Oregon really is America's Burgundy. Not only is the Pinot Noir the best in the New World, but the state is filled with small family wineries where the stories behind the wineries are almost as intriguing as the flavors and aromas of the wines. Craig and Claudia Broadley were living in Berkeley, California in the 1970s, working for Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the City Lights Bookstore. A restaurant opened up the street. The restaurant was Alice Waters' Chez Panisse. The entrees were about $5 and the wine list was as inventive as the cuisine.
The Broadleys couldn't keep themselves away from Chez Panisse and their passion for elegant wine--best suited to the bright, sharp flavors and aromas of the food at Chez Panisse--quickly led them to wines of Burgundy.
By 1980, the Broadleys had caught the wine bug, and a couple of years later, they moved to the Willamette Valley where a handful of winemakers had made some reasonably good Pinot Noirs. Broadley Vineyards was founded 1982 on a shoestring budget. Land was dirt cheap (no longer), and energy was as high as a kite (nothing has changed). Little by little, the Broadleys managed to plant 30 acres of vines, continually experimenting with exposure, soil types and clones, developing one of the most coveted sources of Pinot Noir in Oregon.Throughout the entire Willamette Valley, a warm and dry growing season with little precipitation resulted in a harvest that offers a rare combination of robust yields and great quality. Craig Broadley and his fellow Oregonian Pinot Noir producers have described the 2006 vintage as "One of the best Oregon has seen." Coming on the heels of superb vintages like 2002 and 2004, that's hardly faint praise.
Broadley's 30 acres of vineyards sit at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, one of the warmest growing spots in this cool microclimate. The vineyards are largely planted on eastern facing slopes to protect the vines from storms that typically come from the southwest, while also helping to keep the fruit from becoming overripe in unusually warm years. This planting paid great dividends in 2006, and the fruit brought in for this Pinot Noir Estate bottling came in at peak ripeness, while preserving fine natural acidity.
The Broadley's Reserve bottling (their first ever), is a magnificent effort. It is a best barrel selection culled from among all the Broadley's holdings--their own estate vineyards, plus a few barrels from a short list of cutting edge Oregon farms--Lemelson, Shea, and Stoller. The wine has a rich, sweet middle palate and is delicious now but will develop grace and complexity over the next 3-5 years. Drink this Pinot now for its primary fruit freshness, and enjoy it with fresh goat cheese or grilled chicken with rosemary.