2009 Olson Ogden Single-Vineyard Sampler 6-Pack
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John Ogden and Tim Olson "Play Ball"

We call it 'playing ball.' Over the last four years, we've introduced almost two dozen excellent new wineries to WineAccess members. Most have been tiny, making less than 2,000 cases per year. Many have gone on to stardom, garnering big scores from Parker and Tanzer, putting out coastal reds that never see the light of day on retail shelves.

Most notable among that group are Arnot-Roberts, the brainchild of Nathan Roberts and Duncan Meyers. The duo's single-vineyard Syrahs and Cabernets are now some of the most coveted bottles on Sonoma Coast. Then there was John Raytek. Our brief cameo with John's Pinot Noir had to be taken down after just a few hours of airtime when we sold our entire allocation. Now Raytek's Ceritas is garnering a steady diet of 94pt scores from The Wine Advocate. If you're interested -- get in line!

But even in these cases, when we negotiated those first offers, they came with a tacit understanding with the winemakers. As quantities were always limited and the brands largely unknown, we agreed to tell each winery's story to over 150,000 WineAccess members -- as long as the producers 'played ball.'

Today, on the heels a bevy of critical raves, it's time for Olson Ogden to step up to the plate!

Ever since winemaker Tim Olson joined forces with partner, John Ogden, the path was clear. Taking a page out of the Arnot-Roberts handbook, Olson Ogden largely focused their talents on two red varieties. As Olson scoured the coast identifying some of the most coveted rows on the coast, Ogden secured grape contracts -- many for less than three tons of fruit per parcel.

Olson's sources read like the Who's Who of coastal winegrowing -- Stuart Bewley's world class Alder Springs (also a major supplier of Arnot-Roberts), Martin Mochizuki's Manchester Ridge, set in the coolest quadrant of wind strewn Mendocino, and George Unti's Syrah jewel in torrid Dry Creek.

For several years, Olson had been turning out beautiful, crushed red fruit Pinot Noirs and full-throttle, ultra-concentrated Syrahs, but like most young wineries, the partners found it challenging to attract the attention of the most revered Pinot Noir critic in the world. With the release of a stunning lineup of 2009s -- a vintage that most out here believe to be the finest of its decade -- Ogden edged his way into Stephen Tanzer's tasting room. Once there, The International Wine Cellar, famous for its stinginess at the scorer's table, let loose with a 92pt trifecta.

Mochizuki's Manchester Ridge is the crown jewel of Mendocino Ridge, a spectacular 30-acre planting perched 2,000 feet in elevation, high above the coastal fog line. In the marvelously cool summer of 2009, the clusters matured incrementally under largely turquoise skies, delivering pristine small berry clusters to Olson's crusher. The 2009 Olson Ogden Manchester Ridge Pinot Noir is brilliant ruby in color, with flashy floral aromas of crushed red fruit and underbrush. Rich and juicy on the attack, tightly wound, give this one an hour in a carafe before serving. Handsome dividends will be paid to the patient.

Few vineyard properties on the coast attract as many superstar winemakers as Stuart Bewley's awe-inspiring Alder Springs. With a client list that includes Patz and Hall, Arnot-Roberts, Rhys, Morgan Peterson's Bedrock and Jason Kesner (the #2 over at Kistler), Olson and Ogden would have to wait their turn. Once his time came, Olson would make no mistakes.

The 2009 Olson Ogden Alder Springs Pinot Noir is masterful. Farmed to just 1.5 tons to the acre, at the October harvest, the Pinot Noir reached perfect phenolic maturity, clusters sporting BB-sized berries. Deeper ruby to the edge with explosive aromas of raspberry and black cherry, almost smokey and piercing. The attack is gorgeous mix of crushed red fruit preserves, sweet spice, all buttressed by fine, Burgundian acidity.

Olson's gem drawn off of George Unti's Dry Creek stronghold, this would be one of the favorite Syrahs of the superb 2009 campaign. Glass-staining purple-black to the rim with flashing aromas of blackberry, sweet cherry and violets, laced with sweet spice. The attack is massive yet finally honed, packed with a lavish gumbo of black fruits and blueberry preserves, framed by riveting high-toned intensity.

By the time the dust settled, the International Wine Cellar would have plenty of company at the scorers' table. The Pinot Report, Connoisseurs' Guide, PinotFile, The Wine Enthusiast, and Jeb Dunnuck's Rhone Report all weighed in as Tanzer did, lobbing on a load of 90+ point scores.

With total production of each cuvee around six barrels, just one -- or 25 cases -- would be offered to WineAccess. Despite the critical avalanche, we remained steadfast as Olson Ogden kicked dirt in the batter's box. It took time, but finally, Ogden agreed to our terms and asked WineAccess to spread the word

Tasting Notes

2009 Pinot Noir Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino County
"Vivid red. A heady, powerfully scented bouquet evokes red and dark berry preserves, cola, potpourri and woodsmoke. Offers an array of deep red and dark berry flavors braced by tangy acidity, which adds back end lift. The floral and dark fruit qualities linger on a very long, sappy and focused finish. This wine, which shows more sheer power than the Manchester Ridge bottling, has the depth of fruit and structure to age."
92 points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

"Medium-deep ruby color; closed, tight aromas at first that open up to black cherry and forest floor notes; deep, tight black cherry flavors with a dusty, mineral note; some earthy notes, a bit of oak and tannin; good structure and balance; long finish. Deep and earthy, this Pinot definitely needs at least an hour to open up. It's definitely built for aging, so be patient. Pair with roasted or grilled meats"
92 points - The Pinot Report

2009 Pinot Noir Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino
"Bright red. Sexy, floral-accented aromas of redcurrant, raspberry and cherry, with rooty sassafras and allspice nuances adding complexity. Juicy, penetrating red fruit flavors take a deeper turn with air, picking up notes of star anise and violet. Clings impressively on the energetic finish, which features notes of candied flowers and bitter cherry."
92 points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

"Olson Ogden hits the mark once again with this deep and expressive youngster, and the wine's combination of energy, precise fruit and deft oak make it deserving of serious attention. It is moderately full-bodied and slightly supple in feel with just the right measure of acidity for fine balance, and it is as long and lively at the finish. It is so well-crafted that it might tempt drinking now, but we recommend at least a few years of patience so it can reach its best."
92 points - Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

2009 Olson Ogden Wines Syrah Unti Vineyard Dry Creek Valley
"Opaque purple. Sexy, intensely perfumed bouquet evokes candied dark berries and violet, with smoky oak and Indian spice nuances building with air. Stains the palate with intense blackcurrant and mulberry flavors lifted by notes of cracked pepper and allspice. Shows impressive intensity on the finish, which repeats the violet and spice notes."
92 points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

"Starting out with intense, highly concentrated aromas of spices and blackberries that are about as deeply filled as Syrah can get without going over the top, this beautifully balanced, very well-crafted wine shows its true colors once in the mouth and offers up long-lasting flavors that are keenly focused on precise Syrah fruit. Firm without being edgy, and, deserving at least three or four years in the cellar, this incredibly involving wine has all the signs of a bottling that will combine power with sophistication as the years go by."
96 points - Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine


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