Thomas Oregon pinot tasting in the vineyard

Last evening, my wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to taste a vertical of John Thomas’ Dundee Hills pinots, complements of fellow boarder Ed Fuss, owner and winemaker of Three Angels Vineyard, in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills. We were joined by several others, including another boarder Andy Steinman and his wife Sue. What a glorious setting on a beautiful Oregon summer evening in the heart of the vineyard with Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson off in the distance. I had had an occasional bottle of Thomas and was quite anxious to sample multiple vintages. All wines were from Ed’s cellar, purchased on release. We tasted vintages 1998-2007 unblind and oldest to youngest in flights of three. The wines were opened one hour prior to tasting tasting the first flight.

Flight 1
1998 - Dark core with brick edge. Wine has developed secondary notes with spice and sous bois. It lacked a bit in the middle to me with integrated tannins and some acidity on the finish. There is not a lot of fruit evident and the wine seems to have seen its peak.

1999 - It was definitely the lightest colored wine of the tasting. It appeared quite advanced with and orange brick color. Initially it had some interesting aromatics with the typical Thomas spice and candy red fruits, but seemed to fade fast, lacking in the middle. Definitely drink up. I had this wine earlier this summer and in my opinion this bottle was inferior, so there appears to be some bottle variation in these wines.

2000 - Darkest of the flight. General comments of the group, that one would have picked this as the 99 in a blind tasting. Not so however. Best wine of the flight. Nice spice, ? cinnamon and red fruit nose. Excellent mid-palate, balance and finish. This wine still has some life in it.

Flight 2
2001 - Medium color with slight bricking on the rim. Spice and mocha notes. Nice middle and finish.

2002 - Expectations were high on this wine. Typical spice and red fruits on the nose. A bit out of balance to me. Fairly nice finish with acid a bit prominent. Nice wine but did not deliver.

2003 - Lightest color of the flight with bricking on the edge. Some ripeness as expected from the vintage, but not overly so. Some caramel and cinnamon on the nose. Tannins well integrated. Medium body and nice length. Not a lot of complexity but enjoyable.

Flight 3
2004 - Dark ruby color. Nice aromatics of red fruits, honey and spice ( and everything nice) . This wine seemed to have the most life with a good solid acid backbone. Good wine to cellar for a few more years.

2005 - Slightly lighter color than the 04. Big, more rustic with tannins more evident than most of the other wines. Long on the palate. Somewhat 4-square to me and not sure how this wine is going to age.

Flight 4
2006 - Dark ruby. Typical 06 characteristics. Somewhat ripe, mocha, honey, candy red fruits on the nose. Again, a bit lacking balance in the middle. Soft tannins and sweet finish. Personally, I think it could use a bit more acidity. I would drink this now and not age for any length of time.

2007 - Medium ruby. Some herbal unripe qualities, but not unpleasant. Medium body with good acidity. This wine might surprise like a lot of 07’s and improve with some time.

So all in all, a very nice lineup of wines and wonderful to meet new friends. I must say, I was a bit disappointed in the older wines. I had thought that they might age a bit better. I know that Andy has had some older vintages, that have showed quite well. He might want to comment. All the wines were much better with food as one might expect. Great beef kabobs Ed. And again thanks Ed for your great hospitality in a such a spectacular setting.

Where’s the envy/brooding smilie? Thoroughly enjoyed the 00 taste at IPNC. Thanks for the data points on several vintages.


This was a totally fantastic evening; food, wine, and company.

My viewpoint mirrors Roger’s above with the following comments:

1999 - This is my third experience with it in the last 18 months or so and it really has not shown as well as other vintages both preceeding and following.

2000 - I was again really pleased with this bottling as were others. A really beautiful, complete wine that continues to be a standout for me. Bigger picture the reputation of Oregon '00 is mixed but I have had really good experiences with a range of producers and styles from this vintage.

2002 - There was nothing wrong with it but based on the vintage hype I expected something “profound”. I am deep on this bottling and look forward to seeing if this was reflective or just an off bottle/night for this bottling.

2003 - Much better than I anticipated based on the vintage character.

I can’t emphasize enough what a lovely evening this was for Sue and myself. A beautiful setting, great wines, great food (awesome Pasta Salad thanks to Roger’s charming Wife!!) and really great people.

Ed Fus is truly a wonderful host.

Richard…should have been there!!!

What a great evening! Meeting 'zerkers Andy & Susan and Roger & Diane, introducing my other friends the Case gang & Karen/Michael to this group, and of course, the Thomas line-up. The weather, view, and stars cooperated and the wines did not dissapoint (none flawed, no bad/corked bottles).

To add to the Roger’s detailed notes and Andy’s contributions, I offer the following:
on the '98, this bottle lacked verve. for me, it was the most disappointing bottle of the night.
on the '00, I’ve always loved this wine. I think its the restrained Thomas style in bigger years that I appreciate most.
on the '02, I remember the fruit in this wine to be more lively. This bottle was not like that.
on the '03, among the line up, I liked this wine more than I thought I did.
on the '05, probably my least preferred wine of the night.
on the '07, this is a wine for 10 years from now. It will be fabulous then.

General broad subjective statements: the style is incredibly consistent. Vintage shines through. Enters into the good drinking window around vintage year + 7. Oak lovers should stay away. Most profoundly, I’d buy each wine again.

Some additional info on % abv (as per labels)
'98 = 13
'99 = 13
'00 = 13
'01 = 13
'02 = 13
'03 = 13.6
'04 = 13.4
'05 = 13.4
'06 = 13.6
'07 = 13.2

Once again, thank you Roger & Andy for making it a great night. Roger, in my opinion, Diane should trademark that pasta salad recipe! Also, thank you for the kind words on our vineyard. We love it there. Best, Ed

thanks for the notes. As you know and as I read in the notes, Thomas is not for everyone.

i had a '97 with Jay Mcdonald back in May (JT was supposed to join us but ended up working late) that was absolutely profound [my buddy Robert called it one of his wine epiphanies]. Not bad for a widely panned vintage (gives me hope for the '07)

i do agree as to bottle variation. hopefully your next experiences with these wines will be better.

Many thanks for the notes, Roger, Andy and Ed. Very interesting.

’98: I’ve had this once, about three years ago. Very similar impressions to the notes posted. At the time, I suspected that my bottle may have been slight cooked somewhere along the line; however, based on these notes, perhaps not.
’99: This showed very well at my 50th last fall.
’03: One of my favorite Oregon Pinots from this vintage.
’05: This has shown very well the two times that I have had it: once shortly after release and then again last fall at the Red Hills Provencial Dinner. Did this seem to be in a dumb phase right now? Hopefully it’s on track for good things.

Sounds like it was a fantastic evening.

DJ- I have been told that the 97 is outstanding. ( Andy may want to comment on that) Unfortunately, that was not included in this tasting. Maybe next year, we can do the entire lineup back to 88.

Greg- Yes, I think the 05 is just closed up and will awaken with time. I love that vintage in Oregon, and suspect that this wine will sometime shine.

Ed’s a really good guy. Wish I had been in the loop on something like that. Great night for sure. Thanks for the notes Roger.

Thanks for the additional input. Agree completely about the restraint of the '00 and also with your suggestion for the '07. In complete contrast to the '00, I found the '07 to be one of the most powerful Pinots of the vintage.


I totally agree regarding Thomas 1997. I had the 1997 from Magnum last Fall and it was absolutely beautiful/stunning. WOTN versus a rather distinguished crowd (Oregon & Burg,) at a going away party for a former Portalnd resident. I have never heard much positive about the vintage and yet…WOW!