In the IWC's review of 2002 Oregon Pinots, one expert notes that the state's top winemakers "are now consistently producing wines that can stand up to examples from anywhere"; and the article concludes with the caveat that, "despite some breathless 'vintage of the century' proclamations, 2002 has turned out to be merely outstanding." After a summer of warm, sunny days, rain arrived toward the end of September, and many producers panicked and harvested.
Le Cadeau's Tom Mortimer was one of the patient ones who didn't rush to harvest. After picking some of his grapes on September 27, he waited, the fine, sunny weather returned, and he was able to harvest the bulk of his fruit in early October. Tom's reward was superb, fully ripe berries which he sorted and turned over to Isabelle Dutarte, Le Cadeau's French winemaker.
Tom affectionately refers to Le Cadeau as "the rockiest vineyard in Oregon"--and he just may be right. When Tom and his wife, Deb, purchased the south-facing parcel on the tip of Parrett Mountain in the late 1990s, they needed to hire a team of track-hoes, D-8 Cats, and other gear to clear the 10-acre estate vineyard. And it still took two years!
Once cleared, this mountain vineyard proved to be ideal for Pinot vines. Its rocky volcanic soil enhances drainage, moderates the temperature, and reduces vine vigor; this constellation of factors tends to produce small clusters of tiny berries that pack tremendous intensity. Each of the 13,000 Pinot Noir plants is individually pruned and trained for vine balance and consistent ripening. What's more, vineyard workers hand-pluck the leaves on only the east side of the vine canopy so that the cool morning sun can ripen the fruit while the west-facing leaves shade the fruit from the hot afternoon sun.
Le Cadeau produced just 465 cases of the 2002 Pinot (the estate's first vintage), and when we spoke with Tom about it, he explained that, compared to more fruit-forward California Pinots, his Pinot "is more of a traditional Burgundy. The hallmark of this wine, is its balance. It has a nice acidity."
The 2002 Le Cadeau Pinot Noir is dark-ruby colored; very lightly filtered, it is elegantly translucent in the glass. This Pinot offers aromas of black fruits and red raspberry, followed by initial flavors of black cherry and dried red cherry. Spices--clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and anise--appear on the mid-palate. The wine finishes with soft vanilla (from 30% new French oak) mingled with the earthiness that is characteristic of the vineyard site. Drink now-2010.