Apple, pear and melon are the fruit flavors that are often noted on the palate. This is a bright and lively wine that offers a broad flavor profile. It has a very natural affinity with food.
92 points- The Pinot File
“Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of citrus, spiced pear, honey, vanilla and flint. Slightly viscous on the palate, with appealing flavors of pear, apple, lime and honeydew melon. Bright, clean and very Alsatian in character. I never get particularly excited about Pinot Gris, but this one piqued my interest.”
Cristom Pinot Noir Jessie Vineyard 2014 – $64.99 per bottle
Jessie Vineyard tends to produce Pinot Noirs that you can recognize by a savory aroma that often calls to mind rare-beef. It also tends to have a very fresh and appealing scent of minerality, along with some higher tone lavender—purple flower notes. On the palate, Jessie tends towards a full mouth-feel and a deeper—darker—rounder impression. You can find a certain ‘nervosity’ in this wine that describes some part of the tension between the ripe fruit and the structure of the wine.
93 points – Rusty Gaffney M.D., The Prince of Pinot
“Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas are varied and include cherry, rose petal, spice, earth and oak. Noticeable vigor in a mid weight styled wine with flavors of cherry, raspberry, spice and floral goodness. A little more masculine and “grounded” than the Marjorie with a little more structural tannins and perhaps a little less exuberant. The texture is refined and polished and there is noticeable intensity on the finish.”
Willamette Valley Oregon –
the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a Mediterranean climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and winter.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.
Pinot Noir –
Pinot Noir is a capricious grape, thin skinned and temperamental it has been nicknamed “The Heartbreak Grape”. It is one of the oldest cultivated grapes on the planet and is well known to be genetically unstable and prone to mutation. Different vines planted in different places produce wines that taste completely different. Vineyards planted within yards of one another can produce wines with completely different personalities. Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery.
Burgundy, France is known to be the home of Pinot Noir and has been grown there for hundreds of years, it has only been growing in Oregon within the last 60 years. This means that growing the grape in the Willamette Valley means not knowing the “terroir” as they do in Burgundy at a vineyard like the famous Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. The vines in the Willamette valley have not had as much time to adapt to growing conditions and winemakers and vineyard teams are still experimenting.
Pinot Noir often displays red fruit characteristics, think strawberry, raspberry and cherry. Typically, it is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and when the grape is grown properly has a dynamic balance of acidity. With age it can develop alluring and distinct characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot Gris –
Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio) is born out of a mutation of Pinot noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France’s Alsace and Oregon’s Willamette Valley produce some of the world’s most well-regarded Pinot gris wine. California produces both styles with success.