Sonria Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir Sampler 6-Pack
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Shea Vineyards Hollerin' M Shea Vineyard Block 28

In 2005, Keith Emerson was showing off his Vineyard 29 Cabernets at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. If you've never attended, here's the scoop: Each June, Aspen draws every big name in the wine biz to its snowcapped peaks. If your pockets are deep, bring your Platinum Amex. Check into Little Nell, then take part in one of the greatest 4-day parties of your life.

At the grand tasting, the skies were sparkling blue against the backdrop of snowcapped Rockies. Emerson left an understudy to man his booth, grabbed a stem and went on the prowl. "I must have tasted three hundred wines during the festival," Keith told us. "But the one everyone was talking about was a Pinot Noir made by Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non. Manfred's booth was mobbed. However, the 2002 Hollerin' M Shea Pinot Noir was well worth the wait."

Sine Qua Non is one of the greatest cult brands America has ever known, drawing a steady stream of high-90 scores from Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer. The 2002 Hollerin' M was drawn off Dick Shea's vineyard oasis in Yamhill-Carlton. Brilliant ruby to the rim, rich and juicy, yet sweetly restrained. The mix of crushed red fruits, black tea and forest floor were far more reminiscent of Grand Cru Burgundy than anything American. Robert Parker would soon call the highest rated Oregon Pinot Noir in Wine Advocate history "a great hedonistic treat for all the senses … absolutely mind blowing," then punctuate his praise with a 96-point rating.

Released at $72/bottle, the 2002 Hollerin' M now draws upwards of $500/bottle at auction!

Emerson is generally a calm, reserved guy, but when he returned to St. Helena on Sunday night, he was jittery and strangely obsessive. It took a few days to muster up the courage, but on Wednesday Keith called Shea Vineyards and asked if he might buy a few tons of Pinot Noir from the same block as Manfred Krankl's Hollerin' M. The voice on the other end of the line was courteous, but wasted no time cutting to the chase. The waiting list for Shea Pinot Noir was already twenty winemakers long. As to Krankl's Block 28, every available cluster was reserved for Sine Qua Non. Maybe in Keith's next life.

By spring 2009, Emerson had all but forgotten the 2005 Aspen Food and Wine Festival. His Napa Valley wines, all crafted at the side of Philippe Melka (Parker's recently named #1 Winemaker in America), were harvesting high praise and demand. Late one morning, he came out of the Vineyard 29 cellar where AT&T service is poor (where is it good?) and saw a missed call from a number that began with 503. He didn't recognize the area code nor the 7-digit number that followed. Curious, he called back. Dick Shea answered.

"Your name's on my waiting list. I have one acre available." Dick Shea said.

"Which block?"

"Block 28. Sine Qua Non's piece."

"I'll take it."

2010 and 2011, both marvelously cool, were great years for fabulously Burgundian vintages in Willamette Valley. Once again, Shea Vineyard accounted for the most ethereal Pinot Noirs in Oregon. Bergstrom, Lynn Penner-Ash and Ken Wright all made spectacular wines. But the Shea Pinot Noirs that most blew us away at that year's International Pinot Noir Celebration were drawn from Sine Qua Non's Block 28. Each was crafted by one of the most talented young winemakers on the coast, Keith Emerson.

Both the 2010 and 2011 Sonria Pinot Noirs, off of Shea Vineyard, are brilliant ruby red to the edge, infused with luscious aromas of red fruits and pomegranate. Rich and sweetly restrained, the attack sings of Chambolle-Musigny. Voluptuous, yet marvelously refined and elegant. We'd give a slight nod at this stage to the brilliant 2010, but watch out for the 2011. It's just now opening up and coming on like Hollerin' M.

Tasting Notes

2010 Sonria Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley
"Brilliant dark ruby to the rim with luscious aromas of red raspberry and black cherry. Rich and elegant on the attack, really more Chambolle-like than anything Oregonian, infused with crushed red fruits and black cherry, yet sweetly restrained, all braced by superb Shea Vineyard backbone. Drink now-2022."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

2011 Sonria Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley
"Bright red ruby to the edge with piercing of aromas of crushed red fruits and cherry, tinged with classic forest floor. Pretty and juicy on the attack, ethereally floral, stuffed with raspberry and pomegranate, lightly laced with new French cooperage vanilla. Just opening up now, lay the 2011 down for two years before pulling a cork -- then hold the rest until the last years of the decade."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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