TN: 2008 Oregon Dundee Hilltop: Eyrie Daphne vs. White Rose Vineyard


Recent Forum posts here about how Oregon wines age made me pull these two bottles for a comparison I had been saving for a while. These two wines are from adjacent vineyards at the crest of the southern knob of the Dundee Hills at 800-870 feet. Maybe the highest altitude of at least the older Oregon pinot vineyards (until people have recently started planting the slightly higher slopes of Eola Amity), and thus better in warmer vintages. 2008 was average at the time but not as warm as more recent vintages (see Marcus Goodfellow’s comments separately) so comparisons in 2012, 2014, etc are also on my agenda. Daphne is a tiny plot planted in the 1970’s that produces only 100-150 cases. White Rose is the other vineyard on the crest of the hills. It is larger, producing about 400 cases in 2008. But because they are immediately adjacent and I buy both producers, a direct comparison had been something I’ve been saving.

  • 2008 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Daphne Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    A delightful example of aged Dundee Hills pinot noir. Aromas of dark cherries and sous bois. Flavors included the above plus a little maraschino cherry and leather capped by a long finish. A little thin though and unlikely to gain complexity. Completely integrated tannins. Just a delightful example of the Dundee Hills and a reminder of how well Eyrie’s wines age. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 White Rose Estate Pinot Noir Sovarae White Rose Vineyard - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Rich and oaky. I can see the similarity of terroir here but the winemaking is very different. The winemaker’s notes say: “Our objective … is to make [this] wine … with more masculine character. We selected barrels with greater weight, structure and power. In order to achieve the desired effect, we included more barrels from the pressings” and noted that they used 100% new French oak. I do not doubt that was true and, in hindsight, would have liked to have tasted their regular White Rose site bottlings next to the Daphne. This had slightly more complexity buried in there - more mushroom, forest floor, and darker cherries to the Daphne’s Maraschinos. But the oak was at the forefront and will probably not fade before the rest of the wine does. (88 pts.)

Was glad I did this as it highlighted the differences in winemaking. Despite my preference for the Daphne, both wines were in good condition and show how well Oregon pinot can age in better vintages. Both were going strong and would drink well until the 20-yr point.
Posted from CellarTracker

Eyrie has been killing it with their Daphne vineyard. Subsequent vintages are even better than the '08, esp. '16.

Many wineries overshot on ripeness in '08. Really too bad, because the material was there, and winemakers with a deft hand made great wine.

Thanks for these notes.

That is odd about the White Rose. The winery’s tech sheet says only 14% new oak barrels. So then I thought perhaps it could be the whole cluster (they famously often use 100% whole cluster on many/most cuvées) but this cuvée only saw 20% whole cluster. I can only surmise that the fruit has faded in the background over the course of time? See:

Cheers, David

I’m not a winemaker, but in another thread Marcus commented on alcohol levels can affect how much oak comes through in a wine:
“We don’t connect new oak to alcohol levels but alcohol is an extractant and 12.5% can hold way more oak than 14.0%. Ditto stems, where the bittering aspect of stems counterbalances the sweetness of new oak and higher percentages of whole cluster…” Full comments from Marcus

So maybe the higher ABV (almost 14%) managed to extract a lot more of that 14% new oak than one would usually expect?

Jesus Guillén (RIP) took over as head winemaker at White Rose in 2008. I think he completely changed the winemaking style after this, with greater stem inclusion, less new oak, and perhaps less ripe fruit. I don’t remember exactly when the style change occurred, but for me it was a positive.

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That’s a good point. I was also thinking after a wrote my note that there is no mention in the winemaking notes about the age of the remaining barrels. If they were dominated by once- or twice-filled barrels, this will provide loads of oak phenolics. A barrel is only considered “neutral” after 4 years, min.

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I would think that has a lot to do with it, especially in a comparison with Eyrie’s Daphne vineyard. Jason Lett rarely makes high alcohol wines, and Eyrie barrels are generally very, very neutral. As David pointed out 1 and 2 fill barriques often still retain significant impact on the wines. However, it’s quite remarkable to see how much lower that impact is at 12-13.0% vs. 13-14.0%.

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David’s point is quite interesting and something I never considered. Even if you have a wine with minimal new oak, if there’s a large percentage of 1st and 2nd fill barrels paired with a higher ABV, the oak profile is going to come through much more vs. a lower ABV wine.

The interaction between oak treatment and ABV is not something I had considered much before when looking at a wine’s tech sheet for information. In retrospect, it sounds painfully obvious that all those attributes interact together and should be viewed as a whole rather than simply independent individual components. In hindsight those factor help explain why in the past I’ve tasted wines with very noticeable oak on them, yet the noted new oak is minimal.

White Rose used to have Willamette Valley Cheese with their tastings on Sundays when we lived there. Many a bottle bought due to the smoked gouda. My observations were the same in that many of the bottles the fruit faded faster than other producers we purchased in the same time frame.

Am I understanding correctly there is a correlation between higher ABV and the more noticeable new oak is in wine?

To oversimplify it: as wine is being aged (or fermented) in oak, the wine is pulling a lot of the flavour compounds of the wood into the wine (tannings, vanillin, sugars, etc). Since alcohol is an extraction, the higher the ABV (or the more alcohol you have in the solution), the faster or more aggressively that extraction will happen. So for example, if you have two wines both aged in new barrels for 18 months, but with different ABVs, all other things equal, the one with the lower ABV will have extracted less of the oak compounds from the barrel relative to the higher ABV wine.

Other things like time spent in barrel, varietal characteristics, stem inclusion, maceration times, barrel size, level of char, and others play a role in it as well. But all other things equal, the higher the ABV, the more oak compounds you’re extracting as the wine stays in contact with the barrel

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Sorry to make this even more complicated, but while David noted that used barrels still impact the wine until several years of use, and I definitely believe that lower alcohols extract less from barrels, neither of us mentioned added tannins. There are a large number of powdered tannins that people can add these days, including both cellaring tannins and finishing tannins. I believe in being knowledgeable about options, and we trialed tannins for several years, and most powdered finishing tannins, IMO, seemed to feel like new wood.

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Very interesting. Didn’t know about powdered tannins

Is there a resulting difference in structure between cellaring and finishing tannins?

And why would one chose add in powdered tannins vs. extracting them the traditional ways (maceration, stems, barrel tannins, etc)? Is it just a matter of cost and a greater sense of control over the end result tannins?

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I didn’t find the differences in cellaring or finishing tannins to be that great. Finishing tannins were a bit more obvious.

And my guess is that your rationale is spot on. The math is a bit like this:

New 500L puncheon is 1500ish €

I buy a used barrel from DuMOL(they use my favorite coopers and take great care of the barrels [thumbs-up.gif] ) for $250. 2.2 barrels is $550. I add 10-25g finishing tannin and then my wine looks like I bought the 1500 euro puncheon. Savings of $1200-1400 depending upon conversion.

This is where you determine what your true self is as a winemaker. The money is obvious, the traditional route requires more investment, more work, and has greater risk(tannins+stainless tank=no brett or probably other spoilage organisms).

I won’t say it was easy for me, but in the end I prefer tradition. I do think it makes a better wine, and one shouldn’t underestimate the attraction of doing what someone did successfully 1000 years ago.


Thanks for the info, Marcus.

I’ve always recognized higher ABV typically means more new oak was used and more tannic or the vanilla that pick up strongly in new wood. Just hadn’t realized the direct correlation but it makes sense.

I don’t have anything to add to the discussion of barrels and tannins. Nor am I familiar with the specific wines that started this discussion. But I do want to note that this thread represents (for this geek) everything that is great about Wine Berserkers – start with a thoughtful tasting comparison, and then unspool a revealing discussion about how basic winemaking choices affect what is in the bottle (without any showing off). Thanks.